A web presence is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to generate leads, but nearly half of US small businesses don’t bother—and it’s been that way for at least the past half decade. These businesses are at a competitive disadvantage, because most consumers research online before shopping and sometimes complete the entire buying cycle on their smartphones. We asked small business owners around the country how they generate leads and grow their businesses using affordable web hosting and mobile-optimized templates from HostGator.
1. Show your portfolio
Creative businesses need to show their work. Digital agency HMG Creative of Austin sets itself apart with a video portfolio page, easy to scan client and service information, and a detailed intake form with links to client questionnaires and brochures. Visitors see HMG’s work as they navigate the site, and they experience the agency’s site design strengths as they go.
James Trumbly, HMG Creative’s founder and managing partner, recommends starting strong and continuously updating to bring in leads. “As a digital agency it’s important to be able to showcase our work, and a great website builds credibility. Our website was up and running immediately after launching HMG Creative. Since opening 13 years ago, we have updated the website to fit our growing company and we will continue to adapt our website alongside the agency.”
2. Expand your market
Websites also make it possible to generate leads around the country. Rick Geahan is the founder of two Phoenix-based promotional products businesses, Anasazi Sports and Tee-Signs.com. He says the websites themselves are his primary lead-generation tools and give him “the ability to obtain online sales nationally” without a national marketing budget.
To capture the most leads, your business website must be easy to navigate on mobile devices, because more than half of all searches take place on smartphones and tablets now. JC Brazil, who left the corporate world to start Cake N Iron Games, says mobile optimization is a must. “The world no longer looks at billboards and commercials, but whatever comes across their phones.”
3. Differentiate your business
Realtor Mark Jones of Phoenix works in a highly competitive market. He uses his website to stand out among the sea of real estate agents by showing his personality and offering visitors simple tools to get the sale process started. “My website is the hub of all lead generation activities,” he said.
Visitors can watch a short greeting video, fill out a form to find out how much their home is worth, and read his colorfully titled blog posts (including “How Not to Lose Your A—in Real Estate”). The bold posts are no accident. “I realized that adding value by providing great content will generate leads,” Jones said.
4. Make the sale
With strong content, your website can turn leads into customers even before they contact you. That’s been DeAndre Glover’s experience. Glover, a Detroit-based wedding and portrait photographer, offers hundreds of posed, candid and still-life photos on his Jireh Photography site. As visitors browse, they see Glover’s range and his ability to capture the moods and personalities of his clients, something that saves potential clients and Glover a lot of time.
“Having a website has allowed me to streamline my business in terms of marketing, advertising, and client communications,” Glover said. “The majority of the time clients tell me ‘I’ve been on your website and love your work. I want to hire you.’ My website has definitely been my calling card.” To achieve similar results, Glover recommends new businesses include “a strong portfolio, straight-to-the-point information about your services, and a few ways to contact you” on their website.
5. Start on a shoestring
Many small businesses first choose HostGator for web hosting because it’s inexpensive and then stick with it as they grow. Punch Drunk Productions of Seattle started as a one-man party VJ outfit and now produces live video events for major corporations, sports teams, and entertainers. “HostGator offers huge bang for the buck and has been very reliable over the years,” said founder Jacob Stone.
Small business owners pressed for time as well as cash will find it easy to set up a site through HostGator. “We recently held a live webinar with one of our social media partners where we went through the entire process, from domain registration to landing page, within the hour,” said Amelia Willson, Content Marketing Manager for HostGator. A small investment of setup time can deliver leads by promoting your portfolio, expanding your reach, introducing you to prospects, and making sales—and it puts your business ahead of competitors who still don’t have a website.
Ready to start generating leads?
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.