By Mehdi Hussen is the digital marketing manager at SalesHandy.
Research conducted around the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic found that 43% of small businesses in the US are temporarily closed due to lack of demand.
As the crisis keeps getting worse, small brick and mortar businesses are finding it difficult to transact with customers due to quarantines. Even those markets not under quarantine orders have seen a precarious drop off in physical footfall in retail outlets and malls.
Under these circumstances, customers are turning to online channels to avail essential goods and services. eCommerce platforms have seen an increase in traffic and sales, which signal a shift in demand generation channels.
So throughout this blog, we’ll explore ways to divert this surge in traffic and demand to generate leads for your business.
Why generate leads for your business online?
Online lead generation helps businesses overcome their physical limitations and scale their reach beyond what traditional means can. A Hubspot case study highlights how a waste management company closed $1.2M in revenue completely attributed to its online lead generation through social media.
Internet penetration and adoption are on a continued rise — Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be 6 billion Internet users by 2022, up from 4.4 billion in 2019. This means there is a lot of headroom for growth — more people will come online, which consequently leads to more demand towards services and products being delivered online.
Traditional brick and mortar businesses have resorted to word of mouth, print and banner advertising and street visibility to drive footfalls and leads. But with the shift to online retail, businesses that won’t build an online presence will lose a lot of potential business to competing counterparts. Building an online presence drives more traffic and enables you to serve potential customers without any limitations.
We’ve laid out 6 ways to build an online presence for your business to generate traffic and leads, so you can keep growing your business, without depending on footfalls at your store.
6 Ways To Generate Leads Online For Brick And Mortar Businesses
- Get Business Listed Online
As the first step of gaining an online presence for your business, register your business on Google My Business.
Once you have added your business to Google My Business, it will get listed on Google search and maps. This will help you get discovered whenever a user searches for keywords specific to your business or location — by having your business show up as one of the search results.
Create a profile on review sites specific to your business. For example, as a restaurant owner, salon, grocery store, etc, you should have your business listed on platforms like Yelp. Both local residents and tourists new to an area will look up sites to these local business review sites before they walk into a place they’ve never visited.
Once your profile is live, ask your customers to leave you a review. Great reviews will attract more people, as positive reviews reinforce trust, and compels them to visit/buy from you, bringing in more leads and effectively generating more sales.
Apart from driving traffic, getting listed on a business listing sites also impacts your websites’ visibility on search engines like Google, and helps your website pages to rank higher.
- Make your website more SEO friendly
Websites are at the center of your online presence — it is your virtual retail showroom that stays open 24×7, for anyone to access. This gives you a tremendous amount of reach and visibility through search engines and social media, which helps generate new leads for your business and sell online. A comparison of quarterly retail sales growth for In-store and eCommerce in the US shows how crucial online presence is for traditional brick and mortar businesses .
Search engines are responsible for driving the most organic traffic. So it makes sense to optimize your website and content to give you more visibility on relevant topics and keywords. An increasing amount of businesses are competing for #1 positions for the same keyword on search engines — and it only gets more competitive with time.
In such cases, the best strategy is to optimize and target your content to help your pages rank for low-competition, long-tail keywords. For example, as a pizzeria owner, you might find too much competition for the keyword “pizza near me” since there are a lot of competing businesses. In such cases, narrowing down to something like “best Sicilian slice in new york” gives you better odds to rank on the first page of search results.
Once you have figured out bringing visitors to your website, you need to engage with them — like you would on a brick and mortar space. The best way to do this is by adding a chat widget to your website. These allow you to directly chat with visitors who’ve reached your website enabling you to talk to them through your products or offer help. Every customer once engaged via live chat can be qualified as a lead and can be reached out later on.
- Web Advertising
Being able to generate organic visitor traffic takes time for a brand new website. With Web Ads, you could skip the wait and start attracting visitors to your website from platforms where your audience already exists. These are several online advertising channels –
- PPC(Pay-Per-Click): Pay for every click on your ad creative (text or thumbnail), usually displayed on search engines and advertising networks consisting of media outlets and blogs. You can explore networks like Google, RevContent, AdRoll, etc.
- Display Ads: Get your creative (Video, Image, GIF) featured as a banner on a display network’s websites. Google Display Network is the largest display network reaching out to 90% of internet users worldwide.
- Video and Social Ads: You can get your video ads featured on social media feeds and video streaming networks like YouTube using video ads. You can either insert pre-roll ads within videos on a Display Network/Social Platform or partner up with content creators and editors on these platforms who make it part of their content.
- Paid business listing: You can opt to pay and have your business profile highlighted and bumped up in search results on business listing pages like Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.. This will help in driving intent rich leads to your website or listing earlier, by making your listing visible in prime display locations throughout the website.
- Create Engagement On Social Media
Social media is another channel for you to find and engage with potential leads on these networks. What makes it lucrative is the fact that posting content is free and doesn’t cost anything, unlike advertising. Although on a smaller scale, you get to spread your message and engage your audience with your posts, comments, and shares. Posting and commenting on a regular basis keeps your audience on these platforms nurtured, and gradually expands your reach.
You can gather more information on them, capture them as leads, and engage with them using well planned campaigns. Apart from this, social media presence pays in the form of conversions. As per research, more than half of social media users spend time on social platforms to learn about the products they’re about to buy.
- Email Outreach
The leads that you will end up generating from your website, ads, and social media will add up to a mix of people who really need your product/services and others who don’t care much. You don’t know who these people are, apart from their names, email and phone numbers. So your next step has to be to engage with them further on a channel like email and only move forward with the leads that respond to your outreach in some way.
You can simply set up a cold email follow-up campaign for leads you generated from each channel and engage them with appropriate messaging. Using automation tools like SalesHandy, you can set up these outreach campaigns and track engagement to later qualify them.
The outreach will help you narrow down on the best leads from your top-funnel and sell to only these select few leads with buying intent.
- Co-promotions and partnerships
Another great way to generate intent-rich leads is to promote your products with other businesses that have an audience similar to yours. In the Pizzeria example, you can connect with a local pub that has an engaged email list/social media following and offer their customers a discount on your Pizzas if they were to spend a certain amount at the pub. Once a promotion like this goes live on your partner’s marketing channels, it expands your reach to a wider audience. You can return the favor by letting your partner promote their products or offers to your audience, helping your combined audience benefit from better deals by buying from both.
The resultant would be greater value for everyone involved, enabling you to sell to a new audience at much lower acquisition costs.
Scale your small business without bricks and mortar
As the majority of consumers are stuck inside their homes, eCommerce and remote sales have made it possible to sell without a dedicated retail space. Apart from that, it also helps you scale and operate the business more efficiently than ever, all while being present and available for your customers whenever they need you.
If you haven’t switched to generating leads and selling online, you’re missing out on the shift in demand channels and the increase in scale and volumes that result from it. It is easier to track, optimize, and maintain, and enables you to focus on what you do best – creating the best products and experiences for your customers.