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Lead generation and nurturing best practices for SMBs

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A customer passes through multiple stages before finally purchasing your products or services. That means a sale is an outcome, not a sudden event.

To boost sales, you must optimize the sales funnel and ensure every stage feeds the other until the eventual conversion occurs. This is why modern businesses invest in lead generation and nurturing strategies that keep their pipelines full and help them generate consistent sales.

In this article, we’ll define lead generation and nurturing, show why they’re critical to your SMB, and share actionable tactics you can use to fill your pipeline.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting highly relevant prospects who can benefit from your offer and have the resources to purchase your products or services.

A lead is someone who demonstrates interest in your product by requesting details, sharing their contact information, engaging with your advertisements, or downloading a free marketing resource like an e-book or training. They have a need and are interested in exploring different service providers to solve their problems.

As a sales professional, your job is to convince and persuade your leads to choose your offer and convert them into customers.

Lead generation vs. lead nurturing: What’s the difference?

Lead generation and lead nurturing are critical for generating sales, but they are distinct concepts that require separate strategies. 

As you already know, lead generation is about attracting potential customers. Lead nurturing, however, comes after this initial phase. It’s the process of building a relationship with your leads, understanding their problems, and persuading them to purchase by educating them about your product’s benefits.

Lead-generation strategies aim to attract prospects, collect their information, and establish initial contact. In comparison, lead-nurturing ideas aim to build trust with your leads, answer their objections at different stages of the buyer’s journey, and prepare them for conversion.

Why lead generation and nurturing campaigns are important

According to research, more than 50 percent of marketers consider lead generation the top goal of their marketing campaigns.

Why? Here are a few reasons.

Investing resources in the right prospects

You have limited sales and marketing teams and want them to focus on prospects likely to convert into customers. Generating relevant and high-quality leads helps you cut through the noise for your sales teams. It also enables them to follow up with the most engaged subscribers and invest their energies in nurturing the right relationships.

Answering objections and reducing friction

People don’t buy from you unless they’re convinced your product is the best solution for their problems. It would be best if you had multiple interactions to educate the new leads about your product, highlight its benefits, and persuade them to buy from you. You can only do that when you have a seamless lead generation and nurturing strategy in place.

Understanding the lead’s problems

Generating a lead is the first step toward a sale. But to demonstrate your product’s usefulness, you must first understand your lead’s challenges and problems. Through frequent communication during the nurturing process, you can ask your leads questions to dig deeper into their problems and offer tailored solutions and personalized experiences instead of promoting generic product features.

Building a long-term relationship and generating referrals

Sustainable business growth comes from repeat sales. And that only happens when you build trust with your customers and help them grow their businesses. Targeted lead generation and careful nurturing allow you to build long-term customer relationships that not only result in repeat sales but also drive organic word of mouth.

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6 ways to generate and nurture leads for your SMB

How do you generate relevant, high-quality leads and develop a nurturing system to automatically identify the most qualified leads for your business?

Here are proven lead-generation techniques and nurturing strategies to help you.

1. Create problem-solving content

Positioning your brand as an authority by answering your audience’s most burning questions with high-quality and relevant content is the most reliable way to generate sales leads. It provides free value to your audience and turns them into fans who see you as an expert in your industry. As a result, they willingly sign up for your email list and prefer working with you compared to an unknown service provider.

Start by researching your audience needs and develop different buyer personas to simplify targeting in your marketing strategy.

The best places to publish content online? Your blog and social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other platforms your target audience uses.

2. Optimize your content for search results

Did you know that 68 percent of online experiences start with a search engine? If you want your ideal prospects to find you easily, you must optimize your website and content using the best search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

Develop a comprehensive SEO strategy that answers your audience’s most frequent questions using relevant, high-volume, and low-competition keywords.

But don’t limit your SEO marketing efforts to Google. Whether you create content for Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn, YouTube, or any other platform, research the right keywords and optimize your content for maximum exposure.

3. Run PPC advertising campaigns

To grow fast, combine organic lead-generation and marketing strategies like SEO and content marketing with targeted pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns. Google, Facebook, TikTok, and most other online platforms have different advertising programs that allow you to push your message to relevant users and drive clicks to your site.

Before you start an ad campaign, be sure to set up a dedicated landing page to convert visitors into leads.

4. Use lead magnets and opt-in forms

Driving traffic to your website or landing pages isn’t enough to generate leads. You must also carefully place engaging opt-in forms to collect visitors’ emails and add them to your lead-nurturing funnel. 

With Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Act!, you can quickly create landing pages with lead capture forms or integrate your email marketing software to collect leads.

However, nobody shares their email unless you offer them something valuable like a free webinar, an e-book, training videos, a cheat sheet, or other resources that resolve a specific pain point for your audience. In marketing terms, it’s called a lead magnet.

5. Design automated email campaigns

Once leads sign up for your list, you need automated email marketing sequences to build a relationship with your leads, give them free value, and move them close to conversion.

Email sequences consist of informational emails that educate subscribers about your offer, ask questions to understand their needs, and move them through a lead nurturing process to strengthen your relationship. They’re a critical part of your digital lead-nurturing strategy but far too time-consuming without automated workflows.

The solution? Leverage marketing automation tools

Automation allows you to segment your audience based on demographics, interests, engagement, and other critical behavioral parameters so you can run targeted content campaigns with better results.

For example, you can use automation tools to send case studies and pricing details to leads at the bottom of the marketing funnel. In comparison, those at the top of the funnel will get more informational content that builds trust and moves them close to the next stage of the sales cycle.

6. Use an integrated CRM system

To scale your business, streamline your lead-generation process, automate lead nurturing campaigns, and identify the hottest leads through lead scoring, you need an integrated CRM system.

Act! is a CRM + marketing automation software that tracks your leads from the moment they sign up to your list and assigns them a score based on their engagement levels and the likelihood of converting into customers. This helps your sales team shortlist and prioritize the most engaged leads in their outreach campaigns, resulting in higher lead conversion rates.

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Do you have a lead generation and nurturing strategy?

Lead generation and lead nurturing are the lifeblood of any SMB. By using a CRM system like Act!, you can seamlessly integrate your lead-generation methods and nurturing strategies and provide your sales representatives with the information and resources to optimize their performance and drive consistent sales.

See it for yourself. Sign up for your free 14-day trial now.

Try Act! for free to see how easy it is to optimize your sales performance.