If you are a business owner struggling to find qualified leads, you are not alone! Many business owners are unable to make time to generate enough leads to keep up with their projected sales. Or maybe your sales force is generating sufficient offline leads, but ones that are unqualified, or that are still in the early stages of the sales funnel and are not ready to make their sales decision yet.
In this blog, we will talk about 6 online lead generation best practices specifically for local businesses that can help:
1. Claim your Google+ page
While opinions differ on the importance of claiming a Google+ page, we highly recommend that you have one to help optimize your local visibility; this is especially important if you are a bricks and mortar business. An optimized Google+ page will ensure that your potential clients (who are no doubt using their smartphones actively to search your geographic location) can find you quickly, navigate to your location, or call if they need directions. You always want to ensure you provide the path of least resistance right to your front door! We all know, if you make it difficult for consumers to do business with you, there is always another business who is willing to make it easier for them. Those who have a Google+ page will reap the rewards of both online and store traffic. A properly optimized page will also enable Google to more readily show potential customers your page if they are searching for your products or services in your area. So if you haven’t claimed your Google+ page, why not take this simple step, so your customers get served up your location before your competition?
2. Get listed in local directories
Being found locally can be made easier by accurately getting your business name reflected in local directories. There are some local directories for each business area, and these should be the first place you start. The beauty of being listed increases your exposure to the local business community and helps you take up more ‘real estate’ online by being listed in multiple places. Getting listed in local directories enhances the possibility of people finding your business if they are not familiar with you.Make sure your business name and address are identical in every listing; this will go a long way to verifying your accurate business information (for example, don’t say “Suite” on one listing and “Ste.” on the other). Be consistent!
3. Programmatic advertising
One of the most intriguing aspects of modern advertising is called programmatic; a fancy word that provides you the ability to focus in on your target audience like never before. “Programmatic” ads refer to the use of software to purchase digital advertising, as opposed to the more traditional processes that involve RFPs (request for proposals) and humans to negotiate them. It uses machines to buy ads. With the introduction of an ad exchange – an online forum to trade space for money – the automation of buying and selling online ads has completely revolutionized the way we can now locate our target audience. So if you were unsure of how to find your potential buyers before, new methods of pinpointing them with extreme accuracy are available that were not there just a few years ago. Remember Tom Cruise’s character in the movie Minority Report and how they would know where he was going to be at all times and serve up personalized messages to him directly? It’s the same sort of thing with programmatic advertising.Some agencies are buying tons of media through programmatic channels, and some big brands have in-house teams to handle their programmatic ad buying as they spend more of their marketing budgets this way. Programmatic advertising makes the whole process highly efficient, with a lot less room for error, and is truly just in its infancy. So if other traditional methods of reaching your customers are becoming too expensive or just not performing like they used to, this is an advertising tactic that allows you to target your consumer audience across many criteria but especially their location.
3. Facebook advertising
Facebook ads are becoming more useful as the social media giant refines and enhances their advertising platform. Entire communities for special interests groups have sprung up, making it ideal to find similar-minded people like never before. For businesses, this represents an excellent opportunity to use the power of consumers for product/service recommendations. Most shoppers want a friend or family member to recommend a product or service before buying for themselves. Social networks like Facebook, have become the logical place to trade information about products/services, especially when it comes to consumer-based items. Facebook’s advertising platform even allows you to take advantage of the insights you already know about your target audience and use it to find new customers for your business. If you have an email list and are trying to figure out a way to monetize it, you can input your existing client emails and produce a ‘look alike’ audience. This type of audience allows you to find more prospects that look similar to the clients you already have in your existing database and target your Facebook ads to them. From a local marketing perspective, this allows you to reach more consumers in your region and make your brand known to them quickly.There are a variety of ways to demonstrate ROI for your Facebook marketing dollars. With the right targeting, it can become your preferred method of reaching a particular demographic or a complimentary tactic to another form of paid search advertising such as Google or Bing pay per click ads. The Facebook advertising platform is intuitive, which means you can get a campaign up quickly, but equally take one down if it needs refinement or if it starts to produce more leads than you can handle (which is very possible). If done correctly, this is one of the quickest and most effective lead generation tactics a local business can implement.
5. Local SEO (search engine optimization)
This best practice is all about ensuring you have your website optimized for local SEO. Let’s face it if you want people to know you have products and services in a particular area you have to get the word out somehow. And, if you’re looking to dominate your industry and market, it is critical to optimize your website using geo-specific keywords.For example, if you are a ‘real estate lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area’ you want to make sure these keywords are used in specific places on your website and properly tagged. They need to be included in your header tags (H1, H2, etc.), page title, URL, on-page links and used within the content in the body of your website.
Optimizing your site or landing pages for local search can be a complex process as the rules are constantly changing on what is most effective. If you don’t have an SEO guru on staff, consider having an SEO expert evaluate your website and provide you with recommendations for improving your local SEO strategy.
Maintaining an up-to-date website is also very important for getting your company to appear in the top search results and ranking for local search terms. One of the best ways to build a local search presence is to maintain a blog and either create your own articles or pay an agency to create content for you. If you don’t think you can write article on a consistent basis (or don’t have the writing skills to be composing your own articles) we highly recommend hiring a content company to create blog posts for you. Your clients will thank you for providing them with information that helps solves the problems they are looking for products/services like yours to rectify. Using geo-targeted keywords (e.g. Toronto real estate lawyers) that reflect your products/services and region will help bring more localized traffic to your site.
A combination of some or all six of these tactics working together will help ensure your lead generation strategies reach more consumers in your local region.