Maximise your sales funnel with these lead gen strategies


Date: 12 February 2024

A small business owner tracks her new incoming sales leads

Whether you're a small business or a global enterprise, there are only three principal ways to acquire customers: organic traffic channels, paid advertising, or purchasing leads from lead generators, affiliate networks, and lead marketplaces.

From a strategic perspective, customer acquisition for small businesses is simple: you research your most effective traffic source and try to maximise your performance while also having a contingency plan to avoid the risk of relying on a single supply channel.

For this basic lead generation guide, we will disregard the role of lead distribution in driving business and some other acquisition aspects to give you an overarching perspective of lead generation around the three mentioned methods: organic, paid, and purchase.

Without any further ado, let's dig into small business lead gen.

Lead generation strategy 1 – organic traffic channels

Generating leads using your earned media – website, blog, social media platforms, forums, etc – is a great strategy in the long run, but it comes with certain limitations:

  • You must possess certain expertise in content marketing.
  • You must build a strong online presence first, which requires time and effort.
  • You may have to compete with big brands, which is hard to nigh on impossible.

In no way do these limitations mean you stand no chance with organic lead generation. But you must be aware that acquiring free traffic is a challenging, time-consuming process that can take months of hard work without any guarantees.

On the bright side, mastering organic traffic channels will take your business to a new level. You will be able to decipher your target buyers, what they want, and how to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time.

Here's what you'll need for successful organic traffic generation:

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

A unique selling proposition articulating your superiority over the competition is a solid basis for free and paid lead generation. Whether you are faster, more reliable, or more affordable, make sure potential customers are made aware of your USP from their first contact with the company.


As a small business, you may only focus on a few specific groups of leads, but you must know them through and through. Detailed segmentation will help tailor your core offering and marketing campaigns to the target buyer.

Omnichannel marketing

Going omnichannel will unlock a wider audience and help you synergise the power of seemingly unrelated traffic channels such as SMS marketing, email marketing and SMM.

Here are the major organic traffic channels to tap into:

Website & blog

Your website and blog content should appeal to your target buyer's needs, wants, and pain points while leveraging sales psychology (FOMO, loss aversion, reciprocity, etc). It should also be well-timed, informative, entertaining, and interactive. Infographics, calculators, quizzes, and no-registration quotes are great lead-generation boosters.

Social media

The diversity of social media platforms can improve your sales funnel with strong social messages that allow you to tap into your target demographics. For example, if you're selling business software, you might use LinkedIn as your primary lead generation channel but a business in the fashion industry is likely to find Instagram and TikTok a better route.


Optimising content for low-competition, high-volume keywords will allow you to rank higher in SERPs. Tools like Ahrefs and Google Search Console can help you create an SEO-focused content marketing strategy, maximising organic traffic generation.

Referral marketing

Running a referral program is a natural way to generate high-intent leads using your satisfied customers. The most critical aspects of a referral program are tiered rewards – the more referrals you bring, the bigger the prize – and two-way incentives for both the referrer and the referral.

Partnerships & collaborations

Online and offline events, including partnerships and collaborations, are excellent for tapping into related niches and showing potential leads you're a real brand they can trust, not some ephemeral web entity.

Exploring organic traffic generation is beneficial even to businesses that don't have a realistic chance to outrank their more famous competitors. At the very least, you will unlock your ideal customer for paid advertising and purchasing leads.

For example, if you generate leads using live chat, you can ask relevant questions to collect important marketable data to improve your customer services and increase sales potential.

Lead generation strategy 2 – paid advertising

Unlike organic lead generation, a skill-reliant and time-consuming endeavour, paid advertising doesn't require profound content marketing knowledge. However, you should still know your audiences, advertising platforms, and how to allocate your advertising budget.

Here are the most popular types of ads to generate leads:

  • Social media ads: Social media advertising works similarly to organic lead generation: first, you identify your target leads; second, you identify the platform and ad type that can generate this lead most effectively. Most social media support text, image, and video ads, so you can easily find a way to unleash your creative potential.
  • Search engine ads: Search engines like Google and Bing allow you to hit the top spots in the search results, including those you cannot secure with SEO. Even though some users skip paid search engine content – you may not get as many leads as the number one organic spot – this ad type can still successfully generate paid traffic.
  • Display advertising: Visual advertising on third-party websites, aggregators, and marketplaces – banners, interactive ads, images, animations, etc – is a great way to drive leads from adjacent industries.

In addition to choosing the advertising type, you will also have to choose the payment model: per click, per thousand impressions, per lead, per specified action, etc. Every payment model suits different goals – for example, pay-per-impression works well for raising brand awareness – so you must set specific campaign objectives before taking action.

Lead generation strategy 3 – buying leads

Finally, there's a path of least resistance: buying leads from lead agencies, lead generators, or marketplaces. When buying leads, the only things you need to take care of are choosing a reliable lead generator, the type of leads you'd like to purchase, and the price per lead you'd be willing to pay.

Here are the most common lead types you can buy online, starting from the cheapest:

Aged leads

Aged leads are potential customers who were generated a few weeks or months ago and disengaged for some reason. They don't cost much – up to a few pounds per lead – but you will need a great conversion strategy to re-engage them.

Shared leads

Shared leads might bear high purchase intent, but they are sold to several advertisers simultaneously, so you'll have to overcome the competition to convert them. Shared leads cost slightly more than aged leads but still within the limit of a few pounds per lead.

Exclusive leads

Exclusive leads are only sold to a single company, so you don't have to face competition. That said, exclusive leads can be quite expensive – up to £100 per lead – so you must ensure your sales department knows how to nurture and convert them.

Live transfer leads

Live transfer leads are high-intent callers connected directly to your inbound call centre. These leads are the most expensive – up to £150 each – but are the most likely to convert.

In summary

The best lead generation strategy is usually multidimensional, combining all available strategies or some at least of their elements. Diversifying risks and continuously comparing your channels will ensure you optimise your sales funnels, maximise exposure, and generate and convert as many leads as possible.

Copyright 2024. Featured post made possible by Oleksandr Rohovnin of Phonexa, a single operating solution for partner and performance marketing helping businesses close the loop between leads, calls, clicks, and revenue.

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