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When it comes to lead generation strategies, I know what works.
In this post, I speak from first-hand experience acquiring leads at…
- Venture-backed startups in San Francisco
- 600+ small businesses and startups I’ve consulted for
- This blog, Growth Marketing Pro
And, my cofounder, Mark and I have growth Growth Marketing Pro into a six-figure passive income business in 18 months, with super savvy lead generation tactics (which we’ll share below).
Table of Contents
The Best Lead Generation Strategies
The first step in getting leads is figuring out how exactly to capture customer information on your website — email addresses, names and phone numbers.
Read: How to Capture Email Leads for more on that.
One of our favorite tools for capturing leads fast is Instapage. Learn more about it here.
Once you have a mechanism for getting the leads, you need to start testing tactics.
Now, keep in mind, all the tactics below WILL work with some amount of time and resources, but the key is narrowing it down to the lowest handing fruit — the handful of tactics that will have the highest impact with the lowest lift. In order to figure that out, we use our Weighted Growth Hacking Formula. Learn how to grow your business by watching our Free Growth Movie.
Let’s dive right in to lead generation strategy #1…
1. Sealing the Leaky Bucket
When it comes to customer acquisition, we’re often so caught up in testing the next growth tactic, that we forget the opportunity that is sitting right in front of our faces — optimizing our own funnel a.k.a. “sealing the leaky bucket”.
You can vastly improve your lead generation efforts by spending some time optimizing your landing pages and sign-up funnel.
Landing Page Optimization
All of your marketing efforts will be either hindered or magnified depending on how well your landing pages are optimized for conversions.
Running careful A/B tests might be the key to unlocking additional revenue for your business, without spending a time.
A/B test your landing pages
For example, I once ran a simple A/B test on my homepage where I learned that adding “social proof logos” above the fold increased our conversion rate by over 30%.
What do I mean by social proof logos?
- Have you or your company been mentioned in the press before? For example Forbes, Huffington Post, Yahoo. Use those logos.
- Do you have big name clients you’ve worked with in the past? Use those logos
- Does your agency run ads through Facebook, Google, Linkedin, etc.? Use those logos
- Have a testimonial from someone who works at a company with a recognizable brand? Use that logo next to the testimonial
- Is your company accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? Use that logo.
People are skeptical about the internet.
They’re not going to buy from you unless they feel secure. Unless they’re sure you’re legit.
When you show them those recognizable brand names on your site, you’ve just knocked down an enormous barrier by giving them reassurance and making them feel safe.
Now they’re at least 30% more likely to take action.
Tools to improve landing page optimization
- Instapage – landing page builder that includes A/B testing functionality
- Proof – a pop-up that creates urgency and provides social proof that increases conversions.
- Leadformly – high-converting lead forms
- Google Optimizer – free tool for A/B testing
- CrazyEgg – heatmaps and videos that show user behavior on-page
- CallPage – improves website conversions via instant callbacks
Optimization = More Revenue
Let’s pretend you spend $3,000 to send 1,000 people to your landing page at a cost of $3 per visit. If your form converts at 1% you’ll get 10 leads at a cost per lead of $300.
However if you use a tool like Leadformly to optimize your form and increase the conversion rate to 3%, you’d receive 30 leads at a cost per lead of $100.
That’s 3X more leads for the same amount of money – just by improving your lead generation software.
Don’t send paid traffic to your homepage
This might sound surprising, but when I run Facebook or Google Ads, I don’t link those ads to my homepage. I always paid marketing traffic to a separate Instapage landing page rather than to my website homepage.
Most homepages are a terrible place to send traffic.
Why? Because they are not optimized for conversions.
Homepages usually include lots of information about a business, like long menus with links to pricing information, career pages, and “About us” pages.
When you’re spending money on ads, you want to make sure that paid traffic is taking ONE desired action. The best landing pages have ONE call to action that is clear from the moment you land on the page. The more links and menu options that are available to click, the less likely a visitor will take the ONE action you really want them to take.
Keep it to ONE call to action per landing page.
Less is more.
While it’s important to look closely at your landing pages, you also want to be tracking every step of your marketing funnel to ensure you don’t have a “leaky bucket”.
For example, take a careful look at your signup flow. This is the gate at which someone enters your funnel. How many steps does it take for someone to make it into your funnel?
You may be surprised to learn you are losing leads because of an inefficient signup flow.
For example, here’s an A/B test I ran while working on B2B lead generation with a “Schedule a demo” call to action:
- Flow #1- Fill out a signup form, then book a meeting via Calendly.
- Flow #2- Click straight to Calendly to book a meeting.
The result? Flow #2 converted 4X better than flow #1
Flow #1 conversion rate = 7% Flow #2 conversion rate = 34%
It’s discoveries like these that can make all the difference.
*Keep in mind, you may sometimes need to have support from an engineer and/or a product person in order to make these changes to your website.
2. The Content Play
From my experience with lead generation, nothing works better than The Content Play — particularly for sales-oriented companies like B2B tech companies, real estate businesses and other traditionally “offline” businesses.
Learn more about content marketing here.
Site Traffic + Gated Content + Email Nurture
The Content Play is simple.
- Get traffic to your website.
- Capture as many emails as you can using gated content.
- Funnel those emails into an email nurture campaign where they will be encouraged to take your desired call to action.
How to Get Traffic To Your Website
There are three ways to get inbound traffic to your website.
- SEO: SEO traffic is ideal because it’s free. Users who land on your website via search will have high intent to purchase as long as you’re creating the right type of content for your business. If your industry has keywords with high search volume, SEO might be a great inbound marketing channel for you. Click here to find out if SEO will work for your business.
- Paid Ads: If you have budget to spend on marketing, paid ads are a great way to guarantee targeted traffic to your website. For B2B lead generation, some of the paid channels that work best are Facebook ads, Google ads, Linkedin ads and native ads. If your budget is limited, then you might consider retargeting ads as it is a great way to stay top of mind with people who have already visited your website by following them all over the internet.
- Partnerships: Partnerships can be a great way to drive free traffic to your site. Find complementary businesses in your space who are not competitors, and turn them into a partner. From there, you can work together to create content that will give you the opportunity to get in front of each other’s audience for free. For example, you might decide to create a co-branded webinar together or a piece of gated content or you may agree on a blog post swap or even a co-branded product offering. This is a mutually beneficial opportunity for lead generation as long as both partners agree to email their list and post to social media. *** Pro tip: Partnerships are even more effective when you know which customers and target accounts you already have in common. A shared customer list is valuable for generating customer testimonials and a shared target account list is valuable for teaming together on a co-branded offering that is discounted or bundled. This tool lets you match your contact lists with partners, without giving up your data — it only share matches.
How to Capture Emails with Gated Content
Now that you have inbound marketing driving traffic to your website, you need a way to capture this traffic before they bounce right off the page.
The best way to do this is by luring them in with an appealing piece of content. This appealing piece of content you create, will only be available in exchange for an email address. This is how you generate leads.
How do you make your content appealing?
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What are some of problems they are facing? Can you help your customer solve a problem they are having?
You can help by offering a free piece of content in exchange for their email address:
- a helpful guide
For example, I write a lot of content about webinar marketing because it is my favorite growth tactic. I offer my readers a webinar script that they can download for free. This mutually beneficial because they get access to this very helpful tool and I get access to their email address. Now I have the chance to nurture this lead into becoming a customer.
Don’t let them leave without downloading your gated content
Make sure that everyone who visits your blog or website has a chance to download your gated content. There are a number of ways you can make this call to action more visible:
- Use Hellobar to add a sticky bar to the top of your website and create an exit intent pop-up.
- Add an email capture field to your homepage.
- Add call to action buttons throughout your website and blog posts.
- Pro tip: Use paid ads to amplify lead generation with gated content. For example Facebook or Linkedin have “Lead ads” that are optimized for collecting leads on the spot with gated content.
How to Use Email to Nurture Your Leads
Email marketing is a very powerful and affordable tool that doesn’t get enough credit. Once you’ve generated an inbound lead, use email as an opportunity to build a relationship with your leads, convert them into customers and improve your sales process.
I use Mailchimp to create an email on-boarding sequence that automatically gets triggered anytime an inbound lead enters my funnel. This list of nurture emails can be anywhere from a few emails long to a few hundred emails long, but best to make sure your leads are at least covered for the first month or two.
Here are some best practices that may help you get started building your series of on-boarding emails:
- Include ONE call to action in every email
- Front load your best content early on (the best open rates are in day 1 and 2)
- Less is more. Keep the emails very short.
- Skip spaces between sentences so it’s easy to read on mobile.
- Introduce yourself / your company
- Explain how it works
- Identify a pain point that your product/service solves
- Provide social proof (customer testimonials, quantify past results)
- Provide education material or interesting stats about your space
- Share a blog post or webinar invitation
3. Going Old School with Direct Mail
When it comes to generating leads, it is often true that multiple channels must work together in unison to create conversions.
One magical combination that consistently results in positive ROI is using account based marketing (ABM) to identify a target list and hitting them with display ads, emails and direct mail, in that order.
Display Ads + Email + Direct Mail
I’ve seen this strategy used to drive revenue from $1M to over $20M ARR:
- Work with your sales team to identify an email list of target accounts.
- Upload the list of emails to Facebook and Linkedin, making sure that your target accounts are seeing your ads everywhere they go.
- Send an email to your target accounts, letting them know a gift package is on the way.
- Deliver a direct mail package that includes a small gift and incentivize them to take action, for example offer them a $50 Amazon gift if they schedule a demo call.
This is a beautiful example of sales and marketing working together in unison to drive targeted prospects down the funnel and creating qualified opportunities.
If you’re interested in incorporating direct mail into your inbound strategy? Email me at [email protected] and I will introduce you to a genius who will implement this entire process for you.
4. The LinkedIn Growth Funnel
LinkedIn has proven itself to be an incredibly strong channel for lead generation and other traditionally “offline” businesses.
And I’m not talking about LinkedIn ads.
I’m talking about using LinkedIn as the free social networking platform that it is, and connecting with your target clients along with a personalized message.
However, doing this one-by-one is time consuming. So I’ve found a convenient way to automate this.
Plus, this effort can be further amplified when coupled with Facebook retargeting and cold emails to create a conversion.
LinkedIn + Facebook + Cold Email
This triple threat is relatively easy to execute and extremely cost effective for generating qualified opportunities.
There are 3 steps involved in your Growth Funnel:
- Auto-Connect to your target audience on LinkedIn
- Retarget your Linkedin connections on Facebook & Instagram
- Send emails to your LinkedIn connections
5. The Competitive Review Hack (B2B software businesses only)
You’re likely are not the only one in your space. If you have competitors, then this growth hack is for you.
I first learned this genius lead generation hack from Melanie Fellay, Founder and CEO of Spekit.
This growth hack allows you to leverage review sites to identify the customers of your competitors and then target them with personalized emails and Linkedin messages.
This works whether the person’s review was positive or negative, it’s just a matter of personalizing the outreach to match the review.
Follow the directions below:
- Visit review sites like G2Crowd or Capterra to compile a list of your competitors.
- Find every person who has written a review about one of your competitors, and collect information about them in this spreadsheet so that you can draft a custom email for each person.
- For each individual review, fill in this spreadsheet with data about:
- First Name
- Last Name
- Email (You can find this easily with a tool like Clearbit)
- Linkedin URL
- Location (where is this person located?)
- Software Name (which tool did they review)
- Review (what was the comment they made in the review? Copy and paste it here)
- Key comment (one sentence from their review where they describe what they like or do not like about the software)
- Review site (Did this review come from “Capterra” or “G2Crowd”?)
- Review link (A URL link to the exact review)
- Feeling (Was the overall sentiment of the review “Positive”, “Negative” or “Neutral”?)
- Email Template (copy and paste one of the templates below depending on the “Feeling” of the review)
- Customized Template (using the content in Columns A-L, draft a personal feeling email in column O, using my templates for positive, negative and neutral emails provided in the spreadsheet)
- Send out personalized emails and LinkedIn connection requests and messages to all reviewers.
6. Conferences Done Right
However, sponsoring a conference is not always an ROI positive endeavor.
It can be hard to know:
- Which conferences are worth attending?
- Should you buy a ticket to attend the event or spend thousands sponsoring the conference?
- How do you measure ROI after the event is over?
To Attend or Sponsor?
As a company, you’ll always have the option to just attend a conference or sponsor a conference.
Attending conferences can be expensive. Tickets to most industry events can range from $300-$3,000, so if you decide to just attend, you’ll want to make sure that you or your team is maximizing their time there.
When thinking about whether it makes sense to sponsor or attend an event, these are the factors I think about:
- How many people will be at this event?
- Are the attendees within my targeted audience?
- What do I get for the sponsorship?
- How expensive is the sponsorship?
- How many people from my company do I plan on sending?
- Can I achieve the same results by just registering as an attendee?
The Most Valuable Sponsorships Include…
From my experience, the most valuable things I look for within a sponsorship package are live speaking opportunities and access to an attendee list. Getting mentioned in a press release is always valuable as well, since PR is one of the strongest marketing channels for a startup.
- Live speaking opportunities are important because they allow you to tell the story of your company directly to every person in the room. All the attendees get to know a face behind your brand and build a personal connection and familiarity with your product.
- Access to an attendee list is important because it allows you to communicate with attendees in advance of the event, set up face-to-face meetings during the event, and follow up with attendees again afterwards.
Have a conference coming up?
Share these best practices with your team
- Attend the conference! Unfortunately, we have had conferences that employees have skipped. I don’t need to say twice what an epic waste of money that is.
- Before the conference, ask for an attendee list. This allows you to set up meetings with highest ROI targets before attending. I can’t stress doing this enough.
- Engage: target your customer. Don’t waste your time on people outside your wheelhouse. Politely decline meetings and conversations with parties who will not produce value for the company.
- Record: collect business cards or have new clients sign up on an iPad (remember to record the “source” as “conference” in the signup flow if that’s an option).
- Follow up with your contacts. Immediately follow up with connections you have made. Keeping potential customers “warm” is supremely important.
- Give emails to the marketing team. You will hopefully collect contacts at the conferences. The marketing team can upload your contacts to an email list so that they begin receiving content and promotional emails. This creates a much greater chance of converting them into customers. Bad news: people won’t remember you! You have to reengage potential clients to make the most of conferences.
- Host additional events at the conference: smaller, more intimate events are sometimes best for making lasting business connections that have the highest probability of turning into customers. Host a dinner, breakfast or happy hour at the conference.
- Follow up with your marketing team & sales team after the conference. Reflect on how it went, how it can be improved and whether you should attend next year. This MUST happen.
7. High-Touch Events
High-touch events can be an effective acquisition channel to test.
By high-touch events, I mean engaging, premium events that your potential audience really remembers! Examples include intimate dinners or speaker + cocktails.
Brainstorm with your team about what kind of memorable experiences you can create. Make sure it’s something that your prospects won’t want to miss and will allow them to build a relationship with you and your brand.
Here’s an example procedure for creating a fireside chat event:
- Find a venue (Peerspace could be a good resource)
- Book a date
- Identify the “Know, Feel, Do” for the event
- What do you want people to know?
- How do you want people to feel?
- What do you want people to do? Have a clear call to action.
- Find a speaker or influencer to attend
- Someone engaging (look online to watch their past speaking engagements)
- 1 hour intro call with speaker to confirm they have juicy stories and are engaging.
- Ask lots of questions, take lots of notes, and use this to craft questions that will drive conversation at the event.
- Confirm event date with speaker
- Get bio from speaker
- Pull headshot from LinkedIn
- Come up with event title
- Create event page/invitation on Splash
- Send exclusive invitations out via email to a regional and hand-selected list of designers.
- Expect that 50%-60% of RSVPs will actually attend.
- Send a reminder one week before
- Send a reminder one day before
- Send a reminder morning of with details and address and time (subject: tomorrow)
- Send a reminder 1 hour before with details and address and time
- Consider purchasing branded swag to hand out as a giveaway at the event
- Assign someone to help with Registration, Name Tags
- Assign someone to help with Photography / hire a photographer
- Assign someone to help with Video / hire a videographer (so you have content documented from the event and can use that as a “gift” to share in your follow up emails)
- Assign someone to help with Sound / Microphone at the event, and also be the person who passes the mic around for questions during the Q & A
- Assign people to help with set up and clean up
- Assign someone to help with finding Sponsors / Partners (to help with cost if necessary)
- Read through notes and write up a list of interview questions to ask the speaker. Focus on questions that will pull out the juicy nuggets and stories.
- Send speaker your interview questions 1 week before
- Send an email the day before the event to get last minute signups
- Follow up after the event with pictures and videos taken from the event and make sure to include a clear call to action.
8. Seeding the Internet
One of the simplest things you can do to generate inbound marketing leads for your business is to “seed the internet”. This means posting about your business across relevant places on the internet for free.
There are plenty of free and easy way to spread the word about your business across the internet. It just takes a significant time investment from someone on your team.
The effectiveness will vary by site and can be unpredictable, but some premium sites you can engage on for free include: Reddit, Product Hunt, Quora, Facebook Groups, Google My Business, and Yelp.
Lower impact publications include blogs/articles, forums, Craigslist etc.
9. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a fantastic way to get leads in the door.
An affiliate marketing program is when you build partnerships with bloggers and influencers in your space that have an existing audience and agree to pay them per lead that they send to your site.
Pretty great, right?
Usually, you both sign an agreement in which the affiliate is paid at a flat rate per conversion, or at a percentage commission of closed deals. But sometimes, it’s a bit more casual… a friendly handshake agreement to pay $X for each converted lead.
It’s really up to you and what makes the most sense for your business.
Learn about how to set up an affiliate program and my amazing affiliate marketing growth hack here.
To build an affiliate program, simply reach out to influencers and bloggers in your space. Reach out to them on:
- A publication masthead
Wherever influencers in your space are… find them! Affiliates are basically digital partners. It’s not that complicated!
Search engine optimization, or SEO, still stands as one of the most scaleable, cost efficient ways to acquire customers.
Google has to prioritize websites somehow. Google users are much happier with an ordered list of the most relevant search results than with an unorganized list of 100,000 search results.
Great SEO’s know how to write and structure content to appear at the top of Google’s search engine results page.
What that means is that users will “organically” hit your website, giving you an opportunity to convert them into leads for your business using lead capture forms and tools like Hellobar.
I could write a thousand blog posts on search engine optimization, but suffice it to say, SEO is the holy grail of digital marketing.
Read: Will SEO Work for My Startup to understand SEO top to bottom.
Each of the lead generation strategies outlined above has produced incredible results for me. My hope is that you see the same results.
Need help implementing any of the tactics outlined above? We’ve got you covered. Schedule a Free 25 Minute Strategy Session with us.
*Articles on this blog contain affiliate links that GMP receives a small commission from at no cost to you. We only recommend tools we trust. And never ones we don't trust.