No matter how big or small a company is, getting customers in the door is the top priority. When companies launch, they may get by on word-of-mouth referrals and networking for a while. But those looking for growth need to find ways to continually widen the funnel of leads coming in, allowing their team more and more opportunity to close deals and make sales.
There are many ways to increase the number of leads in your funnel, including everything from increasing your advertising spend or hiring a PR team to launching a new product. However, if those high-dollar spends are out of reach, there are plenty of low-cost options available to try.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to generating leads, so it’s best to try a variety of strategies and analyze what works (and what doesn’t). Even inexpensive lead-generation initiatives require man hours from your team, so use the resources you have wisely, test everything, and double down on what works.
Here are some ideas to get you started generating more leads—without spending a small fortune.
Market to the Right Audience
What information do you already have on your audience? Before you start testing new ideas and initiatives, make sure that you have a firm understanding of who your current customers are and any other customer types that could be a fit for your business.
Gather all of the data you can on your current customers and try to discern what they have in common. Do you have more male customers than female? What kind of work do they do? What was the referral source that led them to your company?
If you’re not already tracking this kind of information on your customers, start. Gather all the data you can so that you can better market to people like them in the future. Take the process a step further and conduct surveys or interviews with some customers.
This will allow you to define and get to know your target audience, which will ensure that your lead-generation efforts are as strategic as possible before you start putting resources behind them.
Content is King
If you want customers to find your website organically, content marketing needs to be part of your plan. Google awards higher rankings to websites with great, relevant content—meaning it’s not enough to simply start a blog and fill each post with dozens of targeted keywords. The content you write should be clear and useful.
The vast majority of visitors to your site will not convert on their first visit. Content is what keeps them coming back and convinces them that your business is credible, experienced, and knowledgeable.
And content goes well beyond simply starting a blog. It can mean podcasts, videos, webinars, gated e-books, and emails. The mix of platforms and mediums you use, again, depends on a strong knowledge of your customers. Where do they most want to hear from you? And how complex are the topics you’re discussing?
If you’re an online retailer, for example, videos of your products and production processes will probably go quite a bit farther than a webinar would in connecting with your audience. But if you provide coaching services, a podcast or a webinar where customers can get some free advice and see you in action will likely go a long way.
Best Practices for Gated Content
Free, easy-to-access content like blog posts and podcast episodes are “sticky.” They keep leads coming back, looking for more new content. However, they still don’t get you any contact information. And if your sales cycle takes some time, you want their phone number and email address so that you can nurture those leads toward conversion.
Gated content, meaning any content that requires someone to complete a form and provide contact information to access it, is key to moving leads further down the funnel. However, it’s important to realize that leads will not hand over their contact information easily. They need something valuable in return.
To entice leads to provide that information, make sure that your gated content is the most valuable content you offer. Whether it takes the form of an infographic, guide, checklist, or e-book, the information should be robust and informative. It should include the kind of advice other people might charge for.
And keep those sign-up forms short and sweet. Don’t give your leads reason to pause or walk away.
Your page design matters. There’s a reason people love Google and Apple, and Amazon—they’re all easy to read and understand. Websites don’t always need a lot of bells and whistles, but there’s a lot to be said for sites that inform you immediately about what they do.
Visually complex sites tend to turn people off. Google even figured out back in 2012 that a visitor makes an impression within 1/20th of a second. It’s essential to have a site that’s clean, digestible, and interesting, not filled with animations and pop-ups that slow things down and overwhelm the visitor.
Site Speed Makes a Difference
If you think about how quickly visitors make a judgment about your website, imagine what their impression will be if your site takes several seconds to load. Site speed makes a bigger difference to website visitors than many realize. Consider that if your leads try to navigate through a few slow-loading pages, those few seconds here and there add up and those leads probably won’t stick around. For that reason, you want your site to be as fast as possible, keeping as many people engaged with your site as you can.
Not sure how you’re performing? Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to analyze how quickly your site is loading. The numbers may surprise you. Plus, the tool will also point out ways to optimize your site for better SEO and performance issues.
You won’t know what works until you sit down to analyze results, which is why it’s important to plan strategic tests of your content and website and set aside time to look at the results. Let’s start broadly and work our way to specifics.
In order to test which content types are working best for your business, make sure that you have a system in place to track the referral source for all leads that convert to customers. What brought them in? Was it a gated download? Did they sign up for a webinar?
When you have a broad understanding of the types of content your target customers want, dig deeper and run tests on that content. Try out different kinds of headlines, add calls to action, explore different topics. Rather than throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, test these based on informed hypotheses. You know your audience better than anyone. Put yourself in their shoes and test out what you think they’ll respond to. They may surprise you, which will only help you get to know them better.
Get even more granular after that. Test out words on your home page. Change button designs. Try using different imagery. Your website should be viewed as a constantly evolving entity, one that will require care, attention, and testing for as long as you’re in business.
It’s work to keep your content and website in motion, but they are the backbone of generating new leads for your business. Invest your resources in what works, and you’ll see these efforts pay off in the long run.
Interested in learning more about how to grow your business? Hear from entrepreneurs first-hand on our podcast, What’s the Factor?