As we move further into digital transformation, businesses are realizing that this world no longer belongs to marketers, but to consumers—the people who choose what to click on and what to ignore, with the ability to actively avoid advertisements they don’t want to see. While this complicates the strategy marketers use to cultivate interest, there’s still great potential in consumer-focused lead generation ideas.
The search query for “lead generation ideas” will return millions of results, and while many contain helpful pieces of information, there’s an equal amount with outdated methods that simply don’t work anymore. So, we’ve filtered through the noise and isolated the lead generation ideas for both B2B and B2C that have been proven to drive results and increase leads.
How to Generate Leads and Influence People
With the exponentially increasing popularity of digital media channels, traditional lead generation is becoming a thing of the past—creating more opportunity for B2B and B2C businesses to drive leads and increase sales now than ever before.
But first, let’s break down what lead generation actually means.
Lead generation is the process of transforming a new visitor into someone who actively shows interest in your product or service. It’s like hitting “go” on the conversion process. When it comes to effective lead generation, brands need to consider not only how they’re going to capture attention, but how they’re going to captivate their audience in such a way that it inspires further engagement.
The best lead generation ideas deliver the value and experience prospects are searching for, and when used correctly, these tactics can fit seamlessly into the journeys your prospects are already on—giving you organic opportunities for conversation that generate both leads and loyalty.
B2B Lead Generation Ideas
1. Create More Content
Prescriptive content was the most popular form of content for B2B buyers in 2017, with a 97% citation rate. And, seeing as 92% of marketers consider content to be a crucial business asset, this will be a guaranteed way to provide value to customers before they make a purchase. With the right content, you can position yourself as a thought leader and build trust among your audience.
Don’t forget to include a call to action, as publishing quality content that entices an action is imperative in creating a fluid conversion path for your buyer. Remember, consistency is key, so in order to keep your readers coming back for more, you’ll need to publish regularly.
Developing content offering insights into the functionality of what you offer could be the key to unlocking bigger purchases from your B2B clients.
2. Be Creative with Your Mediums
SlideShare is a community of visual presentations on almost any topic you can imagine, and it can be one of the most effective lead generation ideas when used correctly and if properly optimized. You’ve likely already produced content in the form of blog posts, case studies, whitepapers and webinars—all of which can be repurposed into a SlideShare deck.
Within the deck itself, it’s important to include some sort of call to action to drive leads. SlideShare allows you to place links between the fourth and last slide, which you can easily do with PowerPoint or Keynote. In addition to the embedded links, use visual calls to action, like arrows and buttons in combination with text, to be loud and clear about the action you want people to take.
Another great method of driving leads with SlideShare is LeadShare, which allows users to collect lead information (with fully customizable fields) from within the SlideShare deck, aggregating your leads into an easy-to-access dashboard.
Webinars are a great way to provide hands-on training in a way that’s accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Webinars also give you an opportunity to engage prospects with your brand, products or messages for a defined period of time (most webinars usually last one hour.) Each person that joins the webinar is a potential lead, which you can pass along to your sales department.
Be sure to leave time at the end for a live Q&A with your audience to answer any questions and foster engagement—hopefully piquing further interest in your product or service. You can also record the webinar and upload a gated version to your website in order to continue driving value to your business and educate prospects.
While blogs are a great way to highlight the path to conversion, they’re not the only content option out there. In fact, 87% of B2B buyers value influencer content—peer reviews, third-party information, user-generated feedback and so on.
Micro-influencers are the most important component of influencer marketing in 2018. After all, it’s easier for B2B buyers to resonate with other people in the industry that are just like them, than some millionaire entrepreneur or investor.
Rather than searching the world for the right voice, why not give a podium to your employees instead? Who better to lead the charge in your pursuit of better credibility than your own army of employee advocates?
One Gartner study even found that peers were the second most valuable source of information in the buying cycle, making your team the perfect resource for building connections with B2B buyers that transform into long-term customer relationships.
A whitepaper is a highly 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.
Guides & eBooks
Giving away free digital resources like an eBook, guide or checklist is one of the most common yet powerful lead generation ideas. The idea is that the business asks for a few pieces of contact information from the visitor, and in return, they release access to whatever piece of content is behind the gate or lead form.
More often than not, you’ll find that people have no problem giving you their email address in exchange for a helpful piece of content.
3. Activate Your Influencers
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 salesperson. 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 has the ability to 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.
4. Attend Trade Shows & Industry 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. The reason for this is because trade shows are centered around a theme, meaning those in attendance will already have some level of interest in what you have to offer.
Trade shows are also another opportunity to showcase yourself as a thought leader by seeking out opportunities to speak on panels, give presentations or run a seminar—all of which help bolster your credibility and generate new leads.
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 make it abundantly clear what your business does.
Remember: the work doesn’t stop once 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.
5. Leverage Lead Magnets
If you’ve ever looked into lead generation ideas before, then you should already know a little something about lead magnets. These are the irresistible offers that essentially bribe your customers into checking out what you have to offer.
Essentially, if marketing was a fishing rod, then lead magnets would be the bait.
According to the DemandGen Content Preferences survey:
- 76% of B2B customers would share their information for a white paper
- 63% would do so for an eBook
- 79% would provide their details for a webinar
- 66% would offer information for a third-party report
- 57% would prefer to get a case study
6. Generate Proof Through Product Reviews
Authentic insights from other organizations that have used your service in the past help to kill some of the doubts that B2B buyers might have about investing money with a new company. In fact, 92% of customers will read online reviews before they even consider a purchase, and around 50 or more reviews can lead to a 5.6% increase in conversion rates.
What’s more, product-specific reviews boost your search traffic by convincing Google you have more value to offer, leading to an increase in lead generation that was as high as 20% for some companies.
How should you go about getting third-party reviews? It’s simple, just ask. Here are a few tips to be effective in your outreach:
- 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.
If you don’t hear back from the influencer after your first attempt to contact them, follow up via other channels like Twitter or LinkedIn. Chances are, if they have an established following on one platform, they probably will on others as well.
7. Optimize Your Website
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
- 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.
8. 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 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.
Take time to run small-scale test campaigns to find out what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, remember to keep testing and optimizing your campaigns for optimal results—play around with keyword match types, negative keywords and targeting before you scale your campaigns.
B2C Lead Generation Ideas
1. Hold a Contest
As far as lead generation goes, this strategy is one of the best ways to give potential prospects a reason to connect with your page while increasing community engagement and exposure for your brand. Best of all, they can be executed with minimal time and effort on your part.
Contests can be held on essentially any social network, making them widely accessible. It’s important to clearly state the rules of the contest and follow the network’s promotion guidelines. Your contest prizes should be strictly related to your industry or else you run the risk of getting irrelevant leads who aren’t interested in your product or service.
2. Strengthen Your Social Presence
Social media has transformed into one of the most powerful digital channels in the world, and it has 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.
Be Purposeful with the Platforms You Choose
Whether you’re involved in the conversation or not, people are always talking about your brand, or product.
While LinkedIn may be the most obvious choice for B2B marketers, choosing a platform for your B2C social strategy is something that needs to be done with a careful focus on the needs and preferences of your target market.
Utilize social listening tools 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.
3. Offer Fewer Options
One of the biggest issues preventing customers from buying your products, is the general overwhelm they feel when viewing options in the marketplace today. According a concept called “Hick’s Law“, fewer choices leads to less confusion in your customers, simplifying the buying funnel.
While you might be tempted to give your clients as many products or services to choose from as possible, they’re far more likely to make a confident decision if they don’t have as many alternatives to consider. Try showing your customers what the obvious choice for them should be, rather than leaving them to make their own decisions.
4. Produce a Promotional Video
Over 50% of global marketers believe that video content is the strategy with the best return on investment. While written content and images can be great for generating interest in your company, the best lead generation ideas are often those that appeal to a wider range of customers.
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 could also create a series of videos that take a deep dive into specific product functionalities.
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.
Video creation can simplify lead generation marketing by quickly educating visitors on your service or product, without asking them to read through a complicated case study or white paper. Keep the following tips in mind when you’re directing:
- Keep it short and sweet: Cover the important parts of the topic, but don’t talk for too long
- Support your point: Back your video up with additional content like articles and infographics
- Know your strengths: If you’re not knowledgeable in video, find someone to help
5. Optimize for a B2C Experience
Around 77% of companies believe that bad website user experience is the reason for their issues with lead generation. In a world where your customers want quick, insightful, and personalized experiences, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to delight your clients digitally.
Although there are plenty of things you can do to enhance your online presence, just some of the most important include:
- Using high-quality images to inspire your customer and keep them captivated on your landing page
- A/B test your CTAs to ensure that you’re speaking your customer’s language
- Make sure your content is relevant to your customers and focused on helping them make their purchasing decision
- Use social proof and customer testimonials to enhance brand credibility
- Make sure it’s easy to navigate your website
Remember to use Google Analytics for insights into how users are interacting with your site, and constantly make updates to improve their overall experience.
6. Supplement Organic Lead Generation Ideas with Paid Ads
While organic lead generation is the holy grail for many companies, it’s important to remember that you can always enhance your potential for a greater amount of conversions with a little bit of AdWords help.
A PPC campaign combined with your social media efforts and employee advocacy strategy can help to boost your overall traffic and increase your access to new leads. However, make sure that you don’t spend your money on just “any” visitors. Use time and insights to make sure that you’re creating campaigns that generate effective sales leads.
Making the Most of Lead Generation Marketing
While are thousands of lead generation ideas out there that can be tailor-made to suit your business, the key to success is constantly testing and optimizing new strategies to find what works best for you. With a combination of the above ideas (and hopefully the addition of some of your own creative ideas) you’ll elevate your lead generation efforts, and its results, to the next level.