Lead generation is a core component of any business. And when I say this, I’m not just talking about attracting new leads to your business.
In fact, lead generation is just as essential for old customers as new customers. That’s because in most cases, your products or services are extremely useful or necessary for both.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “doesn’t lead generation just cost my business precious time and money that I might not have?” My answer? Of course it can, but not when you choose the most effective methods to do so.
In this article, we’re going to cover not only why lead generation is so important (i.e. because without doing so, your business won’t have the customers you need) but also the most effective methods of attracting both new and returning customers to your business.
Why Lead Generation Matters
The idea that if you build it, customers will come just isn’t the case anymore.
The reason? Because as time goes on, there are simply too many established competitors in each industry. And trying to get noticed in all of this noise can be almost impossible. This means that your business might suffer if you ignore lead generation. Or, worse yet, you might have to close up shop.
But that’s where effective lead generation comes in.
Put simply, lead generation means generating interest in your products or services. You’ve seen every business do this, whether they choose to do so through television advertisements (think larger corporations) or even just optimizing their online presence to cut through the noise (a perfect place to be for smaller, local businesses).
Lead Generation Involves Two Distinct Processes
Those two distinct processes? Attracting both new and recurring customers to your business.
You see, attracting and converting new customers can be difficult (note that it’s difficult, but not impossible). That’s because new customers have to overcome any doubts regarding your brand while also avoiding the procrastination that often accompanies purchasing a product or service.
Recurring customers might just need a simple reminder that your products or services are available, making it easier to convert them once again.
This means that you can’t look at lead generation as just one distinct process. If you do, you won’t be targeting new or recurring customers correctly, which means you aren’t targeting anyone really.
But you don’t have to take this generalized approach. Instead, you can adapt specific methods to target your local customers, convert them, and enjoy their recurring business.
Four Effective Ways to Attract New Customers
Not all types of lead generation are created equal, especially for local business owners. In fact, the best place for small local businesses today is online.
The online realm gives you simple tools to cut above the noise and allow people in your area to find your website, reviews, or other resources. That’s why when it comes to lead generation for new customers, the best place to turn your attention (and your budget) is online.
Most small business owners absolutely hate Yelp (except for those who are in its algorithm’s good graces, that is). You see, Yelp has an internal filter that determines which reviews are actually posted to your page. This means that fake reviews are filtered, but in many cases, legitimate reviews are as well.
This leaves many local business owners in a tight spot because online reviews matter so much for businesses today. Typically, a Yelp rating of three stars or less is enough to deter some customers from following through to your website after visiting your Yelp page. And if the reason is because legitimate reviews being filtered, some business owners even resort to joking about how much Yelp actually hates them.
But there is good news. You don’t have to settle for letting Yelp hurt your business.
There are ways to improve upon your rating. And, because almost 60% of customers choose to browse a company’s website after reading positive reviews, this will greatly help you in your lead generation efforts.
2. Google Local Map
Many business owners overlook the power of Google’s local search results. Sometimes, this is because they aren’t quite sure how to do it or because they think that focusing on national search engine optimization (or SEO for short) is enough.
But, it isn’t. In fact, optimizing your business for the Google local search results puts your business higher in the search results, making you more visible and more appealing to more potential new customers (especially those on mobile devices).
Let’s take an example to demonstrate the point. Below are the search results for me when I search for “dentist in Chicago.” The box in red demonstrates what “local” results come up for me, showcasing businesses like August Dental Center, East Village Dental Centre, and ORA Oral Surgery & Implant Studio.
Now, businesses like Strobel Dentistry (the last listing you see on the page) are paying a lot of money to show up first after Yelp (especially in a large city like Chicago). But note that I scrolled down on the page to actually include them in the search results shown in my photo. This means that once my search results load, all I’m seeing are the paid advertisements at the top of the page and the local results.
So really, Strobel Dentistry is paying more for a position that will get them less views. But by optimizing your local business for Google’s local results, you can get more for less.
3. Google Search (SEO)
While local is always better for your business, this doesn’t mean that you can completely ignore traditional search results from Google. In fact, ranking in both the traditional search listings as well as the section specifically for local business can be extremely beneficial.
That’s because you’re increasing your exposure in more than one place and giving your business a better chance of being found by new customers.
Now for some business owners, SEO is an unknown term. Or, some have probably had negative experiences with companies that guarantee that they’ll rank your website number one (if this is you, you aren’t alone). But luckily, you don’t have to settle for a poor ranking (or not ranking at all).
There are methods and other strategies that you can use to ensure that you not only show up in Google, but you show up in a position that can help make a difference for your business.
4. Adwords Campaigns
Another way to increase exposure to potential new customers is through paid advertising, also known as Google Adwords. Many businesses use Adwords because SEO results can take awhile or because they’re looking to be featured on the top of the page or maybe on the side depending on their budget.
One of the most significant issues of turning to Google Adwords for your results is that doing so can become extremely expensive (and costs can add up incredibly quickly if you aren’t quite sure what you’re doing). Of course, you might also run into issues because not everyone trusts advertisements (or even pays attention to them in their search results).
With the right budget and tactics, Adwords could be a successful strategy for your lead generation efforts. However, it’s often a strategy that many local business owners are wary of relying on.
One Effective Way to Attract Recurring Customers
As I mentioned above, new customers aren’t everything. In fact, most businesses succeed because of their ability to keep recurring customers coming back for more. However, attracting old customers is different than new customers, especially when it comes to how you actually do it.
Use Social Retargeting
Social retargeting is the best way to get recurring customers coming back. But, what is social targeting exactly?
Put simply, social retargeting means using social data (like Facebook status updates, brand comments, etc.) to target consumers with advertisements that will appeal specifically to them and their interests. By using this social data and targeting technique, you can uncover what consumers like about your brand and then use ads to remind them of this or show them why they should turn to your business for their needs.
This can lead them to your website to order the product or service that they need, making it simple to convert customers that have already shopped with you before.
Lead Generation is Essential for Your Business
Without customers, your business wouldn’t be able to survive. This is why lead generation is so essential for your business and its long-term success.
But sometimes, lead generation can be extremely difficult. This can be for any number of reasons, including:
- Limited Time – One of the main reasons business owners fail to adopt proper lead generation practices is because they simply don’t have the time. That’s because optimizing your Yelp presence, local search results, and national search results can take months to do properly.
- Limited Money – Even if money isn’t limited, creating a comprehensive online presence that points customers to your site can be costly (I’m talking thousands of dollars on SEO alone).
- Limited Knowledge – Sometimes, business owners don’t ever get started because they’re simply overwhelmed. Not only do you have to worry about Yelp and your rankings, but you have to worry about keeping business going day after day as well.
And if you find that you’re in any of these situations (or possibly all of them), Linking Up Local can help. Our team offers varied expertise that helps you connect with local customers while allowing you to focus on your business.
Contact us for a free consultation, more information, or to arrange a customized package for you and get the lead generation your business needs to keep moving forward.