Does your business want to generate leads? Have you been approached by “lead-providers” offering you “qualified” and “warm” leads at the low, low cost of $50 per lead?
There’s a better way (actually, there are a bunch). This article will get into my five favorites.
I’ll break down the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of five lead-generating strategies and give you step-by-step guidance on how to make each strategy work for your business.
Why Lead Generation?
This is a great question actually, with a more complicated answer than you might think.
What are leads, really? Well, there is a first obvious difference between B2C and B2B lead generation, but overall we can say the answer varies from business to business and sector to sector. It also varies within a business.
Leads (in the simplest terms) are people interested in your business (or a part of it) but who have not yet forked over money in exchange for your tools or services.
Leads come in many different forms. They can be anywhere between warm (very interested and prime for a sale) and cold (older, with fewer instances of brand engagement). Someone whose first engagement with your brand is to sign up for a one-on-one demo of your tools, for instance, is already an extremely warm lead without any nurturing whatsoever. Someone whose first engagement is to subscribe to your blog is a cooler lead (but worthy of nurturing towards a final sale) and someone who has Liked your business on Facebook is different again.
All are leads, though, and all worth concrete dollars to your business in the long run.
Lead generation, and the different campaigns that make it up, are an integral part of your online marketing sales funnel. So let’s take a look at a few ways you can start generating them!
#1 Lead Generation: Ebooks
Ebook creation and promotion is officially the cheapest way to generate leads online. But only if you do it intelligently.
Here’s the step by step:
- You’re already writing content. Consider writing 4-5 articles about the same subject. Ensure the articles start with a basic introduction and end with advanced tips and strategies.
- Collate those articles into a single PDF and use a simple, professional template to make it visually appealing.
- Upload the PDF into your website’s WordPress (or whatever web platform you use) as media
- Create a lead-generating landing page, which requires visitors to provide their email address before allowing them to download the PDF.
- Promote your ebook on social platforms and with Facebook Advertising (Adwords don’t work particularly well for ebook promotion, as few people are searching for your ebook title).
- Facebook Ads allow you to target people who have expressed interest in your ebook’s subject matter. For instance, an ebook entitled “Guide to CRM for Small Businesses” can be targeted at people within the US, UK, Australia and Canada who are small business owners interested in customer relationship management. This will give you an ad audience of 240,000 for your ebook and (with a .1% CTR, a 50 cent cost per click, and a landing page converting traffic at 25%) generate your business leads at $2 a pop.
That cost per lead is all there is – that’s your entire budget. You created the content for your blog anyway, and putting it together, making the landing page, and creating the ads was simply time and energy.
#2 Lead Generation: Sweepstakes for Gift Certificates or Products
Okay, the simplest form of lead-generation is bribing people. Seriously, if you want to generate email addresses or Facebook Likes for your business, use a contest app and give away $2,500 to one lucky winner. You’ll get a bunch of email addresses and increase your Facebook Page’s popularity astronomically – but you won’t get qualified leads or interested Fans.
Someone who gave you their email address in order to have a chance to win $2,500 doesn’t care about your business. They’re not going to register for a free demo or become a loyal customer. They’ll unsubscribe immediately from your email list as soon as your contest is over.
You’ll find far more success if you offer a gift certificate or one of your products, however, you exclusively attract prospects (leads) who actually want what your business offers.
Here’s a step by step:
- Create a Facebook, Twitter, or Website-based contest page.
- Offer a gift certificate or gift card usable for your business’ products or a product itself.
- Promote your contest on social and (if applicable) in-store as well.
- Like-gate your contest to generate Facebook Fans and email-gate it to generate email leads (or both if you’re offering a tidy sum).
- Your contest will generate ONLY people who are interested in your business’ products and services.
- Sure, you’ll get less leads and Fans overall, but they’ll be engaged, warm leads who are clearly interested in what you have to offer (otherwise they wouldn’t have entered!)
- Your leads will convert to a real-world sale at an exponentially higher rate, nurture faster, and be more engaged (as well as spreading the word about your business).
The prize you offer (whether thirty $25 gift certificates given out each day for a month, one large amount or one of your products) should be tested and measured for the ROI. Test out what prize (and the format it takes) resonates most with your target market. Do more people enter (and spread the word to their own contacts) if you offer a prize a day for a month, or do you get more email leads with a single giveaway? Does the visual of offering one of your products increase engagement, or is the dollar value of a gift certificate better for your business?
Test it out!
#3 Lead Generation: Webinar Entries
Webinars are incredibly valuable pieces of content. They are a chance for your business’ experts (or you) to deliver advice, best practices, and exclusive information in a personal format. They are also a chance for your business to coordinate with an influencer, and cross-promote an interview or conversation with that person.
Because they’re so awesome, they’re great for lead-generation.
Here’s a step-by-step:
- Develop a relationship with an influencer in your sector through blog commenting, social media interaction, guest contributions, etc.
- Send an email (formal or informal, depending on your relationship) requesting a joint webinar or Q&A session.
- Once you have a yes from the influencer, create a webinar landing page within your website.
- Duplicate the landing page for the Facebook platform (easy to do with 3rd party landing page tools like Wishpond’s)
- Email-gate entry to the webinar. Depending on the reputation and influence of your guest, ask for more details from leads such as job title, size of business, or a dropdown where they choose their primary business concern.
- Send confirmation (and thank you) emails to leads detailing the specifics of the webinar.
- An advanced tip is to run the webinar multiple times to coincide with different time zones. The time zones that your leads choose can be noted for future email marketing campaigns to ensure you’re delivering emails when your leads are most likely to engage with them.
It is absolutely an option to run your webinars yourself. Test how many leads you get for a webinar with an expert versus by yourself. Test running a webinar as a conversation between two of your business’ employees or a CEO.
#4 Lead Generation: Offers with a Partner
Running a lead-generating marketing campaign in conjunction with another business is a great way to increase awareness and spread your business’ reputation.
It’s essential that you coordinate your marketing campaign with a business that has a similar target market. For instance, two SaaS companies working together increases the reputation of both amongst people relevant for both. Equally, a business promoting high-end clothing would find success working with a business promoting high-end vacations, spas, or luxury cars.
Here’s a step by step:
- Approach a business (or individual) with the same target market as your own with a formal request for coordination.
- Outline your view for the lead-generation campaign, and work with them to convince them how well the campaign will work.
- If compensation is discussed, be sure you have a good idea of what the ROI will be for the campaign before you agree.
- Promote the campaign several weeks in advance, generating buzz and increasing excitement.
- Ensure your partner is also promoting the campaign amongst their circles – on social, in email, and with their existing clients.
- Create a contest landing page, ensuring you’ve email-gated the prize for entrants.
- Share the leads generated by the campaign. If your existing clients are included in the list of leads, exclude them for your business (and visa versa).
Promotions and campaigns like this are a great way you can give your existing customers something valuable while gaining new leads from a business similar to yours. With the right prize, both businesses involved get new, qualified contacts.
#5 Lead Generation: Coupons
Coupons, like sweepstakes, are a quick and easy way for your business to generate leads and increase brand awareness.
Especially awesome for retailers, coupons ensure that you are only receiving leads who are interested in your products and also ensure that you’ll be making a profit (or at least splitting even) on every person who submits their details.
B2B businesses can also run successful coupon campaigns:
- Consider running a month-long discount for all new customers.
- Consider dropping the cost of your consultations by 50% for the first 25 entrants, and 10% for the second 25.
- Consider giving away access to one particular tool within your business’ suite.
Here’s a step by step:
- Decide the discount you’re going to be promoting.
- Are you going to make the discount online exclusive? (I’d recommend this, as the word “exclusive” increases engagement with your campaign)
- Consider offering your existing clients a discount if they promote your campaign within their own circles
- Create a coupon contest or landing page with a 3rd party provider. Ensure you’re including the dollar value, percentage signs, and a visual element
- Promote your campaign on social and (if you’re going the referral route with existing clients) email
- Run your campaign for at least a week, and no more than a month. Any less than a week and it’ll be hard to generate the leads you need. Any more than a month and the excitement factor disappears.
Lead generation through coupons is also one of the cheapest strategies. Consider that you’re generating new business with every lead (as there’s no point in engaging/submitting personal details) if the lead isn’t going to use the coupon. This strategy is doubly-awesome, as you generate qualified, interested leads, but also real-world sales (even if they’re discounted sales).
Hopefully that’s given you a few ideas on how to generate leads for your business. I recommend you segment the leads you get from these campaigns into their own email list. Personalizing your email marketing strategy increases conversion rates hugely, and the details you get from these five lead generation strategies are invaluable down the line.
For instance, leads who engaged with your business in order to win access to one of your tools are more likely to be interested in that tool than others. Also, working at a B2B lead generation level requires a different approach than dealing within a B2C environment. Don’t waste marketing budget promoting other tools when they’ve told you, explicitly, which they’re interested in.
- The Complete Guide to Facebook Contests and Promotions
- Landing Pages: Optimizing your Landing Page for Lead Generation
- How to Run a Facebook Referral Promotion
- 25 Tips: Email Lead Generation from Social Media