If you take a look at some of the most successful businesses, you’ll find they all have one thing in common: a consistent number of high-quality incoming leads. Successful marketing campaigns are all built around the notion of lead generation, and marketers are on a never-ending quest to continually produce campaigns that drive results, build brand awareness and ultimately convert into paying customers.
With the exponentially increasing popularity of digital media channels such as social media, blogs and video platforms like YouTube, traditional lead generation methods like cold calling are becoming a thing of the past. B2B and B2C businesses have more opportunity to drive leads and increase sales now than they ever have before.
A quick Google search “lead generation methods” returns millions of results, and while many are filled with a wealth of information on lead generation methods, there are several things that simply don’t work. So, we’ve filtered through all the noise and picked 15 lead generation methods for both B2B and B2C that have been proven to drive results and increase incoming leads.
B2B Lead Generation Ideas
1. Regularly publish content on your website
Consistently publishing content is a very effective way to increase your brand presence, position yourself as a thought leader within your industry and drive leads. According to the latest B2B Content Marketing Report, 88% of businesses surveyed said they used content marketing in their overall marketing strategy, with lead generation and sales being their most important objectives in their content marketing efforts.
But instead of writing overly promotional posts that are just glorified sales pitches, write content that provides your audience with significant value and answers questions that your prospective customers might ask. Also, don’t forget to include a call to action at the end of the post or throughout the post if it’s on the longer side. Publishing quality content that promotes an action by the reader is a great way to generate a significant number of leads. Remember, consistency is key, so don’t publish an article and never be heard from again. You want users to be reading your blog, not your competitors.
2. Create product demo videos
Videos are big business. In 2014, YouTube became the world’s second-largest search engine, with 300 hours of content uploaded every minute and a billion unique users who watch more than six billion hours of video each month. You may be thinking your target demographic isn’t on YouTube, but we assure you they are.
By creating videos that demonstrate what you’re selling, you can garner additional interest in your product or services and give users an inside look at how exactly your product will solve their problem. In addition to having an overarching product demo video, you can also benefit from creating a series of videos that take a deep dive into specific functionality that your product contains.
Instead of letting users access the more comprehensive videos for free, use a service like Wistia Turnstile to created a gated video so people have to submit contact information before they can view the content. This can also be done organically by utilizing YouTube Cards, including a call to action in the video description, or by having the individual in the video or a voice-over asking viewers to contact you to learn more.
3. Utilize SlideShare
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Slideshare (which is owned by LinkedIn) is a community of visual presentations on almost any topic you can imagine. It can be one of the most effective lead generation tactics at your disposal if utilized correctly.
You already have produced content in the form of blog posts, case studies, whitepapers and webinars. All of this content can be repurposed and made into a SlideShare deck. Within the deck itself, it’s important to include some sort of call to action to drive leads. SlideShare allows users to place links in their decks starting on the fourth slide and going all the way through to the last slide. The inclusion of links can easily be accomplished by using PowerPoint or Keynote to make your presentation before uploading it to SlideShare. In addition to the embedded links, use visual calls to action like arrows and buttons, combined with text, to be loud and clear about the action you want your users to take.
Another great method of driving leads with SlideShare is their new LeadShare feature which allows users to collect lead information from the Slideshare deck itself and the lead capture fields can be tailored to fit the needs of your business. LeadShare aggregates all of your incoming leads into an easy-to-access dashboard and it works with major CRM platforms like Marketo, HubSpot and Oracle’s Eloqua.
4. Host webinars
Webinars are a great way to provide high-end, hands on training to users in the comfort of their own homes or offices. Webinars also give you an opportunity to engage your prospects with your brand, products or messages for a lengthy period of time (most webinars usually last one hour.)
The best part about webinars is that users must submit their contact information to receive the webinar invite. Each person that joins the webinar is a potential lead, which you can pass along to your sales department.
Leave some time at the end of your webinars to do a live Q&A with your audience to answer any questions they may have as this can foster audience engagement and can pique further interest in your product or service. Make sure you record the webinar and upload it to your website after it’s completed so users who couldn’t attend will still be able to view it at a later date. But remember, keep the uploaded content gated so you can passively drive future leads.
5. Publish whitepapers
Whitepapers are an effective way at driving highly qualified leads while providing substantive content to your target audience. They are substantially longer than something like a blog post and are backed up by valid facts, statistics and credible reports.
When producing a whitepaper, make sure you write it with the intention of solving a real-world problem, providing detailed or step-by-step instructions on how to solve the problem, and answer common questions that your readers may have.
Create a dedicated landing page on your website with a high-level overview of what’s contained within the whitepaper and why it’s of value to the user. Just like the webinar idea, keep your content gated so you can collect the lead information of users who download it.
6. Give away tools
Giving away free digital tools such as eBooks is a great opportunity to generate leads for your business. If you’ve ever accessed an eBook, think about what you had to do to gain access to it. You most likely had to provide some sort of contact information. This is the basic premise behind free tools as a lead generation method. A free digital tool is delivered immediately in exchange for an email address.
EBooks are the only tool you can create. There are other options, too. You can produce royalty-free images, GIFs, CMS templates, fonts, how-to guides and more. Regardless of what you choose to give away, make sure it’s relevant and appealing to your audience.
People love free stuff and you’ll find most have no problem supplying their email address in exchange for whatever you’re giving away. One of the biggest benefits of producing and giving away these types of digital tools is that they can become a consistent source of qualified leads, which won’t require any extra action on your part (aside from the production and promotion).
7. Leverage employee advocates on social media
While organic social media coming from your brand/business page might not be the holy grail of leads, content that is branded and shared by your employees can have a significant impact on the number of incoming leads generated through social platforms. For B2B businesses, LinkedIn consistently ranks as the highest among the various social networks for its lead generation value. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketProfs, more B2B marketers use LinkedIn than any other platform.
Employee advocates are more influential to other businesses than company sources like a website or salesman. A survey conducted by Gartner found that peers and communities were cited as the second most preferential source of information at all phases of the buying cycle. An employee presence on social media can provide a certain level of transparency to prospects as it gives them a glimpse of corporate culture and allows them to speak directly with the individuals they may work with if they choose to come on board.
A common concern we hear from organizations is that they struggle with finding an effective way for all their employees to share content branded content as it’s created. This is where an employee advocacy tool like Bambu comes into play. Bambu allows for contributors to curate branded and third-party content from around the Web and effortlessly push it out to entire teams of employees to share on their own networks. Bambu fully integrates with LinkedIn, which makes it a great tool to assist your lead generation efforts on the network that matters most to B2B organizations.
8. Attend trade shows and industry-relevant events
While leads from these types of events tend to be somewhat costly in comparison to other methods, they are a substantial source of qualified leads for countless business across the world. This is such an effective method because most of these events tend to be centered around a certain theme. This means that people who attend are already interested, at some level, in the products or services you offer.
It’s important to treat these types of events like any other lead generation opportunity that you employ. Go in with a plan, set measurable goals, make sure your image is prepped and ready to cater to the types of leads you are looking for and make it abundantly clear what your business does. Also, leave the small talk at the door. You should be spending your one-on-one time finding out if the individuals you talk to are realistic prospects. If you feel the individuals you talk to aren’t genuinely interested, politely say goodbye and move on to other prospects.
These types of events can also be great opportunities to showcase yourself as a thought leader within your industry. Actively seek out opportunities to speak on panels, give presentations or run a seminar. All of these can help bolster your credibility and generate new leads. Remember, the work doesn’t stop after the event is over. People who visited your booth will likely have been to others as well. Make sure to follow up with leads sourced at events quickly as the momentum generated during the event dissipates once it’s over.
9. Use Google AdWords
Google Adwords can be a very effective means to generate leads, especially if you are in the B2B market. Users come to Google with intent, meaning they know what they are looking for and AdWords provides a valuable opportunity to get your message in front of the people that search for terms related to what you are offering.
Since the B2B buyer’s journey is typically much longer than their B2C counterparts, some organizations benefit when not going directly for the sale. Instead, use AdWords to promote assets you’ve created like whitepapers or eBooks to drive traffic to optimized landing pages where users can submit their contact information and become a lead in a low-commitment setting.
Adwords should never replace your traditional SEO strategy. It’s meant to complement your organic SEO, not take its place. Also, if you aren’t familiar with Google AdWords, you should take the time learn the basics and then run small-scale test campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t. Play around with keyword match types, negative keywords and targeting before you scale your campaigns. Even when you feel comfortable with how your campaigns are performing, there is always room for improvement! Remember to keep testing and optimizing your campaigns for optimal results.
B2C Lead Generation Ideas
1. Hold a contest
As far as lead generation goes, this strategy is at the top of my list for a variety of reasons: they give potential prospects a reason to connect with your page, they increase community engagement and exposure for your brand, and can be executed with minimal time and effort on your part.
While contests can be held on any social network, we’ve found the easiest platform to run them on is Facebook due to the availability of tools like WooBox or Agorapulse, which directly integrate with Facebook and streamline the entire process. It’s always important to clearly state the rules of the contest and follow Facebook’s promotion guidelines. Your contest prizes should be strictly related to your industry or else you run the risk of getting totally useless leads.
2. Have a strong social media presence
Social media has evolved to be a digital marketing channel that has a significant influence on the consumers’ buying behavior. According to the research firm Chadwick Martin Baily, 51% of Facebook users and 67% of Twitter users will most likely purchase recommendations from brands they are a fan or a follower of. Because of this, experts forecast that the impact of social media on lead generation and sales is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years.
There are a few ways to attract new leads on major social media networks, two of which we will highlight below.
- Social listening: People talk about your brand or product on social media. If you’re not taking advantage of this, you are missing a huge opportunity to increase brand awareness and sales. Utilize social listening tools like Sprout Social and join the conversation your customers are having. It’s crucial to engage with those who mention you and answer any questions consumers might have in a timely fashion. According to a study done by Lithium Technologies, 65% percent of users who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within 2 hours, with that percentage rising to 72% if it was a complaint. By proactively listening for those mentioning your brand on social media, you can insert yourself into conversations in real time and capitalize on a countless lead generation opportunities that you’d be missing otherwise.
- Utilize your employees: Your employees are one of your most valuable marketing assets. Since 84% of people say they trust recommendations from friends, colleagues, or family over any other source, employee advocates have the potential to be a valuable source of leads in any B2C business. By strategically implementing a social employee advocacy program, you have the potential to reach a lot more people than through your brand page alone. Also, these people will be much more receptive to a message that comes from a connection within their own network as opposed to a business page. In fact, people trust employees as credible spokespeople more than official brand sources like the CEO. Because content that’s coming from a connection is considered much more “trustworthy,” it is more likely to be opened, clicked on, shared and ultimately converted to a lead or sale.
Employee advocates allow you to have an “always on” lead generation channel since your employees use social media around the clock.
In addition to generating more leads, employee advocates can also drastically boost marketing reach without the cost of paid media channels, making it a cost-effective way increase marketing reach, engagement and ultimately drive sales.
3. Offer exclusive deals through email
There’s something to be said about the word ”exclusive.” It entices users and makes them feel like they’re part of a group of individuals who are privy to special offers that others are not. Even using the word “exclusive” in an email subject can boost email open rates. A study conducted by Experian found a 14% increase in email open rates when the word “exclusive” was used in the subject line.
But how does one go about getting individuals to sign up for an email list? There are a few different methods to accomplish this, but these are the two we’ve seen success with:
- Through social media: Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to add a call to action phrases, which is prominently displayed on your profiles. On Facebook, the CTA is overlaid on your cover photo on desktop and directly under your cover photo on mobile. You can pick from a variety of different choices for what you want your CTA to be, but for email signups we recommend choosing “Sign Up.” After you select your CTA, you can then choose which landing page URL you’d like to send the user to so they can sign up for the “exclusive offers” you’re promoting.Lead generation on Twitter can be accomplished through the use of the Twitter lead generation card. If you’re unfamiliar with the setup and implementation of the Twitter lead generation cards, check out this great post by the team at Moz to help you get started. Once the card has been set up, include the link to it in a Tweet and then pin that Tweet to the top of your profile so it’s easily accessible to those who view your profile. Users will now be able to submit their email address associated with their Twitter account with the touch of a button and all email addresses collected will be aggregated in a .csv file which you can easily access through Twitter.
- On your website: If you’re planning on collecting leads for an email campaign on your website, make sure you aren’t asking your users to submit a lot of their personal information. Keep it to one or two fields max, usually their name and email. The less you ask for, the more likely users will convert and submit their information.
Once you’ve collected any email addresses, use a platform like MailChimp to create, style, and execute your email campaign. Just like in any other form of digital marketing, it is crucial that you continually test your campaigns and optimize for best results.
4. Paid advertising on social media.
In case you didn’t know, social media networks like Facebook and Twitter know a great deal about you. They know things like where you work, who you’re in a relationship with, what you like/dislike, your interests and how much money you make, just to name a few. This presents a significant opportunity to drive leads and sales with spending a fraction of what you would on a network like Google AdWords.
By taking the time to develop “buyer personas,” you can more effectively target individuals who are likely to buy your products. Create multiple ad creatives within each campaign you, and test every aspect of them from the images and copy you use to the call-to-action and landing page you’re sending the users to. If you aren’t clear on how to go about developing “buyer personas,” check out this post on the HubSpot blog that does an excellent job of explaining how to go about it.
Another great opportunity to generate leads through social media advertising is with remarketing. Facebook and Twitter both provide you a way to efficiently retarget ads to individuals who have visited you on the Web through the inclusion of a small snippet of which is placed in the head tag of your website. To some, the addition of code may seem like a daunting task, but popular content management systems like WordPress allow you to accomplish this with very little effort. Retargeting users who have been to your website gives you an easy, cost effective way to provide additional exposure to users who are already familiar with your product, which can help boost conversions and lower your cost per customer acquisition.
5. Third-party product video reviews
A quick search on YouTube will show you there are entire channels and communities dedicated to product reviews. In fact, more and more users are using YouTube over Amazon to conduct their pre- and post- purchase discussions, providing you with a tremendous opportunity to drive leads and increase brand and product exposure.
So how does one go about getting third-party reviews on YouTube? It’s simple, just ask. Find channels on YouTube which are related to your industry and personally reach out to the channel owner. Most major channels have their contact information listed in the “About” section of their page. Here are a few tips to be effective in your influencer outreach efforts:
- Demonstrate a genuine interest in the channel and the associated community of the influencer you are reaching out to.
- Convey why you feel your brand/product would be a good fit for their channel and how it may benefit their audience.
- Always do your research and make sure you are offering something of value to the influencer.
You’ll most likely end up giving the influencer your product free of cost, but that’s just a small price to pay for the results that you stand to gain from having someone with a large following review your product. If you don’t hear back from the influencer after your first attempt to contact them, follow up via other channels like Facebook and Twitter. Chances are if they have an established following on one platform, they probably will on others too.
6. Make sure your website is optimized
This should go without saying, but having an optimized website is among the most effective lead generation strategies you can employ. It’s important to understand your website and landing pages are the central hub where most of your sales will take place. Because website optimization is such a robust topic, we’ve picked five best practices that can help your website become a lead generating machine.
- Make sure users can navigate your site with ease.
- Your content should be focused on the customer and assist them in the purchase decision-making process.
- Use crisp, high quality images and employ multiple CTAs which entice and make it easy for your user to subscribe, contact, shop, buy now, etc.
- Make it easy for consumers to understand your pricing schemes by clearly organizing products according to price ranges. This helps prospects with their budgeting and can have a significant impact on leads and sales.
- Boost brand/product credibility with social proof and customer testimonials.
You should be continually A/B testing all areas of your website, including everything from form length, CTAs, website copy and layout of your pages. Utilize tools like Google Analytics to understand how users are interacting with your site and optimize accordingly to bolster your lead generation efforts.
While most lead generation ideas can be tailored to fit the needs of your business, you should always be testing new strategies to see which ones work best for you. In the meantime, make it easy on yourself by starting with one of the above lead generation ideas which have been proven to be effective in increasing brand exposure, fostering community engagement and turning prospects into paying customers.
Have you implemented any of the above lead generation strategies? Which one has proven most beneficial to your business? Do you have any other lead generation ideas that you’ve had success with? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Andrew Wasyluk is a social media expert, developer, Twitter fanatic, and founder of Socialeyze, a social media consulting firm based in Boulder, CO. When he isn’t scrolling through his Twitter feed he can be found playing guitar, exploring Colorado, and laughing at his own jokes.Find Andrew Wasyluk on Twitter @socialeyze.
B2B & B2C Lead Generation Ideas That Always Work
Written by Andrew Wasyluk on January 27, 2016