If you want to know where your focus should be as a small business owner in the next twelve months, take a moment to watch what top marketers are doing. It will give a clear picture of where your business should also be headed.
According to Hubspot, lead generation is the highest priority for experienced marketers. But lead generation is a big umbrella term that encompasses many strategies and methods. So, as a busy entrepreneur, where (and how) should you begin? Should you try lots of methods or focus on one?
Well, the answer is that most businesses will need at least two or three, but what’s right for one organization may not be suitable for another. So to help you make that decision, we’ve gathered (and ranked) our list of the top lead generation methods for small businesses.
1. Email Marketing
This statistic will grab any ambitious small business owner’s attention.
Each dollar a business spends on email marketing receives $36 in revenue on average. That’s quite the ROI and one reason email ranks number one on our list.
Email marketing involves capturing your lead’s email address and sending informational and promotional emails to convert those leads into customers.
That happens using an email autoresponder, a tool that lets you store email addresses and send broadcast and scheduled emails to a list of thousands (or millions, for big businesses).
Email offers you the perfect chance to slowly nurture qualified leads and move them further along the natural buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration and finally to that all-important decision.
Each email you send is a chance to form a closer bond with your audience using the rather intimate format of a personal email. So for that reason, email is a necessity in your lead generation toolkit.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As business owners, you’ll instinctively know that the best marketing tools are the ones you put effort into once and benefit from repeatedly. There is no better example than SEO, so we decided to feature it second on our list of lead generation methods.
SEO is an excellent inbound marketing strategy — Although a long-game approach to marketing, it’s an exceptional tool for generating quality leads nonetheless. You’ll need consistency with your content marketing and must work hard to produce unique, shareable valuable content for your audience.
You’ll also need the skills to research SEO keywords that translate into things your target customers regularly search for in search engines such as Google.
How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work?
Though it typically takes around six months to start seeing traffic from your SEO efforts, that traffic source will repeat each month and gradually grow with every new item of content you create.
If you still need convincing that SEO is worth your time and money, consider this statistic. More than one in every four Google visitors clicks the first organic search result. When you think of the billions of website hits Google gets each week, that offers a small business the most tempting traffic sources.
3. PPC Ads
If SEO is the long game, the next lead generation method on our list is undoubtedly the quick win.
Of course, we’re referring to the beauty of PPC advertising, which can net your business new leads within 24 hours of publishing your ad.
PPC is short for pay-per-click, and with this method of online advertising, you only pay for your ad once someone clicks on your link.
That means you aren’t wasting precious marketing dollars sharing your brand message with an audience that isn’t your target market.
PPC ads, when done well, are powerful lead generation tactics with huge potential due to their granular audience targeting and advanced AI algorithm.
You can target people based on the most narrow criteria, and the algorithm will search for the most likely audience to click and convert.
That means your money goes further, and you get high-quality leads as a welcome reward for any time or effort you put into crafting and paying for an ad.
Advancements in video technology have meant that webinars have become an increasingly popular technique for generating leads over the past decade.
They are especially effective when you’re selling a “high-ticket” product – a purchase that requires plenty of research and evaluation before a customer clicks that button.
What Is The Process For Generating Leads, Or Better Yet Sales, Using Webinars?
The standard process for a webinar is to capture email leads on a dedicated landing page, with the free webinar acting as your lead magnet. It attracts people in a typical sales funnel’s awareness and consideration phase.
During the webinar, you help nurture that lead by providing value and introducing your product or service.
By adding a strong sales pitch towards the end of the webinar, perhaps with a special time-limited offer, you can help encourage those valuable leads into making a decision and completing a purchase. It’s the ultimate way to convert leads and close a sale.
Technology has played a massive role in how business owners generate and convert qualified leads into paying customers. And one of the most cutting-edge technological developments in recent years has been the emergence of the messenger chatbot.
The intent of a chatbot is to mimic natural human conversation over text and message platforms.
You’ll need to set the chatbot up in advance with workflow rules to enable the conversation to take multiple paths, each leading closer to a sales conversion.
Chatbot technology is moving closer to an actual AI experience where the conversation feels less like a computer and more like a human.
And that sense of one-to-one interaction will help your leads trust your brand and move them further along that buyer journey.
Chatbots are available on private messenger services like Facebook messenger, or you can add chatbot technology to your website or sales page.
On a website, it acts similarly to a customer service agent, directing and helping the visitor find what they are looking for.
6. Affiliate Marketing
One marketing team can generate plenty of leads. But imagine if you have an entire army of marketers to promote your business?
That’s effectively what affiliate marketing offers. You reward other marketers with a commission for finding qualified leads and sales on behalf of your brand.
That means you can grow relatively quickly with an effective affiliate marketing scheme, as each new affiliate allows you to reach a new audience.
But there is work involved in setting up an affiliate program. That work includes tracking referrals and creating a lucrative and competitive offer to entice your brand’s most experienced and skilled affiliates.
Many affiliates look for a solid business model, a unique product, and an excellent sales process. So work on that before you start using an affiliate marketing strategy.
7. Online Networking
Perhaps you’re a brand new business with a minimal marketing budget and want a cheap and effective way to grow your leads. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, online networking could be the perfect answer for you.
Online networking is a lot like traditional networking. But instead of finding yourself in a conference room chatting to other business owners and handing out your business card, you do everything via the internet.
That means finding online groups where potential customers hang out and have conversations and connecting with those people on a one-to-one basis.
An excellent example of an online networking resource is Facebook groups. There are thousands of specialist groups on Facebook where hundreds of thousands of people get together and chat about a particular subject.
The challenge for you is finding a relaxant group and learning how to hold a natural conversation without appearing too sales-orientated or pushy.
If you do it right and form a bond, there will be a natural point in the relationship where you can offer your contact details and secure a potential new lead for your business.
8. Cold Email Pitches
Some of our lead generation methods use advanced, new technology. Others are a more tried and tested method, and cold emails certainly fall into that latter category.
They are only a small step removed from old-style sales letters. Nevertheless, this timeless method still brings fantastic results for even the most modern small business.
Cold email outreach is all about connecting, via email, with potential customers to make the first move and start that sales conversation.
Getting Started With Cold Email Pitches
The best way to handle cold email pitches is to draw up a shortlist of contacts. Once you’ve done that, you can begin categorizing them and writing a customized cold email for each group.
Cold email relies heavily on being systematic with your follow-up messages. For example, you’ll need to keep tabs on when you last spoke with a potential lead and when it’s time to email them again to seek a response.
9. Social Media
Social media is a fun and easy lead generation method and is accessible for any size and stage of the company.
The trick to succeeding with social media is having a solid brand and a distinctive voice. Don’t emulate every other company in the social media sphere if you want to get noticed.
Instead, focus on creating content for social media that’s exciting and posting consistently. Connect with your followers as much as possible, even if it’s something as simple as thanking them for a comment.
And don’t feel you have to focus on all social media platforms. Instead, specialize in the ones where you are most likely to find your customer lead.
Like SEO, social media is a long-term lead generation tool. The more effort you put in, the greater your future rewards.
10. Referral Program
A referral program is similar in style to an affiliate program, but there are some essential differences.
Firstly, a referral program is typically offered to existing customers.
Secondly, unlike an affiliate program, the financial incentive tends not to be a commission on the sale. Instead, most referral programs entice customers by offering money off a future purchase or a discount on a service or subscription.
The Biggest Benefit Of A Referral Program
The best thing about starting a referral program is that happy customers are the ultimate addition to your sales team. Genuine, heartfelt praise for your product or service from paying customers goes a long way to convincing others to sign up as a new lead and ultimately shortening the buying process.
And referral programs are easy to set up, even for relatively small businesses. Simply send an email to existing customers with your offer of a reward for any referred new customers.
11. Video Marketing
One powerful and popular online lead generation resource we’ve yet to touch on is YouTube. Video marketing might be the perfect way to grow your business if you love being in front of the camera.
With YouTube, you have the chance to grow your channel. Moreover, if you create high-quality content, subscribers will enjoy exploring your video content and taking that natural next step – becoming a new lead (either by visiting your website or signing up for your email list).
As YouTube is owned by Alphabet (who own Google), it’s also a fantastic way of boosting your SEO results. Try Googling practical step-by-step guides or how-to methods, and you’ll see first-hand that the highest results are reserved for YouTube videos.
12. Case Studies and White Papers
Last on our list is a hugely effective method for B2B or B2C businesses.
Perhaps you have an extended sales funnel and need to build trust with your leads. In that case, one quality you’ll need to demonstrate to your audience is your authority in your subject.
For example, let’s say you intend to sell website design. In that case, you’ll want to convince your audience that your skills and knowledge are a cut above the competition.
This is where an in-depth case study or white paper can handily serve as lead magnets for generating leads for sales teams. It shows that you are leading the way in your industry regarding knowledge, experience, and ideas.
This type of content is also highly shareable, as other blog owners may want to quote you if you have new and exciting research to share. That’s an easy and free way to get more website traffic.
In Summary: 12 Top Methods To Effectively Generate Leads
Final Thoughts on Lead Generation
It might feel like we are entering turbulent economic times.
But don’t let that cause you to turn your gaze away from your loftier business goals. Instead, choosing some top lead generation methods will help ensure you have a healthy sales pipeline in good and bad times.
Are you ready to take the next step with your lead generation strategy? Then, let’s talk and see how our team can help you with your lead generation efforts and overall marketing goals.