The #1 challenge for many small businesses is finding new leads. Where do leads come from, anyway? The good news is that there are many new ways to attract new customers. The big question is where to focus.
Let’s start with some data.
Hubspot sees data from a lot of businesses. Their data is focused on which activities generate the most leads. The results vary quite a bit between industry. In general terms; search, email and social media come out on top.
Kuno is a very sophisticated agency. They use Hubspot software. The big learning from their results is that things change over time so you do need to keep an eye on results. Even for Kuno, it looks like referrals from third parties that their prospects trust is a clear winner. Interestingly, even they admit to be a bit challenged with SEO.
Source: Kuno Interactive
When answering the question where do leads come from, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that web, email and social were the top three with email seen as the most effective.
Email is seen as the most trusted channel by consumers.
Source: Direct Marketing Association
Marketing Sherpa gives us exactly what we are looking for. The top 3 channels that deliver the most traffic are organic search, email and pay per click advertising. These channels also deliver the most leads.
Source: Marketing Sherpa
So Where Do Leads Come From?
First, giving one channel the credit just because it was the last place that the prospect visited doesn’t work.
Today, there is not one funnel but rather a series of influencing points that lead to channels where the prospect is most comfortable making contact. When asking ourselves where do leads come from, we need to think about how to get the prospects who are the most qualified to us faster and in greater numbers. It is about creating opportunities to deliver value in the channels that our best customers are active.
Priority #1: Referrals
The #1 source of high quality leads for almost all businesses are referrals. You see this in the leads generated via websites, search, email, social and other channels.
Why are referrals such a powerful channel? One word – trust. Trust is the key key factor that drives the effectiveness of channels.
Why referrals are awesome.
Referrers are usually made by your best customers, meaning that the referrals are more likely to be like you best customers (most profitable, easiest to deal with etc).
Trust is a done deal since the referee already believes that you can deliver based on the credibility that the referrer has with them.
As a result, referrals have very high conversion rates – 50% to more than 70%.
Apart from customers, referrals can also happen via complementary providers that are working with the same customer base as you. Today, collaboration can take many forms. An easy, low risk option is providing content to the partner through a guest blog. You can step it up a bit further by offering a special deal to your partner’s customer. Most companies are always trying to provide extra value to their customers.
So what channels should you focus on?
Businesses and prospects have a mutual interest in sharing information. A business’s website and email are the most trusted channels by prospects when it comes to sharing information. The DMA found that 43% named email and 42% named a business’s website as the most trustworthy. This makes a regular email program, a mobile ready modern website with clear opportunities for prospects to make contact and an active blog compulsory.
The next question is how to get qualified prospects to your website and signed up for your email program.
We have already covered the #1 priority – an active referral program including referrals from both customers and partners.
For cold prospects, you have to assume that it will take 5 to 7 contact points where the prospects has delivered value before they are ready to sign up for trial or buy their first product. 30% of all product and services searches start with web search, so optimizing for keywords used by your ideal customers is a priority. Your blog is the key driver for that.
Social becomes less about lead generation and more about building trust with a clear path to your website or some kind of action, whether it is a sign up to an event or giveaway with the goal of building your email list.
Finally, a quick comment on paid channels. This is really an investment vs. results decision. Getting your organic channels working first is likely to lead to better paid results.
Phil Rogers is the founder and CEO of Revenizer (@revenizer). Revenizer provides a virtual marketing service to help small businesses grow using digital channels. At Revenizer, Phil focuses on developing services and technologies that make the power of digital marketing accessible to everyone. Find out more at www.revenizer.com.