Leads are the foundation of any business. Without a steady stream of qualified leads, a business will stagnate and struggle to increase its market share.
Whether you’re a startup or an established company, a solid lead generation strategy is key to growing your business. Not sure where to start? Then you’re in the right place.
In this article will look at eight lead generation strategies you can use to generate more leads for your small business. We’ll also provide some real-life examples to show you how these strategies look in practice.
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What Is Lead Generation?
Let’s clear up some terminology to make sure we’re on the same page.
A lead is any person who has demonstrated interest in your products or services. An example is someone who lands on your website and fills out a form to receive an offer. They’ve shared their contact details and expressed an interest in buying from your company.
Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects to your business and generating interest in what your company offers. The end goal is to turn that interest into a sale. Lead generation strategies are tactics that you use to get prospects to provide their contact information.
Let’s say that you’re a SaaS startup. One way to generate leads is to advertise on social media networks, including a link to a signup form that visitors can use to input their information.
Why Is Lead Generation Important?
If your business is still new, most people won’t know about your products or services. One method you can use to generate interest is cold calling. That is when you contact individuals and attempt to schedule an appointment with someone who has had no previous interaction with your company.
The problem with cold calling lies in its effectiveness. If you attempt to sell products or services to someone who hasn’t indicated any interest, you’ll likely be met with opposition or even verbal abuse.
Research shows that only 2% of cold calls result in a conversion. Another survey found that the average salesperson prospects for over six hours just to set a single appointment. Spending almost a full workday for one booking isn’t exactly practical. There’s no guarantee that it’ll even lead to a sale.
Lead generation is important because it allows you to attract more qualified prospects and generate more sales. Instead of cold calling, your sales team can focus their efforts on nurturing relationships with prospects who are more likely to buy.
Lead generation also helps your business:
- Increase brand awareness: Content creation is a big part of lead generation. Creating quality content not only helps you generate leads but also helps more people discover your brand.
- Reach the right customers: A well-crafted lead generation strategy allows you to reach the right customers. This helps you focus your resources on strategies that work.
- Collect contact information: Lead generation helps you gather valuable information about your prospects. With these details, you can segment your list and create more personalized offers.
- Generate business opportunities: Lead generation isn’t necessarily about finding prospects. It can also lead to other opportunities. A non-competing brand that discovers your content may reach out and offer a collaboration opportunity.
- Create a strong sales pipeline: Lead generation can build a stronger and more predictable sales pipeline, allowing you to track prospects as they move through the sales cycle. This also allows you to forecast future revenues.
Not all leads are created equal. Effective lead generation strategies allow you to improve lead quality, which is a top priority for 58% of companies.
Improving the quality of the leads you generate can help dramatically increase customer acquisition rates and boost revenues.
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of lead generation, let’s look at some actual strategies you can implement to generate leads.
Strategies to Generate Leads
Finding the right lead generation strategy can be difficult. What works for one business may not necessarily be the same for yours.
Finding a strategy that works will involve some trial and error, but it’ll enable you to bring a steady stream of leads to your business. With that in mind, let’s review some of the top lead generation strategies that you can get started with today.
1. Create Gated Content
When it comes to generating leads, your website is your most valuable asset. But 96% of visitors aren’t ready to buy and are simply browsing. So how can you engage visitors and get them to provide contact information?
The answer is with gated content — online materials that users can only access once they fill out a form.
Some examples of gated content include:
- White papers
- Online tools
Gated content is a win-win situation. Your visitors gain exclusive content that’s not available elsewhere, and you get a potential lead that you can nurture. Another benefit is that visitors may even share your resource, which helps your business generate brand awareness.
Example: Nlyte provides a free ebook on data center infrastructure that visitors can access by providing their name and contact details.
Keep the following in mind as you create your own gated content:
- Use visuals to entice visitors
- Add a short description
- Include a CTA (call-to-action)
- Keep your signup form short
2. Create a Business Newsletter
Another way to leverage content to generate leads is by creating a newsletter. Prospects can have content from your brand sent straight to their mailbox. This lets you stay top-of-mind with your prospects and allows you to promote your products or services.
Newsletters are an effective way to generate leads. But you also need to give your visitors an incentive to subscribe.
Here are some ideas for email newsletters:
- A roundup of recent blog posts
- Updates about your products or services
- Best practices or tips
- Industry news
- Special offers and discounts
- Upcoming events or webinars
Example: Social Media Examiner includes a signup form on its homepage that visitors can use to receive its latest articles. It even offers an industry report as an extra incentive.
Here are some newsletter best practices to follow:
- Make it easy for visitors to subscribe
- Optimize your newsletter for mobile devices
- Test your headlines to improve click-through rates
- Include a mix of educational and promotional content
- Keep the email copy and design simple
3. Boost Your Inbound Marketing Efforts
Many businesses turn to outbound marketing strategies, like print advertising and social media ads, to generate leads. But these methods tend to be intrusive. You’re pushing a promotional message to your audience, and that can easily go too far.
A better approach is to focus on inbound methods, like content marketing. The goal is to attract your target audience by creating valuable content. In doing so, you can generate more leads and establish your business as an industry leader.
To get started, identify topics that your audience will want to learn more about. Use forums and social media to help with this step. Then create an in-depth article and optimize it for a target keyword to improve its rankings in the search results. Just like in the example above, you should include links to your signup forms to generate leads. Good content can naturally fetch you backlinks.
4. Host a Webinar
Hosting webinars is another strategy you can leverage to generate more leads and develop a more personal relationship with prospects. While in-person events have been one of the best ways to raise brand awareness, webinars are still a powerful way to reach new audiences.
According to the 2021 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report, 53% of marketers say that webinars generate the most high-quality leads.
With virtual events, there’s no need to book a venue or hire temporary staff. All you need is a computer and a webinar platform to get started. What’s more, you can turn your webinars into gated content and include them on your signup forms.
Example: The Content Marketing Institute regularly hosts webinars aimed at business owners, marketers, and content creators.
Here are some best practices to get your webinar off on the right track:
- Create a landing page for your webinar
- Keep your webinar below 60 minutes
- Take live questions from the audience
- Include interaction opportunities
- Send a recording to attendees
5. Offer a Free Trial
Prospects may not be ready to make a purchase just yet. One way to overcome reservations and generate more leads is with free trials. Offering a free trial allows prospective customers to test your products or services before they commit.
For SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) companies that offered free trials, 16% generated more than half of new business from this method.
There are two ways you can structure free trials. The most common is to offer a trial where prospects can try your product or service for a short period. Another is to offer a free plan with limited functionality. Experiment with both to see what delivers the best results for your business.
Example: Track-POD offers a seven-day trial of its route optimization software. Potential customers can try out the software without having to enter credit card information.
Here are some tips that can make free trials work for you:
- Decide whether to ask for credit card information
- Send a welcome email with links to useful resources
- Experiment with different free trial lengths
- Personalize communications with new users
- Offer incentives to get users to switch to a paid plan
Free trials are just one of the best lead generation for SaaS methods and one that is highly effective.
6. Create Viral Giveaways
Chances are, your business is active on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. But if you’re not having any luck generating leads, consider changing things up.
One strategy you can try is to create viral giveaways.
Here’s an overview of how it works:
- Set an objective (e.g., increase brand awareness, collect email addresses, etc.)
- Choose a prize to give away
- Decide on a social media platform
- Schedule your posts in advance
- Set the contest rules and a timeframe
- Accept entries and announce a winner
Use a tool to help you create and manage viral giveaways. Woorise makes it easy to create branded giveaways and collect leads.
Example: Alltrue, a company that offers quarterly boxes with an assortment of goods, ran a giveaway for an annual membership to its subscription box.
Before you run a giveaway, make sure you follow each social media platform’s policies regarding promotions. For example, Instagram requires that you make it clear on your posts that Instagram isn’t involved in the giveaway. Facebook follows a similar policy for promotions.
7. Start a Podcast
With tens of millions of podcast listeners, podcasts are a great way to connect with your audience on a more personal level and generate leads.
The best part is that it’s never been easier to start your own podcast.
Here are some tips to getting started:
- Invest in decent recording equipment
- Choose a topic that’s relevant to your audience
- Pick a name for your podcast and create cover art
- Choose a platform to host your podcast
- Publish consistently
Example: Microsoft partnered with Gimlet Creative to create .future, a podcast that examines the growing impact of technology on our lives.
Remember to utilize CTAs throughout your podcast to get listeners to take action, like visiting your website to learn more about your brand. Getting your podcast off the ground can be challenging, but you can steadily grow a listenership if you publish quality content.
8. Use Pop-Ups
No matter how you feel about pop-ups, the fact remains that they work. One extensive study found that the top 10% of high-performing pop-ups converted at 9.28%. If you get 100 visitors per day, you can generate about 10 new leads for your business.
For your pop-ups to be effective, it’s important to keep timing in mind. Showing a pop-up too soon can interrupt the user experience and cause your visitors to bounce. One option is to use a delayed pop-up, which triggers the ad after visitors have spent a certain amount of time on a page.
Along with delayed pop-ups, you can also utilize exit intent pop-ups, which trigger before a user goes to close the tab or page.
For example, if you start a blog for your small business, you can easily incorporate relevant pop ups that trigger before a user exits a blog post as such:
Another example is Deuk Spine, an institute specializing in spine surgery and back pain relief, shows a delayed pop-up on its website that visitors can use to get a free MRI review.
Include one offer and a clear CTA with your pop-up. Make use of visuals and offer an incentive to increase conversions. Finally, experiment with different pop-up formats as one type may work better than others.
Just launching a small business with great products or services isn’t enough. To generate revenue and grow your customer base, you need a steady stream of leads.
Use the lead generation strategies detailed here to get more qualified leads in your sales pipeline. Create gated content, publish a newsletter, host a webinar, offer free trials, run a viral giveaway, start a podcast, and use pop-ups.
Some industries lend themselves better to certain lead generation strategies, so you must experiment with different tactics to better understand what works and what doesn’t.