Lead generation is the holy grail of startup marketing techniques. Virtually any legal method that can harness new or prospective customers is worth a try. But as in every other field of endeavor, owners and service providers need to weigh costs against benefits.
There’s no point, for example, is spending $5 to generate $4.95 of profit. The challenge with lead-gen is that it is often impossible to measure potential profits so that $5 you spend to develop one fresh lead might end up delivering $1 or $100 in profit.
What’s the answer? Part of it is testing a variety of strategies and seeing which ones work best, work fastest, and don’t require large up-front expense outlays.
Here are 10 approaches that can supercharge your company’s lead generation, whether you are selling products and services directly or for a client who hired you as a marketing consultant. Note that most of the suggestions work for both startups and established organizations.
Use Pop Ups
Pop ups are misunderstood by people, not in the marketing industry.
Shoppers like to get bargains, discounts, freebies, and special offers. They don’t particularly care how they receive the news, whether it’s from pop ups, email, or text messages. The other unavoidable reality about pop-ups is that they work.
For more than two decades, marketing pros have leveraged the power of the popups to bring in new customers, sell to existing clients, and inform potential buyers about the company and the kinds of goods and services it offers.
Think Investment, Not Expense
Not a technique per se, but more of a philosophical frame of mind, this suggestion is close to positive thinking or re-framing a basic mode of thought.
When you set out to spend money on software, consulting fees, or anything else that promises to ramp up the number of worthwhile leads, view the cost as an investment rather than a cost of doing business.
And, what if your organization does not have the capital to afford the cost of the new strategy, do what you would do with a promising investment.
Borrow the necessary funds to create the leads you need to grow and expand your business. One of the fastest, most cost-efficient ways of getting the necessary funds are borrowing from a private lender.
Rather than miss out on the opportunity to develop more leads, working with a private lender is a smart way to secure the financial resources you need, exactly when you need them. The beauty of strategic borrowing is that it matters not whether you are doing it to bring in more business for yourself or your clients. Digital marketing agencies and SaaS providers often discover the need for a cash infusion to build a lead-gen system for their own customers, and private lenders are an excellent resource.
Offer Digital Freebies
Modern consumers have become accustomed to digital products and often look forward to receiving free digital items as rewards for opting into newsletters, loyalty clubs, and other social groups.
Use your website and as many social media outlets as you have to offer downloadable products in exchange for email addresses, names, and product preferences. In the pre-computer era, free samples were considered a double-edged sword in the marketing world.
They had the potential to bring in fresh clients but were among the most expensive promotion strategies of all. One of the great benefits of digital samples is that there’s an initial cost to create them, but after that, each new giveaway is simply a non-expense for the merchant.
Enable Live Chat
For whatever reason, and it is nearly inexplicable in the 2020s, many top merchants do not offer live chat on their main commercial websites. Adding chat is a no-brainer because it’s an ideal way to interact directly with current or potential clients, costs next to nothing to monitor, and is something most consumers expect these days.
Email Newsletters to Build Long-Term Loyalty
You hear some say that the e-newsletter is out of style, but it is not. Many people sign up for and receive them every day. They are especially popular among loyal, long-term buyers of products.
Any merchant that neglects to offer an e-newsletter to customers is missing out on one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with an especially important group of customers. That is because repeat buyers are walking, talking billboards for the company they admire and whose products/services they repeatedly purchase.
In fact, you could make the case that this group of loyalists is the most important sub-category of clients for any company. Leaving them without a high-quality, informative, interesting newsletter is an omission that is nearly incomprehensible in the digital age.
Leverage the Power of SM Influencers
Do you know who the social media influencers are in your niche? If you don’t, you should. These folks operate sites and online discussions that are followed by millions worldwide. Let’s say you or your client sells plastic sandals.
Step one is identifying several social media influencers who regularly promote footwear, beachwear, inexpensive clothing items, and trendy personal apparel. It is possible to connect with influencers in several ways, but mostly by sending them free samples of your goods and asking for their opinion.
Hooking up with influential online social media stars is a no-cost way to get your company’s name and products in front of huge numbers of captive readers and viewers. Influencers can also include surveys as a part of your company’s social media marketing strategy. Being able to poll your target market can provide quite valuable data.
Invest in Excellent, Relevant Content
Do an experiment. Check out five of the top websites within a given product or service niche. We’ll assume each one has its own blog.
Read one or two random articles on the five sites, with the aim of measuring overall quality. Chances are that the more successful companies have blogs with much better content than the ones with weak content. This is not an overnight lead-gen trick, but one that works exceptionally well in the long run.
Spend time and money on creating top-notch engaging content and you’ll see your site’s views increase exponentially. And, when that happens, you’ll eventually get more opt-ins, direct purchases, and happy buyers.
Devote Attention to CTAs
One of the last paragraphs in your email marketing pieces is often a CTA (call-to-action). It can be a few words or a few sentences long, but it is vitally important for the lead-gen task.
Most consumers need to be directly asked to make a purchase. Somewhere in the depths of the human mind is a hard-wired rule about not taking action without a prompt.
When someone views your website, online ad, or email message for the first time, be sure to craft a concise, carefully worded CTA that directly invites them to take a specific action.
And note, that action is not always to make a purchase. Sometimes it is simply to “click here for more information,” (and opt-in to a mailing list), or “check out our current discount items,” (moving them along to the next tier of the sales funnel), or “see if you qualify for free shipping,” (to give them one more incentive before sealing the deal).
Clean Up Your Website
Most working adults get at least one physical, medical checkup per year, but many business owners don’t pay attention to their main websites after they put them up.
Generating leads can be almost impossible for organizations whose websites are not user-friendly, are out of date, don’t include CTAs on the main page, or are so bloated with graphics that it takes them forever to load.
Do not Neglect Direct Mail
Once upon a time, direct mail was the kind of lead generation. Some merchants, unwisely, have written it off as a relic of the pre-digital age. It’s anything but. Testament to direct mail’s current usefulness is the many millions of pieces that travel to mailboxes every day of the year, except Sunday.
Done properly, direct mail can geographically target customers based on zip code, homeownership status (only mailing to homes or to apartments), car ownership status (using lists of car owners), owners of commercial real estate, and many more.
Use your own mailbox as an example. If you receive a 50 percent off coupon for dinner at the new restaurant across the street, aren’t you likely to stick it in your purse or wallet just in case?
Direct mail is alive and well, even though rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Using direct mail in a specific, targeted, geographic fashion can be one of the lowest-cost ways to identify new customers.
Generating leads can be difficult. The watchword is “attention.” For merchants, paying attention to their website, being open to using direct mail, writing compelling CTAs, leveraging the power of relevant content on blogs, teaming up with social media influencers, taking the time to create a pertinent email newsletter, offering free digital samples, enabling live chat, hosting live events, and viewing all the related expenses as long-term investments can make all the difference.
In the end, lead-gen is more about being considerate of your potential customers than about trying to sell things to people who do not want them.