Is your business looking for new techniques for lead generation? Perhaps a method that is underutilized and better yet ignored by your competition?

Some say that Google+ is a ghost town. Let them believe that. Trust me, no need for them to compete with your business on Google+.

Sure, while Google has been very successful in some of their ventures (Search, Chrome, Gmail, Voice, Maps), they have had some flops (Wave, Notebook, Answers, Buzz). I’m willing to bet Google won’t let Google+ flop. With that said, you can already see the effects of Google+ on search engine rankings.

Aside from impacting search engine rankings, Google+ can be used for lead generation through several different ways.

Use the +1 Button on Your Site

Ok, so this tip does impact your search rankings. First, let’s understand why this is so important to your business. By adding the +1 button to your site, you are essentially asking someone to “like” your site in Google’s eyes. But what’s really important is the far-reaching effect this has on your rankings.

Let’s say that someone clicks on the +1 button on your site. Your website will now rank higher for various searches not only for the person who clicked the +1 button, it will also rank for anyone connected to them, and get this it will even start to rank for anyone connected to them.

As you can see, a simple +1 by a user can expose your sites to hundreds, if not thousands of users who may have never heard of your company. And this is just for one person clicking the +1 button.

Now think about the effects of hundreds or even thousands of people clicking on the +1 button on your site?

Just this one tactic can have an exponential effect on not only delivering organic SEO traffic to your site, but it will deliver quality leads of people looking for what you have to offer.

Authorship Markup

You may have noticed lately when searching on Google, the appearance of images next to search results. They sure catch your attention, don’t they?

This is known as authorship markup, which is also called a “rich snippet”. These search results are powered by the “rel=author” tag. This tag basically tells Google who the author of the page is. When setup correctly, the image of the author often will appear in search results for content that they have authored.

Some studies have shown that when implemented, the number of clicks for that link increased 150%!

While the increased click through ratio is nice, another benefit of this is that authorship markup often makes your site more credible. Think about it, when you are looking through search results, which results are you more likely to trust? The one with a picture of the author, or the result without a picture?

Increased trust and higher click through rates sounds like a win/win for any business!

Circle Organization

A key benefit of Google+ is how you can organize the people you follow. On Google+, these are known as circles. One way to help with lead generation is to segment the people you follow into different circles.

Better yet, create circles that are designated for each step of your sales funnel.

You could set up circles named something like “awareness”, “interest”, “consideration”, “purchased” (or however your sales funnel looks). Then, as you interact with users, you can decide which circle they should be in.

The real benefit of circles is that you can provide content/interactions to a specific circle. For example, let’s say that there are people in your “consideration” circle that might purchase if they are offered a discount. So, simply create a new Google+ post for that circle only, and talk about how they can get an discount. Once posted, only users who are part of that circle will see the message. This means that no one (like a person in the “awareness” circle) will see this post.

Through specialized circles and targeted messaging, Google+ Circles can empower your business’ lead generation in ways you never thought possible.

Post Engaging Content

You have probably noticed on various social media channels that some companies seem to always have great engagement from their status updates. Have you ever wondered why some companies just seem to have a knack for posting awesome content?

There are many different things you can post about, the key is to post something that evokes emotion.

For example, like most businesses you probably have a blog. However, if your blog is focused more about you than about the customer, you might be seeing less than stellar results. Therefore, it is imperative to not only create quality blog posts of your own, but when sharing, be sure you are sharing engaging content. Content that resonates with the reader. No one wants to read about how great your product is. They would much rather read about how problems they can relate to are solved by using a product or service like yours.

Aside from sharing engaging blog posts, images often receive great engagement. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words? It could not be more true in this case since a simple glance at the picture can tell the reader everything they want to know in a few seconds.

Whether the pictures directly relate to your service offerings, or perhaps they are loosely tied to your industry, be sure you do not stray too far off the topic/focus of your business. For example, if your business sells baby clothes, you should not post anything about the 2nd amendment or politics. This would be a surefire way to lose the interest and respect of your audience.

What’s better than a picture worth a thousand words? A video.

Sharing videos, especially engaging ones, can prove to be of great value to your audience. While blog posts can provide detailed explanations, a video can typically say so much more in less time than it takes to read a blog post.

You could share videos like your latest TV commercial, a product demo, or even videos from your Google+ Hangouts. Just be sure that any video you share, whether your own or someone else’s; that it aligns with the core values of your business.

Make Status Updates Conversational

Nobody wants to hear someone talk about themselves, but that is what most of us tend to do on social media. Instead, try not to talk about yourself, but others instead.

A great way to create engagement is to mention others in your status update. To do this in Google+, simply add a plus sign “+” and then start typing a name. Google will then start to show you the names of people who you have in a circle.

Once way you could utilize this is to ask a specific customer a question. Maybe you are following up with them on a support question they had, or perhaps ask them how they like your product/service (just be aware that not all answers might be positive, so use this with caution).

Another way is to answer a customer support question by referencing another user who had the same problem,

For example, let’s say a few weeks ago a customer had an issue that you were able to solve. Then a new customer ran into the same issue. You could create a post responding to the new customer that a previous customer had a similar issue and was able to solve it by [your answer]. By referencing both users using Google+’s “+”, both will be notified of the conversation. I am willing to bet if your existing customer was happy to get the issue solved, he or she will vouch for you in the response to the new customer.

It’s almost like an unsolicited testimonial.

Others who follow you will see this interaction and see that you offer great customer service. Who knows, this simple interaction could convince them to become a customer.

Asking questions from your followers is another great way to create engagement. However, it is best to ask questions about them and their business and not a question about your own business. Getting customers to talk about themselves can provide you with new information you can use to your advantage.

Build a Google+ Community Page

A recent new addition to Google+, community pages allow anyone to create a community around any topic they wish. Building a community page should not be about your business. Instead it should be about the industry your business serves.

Let’s say you own a company that sells boats. Why not create a community about fishing or perhaps water skiing? Or better yet, a community about things to do on the water.

Within this community, you could have different sections around the various things you can do at a lake. For example:

  • Fishing
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Hunting

The community could then be based on anything from recommendations of lakes to go to, or perhaps what type of bait to use when fishing at a particular location.Members of this community would easily provide quite a bit of interaction between each other with questions and recommendations.

This sounds nice and all, but how are these leads for my business?

Let’s look at the big picture here. You have a thriving Google+ Community with hundreds or even thousands of people who spend their free time on lakes (or perhaps oceans).

When users visit a community page, Google+ displays the creator of the community. In this case, it would be you or your business. A simple click on your profile link will send them to your Google+ page. If they like what they see, hopefully they will circle you.

The other benefit of a community page is that you can monitor conversations and when that fishing enthusiast starts to ask about buying a new boat, guess who will be ready to join the conversation? Yep, you. Since you are the community creator and are not hard-selling everyone who joins, you will have the respect and authority with the users making the transition to a sale a smooth one.

As you can see, when you use Google+ communities properly, they can be an excellent source for lead generation.

Host Google+ Hangouts

A Google+ Hangout is basically a video interaction or conversation between you and other Google+ users.

Who wants to do business with a logo?

Not many.

Who wants to do business with a person?

Quite a few.

Google+ Hangouts allow you an easy way to interact with potential customers. This allows potential customers to put a face with a name instead of a logo. The personal interaction helps build relationships and positions your company as a trusted source.

There are a number of ways you can use Google+ Hangouts for lead generation. Some ideas are:

  • Online classes/tutorials
  • Interviews
  • Customer service
  • Q & A
  • Product demos
  • Contests

These Hangouts can be one-offs or recurring events. By providing value to your followers, you and your business will be looked upon as a thought leader in the industry you serve and will ultimately provide leads for your company.

Create a Google+ Event

Your business can use Google+ Events to help arrange various activities around your business or industry. The great thing about using events, is that it easily gets these items on a users calendar. Google will keep track of not only when the event is to occur, but who accepted or declined the invite. Additionally, users who attended the event can upload pictures or videos from the event for all invitees to see.

There are many things you can use Google+ Events for. Events such as:

  • Webinars
  • Google+ Hangouts
  • Event at your business
  • Etc.

There is really no limit to what you can do with Google+ Events.

Pulling In The Leads

Google+ clearly offers many opportunities for your small business to take advantage of in order to create different lead generation opportunities. By engaging with the customer on a more personal level, it will help break down barriers many businesses initially face with a consumer.

Unlike your competitors, you can use Google+ to your advantage to cultivate these relationships. Whether you build the relationship entirely within Google+ or mix it up by utilizing email marketing, your business will be building solid relationships.

Is your business maximizing Google+ for lead generation yet? Leave me a comment below on why or why not?

Or if you know of a business that could use Google+ to their advantage, be sure to send them a link to this blog post.

photo credit: west.m