Lead generation is something akin to The Matrix.
Remember Keanu Reeves, spinning about in his trenchcoat in that green and gray binary world, wondering if it's fake or if it's real?
Lead generation is sort of like that, minus the computer bots who want to kill you and Laurence Fishburne. You and your team sit around a conference table staring at stale donuts wondering how to get more leads.
It can feel like guesswork. Even with sound research and a solid gameplan, you’re often wondering if you did what's necessary to capture leads.
It’s worse if your primary methods, like cold calls, date back to when The Matrix originally came out.
Today’s tactics are a far cry from the grind it out practices of yesteryear.
So go ahead and swallow that red pill and see where the lead tools of this generation will take you. We promise - you follow us down the rabbit hole of more significant traffic numbers, and we’ll cease with the Matrix references.
Regardless of your product or service, the goal is to find consumers willing to buy into what they offer. That pool of purchasing power begins with viable leads.
The challenge is that today’s consumer is savvier than ever and doesn’t easily part with their cash. But if you give them something that’s both attractive and valuable enough to pique their interest, they’re usually willing to part with their information.
Being the savvy business person you are, contact info is all you need to start working your sales to lead magic.
Enter lead generation.
Modern-day lead generation is about offering something of value in return for a chance to pull a prospect into your sales funnel.
There are many ways to achieve this.
To simplify it, we’ve broken down lead generation ideas into four categories:
With plenty of choices in each category, there’s sure to be at least one proven idea that you use to build your list of leads.
You’ll probably find more than few, and combining multiple tactics increases your chances of generating leads.
So let’s get into it. Here are 28 tried-and-true ways to generate leads.
One of the critical aspects of lead generation is demonstrating your expertise. No need to be an Einstein, you just need to show that you know your stuff.
These lead generators will help you appeal to customers who want knowledge and want you to provide it to them.
There are a ton of options here. We suggest picking out a few that work in tandem with your business and building a strong marketing package that maximizes each effort.
Infographics are all the rage these days and for good reason. They showcase a lot of otherwise dull, but useful stats and data in a fun, colorful presentation. Done well, these things also have a habit of going viral, which in turn results in an avalanche of new leads.
Here’s a section of one we did recently about eCommerce conversion rates.
Spreadsheets are great for housing massive amounts of info into a single spot. However, many folks have neither the time or the know-how to enter loads of data into a useful spreadsheet. Do it for them and earn the praise of those who live their lives via columns and rows.
Not just any answer though. As we noted, people want in-depth information and solutions to their problems. There are already enough, “Tell Us Your Favorite Color and We’ll Tell You How You’re Going To Die,” quizzes. So don’t go shallow. Jump straight into the deep end with an in-depth piece that details a solution to the question asked. At the end of the piece, offer a download that puts all the critical information into a single, concise document.
Every industry has processes that can be dramatically simplified. If you can create a worksheet that simplifies a common, yet often tedious process, it’s almost always a big hit. Produce the form and then trade it for contact info from your potential client. You get a lead, and they get an easier way of completing a task. That’s a win-win-win (to quote Michael Scott) for everyone.
In a similar vein as the worksheet, a template is nice value-add enticement for your audience. People are busy, so providing a ready-made calendar, budget, or marketing outline can endear you others as a problem solver. Show them a benefit up front, and they’re far more likely to pay for even more benefits down the road.
Hubspot does a great job of this, providing dozens of templates for everything from social media scheduling to infographics to blog posts.
Let’s go ahead and complete the trifecta of making life easier with a checklist. For processes that follow specific steps every time, these handy little trackers keep people on point.
Free tools have long been a staple in the lead generation business. Realtors offer home value calculators. SEO companies offer free website analysis. Tools that people can use in exchange for their email address can generate a huge number of leads. A great example is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, which helps companies create compelling blog post headlines.
Compile a large database of relevant examples (even from competitors) for your customers to analyze is a great way to attract leads. For example, if you’re an email marketer, you could build a database of the best email campaigns across a variety of industries.
Once again this establishes you as an authority and shows your clients you care about them more than your bottom line. Of course, people trust those who care about them, so this can only have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Since we’re on the subject of knowledge, developing a list of best practices in an industry or particular process is an excellent, quick-hit item that works as both a summary of ideas and a great freebie for outreach efforts. Often you can use a summary as a lure for people to seek access to your larger cache of knowhow.
Another type of knowledge content is the case study. These can get into the nuts and bolts of specific successes (or failures) and what lessons can be learned and applied from each. This is another deep-dive piece that can persuade a prospect to learn more about your solutions.
Yes indeed, the eBook. One of the most popular of all lead generation efforts. They remain so because they are easy to put together (you can utilize your best blog posts or most widely read articles) and provide a wealth of info to prospects. This is a great starting place for lead generation.
In the past, you’ve probably equated networking with speaking one on one with an individual in hopes of meeting more individuals to chat with. While that is partially correct, we’re in the future now. And future networking is - well - it's futuristic.
Now it’s all about leveraging the networks of who you know and then leveraging those networks and then those networks. It's like an amazingly productive game of telephone.
Here are some top methods for building your lead generation network.
Contact an industry leader or expert in your field and have them share their experiences - successes and failures - for you to share with potential leads.
This is powerful, personal content that people appreciate and relate to, in turn marking you as a source where successful people share their insights. Don’t just stop at one leader. The more authorities you get to share the larger your audience will be.
Foundr does a great job of this by interviewing influential leaders on their podcast and blog.
Future clients appreciate good content from industry leaders, but they also find value in reading about prior experiences. Including a review function on your website gives potential leads confidence in your brand, which in turn makes them much more likely to opt-in to your marketing funnel.
Beyond reviews, request that your biggest cheerleaders leave testimonials to espouse the benefits of what you have to offer. Spotlight those bit size blurbs throughout your site. Satisfied clients that champion you will often bring viable leads along for the ride.
It may sound old-school, and as we pointed out, inefficient, but a physical presence at industry get-togethers still matter. Your time, however, should be spent networking with influencers and scoring spots on panels or in education roles. If you prove insightful, it will give you and your company valuable exposure.
Connecting with a network of partners does require a bit of effort in their setup, but plenty of success can come from the cross-pollination. Ensure there is a mutual level of incentive for all parties involved and the rewards you offer guarantee your endeavors get the promotion they deserve.
Bluehost has generated hundreds of thousands of leads through their affiliate marketing program due to big-name influencers like Pat Flynn promoting them.
From an SEO standpoint, backlinks are priceless, and a guest blog post, if appropriately done, provides a viable, natural link. It also puts you in front of an audience you may not typically have access too. Just be sure that the audience has an ear for what you’re pushing and that your post adds value to the site.
You knew this would be next, right? The benefits above are in place for the one who blogs on your site. In return, you get quality content with a fresh voice, a broader audience clicking through to your web pages, and an established relationship that you can leverage in the future.
The third category for generating leads is arguably the most exciting for potential customers since its the one that most gets them actively involved with you.
When you provide your target audience with something engaging, they are more apt to engage back.
As we’ve pointed out, ebooks and infographics are fantastic, but they can also get a little stale if you rely too heavily on them. For that reason, mix it up a bit and consider one of the following.
It's impossible to overstate the importance and popularity of videos. Ride the moving picture wave and create a help video (or a whole library of them) that provide visual learning tools to your customers. Nothing says professional expert more than a video-based knowledge center.
Take that help video a step further (or the written interview we previously noted) and put an influencer on video. These bring your efforts to life and make a great inclusion to the social media side of your marketing. Additionally, if the influencer shares the video with their followers, you suddenly have a much bigger audience.
Much like the eBook, a webinar is perhaps the most classic of interactive devices. You can open these online events to as many participants as you want (or keep it low-key and exclusive). To get access to the webinar, people need to enter their contact info. Either way, you will build a subscriber list like no other. Not just names and contact details, but a list of those you know are willing to give you something more valuable - their time.
Admit it - whenever you see a free online IQ quiz you take it. Quizzes are nice deviations from regular content because they are fun little distractions that are difficult for folks to resist. Adding one to your site is a surefire way to grab a lead’s info in return for a quiz result.
And if you only allow them to get the results of their quiz in exchange for their email info, you’re going to collect a pile of leads really fast.
We’ve trumpeted the virtues of information and knowledge, so why not take those pieces and make them interactive. How? Offer an email course. You can break out content that already exists over multiple emails, building your course and the recipients interest as you go (not to mention gaining valuable emails in the process).
And not metaphorically either. Seriously, develop a podcast and share your insights or knowledge across the highly popular (and ever-growing) medium. They need not be long (some run for as few as 10 minutes) nor masterpieces. Merely entertain the listener and provide them quality takeaways. Also, podcasts are a perfect tool for the influencer interview.
Everyone loves free.
People like to feel special, and there's no better way to accomplish this than by giving them something special. For free, of course.
Whether you’re targeting everybody or just specific influencers, handing out freebies shows confidence in what you offer. The classic, “I don’t mind giving this away, cause I know you’ll be back for more.”
In other words, give a little to get a lot.
Nothing like a good giveaway. Hosting one can help you generate buzz about a product or focus. Just make sure your prize package is on point. You’ll want steer clear of empty leads and weed out those that won't pan out. Make your giveaway highly specific and highly desirable to the audience you are hoping to attract.
And obviously, to enter the giveaway, they need to give you their name and email.
Sometimes you need to convince a hesitant prospect that what you offer is what they need. A no-cost trial is a perfect enticement. Sampling without strings can bridge that gap with a viable prospect who otherwise may have walked away. If you successfully win over a skeptic, it can be a boon for your business.
If your business revenues come from licensing, it may be a solid investment to hand out a few free ones. Target influencers, particularly ones that hold heavy sway with a large audience, and let them put your service through its paces.
Everyone loves to feel like a rockstar. If your business lends itself to providing a select few with a VIP experience, make it happen. Again, influencers play a crucial role here. Give them early access to a prototype or exclusive content that only they can access. The point is to build a buzz with them, and their audiences are sure to follow.
Let’s be honest here, generating quality leads looks and feels different for each company. Everything we noted above is not a perfect play for every group.
As you figure out the right approach, there are, however, a few pieces of info that are universal, no matter your product, service or industry. Adhering to the following bits of advice will most certainly get your lead generation on the right track - and keep it there.
While the ideas outlined above may seem complicated, they’re not. It's the way you present your message that usually muddies the waters with new clients.
Whatever your pitch to a prospect, keep it simple, easy to understand and even easier for them to act on.
Create clear calls to action.
Don’t promise things you can’t deliver on.
Keep your message positive and avoid negative words or connotations (its okay to identify problems, but keep your focus on the solution).
Anticipate your audience’s needs and then craft content that will appeal most to those requirements.
Make sure to research how your future clients prefer to receive your messaging. You could create the greatest marketing plan of all time, but if you deliver it via email to an audience that appreciates a podcast more, it will go unheard.
In other words, keep it fresh, while maintaining a mass appeal. Some content and marketing pieces you produce may be timeless, like a checklist or free giveaway. Others need to reflect the times, such as a podcast.
Your approach should be a mix of both. That way you’re able to access traditional and forward-thinking groups of potential clients.
Also, populate your landing pages and websites (or other promotional materials) with organic tools that prove useful and appealing to your audience or useful in capturing their info.
Slide-in scrolls, exit-intent pop-ups, and retargeting are all subtly integrated methods to keep your prospect engaged without being overly pushy.
Let’s face it, capturing primo leads is hard work. If it were easy, we’d all be an industry leader, win marketer of the year awards and celebrate with our miniature giraffes.
While the marketer award may be tough to come by, leads are not, and there's no need to reinvent the wheel to get them.
Instead think about what your business can offer and then develop valuable content, valuable tools, and valuable connections to help it succeed.
If you pave that road with valuable materials that mean something to your audience, the leads will come. They will follow that path to your front door.
Respond quickly and complete all of the necessary steps to deliver a first-class onboarding experience.
With subscription-based services, you offer your clients more than just a service; you provide them with an ongoing experience. Too often though, we fail to recognize that a single job can quickly expand into a long-term relationship.
Donations are the lifeblood of any nonprofit or charity organization. Here’s how to use the digital tools of today to maximize the contributions to your cause.
Market research can seem like a heavy lift for small businesses. But, with modern technology, you don’t need advanced tools or sophisticated training to gather useful data. This 6-step process walks you through everything you need to make your company smarter.
Tired of reading articles about the latest internet success story and wonder high they got there. Wonder no more. Here’s how to turn your passion and knowledge into an online business.