Having a reliable and consistent source of leads is the lifeblood of any small business. Without new customers, the business will decay and eventually die. Unfortunately, is the eventual fate of many small businesses.
Leads for a business is like oxygen, lots of it fills you with energy and life, not enough and you start to labor. None at all and you die.
So we know that creating a steady stream of new leads is very important, so how do we get them without breaking the bank?
Read below and find out.
For a small business owner, the first thing is to never spend money on marketing until you have a well thought out plan and understand the medium you will be advertising on and the outcomes you expect to receive. If a salesperson walks through your door and tries to pitch you a coupon mailer or directory listing, never (ever) buy it on the spot. I've seen so many businesses get roped into some overpriced print ad or direct mailer because the salesperson over promised on everything just to make the sale (and commission). You'll almost always regret a purchase like that and it'll start you on a path of being weary when it comes to spending money on advertising.
“Today it's important to be present, be relevant and add value.” – Nick Besbeas
The reason I love online marketing so much is that it is transparent. Whether you do paid advertising, SEO or social media, it is relatively easy to see what results you are getting from your efforts. Website analytics packages like Google Analytics, can give you rich detail as to how people came to your website (Facebook, organic search, Google Adwords, etc), what they did while they were there (time on site, pages visited, etc), and if they completed any of the goals you are tracking (contact form, online purchase, email signup, etc).
So when we talk about creating a local lead generation strategy, many of the strategies we will talk about are online. The good thing is that if you have a solid online strategy, it'll also help with any offline marketing you do as you can also direct your offline marketing efforts to your website or landing page.
There are a few things you need to have in place before starting your local lead generation strategy. Once you have these things in place you'll be ready to start driving relevant local traffic to your website. In this lead local lead generation strategy, your website becomes the hub for all of you activity, both online and offline.
“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so.” – Bryan Eisenberg
#1 Target Audience
The very first thing you need to establish is who your target audience will be. While your business may have lots of different audiences, each of them buy for different reasons and the first step is having some sort of understanding as to why because it will part of your messaging.
You may have one segment of your audience buy from you because of your pricing, value structure, or because they really want someone they can trust. It's important to know these things because they will be the value propositions you use in your marketing.
It's like trying to sell a car to a family based on the speed and performance when they are really interested in the safety features of the car. It makes you look tone deaf to your customer and you lose the opportunity to motivate them to take the next step with you.
The easiest way to get this information is to ask your customers. Ask after they make a purchase and periodically survey your customers to find out why they became a customer. Just as important is to survey people who didn't buy from you and learn where you need to make improvements.
#2 Your Value Proposition and Offer
Once you have a pretty good understanding of what motivates your customers, you can start creating your value proposition. A value proposition is your statement as to why people should consider buying from you. It should correlate with the information you gained as to why your current customers buy from you. It should be customer centric, so focus on what the customer will gain.
Your offer is exactly that, the offer you are making to them. It may be in the form of a discount, a free trial or some kind of consultation. It's the bait you are using to get people to take action. The offer should be related to the value proposition you have in place, so if your value proposition is based on the quality of your work, then you might offer a one on one consultation. If your value proposition is based on being budget friendly, then you may create a discount coupon as your offer.
When it comes to running a local lead generation program, in many cases you will be targeting a specific audience during specific campaigns, which is why it's important to have an understanding as to why certain sub-sets of your customer base buy from you.
#3 Landing Page
Once you know why your customers buy from you and you have your value proposition and offer in place, you can create a landing page where people will “land” when they come to your site.
So what is a landing page? A landing page is a page where people start on your website. If you are running an ad or posting to social media, it is where they are directed when they click on the ad or post. In organic search, it is the page that shows up in the search results, which could be your homepage, a blog post or one of your service pages.
For existing pages on your website, review them to make sure they have all of the necessary elements to convert a visitor into a lead. Think of each page on your website as a standalone website, if someone only visits that page, will they have all of the necessary information they need in order to take the next step with your business?
In some cases, you will be creating a new landing page from scratch, especially when it comes to running paid ads. Other times you will be directing people to an existing page on your website. When it comes to organic search, I like every page on the website to have all the elements of a landing page since you don't have total control over what pages people land on like you do with paid ads.
I like to have a contact form on every page of the website, or at least a button with a call to action that links to a contact form. Since you are a local business you should also have your phone number and address, even embed a Google Map on the page for easy directions. From running local lead generation programs for almost 10 years I've learned that the more opportunities you give people to take action, the more often they will take action.
Here are some services that help you easily build custom landing pages.
*For WordPress, many modern themes have visual page builders that letyou create landing pages without coding knowledge
#4 Sources For Local Traffic
This is not a comprehensive source of local traffic, but these are ones that I personally use and have found great results with. Some of the options are free and some are paid. We aren't going to go in depth into each one but if you find some that are of interest, click through to the link and find out more.
With Google Adwords, you can create local search ad campaigns that target a specific area around your business. You can create separate campaigns for different services or products that you offer. Google Adwords is great for local lead generation as you can setup campaigns that target a local area and have those ads triggered when someone searches for what you are offering. It doesn't get much more targeted than that.
In Google Adwords you have the ability to create text, image and video ads that you can target to your local area.
To get the most out of the local aspect, you can connect your Google My Business page (see below) and create what's called a location extension for your ad, which shows your location info pulled from your GMB page.
Facebook has so much information on its user that it's scary. The Facebook ad platform allows you to target users by demographics, interests, and behaviors. You can combine all of these to create some laser-focused targeting with your ads.
You can target users using a radius around your location or service area as well as specific local targeting options such as Proximity Ads and Offer Claims. You can even upload your own customer email list and target them with ads on Facebook. You can read more about the powerful targeting options available to you here.
Remarketing is having the ability to advertise to a person after they have left your website. When someone visits your website, your remarketing code drops a tracking cookie on the user's device. Once this cookie is placed, you now have the ability to reach these individuals across the internet with your online advertising long after they have left your website.
Remarketing is a great way to get extra mileage out of your other marketing efforts as most people won't convert on the first visit. It is also great for products/services where there is a lot of competitor comparison shopping, repeat purchases or when you have an extended sales cycle.
Google Adwords and Facebook Ads have the largest and best-remarketing platforms on the internet. You can target people using text, image and video ads as well as sponsored posts when using remarketing for Facebook. The ROI is usually very good compared to other advertising options and the costs are fairly low since you are targeting a relatively small group of people.
I'm not a big fan of offline advertising compared to the online advertising options available, but they can be effective if done right and can still be incorporated into your online lead generation strategy. Under print advertising, I am lumping together direct mail, newspaper and magazine ads.
If you have a good landing page setup that includes a strong value proposition and offer, then you can drive offline people to your landing page with offline ads. Once they are on your landing page, they become part of your overall online lead generation strategy where you can capture their contact information, become part of your Remarketing campaign or take any other action you ask people to take when they are on your landing page. The point is, once they are on your website you have several options available to you for converting them or getting information to reach them in the future.
Local Website Content
This falls under the category of Local SEO, where you “localize” your content to focus on your immediate trade area. Localized content can be blog posts, you homepage as well as service/product pages on your website. Beyond SEO, quality local content is great for targeting a local market on social media.
Local content can be talking about specific neighborhoods in your area, talking about past projects you have done that mention your local area, creating local guides, as well as mentioning your local area on your homepage and service page copy. It's not about stuffing keywords onto your page but to incorporate local references into your copy naturally.
As you create more and more content concentrated to your local area, the search engines understand that your website is about a specific area and will (eventually) start to give your content some preference for searches in that area. Very specific local content also has the advantage of having much less competition.
While this tactic won't create leads for you right away, it is a solid long-term strategy that can generate leads for you month after month once it takes hold.
Google My Business
A GMB page should be your first stop when it comes to a local marketing campaign. It's 100% free, easy to setup and will give you local visibility in Google and will drive traffic to your website.
The GMB listing is triggered when a local search is performed in Google. You'll know it's a local search result when the Google Map appears in the search results with those little pin drops that represent local businesses on the map.
A GMB listing will show visitors where you are located (or the service area you cover), your hours of operation, a description of your business, images, as well a link to your website.
Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) is accurate and that you have completed every field, including adding photos of your business.
Bing Places is the free Bing version of Google My Business. While Bing only represents about 15-20% of the search market, it is still a great source of traffic and well worth the time to create a local listing with them.
The features are very similar to GMB and can give you some great visibility in the Bing search engine without spending a dime. Same as GMB, make sure you fill out the listing fully and completely for the best chance to be seen in the local search results.
Email marketing is often overlooked as social media has gained in popularity when it comes to communicating with your audience. Yet study after study finds that email marketing produces a much better ROI than social media and just about every other marketing channel.
The challenge for small businesses is usually building an email list and then figuring out what to send people. There are many strategies in getting people to join your email list, but adding a very obvious sign-up box (or popup notification) on your website as well as getting email addresses offline is a first step. If you are consistent and give people a good reason for joining (coupon, discount, free guide, etc), then you should be able to build a solid email list over time.
If you are new to email marketing, you can use an email marketing platform like MailChimp, which offers a nice free account to get started. If email marketing will be a cornerstone in your overall marketing strategy, then using marketing automation might make sense.
Yes, that was a lot to take in but it should give you a solid start in creating a local lead generation strategy for your business. The key is to have a plan before you get started and to know who your target customer is and what would motivate them to buy from you.
Small businesses usually don't have big marketing budgets so it's important to plan things out in advance so you don't waste your precious marketing budget.
Have questions about creating a local online lead generation strategy for your business? Contact us here.