Grow Smart Business


Search Articles

Posts Tagged ‘lead generation’

Friday Small Business Roundup: Lead Generation and More

October 11th, 2013 ::

You’d like more leads, wouldn’t you? We thought so. Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post 5 Ways to Generate More Leads and start getting them.

Is your email campaign working? You’ll never really know unless you learn How to Measure Email For Engagement and Sales. Read Monika Jansen’s post to learn how.

If You Advertise on Facebook, You Need To Know About Power Editor. Read Monika Jansen’s post to learn more.

Are you using content marketing? See how you measure up to other businesses – read Rieva Lesonsky’s post How Companies Use Content Marketing to Generate New Leads.

How to Take Advantage of the New LinkedIn Features

April 11th, 2013 ::

LinkedInOver the winter, LinkedIn updated their platform to make it more visual, interactive, and generally easier to use. Here are 7 new features that are a snap to work into your overall marketing and lead generation strategy:

Images and Videos

With the rise of visual content, LinkedIn joins Facebook and Twitter as the social networks look to leverage the high levels of engagement and shareability that photos bring to the table.

Profile photos are given greater prominence in your profile, so you haven’t added a photo yet, do it; otherwise users will encounter a big gray block when they view your profile. Not very engaging – or welcoming.

Because you can also add video, blogs, and presentations (LinkedIn owns SlideShare) throughout your profile, this is a great opportunity to pull in users and showcase your expertise in an engaging, accessible way.


LinkedIn has integrated a little customer relationship management capability with their new notes feature, which lets you add information to the profiles of your connections. It is a great way to keep track of where you met, who you introduced them to and vice versa, future opportunities to work together, etc.


LinkedIn always had a Search feature, but now it’s better, especially if you have a free account. With a free account, you are only allowed 5 introductions (using Get Introduced) a month. Now, you are essentially open to unlimited introductions, because you can search your connections’ connections by keywords and then manually ask for an introduction rather than using Get Introduced.

Interactive Profiles

With the old LinkedIn, if you did a search, a list of names would appear. Now, their profile photos will also appear–a boon to those of us who remember faces better than names. If you scroll over the photo, a mini-profile pops up, saving you the time of clicking through to the profile to make sure you have the right person.


If you haven’t noticed, LinkedIn looks more like Facebook now – your activity on the network shows up in your connections’ news feed. The more you share on LinkedIn, the more visible and thus top-of-mind you’ll be.

Sharing Bookmarklet

One of their new features makes it easy to stay active on LinkedIn – the Sharing Bookmarklet. Drag it to your browser so you can easily share articles, videos, and other content you come across online.

Common Interests

I really like the new Common Interests feature, as it allows you to turn a “cold message” into a warm one. If you don’t have a mutual connection, you can check to see if you have overlapping groups, skills or interests, so that when you reach out, you can really personalize your message (which you should always do!).

Have you used any of these new features yet? What have you found most useful?

Image courtesy of mashable.com

How to Optimize Your Blog for Lead Generation

January 14th, 2013 ::

Blog lead generation means more salesIf you’ve been blogging for a while and you are not seeing much in the way of leads coming from your blog, it is time to optimize your blog specifically for lead generation, rather than just search engines. Here’s how:

Add calls-to-action (CTAs)

I subscribe to a lot of blogs, but rarely do I see calls-to-action that are put front-and-center on the blog.  Besides adding calls-to-action in the body of the blog post or at the very end, you can add banners to the top or side (you could do the bottom, too, but they might be less noticeable there). Work with your website’s developer or a design agency to put eye-catching banners together.

In your CTA, be direct. Tell your website visitor what to do (“Get access to a free 30 day trial”), how to do it (“Download your trial subscription here!”), and the benefit of doing it (“Start improving your blog’s reach, just as thousands of other small business owners like you have done!”).

Test to see what works

Some calls-to-action will be more popular than others, so experiment with wording, graphics, colors, placement, offers, etc. You can keep one call-to-action up for a week, then swap it out for another. Keep experimenting until you find one that gets a lot of clicks.

Update your CTA regularly

Don’t leave the same banner CTA up for months on end. After a while, repeat  visitors will started ignoring that space, making it harder to convert them. You’ll know you have had the CTA up too long when click-throughs drop off.

Customize for different audiences

Since it is likely you have more than one target market, make sure you create a CTA that grabs each target’s attention. List out their different pain points and decide what would be most useful to them – a free demo, a free product trial, a free consultation, an introductory ebook, etc.

Blog more

According to Hubspot, companies that increase blogging from 3-5x/month to 6-8x/month almost double their leads. That’s because the more fresh content you publish, the higher you will rank in search engines, making it easier for people to find you.

Does your blog generate leads? What CTA works best for you?

Image courtesy of web2.salesforcesearch.com

Want to Make the Sale? Don’t Wait Another Minute

December 26th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Could your small business manage to make a phone call to a new lead within one minute after it’s generated? If you can, you’ll increase your chances of making the sale by almost 400 percent, according to a report from Leads360.

Leads360 analyzed some 3.5 million leads in 400 companies to see what best practices most increased conversion rates. Calling within the first minute had the most dramatic impact, but here are some other things that helped:

If you can’t reach the prospect with your first call, a second call within 30 to 60 minutes after the lead generation had the next highest conversion rate.

But if the second call doesn’t go through, don’t give up. The study found the best tactic for optimizing conversion was calling leads up to six times. Some 93 percent of all leads that buy are contacted in six or fewer calls.

Reaching out via email also helps: Leads360 found there was a 16 percent higher chance of actually reaching a prospect by phone if they received an email first. However, some 59 percent of prospects in the study didn’t receive an email. It’s not because the businesses didn’t know their emails: 40 percent of those who had an email address on file with the company never received an email.

However, there’s a fine line between the optimal number of emails and too many emails. Within the first month of prospect lifetime, the optimal number of emails to send was five. The conversion rate for leads that received more than five email messages in that time was 36 percent lower than the conversion rate for leads that were contacted after getting one to five emails.

Wondering how your team can possibly follow up this quickly? Download the free whitepaper fromLeads360Then check out Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales, by Andy Paul. It’s a great, practical guide to turning your sales team into a rapid-response machine. Paul lays out specific steps you can take to get your salespeople responding to leads almost instantly. I highly recommend it to help you optimize your sales.

Image by Flickr user julianlimjl (Creative Commons)

3 Simple Tips for Improving LinkedIn Lead Generation From an Expert

November 26th, 2012 ::

LinkedIn lead generationEver hear of Neal Schaffer? He was named by Forbes as a Top 30 Social Media Power Influencer. He is a prolific blogger at Windmill Networking, a popular social media conference speaker, and an award-winning author of two books: ”Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing” and “Windmill Networking: Maximizing LinkedIn.”

Basically, if you want to know about LinkedIn, you turn to him! Marketo recently published an interview with Neal about using LinkedIn for lead generation. Here are my top 3 takeaways:

1. Stop ignoring your company page

According to Neal, you have to do 3 things to take full advantage of your company page – all of which, I have to say, are pretty darned easy to do:

  1. Build a following with relevant status updates
  2. Include keywords everywhere for SEO purposes
  3. Get recommendations for each of your products or services (rather than your company as a whole)

2. Create content that answers questions

I really love this point Neal makes: People do not call you for an answer – they search the Internet for answers.  If you create content that 1) answers questions, and 2) is full of keywords, then people will find you and begin to view you as a thought leader.

3. Use LinkedIn Groups

Share the above content you create in relevant groups. LinkedIn Groups, as Neal points out, are where the professionals are online – they’re not necessarily looking for answers on Facebook, but they are within LinkedIn Groups.

Do the above, and Neal says that people will start finding you. Your status updates will pop up in their network updates.  You’ll be discovered through search results. You’ll drive brand awareness and lead generation in groups.

Do you use LinkedIn for lead generation? What tactics have been most successful for you?

Image courtesy of marsdd.com

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Lead411 (Sales Lead Database)

November 7th, 2012 ::


If your sales contacts leave something to be desired, it may be time to invest in a good database. Lead411 offers a monthly subscription package that allows you to access more than 300,000 company profiles. With the highest-level subscription, you have access to over 3.5 million people. The listings include email addresses and direct phone numbers and are searchable by city, area code, revenue, company size, position and more. Prices are reasonable for the amount of information available. You’ll also get lead alerts to find out if there are any new hires or resignations, fundings or mergers and acquisitions.

Case Study: How One Small Business Used LinkedIn to Grow to $5Million in Annual Revenue

October 16th, 2012 ::

MoneyI love case studies, and this is why: where else would you learn how someone grew a business from nothing to $5 million in annual revenue using a social media site?   (This blog post is based on one that originally ran in Social Media Examiner.)

Here’s a little background: James Filbird moved to China in 2006 to work on a venture that fell through after only 9 months.  He wantd to stay, so he became a business consultant who helps inventors source products in China. He used LinkedIn to generate leads and grew JMF International Trade Group into a successful company.

Here are 7 things that Filbird did – all of which are easy to do:

1. He completed his profile.

Yes, that sounds like a no-brainer, but is your profile complete? The more information you can add, the better, as there are so many ways for people to find you – by location, areas of expertise, groups, alumni networks.

2. He kept his profile up-to-date.

Again, sounds basic, but it’s easy to forget to add a project win or accomplishment. Also, the more recommendations and endorsements the better, as that outside validation adds to your credibility.

3. He uses it every day.

This is something we should all do! Filbird spends up to 2 hours on LinkedIn every day, participating in group discussions and looking for people to connect with.  Instead of 2 hours every day, carve out time daily or weekly to use LinkedIn, whether it’s for 15 minutes or an hour.

4. He joined 50 groups (the max).

Filbird said that groups are “where the gold is – people looking for help.” Find relevant groups to join by searching with keywords on the Groups page.  Join the active groups that have more comments than discussions (look at the Activity tab in Group Statistics).

5. He takes part in discussions. 

He looks through the group digests he receives by email for a handful of groups, and adds valuable insights to any discussions he finds interesting.  The more you chime in, the better your chances of being viewed as an influencer in that group.

6. He connects with relevant people. 

This is a tactic I use as well – Filbird only connected with people who are relevant to his business, rather than anyone and everyone.  When you ask to connect with someone, it is always a good idea to personalize the message and remind the person how you know them or explain why you’d like to connect.

7. He moves conversations offline.

If a LinkedIn conversation is going well, Filbird asks them to connect via Skype.  For every 10 people he engages on LinkedIn, 1 develops into a relationship; when that conversation moves to Skype, 1 in 3 results in business.  That is a pretty good conversion rate!

Now are you convinced that spending time on LinkedIn is worthwhile?

Image courtesy of library.thinkquest.org

What Is Content Syndication, and How Can It Help Your Marketing?

October 2nd, 2012 ::

One of the things you are doing as part of your marketing strategy is creating content, from blog posts to whitepapers, to demonstrate your expertise, build thought leadership and generate leads. Instead of sitting on all of that valuable content, put it to work for you –monetize it.

You can do this through content syndication, a content-sharing strategy in which your content is reused by other websites and online media outlets.  (This strategy applies to images and videos too – and you see it in newspapers all the time.)  Because this is a strategy I am definitely interested in myself, I did some research and found 3 main benefits to content syndication:

  1. Greater reach – If you want to increase visibility for your company, products, or services, I really can’t think of a better way to reach more people at once with little effort on your part.
  2. Earn extra money – While you will not make a living from content syndication (unless that is all you do! – think advice columns and Dave Barry), you can certainly make some extra money, always a good thing.
  3. Generate leads – When someone engages with your content, they are most likely in need of the product or service you offer.  Reach out to them simply by asking if they have any questions.

Before getting started, be sure to ask the content syndicator the following:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Will you republish my content, or repurpose it? If you are going to repurpose it, how will you do so?
  • What other websites will my content appear on?
  • Where will my name and company be listed? Will they be hyperlinked to my website?
  • Will the content link back to the original on my site?

Once you get established with a content syndicator (or two) and find it beneficial to your bottom line and sales funnel, ask if they would be interested in an ongoing agreement, in which you provide content regularly.

2 highly regarded content syndicators include:

Mochila – an online media marketplace for both content buyers and sellers.

NewsCred – their syndication platform uses an API to make it easy for publishers to find your content, and then you can track and analyze your content on 3rd party sites so you can see what’s working.  Best part – they let you stay in control of the entire process.

If you have syndicated content, what was your experience like? If you haven’t syndicated content, would you try it?  Leave a comment below!

Image courtesy of aisquared.com

4 Easy Ways to Generate Leads on Forums

August 29th, 2012 ::


LinkedIn Groups, Quora and HighTable are all great Q&A forums that allow you to demonstrate your expertise – and demonstrating your expertise and thought leadership is a great way to generate leads and find new clients.

Here’s how:

1. Answer questions

Yes, this is probably obvious, but if you want to really make an impression, you have to go beyond a simple, one-sentence answer.   You should back up your answer with statistics or examples of how you’ve successfully done x for clients.  Offer tips on how they can do x, along with alternatives they may not have considered.

2. Comment on other answers

If you agree, explain why.  If you don’t, be polite and civil while you explain why it might be better to do x this way instead of that way.  As above, if you can offer tips on how to do x, all the better.

3. Look for questions on related topics

In business, there is a lot of crossover from one topic and area of expertise to another.  Take marketing.  Though I am a copywriter and editor, and I know a great deal about social media, branding and marketing strategy.  Look for questions on topics that are related to your area of expertise to broaden your reach.

4. Visit forums routinely

As with any part of your marketing strategy, consistency wins the day.  Just as you make time to check email and post on your business’s social media accounts every day, visit forums and answer questions on a regular basis, whether it’s once a day or once a week.

If you want to delve into forums deeper, you could start your own forum.  However, this is a bit of time commitment that requires continual marketing and engagement.  If there are no forums on your topic of expertise, though, it might be worth trying out.

Have you successfully used forums to generate leads?  What tactics did you find worked best?

Image courtesy of valdosta.edu

Want to Capture More Leads? New Study Says Make it Fun and Engaging

August 27th, 2012 ::

filling out a form

One of the best things about online marketing is the ability to easily capture lead information from potential customers. However, if you want to capture personal information beyond name and email address to prequalify them, determine the best product or service for them, or craft more personalized messages for them as you move them through the sales cycle, you could find yourself empty-handed.

As consumers, we don’t like to freely give out personal information. A recent study, though, found that if you make that information capture process fun and engaging, your online marketing will benefit tremendously.

First, a little about the study. It was conducted by Ctrl-Shift, a U.K.-based independent research and consulting company, and nFluence, a marketing technology startup.  As part of the study, Ctrl-Shift asked a panel of consumers to compare different marketing tools from Amazon to the Tesco Clubcard (Tesco is a British supermarket chain).

The study found that consumers are willing to offer marketers’ information about themselves in exchange for tangible benefits:

  • Consumers are excited about receiving only relevant marketing messages.
  • Consumers will reveal information if it is not labor intensive.
  • Consumers enjoy volunteering information through gamified mechanics and/or rewards for their efforts.
  • Consumers’ digital history is irrelevant when trying to figure out what they’re interested in.

Instead of asking for traditional demographic information, capture non-personal information around personality and favorite films and brands, for example.  From a consumer perspective, this type of information is fun to share and does not feel like divulging too much personal information.  From a marketing perspective, you’ll still be capturing the lead information you want, but you’ll probably end up capturing more leads.

The study also offered 3 great takeaways:

  1. If the process is intrinsically rewarding (i.e. it’s interesting, you are discovering something about yourself, or it’s a bit of a challenge like going through the levels of the game), this can affect the levels of engagement you achieve.
  2. Like game playing, if you can see it change in response to what you are doing, it sucks you in.
  3. Trust matters. Consumers want to know how their information will be used.

Three companies that capture non-personal information in a fun and engaging way and were included in the study are:

  • dealBoard, an Australian company that recommends a set of deals based on personal preferences
  • VisualDNA, which uses a personality test to drive better advertising
  • Hunch, which bases its recommendations on your reviews of products and services and shares these with other Hunch users

How will this information affect your lead capture efforts?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of vermontjudiciary.org