As marketers, we spend absurd amounts of time and resources creating content and planning campaigns. For many of us, the end goal is to generate new leads that will eventually become paying customers.
We know that a steady stream of leads is an essential component of keeping a business afloat – but coming up with original and effective ways to attract and convert qualified leads is easier said than done.
So how about a little inspiration?
Here are 32 proven and actionable ideas to energize your lead generation efforts.
Optimizing Your Landing Page for Lead Generation
1. Create a product video
65% of us are visual learners. Why not explain your offering in a way that speaks to the majority?
According to this case study, product explainer videos can generate leads at a rate of up to 33%. When done right, videos keep us engaged and can inspire us to take action.
Product videos don’t need to be long or complex, and with tools like Animoto, they’re increasingly easy to make.
2. Don’t mention spam!
A test run by Michael Aagard showed that including the phrase “100% privacy – we will never spam you!” on a signup form reduced conversions by a full 18%.
It’s okay to reassure privacy, but try doing it in a fun way that doesn’t include the word “spam.”
When in doubt, run A/B tests to be sure your signup forms are optimized for conversion.
3. Try the squint test
Squint (or take a few shots of whiskey, your choice) and then look at your website. Does the call to action stand out?
Go squint at your landing pages now!
4. Give fewer choices
MySiteAuditor decreased the options on a free trial signup page from six to one and saw a 25% jump in their conversion rate.
Read the full case study for that here.
Content Marketing for Lead Generation
5. Use gated videos
Wistia’s Turnstile allows you to add email opt-in forms to your videos. You can even set the form to appear in time with a verbal CTA.
When Wistia purchased Facebook ads to send traffic to their video campaigns (bought at $1-2 per click), they saw an 11% increase in free trial conversions. Check out the full case study here.
6. Make excellent posts downloadable in exchange for an email
Quoteroller created a list of SEO directories in Australia, which was receiving 800+ visits per month but wasn’t generating leads.
After adding an option to download the post in a PDF format in return for an email address, the post peaked at five new leads per day and has resulted in 200 new email subscribers so far.
7. Optimize your about page
Whatever you may call it, your “about” or “team” page is very important to your business. This is where people see who you are and what you’re about. It’s also a great place to have a call to action.
Jen Havice wrote this whopper of a post on how to generate leads on your about page. She suggests including a solid value proposition in your headline and breaking up copy into manageable chunks, as well as having a clear idea of where you’d like visitors to go next so you can guide them with a compelling CTA.
8. Blog consistently (actually do it)
This one’s old – we know by now that blogging is effective for generating leads. In spite of this, not many companies have strong and consistent content calendars (many give up when no results come in the first month or two).
Goodbye Crutches is an online shop for knee scooters and other accessories to help eliminate the need for crutches. They were struggling to drive traffic and sales through traditional advertising.
They put together a content schedule for six months, blogging every single day. Six months later, organic traffic had doubled.
But remember that once you’ve built up the traffic to your blog, your job isn’t done. Your readers have self-selected as being interested in what you have to offer, but they’re not yet on your list.
Make the next step easy for them by adding relevant CTAs to your blog posts. Unbounce does this well, with CTAs targeted to each of their blog categories. If a reader is interested in a PPC blog post, chances are they’ll be interested in the ebook as well – and willing to enter their email address in exchange for it.
If you’re looking for ways to leverage your blogging efforts to drive leads, this article is a great place to start.
9. Create and optimize evergreen content
Super in-depth posts take long to write but can pay off over time. If you frame them correctly, they can turn into content pillars that continue to draw traffic long after their publish date. Consider the screenshot below, which shows the traffic for a post on the Interact blog entitled “How to Make a BuzzFeed Style Quiz.”
With a steady flow of traffic comes opportunities for lead generation.
In a recent post about optimizing old blog content for conversion, David Cheng shares how to identify and optimize evergreen content on your blog. After doing a content audit to determine which posts continue to draw traffic, he suggests updating popular posts with CTAs that point to relevant lead generation campaigns.
Using Social Media for Lead Generation
10. Identify leads on Twitter with Followerwonk
On Twitter, you can think of leads as fruit. Some are ripe and ready to use your product, while others need some time or nurturing and would be a waste of time for you to contact. Followerwonk helps make the distinction for you.
Seer Interactive put together a whopper of a post on how to use Followerwonk to identify leads, filter them and reach out to the most ripe leads to generate new customers.
11. Promote your tweets
Krave cereal ran a test and found that customers exposed to multiple promoted tweets are 12% more likely to have an intent to purchase.
While promoted tweets are a form of sponsored content, they should resemble typical tweets you see in your feed. Yes, you’re paying to be in front of an audience, but you still need to keep the tweets fun and valuable to your audience. Steamfeed put together a list of the types of tweets brands should focus on to remain relevant.
To maximize the potential of promoted tweets, link to a landing page that is on the same subject as the tweet. For your lead generation campaigns, this will help continue the conversation and ultimately increase conversions.
12. Write on LinkedIn
A venture capitalist once told me that he only invests in games when a new platform comes out. For example, when the Xbox was released, he invested in Xbox gaming startups.
Well, a new platform has recently come alive for content producers: LinkedIn just opened up their publishing platform to all users so anyone can create content. And I’m willing to bet you should invest your time in it.
It is being rolled out slowly and has yet to hit critical velocity, which means there is an opportunity to stand out. According to a study by Hubspot that surveyed 5,000 small businesses, LinkedIn vastly outpaced competing social networks for lead generation.
Remember that getting your post read on LinkedIn is just one part of the battle. You must also have a strong offer and a paired landing page to follow through and capture leads.
13. Use Twitter cards
Twitter makes it really easy to capture leads right in the activity stream using lead cards. It’s the Twitter equivalent to the signup box that you see on most blogs.
Twitter isn’t just putting on a smoke-and-mirrors show either.
Fortunately, Twitter cards are pretty easy to set up and lead gen cards are free to use. It’s a no-brainer, really.
14. Answer questions on Quora
This question and answer site has ballooned in popularity and can no longer be ignored. Don’t believe me? Check out the graph below.
Quora allows you to create a profile with links back to your site or landing page, so answering questions in a useful way gets you direct exposure to leads who are asking about your solution. Quora recently implemented full text search which allows you to search for any term in full and reduce the amount of irrelevant discussions to sift through.
Eventbrite leveraged Quora by answering questions users had about what they should do on New Year’s Eve. They put in the effort to make their posts useful and targeted to the users, linking back to Eventbrite events. You can use the same tactic – but link back to a landing page – to leverage Quora as a lead gen source.
Check out the case study on how Quora drove conversions for EventBrite.
15. Send SlideShare traffic to a landing page
With more than 60 million monthly visitors, you’ve likely heard of (and used) SlideShare. But did you know that with a pro plan you can collect leads right on the platform?
If you’re not willing to pay, SlideShare is still a great way to generate leads. As Ana Hoffman suggests in her epic SlideShare traffic case study, you can link to a landing page in the presentation, description and in your profile.
Using tactics such as the one above, Ana has made SlideShare into her second largest referral traffic source. If you want a breakdown of the tactics she has used to generate traffic and leads on Slideshare, check out the comprehensive study.
16. Practice social listening on Twitter
A quick search on Twitter will give you a list of people who are currently interested in what you are doing.
There is no other place to get this kind of real-time information and it’s an amazing opportunity to engage with people who are mentioning your product or have a problem you can solve.
GNC found that many customers and potential customers were asking questions about health and GNC products on social channels. By actively engaging on social, GNC was able to increase inbound sales from social media by 25%. See the full case study here.
You don’t need to have the resources and money of GNC to pay attention to what’s being said on Twitter. Services like TweetBeep let you set up Twitter alerts which work the same way as Google Alerts. Pretty genius for keeping tabs on conversations and potential conversion opportunities.
17. Google+ communities
Just like LinkedIn groups, Google+ helps bring people with common interests together. Their communities offer opportunities to become an influencer and reach potential prospects to drive conversions.
Farfetch is a curated website which features products from independent designers around the world. They used Google+ to showcase new products, leading to a 116% increase in Google+ followers who converted into paying customers at a rate of 1%.
For an in-depth look at how to use Google+ for lead generation, check out this guide put together by Content Marketing Institute.
Offline Tips for Lead Generation
18. Flex your expertise on television
WP Curve had their best month ever in March 2014, largely due to appearances on Fox TV and Forbes.
The key to appearing on television is to have a unique position. WP Curve gives people access to developers to help with their WordPress sites (yawn), but Alex, the founder of WP Curve, framed the company’s USP as being vital to rejuvenating an aging web (which sounds way cooler than fixing WordPress bugs).
The connection between television appearances and new subscribers is historically difficult to track, but WP Curve’s television appearance significantly increased search traffic for branded terms – and search traffic accounts for 42% of WP Curve’s new signups. With TV as their megaphone, WP Curve saw a 27% increase in recurring revenue for in March. Read all about it here.
19. Warm calling
If you’re going to call prospects, do your research so you know who you are calling, what they are looking for and how you can help. If you’re going to ask someone to give you their time and attention on the phone, at least have the decency to explain why they should listen to you.
Sales Gravy created the rules for cold calling in the 21st century and concisely sums up how cold calling should be treated today: it should always be targeted and shouldn’t use the “spray and pray” method.
If possible, John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing insists that you should only call after you’ve received a referral. He heard these impressive stats at a conference:
“Cold calling results in about a 1-3% success rate for getting an initial appointment and it’s generally abusive to both parties. When that same call is made with a referral, the rate jumps up to 40% and even much higher when that referral comes from within the company.” – Mahan Khalsa, co-author of Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play
20. Speak at an event
Being a speaker at a physical event can yield highly qualified leads because as a presenter, you hold a position of authority. If the talk goes well, you’re sure to find prospects afterwards and you can use these connections to find even more leads.
As part of the marketing plan that drove 100,000 new users in just two years, CrazyEgg founders would speak at any and all marketing events that would have them. Not all the events matched up perfectly with the product, but each one brought in new customers.
Using Referrals and Reviews for Lead Generation
21. Strategic partnerships
Businesses often create ecosystems of companies – whether affiliates or integrations partners – with lead-sharing programs as incentive.
The key to finding and building partnerships is to find larger companies who need what you do, then build your product into theirs using an API in return for advertisement of the integration on their site.
Partnerships may take time, but they can act as barriers to entry for competitors because your company will have a direct connection with a larger company that potential customers already use. And once they’re established, partnerships can drive leads for a long time.
22. Pro plans for influencers
Especially in the early stages of a company, having thought leaders as customers can drive hundreds of new signups. Don’t be stingy. Give away all of your product features to well respected bloggers and influencers and their communities will follow.
All you have to ask for in return is an honest review of your product. As long as you establish a decent relationship with the bloggers before asking for the review, you should be safe from getting blasted with bad reviews.
71% of B2B product purchases start on Google. If the first thing that comes up is a positive review for your product, that’s one point for you!
You likely understand the advantages of having a trustworthy site review your product and list it in their inventory, but how can you make it happen? Syndicated with sites like Business2Community, GetApp allows you to pay to get increased exposure across a portfolio of sites.
Mavenlink is a marketing SaaS company that thrives off of lead generation through external sources. With traffic coming from GetApp, they are generating tons of qualified leads, achieving an 11.9% conversion rate from click to trial. See that case study here.
24. Your email signature
If you’re anything like me, you send hundreds of emails every week. To get the most out of these emails, consider linking back to your site or landing page in your signature.
Like any organization, the British Red Cross must generate revenue (donations) somehow. One way they’ve collected leads is by adding links to donation pages in every employee’s email signature.
Prospects who engaged with employees using the modified signatures were 20% more likely to end up making a donation. Pretty impressive, right? Read all about that in detail here.
To make the tactic more scalable, get your customer service team use an email signature that says “refer a friend to get 15% off.” After all, your customer service team sends a ton of email and is in contact with a wide variety of people, making them an opportune group to use this method.
Services and Tools for Lead Generation
Assuming they had a positive experience, people who have already seen your website are warmer leads than those who have never been exposed to your brand. This is precisely why you should use AdRoll to “follow them” around the web and get them to come back and make a purchase.
26. The infamous pop-up
As much as I hate to put this one in here, in many cases, pop-ups have been known to increase opt-in rates.
In a case study on the AWeber blog, a niche website tested a sidebar alongside a pop-up signup form. Over the course of seven months, the pop-up collected 1,375% more subscribers.
If you’re going to test this out on your own site, here’s my advice: at the very least, make your pop-up look nice and make it easy to exit out of if the visitor isn’t interested.
I don’t like to encourage the renting or buying of email lists, but LaunchBit offers a viable alternative.
With their service, you can choose from a curated list of email newsletters and sponsor those that share your target customer. Sponsoring allows you to advertise your lead generation campaigns in email newsletters that matter to your target audience. LaunchBit screens all lists to make sure they’re legit and handles the transaction from sponsor to advertiser so the experience is smooth for all.
Kinvey used LaunchBit to promote its new ebook in an effort to generate new email subscriber leads. The campaign was so successful that they started naming LaunchBit the $3 machine because every time they put in $3, they got a lead.
28. Social hubs
You post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ all the time, but the lifespan of those posts is just over three hours on average.
If you’re looking to extend the life of your posts, you may want to consider a social hub to embed directly on your site. These hubs work by tiling your social posts into a grid. You can then insert CTAs within that grid to collect leads from your social content.
Uberflip, maker of lead-generating social hubs, put their money where their mouth is by converting their entire blog into a hub. The result was a 9x lift in email subscribers in the first month. Read all about it here.
Owned by Salesforce, Data.com is one of the largest databases of companies that exists today. It helps you streamline your lead generation by spending less time searching for new leads, ultimately giving you more time to interface with potential customers.
Nucleus Research used Data.com to identify and filter new sales leads quickly and precisely. This resulted in an ROI upwards of 200% and a massive increase in annual revenue. See the full case study here.
AdWords allows you to place forms right inside of a search ad. Although this works for collecting interested leads, it’s worth noting that email addresses are put in after just a small snippet of text (as shown below). This means that you won’t get the same qualification as you would from a landing page.
By sending AdWords traffic to a dedicated landing page, Red Oak apartments increased leads by close to 300%.
For a comprehensive guide on how to not waste your money on AdWords, follow this guide.
Drip is a great way to generate more leads from passive traffic. The service provides popup technology that isn’t too obtrusive. Drip will collect leads from interested users and funnel them into your email marketing program.
Temper.io, a subscription service that measures how customers feel about your business, used Drip to simply drive awareness about their email newsletter.
With Drip, Temper was able to generate over 1,000 new email subscribers in two months. These subscribers were then presented with special offers to transition them into paying plans.
Quizzes are surging in popularity, but in order for them to be an effective method for generating leads, they must be done right.
SkilledUp, one of my consultation clients, is an online courses site which holds the unofficial record for the most comprehensive Microsoft Excel guide on the internet. This whopper of a guide sees thousands of visits each week and helps people from all walks of life. Yet when it was first published, it wasn’t generating leads.
There are three things you must get right for a quiz to be effective:
- The user interface must be fluid and simple to use. No radio buttons allowed – they remind us of school quizzes.
- The topic has to be hyper-relevant to what you do (if you’re guilty of putting a superhero quiz on your clothing store website, just stop).
- There has to be a sufficient award at the end to warrant the collection of a lead.
Take the lead
A sales funnel filled with leads is a great way to validate that your marketing efforts are delivering value to your prospects. When lead generation is done successfully, everyone benefits.
As marketers, the pressure is always on us to deliver qualified leads into the sales department or through the sales funnel. We all understand the importance of lead generation – it’s coming up with fresh and effective ideas that can sometimes be tricky.
Have a lead generation tactic in your arsenal that I didn’t include? Share it in the comments!