What are the Best Lead Generation Strategies?
The first step in getting leads is figuring out how exactly to capture your customers’ information on your website — email address, name and phone numbers.
Once you have a mechanism for capturing leads with lead generation software, you need to start testing tactics.
Now, keep in mind, all the tactics below WILL work with some amount of time and resourcing, but the key is narrowing it down to the lowest hanging fruit — the handful of tactics that will have the highest impact with the lowest lift and ad spend. Your time and money is valuable. So choose wisely!
1. Seal 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 improve your lead generation efforts by spending some time optimizing your landing pages, website, and sign-up funnel.
- A/B test: use a free tool like Google Optimize to test key features of your website or signup flow and find winning variants.
- Use social proof logos: add the logos of any big press mentions, clients, or agency partners.
- Testimonials: humans love testimonials. It gives us confidence that others have purchased the product and love it.
- Create urgency (when reasonable): use a tool like Proof — a pop-up with countdowns and other “urgency creating” features.
- Use exit intent popups: if they don’t buy, at least try and capture their email address as they leave the site.
- Use live chat: I’ve seen it increase conversion rates by up to 8%.
- Track your funnel: create a simple marketing dashboard to track the checkpoints in your sales the funnel and figure out where the “leaky bucket” moments are.
- Test eliminating funnel steps: if your funnel is 1) “fill out a form” 2) “book a call.” How about skipping the form fill and prompting your customers to simply book a call right away? It never hurts to test!
Don’t underestimate the power of a good funnel. It can be the difference between acquiring customers quickly/profitably and confusing/losing them.
Search engine optimization (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.
We’ve been extremely successful with SEO and are now seeing over 55,000 organic visitors a month.
I could write a thousand blog posts on search engine optimization, but suffice it to say, SEO is the holy grail of digital marketing. You just need an SEO software tool and the drive to create content and get backlinks.
3. The Competitive Review Hack
You’re likely 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. After all, your competitors’ customers could be your customer!
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:
- If you’re in the software industry, it’s likely that your competitors’ tools are getting reviewed on G2Crowd or Capterra. If you’re a local provider, check out Yelp to find a treasure trove of your competitors’ customers. Be creative! Find out where your target customer is reviewing your competitors’ offering.
- 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. In your outreach, give them a call to action. “Book a phone call” or “enter your email” are tried and true ones.
4. The Content Play
From my experience with lead generation, nothing works better than the content play — particularly for sales-oriented companies like B2B software, real estate businesses, and other traditionally “offline” businesses.
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.
- 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 marketing, 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 can agree on a blog post swap or even a co-branded product offering.
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.
What to “gate” and how to make it 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
- Podcast recording
For example, I write a lot of content about webinar marketing, because it’s one of my favorite growth tactics. 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 inbox. Now I have the chance to nurture this lead into becoming a customer.
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 facilitate a smooth sales process.
I use Mailchimp or ConvertKit to create an email on-boarding sequence that automatically gets triggered anytime an inbound lead enters my funnel. This sequence of nurture emails can be anywhere from a one email long to many, many emails long. One iteration of our Growth Marketing email series had 25 emails that went out over the course of 4 months.
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
- If your goal is to schedule meetings or demos, use a tool like Calendly or a Calendly alternative.
- Front load your best content early on (the best open rates are in day 1 and 2)
- Less is more. Keep the emails concise. If it’s a long email, it better be super valuable.
- Skip spaces between sentences so it’s easy to read on mobile
- Identify a pain point that your product/service solves and tell a story that your user might personally relate to, in order to sell your product
- Provide social proof (customer testimonials, quantify past results)
5. Conferences Done Right
Conferences are a type of field marketing. It might sound a little lamer than a digital channel, but conferences can be extremely effective.
But there’s a zillion conferences. 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.