If you are a small business trying to expand your business, you have probably heard of lead generation﹣the life force of small business growth, and one of the best ways to market a small business.

Like many digital marketing terms, lead generation can seem like a vague concept, with no clear actionable items to pursue. It may make you long for the simple days of finding leads through more traditional outbound marketing means like radio advertisements, billboards, flyers and yes, the phone book.

However, the best way to market a small business today is through lead generation focused on inbound marketing. So what exactly is lead generation? And how can you market a small business using these methods?

What is lead generation for small business?

Lead generation is a process that involves drawing potential customers to your small business and converting these prospects into ACTUAL customers.

Over the last 10 years methods of lead generation have shifted from the traditional outbound marketing methods with which you are probably very familiar (e.g. TV ads, mass mailers, billboards, telemarketers, etc.) to internet-based inbound marketing methods.

These inbound marketing methods seek to attract customers in a variety of phases of the sales process through internet-based techniques including content (think: blogs, podcasts, infographics), social media, keyword use, SEO and more! Ready to hop on board? We will explore some of the best methods for promoting your small business below.

Best ways to market a small business online

Creating useful content that will attract prospective customers to your small business in the initial sales process is an invaluable tool. Four of the most useful types of content for lead generation include:

  1. Blogs: A company blog is one of the most common and useful methods to boosting your brand’s SEO and attracting new customers to your business. If you want to learn about the ways blogging can benefit your small business in more detail, you can check out our previous post on the topic, here.
  1. Infographics: If you are like me, you cannot resist clicking on an infographic on an interesting topic. Infographics are an easy-to-read, format that potential customers love. Even better, they are cheap to make, and an easy way to get your name out into your industry!
  1. Newsletters: A weekly email newsletter is another easy method to generate leads. By placing CTAs on your website that encourage prospects to sign up for an email newsletter, you are allowing leads to opt-in to receiving regular reminders about your company. This outlet provides you yet another outlet to provide useful and educational content to your followers.
  1. E-Books: If you work in a more technical industry, offering a free e-book that provides relevant information on your field is an time-tested strategy for generating leads. By establishing your brand as an authority in your field, and providing value to your customer’s search for a great product or service, you are setting your brand apart from the competition.

As always, focus on SEO and keywords

Search engine optimization is another simple, yet effective, way to help potential customers find your small business. To boost your website’s SEO it is crucial to focus on the keywords that potential customers are using to find the services that your brand offers.

However, in your quest to incorporate keywords don’t forget to focus on substantive, useful content, as being a useful resource for your readers should always be your number one goal﹣even when focusing on optimizing your website for the best search engine results.

And don’t forget your social media accounts

As we have discussed in previous posts, social media is another easy, and also free, way to generate business leads. In fact, according to Sprout Social, businesses saw a 24% revenue increase in business when utilizing social media as a part of their lead generation.

A small business approach to lead generation through social media channels will vary, depending on your industry and customer demographics. Fortunately, the marketing team at Sprout Social has done the hard work for us, breaking down the demographics behind the most popular social media tools including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

By figuring out the channels that your preferred customers are using, you can create a clear-cut and effective lead generation strategy using social media channels.

Since the advent of the internet era, marketing techniques and approaches to lead generation of shifted in a dramatic (and exciting!) way. No longer will the phone book get you far in marketing your small business. Instead, focusing on current inbound marketing methods like content creation, search engine optimization and social media marketing will help you generate leads and grow your small business.