3 Smart Lead Generation Ideas for Struggling Small Businesses

Often found in moss and ferns, some cuddly-looking moss piglets succinctly illustrate how small businesses should think about their online lead generation efforts.

Also known as water bears, tardigrades are considered the toughest creatures on earth. They can withstand the coldest of winters and the deadly radiation from exposure in space.

Tardigrades are also capable of desiccation. When exposed to room temperature, they dry themselves out and appear to hibernate. Years later, they can resurrect themselves if you simply add in water!

Water Bear

Far from bears who are mostly gigantic in size, tardigrades are never more than 1.5 mm long, and can only be seen with a microscope.

When Being Small is an Advantage

You don't have to be Coca-Cola or Procter & Gamble to go big on your lead generation tactics. Like the teeny-weeny tardigrade, you can also use your size to your favor, and learned the art of desiccation. Hibernate for a while (but actively do something behind the scenes, no matter how small the step) and emerge tougher in a highly competitive industry.

Soon enough, no penguin or panda can ruffle your feathers if you psych yourself into thinking (yes they have brains too!) like hardy tardigrades.

Lead Generation on a Budget

If you've been on the losing end regarding your online lead generation, misery sure loves company. Generating high-quality leads remains as the single biggest challenge that marketers are facing today.

The folks at Unbounce compiled a clever list of tactics and tools to help optimize your lead generation efforts -- from using your email signature page to making your call-to-action statements work for you.

What if you're a small business owner confronted and restrained with a limited budget?

We outline the following strategic online lead generation ideas you can implement without breaking the bank!

Spy on the competition.

Neil Patel refers to it as competitive auditing. No, you're not going to check out how your competitor handles their lead generation campaign and copy the same thing. You are going to look for ways to whip out an improved version.

There're tons of components you can audit -- from their landing pages to their paid Facebook ads. For example, spend some time reading your competitors' blog. Figure out their most popular blog posts, read the comments, and take note of the common questions that readers are asking about. From these notes, generate a list of content ideas and create your editorial calendar from them.

Creating educational videos that most of your competitors are missing in their content strategy is another smart move. Or as Neil further suggested, get friendly with the competition and ask them if you can create an infographic or video around their content that's getting the most traffic. You can subsequently leave a comment below the post stating that you've presented the content through different media. Do this with the intention to complement your competitor's content, not to point out that yours is better.

By and large, spying out on the competition means looking out for cracks and loopholes in between their strategy. Once you've identified the crack, you fill them in with your own. Prospects will notice this, get curious, and check you out!

Carve thought leadership in your niche.

Thought leadership positions your brand as an expert and the go-to person within your niche. Prospects and customers will seek your thoughts and opinion every time they want to learn more about a certain topic in your industry.

Take River Pools and Spas for example. In an interview at Copyblogger, owner Marcus Sheridan talked about how their inground fiberglass swimming pool business hit rock bottom during the recession in 2008. With no prospects and customers interested to purchase pools, Sheridan and his team were on the verge of closing down.

They were smart enough to turn to blogging and their efforts certainly paid off! By answering common concerns of prospects through their blog posts, they slowly carved themselves into becoming a thought leader in the inground swimming pool niche. This content marketing strategy led to River Pools and Spa's website traffic increase of 300 to 400 percent and over 400 percent increase in leads.

In hindsight, people will hand in their money to businesses whom they felt have helped them out the most. Publishing white papers and answering questions on Quora will further cement your brand's authority.

Opt for growth-driven design.

Your website is one huge lead generation machine. If you've been itching for a website overhaul but worried about budget, go for growth-driven design instead.

This approach begins with a launch pad that only takes 6 to 8 weeks to build. And it doesn't just end there. Since it embraces the agile methodology, your website takes a lucrative shape of its own based on constant testing and tweaking. You can do split tests on your landing pages and figure out which ones are raking in qualified leads.

Also, you're not going to pay huge up-front costs to have your launch pad go live. The total costs you shell out for a growth-driven design project is flexible and totally up to you.

So you sit down with your growth-driven design team, list down your lead generation priorities, and begin testing from these core must-haves. This is great news despite your limited funds because you get to spend your money on what truly matters. What's more, getting your money's worth is guaranteed. It has been proven that split testing can generate up to 40 percent more leads.

For more ideas on how to optimize your lead generation efforts through growth-driven design, check out The Best 6 Ways to Spend Your Growth-Driven Design Budget.

Quality Over Quantity

Attracting and drawing in quality leads should be your foremost goal. While black hat lead generation techniques will draw in most prospects, there's a huge chance that you will eventually lose their interest as they go further down the marketing funnel. The methods that you lured them in were not robust enough and lacked the substance that will hold and sustain their attention.

How will you use these ideas to optimize your lead generation efforts on a budget?

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