Approximately one-third of businesses with employees fail within their first two years according to data from the SBA. While this article isn’t going to dissect the wide range of reasons a business may fail, it will highlight one of the main factors for business success: consistent lead generation.
For your venture to scale quickly and consistently turn a profit, you must learn how to get business leads.
What Is Lead Generation in Marketing?
Lead generation in marketing is the act of gaining actionable customer interest for your business’s output. This typically involves a customer initiating a conversation or providing you with their contact information for follow-up regarding your business’s products or services.
For example, for a law firm to generate business leads, they might receive:
- A form submission from a potential client that is inquiring about their services.
- A phone call from a potential client to set up a consultation.
- A direct message on social media asking about their rates.
- An email from a potential client who is asking to schedule a consultation.
Thus, part of finding new business leads involves structuring a marketing experience that makes it easy for customers to engage with your company. If you’ve heard about demand gen and are wondering about whether you technically need demand generation vs. lead generation – you need both, and it’s not worth differentiating them at this point.
Your lead generation strategies should always result in the exchange of a prospect’s contact or payment information, or an in-person meeting.
12 Lead Generation Examples
Whether you plan to buy leads or build your lead generation marketing plan, having a business lead generation strategy in place will help you turn strangers into paying customers.
Before building out your strategy, take a look at the following 12 ways to generate leads for your business.
1. Direct Engagement
If your business sells a high-value product or a service that is billed on a monthly retainer, directly engaging with a potential customer is a great approach to generating new business. If your revenue model operates on low-value high-volume sales, it’s best to rule this option out.
You can reach out to prospects directly through social media, email, by phone, or even in person after establishing that they might be a good fit for your business.
For example, if you run a lawn care company in Houston and there’s a large commercial property being built in the area, call the property manager about servicing the completed estate. This is a great example of how to generate leads in Houston or any other area that your local business may service.
2. Generate Leads on LinkedIn
Making connections with relevant industry leaders is a great way to generate business opportunities. Potential connections asking for recommendations for a service that you offer could turn into your next paying customer.
Using social media to advertise is also a great way to leverage LinkedIn if you have the budget. You even have the option to pay for lead gen ads that include forms directly within your ads. These ads make it easy for relevant users to sign up for your products or services.
Another way to get business leads on LinkedIn is to connect with members of your target audience, engage with their posts, and message them directly to offer your product or service. Take note that this approach will only work if their profile and posts indicate that your services will help fill one of their unmet needs. If that’s not the case, your outreach could be written off as spam and hurt your credibility.
3. Advertise and Retarget
Social media isn’t the only place to advertise! Use targeted pay-per-click advertising on Google or Bing to market to search engine users. This helps you serve ads for searches you already know are extremely relevant to your business.
Imagine you’re a BMW dealer trying to improve your car dealership marketing in Houston. You can create ads that target phrases like, “best BMW dealer in Houston,” or, “new BMW in Houston,” and even use a geo-filter to target consumers that are searching in the Houston area.
Very few web visitors convert on their first visit to your website. When a user clicks on your PPC ads, you can use display retargeting to show visual advertisements for your products on other popular sites across the web.
Digital advertising can take some time to perfect, but it can be one of the most effective ways to generate leads for your business.
4. Ask for Referrals from Current Customers
Customer referrals are one of the oldest lead generation marketing strategies out there. If your product or service has delighted a current customer, ask them to share their experience with their friends who also might benefit.
The quality of your business’s offerings may be good enough that customers do this for free, or you could set up an incentive system. For example, give your customers a certain percentage off their next monthly retainer fee for every client they refer.
Customer referrals are a great way to get more leads for your business because it’s profitable, and your current customers are doing most of the work.
5. Write Guest Blogs
Writing guest blogs is a great way to generate referral business through content marketing and improve your SEO at the same time.
Guest blogging provides all of the following marketing benefits:
- Forms new industry connections
- Improves your SEO by acquiring meaningful, industry-relevant backlinks
- Generates referral traffic from a relevant audience
You can find leads for your business by guest blogging for sites that are relevant to your industry but don’t directly compete with you. For example, if you’re a marketing company, you can guest blog for sign companies in your area. You know that the sign makers audience is interested in marketing themselves, and your services act as a complement.
Guest blogging for local influencers aligns with local SEO best practices. For example, writing a guest blog and getting backlinks from a popular podcaster in your area will help your site rank more easily in that locality.
For optimal results, make sure the site you’re guest blogging for is relevant to both your industry and location.
6. Rank in search engines to generate leads
When your target audience searches for your product or services online, make sure they can easily find you. Learn how to generate more leads for your business by tapping into SEO and SEM for your website.
Start by doing keyword research to determine what phrases your target audience searches before purchasing your product or service. You can use tools like SEMrush or the Google Ads Keyword Planner to find search data.
Once you’ve identified the right keywords, optimize your page content. If you’re selling a highly competitive good or service, ranking organically might be difficult. Using an SEO company can be a great way to generate consistent leads if you’re willing to invest.
Learn how to choose an SEO company before you make any investment decisions. Not every agency delivers the same results, so it’s important to know how to choose a firm that is right for your business.
7. Answer Forum Questions
Answering forum questions is a great way to prove your subject matter expertise while also setting the stage for reciprocity. If done strategically, this practice can help you find leads in a matter of minutes.
“… The key to using the Principle of Reciprocity is to be the first to give and to ensure that what you give is personalized and unexpected.” This quote from Influence at Work outlines how being the first to give something can help you receive something of equal or greater value.
Put this principle of persuasion into action by answering forum questions on sites like Reddit or Quora. Find a category that is relevant to your business, and start answering user questions. At the end of your answer, make sure to include a call-to-action to use your product or service to help solve the user’s problem.
For example, imagine that you’re a law firm offering family law services. You can subscribe to a legal subreddit where users ask questions specifically about what your business offers. Take a few minutes each day to search for any questions that you can offer some insight.
If a user asks about a child support question, leave a helpful answer and finish by linking to your website and suggesting the user contact you for a consultation. By offering free advice, the user who asked the question may be more compelled to reciprocate by paying you for legal services in the future.
Answering forum questions is a great example of how to generate new business leads, and it can be great for SEO as well. For our Reddit example in particular, if your child support answer gets enough upvotes, your link can have a positive impact on your law firm’s SEO. This kind of synergy can lead to compounding returns on your lead gen efforts.
8. Offer a Free Tool or Lead Generation Magnet
Offering a free tool is a great way to generate business to business sales leads. What type of problem does your product or service solve? Can you offer a free tool that will help users without eliminating the need to eventually purchase from your business?
For this example, imagine that you’re a Houston-based plastic surgeon. After polling your Twitter audience and doing some keyword research, you determine that users are interested in learning about procedure costs and recovery times.
As a result, you decide to compile an eBook that outlines price ranges, recovery time ranges, and before and after photo examples for all of the different procedures that you offer. You write up a teaser blog post and then require people to exchange their name, phone number, and email address for the information you’ve provided.
With the right topic, targeting, and call to action, your blog post can start earning contact information. A higher alignment of the blog topic, CTA, and offer will result in a higher conversion rate. Here are the visit-to-lead conversion rate averages that you can expect according to blog lead conversion data from Databox.
The teaser blog post is so valuable that interested readers are linking to your website and signing up for the free eBook. Your guide will help you get leads for your business and have a positive impact on your Houston plastic surgery SEO at the same time.
What opportunity exists within your industry? Popular examples include building calculators, compiling original research, offering free guides, or even offering free consultations to help generate leads for your business.
9. Influencer Interviews
Interviewing leaders in your industry can open up a lot of doors for you and your business. Not only is this a great way to network and learn from experts within your industry, but you can use these interviews to create powerful content.
Video record your interview, turn it into a Q&A blog post or stage it as a podcast. Framing your interview in these different formats will help you leverage the content and bring interested users to your website or social media properties. You can even consider gating the interviews and requesting contact information to improve your business lead generation.
Many times, the influencers will share the resulting interview across their marketing channels, multiplying your reach and ROI.
10. Start Networking
Networking rarely leads to direct revenue but is great for nurturing professional opportunities. Try to select a networking event that is both local and related to your industry. This will help keep your travel costs low, and ensure that you are capitalizing on easy business wins.
What can you expect to gain from networking? If you walk in with ROI in mind, you’ll almost always be disappointed. Instead, look for oblique wins.
Maybe you’ll meet a complementary business that you can partner with to share leads, expanding your reach. Perhaps you meet an influencer that agrees to interview with you so that you can build a great piece of content and expand your marketing reach at the same time. Networking can even open up guest blogging opportunities for your company.
There are almost always multiple returns on your networking investment, making it one of the best ways to get leads for your business.
11. Create an Email Offer
Lead generation doesn’t always have to stem from exposure to a new audience. You might have untapped business potential in your email lists.
If you’ve built your own list of email subscribers, consider putting together a special offer. A special discount or limited time offer can effectively turn a passive bystander into your next paying customer.
You can also offer special email offers to other people’s email lists. If you’re actively networking or partnering with complementary businesses in your industry, you can structure a deal that lets you promote yourself to their audience.
Recall our previous example of a guest blog partnership between a marketing agency and sign-maker. The marketing agency could suggest a business promotion in the sign company’s next email blast and offer the sign-maker 5% of all sales generated from the initiative. This is a win-win-win situation for the marketing firm, the sign company, and the happy new customers.
12. Create Helpful Blog Comments
As a warning, I did not save the best business lead generation strategy for last.
As a business owner or marketing executive at your company, make it a point to subscribe to industry publications and even competitor blogs. This can help you keep a finger on the pulse of your competition, and open up opportunities to be helpful.
If you notice that readers have left several blog comments on a post that haven’t been answered, offer your personal insights in response. It’s not a bad idea to include a call to action to some relevant information on your website that will further address the reader’s question.
Tread lightly when trying to generate business leads through blog comments. Comments on blogs are difficult to pull off genuinely because of their susceptibility to spam. Also, your competitors may not take kindly to you headhunting their audience.
Let MARION Help Build Your Lead Generation Strategies
If you’re interested in getting more leads for your business and growing your company, the experts at MARION can help. Our marketing agency can help improve your lead generation in Houston and Austin and increase your bottom line.
Contact us today for a free marketing consultation.