21 Small Business Lead Generation Tactics


It's estimated that $3.15 billion dollars will be spent on lead generation in the U.S. If you’re a small business owner, that number may understandably seem high. 

However, that statistic shouldn’t scare you from creating a lead generation strategy. Smaller companies need to grow their prospects and customer base to ensure their long-term success.

Small business lead generation can be difficult to maneuver, but you don’t have to go at it alone. Smith.ai, rated one of the best lead generation services, can support your lead generation efforts. But before we get into where to get help, let’s understand the basics of lead generation.

What is lead generation? 

Lead generation is the process of attracting and identifying prospective customers or clients, otherwise known as leads. Unlike cold calling, lead generation gets your business in front of your customers’ eyes through various marketing tactics, typically without contacting them first. New leads might have shown interest in your business or even competitors previously, or your business might not even be on their radar yet.

We know that customers and clients are at the heart of all companies; without them, businesses would fail. Just one customer or lead can make all the difference for a small business, whereas larger companies could spare a few without noticing. This is part of what makes small business lead generation so tricky.

A small business is not only competing against large brands on services, products, finances, etc., but also for visibility in the digital world where most lead generation occurs. With so much content in the digital world, small businesses need to have a strategy for lead generation and cultivating relationships with leads.

Small business lead generation tactics 

Not sure where to start strategizing your game plan? Let’s go over a few tactics to improve your small business lead generation strategies. 

1. Convert conversations to clients

Work on converting your daily interactions into clients. For example, how often do you chat with other parents at your child’s sporting events about problems they’re dealing with at home or work? Could any of their problems be solved with your product or service? If so, this is a good time to introduce a plug for your business and move them forward to the next stage of the lead generation funnel.

Keep this thought process going while you have those daily conversations. Think of it as word-of-mouth marketing, but it’s your business you’re recommending. Just be sure to keep the conversations natural, not forced.

2. Improve networking

You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” That is the basis of networking — building professional relationships and social contacts.

As a small business owner, your network likely consists of many other small business owners bouncing ideas off one another and referring clients to one another. If your network needs some work, try honing these networking skills both in person and online:

  • Communication
  • Active listening
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Focus
  • Interpersonal and social skills
  • Positivity
  • Empathy

As you’re growing your network, it’s best not to overly push your business immediately. The key to networking is having information and referrals flow naturally.

3. Answer forum questions 

Online forums are a great spot to look for potential leads. Search for topics related to your business on popular sites like Reddit and other forums for industries you serve.

Read through the posts and answer users’ questions when it seems like your service or product could solve their problems. While reading through posts, you might come across other online groups and forums where your leads spend time.

4. Prioritize customer experience

One of the reasons larger competitors have great success with lead generation is that they have the resources and infrastructure to prioritize customer experiences easily.

By prioritizing the customer experience and making it as seamless as possible, you’re telling your buyers how much you value them. A little effort will go a long way when you connect with your customers more personally. 

A couple of things you could do:

  • Create memorable moments by delivering information in an enjoyable manner using humor and relatable stories
  • Outsource inbound and outbound calls to a virtual receptionist who can spend the time to individualize and connect with leads

5. Produce top-notch content

Essentially, all businesses can benefit from high-quality website content, regardless of industry, and there are two main reasons for this: client trust and search engine optimization (SEO). 

A blog is a great place to showcase guides, tips, thought leadership, and more. Your blog content should answer questions that prospective leads typically have. When you answer common questions in your content, your posts have the potential to rank highly on search engines, increasing your site’s traffic and sales. This helps establish you as a trusted authority in your industry to search engines and leads alike.

Beyond the blog, each landing page’s copy should be equally as strategic.

6. Have an active social media presence 

Meet your leads where they are, and in today’s world, that means on social networks. Nearly nine out of 10 consumers purchase from brands they follow on social media. On Facebook, one-third of all users have purchased a product directly on the platform.

However, it’s not enough to just have a profile on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok. Be sure you’re actively posting and diversifying your posts by platform. But you might not necessarily need to be as active on each one, since some platforms are more popular for specific demographics. 

7. Run paid social media ads

If you don’t have a large following on social media, posting regularly can seem like a waste of time. However, a solid social media page in conjunction with paid advertisements on these platforms can boost your visibility over time.

Fifty percent of people agree that ads on social media platforms help them discover new interests. Forty-nine percent specifically believe these ads make finding new products and services that interest them easier.

Check out this post to learn how to use social media ads for lead generation.

8. Run paid search ads

Paid search continues to dominate in digital marketing spend. Like purchasing social media ads, you can also run paid search advertising to diversify your lead generation marketing strategy. Google AdWords can help you reach potential leads while they’re already searching for a product, service, or answer to a question. 

9. Host events

Hosting or participating in events can be a great way to get your small business’s name out in front of people. Good grounds for lead generation could be networking meet-ups, industry conferences, markets, or classes.

When you participate in events, be sure to have a means of generating and collecting leads. This could be taking names for a raffle drawing, offering a discount to event attendees, showcasing demonstrations, or swapping business cards.

10. Focus on outreach

44% of salespeople give up on potential leads after just one follow-up attempt, even though 95% of leads are successfully converted after the sixth interaction. 

Without outreach, leads grow cold. However, pursuing outreach campaigns that lack strategic planning can be like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. If your plan is to spin around five times blindfolded then take a shot, you’re likely to miss the mark.

The two main methods of lead generation outreach are phone calls or email, and depending on your industry and demographics, one might work better than the other. 

A few other tips to aid in your outreach strategy:

  • Use scraper tools to get phone numbers and email addresses
  • Use a tool like Mailchimp to send out bulk emails
  • Add value in the email by including something that potential leads may find interesting
  • Have a clear call-to-action (CTA)

If outreach seems too time-consuming, this is a simple task to outsource. Companies like Smith.ai offer outreach campaign solutions to lessen the load on your plate.


create a strategic outreach campaign

11. Offer deals 

Discounts and deals sell. When it comes to first-time purchases with new brands, four out of five consumers feel more encouraged to buy when a deal is offered.

Offer appealing deals for particular actions. For example, you could offer a free consultation when an individual signs up for your newsletter or a 10% discount for first-time buyers.

This tactic can work well in conjunction with paid search ads or social media. For example, if you showcase a sale or limited-time deal in an advertisement or a social post, it might entice them to click your site.

12. Give product samples

Everyone loves receiving free samples, but it can seem a little disconcerting to think about giving your product away for free as a business owner. However, it’s proven that giving product samples works to boost sales.

For lead generation, you can use free samples to introduce your product to potential customers unfamiliar with your brand. For service businesses, you can offer free trials and money-back guarantees instead. 

If it makes sense for your brand, try gifting free samples and trials to influencers in exchange for reviews and posts sharing your brand with their audiences. These business decisions aid in fostering relationships, engagement, and loyalty with potential leads. 

13. Create a referral system

Referral systems are word-of-mouth marketing initiatives where current customers are incentivized to introduce their network to a brand. This practice is relatively low in cost and works incredibly well. People tend to trust the recommendations from their family, friends, and peers.

A referral program for a small business might look like gifting a free product or discount to a customer for each referral or once they reach a certain number of referrals. These programs work best when both parties — the current customer and the new lead — receive something in return. Whatever you choose to offer, be sure it’s adequate compensation.

14. Optimize your website 

If you conduct most of your business online, your website needs to be optimized. A well-optimized website ranks better on search engines and offers a more pleasant user experience. 

A few tips for optimizing your website:

  • Satisfy searcher intent quickly
  • Implement strategic keywords into your copy
  • Write unique, SEO-friendly titles and meta descriptions for each page
  • Write clean URLs
  • Use proper site structure with header organization
  • Analyze your website’s load time using Google’s Page Speed tool
  • Ensure it’s mobile friendly using Google’s free test

15. Leverage case studies 

Case studies showcase a business’s success stories and demonstrate capabilities. They can help build trust in your brand. Spend some time putting together case studies with actual data to display on your website. These should be somewhere on the top navigation for visitors to easily find. 

Case studies are great lead magnets. For example, you could show your client's problem, but visitors would need to enter their contact details to learn how your business solved their problem. This is the flow from lead magnets to lead capturing. 

16. Share testimonials

Similar to case studies, testimonials and reviews from past or current clients build trust in your brand. Try displaying testimonials on their own page or sprinkled throughout your website on specific money pages or in product descriptions.

17. Communicate through different channels

Each customer is different in the way they prefer to communicate. Offer a few different methods for your customers and leads to contact you.

Different communication channels to consider:

  • Printed letters, memos, or mailings
  • Email
  • Video or audio conferencing
  • Social media platforms
  • Live chat and text messaging


top communication channels for lead generation

18. Pop-up offers

Have you ever scrolled through a website, and all of a sudden, a pop-up ad appears? This tactic is similar, but instead of an advertisement, it offers an exclusive deal for web visitors to enter their email addresses to receive the coupon code. 

Many affordable tools are available to aid in small business lead generation efforts. However, for small businesses, it might be more strategic for you to place these after the visitor has hopped around on your site for a bit — a “one more thing before you go” offer.

19. Leverage technology

Work smarter, not harder. There are many affordable tools available to aid in small business lead generation efforts. These tools won’t break the bank but can still help you bring in new leads from your website and app visitors or by searching data online using AI. Check out this list for specific lead generation tools for small businesses.

20. Guest post on other blogs

If you’re already writing content for your own blog, it might be a good time to try blogging for another company’s website. This is called guest posting.

Guest posting is a common tactic for small businesses to generate an audience outside their typical network. It’s an effective method to boost brand visibility and prove yourself as an authority in your industry. In your author bio or introduction of the post, be sure to link back to your website for added SEO value.

21. Create video content

Creating video content is a great way for leads to get to know the faces behind your brand, which in turn builds trust. 

Certain types of videos perform better on certain platforms. For example, explainer videos describing your specific brand are best for your website, whereas YouTube is great for how-tos and product reviews. Understand where your target audience watches videos. Younger viewers are likely to view on TikTok, whereas older generations might watch on Facebook.

Another type of video content that yields lead generation results for small businesses are webinars. About 20-40% of webinar attendees turn into qualified leads. Hosting webinars where attendees can interact with hosts and ask questions fosters budding personal connections with potential leads. Learn how to host a webinar here.


common lead channels that work by industry

For a small business, it’s best not to reinvent the wheel. Stick to what works. If you’ve already diligently worked on some of these or other lead generation tactics and they worked, don’t feel like you need to swap your process out because of something someone else is trying.

If, after reading these small business lead generation techniques, you think there’s no way you can do all of this, that’s perfectly okay. Test a few out to see which works best for your business. Unless you are genuinely a jack or jill of all trades, you’ll likely need some help. You can likely find outsourced support with each of these tactics.

Let the professional receptionists at Smith.ai take lead generation off your plate. Our 24/7 virtual receptionists can assist with lead intake and screening, outreach campaigns, follow-up sales calls to support your efforts, and more. Learn more during a free 30-minute phone consultation.


Sources: Startup Bonsai | HubSpot | Shopify | Indeed | HubSpot | Hubilo


Small Business
Solo Business
Lead Generation
Written by Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's SVP of Growth. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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Affordable plans for every budget.