Lead generation is an important part of many marketing strategies, making it an incredibly useful thing to focus on regardless of the industry your business operates in.
However, that does not make it easy.
Being able to generate leads is part skill and part luck, with a lot of careful planning involved. If you want high-quality leads, then you need to develop a lead generation strategy that works for your business, and that is not as simple as it sounds.
Finding a good lead generation strategy requires a solid understanding of how leads work, what kind of leads you are looking for, and which parts of your own target audience are likely to offer them.
Most importantly, though, is the methods you use to generate leads. Finding the right combination of tactics, tricks, and future-proofing options can go a long way toward giving you the long-term lead generation strategies you need for your business to succeed.
What are Leads?
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Business leads are any kind of confirmed connection between you and your prospective clients. In simple terms, it is the lead to a sale – meaning that you have got a good chance of turning a potential customer into a paying customer.
Leads can take a lot of different forms depending on how your business is set up and who your target audience is. New leads could be email conversations, advertisements, social media posts, or even direct discussions with the representative of another business.
When you generate leads, you are actually trying to secure future customers and ensure that you are not going to lose any potential business leads that might have come your way. This not only helps you get more sales, but can spread awareness of your brand very effectively.
Common Lead Generation Strategies
There is a huge range of ways to approach generating leads for your business, regardless of which industry you are in. This means that you can always rely on the same basic strategies to offer some lead generation benefits if all else fails.
However, the exact lead generation options you use will still depend on the kind of business you run, as well as the overall needs of your business as a whole.
Business leads are different across all industries, markets, and companies. No two business owners are going to target the same sources of leads or rely on the same lead generation strategies, and that means that you need to find out what works for your business the best.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO (search engine optimization) provides a very effective and free tool for trying to approach lead generation.
Using SEO, you can gather new leads for your business while also improving your own website and internet presence – making it even easier to get the results you want.
SEO is all about getting your business in front of the right people at the right time, using all kinds of keywords and marketing techniques to ensure that you appear higher in search engine rankings.
What is SEO?
When you do a Google search, your site is ranked based on a range of factors – from the valuable content on your landing pages to the overall relevancy of the site itself. This ranking is something that you can adjust and optimizing your site for better search performance is the core of SEO.
Through SEO, you can make sure that your site comes up higher in the Google search results. This leads to more website visitors, more control over which terms you are ranking for, and more follow-up options to capture leads that you would otherwise lose.
Keywords are everything. The heart of SEO is keyword research – seeing which keywords your site ranks for, which ones it does not, and which keywords your target audience is actually using in their searches.
If you understand the keywords being used in your niche, then you can rework your website and advertising options to better target those audiences. You are using keyword research to pick out popular terms that are related to your business, then using them to promote yourself.
Keywords are vital for helping you generate leads for your business. By using the right keywords, you can make sure that your website appears in relevant searches while minimizing irrelevant traffic, giving you a much greater chance of each visitor being one that you can convert into a paying customer.
Backlinks are a major part of SEO. If a site links to yours, then you get a lot of the same direct engagement – specifically, you get the site’s domain and page authority. If the site linking to you is already quite prominent, then this boosts your own SEO results as well.
This means that building links between sites can be a valuable way to improve your own SEO, earn more leads for your business, and potentially even make your business visible to far more people.
Using metadata well can help you provide a stronger first impression of your business by adding a proper title and description to the search results that customers see. This allows you to distinguish yourself early on and nudge customers towards your sales funnel.
While this is only a small part of SEO, it is something that most business owners overlook, and it can have a huge impact on your new lead generation efforts.
Inbound marketing is all about creating content that other people will want to see – things that will drive traffic to your site. This is hard to pull; off, but it can be a very subtle and effective form of lead generation that does not intrude on your customers’ personal space.
Inbound methods can cover all kinds of content creation: you could write blog posts, add more articles to your site, create a new directory page, or even overhaul your own product descriptions. All that matters is that you are drawing new customers to your site.
From there, you can use the content on your site to turn them into qualified leads. The more traffic you have coming in, the more chances you have of getting paying customers out of a simple piece of content.
A blog post might sound like a simple concept, but even the most basic business blog post chain can have an impact. Creating informative blogs is a great option since it will draw in people who want to learn about whatever you have written about – they will be invested before they even arrive.
Another option is to set up a regular blog post that will wrap people up in the continuing process. For example, a weekly blog post about the progress of creating a new product or setting up a new service will entice current customers while also getting the attention of first-time visitors.
Beyond just blogs, there are a lot of ways to create engaging site content that will improve SEO and draw in a lot more attention than expected. Creating something unique and new but still worth reading is tough, but there are a lot of ways to handle it.
Of course, like a lot of elements of lead generation, this depends on your industry. Some industries are flooded with blogs, while others are far more niche. Neither is a bad thing, but your approach needs to match the kind of audience that you expect to draw in.
The simplest – and least reliable – method is to simply insert more keywords into existing pages and content. Adding more keywords to your site is a straightforward change, but it can help you rank higher for specific search terms – and draw in more attention from certain audiences.
Doing this, especially with common landing pages, means that you can effectively generate more leads from the same content you have always been using. Some companies may even decide to change around keywords to always reflect the most recent iteration of a product or a commonly used search term.
A good call-to-action (the phrase used in an ad or piece of marketing material to tell the reader to visit your site) can be a useful element in all kinds of lead generation situations.
One of the most underrated parts of SEO – and marketing – is the fact that it pushes you to update your website. If you want to generate sales leads for your business, you need to have a business that gives off a good first impression, and your website is the main way to make that happen.
While existing customers will know how good your shipping and customer service options are, online lead generation thrives on bringing in more leads – people who may not have heard of you before.
Improving your site and making it more usable does not just improve your SEO statistics – and thus your presence on the internet – but also your general perception. If a visitor likes your site enough to trust it, then they have a higher chance of becoming one of your sales leads.
Loading times and site slowdown can be a serious problem.
Potential customers usually only give a site around 2-3 seconds to process a request or load a page before their mood starts to sour, and this can lose you a sales-qualified lead that was already in the process of converting.
The worse your site performs and the more awkward it is to use, the harder it will be to convince potential customers to actually use it. If your site is not worth using, then many people will simply turn to other companies instead.
Navigation is another major usability issue. If a customer can’t navigate to the information that they are looking for, they are going to get frustrated – something that could even annoy existing customers to the point that they look for an alternative.
Your sales process needs to be even across both mobile and desktop devices. While most devices are still going to use similar site designs, that does not change the fact that they require distinctly different things.
Mobile sales leads often require a mobile-friendly site, and that means spending the time to update your website yourself. Alternatively, you could make a separate site that has the same features and functions but is meant purely for mobile use.
Either way, not having a mobile-friendly website is terrible for lead generation. Mobile users make up a huge percentage of the market, and without them backing up your business, it can become increasingly difficult to get more lead generation opportunities.
Paid ads can be a huge part of your lead generation process if you choose to use them. Small businesses might struggle to find the budget for a lot of ads, but they are also one of the best ways to make your marketing efforts mean something.
Paid advertising requires a whole digital marketing tool setup and a deep understanding of how you should approach your target market. However, if you and your sales team can pull it off, then you will have relevant content and ads in all of the right places to gather more leads.
Straightforward paid advertising on search engines and other websites can be an ideal way to generate more leads. Good advertising can get your brand name out there, generate more leads, give you more marketing channels, and even direct more traffic to your landing pages.
If you want more web traffic as a whole, then using ads to direct people to your site and sales funnel can be an excellent option. By paying for ads, you can also ensure that they will appear, rather than having to use the same algorithm system as SEO.
Even better is the fact that keywords still apply. You can tailor your ads to target interested parties and generate more leads related to your business, placing ads across a range of platforms to drum up new business.
Social Media Platforms
Social media is an invaluable way of generating leads.
Not only can you find potential leads by just posting social media content every so often, but most social media platforms have additional ways to promote yourself to certain audiences.
Social media also allows for an easier follow-up with certain customers since many of these sites have account-based contact details. This means that customers can ask you questions, talk to your sales team directly, or even make a purchase thanks to social media channels.
Social media platform followers can be a great source of quality leads, and social platforms effectively become a free tool to earn more. This provides a great way to drive leads to your business without having to do much actual work.
A lot of social media platform sites offer ways to promote your own posts, sharing them around like ads. This will not make a difference for current customers, but it can help you draw in new sales leads by putting worthwhile content on a platform that they check fairly regularly.
You will also get a lot of customization options to make sure that your lead generation efforts are targeting the right audience. While these are not going to be free tools due to the nature of paid ads, they are still a great option for bolstering your business’ success.
Social media channels will also be good for gathering more attention as a whole, helping you produce leads in a more natural way. Having a social account is always better than not having one at all, and drawing in more leads never hurts.
Remember that social media channels often appear as separate results in Google searches. The right keywords can ensure that you take the top two spots for certain search terms rather than just one.
Email marketing can be risky, but when it works, it can lead to far more leads than you would ordinarily have. When you generate leads over email, you are effectively contacting potential clients directly to market your products and services right to them.
This means that you establish sales leads almost immediately. While some people will just ignore the emails, others will latch onto them or even express overt interest in what you are offering. If that happens, then you have a good chance of converting them into paying customers.
Emails can be personalized according to a list of customer details, which can include people who followed a call to action and entered their contact details into a contact form.
There are a lot of ways to gather data like this, from an opt-in form to a newsletter registration system.
Whatever you use, having a list of people that your sales team can create emails for becomes a great option for drawing potential customers back in, even if they have forgotten that they were looking at your business.
As a form of outbound marketing, it is suitable for marketing automation. This means that you might be able to keep prospective customers invested by running a chain of automated emails written by sales teams, offering free trials or small discounts to renew their interest.
Reviews are a part of sales lead generation that many people completely overlook, but they can be a vital source of new sales leads and more ways of promoting your business effectively.
Most customers judge how good a business is based on reviews first and foremost, even before they hit the landing page. This means that you need to keep track of those reviews and make sure that you are using them to your advantage whenever possible.
Positive reviews have a lot of value when it comes to marketing your business. Not only do they serve as a more powerful form of word-of-mouth advertising, but they can become one of the first things that a new customer will see when they look up your business.
This means that they are effectively a stronger form of customer referrals. Real, in-depth reviews can be one of the best options you have for expanding your business’ reach, offering a significant boost to your overall image in the eyes of new visitors.
Negative reviews are much more of a problem. These can actively harm your lead generation efforts and will make it much more difficult to expand your reach, meaning that you will want to get them changed around to positive reviews as soon as possible.
The best way to do that is to make sure that you are dealing with them as they appear.
You can always contact the person who left a review to offer something to soften the blow – for example, offering to replace a product that broke or giving them a partial or full refund.
Clearing out negative reviews (without deleting them yourself – this will reflect badly on any business) is a constant struggle, but it can make your lead generation work much easier and provide a lot more options for marketing yourself to your customers.
Other Tips for Generating Leads
Lead generation is an incredibly vague and hard-to-handle subject since no two businesses will have the exact same experience. While we can offer a few tips to point you in the right direction, the bulk of the work is something that you will have to discover for your own business.
Use Marketing Experience to Generate Leads
If you have any existing marketing experience, use it. Lead generation is effectively just marketing for a specific purpose, and that means that all normal marketing tricks and techniques can still be useful.
Remember that lead generation is also loosely based on your own existing marketing strategies. The marketing you have already done will contribute to the kind of leads you can generate the easiest.
Some marketing tricks, such as making a unique landing page for each target audience or getting your site on online directories, can be surprisingly powerful regardless of the context. The landing page example is one of the most notable marketing tricks used online, and it is no less common for lead generation either.
More complex marketing tactics, like using a customer referrals system to get more leads, can be harder to implement but surprisingly lucrative. It takes skill and experience to pull these off, but once they are in place, they can be an excellent way to bolster your existing lead options.
The more you can plan ahead, the better. No two lead generation strategies are created equal, but even understanding the basics of the buying cycle and your industry’s general customer habits can make a difference.
If you want to succeed, then you need to make sure that you plan everything properly. Good planning is the most important part of lead generation, especially if you are trying to generate leads across multiple platforms at the same time.
Sometimes plans change, but you can still adapt. Having a plan as a general guideline makes a huge difference to your own marketing.
Talk with Customers
Customer relationship management is an often-underused marketing tool. Actually communicating with your customers, even through something like a Facebook page, makes a significant difference in how your business is perceived.
Even just basic communication about product features can be enough to earn you some extra attention and leads. Some of the best lead generation options are the simplest ones and having open discussions with customers can be incredibly straightforward.
Beyond that, it can sometimes help you avoid negative reviews by handling issues in private.
Many customers would rather complain directly than leave a review, so having a way to handle things like broken products or misplaced deliveries can allow you to avoid negative reviews if something goes wrong.
Knowing how to grow your business from this point onward can be tough. Lead generation is complex but vague, meaning that there is not really a single way to tackle the problem, to begin with.
Even with that in mind, you might simply not know what to do next. Following other people’s guides and tips can help, but you still need to eventually commit to a certain plan or strategy, and that is not going to be easy if you are unprepared.
Take some time to plan things out and think about your own business. You will want to choose a strategy that suits your own company’s goals and long-term success options.
Lead generation can be an important part of running your business, but it is not the only thing you need to handle. It is easy to get absorbed in gathering more leads without focusing on the rest of your business.
One of the best ways to avoid this is by hiring a third-party lead generation company and getting them to do the work instead. This frees you and your staff up to focus on other responsibilities, something that can be important if you are trying to grow your business from scratch.
Whatever you decide to do, there are a lot of ways to handle the problem at your own pace. Just do not wait too long – many leads are time-sensitive, and you want to get them right the first time around so that you do not do any damage to your own branding or public perception.
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