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The Harsh Reality About Lead Generation and Why It Still Matters For Business Growth

Despite popular opinion, social media is not the answer to all your lead generation. Here are five other ways to use contact information to nurture and convert leads successfully.

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Not all lead generation is created equal. As digital marketing continues to evolve, marketers are doubling down on social media. While those platforms may be great for brand awareness, they still fall short regarding one of the most critical growth metrics for a budding business — engaging your audience.

One of the biggest reasons creating engagement is tough on these platforms comes down to supply and demand — every friend, family member and company is also on these platforms, competing for your potential customer's attention. There's a lot of noise, and the algorithm ultimately decides who sees what.

Building an audience and selling to them is essential for any company to grow, which is why business owners need to focus on generating leads through channels they own and control.

Related: 6 Marketing Pitfalls That Can Haunt Your Company

Critical metrics for business success

We know that to sell to a potential customer or an existing one, you need to be able to reach them. We can identify success in reaching our leads by tracking engagement and open rates.

Instagram users will spend an average of 30 minutes daily on the platform. While that's a significant amount of time, businesses aren't getting that much of their attention. According to BazaarVoice, the average reach rate for brands with large followings is 12% for posts and 2% for stories. The median engagement rate across all industries on Facebook is 0.08%.

Those numbers are sobering and a big wake-up call for small businesses and startups spending energy and budget trying to drive revenue through organic social media channels. Instead, let's focus on the channels we own and can control.

Related: 5 Ways Businesses Can Get Traffic and Generate Leads

Controlling the conversation with leads

When you build an email list, you own those emails and have a direct way to communicate with your audience — but it's not the only way. You can also capture a person's phone number or address. The key is gathering contact information so you can communicate 1:1 instead of relying on an algorithm.

Here are a few ways that you can use contact information to nurture and convert leads successfully:

  • Email. A survey conducted by Mailchimp tells us that the average open rate for emails across industries is just over 21%. While reaching only a fraction of the audience that you worked so hard to build may feel frustrating, this is a reality marketers must face. It highlights the importance of continually growing your audience. (i.e., 20% of 1,000 means you have the attention of 200 people. 20% of 10,000 means you have the attention of 2,000 people.) Email remains one of the strongest channels for nurturing and converting leads. There are many strategies you can use to increase your open rates and improve the effectiveness of your email blasts.
  • SMS. Text messaging has open rates as high as 98%. Consumers spend more and more time with their phones, so it's easy to see why sending text messages would be the most effective way to reach them. SMS is an excellent channel for communicating with your customers and potential customers if you are intentional about the messages you send and how often you send them.
  • Social advertising. While it may be tough to reach your audience organically through social media, that's not quite the case with advertising on social media. You can create an audience on Facebook's platform with your email list. This will allow you to put your advertisements directly in front of the people who have purchased from you in the past or have already expressed interest in your brand.
  • Community platform. It's tough to overstate the importance of community when growing a brand. If you can create a space where your customers can connect and get extra value from the brand, it's a win-win for everyone. Within this space, you'll have a direct line to share updates with community members or send them direct messages if needed. Platforms like Circle and Mighty Networks are great for housing your brand's community.
  • Direct mail. Traditional marketing strategies like direct mail have fallen out of favor recently, but the pandemic has changed this in many ways. Spending more time on their devices, potential customers are overwhelmed with seemingly similar content. Sending an intelligent, targeted campaign via direct mail can be a fresh and fun way to capture their attention.

Social media can be a great tool for building an audience. Still, if your audience is only accessible via social media, you are always at risk of losing control of the conversation.

If Instagram shuts down tomorrow, you can't reach that massive audience you worked so hard to build. If TikTok decides to prioritize advertising in the future, your organic reach could disappear overnight.

Businesses in today's digital climate, it must be a top priority to move prospects from social media to a place where the business can capture contact information. Nurturing potential customers via direct communication will help you build trust, value, and community, ultimately leading to sales and growth in your business.

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