In 2016, I surveyed over 2,000 local business owners. The results were unanimous.
The single greatest struggle brick and mortar businesses face is their inability to generate leads.
What frustrated me the most about the comments were the complaints.
- Online stores are stealing my customers.
- The Yellow Pages don’t work anymore.
- Paying for advertisements in the local paper is hit or miss.
- Direct mail is a gamble.
I get it…
You’re restricted by geography and old school marketing methods are less effective today because of online accessibility.
If you continue to rely on word of mouth, foot traffic, or a genie in a bottle, then you might as well hit the roulette table and throw everything down on black.
The truth is, you need to take your local lead generation campaigns online to have a fighting chance in today’s market.
And once you start to effectively use these online lead generation strategies, you’ll find that the ROI from your local campaigns to be off the charts.
If you want results, then keep reading.
Because in this 4,500 word post, I’ll cover absolutely everything you need to know to make your next local lead generation campaign a success, while your competitors are looking out the window hoping for someone to walk through their doors.
The Necessity of the Internet for Local Lead Generation
The local business owners in the survey above aren’t out of the norm. A lot of them are actually very smart marketers.
Despite their marketing prowess, they do not know how to effectively target local leads online in a way that is measurable and repeatable.
With online lead generation, you have access to a plethora of data that will help you go beyond a one-hit wonder.
You can take the data to reach new audiences who will likely purchase your services and create scalable campaigns that can be replicated based on prior successes.
No matter how excellent your lead generation campaigns might be, unless they are specifically engineered to attract local clients and can be statistically repeatable, they are ultimately doomed to failure.
So how do you guarantee that you can generate qualified local leads for your business?
That’s exactly what I am about to show you.
Simple Strategies for Generating Local Leads
Here is the good news.
Local lead generation is not that much different from traditional lead generation.
In fact, due to the comparative lack of competition, it is often much easier to generate results with local campaigns than it is with its national or global counterparts.
However, the bad news is that the actual steps, strategies, and techniques are slightly more difficult to execute due to the meticulous attention to detail and laser focus that is required.
Luckily, with the following 5 tips, you will be able to quickly propel your business’s local lead generation capacity forward 10 fold.
So let’s get to it.
1. Master Local SEO
Becoming proficient at local SEO is one of the single most important things that you can do to generate new leads at a rapid pace.
It is actually significantly easier to rank highly for (most) local keywords than it is to try and rank for keywords that are searched on a national scale.
For example, ranking for “PR Firm Denver, Colorado” is going to be a walk in the park compared to getting your website on the first page of Google for the keyword “PR Firm.”
And, to make things even better, local SEO can be boiled down to three simple components that you need to master.
While almost every strategy detailed in this article will improve your SEO performance in some way, these three steps are the pillars upon which all local SEO success rests.
1. Google My Business
The first step that you need to take in order to boost your local SEO ranking and quickly generate more leads is to claim and optimize your Google my Business page.
While I cover this (and many other local SEO tips) in my extensive article on local SEO, the basics of Google My Business optimization are:
- Write a Compelling Business Description: This page will likely be the first thing that potential clients see, this means that your description should be as compelling and informative as possible.
- Choose the Correct Categories for Your Business: The key here is to balance accuracy and marketability. Only choose categories that accurately describe what your business does, but try and find as many of those categories as possible.
- Include Your NAP, Hours of Operation, and High-Resolution Photos: This will not only help your Google ranking but will also improve the user friendliness of your account.
- Include Several Customer Reviews: Customer reviews are an essential part of SEO performance. Curating as many honest 5-star reviews as you can could be the added boost you need to rank #1 for your local keyword.
2. Make Your NAP Consistent
This point is simple in theory but can be quite challenging in practice.
One of the key factors in your local SEO ranking is the consistency of your NAP or business “Name, Address, and Phone Number.”
You need to make sure that your NAP is present and consistent across all of your marketing mediums and web pages.
And this is pretty easy.
The tricky part comes whenever you have to audit NAP citations on other websites like Yelp! or Trip Advisor.
This process can be extremely time-consuming and tedious, but is, nonetheless, absolutely essential for your SEO ranking.
3.Fully Optimize On-site SEO Factors
The next step on your road to local SEO mastery is to fully optimize on-site factors.
The majority of on-site optimization boils down to a few simple things.
- Include your city/region and relevant keywords in your landing page’s title tag
- Include your city/region and relevant keywords in your landing page’s meta description.
- Include your city/region and relevant keywords in your landing page’s H1 tags
- Include your city/region and relevant keywords in your landing page’s URL.
- Include your city/region and relevant keywords in your landing page’s content
- Embed a Google Map that includes your business marker on your landing page.
While there are certainly more advanced tactics that we could delve into, the above bullet points should be more than sufficient to give your website the boost it needs to start dominating local SEO.
2. Fully Optimize Your Website for UX and Mobile Users
Now, with your SEO running full steam ahead it’s time to shift gears a bit and start optimizing the mobile design of your site.
Some of you may be tempted to disregard this particular piece of advice and assume that mobile optimization isn’t that important.
According to a study by Neustar Localeze and 15miles, more than 63% of the population uses mobile devices to find local businesses.
And what is even more telling is that this same study showed that 73% of searches on mobile devices end in purchases compared to only 50% of searches on desktop devices.
Now, with the importance of mobile devices quantified, let me pose a question.
How do you think users will respond to your company if they cannot easily navigate and use your website to find the information they are looking for?
I know that if I were them, I would probably go find another company who cared enough about their prospects to design a user-friendly website.
And even if you ignore these statistics, mobile optimization is still important for SEO.
In fact, since Google’s recent updates which were released to encourage the websites to improve their UX, sites are now penalized if they do not have a fully optimized mobile design.
The bottom line?
Go mobile or go broke.
3. Optimize Your Social Profiles
Social media is one of the fastest growing if not the fastest growing phenomenon and marketing mediums of this generation.
And it isn’t slowing down.
In fact, in the past year, the number of social media active users increased at the same rate as the increase of internet users, resulting in nearly a quarter of a billion new social media accounts!
Which makes it disturbing for me to see so many local businesses not taking advantage of the raw lead generating power that social media provides.
Let me say this loud and clear, if you are not using and optimizing your social media presence, you will never achieve the kind of business success you desire.
It’s as simple as that.
However, I understand that many local business owners, even those who already have social accounts for their company, simply lack the knowledge required to successfully leverage social media to achieve their goals.
So in this section, I am going to help you eliminate that excuse and teach you how to use social media to generate leads at a size and scale you never thought possible.
a. B2B Social Media Optimization
Since B2B businesses market to high-level professionals and entrepreneurs, you will not be using the same platforms or tactics that B2C businesses use.
In my experience, there is one platform that shines above the rest for B2B specific lead generation.
LinkedIn, or as we like to call it, The B2B Lead Generation McDaddy.
Now obviously you can use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and see some phenomenal results.
But many studies have shown that LinkedIn is the most effective platform for B2B lead generation.
In fact, at one point in LinkedIn’s history, Hubspot found that it was 277% more effective than Facebook for lead generation!
Not too shabby for a social network with over 1 billion fewer users.
But now that you know why LinkedIn is important, the question still remains “How can you take full advantage of it for generating local leads?”
1. Optimize Your Profile
No serious businessman or entrepreneur will invest their money with a person whose profile lacks professionalism.
To optimize your profiles, get rid of the selfies and sarcastic job descriptions and opt for an approach that reflects the standards of excellence held by your company.
This means a professionally taken profile picture and a succinct but informative job description that appeals to your local clientele.
2. Create Killer Content for your Local Audience
The internet is filled with content on broad national subjects.
For example, if you are in the real estate business, there are literally thousands of LinkedIn articles on real estate investing, national market trends, and common industry mistakes.
However, in stark contrast, there is a serious lack of location-specific real estate content.
So, if you are trying to build your LinkedIn presence for local lead generation, niche down and address topics that are relevant to a local audience.
Keep this content value driven and high quality and you will quickly be able to build up the authority and connection base to successfully execute the next step.
3. Build your Community
One of the keys to success in any niche, whether on a local or national scale, is to create a thriving community of raving fans.
When using LinkedIn, the key to building that community is to first build authority by fully devoting yourself to the previous step and creating high-value content for your audience.
Once you have built up a solid base of content that is attracting a local audience, it’s time to launch your first LinkedIn group.
The goal here is to create a LinkedIn group that is relevant to your ideal customer and then reach out to connections who could potentially benefit from your group.
For example, let’s say that you run a locally based marketing and SEO firm that specializes in retail businesses.
Once you have written and promoted a few dozen LinkedIn articles on this niche, it’s time to start a group where you can establish authority and build rapport with potential leads.
Creating a group “The Pacific Beach Retail Marketing Group” would be an excellent way to start building a thriving local community filled with potential leads.
With the group created, the next step is to start reaching out to the CEOs and marketing executives at the local retail companies you want to work with.
Invite them to your group and then start offering free insights on marketing, SEO tactics, and strategies they can use to grow their business.
This step alone will likely generate a handful of convertible leads without requiring any additional effort on your part.
But when combined with the final step in this process, you will be able to tap into the true animalistic power of LinkedIn lead generation.
4. Run Local Seminars or Online Webinars
Once your community has gained some traction and you have a few dozen members, the final step for using LinkedIn as a local lead generation tool is to run an epic seminar or webinar.
Now, I know what you might be thinking.
“People won’t attend these events! They know I am going to try and sell to them at the end!”
And you’re right, they do know that you are going to try and sell to them.
But let me let you in on a little secret.
They don’t care!
As long as you have a track record of providing massive value, people don’t mind being sold to, in fact, they want and expect it.
All that you need to do is send out the invites, host your seminar or webinar, provide more value than anyone could possibly expect, and then end the event with a polished sales pitch.
Oh, and I almost forgot the final step.
Sit back and watch those sales roll in.
b. B2C Social Media Optimization
Over 60% of consumers prefer to buy products from an established brand that they already know and trust over a new brand, regardless of quality or price.
This makes it extremely challenging for smaller B2C companies to truly break into any new market or survive the appearance of an industry giant without some serious marketing and lead generating effort.
However, with the rise of social media, smaller brands now have the unprecedented opportunity to earn their audience’s trust prior to a purchase.
And there are two platforms that stand out from the rest and allow you to capitalize on this opportunity, quickly earning your audience’s trust and affection.
Snapchat and Instagram.
Now, it might surprise some of you that I am including Snapchat as one of the two most essential social networks for B2C lead generation.
But it shouldn’t.
Snapchat is one of the fastest growing social networks in the world with over 60% of U.S. 13 to 34-year-old smartphone users being “Snapchatters.”
And the growth they’ve been seeing is exponential compared to their competitors.
It is also one of the most efficient platforms for telling your brand’s story, demonstrating the value of your product, and connecting with your audience
Why do I say this?
There are two main aspects of Snapchat’s platform that make it so ideal for building brand loyalty and developing trust.
First and foremost, Snapchat is about as raw and unfiltered as they come.
And in the age of filters and photoshop, most audience members find it refreshing to get an authentic glimpse behind the scenes.
In addition, Snapchat also demands much more user engagement.
After all, if one of your potential leads looks away from a video you sent for even 2-seconds, they could miss a special promotion or message due to the 10-second time limit.
Now despite Snapchat’s strengths, there is a catch.
Generating followers on Snapchat is a much, much, much more difficult process than it is on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Since Snapchat lacks the typical “Discover” feature where your content can be found, generating followers requires you to get a little bit more creative.
~Include Your Snapcode on Physical Items: Whether you put your Snapcode on your store’s front door, your delivery boxes or business cards, there are plenty of ways to generate new leads through the creative placement of your Snapcode.
~Include Your Snapcode on Other Marketing Mediums: To quickly generate more followers that you can later convert, include your Snapchat on your Facebook, Twitter, and blog as well as at the end of all of your marketing emails.
~Invest in Sponsored Local Geofilters: Snapchat makes location targeting easy and fun with local geofilters. Whether you promote your filters near your store’s physical location or creatively use filters at charity events or business meetings, geofilters are a fantastic way to quickly grow your business.
Once you have developed a following, the next step is to use Snapchat to build your personal brand, show off new products, and share your company’s story with your customers.
If you want to really dive deep into this topic then check out my ultimate guide to Snapchat marketing.
While both Snapchat and Instagram rely on visual marketing, Instagram almost always utilizes visual content that has been meticulously edited and filtered to perfection.
And while it might seem like a stark contrast to Snapchat, Instagram’s more professional and polished nature provides an excellent compliment to Snapchat’s carefree and unfiltered style.
So how do you take advantage of Instagram for local lead generation?
It’s actually pretty simple.
The success of your Instagram marketing campaigns are contingent upon two things:
Consistency and hashtag use (quality should be a given).
Most studies have found that much like SEO, Instagram success is earned through consistency, not intensity.
This means that publishing 100 posts a week for one month will do less to grow your following than publishing 30 posts a month for 3 months.
After consistency, the most important element of successful Instagram lead generation is your use of Hashtags.
The key here is to balance using hashtags that are both local and nationally relevant.
“Why would you want to use any hashtags that are not locally relevant?” you might be asking.
Well, here’s the thing.
The majority of Instagram users follow a large number of interest based hashtags that might correlate with your product but likely do not follow location based hashtags.
And if you are basing your hashtags purely on your local area, then you are missing out on a significant portion of the market.
And before we end our conversation about hashtags, we need to address the elephant in the room.
And unfortunately, there is no definitive answer.
While the commonly agreed upon number for ideal exposure and positive response is 4-7, many experts have released studies showing that using upwards of 20 hashtags is more effective.
The only real solution is to test like crazy until you uncover the number and type (local vs. national) that works for your brand.
4. Use Offline Methods to Locally Promote Your Business
Most marketers agree that the majority of successful companies primarily leverage online methods to achieve their marketing goals.
However, there is a certain intimacy in (the right) offline marketing that simply cannot be replicated through the internet.
But you need to realize that I am not talking about posting fliers or buying ad space in local magazines.
The offline lead generation methods I am referring to are much more powerful and much more effective.
1. Networking Events
If you run a B2B business, then the first and most straightforward way to generate leads “off the grid” is become a master of networking events.
You see, there is an age old sales axiom that “People only buy from people they like” and networking events give you the unique opportunity to become that person.
The key to becoming this type of person is to provide tremendous amounts of value to your new connections without asking for anything in return.
The two most powerful value adds I have found, which have generated dozens of lifelong customers for my businesses are to 1) Help people solve their problems free of charge and 2) Become a master connector.
If you have connected with someone at an event and they express a concern or share a problem that you have the ability to solve, offer them advice or suggestions free of charge.
Whenever they implement your suggestions and see the results, they will either hire you on the spot or refer you to a friend they know with a similar issue.
If someone is facing an issue that is outside of your area of expertise, you can still help them and provide value by connecting them with someone who has the knowledge and authority to solve their problem.
They will remember your assistance later down the line and return the favor if they ever encounter anyone requiring the types of products or services you provide.
2. Seminars, Retreats, and Business Events
One of the quickest ways to generate a massive number of leads is to take advantage of any potential speaking engagements such as seminars, business events, or retreats.
If you are an expert in any field, then start developing intentional relationships with other entrepreneurs who host or manage these types of events.
As a speaker at educational events related to your industry, you will have instant authority and respect from the audience.
Which means you will be able to instill a high level of trust in the attendants at a much faster pace than you could online.
As long as you deliver on your promises in your presentation and add tremendous amounts of value, you can expect dozens, if not hundreds of new leads to contact you immediately following the event.
3. Creative Partnerships
The last method for offline lead generation is to leverage the power of creative partnerships.
This works whether you run a B2B or B2C company and if executed properly is one of the most effective ways to generate local leads almost overnight.
Let me give you a great example.
Imagine that you own a local cafe specializing in high-quality dark roasts to fuel your town’s growing caffeine addiction.
Your product is the best on the market and provides an excellent alternative to the froo froo hipster blends and sugar laden corporate sludge that pretends to be coffee.
But there’s a problem.
Sales are down, your brand is unknown, and you still have not landed any deals with major grocery stores or local restaurants.
It seems like team “Pumpkin Spice Latte” is winning the war.
With revenue steadily plummeting, one question continues pressing itself into your mind.
How can you increase exposure and grow your brand without spending a fortune?
Well, why not find a local business that you can partner with to mutually grow your brands?
For our example, a runner’s apparel store would be an excellent partner for one big reason.
Competitive runners tend to be early risers.
And let’s face it, early morning runs are a miserable affair without copious amounts of caffeine to motivate you to leave the comfort of your bed and subject yourself to a grueling practice run.
Which means that runners are an ideal subgroup of your target demographic.
An idea could be to co-host a local 5-10k run where your companies would split the overhead associated with the race, donate products to the event’s winners, and your company would have the honor of hosting the post-run table.
Of course, this table would only serve beverages and delicacies from your company.
This will increase your brand exposure, generate immediate fans, and create a positive public association with your company.
Here are some examples in action.
Crazy Effective Growth Hacks for Local Lead Gen
Now, if you take action on the above 5 steps, your local lead generation will be off to a tremendous start.
But we aren’t going to stop there.
With the following 5 hacks, you will be able to take your lead generation campaign from good to great, and your revenue from acceptable to spectacular.
1. Offer Pro Bono Services to Big Name Brands
This is a simple hack that can have a massive impact.
I know that most gurus and experts advise against working for free, however, when your business is just starting out, sometimes it is the best way to generate new leads.
If, and only if you are offering to work for the right companies.
I recommend seeking out big local names (multinational franchises typically aren’t an option) who have a large client base and local authority.
Offer your service in exchange for some type of recognition.
This marketing tactic will allow you to indirectly market to their entire client database, virtually, for free.
2. Create Location Specific Landing Pages
If you own a company with multiple locations throughout your region, then an essential SEO hack is to create several location specific landing pages.
This simply means that you need to create landing pages tailored to each separate location.
It will only take a few hours, but will drastically boost your ranking and make your brand more visible online.
3. Run Locally Based Social Media Giveaways
A simple but insanely effective way to quickly grow your social media following and generate a lot of buzz around your company is to run local giveaways.
Here’s what you do.
Let’s say that you run a boutique store in San Francisco specializing in women’s clothing.
To quickly generate new leads you could run a referral based giveaway where, in return for a free $100 gift card, contestants are prompted to share a link to your business on social media.
The more they share, the greater the number of entries they receive.
This means that for the wholesale price of a few dresses and tank tops, you can generate a ton of new traffic and leads through ethically bribing existing leads to market for you.
And of course, you can also use these giveaways for:
Increasing audience engagement.
Growing the relevance of your hashtags.
And of course, just boosting your following.
I know that we have covered a lot in this article and if you are still reading this, then I want to commend you both on your commitment to your company’s lead generation success, and also your impeccable attention span.
But now, it’s all up to you.
In the 4,000+ words contained above, and the resources mentioned below, you have access to all of the necessary information to start generating local leads.
In fact, you have all of the information you need to become a lead generating machine.
To wake up every morning where the only problem on your mind is “How can I scale my business to keep up with too many darn customers coming my way!”
But you have to take consistent action and you have to be patient.
It will take time before you can reap the sweet juicy fruits of your labor, but if you stick with the plan laid out in this article and continue educating yourself on the latest strategies and practices, you will succeed at a level you have never expected.
So what are you waiting for?
Get generate some leads!
Extra Resources to Check Out:
How to Audit Your NAP Citations
4 Local Business Marketing Strategies