For the average business owner, lead generation is now more difficult than ever. Direct mailing is no longer as effective as it used to be. Investing in print advertisements in the local paper has also become less reliable over time. Advertising in the Yellow Pages today is basically ineffective. In addition, many businesses are currently losing customers to online sellers.
Local lead generation puts small to mid-sized businesses in contact with their first customers and is key to developing a solid customer base. For many local brick and mortar enterprises, generating quality leads is an ongoing challenge. However, there is a relatively simple process involved with turning a website into local lead generation machine.
Researching Local Leads
Gather insightful data about the online behavior of local leads. This information can be used to identify the best timing and appropriate offer to make to different types of prospects. Aside from online behavior, research direct competitors and identify the keywords the target audience is using to find specific products or services.
Local SEO Optimization
Over 40 percent of the business leaders in the B2C sector and over 55 percent in the B2B sector say SEO has the largest impact on meeting goals for lead generation. Fortunately, it's easier to rank for most local keywords than it is on a national basis. With local SEO, the areas to focus on are improving the Google My Business page, NAP consistency, and fully optimizing on-site factors.
Optimizing the Google My Business page should be one of the first steps business owners take towards improving local SEO. This involves including the NAP, high-res photos, multiple customer reviews and a captivating business description. Executing citation audits to ensure that the NAP is consistent on the business's website, various marketing mediums and third-party websites can also have a definite impact on SEO ranking.
After the GMB page and NAP are squared away, take the time to address the on-site SEO factors. The majority of the optimization here is focused on including relevant keywords and the city or region in the title tag, meta description, H1 tags, URL, and content of the landing page. Embedding a Google Map with the business marker on the landing page can help improve local SEO as well.
Aside from SEO, other key components of web optimization for local lead generation websites include the design, images, theme, content and the keywords used. The website should contain quality, shareable content with keyword-rich meta-tags so pages get easily noticed by Google. Unique, insightful content is also critical, as Google penalizes websites for publishing duplicate copy. If there are leads available in a city nearby, creating location-specific web pages is helpful as well.
The website should also be optimized for the growing number of mobile and UX users. Researchers have found that nearly 65 percent of all consumers currently use mobile devices to search for local businesses. Nearly 75 percent of all mobile searches result in a purchase, while the rate of purchase from desktop searches is only 50 percent. In fact, recent Google updates may now penalize websites that don't have a fully optimized mobile design.
Themes crafted around a lead-generation strategy are in high demand right now. These themes are designed to help quickly convert visitors to customers, and establish email contact, at minimum. Many of the themes are highly visual, captivating, engaging and include a built-in lead capture system. Designs crafted to deliberately focus the reader's attention are especially effective.
Social Media Optimization
Optimizing the social media presence and the consistency in profiles on different platforms online is critical for improving local lead generation. The rate of active social media users is increasing by over 10 percent annually and growth among active mobile social users is now exceeding 15 percent. However, the approach local business owners take towards social media should be different with B2B and B2C activities.
LinkedIn should be the leading candidate for B2B activities focused on generating local leads. Social media platforms like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook have proven to still be lucrative for enterprises of all sizes. However, more than 80 percent of leads converted for B2B marketers through social media come from LinkedIn and nearly 13 percent come from Twitter. Recent studies have shown LinkedIn is over 270 percent more effective than Facebook for B2B lead generation.
With B2C exchanges, over 60 percent of consumers prefer to buy from brands they already know and trust first, regardless of price. Earning the target audience's trust before the purchase creates more viable opportunities for local business to enter new markets. In terms of integrating social media to generate more B2C leads, Instagram and Snapchat are the leading platforms to focus on. Both are widely popular, and offer tools like geofilters and hashtags, helping small businesses build their brand and generate new leads based on location.
Improving Conversion Rates
The call-to-action mechanism should be direct enough so viewers immediately understand what the website's purpose and what they need to do next. Identify a singular action and direct prospects to carry it out to completion using the website. This action may be a purchase, and opt-in email submission or calling in to a representative. Engaging prospects by providing valuable insights and following-up consistently can help build relationships that convert into more sales.
Aggregating Data from Prospects
Accumulating contacts and building relationships is the path to closing sales, online or offline. Collecting email and contact information from customers is the first step towards making the sale. Social media networking and offsite activities are other easy ways to collect data that can be used to improve the site's performance over time.
Track the results of the decisions made and use the data as a reference point for making continuous improvements going forward. Tracking, testing and improving the lead generation website should focus on increasing conversion rates. Routine monitoring helps improve the method and speed in which local leads are qualified and generated by the website and off-site marketing efforts.
Offline Support and Local Promotions
Supporting a local lead generation website with offsite and offline efforts is an absolute necessity for many business owners. Online, the focus should be on developing communities and marketing material on leading social media platforms that funnel leads back to the website. For B2B enterprises, hosting or participating in networking events and announcing the appearance on a designated web page can be a fruitful resource for new local leads.
Establishing multiple avenues for the website to capture new local leads should the goal for offline activities. Hosting local events, seminar and retreats are all ways to get local prospects familiar with the brand and potentially over to the website. Overall, these attempts result in the indirect promotion of the brand and improved brand recognition by the community living the local area.
Between the geographical limitations and the growing ineffectiveness of conventional marketing strategies, generating local leads online is the only way for many small business owners to remain competitive today. In addition, the return on investment for running local lead generation campaigns online is remarkably higher than trying to do so offsite. A local lead generation website makes the process repeatable and measurable, taking much of the chance out of waiting for people to walk through the door.