Generating leads online is one of the most effective and affordable ways for small businesses to attract new customers. Some of the most common ways include using social media, having a great website, launching a referral program, and more. Generating leads online creates an audience of interested prospects that ultimately turn into customers.
Once you generate leads online, you need to organize them in customer relationship management (CRM) software. For example, Pipedrive allows you to keep a complete record of every touchpoint with a lead, and also offers intuitive web to lead forms that help you fill your pipeline with qualified leads. Visit the Pipedrive website to sign up for a 14-day free trial.
Here are the best ways to generate leads online for small businesses:
1. Create an Engaging Website
Whether you choose to build your own website or have someone design it for you, it’s important to have a modern-looking company website that’s easy to navigate and matches your brand as part of your lead generation strategy. Be sure to clearly showcase the products and services your business offers and highlight any current promotions. You should also include information about your company’s story and mission to drive engagement with your brand.
Since your website is often the first place a potential customer engages with your company, another tool that can help you generate leads is to include chatbots that allow you to live chat with prospects who have questions about your services. For example, you can use software like Freshchat to embed a chatbot on your website, which lets you interact with potential customers and answer questions in real time.
“Your website is the hub of all the information about your business. Without it, consumers have few resources to learn about your brand and engage with it. To run a successful business online, your website must be optimized for mobile and cater to users no matter what device they’re on.”
—Zakiyah Toor, Content Marketer, Awesome Motive, Inc.
2. Utilize Social Media
Social media lead generation is an important tactic for small businesses because of the amount of time people spend on various platforms. In fact, the average American spends over two hours on social media every day. At a minimum, every business should set up an Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn profile to engage with leads where they already spend time.
Once you set up your social media pages, make sure you post content regularly to keep leads engaged and draw in more people. If you have a budget for it, you can boost posts on Facebook and Instagram to increase their reach to more people. However, organic (unpaid) posts can also do quite well—especially if you post regular, unique content.
It’s also a great idea to run contests on your social media platforms. For example, if you’re opening a new restaurant, you might make a post—including a great visual image—about a dinner giveaway drawing. The requirements could be to tag four people in the comments who must like your page and also share the post each of their social media pages. Then, you can randomly select a winner and create a post about who won.
Don’t forget to use the live video and story features on Instagram and Twitter. In the restaurant scenario, take a quick video of your ribbon-cutting ceremony or the crowd on opening night and post it to your stories. People love quick video content that is easy to consume, and it will encourage them to follow your page, increasing the chance they will visit your restaurant.
”I’ve found social media to be key in generating online leads—especially Facebook. I’ve had multiple clients reach out to me via Facebook ads and I can connect with them through the messenger system and set up appointments. Additionally, when I share posts with tips or other information related to health insurance on my page, I’ve had friends tag other friends in the comments to connect them to me and the services I can provide. These have been great ways to get referrals, set up appointments and positively build my personal brand and business.”
—Brett Casey, Executive Sales Leader, HealthMarkets
3. Offer Unique Content
Offer unique content like blog posts, white papers, and e-books to establish your business as an expert in your industry. Potential leads can download these in exchange for providing their information, which allows you to manage them in a CRM. For example, if you run an event planning business, you could create an infographic or e-book on how to create a successful fundraiser that potential clients could download from your site.
In order to download the content, the potential lead would have to fill out a web form that gives you their contact information, allowing you to follow up with them, include them in email campaigns, and add them to your CRM so you can track conversations with them and see how they interact with your content.
Another great way to engage leads with unique content is to use industry thought leaders who write social media posts, blogs, or e-books for your business. For example, if you offer a cooking service and you have a connection to an expert in the industry, ask them if they will help promote your business by creating content you can use on your website and social media channels.
“Offer value. This can be done in many forms. For example, offer guides, blog content, e-books, video content, webinars, and podcasts. Educate your audience. Help them identify and overcome their challenges with actionable advice. In return, ask for their email addresses. This will create a steady stream of leads, all of whom have been qualified as prospects through the lead generation system you acquired them in.”
—Alexander Porter, Head of Copy, Search It Local
4. Set up an Online Support Center
Developing an online support center on your company website can help to bring in new leads and keep customers coming back—which reduces customer churn. An online support center should include a section of FAQs where leads can find answers to common questions, phone and email support, and ideally, a live chat feature.
The faster a lead can get the information they need, the more likely they are to make a purchasing decision. Offering an array of support channels and responding in a timely manner is key, no matter how the lead reaches out.
5. Host Webinars to Attract Leads
Webinars help generate leads online because they offer exclusive content to industry-relevant information. They give leads information about your products and services, and gives your business a great way to interact with leads in real time.
Choose a topic that resonates with your audience and create a sign-up landing page. For example, if your business offers social media strategy services, host a webinar that covers how to use software to schedule posts and what types of posts get the most engagement. Advertise your webinar on your social media pages and website.
Once someone signs up, collect their contact information and put it into your CRM so you can keep track of leads. One of the great things is that you now have a lead even if they don’t end up attending the webinar.
Make sure you send a registration email that allows them to add the webinar to their calendar automatically and send at least one reminder email before the event. Record the webinar, and send it out to everyone who attended and those who missed it so they can watch on their own. It’s also a great idea to encourage them to share the recording with interested colleagues.
“Send targeted messages based on a lead’s status like recurrent registrants, new registrants, or existing registrants. You can also convert the webinar into a blog and publish it—repurposing the webinar content into a slide share presentation and sharing it across multiple platforms.”
—Jaykishan Panchal, SEO & Content Marketing Manager, E2M Solutions
Pro-tip: Use a webinar platform such as U Webinar to host webinars that generate leads. This allows you to easily set up a webinar, chat with your participants in real time during the live event, and allows recording so those who were unable to attend can view the webinar later. It offers a free plan for up to 25 attendees and webinars lasting 60 minutes or less.
6. Run Email Campaigns
Email campaigns are an effective tool for generating leads because as you collect email addresses, you can reach out with targeted offers and relevant offers. Every time you have a promotion or special, send out an email campaign advertising to your current leads. Include a share button so they can send it to friends and family who aren’t already on your list.
Next, promote the email campaign on social media to get more people to sign up for your email list. You can use an email marketing tool such as Constant Contact to automatically schedule when campaigns are sent, track open and click-through rates, use pre-made templates, and conduct a/b testing of subject lines.
Start a weekly or monthly e-newsletter that helps prospects get to know more about your company so they identify with your brand, not just your products. Include things like stories about team members, volunteer activities your company participates in together, and how your business gives back to the community.
7. Purchase Qualified Leads Related to Your Industry
You can certainly generate leads online organically, but sometimes you need to buy targeted leads relevant to your industry. Fortunately, there are plenty of services that can help you find the right leads for your business.
For example, UpLead is a lead generation database that helps you drive growth with targeted sales leads. You can build targeted prospect lists with access to over 46 million business contacts worldwide. Search by title, job function, management level, industry, location, company size, technologies used and more. Visit their website to sign up for a seven-day free trial.
8. Make it Easy for Leads to Set up A Meeting
Small businesses focus a lot of effort on reaching out to leads, but once a potential customer is ready to learn more, they will often seek out ways to connect with you directly. Make it easy for them to schedule a quick meeting with you without the back and forth of email, by using an appointment scheduling app.
Tools like Calendly connect to your calendar and gives leads the option to schedule an appointment when you’re available to meet. You can choose from different types of meetings and meeting lengths, and include your personal Calendly link on your website, on social media, and in your email signature.
9. Use Online Surveys to Qualify Leads
When you’re generating leads online, it’s important to figure out how much time to spend on them by knowing how interested they are in your various products and services. Use surveys to gather information you can use to group them into categories and funnel them into your sales pipeline for follow-up.
You can also use surveys to help determine where they are in the decision-making process. For example, if your business helps brides with wedding planning, use a survey maker such as TypeForm or Google Surveys to ask questions like these:
- Are you currently engaged?
- When is your expected wedding date?
- How many guests are you planning to invite to your wedding?
- What is your anticipated wedding budget?
“One of the most effective ways to generate leads for us have been lead generation surveys. The idea is simple: you create a survey with an engaging title, such as ‘Can social proof increase your conversion rates by 30%? Click here to find out.’ Once a visitor clicks on the link, they take a quiz with eight to 12 questions to provide us with some details about their situation. The answers are tied to three outcomes. Here’s the catch—they have to leave their email in order to get the results. This is beneficial for multiple reasons. First, if someone takes five to 10 minutes to complete a quiz, they’re more likely to be a qualified lead. Second, the answers they give us help us score the lead.”
—Carsten Schaefer, Founder & Lead Developer, Crowdy.ai
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is generating leads online important for small businesses?
Consumers spend more time than ever online in our digital age. Finding potential customers online is one of the most effective ways to increase revenue and build your business since that’s where your customers are already spending time.
Is generating leads online expensive?
It doesn’t have to be. You can buy leads from a database like UpLead, but organic social media posts, email campaigns, having a great website to attract leads are all very affordable—and in many cases, free.
What types of tools should my business be using for online lead generation?
You should be using social media platforms to generate leads online—and it’s a good idea to use a scheduling tool to automatically schedule your posts such as CoSchedule. You should also use live chat software, email campaigns, and webinar software.
The Bottom Line
Generating leads online is a profitable strategy for every small business. Help your potential customers find your valuable products and services with the methods we’ve covered in this article and watch leads start to flow into your sales pipeline, increasing your revenue.
When you’re generating leads online, you need a CRM to help organize them so nothing falls through the cracks. Pipedrive is a robust, visual CRM that helps you organize leads, track conversations and deals, and generate leads with conversational chatbots and web forms on your website. Visit their website to sign up for a 14-day free trial today.