‘Lead generation’ is one of the more frequently-heard marketing terms. But what does it really mean and how important is it for the small business owner?
A Working Definition of Lead Generation
lead generation is the generation of consumer interest or inquiry into the products or services of a business(source: Wikipedia)
Lead generation is a crucial aspect of any business’s marketing efforts, no matter what the size, but for small to medium-sized businesses, it is particularly important to generate new leads successfully in order to help the business grow and increase turnover.
If the concept of online lead generation is unfamiliar to you and your business, it can seem like a huge, complex area to leap into. However, once you do, you’ll be able to tap into a potentially enormous online market and dramatically extend your reach.
Building an Online Presence
In today’s world, very few small businesses manage to succeed without having some sort of online presence. People turn to search engines for almost all of their queries, whether they’re looking for a specific product or service, a local business, or some knowledge or information about a topic. By exposing your business online, you can fulfil the needs of these search requests and make each website visitor a new lead that can in turn become a new customer.
For most businesses, generating leads online begins with a website which tells the world exactly what it is they have to offer, such as details on products or services, contact information, testimonials and company history. However, the components of a successful website don’t end there.
In order to generate leads from internet searches, or more specifically Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), a website must be optimised for the keywords potential customers typically use when they conduct a search. For example, a shoe retailer would target phrases such as “black shoes” and “women’s trainers” in order to generate leads. To target a more local or regional search market, they would optimise their site for local search by targeting terms such as “shoe shop Bristol”, which might result in bringing more local people to their brick and mortar store.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of targeting these keywords in order to rank highly on SERPs. SEO can be complex and time consuming for small businesses who are unfamiliar with it, but it all starts with a good quality, well-built website which has its content ‘tuned’ and focused on those relevant keywords.
A User-Friendly Website Is a Mobile-Friendly Website
Your website must not only rank well on the SERPs, but it must be visually appealing and easy to navigate in order to encourage visitors to explore it when they land on the page. 80% of internet users own a smartphone and use it to browse the web; it is therefore crucial that your website is suitable for mobile devices so that you don’t alienate this enormous chunk of the market. Common problems mobile users experience include:
- Text that is too small
- Buttons that are difficult to click
- Text that doesn’t adjust to the screen size, meaning scrolling left to right is necessary
- Images that are too large for the screen
- pages that are slow to load
- Forms that are difficult to complete
Not only are these issues inconvenient for the user and can put them off browsing your site, but it could result in your site being pushed down the mobile SERPs too. Google favours websites that are mobile-friendly when delivering search results to mobile users, which is why a mobile responsive site is crucial for businesses that want to maximise online exposure and lead generation.
Following Up on Leads
The hard work doesn’t end when a user visits your site. In order to turn them into a paying customer, you must nurture them and encourage them to take action; it could be to call you for more information, leave a comment on a blog post or even make a purchase via your site.
Another popular way to nurture leads online is to build a mailing list. Encourage visitors to sign up to your email newsletter for updates allows you to continue an ongoing dialogue with them. Newsletters are a great way to keep visitors engaged, bring them back to your site, tell them about new products or encourage them to contact you at a later date in order to complete a sale. You could also offer special discounts and coupons via email newsletters to make your marketing message even more compelling.
Leads, Customers & Return on Investment
Creating websites costs money. No arguments there. But by creating a website with lead generation and conversion in mind, you, the business-owner, stand a much better chance of recouping that investment of time and money more quickly.
No matter if you’re a brand new start-up or an established business aiming to expand your reach by creating a new or improving your current website, putting a lead generation plan in place and increasing your online presence is crucial to success.
A properly thought-out lead generation strategy combined with a website containing content tailored specifically to nuture those leads enables a quicker return on investment (ROI).
Build a solid foundation for your online strategy with a mobile and user-friendly website and start turning leads into customers.