Top 15 Lead Generation Ideas for Small Business

Top 15 Lead Generation Ideas for Small Business

December 20, 2021
(Reading time: 7 - 14 minutes)

As a small business owner, you know the importance of building your brand recognition and attracting new clients. Just because your business may be smaller, but that doesn't mean that your client list has to be.

You may be asking yourself, what is lead generation, and how will it help my small business?

Lead generation is a simple concept that refers to the methods and procedures used by small businesses to generate interest in their products or services among prospects and then convert them into clients. 

In other words, and as it relates to the online world, it is about getting people interested in your business enough to reach out, allowing you to sell the product or service, thus becoming a valued client.

You may also want to think about it as a process of identifying potential consumers based on their activities. This may include their intent level or how interested they are. Are they just “kicking the tires,” or do they have cash in hand and are ready to buy. If they are “just looking,” it becomes the process of guiding them through the funnel until they become clients.

You and I know that solid relationships with your clients are the heart of a successful small business. With the introduction of new digital and social technologies, the number of ways to generate new leads is constantly evolving as well.

15 Ways to Grow Your Small Business With Lead Generation

Before we dive into the top 15 ways to generate leads in 2022, I want to make sure that you understand that these will work great for both  b2b (business to business) and b2c (business to consumer) lead generation.

1. Identify Your Audience and Develop a Buyer Persona

Identifying your target audience is the first and most important step you should take before beginning any marketing activity. Consider the following essential questions:

  • What kind of clients are served by my product/service?
  • What are their racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as their interests?
  • How much money do they make?

You'll have a good idea of who you should target if you focus on questions like these. Creating buyer personas, which are simply representations of your ideal client based on real data from your existing clients as well as market research.  These personas are incredibly effective at evoking your clients' motives and providing insight into your audience's mind, allowing you to target them better.

2. Create Relevant and Engaging Material

Make sure that any content you generate, whether a blog post, an email newsletter, or an infographic, is helpful to your potential clients and provides actual value for them. Concentrate on the demands and requirements of your clients and weave your content around their pain points. If you just churn out content filled with keywords or is clickbait in nature, you may notice an increase in traffic at first, but this strategy is seldom sustainable in producing solid leads.

When you offer content that provides actual value or is informational in nature, your content will undoubtedly resonate with prospects while addressing their objective, i.e., to engage your services or purchase your products. There are two key aspects to remember here:

  1. Avoid a salesy or marketing tone: today's consumers aren't stupid, and they can tell the difference between a genuine product pitch and information aimed to educate and enlighten.
  2. Be inventive and catchy with your content: it doesn't matter if the social media piece you published was in-depth and very relevant if it's advertised in a bland or substandard style. To persuade prospects to take the necessary action, use eye-catching designs and captivating images.

If you're unsure what kind of content to publish, employing tools like Google Ads can help you identify related keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) to give you an idea of what your audience is searching for.

3. Segment your Leads

Whether you produce leads through inbound marketing channels like registration forms or newsletter subscriptions or outbound strategies like cold calling, you must segment your prospects based on their engagement or involvement. This is so important because it allows you to nurture and foster your relationship with the prospect right from the get-go and engage with them in a relevant way.

Now you wouldn't show a form with a lot of fill-in details to someone who's visiting your site for the first time, would you? Of course, you wouldn’t. You would take it slow and gradually raise the bar once they've engaged more with you.

Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) is incredibly beneficial for lead segmentation since they allow for comprehensive targeting while automatically updating customer information. Leads may be segmented depending on how they interacted with your material and then targeted accordingly. For example, if you want to send a batch of promotional text messages to new prospects, simply choose the appropriate group in your CRM and contact them. That's all there is to it!

4. Social Media Marketing

Everyone, including your prospects, are on social media platforms, therefore you must make use of these channels. First, register an account for your company on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. After that, you may publish videos, behind-the-scenes footage of your small business, and relevant infographics and images, host online competitions with unique gifts, and keep your fans updated about your small business.

When it comes to social media, engagement is crucial, so make an effort to actively respond to your followers' comments and responses. Since these platforms are a fantastic way to grow your audience, they provide amazing content that encourages existing followers to share and interact.

With social media, it is all about establishing yourself as a trustworthy brand that cares about its clients by producing useful material on a regular basis and connecting with your audience.

Here is a pro tip from our Social Media and Paid Search Manager, Hannah Kilpatrick, you should create unique material for each site. While graphics are fantastic for Instagram, they are not appropriate for LinkedIn, where presenting an informative piece would be more appropriate.

5. Paid Social Media Ads

Paid social media ads such as those found on Facebook, Instagram, and Linked In are also an option. You can publish audience-specific advertisements based on their interests or demographics and ensure that they are seen by the individuals you want to convert. You can spark their curiosity and send them to your website, where they can investigate and decide for themselves. 

With companies such as Meta(Facebook and Instagram’s parent company), you can be specific and target the prospects and contacts who are already on your existing lists by utilizing custom audiences and lead ads.

6. Google Ads (Google AdWords)

Promoting your small business on search engines like Google is a terrific way to get leads. You can ensure that you rank right at the top for searches based on keywords relevant to your products and services by using pay-per-click (PPC) ads. These are guaranteed visibility, and you ensure that people who visit your site are aware of your existence.

Utilizing Google Ads, you can reach out to potential clients wherever they happen to be spending the most time online. Some of the ways you can use Google Ads are:

  • Get prospects to call your small business by including a call-to-action button in your ad.
  • Drive prospects to your small business by getting your ads to display your brick-and-mortar location.

Google Ads has four options to help you reach who you're targeting and, ultimately, your goals. They are:

  1. Search Ads: When someone searches for certain keywords, your advertisement appears above and below a list of relevant search results on the search results pages (SERPs).
  2. Display Ads: Your ads will appear in Gmail and across a network of almost two million sites, using either text or banners.
  3. Video Ads: Your short video ad will play during the "commercial break" on YouTube videos.
  4. App Ads: Advertisements may now be placed within Google Play applications.

Google Ads has a tremendous reach, and one of the best parts is that you can invest as little or as much as you want! It is the of the most cost-effective short-term techniques to generate leads quickly.

7. Email Lead Generation

Email lead generation is a must-do for small businesses focused on sales, marketing, and lead generation.

Most lead generation experts still prefer email marketing, particularly for b2b lead gen. The number of email users continues to rise year after year, as does the volume of emails sent and received.

There are numerous software solutions able to help you in automating and tracking your email marketing campaigns.

Email marketing systems such as MailChimp and HubSpot, for example, allow you to measure your open rates, read rates, and click-through rates. Because email is the predominant mode of business communication, small business lead generation requires specific attention to these rates. 

Open rates, read rates, and click-through rates are critical in determining how effective your message has been and whether it needs to be modified in order to generate a b2b sales lead. 

For those who need a brief refresher or are unfamiliar, each of the rates means:

  1. Open Rates is how often the recipient actually opens your email.
  2. Read Rates are how often your email was actually read in full by the recipient.
  3. Click-Through Rates are how often links to your website or promotion embedded in the email were followed. You will want to pay special attention to these since Apple’s updated privacy changes.

8. Text Message Marketing

According to Andy Gilhooley, Marketing Manager at RedEye says that “the average open rate of a text message sits at about 99%, with 97% of messages being read within 15 minutes of delivery.”  With open rates that robust and rapid, they are ideal for lead generation for small businesses. Text message marketing is a convenient and straightforward approach to communicate with thousands of contacts while maintaining a feeling of personalization since you address them by name. For engagement and lead generation, texts have several uses such as:

  • Getting prospects to sign up for promotional activities
  • Sending updates regarding events
  • Ability to engage in one-on-one conversations with prospects and answer any questions they have
  • Ability to remind them about a phone call or meeting that you have scheduled with them
  • Getting them to take part in surveys
  • Ability to thank prospects when they make a purchase
  • Ability to wish them on their birthdays
  • Prompt them to leave you a review

9. Optimize Your Website for Conversions

While channels like social media and emails are great, your website is your best bet to generate highly qualified leads. For this to happen, your entire website must be optimized to provide users with the best possible experience. Some of the factors to keep an eye out for are:

  • Speed: If your site isn’t fast, viewers are likely to leave
  • Mobile Optimization: Over 50% of people will use their smartphones to access websites (Source: Statista: Global Mobile Website Traffic Percentage From Q1 2015 to Q1 2021)
  • SEO: You have to optimize your content for search engines in order for your landing pages and blog posts to rank
  • Navigability: Your visitors should be able to explore your site without wasting time looking for information

Make your website is visually appealing with content that captures the users’ attention. Your ultimate goal is to convert prospects, make sure you have call-to-actions (CTAs) that are visible and clear about their intentions. Include client testimonials or reviews as well to increase confidence in your product or service.

10. SEO: Search Engine Optimization 

The best lead creation approach is through search engine optimization (SEO).

If you're unfamiliar with SEO, a basic explanation involves creating digital content that ranks high in search engines, resulting in "organic" search traffic. The search engines, in essence, direct people to your website!

So, why is it #10 on this list? Well, SEO can be a lot of work to do right. It will also take anywhere from six to nine months minimum for “White Hat SEO” to start showing any measurable results. Now there are those out there that will do “Black Hat” tactics to get “quick results” and will charge you a premium to do it. However, these will often get your website banned (de-indexed) from search engines entirely. Not to mention it can be nearly impossible to recover from.

The bottom line is that SEO and content marketing is a long-term and very strategic play that takes a lot of time, hard work, and expertise to materialize.

11. Local search engine optimization (SEO)

If SEO is the process of optimizing websites to rank higher in SERPS for targeted keywords and phrases related to your small business, then local SEO is the next step as it is the art and science of optimizing pages for local geographical areas.

One of the first things you need to do is claim your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business listing) to improve your local rankings. When people search for products or services in your area or service areas, you want your business to appear in the map pack and at the top of the local results. This is where local SEO can help!

12. Offer premium content

Premium content can range from infographics to ebooks and downloads, as long as it gives valuable information to prospects when they search online.

You may "gate" your most important content by requesting site users to provide their email addresses in exchange for access. This allows them to not only read valuable content for free but it also helps you increase your email list.

13. Networking and Client Referrals

Developing an effective small business lead generation strategy does not have to be limited to the digital realm.

In-person networking, for example, is still incredibly beneficial. Your objective is to go where your ideal clients work or hang out. Then you want to build relationships that offer value. It's the same as putting your goods or services in the right location at the right time, except you're the offering!

If nothing else, networking may provide you with contacts who can provide valuable references in the future. Even if they are not interested, they may know someone who may benefit from your services.

This also applies to prior clients or buyers who were pleased with your goods or services. You may still want to ask previous clients if they know anyone who could benefit from your services. Then you need to follow up on the referral or, even better, ask for an introduction!

14. Old School Small Business Lead Generation

Older techniques of small business lead generation, although less common now, are still successful depending on the niche or sector you're in. This includes direct mail, television commercials, and billboards.

These are generally more effective market products or services to older buyers.

15. Hire a Lead Generation Expert

As a small business, you might not have time to learn or implement any or all of the techniques I have outlined in this post. Therefore hiring an expert may be the best fit. 

What's the Best Strategy for Lead Generation?

The fact is that lead generation, especially in this day and age, is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Because different spending habits, hobbies, and kinds of entertainment exist, your strategy must be tailored to your target demographic.

If you need help or want to talk about lead generation ideas for your small business, reach out to us. We would be happy to talk about options and opportunities with you.

Adam Bennett

Written by:  |  December 20, 2021

Adam is the president and founder of Cube Creative Design and specializes in private school marketing. Since starting the business in 2005, he has created individual relationships with clients in Western North Carolina and across the United States. He places great value on the needs, expectations, and goals of the client.

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