One major benefit that online marketing allows for small businesses is the ease with which some of the aspects of running a business can be either streamlined, automated, or semi-automated. What used to take days of man-hours, can now be categorically completed with ease.
Lead generation, or lead development, is the lifeblood of every small business (and more so if you are a startup). For small businesses, every lead is an opportunity. If businesses cannot capture leads, nurture prospects, and close sales eventually, there’s no business model there, so to speak.
Choosing between the “hard way” and the “smart way” of doing business, setting up a smart workflow system for generating leads works like a charm for any business. Here’s how it can be done:
Choose Lead generation methods you can automate, and what you cannot
Some lead generation ideas can be completely automated, while some will need consistent effort on your part. For instance, developing leads on the Internet using whitepapers, reports, and other opt-in channels require a one-time effort.
On the other hand, leads developing on Social Media, Q & A sites, communities, forums, in-person meetings, and trade events, will all require personal attention. The first step in strategic lead development is to figure out what you can do with every lead generation method. Develop a “reference sheet” to make this clear for you (and/or your team).
Work on automation first
Content marketing is big, and it works for a reason: the effort you put into content marketing works completely towards “Inbound Marketing”. The beauty of content marketing is an anti-thesis to traditional marketing: customers seek you out; they find you; and they take action (provided you do it right).
Some of the channels for automated lead generation are:
- Landing pages
- Free reports and whitepapers
- Distributable online classes or tutorials
- Company owned mobile applications
- Facebook Applications
- Free samples, Free trials, giveaways
- Digital downloads
- Contests, etc.
Almost each entry in the list above can integrate with a CRM system (or an email management software + auto responder system) designed to “double opt-in” and to enter qualified, interested leads into your sales funnel.
The one-time effort goes into creating any/some/all of the above ways to generate leads. Once you create these elements, lead generation is automated thanks to technology.
Lead generation through blogging
Hubspot, a leading Inbound marketing company, states that 57% of companies that blog, generate leads compared to companies that don’t. I included blogging as a separate category because it sits at the hub of all your content marketing efforts, as it does multiple things at once.
Blogging, in short, acts as:
- A lead generation vehicle, by itself.
- A voice for your company
- A hub for your visitors, present customers, potential customers, and regular readers to visit, share, contribute, engage, and opine.
- The gateway for all your lead generation efforts (including providing more opportunities for lead generation through ways mentioned above)
- A means to connect visitors to all other communities (such as social media, Q & A sites, forums, etc.)
Blogging is semi-automated. Work on blogging by yourself, using an in-house team, or outsource this work to professional bloggers. What blogging finally does to your business is categorically automated, but the act of blogging is continuous work.
Lead Generation through Social Media
Social media isn’t for selling, or even lead generation. Why include it in the list, you ask? Great question. While social media is not for you to ‘hustle’, it’s for you to get social. As you get social, you might still generate some leads in the process. Reportedly, tons of leads are generated through social media
Yet, social media isn’t really meant for lead generation, so leads generated through social media are bonuses. Treat them as such. You cannot automate your social media (but you can outsource the actual sweat-work).
You can, however, streamline your social media efforts, and make your work across social media more effective. You can use some state-of-the-art tools to manage your accounts, use social media insights to make decisions, and much more.
Lead generation for business takes time, an insane amount of effort, and consistency. What challenges do you face when it comes to lead generation for your business?