When you were in the U.S. military, you made significant contributions to this country which all of us are grateful for. Now, as a veteran and small business owner, you continue to contribute to the U.S. economy and to your community. In order to make your small business a successful one, one of the things that you need to do is to generate leads for your business. This is how you grow your customer base and bring in clients so your business will grow and thrive. Here are some tips on how you can gain more exposure to your business online, generate leads, and to keep customers coming in.

Understand What A Lead Is

What is a lead? It is simply a person who is interested in your service or product in some way, who has the potential of becoming a customer. In this person’s journey of being a lead to becoming a customer, you need to know how to nurture this relationship in order to increase their interest in your business so they finally make a purchase and become your customer. That is the goal of generating leads.

Getting People To Find Your Business To Generate Leads

There are different approaches in generating leads for your business. In order to get leads, people must be able to find your business first.

Using AdWords

Most people go online to find information on a product or service that they need. When they get a list of results, they usually click on the top few because the search engine ranks them by relevance. Therefore, you need to know how to get your website to the top as a result of their search. One way is by using Google AdWords.

Think about what your business offers, and ask yourself what search words people would use if they want to find what you are selling. To get ideas, you can browse the websites of your competitors to see what words they are using. You can go to Google Adwords and follow their tutorials on how to achieve success with AdWords. When you use the right words in your website, and a web user enters those words in the search engine, your website will appear at or near the top of the search results. Web users typically will click on the links at the top hits for the best chance to find what they want. When they click on your link, they have the potential of becoming a lead.

Once they land on your website, there is still a lot to do. Your website must be a place that is inviting in order to encourage visitors to stay around and browse your content. So, evaluate your website for usability. Make sure your website loads quickly or else you risk your visitor leaving and going somewhere else. Your website should be attractive, and the content must be well-organized, easy to read, and easy to find. Use the appropriate AdWords in your content. Navigation must be simple and clear. On each page, in the margin or the footer, include a place where the visitor can enter his email address and/or name to get more information. That is one way to capture contact information for your leads.

If your website currently has little of the above, it is time for a website refresh to improve the quality of your website. If you need help, there are many organizations that provide web design and SEO support to veteran entrepreneurs.

Maximize Your Presence In Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool in attracting attention to your website. There are many platforms that people use to share content, reviews, comments, etc. These platforms become a rich source for lead generation. Popular platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and many more. Try not to use the same content for all of the platforms. People use specific social platforms for a particular experience, so you need to tailor your content to that experience.

When presenting your business in social media, tell a story about it. Describe how you came from your tour in the military to being a small business owner. Post pictures, graphics, and videos if the platform supports it. Tell your audience how you want your business to serve their needs. People gravitate to stories, and with your background as a veteran, it makes your story that much more compelling and your connection to your audience that much stronger. Take advantage of that.

Be proactive in social media. The interactions on these platforms are dynamic as people ask questions, make comments, share ideas, express praise as well as complaints. It is important for you to stay active and engaged with those who took time to post. The audience appreciates engagement with the business owner and can start trusting you. This is another way for you to reinforce connections and bring your leads a little closer to turning into customers.

Besides responding promptly, learn to read your audience’s posts to learn what is important to them. Are they using certain keywords in their conversations? Are they talking about certain issues that they are excited about? When you learn the things that are important to your target audience, you can relate to them more effectively and tailor your marketing approach to their needs. Your audience will appreciate that you understand what they need.

Post in social media regularly to keep the engagement fresh. Upload content or post a picture. The content does not have to be long, but it should be something that will catch audience attention. When a visitor likes something that you posted, he might share it with his social media network. This sharing works in your favor because it can build organic traffic to your website.

Use Incentives

In your social media posts, offer incentives to attract your audience to your website. You can create contests and other types of promotional activities to encourage their participation and to increase their interest.

Be creative. Special discounts or free gifts always generate a lot of interest. Discounts for a limited time will create a sense of urgency in the minds of some visitors who don’t want to let your offer slip away. Free offers do not necessarily mean products. If you are an expert in your field, you can offer free advice and information that can benefit your audience, but only after they sign up to receive it. That is one way to gather contact information for your leads.

Offer an incentive for referrals. This is an effective way to retain customer loyalty and to generate new business. Give a reward to your customer for every referral that results in a purchase, and give a reward to the new customer for his first purchase. You win on both ends.

Once you have a list of interested visitors, you can create an email campaign and follow up with subsequent emails to sustain their interest.

Create a Blog

If you have expertise in a particular area, create a blog and talk about things relating to that area. Pull from your experience as a military veteran if that is relevant to your business. Again, it goes back to story telling. Your website should not just be a place to sell your product or service. You need to think of other reasons for your target audience to visit.

Your blog can offer advice and tips that you think will be helpful to your target market. Use your business and veteran connections and invite guests to post in your blog. You can create your blog as an authoritative source in a subject area of your niche. If you use information from other websites, be sure to cite them and give them credit.

Always incorporate a call-to-action in your posts that will encourage your reader to take some form of action. This can be a button image or a link that the reader clicks on which will direct him to a page where he can at least enter his name and email address in exchange for something you offer. The offer must be something of value to the reader that will motivate him to give you his contact information. Once you have captured that information, you have a lead.

Learn to Interpret Website Analytics

If you have the interest, learn more about website analytics so you can see how your website traffic is generated. Find out which sites are directing the most user traffic to your website. Those would the places where you should continue to focus on in generating leads. Which AdWords gave you the highest returns in traffic, and which generated little traffic? Keep the high producing AdWords, then try other AdWords to replace the low producers. This is how you tweak your strategies to bring in more leads.

Make Business Connections In your Network of Veterans

There are many organizations that cater to veterans who are business owners. Join these and make connections to expand your network. Not only can you connect with people who can offer you tips and advice, but the more connections you make, the larger your network which can be a potential source for lead generation, and it will create more exposure to your business online.