Effective lead generation is the first step toward robust sales. Lead generation—the common term applied to the process of seeking out and reaching potential customers—utilizes many different tactics to achieve sales goals. Not all tactics are equal in results, however, and your business may not benefit from pouring money equally into all the various areas of lead generation: search engines, social media, email, advertising, customer referrals, and personal interaction. Here are some areas to prioritize as your small business seeks to generate sales leads:

Be Found When They Search

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that search engine optimizations (SEO) are the most successful tactics for lead generation and that advertising in all its forms has become the least successful. While this may be a tectonic shift from last-century practice, connecting with those who already need your products or services is far more effective than attempting to convince people to get things they do not need. Leads generated this way—via inbound marketing—are critical because they are ready to buy and simply need to see your business as the right fit. At this juncture, the most important thing is to utilize SEO in order to have your site turn up when people search for what your business offers. Tailoring your site to effectively sell your products or services is important, but an elegant and powerful site is worthless if people cannot find it. If people cannot find your site thanks to poor SEO, your business is losing out on the incredible potential of lead generation via search engines.

Be Flexible Enough to Use Social Media

Though social media has only seen a decade or so of existence, it is brimming with lead generation possibilities. Social media is only just behind face-to-face marketing and SEO, when considering the most effective means of turning leads into sales. It also offers the quickest conversion from leads to sales, roughly half the time it takes for an email-generated lead to become a sale. The fact that social media generates a relatively small percentage of leads signifies the lack of exploitation rather than the ineffectiveness of the medium. Unlike advertising, whose potential has mostly been used up, social media has the power to mimic face-to-face marketing and referral techniques, capitalizing on their more “personal” edge over other lead generation tactics. Learning how to maximize the as-yet-hardly-exploited potential of social media is a worthwhile investment for any growing business.

Be Free to Brainstorm

Alongside the creativity that is required to generate good leads in your social media presence, your lead generation can grow unexpectedly through a little freethinking. Perhaps reach the majority of people who learn visually by creating an infographic or an instructional video, rather than throwing more money at tactics that have stalled out. Perhaps have a fun giveaway to people who repost your page on Facebook, rather than just asking them to “like” it. Perhaps your call-to-action can be more eye-popping (or perhaps be the only thing on a page!), rather than buried at the bottom of a page. When it comes to brainstorming tactics for lead generation, one often needs an advisor to help sift through the jumble of ideas. Such a service is especially helpful when working in the relatively new areas of inbound marketing, SEO, and social media.

A service like Inbound Advisor can be indispensable as you prioritize these areas. Lead generation has never been an exact science, but much of the guesswork can be removed by working with people who are trained to analyze site traffic, increase search visibility, and tailor social media presence. Choosing to grow your lead generation potential with Inbound Advisor can give your company the edge it needs to reach the customers who need it.