How to generate leads for your small business in 2021

Leads are the lifeblood of every business.

In order to survive and thrive, your organisation will need to have a steady stream of sales leads, but even seasoned professionals can find it difficult at times.

It’s no surprise; securing that steady flow is hard work. It requires you to continuously attract new leads, qualify and nurture them, and ultimately turn them into customers. This process, called lead generation, is essentially a technique of finding the right mix of channels that will get you in front of the right people. Using an effective lead generation system will make this process a whole lot easier, but just like any tough job, lead generation requires you to invest some time and effort upfront.

If you’re not sure where to begin, this guide will get you started by leading you through five key strategies to capture and convert those all-important leads.

Create buyer personas

A lead is a prospective customer, so the obvious starting place is to work out just who is likely to buy your product or service, and how you can reach them. Begin this process with research – use the internet to find similar companies to you and see how their consumers are, and study your existing customers, you’ll learn a lot. Consider the basic components that make up a consumer – age, gender, likes, dislikes, purchase habits and financial situation, then feed these into a pen portrait to build buyer personas of your ideal prospect. You should also look closely at the information you hold on existing customers to help build this picture.

Build your marketing plan

Build your plan using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based) goals, and remember to employ a wide range of techniques, with a sharp focus on inbound marketing techniques designs to draw potential clients to you. This ensures the leads coming to you are ‘warm’, making your job securing the customer that bit easier. Here are a few of our recommended inbound techniques:

Digital Advertising

Social media channels and search engines offer incredibly targeted ways of getting your business in front of potential leads. Often referred to as Pay Per Click, they are an effective way to get visitors to your site.

SEO

Digital advertising won’t work for every business, and in some cases SEO is worth greater investment. Google gets an incredible 3.5 billion searches a day, making it prime real estate for lead gen. SEO will improve your visibility in search engine rankings – hopefully keeping you away from the fateful second page of Google results! It must be routinely updated and maintained in order to bring in a steady stream of leads, but when done well can bring in endless warm leads ready to be converted to customers.

A Statista survey conducted among marketing professionals in the US, found that 43% of respondents believed SEO to be the most effective channel in producing high ROI, so this is a powerful place to invest your lead gen budget.

Blogging

Creating engaging content that is promoted well will position you as a thought leader in your field, demonstrating your credibility and bringing a human element to your company. Be sure to include a call to action at the end of each post.

Build a sales pipeline

Once your leads start coming in they’ll need to be nurtured to be transferred into sales. Using a sales funnel model will allow you to organise your customers journey. Once in place, your pipeline will also give you an overview of where prospects are in the sales process. There are a number of reputable platforms that can support this work.

Embrace automation

As you begin to get leads in, you’ll need to find an efficient way to keep in contact with them and nurture them through the pipeline. Plan ahead and look at where automation, such as email marketing, could help you in this process. The beauty of automation is its ability to allow you to scale your marketing efforts whilst keeping your content personalised to your audience. Automation does not mean impersonal – Liana Technologies reported that almost 70% of marketers found improved targeting of messages was one the most important benefits of marketing automation.

All of your prospects have different needs, and having the option to treat them as such will seriously strengthen your relationship. Look for an email service that offers segmentation and tailored, dynamic content which gives you the chance to customise content based on your contact’s needs.

Harness the power of social media marketing

Social media now stands as one of the most effective lead generation channels, and it should therefore feature significantly in your strategy. These platforms are excellent for enabling relationship-building, and once you begin regularly posting engaging content, you’ll attract followers who you can then drive to your website. Here are our top suggestions for using the major platforms to generate leads:

Twitter

According to Optin Monster, 66% of people have discovered a new business on Twitter, so it’s a great place to make yourself heard. Promote your new content such as your blogs, and stay active. Commenting, sharing and engaging is vital to keep a vibrant community.

LinkedIn

One of the smartest things you can do on LinkedIn is to take advantage of the platform’s targeted advertising. It’s in users best interested to keep their profiles up to date, which makes LinkedIn an advertisers dream – you can zone in on just about any part of your audiences profile.

Facebook

Like LinkedIn, Facebook has some incredibly precise targeting options. The platform gives you the option to create campaigns using a Lead Generation objective that allows consumers to fill in a form with their contact information. Most internet users are on Facebook, therefore it’s unsurprising that Smart Bug Media reported that 84% of marketers choose to use this platform to acquire leads.

Remember, business growth can be a difficult and long-term process, and a sign of sustainable progress is a steady increase in sales, rather than random sale spikes. Following these tips will give you insight and overview, allowing you to scale your operations up gradually. Good luck!

The future of B2B marketing

We all know that cold-calling is very much a thing of the past and this will affect the status of B2B marketing. We all hate to be cold-called and are most likely going to ignore anybody who tries to do it. Most of all, it does not inspire trust and confidence in a company. Nowadays two thirds of a buying decision are achieved through online research.

According to recent research quoted by LinkedIn about 75% of B2B buyers use social media as part of their buying decision. 50% use LinkedIn as a source for gathering information on who to buy from, whilst 76% of them prefer to follow recommendations from within their professional network.

LinkedIn Prospecting

Selling your business and services to prospective customers has never been so easy as it is now with LinkedIn. At the click of a button people can look at a list of businesses that provide what it is they need. Therefore, you have to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch and gives customers the first impression you want them to have of you.
Make sure that your profile is always up to date and links up with your website, Twitter, Facebook and contact pages.

Due to our constant information overload and fear of data breaches by social media companies, consumers want to find straightforward advice and solutions to their queries. So, while businesses might find you on LinkedIn and do their research on you, it is far more important that your website is search engine optimised and provides customers with clear information that is relevant to them.

The simplest way to get more B2B connections inside your industry is by being active online. Join LinkedIn groups for joint interests and discussions. This is an area where you can engage with likeminded people within the relevant industry, answer questions and establish relationships. This is not hard selling, it is speaking about your specialist topic and gaining others’ trust in your abilities.

Widen your prospecting scope

When you trawl through the profiles of users you interact with, you can widen your network even more by engaging with their secondary contacts. The more connections and interactions you have online, the more engagement you will receive back.

This exposure will gain trust in your brand and make customers more familiar with you. Any of the connections you have made through groups or by adding your bit to a discussion will mean that these contacts will also come and look at your profile.

If you have pictures, positive feedback or any upcoming events, let them know. In the same way that you might look at a profile and try and figure out who leads the sales team or what services are available, put yourself into a potential customer’s shoes and think about what it is that you would want to find on your profile.

What are the most commonly asked questions you get asked and can visitors find the answers easily on your website? Transparency and ease of use are the buzzwords when it comes to customer experience nowadays.

Put your name on the Pulse

If you have something to say about a topic, why not write a short article and publish it via LinkedIn Pulse? All your connections will receive a notification and in no time,  you will establish yourself as a professional persona that is seen to be trustworthy, in-the-know and proactive. This will increase your authority and your posts can easily be shared by users for even wider reach.

None of these tactics feels like the pushy sales scripts of yore that make people shut off immediately. You are not required to say, ‘You should buy X because we believe that we are the best in this industry, with 20 years of experience’.

This is much subtler than that. You answer genuine questions with genuine knowledge, have conversations about topics that are relevant to you and your clients and build relationships based on trust, hopefully turning strangers into customers and then loyal customers who will be the backbone of your business for years to come.

Best performing B2B content on LinkedIn

Since crossing the 500 million user threshold in 2017, LinkedIn is the one social media platform that no business can afford to ignore. More than half of these users log in monthly – and 40% of them daily. Of this ever-expanding user base, 61 million are senior-level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions. When it comes to generating B2B connections, LinkedIn is key.

So where to start with your content?

Rule number 1 is to ensure that you have completed your LinkedIn user profile and to have brought it in line with all other online platforms. Be consistent across all social media sites and your company website. Your company has a unique story to tell, so tell it with up-to-date, consistent content.

Once all your content is accurate and consistent, get active! Of all those hundreds of millions of LinkedIn users, only 3 million take the time to share content on a weekly basis – however, there are 9 billion content impressions in the LinkedIn feed every week. Even if you’re not very good at maths, you can see that content sharing just once a week will have a big performance impact on your B2B marketing success.

Trust in LinkedIn is high, which is why 92% of marketing experts put it into their digital marketing mix for finding valuable B2B content.

What type of content performs well?

Now that you have established a good base, you need to think about the type of content that will bring the best B2B results for your business.

Okdork.com/linkedin-publishing-success/ have crunched the numbers and identified some interesting data.

  • A good headline is key to drawing in the readers but should be no more than 40-49 characters long.
  • Articles with exactly 8 images perform best. Whilst you should have at least 1 image in your post – we are visual beings – the optimum number appears to be 8 and creates the most amount of views, shares, comments, and likes on LinkedIn – do avoid video links though, these do not perform well
  • Lists and “How to…” blog titles draw the reader in.
  • Be neutral in your writing. Content that is either very positive or negative is far less effective than neutral, factual posts that are relevant to your customer. They also tend to create more engagement through comments.
  • Long posts get viewed and shared more, the optimum length being around 1900 words. So don’t be shy when it comes to writing your posts, but keep it simple.
  • Your posts will perform best if they are easy to read. The clearer the content, the more readers, likes and shares you will entice.

Don’t forget who you are

Tell the story of your company through your LinkedIn profile and content, but don’t forget to make it human. Too often people think that B2B means remaining corporate and uber-professional at all times. Relationships, however, are always personal.

Let your company ethos shine through and join groups on LinkedIn that will reflect what your company stands for. These groups are a great way for making connections with like-minded businesses and individuals. They also let others see what you are all about.

Once you have written up your B2B content, trying to optimize it following these tips, you want to get involved with LinkedIn’s Trending Storylines.

With this feature the hashtag rules and helps you to achieve high visibility for B2B marketing and allows you to add your own thoughts to the latest news. It also allows you to see how your potential new clients react to your content and input. Just remember to keep the hashtag active in your follow up posts to make the most of your time in the spotlight.

Creating relevant content that brings you the best possible B2B response on LinkedIn does not have to be hard. With these few tips you should be well on the way for a good online presence.