Your business can’t grow without sales. You can’t make sales without customers. You can’t capture customers without leads. That’s why lead generation is so important to your business.
Growing your business means being visible to potential customers. At its core, lead generation is the process of putting your business in front of prospects to attract and convert them into customers.
For many small business owners, this is easier said than done. There are myriad lead generation strategies and tactics, all of which require varying amounts of time, energy, and money.
Nancy Bleeke, author at SalesPro Insider, breaks lead generation down into three broad levels:
Let’s focus on low-touch activities. These are organic tactics for generating leads. Cumulatively, they form the components of a lead generation process that runs in the background. Many small businesses thrive on low-touch lead generation for just that reason. Passive lead generation leaves you more time to focus on growing other aspects of the business.
To have a well-oiled passive leads machine, your business needs a robust and thoughtfully designed online presence. Here are some strategies for building an online presence that generates leads.
When you create a piece of content for the web, you leave “footprints” that make your business visible to the billions of people searching the web for information, explains James Cox, Director of Content Marketing at DigDev Direct. Ideally, these website visitors come to see your business as a credible source based on the content you share, Cox says.
Creating content is an investment of time, money, and resources, though. That’s why some of the best content for you — and for your audience — will be timeless advice. That’s exactly what expat tax company Greenback Tax Services does. Their tips on filing taxes don’t change much from year to year, so guides like the one they wrote on The Foreign Tax Credit remain relevant long after initial publication.
In fact, this kind of evergreen content is something you can promote over and over again. Greenback creates new interest each year by refreshing some of the information and resharing evergreen articles on their social channels. This helps to drive new traffic each time.
So, how do you know what kind of content will carry long-term resonance with your audience? Start by researching what kind of content is already out there. Marketer Robert Katai has some good tips at the Kinsta blog to help focus this research:
Search engine optimization is both an important and frustrating aspect of digital marketing. On the one hand, it’s a huge win if your website ranks highly for a keyword that 10,000 people search for every month. That’s the internet equivalent of having a shop on a high-traffic street.
On the other hand, there’s no silver bullet to make your contact rank on the first page of Google’s or YouTube’s search results. You’re always at the mercy of the algorithm.
All that said, search traffic can be immensely valuable if the keywords you rank for are relevant to your business. That’s why your content needs to start with keywords. “When properly leveraged, targeted SEO keywords should be used to inspire all page content in order to satisfy searcher intent,” says Tylor Hermanson, Group Director of SEO at Intouch Solutions.
Take The Uncommon League, a corporate training company based out of Minnesota, which has a blog post from 2017 on how businesses can cross-train their employees to cover various roles. If you search “cross-train employees” in Google, theirs is one of the first results.
That’s valuable because cross-training is one of the services The Uncommon League provides. Anyone who actually searches for information on cross-training employees would likely be a warm prospect for The Uncommon League.
The first step in attracting and converting that prospect is to get them on your website. That’s how a robust web presence and SEO work together to generate leads. You can use a service like ahrefs or Moz to identify keywords that would be relevant for your own customers. Use those keywords to inform the content you create.
If you own a portrait photography studio, for example, you might be interested in addressing the Google search term “how to have a good portrait taken”. You could do this by creating content that explains to the reader how to set up the right lighting for a portrait, what kind of backgrounds work best, and how to get the focus just right.
Be sure to include a note about how this is what you do professionally and you’re ready to take bookings for portraits. Not everyone who reads your article will be interested in becoming a customer; in fact, only a tiny fraction will. But as you promote your “how to have a good portrait taken” guide and earn more traffic, the number of leads will steadily grow, as well.
If your business serves a community or a specific area, then your lead generation efforts need to reflect that. Make it clear through your online presence — in your blog posts, in your social media shares, in everything you publish — that you serve a specific area.
One important aspect of local searches that you need to plan for is the “near me” search.
According to data from Think With Google, “near me” mobile searches that contain some variation of “can I buy” or “to buy” grew more than fivefold between 2016 and 2018. What’s more, three in four people who search for a product or service nearby visit a related business that day.
So, if there are a hundred people in your area who search “real estate agents near me” every day, about seventy-five of those people will visit a real estate agent that same day. Showing up in searches like those can make a huge difference for local businesses.
ThriveHive recommends four key steps for ranking in a Google “near me” search:
Brad Smith, the founder of B2B content creation company Codeless, stresses the importance of lead magnets for small businesses. These are pieces of content — ebooks, newsletters, guides, whatever — that a website visitor would trade their email address for.
Smith describes lead magnets in the context of local marketing, but the rule applies even to small businesses that don’t have a specific geographic area they serve. If you have an eCommerce shop, for example, you could provide visitors with a discount code for holiday shopping in exchange for an email address. Or, if you are title attorney, you could provide an ebook that outlines the legal aspects of purchasing a home in your area.
Whatever your market and whatever your content, it needs to be informative and attractive enough that someone would exchange their contact information for it. With that, you have a lead to follow.
When implementing passive lead generation strategies, your focus should be on building a positive reputation and demonstrating your expertise.
“Passive marketing may be better considered as placement marketing in that it’s about being in the right place at the right time,” explains Vicki Woschnick, Content Manager at Weidert Group. “It’s thoughtful, anticipatory and practical.” Instead of pushing your business in the path of customers with high-touch activities, you are merely placing yourself in their vicinity as they search for a provider.
And where are most of your potential customers doing their searches? Online. That’s why an online presence is so important. It puts you in the path of your prospective leads when they are most receptive to interacting with you.