The 2013 Guide to Small Business Lead Generation

According to Sales Staff, 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. This doesn’t have to be the case for your small business as long as you follow a few key strategies to bolster the success of your lead generation efforts for the long-term.

What is lead generation you ask?

Let’s start by defining what is a lead? A lead is a person that has expressed some level of interest in your company’s offerings. When it comes to your online activity, these potential customers typically filled out a form on a landing page, among other actions, to become a lead.

Lead generation is the process of optimizing, analyzing and boosting your marketing efforts to drive more leads to your web properties overtime. A company’s online lead generation strategy is crucial to ensure that there is a constant flow of incoming people, potentially interested in your product or services and ideally close to converting into customers.

turn likes into leads

This is the next generation of attracting leads.

The quality of lead generation today has drastically improved as compared to previous decades due to a shift in perspective caused by inbound marketing. Inbound lead generation is when people come to your website and become a lead since they are already familiar with your company, product or service due to content, social media, press or some other form of communication that informed them of your credibility and knowledge.

Inbound leads are wonderful for your business, easier for your sales and marketing team to manage and more likely to convert to a customer as compared to traditional lead generating methods like cold calling, blind emails or mass direct mail flyers.

How will your small business build a world-class lead generation strategy that brings the right leads to your doorstep?

Here’s a definitive guide to lead generation for small businesses.

A plan of action to generate inbound leads to your company website.

Using a combination of content, social media and email is a great starting point for generating quality leads. Begin by developing content that speaks to your audience in a genuine way.

The content produced by your company should both educate and give answers to problems your potential customers are looking for. Content comes in many forms, some more prone to generating leads than others, but nevertheless all kinds can be beneficial for bringing the right people to your website.

Content your company creates can come in the form of blog posts, eBooks, white papers, visuals, videos, slide shows, infographics and more. Create content that is relevant to your offerings as a company, gives your audience genuine insights on a topic and answers a question they may have had about your industry.

Once your audience discovers this content through social media, the search engines or through one of your emails, they’ve learned something about your expertise and business. Ideally this better associates them with your company, moving them closer through the sales funnel.

Use social media to drive attention to this content, while also concurrently hosting contests thru social that require a person to fill out an email sign up in order to enter your promotion or gain access to more original content.

After a person signs up for your email or is incentivized through social to do so, they’re a part of your email list. Members of your email list are leads that can be further engaged across the customer funnel. Email as a marketing channel is one of the most highly converting; therefore your list should be treated with care.

Once your content, social channels or emails drive traffic to your website, offer additional quality content that’s original and more valuable than other information you’ve previously released for free. Use landing pages on your website to get leads to fill out a form and provide information about themselves in order to receive more content about the industry.

Successful landing pages feature strong calls to action, illustrate the benefits of the resource that is available for download, highlight beautiful imagery of your content and spell out your company’s unique perspective. Effective landing pages come in many shapes and sizes, but their main goal across the board is to be the final touch point before a web visitor becomes a potential lead.

Understand what makes a lead qualified for your business, which makes them more likely to convert.

Using a CRM (customer relationship manager) track the journey a visitor has had with your business to better understand if they are qualified or not to pursue further. Quality is denoted by how many resources of your company they’ve downloaded, how often they’ve visited your website, how many pages across your website they’ve visited, how many touch points across your marketing they’ve engaged with and lastly, if they have ever reached out to your business either to ask a question or request more information.

The amount of times a lead has interacted with your content and web properties is a strong indication of their interest in your expertise. The number of times they’ve engaged with your company is a sign of their growing positive perception of your business because if they didn’t find your information or services useful, they wouldn’t have returned multiple times.

One off leads that interact with your business here or there are harder to define as quality because they could potentially be a one-time interaction at random, by mistake or not interested in long-term benefits your type of business could offer. Stick with cultivating leads that have multiple interactions with your company, since they are most likely to respond well to your continued communication.

Look into what actions are causing lead generation across your website by analyzing the process in which they initially interacted with your business to their last action evolving into a lead. Categorize your existing leads by identifying, which have gone through a similar process as leads that have converted in the past. Cultivate these particular leads through open communication whether that’s through personal or automated emails.

Personalization is a huge factor in determining whether your leads return as customers in the future. Take the information gathered about each lead to engage them in a meaningful way that’s personalized to their experience. If a lead interacts with content and communication you’ve provided that is personalized to their needs and interests, it is safe to say they are a lead worth working with further.

Filter your flow of leads and help the right leads become customers.

Hopefully there is a consistent flow of leads to your website that you can analyze and filter through to identify which leads are useful and which aren’t qualified. Filter your leads into groups based off of the type of interaction they’ve had or have not had with your website.

Grouping qualified leads into different categories based off of the number of engagements they have had with your business online is a helpful way of understanding where your focus should be on cultivating those leads.

Set email auto responders to reach out to your leads once they’ve completed a particular number of interactions in the sales funnel. Designate different messages and calls to action with each email responder that is setup in order to customize and personalize for each group. Common email auto responders to set are incomplete purchase reminders, weekday deals, birthday specials, follow-up after a purchase, tips about free trials, free resources and welcome emails.

Also be sure to balance the use of auto responders with personal email or phone outreach with your most active leads to help better improve the chances that they convert for the future. For instance, it is appropriate to call or email a lead if they download two to three items of content from your website over a month. This isn’t a cold call or a blind email, but messaging with a context that is personalized by the data visitors have helped provided your business.

Find the right balance in terms of frequency with your lead nurturing follow-ups whether you are using auto responders or personal messaging to make sure your messaging is timely, accurate and not cumbersome to existing leads and potential clients.

Source: Brian Honigman