Lead Generation Ideas for Small Businesses
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Quality lead generation is a consistent challenge for all businesses, but attracting clients can be even tougher when you’re a small fish in a big pond. Across industries and businesses, lead generation struggles commonly fall into three categories; not having enough leads, not having quality ones, and not closing them. At Comrade Digital Marketing Agency, we’ve witnessed the pandemic expose weaknesses in existing sales models and gaps in digital readiness.
Lead acquisition requires sharp attunement to changes in customer sentiment, patience, and marketing agility. While there is an abundance of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to aid the sales funnel and available consumer data that reduces guesswork, what’s required is sound marketing acumen.
There are many ways to be successful in lead generation, so long as the foundation of a digital marketing plan is strong and execution is on point. Healthy consumer relationships fuel business growth; everything starts and ends with the customer. Assuming a small business has a firm foothold on their target audience, they need only refine a few strategies to improve lead generation.
Understanding Consumer Psychology
Every customer goes through what we call the buyer’s journey before making a purchase. The process is something like this:
Awareness → consideration → intent → purchase → loyalty and advocacy
Once a lead becomes aware of a product or service, they have to be strategically nurtured towards making a purchase. At Comrade Digital Marketing Agency, we’ve experienced how the pandemic environment has elongated the sales cycle and increased purchase scrutiny, producing more touchpoints during the buyer’s journey. These touchpoints are increasingly significant the more we move most of our interactions online.
Since the pandemic, 70% of B2B decision-makers say they’re open to making self-service or remote purchases exceeding $50,000. eCommerce isn’t just for small-ticket items; it’s serious business for B2B too. Research by McKinsey also indicates there’s a two-fold increase in the likelihood that buyers who provide outstanding digital experiences acquire returning customers.
From the moment a prospect becomes aware of your business to post-purchase, the entire journey should be designed to feel intuitive, responsive, improve customer satisfaction, enhance loyalty, and increase long-term sales. To achieve this online, you need to develop and create content that’s suitable for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
The Marketing Funnel
Each company will have a unique buyer’s journey that coincides with three overarching categories in the marketing funnel; top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.
The Top of the Funnel
During this stage, prospects become aware of a problem they need to solve — not a product or service they need to purchase. Marketing content should reflect their pain point, educating and answering questions related to their problem. Content formats that work well include articles, blogs, eBooks, videos, webinars, infographics, and guides.
The Middle of the Funnel
A prospect at this stage is eager to evaluate which solutions work best for them, providing opportunities for businesses to offer product-related content, so they can consider their services or products as a viable solution. Content formats might include cost comparisons, white papers customer testimonials, free trials, and product demos.
The Bottom of the Funnel
The content delivered to buyers at this stage of the journey should position a business’s product or service as superior to its competitors and accelerate a purchase decision. If a sales lead’s behavioral cues indicate they’re ready to make a purchase, promotion or direct sale may convert them into a customer.
Successful lead generation combines analytical science with behavioral economics. Small businesses with an understanding of the buyer’s journey place the correct content marketing material in front of potential customers at the right time.
For example, if you’re pushing a hard sell at the top of the funnel, you likely won’t acquire leads because they’re not fully aware of their problem and don’t have enough buy-in to trust your service or product. Many small businesses simply don’t capture leads because their marketing strategy doesn’t align with their target audience’s buyer journey.
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Understanding the Lead Capture Strategy Process
Often, a first-time small business owner publishes content on social media and engages with online communities but can’t understand why customer interactions don’t develop beyond “likes.” Cultivating an online presence is necessary, but garnering new leads requires a specific methodology that plays out like this:
- A potential customer stumbles upon your business online, either organically or through paid advertising.
- They click on your call-to-action (CTA). This can be a button, an image, or text that encourages them to act, either download material or subscribe to a newsletter submitted to your customer base email list.
- The CTA takes them to a web page (called a landing page) where they’ll submit their contact information in exchange for a valuable offer, like an eBook or discount. Increasingly, lead capture forms are being replaced by chatbot conversations, but more about that in a moment.
- Once they’ve filled in the relevant information or provided their information to a chatbot, you’ll have potential clients
Businesses have to provide the necessary calls to action for prospective leads to move down the marketing funnel. Publishing blogs is great, but it won’t deliver results if you’re not prompting leads to find out more about your products or services, sign-up for a newsletter, or make a purchase.
Understand Lead Magnets
In marketing, a lead magnet is a term for a free item or service that is given away to acquire prospective lead details. A lead magnet can be a trial subscription, free consultation, or discount. Determining a businesses’ lead magnet can be challenging in an oversaturated market.
When a prospective customer lands on a landing page, the lead magnet needs to be attractive and valuable for them to offer up personal details. This step is critical to lead acquisition. Each segment of a business’s customer base may have a different incentive and use different marketing channels. Of course, you have to know and understand your market.
Successful lead magnets are simple, targeted, concise, and highlight business strengths. The following steps can help you create a lead magnet:
- Choose a buyer persona: Because businesses have more than one persona, they may develop several lead magnets.
- Identify your value proposition: Identify your buyer persona’s pain point and provide a solution to that problem. Create an eye-catching landing page or email subject line that drives conversions.
- Choose your lead magnet: Will you offer and follow-up with a discount, an eBook, free consultation, or?
- Create your lead magnet: There are loads of automation tools to make the design process easier, like Unbounce or Mailchimp.
- Measure results: To quote management thinker Peter Drucker: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
A note on A/B testing: Landing page lead generation strategies usually undergo split testing. This process entails creating two or more versions of the same landing page, homepage, or email, for example, and sending it to different customers part of the same segment to determine which version has more impact on your ideal customer.
A/B testing helps with search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) performance, in turn, assisting small businesses in making data-backed decisions. Data collected offers insight into user behavior, engagement rate, pain points, and website satisfaction. Ultimately, feedback garnered lets businesses tailor pitch-perfect ads and landing pages.
Mastering Lead Response Time
Lead response time is a metric frequently overshadowed by click-through rates and SEO, among others, but the reality is, a slow response can turn a lead cold. Businesses without dedicated sales teams will naturally struggle, however with automation and bots; it’s possible to respond to them timeously via automated chats, email, and even SMS.
Traditionally, businesses have used lead gen forms to gather information from potential customers, but findings suggest the average sales team takes more than 40 hours to get back to a prospect, only to have 38% of those warm leads ghost them. Unfortunately, we live in a world of instant gratification, so by the time a sales team follows up, their lead has moved to another business.
Enter conversational marketing. Information technology and research consultancy Gartner predicts 70% of white-collar workers will interact with live chat software daily. Instead of asking visitors to fill out a form and wait, businesses can have conversations with them in real-time. This accelerates qualification and conversion into the sales pipeline at any time of day.
Measuring Lead Generation Success
The rise of clickbait journalism has taught us quantity does not mean quality, and vanity metrics (superficial metrics) don’t equate to profit. Even if you don’t have a sales team, you need to measure the metrics that matter to track what is and isn’t working, so you can improve accordingly.
Click-Through Rates (CTR)
CTR illustrates how relevant your lead generation campaign is to a particular audience segment. A low rate indicates the content marketed doesn’t resonate with a particular audience. On the contrary, a high CTR indicates a good response.
This reveals how many potential customers clicked on your campaign and performed the action needed to convert them into leads. So, if your click-through rate is high, but your conversion rate is low, it could mean your call-to-action is unclear.
Time to Customer Conversion
Converting a lead into a paying customer takes effort and time, but as marketers, we always strive to lessen the gap between conversion and sale. This metric alerts you to how fast a particular market segment travels down the marketing funnel.
Cost Per Customer
A lead generation strategy needs to make financial sense. If your average customer spends $50, but it costs you $100 to acquire a lead, you’re not going to make a profit. Remember, lead generation exists to generate paying customers at a cost that still rakes in revenue.
A small business can range from a solo entrepreneur to a team of 15 people who don’t always have the workforce or resources to handle marketing intricacies. Companies can keep their pipeline filled without repeating repetitive tasks by automating parts of the sales and marketing process. This is especially helpful when running lead generation campaigns and may look like:
- Automating social media shares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, for example, to ensure content consistently goes out on time.
- Using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to streamline lead qualification and segment target audiences
- Monitoring marketing efforts with Facebook Analytics and Google Analytics, for example.
- Automating personalized email marketing campaigns
- Using AI to track empty shopping carts to retarget warm leads
- Implementing chatbots to provide effective customer service
Using marketing automation software helps to systematically capture, segment, and score potential new customers. Case in point: Research by Invespro purports that 4 out of 5 users increased leads by using automation software, and 77% had an increase in conversions.
Create Incentive-Based Referral Systems
The principles of word-of-mouth are still relevant today, except communication methods have changed. It’s super easy for people or assigned influencers to share recommendations on WhatsApp and social networks, but instead of waiting, businesses are creating referral programs. If you sell a product online, you can develop customized referral codes for new and loyal clients that give them a discount on a purchase (social media platforms tend to work well for referral-based marketing.)
Example: An insurance company could offer a discount off a client’s next payment if one of their referrals fills out a lead capture form. Referrals work because consumers trust their peers’ opinions, and they’re great for capturing qualified leads. A customer who refers to a local business will likely only do so if they know your products or services can meet a prospective client’s needs.
Referral programs turn existing customers into brand advocates, improving online engagement and customer acquisition. If customers are already referring to products and services, it’s likely a good time to leverage online reviews if it’s not already part of a business’s marketing strategy. As it is, 91% of consumers between 18 and 34 years-old trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Lead generation is a complex process that starts with understanding consumer psychology and knowing how to apply marketing methodologies and tech to increase website traffic and drive sales. The growing distrust in third-party data mining has made consumers more skeptical and challenged companies to provide real incentives if they want to capture qualified leads.
Organizations need to come across as credible and interested in building customer relationships, as opposed to making a one-time sale. It’s easy for customers to create negative press on social media, so integrity will remain a pillar to business success. At Comrade Digital Marketing Agency we know a business may start small, but with access to a global online market, it has the potential for exponential growth. Of course, this begins with the implementation of strategic lead generation tactics.