Online Lead Generation Basics for Small Business Owners

The web offers excellent opportunities for marketing and promotion, but the competition is fierce. How can you generate leads in such a competitive environment with little or no previous experience? Let’s start with the basics first. Discover the 3 steps which you need to take and how to do this properly.

1. Content Is Key

The big question is how to attract visitors to your website and make them willing to seek further interaction with your business. You have most probably guessed to answer: high-quality content which is optimized for the search engines.

What kind of content? The content for lead generation should be designed to target prospective customers who are at the first two phases of the buying cycle and possibly in the third one. This means that your content should be focused on creating a necessity for your product (phase 1), on educating consumers about it (phase 2) and on helping them compare different options (phase 3).

What type of content is best? Articles and blog posts are still fundamental for online lead generation. However, you will also benefit from using high-quality video. Tests have shown that it can lead to an increase of over 30% in signups. Photos are important, especially if you are presenting a physical product.

Don’t forget to use the social media for promoting your content. Cover the major ones, Facebook and Twitter, and ones which are popular with your target audience.

2. An Irresistible Offer

The goal is simple – to make them an offer they cannot refuse. There are various options, depending on the type of product or service which you offer. These include free gifts, access to valuable content, free trials and discounts.

Study your target market well to get a precise idea of what makes them click. You can also check what your competitors are doing and try to beat their offer. It pays off to use psychological triggers such as a limited time offer which helps you create a sense of urgency.

Devote a sufficient amount of time to creating your call to action. Use attractive keywords and make them big. Make sure that the CTA stands out among the rest of the content on your website.

3. Signup with No Hassle

Ask for less and you will get more. This is the rule of thumb to follow when creating signup forms for online lead generation. In most cases, a name and an email should be perfectly sufficient for the purposes of a small business. If you want more information, you can get it once you establish a more personal contact with the prospect. If the signup form is used for creating an account on your website, it is best to make the sign-in with an email and password. By eliminating the step necessary for creating a username, you will reduce the rate of abandonment even further.

Another essential thing is to avoid giving users multiple options when they are about to sign up. This can lead to confusion and will increase the risk of them leaving. Make things straightforward.

Generating leads online requires hard work and dedication. Get started now.

7 Things Successful Small Business Owners Do

If you’re stuck wondering how to be a successful small business owner, know this: running a small business often simply means making good use of successful small business ideas. Successful small business owners face many ups and downs throughout their work. They know that small business ideas cannot turn out successful unless they use the proper approach and strategies.

If you want to be one of the few successful small business owners, remember that having a good strategy is crucial. Without the right strategy and a proper approach, you are not likely to achieve your goal.

Some small business owners manage to overcome their everyday challenges, while others seem to give up after a while. So, let’s find out what successful small business owners do differently from the unsuccessful ones. Let’s turn their experience into your success through your small business ideas.

1. MAKE ANNUAL REVISIONS OF YOUR BUSINESS PLAN AND BUDGET

Every business goes through changes every now and then, including your small business. For this reason, your business plan and budget should be somewhat flexible to bear such changes along with your business goals. Without revising your business plan and budget, you shouldn’t expect your business to flourish and expand.

The flexibility of your business plan will help you avoid and overcome the eventual unpleasant surprises on the market. Also, such flexibility will give you some time to adjust to certain changes you may experience on your way.

Every business experiences both success and failure points each year. In order to detect and estimate these points, you should revise your budget and business plan every year. While revising, you should check if you are still going in the right direction. If not, you may need to make some changes and adjustments to achieve better results in the upcoming period.

Successful small business owners don’t hesitate to reallocate funds, if that is what it takes to achieve success. In order to increase profits, after they conduct a business revision, smart business owners define and implement the necessary changes immediately.

2. UPDATE YOUR OFFER AND ADD VALUE TO IT

People change, as do their needs and habits. As soon as you notice that you aren’t selling as much as you used to sell before, it is time to make changes. If people aren’t purchasing what you currently have to offer, that’s a clear hint that something needs to be done.

A simple price cut may be the first thing that comes to your mind. As much as lower prices may seem more appealing to your customers, they also point to a devaluation of what you offer. Devaluation of your products or services is never a good thing, so try doing just the opposite – add value to your offers.

The best way to update and add value to your products and services is by developing new offers. If possible, try to offer something completely new to your customers. You could offer product bundles, training programs and workshops, and so on.

3. DARE TO BE DIFFERENT

Most successful small business owners believe in daring to be different. They know their target consumers. Trying to target everyone and anyone as a consumer will get you nowhere fast. Instead of trying to make products for the masses, focus on a clearly targeted community and grow with it. Once you target your consumers, it is easy to understand their needs.

Understanding your consumers is the secret to a successful business. When you know their needs, you can modify your products and services in order to satisfy them. Satisfied consumers will not only become your regulars, but they will also spread the word about what you offer. This may become the best marketing strategy for your business.

Spreading the word about your products or services is called a referral marketing strategy. It’s been proven that most of the faster growing small businesses turn to this kind of marketing rather than relying on traditional advertising.

4. KNOW YOUR COMPETITION

Successful small business owners know their competition. They know that keeping an eye on the competitors and understanding their policy and pricing is crucial to the business. It is wise to consider your direct competitors in your area, as well as indirect competitors.

A direct competitor offers the same primary services to the same target group as you, and they are easy to follow on the market. However, an indirect competitor company offers the same or similar products as a segment of a wider product or service offering.

In some cases, the indirect competitor may offer a product that is an applicable substitute for the original product. Successful small business owners know how to position their company against the indirect competitors. They take both types of competing companies seriously and they account for them in their annual business plan.

5. HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Even though hiring the right people for your business sounds obvious, it can be a really tough job for small business owners. Also, not hiring the right people could be a huge downfall for a small company. People who don’t share the concept of your business approach and goals are not the type of people you want to engage in your business.

Candidates who don’t have the right temperament, skills, or talent for the job position that you offer can be too pricey for your company. Having the right people in the right job positions can make your company outstanding. Exceptional companies recruit exceptional people.

6. ACCEPT TECHNOLOGY CHANGES

Technology changes on a regular basis nowadays. Successful business owners are very well aware of that, so they change accordingly. Doing things the way they were done years ago will not provide the same success nowadays.

Accepting technological improvements can help your company become more effective and efficient. Keep yourself informed about the latest in new technology, and the improved solutions it brings. Choose the most appropriate ones for your business and adopt them. Your customers will be grateful and you’ll experience great benefits.

7. TRUST YOUR INTUITION

If you believe your intuition has been serving you well so far, listen to your inner voice carefully. Your instincts can lead you a long way. If you still feel strongly about something, regardless of the lack of facts or data – act on it. What seems right for other businesses doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you as well.

Relying on intuition is often the first step out of your comfort zone, and the first step towards becoming a leading company on the market. While you watch your business grow and spread, remember that having faith in yourself and the business you are running is crucial. Being aware of your inner voice can lead you to making business decisions with more confidence and a greater success rate.

Internet Marketing For Small Business Tips – Choosing A Domain Name For Your Lead Generation Website

If you want to create an internet marketing for small business strategy for your local business you will need to have a website set up. This website needs to be a lead generation website in order to be effective as a marketing tool.

So what do we mean by lead generation website? To be an effective marketing tool for your local business the website that you have set up should be search engine optimized, and have the ability to capture the names and email addresses of those who visit it.

The first step towards an effective lead generation website is to choose a domain name for it. This is the name of your website and it also determines the address where it may be found on the internet. When you choose a domain name remember to include the main keywords that your target market will type into the search engines to find you.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate more clearly what I mean. We will assume you have a local business, called Anderson Plumbing Services in the town of Membury. You certainly would not want your domain name to be the name of your business because not many people would find your site this way. You want to use the keywords which a prospective customer might type into Google to find your services, and incorporate them into a domain name. So a better example for your domain name might be memburyplumbing.com.

So now that you understand that it is important to include keywords in your domain name, where can you find out what keywords people are using when they are looking for information on local business services? Fortunately there are many tools that can help you find these words. One of these is the Google Keyword Tool. If you type the phrase “Google keyword tool” into your search bar you will find it is the first result to come up.

Type into the search box some words that you think people might be searching for such as “Membury plumbing” and the tool will bring up a list of many others related to this one. You will also see some columns which tell you how many times a phrase is searched and what the competition is like for that phrase. Ideally you will want a keyword phrase that gets enough searches but for which there is not too much competition. Once you have a few domain name ideas written down you need to select a domain name registrar to see if the name you have chosen is available and register it. The domain name registrar that I use is Godaddy. Do not take any notice of all the upsells that this registrar will try and sell you. Just register the name you have chosen. It is a good idea to register your domain name for as long as you can; five years is best. The search engines are able to pick up these details and tend to take more notice of a domain name that has been registered for longer.

Now that you have a domain name that has keywords in it you will be stand a better chance at achieving an effective lead generation website as people will be able to find it more easily.

4 Reasons Why Twitter Is a Waste of Time for Small Business Owners

We’ve all heard the hype: “you NEED to be Facebooking, Twittering, blogging and YouTubing if your business is going to survive in the next five years.”

But spare a thought for the humble small business owner, generally a one or two person operation, maybe up to five… time poor, money poor (GFC?) and with little computer education let alone a working knowledge of the internet and social media.

But with all the so-called ‘Social Media Gurus’ out there whose advice do you follow (even if you do have the time to invest in learning)…?

For many small business owners Social Media is the bane of their existence, a necessary evil they HAVE TO DO… just because everyone else is doing it. Yet, if they’re going to take time out of their busy schedule to ‘do’ Social Media how on earth are they going to make money from it, how are they going to get a return on their investment?

Social Media is full of wishy-washy slogans like ‘enter the conversation’, ‘meet customers on their terms’ and ‘let customers tell you what they want from your business’. How is a small business owner to make sense of any of this, let alone make money for their business?

Twitter is a much talked about Social Media website yet it could be the undoing of many small business owners that dare to spend their days ‘tweeting’, re-tweeting, following and hash tagging.

Here are 4 reasons why Twitter is a waste of time for small businesses owners:

1. Time – tweeting takes time, and what small business owner do you know that isn’t time poor? If you had a few hours spare each week to tweet, there are better ways to spend it.

2. Money – we’re all in business to make money, yet when it comes to social media a select few seem to know how to do it. We hear how Dell Computers made $4million on Twitter last year. Is Dell a small business? No. They have a huge team whose sole responsibility is to perfect their social media. But how is a time-poor small business owner going to make money from Twitter? They could hire someone but at what hourly cost? They have to make that back and more to make it even worthwhile.

3. Lead Generation Strategy – for a small business to run smoothly they must have one or more lead generation strategies. And when it comes to Social Media the same SHOULD hold true. Yet the majority of small business owners use social media randomly – a tweet here, a post there – but where’s the system? To make it work you need a strategy. Twitter is a place for you to build you ‘expert’ status. Credibility which leads to expert status takes time and what small business owner has unmetered time?

4. Customisation – Twitter allows you 140 characters per ‘tweet’. Sure, you can customise the picture on your profile, but who cares? Twitter allows zero customisation to give your business profile an edge, nor does it offer opportunity to capture business leads.

For small business owners who want a return on their Social Media investment they need a tool that can help them do that. They need a system in place to get the results they’re looking for and it needs to run on auto-pilot the majority of the time. If Twitter can’t offer this, what Social Media Site can?

The answer is Facebook. Facebook ticks all the boxes that Twitter doesn’t. With Facebook, Small Business owners can:

– invest little time, but with the RIGHT knowledge, can gain a financial return on the time they invest

– Invest little money aside from an upfront setup cost (assuming they hire an expert to set it up for them)

– Systemise a lead capture procedure that brings in qualified leads right to their email inbox

– Customise – as of March 10, 2011 Facebook offers customisation for anyone to insert a ‘mini-website’ within their Facebook Page which gives them full control over the content they place on their Facebook Page.