Small business lead generation tips

19 MINS Team

Lead generation stands as a pivotal process for sustainable growth. Generating leads, or potential customers, is the lifeblood of any business, but it comes with unique challenges, especially for small businesses.

Maybe you’re not sure what marketing tactics to use, or what type of offer will get prospects to act. Lead generation is key to success and growth, but if you’re like most others, it’s also an ongoing uphill climb.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. The secret is knowing these three things:

  1. What lead generation problems do you need help with?
  2. What can a small business lead generation service do to solve those problems?
  3. What tips and tricks can help you get the most from these services?

Once you plug your answers into a lead generation tool, campaign or service, getting new customers will be much easier! Whether your business is B2B or B2C, this article will show how to identify your biggest lead generation challenges, understand how a lead generation service can help, and share some tips to make lead generation services work for your small business.

What is a lead generation program?

Lead generation is about connecting with people who are likely to become your customers and helping them take the steps to buy your offers. You’re casting a net to catch the attention of people who might be interested in what you offer. These potential customers are called “leads”, and the goal is to attract loyal customers or “qualified leads” by nurturing their interest and guiding them toward purchasing.

A lead generation program is a structured plan designed to consistently and effectively find potential customers for your business. It’s your roadmap outlining the steps and strategies to attract interested people to your products or services. This program typically involves using various marketing techniques such as content creation, social media, email campaigns, and advertising.

What is inbound lead generation?

Inbound lead generation is a customer-centric approach to attracting potential clients by creating content that addresses their needs and interests.

Instead of actively reaching out to people, inbound marketing draws potential customers in by offering them information, solutions, or entertainment that they find valuable. It’s different from outbound lead generation, which occurs when your business sends a message “out” to the prospect. This might be a cold email, a direct mail letter, or a cold call.

Inbound lead generation typically involves tactics like blogging, social media engagement, search engine optimization (SEO), and website content creation. As casual viewers discover this content, they may willingly share their contact information or engage with your business.

Challenges and tips in small business lead generation

The chart below shows the biggest lead generation challenges for B2B and B2C businesses according to a survey. In the rest of this post, we’ll run through each challenge listed in the image below and share tips and tricks to overcome them and generate more leads.

Computer desk

Challenge 1: Finding a strategy, tactics, or offer that gets the attention of potential leads

One of the foremost challenges in lead generation is identifying the right approach to capture the interest of potential leads. With all the information and competition, businesses must craft a strategy that stands out. This involves not only choosing the right marketing tactics but also creating an enticing offer that resonates with the target audience.

Tip: Get to know your target customers.

What are their demographics, interests, needs, budgets, and pain points? What problems does your business solve for them? Where do they look for companies like yours when making a purchase? Learn about your target customers by conducting surveys, doing market research, seeing what they say about your business online, or just asking them in person.

The more you know about your target customers and how they buy, the better you will be at developing successful lead-generation strategies, tactics, and offers. Once you have a profile of your target customers, you can use lead generation tools to target them more effectively.

For instance, if your customers typically do an online search to find nearby businesses, your business can generate more leads by using a service that helps you get found on local search engines like Google Maps, Yahoo, and Bing.

Challenge 2: Having enough people (or the right people) to generate leads

Generating leads doesn’t only require the right strategies, but also the manpower to execute them effectively. This challenge is twofold: first, ensuring that there are enough hands on deck to implement lead generation initiatives, and second, ensuring that those responsible possess the knowledge and skills required for successful lead gen.

Some 38% of businesses struggle with this. As a small business owner, having enough people to do just about anything is a constant challenge, so this isn’t surprising.

Tip: Automate as much as you can.

The more you can automate your lead generation and management process, the more you can accomplish even with a lean sales team. A good lead-generation tool will help you automate tasks such as sending emails or getting notified of new leads. Plus, it takes the pressure off your team to keep up with every little technical change in the world of SEO, online advertising, and other lead-gen tactics.

Look for a lead gen service that helps with multiple aspects of lead generation, such as paid search advertising, optimizing your website for search, getting your business placement on Google Maps, or providing exclusive leads. The more your service can handle, the less your staff will have to do (and the less staff you’ll need).

Challenge 3: Measuring and documenting lead generation success

Effectively gauging the success of lead generation efforts can be a daunting task. It arises from the lack of the right tools and metrics to track leads from initial contact to conversion. It becomes difficult to understand what strategies are working and what needs adjustment. Moreover, documenting these findings for future reference can be overlooked,

More than 31% of businesses have difficulty measuring how well they’re doing at lead gen. But if you don’t measure your success rate, you could be wasting money on the wrong lead generation strategies without knowing it.

Tip: First, define “success.”

To document lead generation success, you first need to have a measurable definition of success. That definition will vary depending on your business, your target customers, and your specific lead gen problem. In other words, it’s up to you to figure out. For example:

  • If your problem is that you’re barely getting any leads, then success might mean increasing the number of leads you get by X percent per month.
  • If you get lots of leads but don’t close any sales, success could mean increasing closed sales by X percent per month.

It’s essential to track how many leads you generate, how many sales you close, sales revenue, how long your typical sales cycle is, and other key performance indicators.

Good small business lead generation services do more than generate leads — they will also make it easy to track performance metrics and measure your results.

Be sure to revise and update your definition of success as time goes on. If you’re having lots of problems with your strategy, update it every month or at least every quarter.

Challenge 4: Responding to inquiries promptly; managing and tracking leads’

Lead generation needs swift and effective responses to inquiries from potential customers. Delayed or inadequate responses can result in missed opportunities and lost leads. This is often due to the absence of a well-structured lead management process and inadequate tools for tracking leads. According to the survey, about 30% of businesses struggle with these issues.

Tip: Add staff, outsource, or automate.

There’s no substitute for investing in the human resources you need to respond to leads. However, that’s not always feasible for a small business. Outsourcing is one option, but independent sales reps who work for other businesses as well may not always be as passionate about your business as you are.

Automated sales solutions can help you make the most of your staff’s time without the cost of hiring or the management hassles of outsourcing. Your lead generation service should help automate lead management and respond to leads.

For example, using chatbots on your webpage to reach out to leads can save your employees time while still qualifying leads. You can also set up automated emails to follow up with leads. If you use customer relationship management (CRM) software, your lead generation software should integrate with your chosen CRM tool.

Challenge 5: Working with strategic partners and other business alliances to generate leads

Collaborating with strategic partners and forming alliances with other businesses can be a potent lead gen strategy, but it comes with its share of challenges. One key challenge is identifying and establishing the right partnerships that align with your target audience and business objectives.

These partnerships’ success relies on mutual trust and a shared vision, and the ideal fit can be time-consuming. Moreover, coordinating efforts, sharing data, and ensuring seamless communication between partners can present logistical challenges. In fact, it poses a challenge for about 30% of businesses surveyed.

Tip: Minimize the grunt work.

Don’t give up on strategic partnerships. Yes, when you’re swamped working on your business day-to-day, it can be difficult to prioritize joint efforts with another company. But the more you can systematize, automate, and streamline the administrative aspect, the less time the overall lead gen effort will take. That gives you and your partners more time to spend strategizing about the big picture.

Lead generation services that automate the process of lead generation, lead management, and follow-up can take a big load off both you and your strategic partners. Look for services that work for both parties so you can collaborate effectively. Unless you both buy into the tool, you may not get the best results from it.

Challenge 6: Funding lead-generation activities

Allocating the necessary funds to support your lead gen activities can be a significant challenge for many organizations. Small businesses, in particular, may have limited budgets to dedicate to marketing and lead-gen efforts.

This challenge often results in a struggle to balance the desire for more comprehensive lead generation campaigns with financial constraints with more than one-fourth of businesses in the survey struggling in this aspect. Given that budget issues are common for most small business owners, it’s not a surprise.

Tip: Treat marketing as an investment and measure your ROI.

Often, small business owners feel like money spent on marketing just goes into a black hole. They see it as an expense, rather than an investment. This is why many small business owners are reluctant to invest in marketing their businesses, but here’s the thing: without marketing, your business will never grow. This is where we would suggest using Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC). 

The key is to view marketing as an investment and, like any investment, to carefully monitor your ROI. Lead gen services that track key performance metrics, such as ad ranking, lead conversion, and how well each ad campaign performs, give you a clear picture of your ROI.

Look for a solution that tracks your ad spending details in real-time, so you never have to worry about going over budget.

Challenge 7: Providing relevant and valuable content to potential leads

Content that truly resonates with your audience is essential. The challenge lies in consistently creating content that is not only relevant to the audience’s needs but also adds value. It requires a deep understanding of their target audience, ongoing research, and the ability to adapt to changing preferences.

Furthermore, producing high-quality content demands time and resources. Thus, almost one-fourth of businesses in the survey struggle with this. Content marketing is one of today’s hottest marketing trends.

Tip: Avoid creating content that your customers don’t care about.

Don’t waste time writing about topics your customers aren’t interested in or sharing it in places they don’t visit. Develop an understanding of your customers so you can speak to them through content. Think about what your customer’s interests, needs, and pain points are. Then measure results to see what content performs best.

As you track the path that leads follow to get to your website and take action, pay attention not only to where leads come from but also to what specific type of content they prefer.

Challenges 8, 9, and 10: Getting it done

These three challenges — agreeing on a lead gen plan, implementing the plan, and having enough internal knowledge about lead generation — all basically boil down to getting the job done.

Oftentimes, businesses face difficulties in aligning various departments and stakeholders with the plan’s objectives, which is crucial for seamless execution. Once a strategy is agreed upon, there can still be hurdles in effectively carrying it out. This may involve resource allocation, managing the workflow, and adapting to unforeseen obstacles.

Tip: Get outside help.

In a small business, you’d think it wouldn’t be that hard to agree on something. However, any business owner knows that even a two-person business can butt heads. Sometimes, the solution is turning it over to an expert.

Lead generation services are typically run by business marketing experts, so you can feel confident that when you’re turning to outside help, they know how to develop a framework or plan to do so.

Develop a lead generation companies list and go through the options to see which one fits your needs. Choose a service that provides strong support, such as regular review calls to go over performance and account managers with expertise in lead generation and management.

Effective lead generation strategies for your business

Consider these factors when creating your lead generation strategy.

1. Create a content marketing strategy

In content marketing, the key lies in delivering content that captures attention while offering meaningful solutions. Create valuable and relevant content that addresses your audience’s pain points. There are a lot of formats you can use to generate leads, such as:

  • Ebooks. Create comprehensive guides or ebooks that delve deep into topics relevant to your industry or niche. Offer these as downloadable resources in exchange for lead information.
  • Whitepapers. Publish research reports or whitepapers that provide valuable insights, statistics, and solutions to industry-specific problems. Require users to register or provide contact details to access them.
  • Webinars. Host live or pre-recorded webinars on subjects that interest your target audience. To attend, participants typically need to register, giving you access to their contact information.
  • Case studies. Share success stories of how your product or service solved specific challenges for your customers. Prospective leads interested in similar solutions can be encouraged to share their information for more details.
  • Blog posts. Regularly publish informative and engaging blog posts that address common pain points or questions within your industry. Include lead capture forms or CTAs within the content.
  • Infographics. Create visually appealing infographics that present data or information in an easy-to-understand format. Include a CTA that directs users to a landing page for more in-depth content.
  • Checklists and templates. Offer practical checklists, templates, or tools that assist your audience in their daily tasks or decision-making processes. Require users to provide their information to access these resources.
  • Email courses. Develop email courses that span several days or weeks, delivering valuable content directly to subscribers’ inboxes. Gather email addresses from those interested in enrolling.
  • Video tutorials. Create instructional video content that demonstrates how to use your product or offers insights into your industry. Encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel or website to access more content.
  • Quizzes and assessments. Develop interactive quizzes or assessments that provide personalized results. Users often willingly share their data to receive customized feedback.

Consistency is vital; maintain a regular posting schedule to keep your audience engaged, and don’t forget to leverage SEO techniques to ensure your content is discoverable by those searching for solutions related to your offerings.

2. Utilize social media marketing

Social media has evolved into a powerful tool for connecting with possible leads and building brand awareness. To succeed, start by identifying the social platforms that align with your target audience’s preferences.

For instance, if your business caters to a visually-driven audience, Instagram or Pinterest might be ideal, while B2B companies may find LinkedIn more effective. Just like content marketing, consistency is key in maintaining a strong social media presence, so establish a regular posting schedule.

It’s also equally important to engage with your followers. Respond to comments, messages, and feedback promptly, fostering a sense of community and trust. Create shareable content that encourages your audience to spread the word about your brand. Finally, consider running paid advertising campaigns on social media platforms to amplify your reach.

3. Send compelling emails to qualified leads

Email marketing remains a potent lead-generation tool for nurturing leads and fostering long-term relationships.

To get started, it’s crucial to build and maintain organized email lists, segmenting them based on various criteria such as demographics, behavior, and engagement. Segmentation allows you to send highly targeted and relevant content to different groups of leads.

Craft compelling email content that resonates with your audience. Personalization is key here; use recipients’ names, provide tailored recommendations, and send personalized offers. Automated email workflows can help you send the right message at the right time, whether it’s a welcome series for new subscribers or a follow-up sequence for abandoned carts.

Don’t forget to optimize for mobile, as many people access emails from their smartphones.

4. Deploy search engine optimization techniques

SEO makes your website more discoverable on search engines like Google. It’s a crucial component of lead generation because it helps potential leads find your business when they’re actively searching for solutions you offer.

To excel in SEO, start by conducting keyword research to identify the phrases and terms your target audience is likely to use in their searches. Integrate these keywords strategically into your website’s content, including blog posts, product descriptions, and meta tags.

For businesses with a physical store, you’ll want to invest in local SEO. Local SEO optimizes your online presence to attract local customers near your store’s vicinity, often through tactics like creating a Google My Business profile, obtaining online reviews, and ensuring your website contains location-specific information.

Finally, technical SEO involves optimizing the technical aspects of your website to improve its search engine visibility and performance. This includes tasks like optimizing website speed, ensuring mobile-friendliness, and enhancing site architecture for better search engine crawling. Some lead gen services provide experts to do the heavy technical SEO lifting so small businesses can focus on other important tasks.

5. Invest in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

PPC advertising allows you to place ads on search engines and other platforms and pay only when someone clicks on your ad. Start by creating an efficient PPC strategy, then carefully select keywords relevant to your business and target audience. Craft compelling ad copy that entices users to click and visit your website.

Set a budget and monitor your ad spending closely to ensure you don’t exceed your allocated funds. PPC platforms offer detailed performance data, including click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates, which you should regularly review. Use this data to optimize your campaigns by adjusting keywords, ad copy, and bidding strategies to maximize your ROI.

Additionally, consider using ad extensions to provide extra information, such as contact details, location, or links to specific landing pages. PPC advertising allows for precise targeting, so take advantage of audience segmentation and retargeting options to reach users who have shown interest in your products or services.

6. Build an extensive network and partnerships

Collaborating with businesses that share a similar target audience but offer complementary products or services can let you tap into a ready-made pool of potential leads. Start by identifying potential partners through industry events, trade associations, or online communities. Build genuine relationships by offering value, whether through referrals, co-hosted webinars, or sharing each other’s content.

Referral programs can also be a powerful tool within partnerships. Encourage satisfied customers to refer friends or colleagues to your business in exchange for incentives or discounts. These warm leads often have a higher conversion rate since they come with the endorsement of someone the potential lead trusts.

Remember that successful partnerships rely on trust, clear agreements, and ongoing communication. As you nurture these relationships and collaborate effectively, you’ll not only expand your reach but also gain access to a network of high-quality leads interested in your offerings.

7. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) system

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help you organize, track, and nurture leads throughout their journey, from initial contact to conversion and beyond. Implementing a CRM system centralizes your lead data, making it easier to segment leads based on characteristics, behavior, and engagement levels.

With a CRM, you can automate lead nurturing workflows so leads receive timely and relevant communications. It also provides a history of interactions, helping your team personalize interactions and follow up effectively. Furthermore, CRM systems often integrate with other marketing and sales tools, creating a seamless ecosystem for lead generation and conversion.

Choose a CRM system that aligns with your business needs and objectives. Popular options include Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM, among others. Properly implementing and utilizing a CRM system can significantly enhance your lead generation efforts by improving lead tracking, nurturing, and ultimately, conversion rates.

8. Test and optimize your lead generation strategies

A/B testing compares two versions of a webpage, email, ad, or other marketing asset to determine which one performs better in terms of generating leads. By systematically changing one element at a time (such as a headline, CTA button, or email subject line) and measuring the results, you can gain valuable insights into what resonates most with your audience.

For instance, A/B testing can help you identify the most effective call-to-action (CTA) phrase, the optimal form length, or the ideal placement of lead capture forms on your website. This data-driven approach allows you to continually fine-tune your strategies to maximize lead generation and conversion rates.

9. Encourage customer reviews and testimonials

Customer reviews and testimonials hold immense sway in the lead generation process by providing authentic proof of your product or service’s value. Positive reviews and testimonialsinstill trust and confidence in your brand. To harness their power, actively encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences on review platforms, social media, or your website.

Craft a strategy for soliciting reviews, possibly through follow-up emails or post-purchase surveys. Consider offering incentives or rewards to incentivize customers to leave reviews. Once you’ve gathered these testimonials, prominently showcase them on your website, marketing materials, and social media channels. Share real-life success stories, showcasing how your product or service has benefited others.

Additionally, don’t shy away from addressing negative reviews professionally and constructively. Responding to criticism demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and can help mitigate any potential concerns for prospective leads.

Customer reviews and testimonials serve as a powerful form of social proof, influencing potential leads in their decision-making process. Leveraging them effectively can significantly enhance your lead-generation efforts.

10. Optimize your website for mobile

With 55% of internet traffic coming from mobile devices, ensuring your website’s responsiveness and seamless function on different screen sizes is critical. Creating a mobile-friendly website not only provides a better user experience but also positively impacts your search engine rankings, as search engines prioritize mobile-responsive sites.

Moreover, consider optimizing your mobile channels for lead generation. This includes designing mobile-friendly lead capture forms, creating mobile-specific ad campaigns, and ensuring that email templates are responsive. Speed is also important for mobile users, so optimize page loading times to prevent potential leads from bouncing due to slow performance.

Given the prevalence of mobile usage, failing to cater to this audience can result in missed lead-generation opportunities.

Start your own lead-generation campaign

Lead generation for small businesses is undeniably challenging, but with the right strategies and a commitment to continuous improvement, it’s a task that can yield significant rewards. By understanding the challenges and implementing these tips, small businesses can pave the way for sustainable growth in today’s competitive market.

Remember, lead generation is not a one-size-fits-all process. Adapt these strategies to your specific business and industry, and always be open to experimentation and learning. Let’s online solutions assist your digital marketing strategies and generate high-quality leads into your business.

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