Let’s imagine that you meet an attractive stranger at a bar or coffee shop: you talk for an hour or two and, because you really hit it off, you want to jot down his number before he heads home for the night. Why? Because you know you need contact information to drive the relationship forward. So, if you’re wondering how to generate leads—that’s how it’s done. Whether you’re at a watering hole or wandering about on the world wide web, generating leads comes downs to collecting contact information so you have a way to follow up with after that initial meeting.
At this point, you’ve already spent time with your prospects, they’ve shown interest in you, and all that’s missing is the ability to nurture the casual acquaintance into something more.
Without leads, you’re stuck with nothing more than anonymous web traffic, which puts you in a frustratingly passive position: instead of following-up with valuable content and offers, you have to just cross your fingers and hope for a conversion. Collecting qualified leads is what puts you back in the driver’s seat of your business by allowing you to engage qualified customers, so you can start to pull them towards a sale. Without leads, your sales funnel is empty and no business can survive that kind of a dry spell.
But, you’re right, lead generation isn’t easy. In fact, it takes a brand an estimated 6 to 8 touches with a web user before even generating a viable sales lead that can convert. That means you need both a strong quantity and quality of leads that will move through a revenue-generating sales funnel.
So let’s dive in and explore how to generate leads effectively with 9 simple tips and tricks.
What is a lead?
Leads are prospective customers because they’ve found their way to your website or landing pages and, because of their engagement with your content, have demonstrated a good chance to become paying customers in the future.
As a business, when you actively generate leads, you’re seeking out a targeted market, serving them quality content, and actively collecting names and email addresses so that you can proactively stay in touch with those who have shown interest in your brand.
When a customer comes to your website or social media platform, they’re still anonymous visitors. Web traffic is not the same as leads. It’s only the first step.
It’s at the point at which a contact form is submitted and you collect contact information, that web visitors become a “lead” or prospective customer.
Think of a “lead” as someone your marketing campaign will actively lead through the customer journey (sales funnel) and towards a purchase and then towards becoming a life-long loyal customer.
Where are leads in the marketing funnel?
Before we go too deep, let’s envision a simplified marketing funnel with 3 stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.
At the top, you’re trying to get cold web traffic aware of your brand (AKA that you exist out there in the wild wild web). Then, as you produce additional content and get them to engage with it, you’ll begin converting cold traffic into leads and inviting them to consider the final points of what your business is and what you can do for them. And finally, lower down in the funnel, you’ll dig into the nitty-gritty details of your features/ benefits and how you compare to competitors in the marketplace and by doing so, you’ll invite your warm leads to make a purchase.
As you probably know, transforming web traffic into leads is perhaps the most critical aspect of your funnel. Why? Because it puts you in the driver’s seat and empowers you to proactively serve up content and create a relationship.
You could have thousands of impressions, but you need to transform them into leads in order to eventually convert sales. Leads are the pivotal moment where a customer proves that he or she is interested in your product and ready for a more targeted marketing campaign.
How exactly can you do that? Well – in a number of ways, but email is still #1. In fact, Rachel Craig with Can I Rank? stated, “Email marketing is the easiest and most cost-effective method for small businesses to convert leads into paying customers.”
That’s why lead generation and list building are so critical to keeping your small business afloat!
So in this article, we’ll focus specifically on how to generate leads (after you’ve already established awareness and early impressions of your brand). Today, it’s all about turning web traffic into leads (prospective buyers).
Make sure that you have a specific goal for your leads.
How many leads you have will directly determine the number of sales you’ll have. If you have a 3% conversion rate and want to get 50 new customers every week, then you need to have 1,667 leads to reach your desired conversion.
(Total leads x conversion percentage = # of customers)
After you’ve generated leads, it’s time to nurture your leads and hopefully get them to the point of purchase. Don’t let your leads sit on the vine, as we say. They need to be nurtured with regular content and conversation if they have any chance of turning into customers.
So what are the lead generation strategies you should consider to effectively boost your prospect list?
Here are 9 Strategies for How to Generate Leads (That Actually Matter)
#1 – Build a gate, but give them the key with lead magnets.
Lead magnets are any piece of free content that you provide some freebie in exchange for a website visitor’s contact info. Yes – it’s a strategy used far and wide because it really truly works to engage your audience and grow your email list. And we would (passionately) argue that lead magnets are the most basic and effective form of lead generation.
Lead magnets are sometimes referred to as “gated content” because the customer needs to input contact info before accessing the content (behind the gate of an opt-in form).
People are private. And most people won’t give away their personal information for free. However, the second that you provide something valuable that they want—and you provide it for free—they’re much more willing to give you their name and email address.
Make sure that the content you provide in your lead magnet solves some sort of pain point of your audience. The purpose of the downloadable content should not be to sell your product/ service, but to build your email list—so keep your focus on giving value first before you ask for value in return.
Lead magnets are valuable pieces of content that customers can typically access right away whether through a PDF, web page, or email access. The most common types of lead magnet content include:
- Checklists + tip sheets
- “Ultimate” guides
- Worksheets + templates
- Email courses
- Case studies
- Video training + courses
- Freebies (product samples, free trials, consultations)
- Launch previews
- Email subscriptions
For example, lead generation for a personal trainer might involve offering a free downloadable 7-day workout plan in exchange for your first name and email address.
Learn more about the ins and outs of effective lead magnets here.
#2 – Dig your feet in with a place for customers to land.
Similar to how sales pages generate sales, the purpose of most landing pages is to generate leads.
Landing pages are used to support advertising strategies. They collect the leads that come in from a specific marketing campaign.
For example, let’s imagine you’re running a Facebook sponsored ad to promote your webinar. When a user clicks on the Facebook ad, they’re redirected to a webinar landing page. The landing page directs the prospect to input an email to gain exclusive access to the webinar.
Make sure your landing pages are specifically designed to capture leads at every touch-point. This includes attractive landing page design, compelling copy, social proof, and a single call to action located in multiple places on the page.
The more landing pages you have, the more opportunities you create to capture leads.
Check out some of the most creative landing page examples to fuel your 2018 lead generation here.
#3 – Make their mouths water with blogs.
Oh, did you think the days of blogging for business had come to a close? Think again.
Certainly, a lot has changed on the digital landscape, but business blogs remain one of the best (most affordable) platforms for publishing content, gaining impressions, and capturing leads.
Business blogs still have a number of benefits because they can:
- Establish you as a thought leader in your industry
- Boost your web URL’s SEO (search engine optimization)
- Increase brand loyalty
- Encourage inbound traffic to your website
Blogging is also absolutely critical for lead generation. In fact, 69% of businesses attribute lead generation success to blogging.
So how can you use blogs to generate leads?
It starts with credibility and ends with a strong call to action.
First, blogging shows that you are a brand worthy of engaging with and purchasing from. Linda Formichelli with Commusoft sums it up well: “Get started now and be consistent. Regular posting shows your prospects that you’re trustworthy and reliable—so they’ll come to you when they’re ready to make a purchase.” They help establish your business as the ultimate source of information in your industry—and that trustworthiness lends itself well to sales.
One of the strongest lead generation strategies is using your blog’s call to action to attach your lead magnet. John Doherty, founder and CEO of Credo, advises, “Go into Google Analytics. Find your five most popular pieces of content. Then, spend an hour creating content ‘upgrades’ that you can use as downloadables. Once it’s live, have a follow-up sequence via email.”
Basically, this means your blog should give the audience just enough of a taste to make their mouths water… but don’t give them the full meal just yet. Once they give you their contact info, you’ll serve them with more in-depth content with a lead magnet like a downloadable book, template, or guide. Blogs should answer their question at the foundation and the lead magnet should solve their problem at a deeper root.
Tip: Don’t make your call to action a button that brings your customers to another page. Put the sign-up form directly on the blog itself, so they can quickly submit their information without being rerouted.
Not convinced that blogging will boost your leads? Check out this Leadpages case study of Spiro that shows a 50% increase in trial signups with blogging as a lead generation strategy.hos
#4 – Make a lasting first impression.
When determining how to generate leads online, you need to first increase the number of impressions and traffic that can become leads. You need to catch the oysters (traffic) before you can find the pearls (leads).
The most cost-effective way to do this is by juicing up your SEO (search engine optimization). This means you need to perform extensive keyword research on Google and other research tools like Moz or SEMrush.
Mallory Cates of Blue Compass added, “Use meta titles, meta descriptions, and headings to enhance your SEO value. Meta titles and descriptions appear in search results and are the perfect places to use your keywords to attract readers to your content.”
Not sure how to use SEO keywords and other tools? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Learn everything you need to know about landing page SEO here.
Another way to get more traffic to your site is with paid advertising. This includes sponsored posts on social media and search engines. These are great ways to target relevant web traffic sorted by demographic and interests. This brings in relevant traffic and impressions, which is more likely to generate the leads you need.
Facebook ads are an especially foolproof way to target the most relevant leads by age, location, interests, and more. If you want to learn how to generate leads on Facebook, check out Wishpond’s article “How To Generate Qualified Leads With Facebook Advertising.”
Remember that you don’t just want a high quantity of traffic. You want quality visitors who can potentially become leads. If you catch clams instead of oysters, you’ll never get pearls!
#5 – Host webinars to generate leads that convert into customers.
Webinars are a stronghold for both lead generation and conversions. Customers love webinars because they provide a direct form of communication and value. They feel as though they’re gaining access to exclusive, limited-time information.
Because of the strong reputation of webinars, customers are more willing to provide you with their email address in order to gain access to the webinar. They’ll do this on a landing page designed to drive webinar signups—which, in turn, drives leads.
Then, after the webinar, you can work on converting warm leads into paying customers. If your webinar offers enough value and personality, then your customers will be engaged enough to purchase or move to the next step in your sales funnel. Your webinar should finish with a link and CTA to a second landing page or a sales page so the prospect can seamlessly move into next steps.
This means that webinars can become your number one conversion tool. They start by generating leads and end by pushing customers through the sales funnel. This is one of the fastest lead generation strategies to improve your conversion rate.
#6 – Be (a little) mysterious.
Although email capture forms are necessary, they’re also becoming more and more common. Some websites have been using them to spam people, which has made users wary of giving out their information too frequently. Lead magnets work well because they provide legitimate value that your prospects are looking for in exchange for their precious contact info.
But sometimes that’s not enough. Remember that lead generation is like dating. Be a little mysterious and aloof, and you’re more likely to attract your “mate” or audience. Maybe curiosity killed the cat, but it definitely doesn’t hurt your copy!
We love this idea by Izaak Crook, content marketing manager at App Institute:
“Say something fairly ambiguous that will pique the reader’s curiosity. Try something like, ‘enter your email for a surprise.’ Naturally, people will want to know what your surprise is! Then, when you email them, the subject line could be, ‘Open for your surprise…’ The email can then offer something like a small discount, special offer code, or extended trial for your product or service.”
Note: Although curiosity is a strong marketing tactic, you don’t want to be too mysterious. Trust and transparency is still king, especially in today’s digital marketing landscape. Use questions and funny taglines to intrigue without misleading.
You don’t want to let that stranger leave the bar without getting their information—but you also don’t want to give them all you’ve got in the first meeting. Good marketing piques the customer’s interest and leaves them wanting to know more.
#7 – Transform every touchpoint into a lead.
Every time someone has a question about your business, product, or industry, you have the opportunity to not only answer their question but also to pull them into your sales funnel. This includes live chats, forums, help centers, and comments on social media. If someone even asks an applicable question on Quora, your business can answer to demonstrate credibility and authority.
If a prospect or customer is interacting with your business in some way, they’re already showing some level of interest in your product. Use that interest to generate a lead. You can send them to a specific landing page that answers their question and provides even more information with a lead magnet.
That means you need to train your customer service representatives to sell. They should be able to answer questions and resolve problems while also upgrading and selling your consumers.
For example, your customer service team might recommend additional resources that can be found on your blog. Or maybe they promote the benefits of an upgrade if a customer wants more out of their current offerings.
#8 – Wait, don’t leave: opt for exit and scroll popups.
Website popups are coming back full force and they’re a great way to grab customer information quickly and effortlessly. Popups are less intrusive than they used to be because they appear on the web page itself rather than in a separate window.
Exit-intent popups are a great way to grab your customer’s attention before they leave your screen. These are triggered when their mouse leaves your webpage. This is more than a “last-ditch effort.” It’s a final call to action that gives customers a clear and direct opportunity for next steps.
In fact, an exit-intent popup can save about 35% of visitors that would have otherwise been lost to the abyss forever.
Scroll popups are also popular. These appear when someone reaches a specific point on your page. These can work well as more aggressive CTAs, especially if they’re prompted at an appropriate point in a blog or video.
For example, you’re reading an article about how to generate leads. When you get to number 8, “opt for exit and scroll popups,” you might get a popup that encourages you to input your information in exchange for a pre-written popup template.
#9 – Grow your lead relationships with automation.
One of the biggest challenges with lead generation is keeping up with all of your leads. How do you not only capture but also nurture and engage those leads moving forward?
Small businesses often make the mistake of trying to maintain leads by hand. But it’s simply not scalable–there’s no way you can keep up with all of your audience members as you grow.
The best way to take your leads one step further is by utilizing marketing software that will automate your lead generation activities.
For example, Zapier automates every aspect of your workflow. From lead generation on your site to an email drip campaign for those leads to communication on Slack, Zapier pulls together all of your business parts to create a centralized marketing environment. This keeps your lead generation flowing while pulling together data that can help you use those leads moving forward.
Leadpages not only offers hundreds of expertly designed landing page templates to gather leads, improve engagement, and drive conversions, but we also provide integrations with the best lead automation software on the market. Click here to check out our integrations, so you can generate leads with tech you already use every day.
Just like you wouldn’t let that attractive stranger leave the bar without grabbing their phone number, you can’t let your prospects go without taking their contact information. So don’t let your lead generation fall to the wayside.