7 Creative Lead Generation Strategies

Lead gen strategies

My name is Lusha – I help marketing professionals save time and meet their goals faster. Today I’d like to cover lead generation – how to acquire relevant traffic and convince your users to convert into leads.

There are many aspects to lead generation, starting from how to get the traffic, and ending with specific techniques on how to turn users into leads and leads into actual business.

In this page I’ll touch on:

  1. Foundation stones of lead generation – where to get quality traffic, and typical ways to turn that traffic into leads.
  2. The difference between B2B and B2C – as B2B marketers, we must be keenly aware of the different approach to B2B vs. B2C leads.
  3. 7 creative lead generation strategies – ways you may not have thought about to generate more leads and improve existing lead generation.

The Five Foundation Stones of Lead Generation

These are my top five ways to create traffic to your website, and how to leverage that traffic for lead generation.

1. Email Marketing

It’s still the best lead generation strategy out there for communicating with your target audience. It’s how 72% of all US adults prefer to receive information from companies, according to MarketingSherpa’s findings. It’s fast, efficient, inexpensive, tried and tested, with no signs of fatiguing the customer. Email marketing is the foundation stone of every marketing campaign and is easy to track, measure, test and tweak. For B2B audiences, email marketing is the third most influential source of information. (Colleague recommendations come in at first place with industry-specific thought leaders taking second.)

How to generate leads: With email marketing, you already have some contact details, but want to move your prospects further down the funnel. Most of the time you’ll send your list “soft” content, like newsletters or blog updates, which can also include some commercial calls to action (which many users will ignore). When the time feels right, you can send a promotional email which encourages the user to deepen the relationship. For example, the email can offer a downloadable report, asking users for more contact details or asking them about specific purchase intent.

2. SEO

Search Engine Optimization is often punted as a complex process that requires specialist knowledge to rank high on SERP’s (search engine results page). In reality, it’s not so difficult to understand.

According to Outbrain, search engines drive 300% more traffic to websites than social media.

Your potential customers approach a search engine with an intention. They seek out the relevant information using keywords. When their keywords and yours align, a relationship can begin. We know that over 60% of clicks favor one of the top three websites on the search engine results page, according to the Search Engine Journal. You can bet that those sites that organically rank on the top of the results page have done their keyword research homework and know exactly which keywords their target audience is using to find products in their niche.

The use of keywords (including long tail and LSI keywords) is the essence of SEO campaigns. 50% of search engine queries (keywords) are four words or longer. Your lead generation strategies for SEO will entail finding keywords with a high search volume, with low competition and that are relevant to your business. This will increase website traffic, generate quality leads and ultimately increase sales or conversions.

Great SEO also incorporates high-quality content that is posted consistently and uses keywords strategically (that is, not keyword stuffing). Link building is also an essential element of SEO. You want industry leaders or authority sites to backlink to your content to give it credibility and boost your relevancy reputation in the eyes of the search crawlers.

How to generate leads: Good SEO will generate relevant traffic. It’s not trivial to translate that traffic into leads. One approach is to build organic traffic to your “money pages.” For example, a product page, landing page with gated content, or sign up page – this is powerful but quite difficult to achieve. An easier and more scalable approach is to drive traffic to generic content, such as blog posts, which are related to your brand and encourage users to convert – for example, by signing up to your blog feed, downloading an asset, or even requesting a demo of your product.

3. Paid Traffic

Here you are paying for online advertising that drives leads to your website. The most popular types of paid lead generation advertising include:

  • Display ads that pop up on the side of your page.
  • Paid search using Google AdWords (PPC, PPV, PPA, or flat rate).
  • Social media advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Paid discovery is used to get your content promoted on other sites like StumbleUpon or Outbrain Amplify.
  • Sponsored content (native advertising) that disguises your product pitch in an engaging article.
  • Influencer marketing is where you pay a social media influencer, with loads of followers, to promote your brand/product/service.

How to generate leads: Almost all paid campaigns are intended to generate leads. Paid traffic is typically aimed at landing pages with forms, and the KPI for success is how many users fill out those forms to become leads – and the ultimate quality of those leads. Paid campaigns that are worth anything will generate leads, and you need to weigh the cost per lead (CPL) vs. the quality of those leads. To evaluate lead quality, look at the data and try to see if the people who came in through paid campaigns are your buyer persona. You can use data enrichment tools to learn more details about your contacts, for example, their geography, job description or the company they work for.

4. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

You are using social media channels to increase your website traffic and improve lead generation. You will be crafting unique content that can be tailored to the specific platform’s context to ensure your content gets shared and users interact with your posts. Social media platforms are used by a large and growing fraction of the world’s population – as of late 2017, Facebook had over 2 billion active users – approximately 1 of 3.5 people in the world of all ages – while YouTube has 1.5 billion and WhatsApp reports 1.3 billion. LinkedIn has only 106 million users, but is by far the most important for B2B marketers, as these are professional users who advertise the companies they work for, their job descriptions, skills and professional interests.

SMM helps you to speak directly to your audience where they are interacting. Innovative marketing on social media can result in devoted followers and should be one of your key lead generation strategies.

How to generate leads: There are ways to generate leads directly in social media platforms. For example, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer paid advertising options which allow you to display a form after users click an ad and collect lead information, without asking users to leave the social network. It is also possible to create customized landing pages with conversion outlets as part of a Company Page on LinkedIn or Facebook. The last option is relying on traffic that flows from social to your website, and convincing those users to convert into leads. This last option is difficult to achieve because only a small fraction of social followers will visit your website and only a small fraction of those will actually convert.

5. Content Marketing

Your content has to be of the highest value to your target audience. Quality content is the driving force in all marketing campaigns – it assists with gaining buyer’s trust, and can differentiate you from the marketing noise. If you generate high-quality content, the search engines will also reward you with a higher ranking in SERPs because you are providing a better UX. It is vital to provide content that is valuable, not promotional, so you are viewed as a thought leader in your industry. When you are constantly providing a trusted voice and exceptionally valuable content, you ‘own’ your audiences’ attention.

How to generate leads: Content is a companion for almost all lead generation campaigns (for example, a paid search campaign can take users to a landing page and a downloadable eBook, both of which are content pieces). But content can also be used directly to generate leads. When you are consistently creating good content on a blog or other online platform, that content will start to receive traffic through search engines, links from other websites and regular visitors. Adding relevant calls to action, ads, and popups as an integral part of your pages, will help you turn some of that traffic into leads.

B2B vs. B2C – What’s The Difference?

When talking about lead generation strategies, it is important to discern between B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) approaches.

B2B

B2C

Purchase based on logic Purchase based on emotion
High cost per lead, larger deal size Low cost per lead, deal size can be very small (even a few dollars)
More people involved in the purchasing decision (team) Typically, an individual makes a decision
Buyer must be able to prove an ROI for the purchase Doesn’t need to prove a return on investment
Buyer analyzes the features of the product that will serve the employees that will be using it in the long run. Suffices with a bulleted list of features for a quick read
Seeks in-depth product information Seeks short, to the point product information
Often require multiple touchpoints along the long sales journey Requires a short purchasing process – as little as a few minutes

Lead generation strategies for B2B will need to include in-depth marketing materials that show the financial benefits of the product and how it will serve those working with it for the long term.

The Experts Weigh In: 7 Creative Lead Generation Strategies

I took a look around and found seven creative lead generation ideas for 2018 that I like.

1. Not All Leads are Created Equal

Jessica Meher Hubspot

Jessica advises creating different offers for different stages of the buying cycle: “The most common offer I see on most websites is “Contact Us.” Sure, you want all your prospects to talk to sales, but not everyone is ready. Every prospect is at a different stage of exploration, some may need more education than others. That’s why it’s important to develop different offers at different buying cycles.

“Someone at the top of the buying cycle may be more interested in an informational piece like a guide or ebook, whereas someone more committed at the bottom of the cycle might be more interested in a free trial or demo. You don’t need to pick and choose; create offers for each phase, and include a primary and secondary CTA to these offers on various pages throughout your site.”

2. Don’t Let Them Leave So Fast!

Sesame Mish Marketo

Sesame, like many marketing experts, suggests catching users just before they leave your website: “Immediate pop-ups can make web visitors shiver, but a strategically placed exit-intent pop-up can keep prospects warm. If you are going to implement this type of pop-up, be sure to employ proven techniques like these:

  • Provide a “Yes” and a “No” option, instead of just one CTA.
  • Create clear action triggers with one or no images and simple text.
  • Make designs responsive – don’t paralyze mobile users.
  • Measure results with A/B testing.”

3. The Bandwagon Effect

Jessica Meher Hubspot

Jessica says people respond to products and offers that are appreciated by others: “A great way to indicate how awesome an offer is, is to mention the number of people who have purchased, downloaded, signed up, or donated.

Some examples include:

  • Saying over 40,000 have signed up for our webinar.
  • On our blog under our “subscribe” module it indicates over 130,000 people have subscribed.
  • Events like SXSW and INBOUND are some of the hottest events because tons of people flock to them every year.”

4. Validate Leads in Real Time

Justin Rees Econsultancy

Justin points out that without accurate data, leads are not worth much: “The more accurate the lead data, the higher the contact and conversion rates. There are lots of available technologies that allow you to improve the accuracy of data such as checking consumer phone numbers in real-time, validating postcodes and verifying that email addresses are genuine.”

5. Focus on Free Trial to Paid Conversion

Sharon-Hurley-Hall OptinMonster

Sharon provides a comprehensive list of best practices that can help convert free trial users into paid users. When your lead gen call to action is “start a free trial”, this is key to driving actual business from your leads:

  • Consider not asking for credit card details early on, because data shows overall conversion to paid accounts is lower.
  • User progressive profiling – ask for only an email at the beginning, then request more details as the user progresses in their journey.
  • Send a good welcome email – it can be surprisingly effective at getting users to start engaging.
  • Shorten the free trial – most people don’t spend 30 days evaluating a product; providing a shorter free trial creates a sense of urgency.

See all 20 best practices in the OptinMonster’s complete guide.

6. Make Gated Content Seamless

Josh-Haynam Unbounce

Josh proposes finding easy ways to let users access gated content. For example: “Wistia’s Turnstile allows you to add email opt-in forms to your videos. You can even set the form to appear in time with a verbal CTA. When Wistia purchased Facebook ads to send traffic to their video campaigns (bought at $1-2 per click), they saw an 11% increase in free trial conversions.”

7. LinkedIn is a Goldmine

Lusha

Hey, this is from me! Don’t neglect social networks, especially LinkedIn, as a source for getting highly targeted leads. The basic search on LinkedIn can help you find job titles and companies that are highly relevant to your product offering. Paying for LinkedIn’s premium services such as Sales Navigator will give you more advanced options for honing in on the right prospects, such as searching by specific companies, skills, seniority level and years of experience in a role.

To make lead generation via social search even more powerful, you can use services like our very own Lusha to enrich business profiles and find accurate contact information – email addresses and phone numbers. Lusha is available as a free Chrome extension, and also as an API and SalesForce integration for larger lead gen operations.

Attention Scarcity Means You Must Make a Bigger Splash

We know that with the abundance of information comes attention scarcity. Your lead generation strategies have to aim higher if you want to make any meaningful impact on your target audience. B2B buyers online today are doing their research, comparing specs and prices of potential products, and by the time they get to contact a sales person, they are experts on the offering. This means that you have to constantly be creating in-depth content that gives these seekers the information they need to make a purchasing decision. You want to be able to communicate with these prospects with highly personalized content. But first, you need to know the contact details of your prospect.

Sign up for Lusha (me) today, and I will give you five credits for getting email and phone numbers of anyone you want to connect with on any social networks. Try my free browser extension! I also offer a contact API and integrate with CRM systems like SalesForce.

Yours,
Lusha

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