Most small businesses have a tough time kickstarting lead generation strategies, and it’s mainly because of two reasons: limited budget and limited patience.
When running a small business and having your product set up, you’re all geared up to scale and bring in new business. Unfortunately, having limited resources makes it challenging for small businesses to bring in the leads and scale as fast as you’d like.
It often feels like a catch-22 situation and most small business owners struggle with it. So, in this article, we’re going to guide you through some lead generation strategies ideal for small business growth.
What do Small Businesses Need From Lead Generation Strategies?
1. Low On Budget
Needless to say, aggressive lead generation strategies used by enterprises are simply not sustainable for small businesses.
For starters, small businesses don’t have the kind of budget required for that scale of lead generation: advertising budgets being the main expenditure.
In addition, small businesses don’t have the kind of manpower required to address, sort through, and funnel a large lead volume.
So, the best lead generation strategies, in this case, are those that require a low investment in terms of budget – organic lead generation strategies being preferable, with some paid marketing to help get the velocity that’s needed.
2. Easy to Execute
Lead generation strategies can get complicated when you consider all the different channels available to you. The more complicated it gets, the more resources and effort you need to invest in executing it.
Small businesses need to consider strategies that are good on a smaller scale and easy to execute.
That might mean picking up only a handful of advertising channels or focusing only on one high-return strategy.
3. Low Resource Requirement
As we mentioned earlier, small businesses don’t have the kind of manpower required to handle the large lead volumes of aggressive, high-budget lead generation strategies.
A large lead volume, while it sounds great, typically equates to a lower lead qualification ratio and a higher sales investment: both of which are unaffordable for small business growth.
Instead, small businesses need lead generation strategies that require them to make optimum use of the resources (vis manpower) that they have at hand.
4. High-Quality Returns
Because of constraints in budget, time, and effort, every lead generation strategy used by a small business needs to be carefully analyzed for optimum returns.
Which strategy is bringing in the most high-quality leads? Which strategy can be better optimized to bring in higher quality leads? Which strategy is simply not delivering as well as we expected it to?
These are all questions that need to be put forth and answered periodically, to ensure that resources are being put to the best use possible.
5. Long Term Impact
For sustainable small business growth, lead generation strategies that bring in long-term impact – or have a compounding effect, for that matter – are the need of the day.
Because of the sheer competition and noise in every market today, consumers are being bombarded by brands and solutions from every direction.
Small businesses can’t afford to be just another voice in that mix; it’s much more rewarding to capture leads that will bring in more business, long-term business, or additional business.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the deep end and look at some lead generation strategies.
5 Effective Lead Generation Strategies for Small Businesses
1. Social Media Marketing
Whether you’re a B2B business or a B2C business, social media is where it’s at. All brands everywhere – from homegrown boutique businesses to large multinationals – are leveraging social media in different ways.
For B2C brands, social media is much more than branding, engagement and networking.
Statista reports that as of April 2020, 37% of internet users in the US between 18-34 years had purchased something via social media.
With the disruption, the pandemic brought with it, and the rise of online businesses, that number was only set to rise. Social media, then, becomes a viable and strong channel for actual sales for B2C brands.
For B2B brands, social media has become a viable channel to reach decision-makers. According to IDG, a whole 84% of C-level VP-level buyers use social media in decision making – that makes it a marketing channel that can no longer be ignored by any brand, in any vertical.
Social Media Channels for Lead Generation
- Use platforms such as LinkedIn to penetrate networks in which your buyers are present. Connect with potential buyers, or executives in potential client companies; consistently post updates that potential buyers will find interesting; share content and comment on posts from the right people in the network; and so on. Then, once the connection has been made, reach out with your offering via personal message – ideally from one of your leaders or company decision-makers.
- Where relevant, find groups on channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook that you can be a part of. Be aware though, that these groups usually frown upon promotional posting – the idea is to add value to the community while plugging in your product/service as a response to their needs, and generate leads from there.
- Use chatbots and messaging apps offered by social media channels to set up conversation flows that will answer user queries, turning those queries into leads – this works especially well for B2C brands where user queries are aplenty.
- Remember to track all the engagement and leads you get from social media – which channels in particular, what is the quality of those leads, and so on!
2. Email Marketing
According to research by Mailigen, 89% of marketers use email as a primary channel for lead generation.
However, gone are the days of blasting cold emails to bought subscribers lists.
Today, an email lead generation strategy means the use of an email opt-in form or touchpoint to generate leads – usually on your website or a landing page of some sort.
However, the true value in email marketing lies in the relationship you create after generating a subscriber – also known as lead nurturing.
Here’s why email marketing is an effective tool for lead generation and lead nurturing:
- It’s basically free: It’s a form of free communication that helps you turn leads into sales, and in bulk.
- It’s personalized: Personalized communication is the need of the hour today – consumers like to feel a connect with brands. Email lets you create that connect and make each recipient feel like they’re being spoken to personally.
- It’s targeted: Even with an email subscriber list that runs in the several hundreds, you can segment your recipients based on certain common factors, and then reach out to them to increase relatability and rapport.
- It’s time saving: So many tools help you set up automatic email drip campaigns, nurturing campaigns and workflows with templates, so you can save time without compromising on effectiveness.
- It’s branded: In this day and age, you can’t create enough branded content. Email marketing is a great way to add to the brand experience you create to help convert your potential customers.
Here are some places in your lead generation strategy where you should employ email marketing:
- On your website, as an opt-in for users to subscribe to your newsletter or weekly email.
- For B2C brands, to follow up with potential customers who only reach the check-out page but don’t complete the purchase (having given you their email ID in the process).
- On your website and in your marketing collateral, as a help/contact channel for potential customers to reach out through (and a surprising number of people do).
- As a quick sign-up option (instead of an enquiry form or sign up process, offer users the option to sign up for your service/product simply by leaving their email and having you get back to them).
3. Referral Marketing
According to research by Nielsen, people are 4X more likely to buy a product when referred by a friend.
For most fast-growing small businesses, this statistic is like a mantra. Referral marketing is basically the use of referrals – from your current users to their peers, friends, family, etc. – to bring you more leads.
Lead generation strategies can take a lot of effort, money, and time before they’re successful – referral marketing is one such strategy that only requires you to have a stellar product and a likable team.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of referral marketing:
- Unlike most other lead generation strategies, it doesn’t need tall budgets.
- It leverages one of the strongest assets you already have – satisfied customers.
- The leads you generate from a referral are likely to be of a much higher quality than other channels.
- Leads from referrals tend to come in already interested – you don’t have to do much convincing to begin with.
- It brings in long-term returns – you also stand to gain from referrals of referrals.
How to executive a referral lead generation strategy:
- Establish a referral program: What do your clients get in return for referring their peers/friends/family?
- Train your sales team to ask for the lead: most salespersons tend to be shy in bringing it up.
- Ask for the lead early: Instinct will tell you to wait until your customer has used your product for a while, but the best time to ask for a referral is when they’ve just been sold – that’s when they’re most excited about your product.
- Use email marketing: If you’re launching a referral program and already have a lot of happy customers, group them into a segment and send out a warm email letting them know about the program and asking for referrals.
- Follow up: Most sales persons are also shy about repeatedly asking customers if they would like to refer anyone, but it usually takes a couple of follow ups to start generating leads.
4. Content Marketing
Most small businesses hesitate to look at content marketing as a lead generation strategy because it works over the long term. Whether you’re B2C, B2B, or just an individual selling a service, though, content marketing is one of the most effective lead generation strategies you could employ.
That is because even though it may take a while, the rewards come to you manifold in the long term – think of it as the compounding effect of investment, similar to SIPs used in financial investment.
What exactly is content marketing?
Content marketing is the use of any content format – including email and social media – to create experiences, add value & knowledge, and pull in potential customers. You may be using content marketing without even knowing it!
If you write a blog, send out newsletters, constantly update and interact with your network on social media, share relevant and useful content from 3rd parties, etc., you’re using content marketing.
What channels does content marketing involve?
Content marketing involves channels such as email, social media, your website, and your marketing collaterals, with formats such as:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Case studies
- Web content
- Flyers and brochures
- Inserts and so on
The content you publish across these and then distribute via the various channels, forms your content marketing strategy.
How does content marketing help as a lead generation strategy?
The content you publish and promote across these various channels creates a branded experience for your audience and draws in potential customers.
When you repeatedly publish content, your presence in front of your prospective clients increases and they become more familiar with your brand, establishing a kind of trust and rapport.
If they’re already in the buying cycle, the content helps create thought leadership for you and convert them into leads.
If they’re not yet in the buying cycle, the content creates a branded experience that leaves your name top of mind for when they’re aware of a need for your product/service.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is another one of those long-term lead generation strategies that are best put into place right from the start. While you’re probably aware of SEO, you might think of it only in the context of optimized web pages that show up when a user searches for certain queries on a search portal.
There are, however, many other ways in which you can use Search Engine Optimization as a lead generation strategy:
1. To create a local business listing:
Google offers a feature called the Google My Business listing, which means that for the right keywords – usually your brand keywords – your business and its details show up in the right column of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You’ve probably used this feature yourself when looking for a particular brand, restaurant, or company.
2. To reach out to promising consumers in the buying cycle:
Users in the awareness stage, still getting acquainted with their need/want, are in a great place to be exposed to solutions from your brand.
Similarly, users in the consideration stage evaluating different brands are in a great place to be sold on yours. You can do this by identifying consumer forums where you can add value to user queries.
3. To find prospective customers where they’re already spending time
Guest posting is a big part of off-page SEO. That is where you post content that showcases your expertise on online publications, as a guest author – plenty of publications offer you the chance to do this and include a link back to your website, which means that you have direct access to their audience.
Needless to say, it’s important to choose publications in your industry and frequented by your target audience.
The five lead generation strategies we’ve outlined here keep in mind the aspects that we highlighted as essential for small business growth – they’re low on budget, easy to execute, low on resource requirement, and bring in high-quality returns and long term impact.
While a couple of them are easy to get started with and can show results almost right away (depending on your market), a couple of them are slow to start and compound into long-term results.
We recommend using all of them; it’s important to approach lead generation with a mix of strategies to maximize small business growth.
If you have any others you’d like to add to the list, or if you have any questions about the ones we’ve covered here, feel free to reach out! Simply drop a line in the comments section below.