STRATEGY

Lead Generation Strategies for Your Business

Marketing your company effectively requires developing an online presence. While word-of-mouth endorsements and recommendations still have an important role helping you establish your reputation in your community, reaching a broader audience online takes a developed marketing strategy.

The higher you rank in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), the more likely the prospect will click your link. Effective marketing strategies help you develop a plan to rank high for the qualified searchers more likely to convert to customers.

The need for long term relationships with customers is key for any company. It is time to find a way to cut through the noise and identify the right customers. Proper marketing strategies will help position yourself as a trusted expert in your community, industry and most importantly, with your clientele.

If you have a business, or work for one, chances are you have heard about lead generation strategies. If you have been in sales, you worked on this strategy or even designed a plan to gain the most leads and sales for your business.

Lead generation strategies are tactics to help you get your clients, build your business, and keep your business thriving and growing into the future. While word-of-mouth used to be the primary way businesses gained clients, the world has changed and lead generation strategies are rapidly evolving.

Lead generation strategies use multiple channels, and if you’re unfamiliar with these channels and how to leverage them, your business could be left behind. To be successful, your business must market correctly to responsive target audiences on different levels.

What does all this mean? It means you need to educate yourself and your business partners on lead generation strategies and how to use them. Let’s start with a more in-depth definition of what lead generation is, and then we’ll delve into the many channels (websites, email marketing, and trade shows, to name a few) your business should use to generate business through leads.

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What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is identifying and cultivating potential customers (read: strangers) willing to buy your products or services. Everyone wants more leads and every business wants to use the best lead generation strategies available. Let’s get started.

Networking + Community Involvement

Networking is still the best way to accomplish most business goals, including generating sales leads, so consider this strategy first. (Keep in mind a good web search will  provide great information prior to networking as well). Even in this digital age, who you know is still as important as what you know.

So how does this translate into lead generation strategies for your business? Easy! — networking is one of the best ways to prospect new customers, generate leads like crazy and, recruit new employees. Whether you have been in business for years or are just getting started, be aware 80 percent of business opportunities come from an existing contact. Networking is free and you can start immediately with your current business associates.

Community involvement is used to network and demonstrate to prospective clients you are a reliable presence in your community. Today, how you do business and who you are is just as important as what type of business you do.

Get involved with community and service organizations in your area and tell them about your services or products. As part of your strategy, provide free samples of your products or services, or in-kind gifts to nonprofits and organizations with a great impact on your community. If your business has seasonal dips, for example, this is a great opportunity keep employees productive and to donate services to a nonprofit needing its walls painted, minor construction work or an upgraded IT infrastructure, for example. This shows future clients you have a moral compass and care about more than money — and you will be a reliable business partner or source for the product or services they need.

Digital Marketing Lead Generation Strategies

Digital marketing encompasses many different types of marketing including:

  • Online marketing
  • “Push” notifications
  • Text messaging
  • Instant messaging
  • Mobile apps
  • Podcasts
  • Electronic billboards, banner ads
  • Digital TV and radio channels

If you have been on the Internet lately, you know the importance of digital marketing and have probably recently experienced it on your smartphone or laptop. Digital marketing is the cutting edge of lead generation strategies, and in demand in the business world. Digital marketing requires a high level of technical know-how, and in some cases coding and programming ability.

Digital strategies should be managed by a mobile app expert. Most forms of digital lead generation and marketing, such as those below, are among the most effective and can be handled by various marketing or media gurus.

Website Lead Generation Strategies

Websites are the number one lead generation tool and that is unlikely to change. This means your landing page is even more important perhaps than you realize. Your intention, your ability and your personality or the personality of your business should shine through on this page, or you’re wasting your time and your leads’.

In addition, your website should be responsive, have excellent UX, be technically strong, have purposeful SEO, and provide pop-up forms so leads can easily submit their contact information. Responsive web design aims to integrate device viewing for an excellent viewer experience on a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop.

It’s a fact — most people own at least 3.64 connected devices, according to the Global Web Index, an international consumer information company. How your website behaves on a mobile device is critical.

UX stands for User Experience, and excellent UX means the use of your website is flawless — navigation is spot on, and readers, leads or clients find what they’re looking for with ease. Good UX is an overall pleasant or even nondescript experience inspiring a return visit for more. Your website must be easy to navigate, easy to read on multiple devices and give the user precisely the information they need in the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing way.

A technically strong website works in tandem with the responsiveness and excellent UX; your website must be compatible with all devices’ browsers and platforms. Algorithms which lead to organic SEO are constantly changing, and it’s crucial to stay in step so your website content ranks high in Google and leads can find you.

Overall, these characteristics drive lead generation with one, well-crafted tool: your website. Don’t skimp on it, and don’t let your mother’s friend’s nephew design it for you. Pay for a decent site specifically designed for you and your goals. Your business and your lead generation will thank you for it.

Email Marketing

Email marketing, such as email blasts and e-newsletters, continues to effectively engage leads through direct emails they’ve requested on your website. The emails allow for new lead generation, lead nurturing and can be sent out following visits to your website.

The use of email marketing allows you to nurture the leads and keep them informed until they are ready to learn more or engage with your business directly. Ongoing communication with leads builds trust and creates a relationship.

Cross-Platform Social Media

The social media giants continue to evolve. Make sure your business is looking at all social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and more.

At Valve+Meter, we encourage purposeful use of social media over obligatory. Having connections to these platforms from your site and maintaining a presence benefits your SEO. Before you guffaw at Google+ referred to as “popular,” understand as a Google product, it remains a part of the SEO equation.

Social media can increases the reach of your business, sometimes building leads almost effortlessly. You may pay for these services in the form of ads, and even a presence on social media helps generate leads and build your brand. Focus your brand on social media, create followers, and reliably post information for them to absorb. Nearly everyone with a smartphone checks social media at least once a day, and this is another way to build trust and disseminate information.

Be advised social media messaging is not “one size fits all.” These platforms have different audiences and content should be appropriate for each. If you plan on incorporating social media into your marketing plans, let Valve+Meter coach you. It’s better to be active on one or two most pertinent channels for your prospects than sporadic and spend time and resources where your customers aren’t.

Pay-per-click (PPC) Lead Generation Strategies

PPC lead generation can be challenging and complex, but with proper strategies and management, it can be done. To make it work for your business, track conversions completely and granularly and separate legitimate sales leads from other conversions. If you are unsure hire an expert who can set up the campaign structures. If you’re determined, educate yourself well and know this is not a quick fix. PPC takes time, adjustments, and may not produce the returns you want immediately.

Paid Display Ads

These ads are available everywhere and you can create them immediately on social media channels or your website. Google AdWords is a commonly used lead generator which works best on smartphones. Global digital ad spends in 2016, for example, hit around $181.3 billion.

Marketing influencer Neil Patel notes Google AdWords has become stricter with approved landing pages, so be cognizant as you develop your lead generation strategy. To use these ads, have a clear plan, set a budget, and select the best social media channels for your business. Like PPC lead generation, this method may take time and testing.

Review Google’s landing page requirements, because they are detailed. Make sure your new landing page has the following:

  • Relevant, useful and original content
  • Transparency and trustworthiness
  • Ease of navigation and
  • Fast loading time (less than three seconds).

As long as your page has these characteristics, Google should approve it for display ad lead generation.

Direct Mail Lead Generation Strategies

Okay, now that we’ve hit the big, digital lead generation methods, let’s talk about traditional, which still works. As long as the United States Postal Service (USPS) is still in business, direct mail is alive and well.

Direct mail includes newsletters, postcards and brochures or fliers you physically mail or take to trade shows, events or meetings with leads or prospective leads. You know, the kind you actually print and place on the table or in someone’s hand. The benefits of direct mail are:

  • Audience targeting
  • Personalization
  • You can feel it, look at, and it hangs around your kitchen for days
  • Leads are familiar with and trust the format\
  • Analytics are simple
  • Creating and executing a plan is easy
  • Cost-effective
  • Data proves it’s effective

Don’t discount the benefits of direct mail campaigns, and don’t solely rely on them, either. Additionally, direct mail campaigns used as a partner strategy can create more leads for your business.

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Referral Programs

Referral marketing refers to leveraging partners, customers, and influencers in your industry to refer target leads for your business. Referral sources include:

  • Large partners
  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Customers
  • Peer businesses
  • Agents
  • Consultants
  • Agencies
  • Tech partners
  • Software vendors
  • Resellers

Referral programs will grow leads for your business and use appropriate messaging, content, and incentives for each type of referral source. There are three referral program categories:

  • Direct to Individual Programs
  • To and Through Strategic Alliance Programs
  • To and Through Partner Network Programs

Trade Shows + Conferences

Okay, pay attention to this one. You know you have to get out into the world to generate leads, right? Yes, you do! So take a shower, put on some decent clothes, make your hair look nice, and mine the computer for relevant trade shows and conferences to attend. Trade shows and conferences help you connect with leads in one of the most personal ways possible. It also provides insight into potential competitor strategies.

Bring other lead generation strategies with you to these events (referral programs, direct mail and brochures and information about your community involvement) and double or triple your lead generation. Leads mill around at these events just looking for businesses interesting to them. It’s almost as if the leads are walking directly up to you and giving you a chance to pitch your business, services, and products in person. It’s direct and it works.

Outbound Contact Center + Calling Lead Generation Strategies

Cold calling is rarely anyone’s favorite way to generate leads, yet it works. Create an exceptional script and make sure callers follow it; call all leads, not just hot ones; follow up with leads at a time reasonable for them; inject humor and personality into your interactions; and respect the lead. Listen to them.They can share valuable intelligence.

Respecting a lead means asking if the lead has time to discuss the business services, calling back at a better time if necessary, and speaking in a respectful and engaged tone. Don’t be afraid to communicate a sense of urgency and be diligent. Be aware, while this discourages some leads, it wins many others.

Calling for lead generation is primarily effective for B2B leads and prospective leads. One more thing — develop a thick skin, or make sure your callers have one. People will hang up on you or your callers, get angry, and show a lack of enthusiasm with this approach. Many of them won’t answer the phone, either — but some will. Maintain perspective.

Valve+Meter has a depth of experience in B2B appointment setting and is happy to brainstorm strategies with you.

Webinars + Publisher Services Announcements (PSAs)

People are motivated by free stuff, and webinars are the best way to give it to them. Webinars are so common these days, they must be geared perfectly for your leads. No one will waste their time on an unappealing webinar or satisfy their needs. Look at webinar topics from the point of view of your leads — what do they want to know? How quickly can you deliver information and leave them wanting to know more?

Because webinars generate high-quality leads, they must establish trust and credibility first — spend the first few seconds of the webinar establishing your qualification and personally speaking to the lead. Don’t take too long — your lead is likely listening to the webinar while cooking dinner for their kids or while completing another business task. Grab their attention and get through the webinar as quickly as possible. Additionally, partnership opportunities can be gained through webinars. Take the time to make them high-quality and worth the effort of watching.

PSAs are the creation of inbound leads from advertisers. Create partnerships with advertisers and target more people each day with your lead generation. Some businesses swear by PSAs just use them with other lead generation strategies to make them most effective.

Partner + Beneficiary Relationships Lead Generation Strategies

Partners and beneficiaries are non-competitive businesses with a customer base or leads similar to yours. Reach out to these businesses and cross-promote each other whenever possible. Drive your lead generation through helping other businesses, and they’ll help yours. Being a part of your community includes frequenting local businesses looking for the best lead generation strategies just like yours.

The relationships you build in your business community are just as important as the ability you bring to the table. Other businesses can supply leads, clients, or just some great advice you never considered. Keeping those communication channels open will help get the word out about your business, and allow people in the community to express their (hopefully good) opinions about you over business dinners or in meetings. If it’s not good, it’s an opportunity to correct a problem you were unaware of or dismissing. Word-of-mouth is alive and well in lead generation.

Content + Blog Lead Generation Strategies

Content strategy drives lead generation by capturing reader attention. Content on websites is big business and providing your leads relevant, concise reading when they visit your site can convert them instantly. Blogs allow personal connection and education, giving leads something to take away, and building trust and interaction.

Content blogs as lead generating strategies are a great way to capture leads through engaging people in your business, services, or products. People like to be told stories, like to read something new and unique, and like to draw parallels between themselves, their situations, and the story being told.

Content blogs keep leads and clients up-to-date on your business, just like e-newsletters, without cluttering inboxes. Leads visiting your website will read blogs to get an idea of your business’ perspective, your style, and learn more about what problems your business solves. Content blogs are also informative, educate leads and readers, and provide a more engaging and shareable platform than emails.

Public Relations + Community Engagement

Any PR professional knows the importance of image, and any business knows the importance of lead generation strategies. Promote your business and drive lead generation through branding, positive interactions on a public scale and community engagement. Sponsor local school events, community sports teams, create scholarships, and create superlative brand awareness and leads.

Public events such as trade shows, festivals, demonstrations and sponsorships get your business out into the community awareness. Brand building happens at these events, and leads doing something they enjoy are more open to products and services in general.

Get out into the community and demonstrate your products or services. Work with your business community to create events, however small, to help generate leads both with other businesses and with community residents. Check out this article on how to use public relations as successful lead generating strategies.

Public relations strategies are part of a plan with other lead generation strategies to create a network supportive of your business and new clients.

Leverage public relations, community engagement, and recruit people who believe strongly in your business. Monitor your competitors’ strategies through their public relations programs and use their insights to help develop a better PR plan for your business.

Generating leads for your business is the most crucial part of business strategy. Gain a better understanding of how strategies work, and learn about better strategies through Valve+Meter Performance Marketing. We are committed to results, not tactics — we’ll help you drive your lead generation strategies to the next level through a free Gap Analysis and excellent, seasoned advice for your successful business. Valve+Meter is focused on your business, with 30+ years of marketing, business, finance and data analytics. Contact our team now or visit us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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AUTHOR

Marcia Barnes
Marcia Barnes
CEO + Founder

Marcia has a rich history in leading and serving performance-based marketing organizations with nationwide impact. In addition to leading multiple marketing agencies, she has received notable recognition for her leadership as President and CEO at Indianapolis-based Defender Direct (now called DEFENDERS). Over the course of her 14-year tenure with the company, Defender Direct experienced exponential growth from $2MM in annual revenue to more than $400MM.