As the pandemic forces us all to take a step back and rethink our marketing strategy, brick and mortar businesses are finding it a little harder to deal with these unprecedented times.
Up until now, the digital age was creeping into our lives step by step. However, if the last 12 months have taught us anything, it would be to diversify our marketing strategies and establish a presence online.
Professional service businesses rely on lead generation to grow their business and bring in new clients, but when traditional lead generation techniques fail, moving your business online becomes unavoidable. Moving from traditional lead generation to making money online can be a difficult transition.
However, the importance of bringing in leads cannot be understated. If you’re not bringing in a regular stream of leads, you’re not going to hit your sales targets or grow your business. So it’s no surprise that brands consistently cite lead generation, management, and nurturing as one of their top marketing priorities.
However, if you’re a small business, you likely have a ton of time pressure and you may not have a dedicated sales team with the bandwidth to focus on a whole new, online lead generation strategy.
That’s why I’ve put together this guide to explain nine simple techniques that small businesses can use to generate and nurture online leads more effectively.
#1 Boost Traffic With the Double Survey Technique
The more (relevant) traffic you bring to your site, the more likely you are to hit your lead generation targets.
But increasing your site’s traffic can be a huge task. Search engine optimization requires months – or years – of investment, and even then, there are no guarantees.
Paid search offers immediacy. But if you’re in a competitive market, like legal services, you could find yourself paying through the nose for clicks.
That’s where the Double Survey Technique comes in. It was devised by Kyle Byers of GrowthBadger, who used it to drive an 843% increase in traffic to his site with just one blog post! Here’s how it works:
- Identify a suitable topic to carry out original research – something that’s relevant to your audience, and that isn’t already backed up by a bunch of statistics.
- Gather data by running a survey or conducting your own experiments.
- Ask experts for their opinion on your results.
- Write up the findings and analysis in a blog post.
- Promote it via relevant social platforms (and encourage your panel of experts to do the same).
But how do you identify a suitable topic for your research? Well, a free tool called Answer the Public can help. It uses Google autocomplete data to identify frequently asked questions about any given subject.
Sure, this is likely more complex than your current approach to blogging. But because it’s offering something genuinely unique, it’s far more likely to be shared and linked to from other sources, which means you’ll generate a lot more traffic than if you start blogging with no plan.
#2 Personalize Your Landing Pages
In an increasingly digital world, your prospects expect you to understand their needs and challenges, with 71% of consumers expressing frustration when they aren’t given a personalized experience.
A good place to start would be landing pages. Landing pages are the pages your to-be customers land on in response to clicking on a search engine result, marketing email, social media ad, etc. These pages are also called lead capture pages and since their purpose is to generate more leads. This is done in a multitude of ways:
- Signing up for newsletters through landing pages
- Signing up for free trials
- Purchasing a product
- Filling out forms, etc.
You are essentially bringing a lead into your sales funnel. Now that you know what landing pages can do, let us talk about customization.
Start by focusing on your key landing pages. Personalization dramatically improves conversion rates, so by personalizing the pages that are already most likely to bring in leads, you’ll see the biggest results.
Real estate company Redfin offers an excellent example of how this could look. Its homepage allows visitors a personalized experience by giving them the opportunity to instantly value their own home and get a home report by simply typing in their street address:
Once you enter your street address, building name, or ZIP code, you will find multiple homes for sale along with a detailed description of each home. This gives you the ability to estimate how much your own home could sell for, which is a good way of pushing visitors further down the marketing funnel.
It’s super effective, because it allows visitors to start the purchase journey with the company without spending a penny. Whether you are a law firm or a real estate company, personalizing your customer’s experience is always going to be a good investment.
Sounds complicated? It needn’t be. Let’s say you’re a real estate business with two main audiences: buyers and sellers. Rather than having one generic lead capture form, you can build dedicated forms for each audience:
- The seller-focused form could be built around requesting a free property valuation.
- The buyer-focused form could compel prospects to sign up for alerts when new properties go to market in their desired location.
This will increase the number of repeat customers coming in and therefore benefit your business’s net profit.
#3 Persuade Prospective Clients With Case Studies
If you’re not creating case studies to showcase the quality of your service and the fantastic results you deliver, you’re just not doing lead generation right.
The fact is, case studies work. Indeed, two-thirds of B2B marketers say they’re “very effective” (and another 32% say they’re “quite effective”).
Why do they work so well? Because people don’t just want to hear that you’re the best realtor, or consultant, or lawyer in your area; they want to see proof! Case studies provide that proof by explaining how you tackled specific problems for your clients
As a general rule, stick to the following format when creating case studies for your business:
- Explain the challenge your client was facing
- Detail the solution you provided (and why you chose that solution)
- Showcase the results you achieved for your client
On that last point, always try to provide real, meaningful numbers to back up your results. For example, rather than saying “We sold their house”, try saying:
- We sold their house in just two weeks
- We sold their house for $10,000 above the asking price
- We secured 10 confirmed viewings on the first day the property went to market, one of whom put in an immediate offer
#4 Produce Gated Content
One of the biggest lead generation challenges is that only about 4% of visitors to your website are ready to buy. So how are you meant to get hold of the names and contact details of that other 96%?
Gated content can help you. You produce content that’s valuable to your audience, then give it away free of charge, in exchange for some personal information – typically their name, email address, and phone number. That way, if your prospect isn’t ready to engage with your brand just yet, you can target them with additional content that keeps you at the front of their mind until they are.
Generally speaking, gated content falls into one of these categories:
- Whitepapers and ebooks: Long-form written content, often packaged as a pdf, that goes in-depth on a given subject. This could even be a well created infographic full of information. LFA Capsule Fillers does this well by offering a free eBook in exchange for valuable information about the business along with a contact email:
- Competitions: Users are compelled to give their information to be in with a chance of winning a prize.
- Guides: Informative content that explains how to perform a specific action, or achieve a desired result.
- Checklists: Like guides, but presented as a list of actions that must be completed to achieve the desired action or result.
- Original research: As I explained when discussing the Double Survey Technique, unique data is highly valuable, so it makes for fantastic gated content.
- Events: An opportunity for those who sign up to hear from an expert speaker or network with their peers.
Another option would be to offer a freemium product as Blue Mail Media Inc does. They offer an Industry Code Lookup tool that helps businesses classify, compare and assess the economic activity of various industries and its subcategories quickly.
So, if you select their “Get a free quote” option, you can get a free sample quote, and count in exchange for information that they can use to add you to their sales pipeline. This is a great way of building your list of leads.
#5 Create Your Own Newsletter
A newsletter is similar to a piece of gated content. The big difference is that prospects will give you their details in exchange for an ongoing series of communications from you, rather than an individual piece of content.
Weekly or monthly newsletters can be super effective for lead generation because they help you stay in a prospect’s mind over an extended period. Do it well and they’ll look forward to receiving your newsletter because it adds so much value.
However, they’ll only be effective if you fill them with useful content. If you have nothing to add, expect to see a lot of unsubscribes! Consider incorporating the following types of content:
- Your latest blog posts
- Evergreen blogs and guides that are particularly relevant right now
- Updates on your service
- Special offers you’re running (you might even want to create an exclusive offer only for your newsletter subscribers)
- Links to useful content from other thought leaders in your niche
- Details of upcoming virtual or real-world events
#6 Write Compelling Calls to Action
Hopefully, every page on your site is geared toward prompting some sort of action from your audience. If not, why is it there in the first place?
Not all of those actions will be directly connected to lead generation. Some will be geared toward pushing users deeper into your website, encouraging them to view certain content. But every one of those actions should play a part in moving prospects through the buyer journey.
Calls to action (CTAs) play a key role in driving your desired action. With persuasive messaging and eye-catching buttons, they compel users to click.
Not sure where to start with your CTAs? Here are a couple of template frameworks to help you craft more compelling messaging:
Example 1: Require, Acquire, Desire
- Require: Give users all the information they “require” before they click your button
- Acquire: Make the button simple to click
- Desire: Ensure the user wants what they’ll get from clicking the button
How it Looks
Here’s a great example of Require, Acquire, Desire in action from Allen Law Firm:
Example 2: Hook, Line, and Sinker
- [Command verb] + [Offer] + [Urgency]
How it Looks
You’ll see a lot of Hook, Line, and Sinker messaging on ecommerce sites (things like: “Save 25% now!”). They’re a little less common on professional service sites, but could include messaging like:
- Sell your property now
- Start your claim
- Save your free spot at our virtual event
The cyberchimps consultancy page is a good example of this in action. They have a simple pop-up bar at the bottom of each page that grabs the attention of the reader.
#7 Start a Podcast
Do you listen to podcasts? I do, and so do more than half of all US consumers:
But while a lot of your favorite podcasts might involve celebrity interviews, current affairs, sports, or true crime, starting a podcast can also be a fantastic way to generate leads for your business.
That’s right: plenty of podcasters are using their shows to generate opportunities, bring in leads, and close deals.
How do they do it? By discussing subjects that speak to their clients’ pain points, and directing prospects to their site. Here are a few ways to achieve that:
- Create gated content that goes into greater depth on the issue you’re discussing, and reference it throughout your podcast.
- Urge listeners to get in touch via your website, and create a simple lead capture form on your homepage that makes it quick and easy for them to do so.
- Produce transcripts of your podcasts, with key takeaways highlighted, and publish them on your blog. Again, be sure to reference this during each episode.
#8 Nurture Prospects With Email Marketing
Some of the other ideas in this article are about encouraging prospects to give you their contact details. Email marketing is about reaching out to – and nurturing – those prospects until they’re ready to work with you.
With a return on investment as high as 4,400%, email marketing can be one of the most effective tools in your lead generation kit.
However, you can’t just send a few emails and hope to bring in a bunch of clients. You need to craft engaging emails that compel prospects to take action. Keep the following best practices in mind when writing email marketing copy:
- Create engaging subject lines: If your subject lines don’t compel users to click, no one will ever read your copy. But you don’t have much space to play with. Data suggests the optimal subject line length is seven words, with an average of 41 characters.
- Keep copy punchy and actionable: People don’t want to read War and Peace in their inbox. Keep your emails to 2-3 short paragraphs focused on a single action, and close with a strong CTA.
Segment your email list: Remember when I spoke about the importance of personalization on your website? The same goes for email marketing. Divide your email list into relevant categories (such as by income level, or location, or the reason they gave you their details) and send content targeted to their interests. Most email marketing services will let you do this pretty easily. Some CRMs like Daylite will also allow you to segment your contacts and you can send individual or bulk emails using email templates while still keeping it personalized for each contact.
#9 Implement Live Chat on Your Website
Four in five businesses say offering live chat has had a positive effect on sales, revenue, and customer loyalty, while two in five consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a company if it offers live chat support.
In other words: if you haven’t implemented live chat on your site yet, you absolutely should! It’s a super effective way to generate more leads and guide prospects toward conversion. It is also very affordable with tons of free live chat software options on the market.
Bringing it All Together
As you’ve likely gathered, the best lead generation tactics don’t exist in isolation; they combine with multiple other tactics and channels.
For instance, strong CTAs and personalized landing pages make it more likely your gated content will be downloaded, which in turn fills up your email marketing list.
That’s because lead generation is rarely an instant process for professional services businesses. Prospects want to do a bunch of research before they buy, and might take weeks or months to make a decision.
As a result, lead generation isn’t just about getting a bunch of names and email addresses into your company’s CRM.
About the author: Freya is the founder of the personal finance blog CollectingCents that teaches readers how to grow their passive income, save money, improve their credit score, and manage debt. She has been featured in publications like Business Insider, Fox Business, the Huffington Post, and GoBankingRates. She can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org