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Lead Generation Tactics for SMBs

It’s a simple fact: everyone wants to make money online.

If you’re a small to mid-sized business owner, it’s important to find ways to generation more leads, but how do you do that if you’re not a marketing ninja?

Navigating the lead generation landscape can make or break a small businesses. That’s why it’s important to put the right pieces of the digital marketing puzzle in place, but knowing what to do can get overwhelming quickly.

While your best bet is to talk to a digital marketing expert or rep at an agency to get their ideas, the purpose of this post is to give you at least a quick overview of different things you can try.

Why Your Business Need Lead Generation Systems

Back in 2004, Make It Loud was just a small web design company outside of Atlanta, Georgia. We had a handful of business owners we worked with who were pouring thousands of dollars into the Yellow Pages. We introduced them to this thing called the “Internet” which was still viewed by many as a passing fad.

Back then, many business owners believed that if they built a website, customers would come. We called this the “Field of Dreams” mindset. In some cases, things actually worked out that way back then, but those days are long, long gone.

Given that there a millions of new websites launched everyday, to say that there is a glut of content online is a pretty big understatement. Your business website can easily get lost in all the traffic, and it’s just a basic fact that if people don’t see your website, they won’t do business with you.

That’s the first reason every business needs a lead generation system in place. The others are:

  • To develop a system where leads don’t get lost or missed
  • To set up a constant flow of leads vs “feast or famine” business cycles
  • To improve lead quality
  • To increase the efficiency of your sales
  • For better business data and process improvement

Can You Afford A Lead Generation System?

A better question is “Can you afford NOT to have one?”

One unpopular opinion about lead generation systems is that they can seem overwhelming and expensive for small businesses. Despite initial hesitations, the long term benefits make investing in a comprehensive lead gen system worthwhile. These systems streamline how a small business manages its sales funnel, from attracting potential customers to nurturing leads until they convert into clients. Without an effective lead generation system, gaining consistent and quality leads can become an uphill task.

Keep in mind, that many inbound lead gen techniques are designed to pay for themselves. We know that all marketing is a gamble, but with the right assistance from a digital marketing specialist and through some trial and error, your inbound lead gen systems should yield a high return on your investment.

Inbound vs Outbound Lead Generation Tactics

Inbound and outbound lead generation tactics differ in their approach to attracting and engaging potential customers. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each can help businesses develop a well-rounded lead generation strategy.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound lead generation focuses on attracting prospects to your business through valuable content and experiences. The goal is to position your brand as a trusted authority and solution provider in your industry.

Think of inbound lead generation as a numbers game. The more you can put your business in front of your target customer, the more likely they are to click on your ads, articles, website, Google Business Profile, etc. The more they click on your properties, the more likely they are to contact your business and become a lead.

Inbound lead generation is about attraction and visibility. Key advantages & disadvantages about inbound tactics are:


  • Attracts prospects who are actively seeking solutions
  • Builds trust and credibility with your brand
  • Cost-effective in the long run
  • Aligns with the modern buyer’s journey


  • Requires consistent effort and patience for results
  • Relies heavily on creating high-quality, engaging content
  • Difficult to target specific individuals or companies

The main goal of inbound lead generation is to position your business as a trusted authority in your industry, providing solutions to your target audience’s problems.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound lead generation involves proactively reaching out to potential customers through direct communication channels. This approach is more interruptive and often targets specific individuals or companies.

Outbound leads are generated by directly contacting prospects who may or may not have expressed prior interest in your offerings. The goal is to initiate a sales conversation and pitch your products or services.

The key difference is that inbound leads come to you, while outbound leads are actively pursued through direct outreach methods. An effective lead generation strategy often combines both inbound and outbound tactics to attract prospects at different stages of the buyer’s journey.


  • Allows for targeted and personalized outreach
  • Faster results compared to inbound tactics
  • Better control over lead quality and quantity


  • Can be perceived as intrusive or interruptive
  • Higher costs associated with advertising and lead lists
  • Requires more effort to build trust and credibility

The most effective lead generation strategies often combine both inbound and outbound tactics. Inbound tactics can build brand awareness and nurture leads, while outbound tactics can directly target high-value prospects. By leveraging the strengths of each approach, businesses can maximize their lead generation efforts and drive sustainable growth.

How To Determine Which Lead Generation Tactic Is Right For Your Business

The first rule of thumb to finding the best lead gen techniques is simply “be where your customers are.”

Insights from industry expert Neil Patel suggest that the first step in determining the right lead generation tactic for a small business is to deeply understand your target audience. A business owner that doesn’t understand who their target audience is will be doomed to waste more money than the more informed owner.

By analyzing the behaviors and preferences of both B2B and B2C leads, businesses can choose between inbound and outbound marketing strategies.

For instance, if your target audience frequently engages with social media, content marketing strategies like blogs and social posts can be highly effective. On the other hand, if you’re targeting high level executives in B2B, personalized email marketing tactics or outbound calls may yield better results.

Another critical factor is assessing your existing digital marketing framework and identifying areas for improvement. Start with your business website. Is it right for your business? Are your sales people ashamed to show it to customers?

We talk to a lot of small business owners who come to us for SEO or other services, and it’s not unusual for us to refuse to do SEO for them.

Why? Simple. Their website isn’t ready for search engine optimization. We refuse to do SEO on a site that will only chase your customers straight into the arms of your competition. That’s why dated, ugly or dysfunctional websites do. Investing in lead generation tactics before your website is ready to convert visitors into customers is nothing more than a waste of money and time.

That being said, it can be hard to get honest opinions. That’s why we offer free website assessments all the time. We’ll tell you if your baby is ugly in the nicest possible way.

But, it’s not always about that. It comes down to really just getting an expert opinion on what can be improved. Remember, it’s not about your feelings. It’s about your livelihood.

Ideas For Lead Generation For SMBs To Consider

Again, finding the right lead gen techniques may require some trial and error, but here is a list of marketing elements to consider:

Inbound Lead Generation Tools

Content Marketing

People love high quality, interesting content. It’s a great way to attract more eyes to your business.

  • Create valuable blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers addressing your target audience’s pain points
  • Leverage video content like tutorials, webinars, and product demos
  • Develop engaging social media content to build brand awareness and drive traffic
  • Conduct your own research and publish data to help increase your credibility

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO puts your website in front of the very people who are searching for it in the moment.

  • Optimize website and content for relevant keywords
  • Build backlinks through guest posting and influencer outreach
  • Leverage local SEO tactics for location-based businesses

Google Adwords

While SEO takes more time, an Adwords campaign puts your business on page one of the search results as soon as the campaign is live.

  • Puts your ads in front of people who are searching for relevant content
  • Can be an effective way to bring in leads while your SEO is still underway
  • Google often provides some discounts to get your business started

Social Media Marketing

  • Share educational and entertaining content on relevant platforms
  • Run social media ads and promotions to capture leads
  • Engage with your audience through comments, polls, and contests

Outbound Lead Generation Tactics

Email Marketing

  • Build targeted email lists through opt-in forms and lead magnets
  • Create nurturing email sequences to warm up prospects
  • Leverage email automation tools for personalized campaigns

Cold Call Outreach

  • Identify and reach out to potential prospects via cold emails or calls
  • Leverage LinkedIn for B2B lead generation and networking
  • Attend industry events, conferences, and meetups for face-to-face interactions

Paid Advertising

  • Run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on search engines and social media
  • Leverage retargeting ads to re-engage website visitors
  • Experiment with different ad formats and targeting options

Lead Capture and Conversion Tactics

Landing Pages and Lead Magnets

  • Create high-converting landing pages with clear calls-to-action (CTAs)
  • Offer valuable lead magnets like ebooks, checklists, or templates in exchange for contact details
  • Implement exit-intent popups to capture abandoning visitors

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

  • Do A/B testing on your home page or other important pages to increase the number of website visitors that convert into customers
  • While SEO and Adwords helps you get more website visitors, CRO helps you convert more visitors from the traffic you already receive.

Referral Programs

  • Incentivize existing customers to refer new leads through rewards or discounts
  • Leverage affiliate marketing and partner with complementary businesses

Live Chat and Chatbots

  • Implement live chat on your website to engage with visitors in real-time
  • Use chatbots to qualify leads and schedule appointments or demos

While each of these ideas has its pros and cons, the most effective lead generation strategy combines multiple tactics tailored to your target audience, industry, and business goals. Continuously test, measure, and optimize your efforts for maximum impact.

A Word Of Caution

One of the most frustrating things we see as digital marketers is when we invest our own time and resources into bringing our clients more potential leads only to see them mismanaged by the business. Here are the ways that we see business owners undermine effective lead generation systems we’ve put in place:

  • Not answering the phone
  • Not returning messages in a timely manner
  • Not responding to contact forms
  • Not having a CRM to stay organized
  • Trusting interns to manage leads

We shouldn’t even have to say it, but your leads are the lifeblood of your business. Each lead has a dollar sign attached to it, so they need to be treated with high value.

Final Thoughts

The quickest way to set up an effective lead generation system is to talk to some digital marketing experts. The staff at Make It Loud is always here to help you build and maintain your business. Contact us at 678.325.4007 and let’s talk about how to make your business more money.

Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 14 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.

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CliffTillery COO
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