Small Business Lead Generation

Nadica Naceva
Last Updated:

In digital marketing, a lead is any potential customer who shows interest in a company's product or service. That makes lead generation the process of attracting and converting potential customers into actual clients. 

Think of it as a funnel where you start with a broad pool of potential customers and gradually filter them down to the most interested and qualified leads. 

For small businesses, lead generation is the way to grow their clientele. 

However, unlike large enterprises with a dedicated marketing team and an established business presence, small businesses work with limited resources and a smaller audience. 

Let's discuss how small businesses can still generate quality leads and grow their customer base.

What Is Lead Generation?

A customer opens a website and sees a pop-up advertisement that offers a free e-book in exchange for their email address. The customer provides their email and receives the e-book. 

Later on, the customer receives an email from the same company informing them about a new product launch. 

The customer, already interested in the company and their free e-book, clicks on the email and checks out the new product. 

This customer is a lead. 

Lead generation essentially means attracting potential customers like this and then converting them into paying clients. 

Lead generation tends to be less intrusive than cold calling or traditional advertising. Since the lead took the first step in showing interest, they are more likely to be receptive to the company's marketing efforts.

Why Is Lead Generation Important for Small Businesses

Small businesses benefit from lead generation in the following ways: 

Lead Generation Benefits

  • Customer Targeting: Lead generation allows small businesses to spend their resources on targeting and engaging with potential customers who are already interested in what they have to offer. 

  • Market Expansion: With lead generation, small businesses ensure they always have an influx of customers.

  • Relationship Building: In lead generation, marketers put themselves in their leads' shoes to determine their needs. Fulfilling these needs results in a stronger relationship between the business and customer.

  • Sales: Ultimately, the goal of lead generation is to convert leads into paying customers, which brings in revenue for the business.

10 Small Business Lead Generation Strategies to Implement

A lead generation strategy is the plan of action a business takes to get prospects to share their contact information and become leads. 

An effective lead generation strategy helps in: 

  • Building your email list 

  • Populating the sales pipeline 

  • Providing business growth 

  • Personalizing communication with clients

  • Generating more sales 

  • Identifying high-quality leads 

Here are some lead generation strategies for small businesses. 

1. Create Effective Landing Pages for Lead Generation 

Your website should have a web page(s) specifically designed for lead generation. It should contain relevant content, a call to action, and an opt-in form. An effective landing page will have: 

  • A clear headline that captures the attention of visitors 

  • A brief description of what your business has to offer

  • Benefits or incentives for signing up 

  • A visually appealing design that aligns with your brand 

  • An easy-to-use opt-in form to capture contact information

  • Social proof in the form of testimonials or ratings 

  • A thank-you page for successful form submissions 

Backlinko's email newsletter sign-up page is a good example. As you land on the page, you see a big and bold headline telling you that you'll get ''proven SEO tips'' in your inbox. 

Backlinko lead generation landing page

The landing page is easy to navigate and simple in design. It also has a clear CTA i.e. ''Try it.'' 

At the bottom, Backlinko shows social proof by adding reviews from trusted sites like Amazon and Forbes. Plus, you can see how many people have already signed up. 

Backlinko social proof

2. Use the Right Lead Generation Forms

The lead generation form is the heart of your landing page. It's where prospects drop their information. 

Start by deciding on the information you need from your leads. The length of the form should be directly proportional to what you offer in return. 

A short form works best for freebies like e-books or webinars. 

Longer forms may be necessary for higher-value offerings like a consultation or demo. 

Also, use short forms when it's a visitor's first interaction with your business. For example, in the Backlinko example above, the form only asks for an email address. 

Similarly, Nordstrom has a simple email sign-up form on their homepage with just a single field for email address. 

Nordstrom lead generation form

However, as you build trust and rapport with your leads over time, you can slowly add more fields to your form. For example, has an extensive form on their ''Contact Sales'' page lead generation form

When you add more information to your form, it facilitates personalization. For example, if knows the prospect's company size and industry, they can tailor their sales pitch accordingly.

3. Create a Newsletter 

A newsletter comes into the picture when you have successfully captured the contact information of potential leads. 

It's a great way to keep your audience engaged and informed about your business. There's a lot you can do with a newsletter. 

Here are some use cases

  • Send regular updates about your products or services 

  • Share valuable industry insights and tips 

  • Promote special offers 

  • Provide exclusive content such as free templates or e-books

  • Highlight success stories

  • Send monthly links to your podcast or blog 

  • Re-engage with inactive subscribers

  • Invite readers to upcoming events

Take Wix's newsletter as an example. It has a super-catchy subject line: Get the Wix blog straight to your email. 

Wix newsletter

Wix's newsletter works because it is a weekly round-up of topics related to a certain theme. The newsletter also contains strong CTAs for the blog posts and contains links for readers to put the tips into action by using their platform. 

4. Use Lead Generation Ads 

Ads don't only have to be used to promote products or services. They can also be used as a lead generation tool. 

It's up to you to decide if you want to run display, paid social, or search ads. The main goal is to get people to click on your ad and provide their contact information. 

For example, you can see Jira's lead generation ad on Google. The CTA is as simple as ''Sign Up Free Today.'' 

It's such an enticing offer; you just have to click on it. 

Jira’s lead generation ad

Once you do, you'll be directed to a landing page where you can provide your contact information and start the free plan. 

Jira landing page form

Facebook also offers Leads Ads, which are specifically designed to collect leads. These ads have pre-populated forms that make it easier for users to submit their information. 

5. Create Relevant Content 

The idea behind creating content for lead generation is to make it as relevant as possible. Understand your target audience's needs and create helpful content. 

Suppose you're an SEO agency. Your services include on-page and off-page SEO.

You should create content that covers SEO strategies, recent trends, mistakes to avoid, SEO tools, tips for beginners, etc.

Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field by sharing valuable insights and techniques. Once the readers start to view you as a credible source of information, they'll be more likely to avail your services since they trust your expertise.

For instance, Nerdwallet has an extensive content hub with sub-sections related to all its services. The website is a credible source in the finance and personal loans field. 

Nerdwallet content hub

So, people are likely to trust their services, too. 

Similarly, Salesforce has a powerful blog section that covers topics related to marketing, customer service, sales, etc. The brand, therefore, positions itself as a leader in the CRM industry.

Salesforce content hub

 6. Create Lead Magnets 

Staying in the same lane, a lead magnet is a high-value content piece, such as a report or an e-book, offered for free only to those people who share their information. 

A lead magnet is sort of a gated content. The users can't access it unless they provide their contact information.

The idea is to leverage the power of reciprocity. Since you're providing something valuable to your audience, they'll feel inclined to give back by sharing their information. 

Once you have their contact details, you can follow up with them and nurture them into potential customers.

Some types of lead magnets that you can create are:

  • E-books 

  • Whitepapers 

  • Case studies 

  • Webinars 

  • Checklists 

  • Infographics 

  • Templates/Worksheets

  • Quizzes/Surveys 

  • Guides/Reports

For example, at Influencer Marketing Hub, we have created our ''State of Influencer Marketing 2024'' as a lead magnet. To download the report, you have to fill out this form. 

Influencer Marketing Hub lead magnet

When creating lead magnets, consider your expertise. What content do you excel in? What information can you share that sets you apart from others in your industry?

Also, keep your audience's pain points in mind. 

For example, if you're a personal loan provider for small businesses, your lead magnet could be a guide on how to secure a personal loan for your business. 

7. Collect Social Proof 

Positive reviews from your existing customers are a great way to attract new ones. People tend to take the word of other customers more seriously than any advertising or marketing campaign. 

As a small business, positive reviews can be a valuable asset to your growth. Encourage customers to leave reviews on the following: 

When potential leads see these reviews, they will naturally feel more inclined to trust your brand and do business with you. 

Let's take Mailchimp as an example. The email marketing platform has a good rating on third-party sites. 

Mailchimp G2 rating

The same is true for Getapp, where Mailchimp has almost 10k 5-star reviews. 

Getapp Mailchimp rating

All these positive reviews and ratings act as social proof for Mailchimp, making it more appealing to potential customers.

The principle also applies to brick-and-mortar businesses. For instance, if you search for ''nail salons in Chicago,'' you'll see that the top results have high ratings. 

Physical businesses ratings

Why? Because people tend to trust and choose businesses with high ratings over those with low or no ratings. In fact, 73% of consumers say they trust a local business more if it has positive reviews.

8. Leverage Influencer Marketing 

Another way small businesses can generate leads is through influencer marketing. A slight hurdle in this regard is cost. 

Big-name influencers may charge thousands of dollars for a single post. However, there are micro-influencers who have a smaller yet highly engaged following. 

Look for micro-influencers in your industry and reach out to them for collaborations. 

The kind of content you put out through these collaborations should ultimately result in more leads. For example, you can host a giveaway with the influencer and require people to sign up for your email list to enter. 

You can also give the influencer a special code or link through which their audience can get a discount on your products or services. 

You can then require people using that code to enter their email to access the discount. 

It's a win-win for each party. The influencer gets a commission on sales made through their code, you get new leads for your business, and the customer saves money. 

9. Host Events and Webinars 

There's something about real-time communication with potential customers that sets it apart from other forms of lead generation. 

You can host events to engage with potential customers and share your expertise with them. For example, if you're a fitness trainer, you can host a free workout session in the park for people to attend. 

Webinars do the same thing but in a virtual setting. 

Suppose you're a social media marketer. Host a webinar on the latest trends in social media and how businesses can implement them for success. 

Collect information by requiring people to register for the event with their email address. 

If people find your content valuable, they'll respond to your email marketing campaigns

10. Use SEO to Your Advantage 

Like reviews, search engine optimization (SEO) also helps in lead generation for small businesses. 

It's simple to see why this works. When you rank high on search engines, you get noticed by more people. 

In fact, appearing on the first page is, in most cases, the only way to get any traction. 

Why, you may ask? Only 0.63% of visitors actually go to the second page of Google's search results. So, the higher you rank, the better your chances of getting leads. 

For example, Pixlr ranks at the top for the query ''AI photo editor.'' It's even higher than Adobe and Canva. 

Pixlr as top search result for AI photo editor

So, there's a high likelihood most people will consider Pixlr as an option when searching for AI photo editors. 

There are many ways to amp up your SEO game. For example, you can optimize your website and content with relevant keywords. Similarly, make your website mobile-friendly. 

Publish regular content, get backlinks from reputable websites, use internal linking, and follow Google's algorithm updates. 

Best Small Business Lead Generation Tools 

Here are some tools that will help you in your lead generation efforts. 

Paid Advertising: Facebook Ads and Google Ads 

Pricing: Variable 

Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads are incredibly effective lead generation tools. You can target the audience of your choice and monitor your ad campaigns from the same platform. 

Google Ads allows you to be visible everywhere, be it search, display, YouTube, or mobile. 

Running Facebook Ads is great due to the platform's wide reach and highly targeted audience options. You can also create Lookalike Audiences to reach new potential customers similar to your existing ones. 

Landing Page Building: Unbounce 

Pricing: $79 per month for the Build plan and $249 per month for the Optimize plan with AI features. 

Unbounce is a dedicated landing page builder that claims to increase your page's conversion rate by 30%. 

Unbounce landing page builder

Its drag-and-drop builder makes it easy to create high-converting landing pages without any coding knowledge. 

Plus, it offers A/B testing and integrations with other marketing tools for better optimization. 

Unbounce also has AI assistance for creating personalized landing pages based on visitor data. With AI optimization, your visitors will always end up on the page where they're most likely to convert. 

Lead Communication: Intercom 

Pricing: The Essential plan costs $39 per month, while the Advanced plan is $99 per month. A 14-day free trial is available. 

When the leads arrive on your website, you need a way to communicate with them to provide them all the information they need. 

Intercom does that. 

Intercom home page

As an AI-first platform, it uses chatbots to engage with leads and nurture them. 

It also makes customer support easy for human agents with features like streamlined ticket management and an AI-enhanced inbox. 

Webinar Hosting: Demio 

Pricing: The Starter plan is $42 per month, and the Growth plan is $75 per month. Pricing is variable based on the number of attendees. 

Planning to host webinars for lead generation? Demio could be the perfect tool for you. 

Demio webinar hosting

The webinar hosting software uses handouts and featured actions to invite your audience. It also identifies the most engaged attendees and allows you to bring them to the stage. 

You can also send customized, branded emails to boost attendance. 

Demio's real-time chat functionality further assists you in building relationships with your attendees. 

Email Marketing: Benchmark 

Pricing: The Pro plan costs $13 per month for 500 contacts and 7,500 emails per month. Pricing is available upon request for the Enterprise plan. The Free plan offers 3,500 emails per month for 500 contacts. 

With Benchmark's branded and mobile-responsive emails, you can reach new leads for your business. 

Benchmark home page

Benchmark also offers templates for every occasion and industry. You can use pop-ups, landing pages, and forms within the tool to build your email list. 

The platform integrates with a wide range of tools such as Google Sheets, LinkedIn, Slack, Zapier, Shopify, etc. 

Lead Capturing: Zapier Interfaces 

Pricing: The Premium plan costs $20 per month, while the Advanced plan is $100 per month. A free plan is available with limited features. 

You can use Zapier Interfaces to create custom forms to capture leads. Since Zapier has an extensive suite of integrations, you can easily connect the form to your existing email marketing and CRM tools. 

Zapier Interfaces

Zapier's drag-and-drop interface allows for easy customization of forms, making it an ideal option for non-technical users. 

Besides forms, you can also create web pages. So, if you need a high-converting landing page for your lead capturing efforts, Zapier can do that, too. 

Best Practices for Small Business Lead Generation

Use the following best practices to generate more leads for your small business. 

  • Go for quality over quantity. It's better to have a smaller list of highly engaged and interested leads than a large list of uninterested and unengaged contacts. Low-quality leads waste your time and money. 

  • Conduct audience research. Know your audience well before creating your lead generation campaigns. Understand their pain points, interests, and preferences beforehand. 

  • Offer value in exchange for information. People are hesitant to give out their personal information. Offer something that will really be of value to them and is not merely a marketing ploy. 

  • Measure and iterate. Track your lead generation efforts and make necessary changes accordingly. Test different strategies to see what's working the best. Also, the market is constantly changing. Account for that by adapting to new trends.


Lead generation is just as, if not more, important for small businesses as it is for larger companies. 

Your lead generation strategies should be a blend of both online and offline efforts. 

In the online world, tactics could include email marketing, content creation, paid advertisements, and social media engagement. Events and networking can be valuable for offline lead generation. 

After running your lead generation campaigns, don't forget to track and analyze your results. And remember, it's not just about quantity; focus on generating quality leads that have a higher chance of converting into customers. 

About the Author
Nadica Naceva is a storyteller, reviewer and strategist with an instinct for blending the worlds of online advertising and content creation. She's been in the game for nearly a decade, navigating the currents of SEO optimization, content marketing, and the digital strategies. Her path has taken her through the dynamic terrains of digital marketing, including stints at SEO and web design agencies and finally settling down as Head of Content at Influencer Marketing Hub. Nadica's approach to content? It's all about depth and precision, favoring insightful, well-researched material over the superficial or overly automated. It's this mix of in-depth knowledge and down-to-earth style that really makes her stand out as a reviewer and a voice worth listening to in the digital marketing world.