Lead generation is a marketing process aimed at identifying and stimulating people’s interest in a particular product in order to develop a sales system. Leads are potential customers who have shown interest in your product/service by filling out a subscription form but have not yet made a buying decision. Thus, you still have to sell it to them.

Lead generation consists of the following stages: 

  • Attracting visitors to the site; 
  • Collecting visitor contacts; 
  • Converting leads to customers ; 
  • Working with customers to increase loyalty.

With lead generation, marketers seek to “energize” their target audience and smoothly guide their customers to make a purchase. Another goal of lead generation is to attract users interested in the products/services of the brand.

Leads can be generated using a variety of sources and tools, such as reference links, phone calls, live chats, contests, influencers, ads, newsletters, landing pages, feedback forms, etc. 

Today’s customers are active online users who are also mobile and quite tech-savvy. They can always get online, search, find, and analyze the content they find useful and attractive. In exchange for useful material, they can provide some information about themselves. After this small step, which is called conversion, a regular site visitor becomes your lead. 

This whole process is called lead generation. If you want to generate leads en masse, you must develop high-quality content that will be attractive and valuable enough to make your site visitors want to share their personal information with you.

Why you need lead generation

Lead generation is one of the most critical steps in customer relationships. The reason for that is that you often have only one chance to get a lead. This is why it’s essential to get information about your site visitors before they leave (and, probably, never come back again). Otherwise, you risk wasting all the money spent on attracting these visitors to your site.

The goal of lead generation is not to gather as many contacts as possible but to attract potential customers who are interested in, need, and ready to pay for your product/service.

Lead scoring is a methodology used by sales and marketing departments to determine the worthiness of leads, or potential customers, by attaching values to them based on their behavior relating to their interest in products or services.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing and reinforcing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel

How lead generation works

According to the inbound marketing methodology, lead generation happens in the following three stages:

  • Acquaintance. A site visitors learns about the brand through various marketing channels, e.g. blogs, social media, or business websites;
  • Call to action (CTA). This can be a button, message, a direct call widget, icon, or image that encourages the visitor to take advantage of the offer;
  • Landing page. This page collects useful information about potential customers and builds a database, providing site visitors with favorable offers in exchange.

Such offers must necessarily carry a certain value. It can be an educational course, an original template, or an ebook. In order to leave their personal information, site visitors need to feel that they are making a profitable deal. This is where the simplicity and convenience of the subscription form plays a huge role – it should be visible and clear. After all, it is with its help that the exchange of information, valuable to both parties, will take place. And although today registration forms can be placed anywhere on the website, landing pages are still the best for this.

Why lead generation is so important

So, the lead generator collects valuable information, i.e. names and email addresses of site visitors, which can then be used for a more direct lead nurturing. The point is that instead of acting at random, you reach out to people who have already shown an interest in your product/service. Thus, the chances of making a deal with such people are disproportionately higher. According to research, modern companies find up to 60% of their customers this way, and these leads are twice as profitable as those generated by traditional methods.

In addition to higher conversion rates, lead generation strategies can also be a cost-effective solution since they focus on the coordinated work of the marketing and sales departments. In addition, you can always outsource lead generation to a more experienced agency.

The question is: what lead generation strategies can be started immediately in order to massively convert leads into paying customers and increase your profit?

Here are 10 effective strategies for startups that you can implement in your marketing today.

Top 10 Lead Generation Strategies for Startups

1. Lead Generation in Social Mediа

Social media is a powerful tool for lead generation, but only if you use it correctly. Do you establish a strong and trusting relationship with your audience in this environment? Do you engage in dialogue at the right time and on the right platforms, i.e. that are most preferred by your potential customers?

Everyone knows that social media marketing (SMM) is a dynamic industry. Many B2B marketers are fully aware of the need for a company’s social media presence because the quality of its overall web presence depends on it. Some marketers also seek to make SMM part of their overall lead generation strategy.

Social media is slowly becoming a staple of the marketing industry. Take LinkedIn lead generation, for example: the platform becomes an invaluable tool for marketers looking to bring in new leads.

And utilizing a LinkedIn lead generation strategy is a good way to promote your brand and connect with the target audience through using content retargeting, personalizing your outreach or providing value to your prospects to warm them up.

With more customers and increased revenue as the end goal, it’s no wonder all B2B businesses strive for making social media part of the overall marketing strategy. 

It should be noted that the budgets allocated to inbound marketing are getting larger year after year. The growing importance of social media appears to reflect the expansion of platforms, changes in the shopping experience, better ROI (Recurring Operating Income) tracking, and the emergence of marketing automation capabilities.

Everyone knows that people prefer to do business with someone they trust and to earn that trust, you’ll need to be where your target audience is. But how exactly can social media help you successfully apply the mass lead generation model?

  • Promoting gated content

Gated content is any type of content presentation that your visitors can access after performing a certain action on the site. Typically, visitors should enter their email address or any other contact information. The easiest way to implement this method in social networks is to share a piece of content (e.g. a long blog post, a webinar, or an ebook) with a link to your landing page. The scenario is as follows: people are interested in the piece of material presented, they click on the link to read the whole article, and get directed to the landing page. This is the gateway. To access all of the material, they will have to provide the requested personal information or sign up.

  • Contests

Contests are an easy way to get the attention of potential leads and collect a large base of email addresses. The trick is to be able to offer people something about your service or product, i.e. samples. For example, it can be a free trial or some kind of upgrade that improves the features of the main offer. People who participate on social media are often genuinely interested in your product.

  • Social media advertising

The main advantage of social media advertising campaigns is the targeting capabilities. You can easily divide your target audience into several segments and address each of them with a unique offer. Alternatively, you can form a group of recipients of your advertising message, which best matches your type of buyers. Anyone who clicked on your ad can be considered a lead.

  • Listening to your TA

This is another great tactic you can use. It includes everything from actively participating in specific Facebook groups to creating search streams on Twitter. Compared to other lead generation methods, this approach won’t allow you to collect a large amount of data. However, you can make direct contact with potential customers and learn a lot about what they see as the benefits of your offer, as well as learn about its disadvantages, how your customers perceive your company in general, etc.

2. Webinars for Lead Scoring

Educating leads, making them more aware of your product is another mass lead generation strategy. Do you tell potential customers about your offer and demonstrate its value? Do you explain why it’s the best?

It really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in because webinars are a really powerful method of generating leads and an effective means of user retention.

Webinars can help you make all the content you produce authoritative by “packaging” it in a format that’s popular with your audience. It’s also your perfect chance to showcase your personality and gain the trust of your audience.

If you’re not already using webinars to nurture leads, check out these three reasons that will convince you to do so right away.

  • Training

An informed (trained) lead may well become an engaged lead. Webinars are a great way to transfer knowledge because they allow a variety of learning styles. They should be informative and positioned as master classes. That said, a webinar should not look like a commercial – the goal is to inform, not to sell.

  • Development

Lead generation marketing is about reaching new markets. Although people may not be familiar with your business, they may be interested in your webinar topic. Google favors multimedia, therefore, this form of content has a better chance of ranking first. Thus, when potential leads are looking for more information about your industry, business, and existing offers, Google will suggest your webinar to them. People who come from organic search are much more active and willing to look for solutions to their problems, which means it’s easier to convert them.

  • Evergreen content

Evergreen content refers to content that stays relevant over time. It’s perfect for webinars because you can start conversations about these subjects over and over again. Once you’ve hosted and recorded a webinar, you can upload it to Vimeo or YouTube to increase online lead generation.

After posting your webinar, you will need to include all the leads you attracted in the nurturing process. Just keep emailing them additional content.

3. Outbound Marketing Tactics

What marketing channel or method provides you with the best results?

Inbound marketing techniques such as content marketing and SMM are fairly reliable, but their results should be maximized in every way possible. However, if you want to ensure consistent growth across all targets and unrelenting demand for your product, you need to complement your inbound tactics with outbound ones. In other words, you have to diversify your lead generation model.

  • Inbound marketing is what this article is about, referring to an approach, a strategy, not just a list of tactics. In essence, it’s about attracting potential customers to your business, not searching for them. Today’s businesses use organic search traffic, content marketing, and actively sign people up for their newsletters. 
  • Outbound marketing, on the other hand, includes traditional forms of marketing such as cold calls (AKA outbound sales calls), emails, trade shows, TV commercials, radio ads, and promotional texts. 

So how do you combine both of them?

Email marketing is alive and well, and it can be both outbound and inbound. We’ll look at it in more detail in a separate strategy. For now, here’s something to consider.

  • Outbound email marketing is when you send your emails to a contact database that you have bought. 
  • Inbound email marketing is when, instead of unknown recipients, you send your emails to people who have previously subscribed to your newsletter and therefore agreed to receive material from you. 

While many may consider outbound email marketing an inappropriate tactic, there are times when buying a contact database is actually a good idea. The trick is to buy the contact information of those people who have given their consent to share personal information with third parties. With that said, buying a contact database makes sense when:

  • You launch a startup;
  • You enter a new industry and do not yet have any clients;
  • Your target audience is in a particular area (city, region);
  • You try to reach a specific audience.

There are good reasons to buy contacts for each of these cases, provided you already have interesting and engaging content that matches the interests of the audience you intend to reach.

Stick to the “less is better” rule when buying the database. Sending out emails to a large number of people is a risky business – if enough people mark your emails as spam, your domain will be blacklisted. Moreover, your email provider may even block your account. Thus, include up to 1,000 contacts in your newsletter.

4. Blog as Lead Generator

Everyone is blogging today. But this is, in some way, a type of art that requires a skill. You can’t just sit down, type a few thousand words, and hope for the best. The following techniques and tricks can help you increase the effectiveness of your blog posts in mass lead generation:

  • Call to Action (CTA). This is the most important part of a blog that exists to generate leads. CTAs get readers to act and are usually placed on landing pages or in ads, but your blog posts need them, too;
  • Exclusive offers. Exclusive content is the trick that will allow you to seamlessly gather your readers’ contact information. The key is to make sure your content is truly useful and meets the needs of your audience. You can then make your content available only to subscribers, i.e. members of your community;
  • Super offers. If you own an online store, you can give the lead generation process a boost by offering your blog readers to buy something at an incredible discount. For example, if someone subscribes to your newsletter or signs up for an upcoming webinar, send them a text message describing the offer. From then on, they will most likely try not to miss a single message from you;
  • Free downloads. If your blog posts are rich in content, with lots of illustrations, infographics, case studies, it will be quite difficult for readers to “digest” all the material at once. Offer all potential subscribers to download a shorter version of the content in exchange for some personal information, of course;
  • Margin banners. These clickable elements provide some sort of integrity for a blog. They are usually not really flashy and located in the margin of your website along with CTAs, urging your readers to subscribe or download something. This is one of the most popular methods of generating leads, and you should definitely make the most of it.
  • Influencers. Reach out to industry influencers for support. Make a statement. The more reposts of their content you make, the more comments you leave, the better chance they’ll start to recognize your photo or logo. When you’re ready, offer them guest blogging or any other form of collaboration. You can find information about micro-influencers on Instagram and how to find them for your niche;
  • Time-delayed popups. How often have you clicked on a post and saw a popup offering you to subscribe to a newsletter or download something? Delayed popups are your blog elements that your readers see after spending some time on the webpage. Consider the average time your visitors spend on the website and use delayed popups wisely.

Your job is to master lead-generating blogging skills as soon as possible. Then your lead generation scope will be much larger. However, don’t forget that the content you publish should be well optimized.

5. Conversion optimization for demand generation

A well-optimized website can convert a significant percentage of its visitors. Even the most aesthetically unappealing web pages can convert visitors if they’re properly optimized.

But is everything okay with your resource?

While search engine optimization is notorious (largely due to unscrupulous marketers who use not the most conscientious SEO techniques), it’s still a significant part of lead generation models. And that’s because high rankings in search results ensure good visibility of landing pages and websites. This in turn generates a satisfactory number of leads.

SEO today is not just about optimization for high-frequency search queries. It has become a more comprehensive tool that combines search, social, and content marketing techniques.

If you’re looking to optimize your site to maintain a high level of demand, you must use keyword research and analysis to compile a list of targeted search targets. Then use those keywords to generate attention-grabbing headlines. Meta tags are very important in increasing click-through rates (CTRs), and you should pay attention to them, as well.

6. Capturing leads

Did you know that most visitors will probably never visit your site again unless you convince them to share some personal information? And the best thing you can ask for is their email address. However, not all visitors will be willing to provide it. Many will associate a common “Sign up now” CTA with the “Get ready for spam, buddy!” statement. In this situation, marketers have to find new ways to generate leads.

If you want to achieve targeted results and get as much information about the visitor as possible, do not break the following rules:

  • Give something of value before asking for information;
  • Every step of your marketing process, from promotions to commercials, should provide value.

Years ago, an email inbox was sort of a luxury item – any information you wanted was delivered directly to you. Those days are gone, and now we just choke on the abundance of content around us.

Cleaning out our spam folders and installing popup blockers, we swear we’ll never sign up for anything ever again. In this situation, marketers need to find a way around this distrust and ask for contact information in a way that doesn’t cause annoyance and frustration. And that way has been found – give something before you ask for something. The best way to do this is with so-called lead magnets or any valuable information that you exchange for the contact information.

Social network posts, blogs, webinars can all be considered lead magnets, but you can also try the following options:

  • Ebooks;
  • Tips and recommendations;
  • Training and how-to videos;
  • Interviews with experts;
  • Free trial periods;
  • Surveys and research.

The goal of a lead magnet is to get permission from your visitors to continue the dialogue. Free educational/instructional tools give your visitors confidence in your offerings and allow raising awareness of your product. This is how you can get their contact information.

If you haven’t done any of the above, it’s time to rethink your policy.

7. Email Marketing. Content and Engagement.

Strategy #3 pointed out that email marketing is too early to be forgotten. Emails allow you to reach your potential customer directly. Plus, if you have an offer that perfectly fits the person’s interests, they will definitely click on the link, go to your landing page, and take advantage of the offer.

We have already mentioned the advantages of newsletters, but nothing has been said about content and engagement.

Sending out the same emails to the entire database will not work today. If you want to generate leads, you will not only need to choose content that is relevant to the recipient’s interests but will also have to email it to them at the right time. This is easier to do with marketing automation software solutions. Such tools will allow you to offer relevant information to various categories of buyers and reach completely new levels of communication. For example, your audience will include those who may be interested in free downloads and those who are waiting for better deals or discounts to purchase your product.

For each specific segment of the audience, you can formulate your own version of an offer, and this fact will not go unnoticed. Even better you can create a separate landing page for each lead-magnet with the right website builder at hands (e.g. Wix, Instapage, Leadpages, or Unbounce). Just choose an available template and customize it to your liking. The functionality and numerous integrations of your chosen platform will allow automating your marketing as much as possible.

By personalizing emails and delivering them to your potential customers fast, you can create a memorable user experience and give people a reason to take action. A personalized experience will convert more leads into knowledgeable and informed potential clients willing to spend money on your product or service.

8. Content Marketing

It may be overloaded with meaning, secondary, and predictable, but the content remains the most important aspect of the mass lead generation model. Content is like bricks you use to build a house. It can be the tools you use to generate traffic, including SEO, blogs, webinars, and social media posts.

Marketers tend to agree that due to the ongoing pandemic, the demand for information has increased dramatically lately and continues to grow. Thus, creating unique, educational, and engaging content is an important part of building a reputation as an industry business leader.

We live in a world that consumes a tremendous amount of content every day, so it’s surprising to hear that only 30% of marketers talk about successfully organized content marketing in their companies. 

More than half (55%) of B2B marketers aren’t even sure what constitutes success in content marketing. Naturally, this leads to missed opportunities in lead generation and poor conversion rates. Consequently, it’s important to be able to create material that will serve a specific purpose. Otherwise, it’s not content marketing but simply content. Your words must engage people in interaction – only then can your content be considered a lead generator.

Speaking of engagement, what about influencers (i.e. a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media)? Did you contact them? Do you reach out to other people’s audiences? We hope you do! 

The potential for lead generation is simply enormous.

9. Influence Marketing

Strategy #4 addressed the importance of collaborating with industry influencers. Positive feedback from such a person about your product or service can easily increase the number of leads you generate. The way to proceed is to first establish a business relationship with an influencer and to get the opportunity to reach out to his or her audience with your offer.

But here is what marketers don’t understand: all relationships must be built on a win-win basis. The benefits to you and your business should be clear, but the same should be true for your partner and their audience.

Effective influencer marketing begins with goal setting. As with any lead generation tactic, you need a plan or a strategy that will lead you in the right direction. Understand your goals and what you can achieve by reaching out to influencers in your industry.

Influencer marketing is like the Holy Grail for anyone involved in lead generation. You can use influencers as channels to distribute your much-valued content. Co-creating content with an influencer is mutually beneficial since you both share your audience with each other. Do you still have doubts that this is a mutually beneficial strategy?

10. Hosting Podcasts

Podcasts are another popular area of business. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t take advantage of hosting them for the sake of growing your business. If you’re not yet hosting your own podcast, let’s discuss how it can lead you to success in lead generation.

Many successful companies successfully use this tool as a powerful lead generator. If you’ve tried hosting a podcast before, but the results were not satisfying, you might want to seriously rethink your approach to podcasting.

People listen to podcasts because it’s easy. Audio format is especially good for people who aren’t used to sitting still or have their eyes tired after work. Podcasts can easily add to your contact base. 

Studies have proven that those subscribers who were attracted by podcasts are more willing to read emails sent to them and consider offers in those emails.

Creating a podcast is easy, just as making a mistake, though. For example, you can forget to include a registration form or make it too complicated. You can direct your listeners to the site and tell them to enter their email address into the subscription form at the top of the site to get access to your downloadable content. But that’s very complicated. People listen to podcasts on the go when they’re busy at the gym, driving somewhere, etc. Thus, asking them to go to your website, fill out a form, or even click a button is not really a good idea. Sounds like too much for someone who just wants to listen to a podcast.

Usually, people listen to podcasts because they genuinely believe that they will present them with some valuable insights. So a lead magnet, like a landing page or a specific CTA that adds value to the podcast, is more likely to convince them to fill out the form. Placing a podcast on a landing page, which should definitely be optimized for mobile devices, increases the likelihood of this happening. The key is to make sure the URL leads exclusively to the landing page.

Don’t miss out on working with mobile users either, you can collect their contact data via text messages. For example, a lead can send a specific word to a given number and get a message encouraging them to share their contact information in response. Once done, they’ll get on your list. It’s both easy and time-efficient for your listeners.

Don’t forget to make each offer enticing. Avoid CTAs like “Support my show” or “Share this podcast.” Think of a truly powerful offer so they won’t hesitate long and will try not to miss out on any of your future offers.

Conclusion

If your lead generation experience was unsuccessful, you need to try again, using the strategies described above.

The biggest challenge in lead generation is, obviously, leads themselves. No leads -> no customers -> no profits.

The second challenge is planning lead generation strategies based on very little information. Determining what the best strategy is quite difficult. This is due to the fact that the Internet is extremely saturated with content, social media platforms, and influencers. An effective lead generation strategy involves a number of activities to be carefully examined and tested to make sure they are right for your business.

Before you get down to implementing your new strategy, focus on the buyer persona. Once you have a perfect image of your customer, you will be able to precisely direct your marketing efforts to specific audiences.

Implementing a lead generation strategy without online services, apps, and tools can be difficult. Today, there are so many platforms that will help any marketer. You no longer need to turn to a variety of third-party tools – just choose a universal all-in-one platform with all necessary features, integration capabilities, analytics tools, etc. and build your future!

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