The path to greater revenue is through more customers, but you can’t earn more customers without first sorting through leads. Lead generation strategies were invented to provide a constant stream of leads, a percentage of which will turn into long-term paying customers. In theory, these services work quite well, but some lead generation strategies don’t work at all. Others are prohibitively expensive.
For small business owners, the two biggest concerns in lead generation are cost (as free cash is comparatively limited) and return on investment (as ineffective strategies waste significant time and resources). That’s why I’ve come up with this list of five low-budget, efficient lead generation strategies almost any business can use to increase leads.
1. Webinars and Demos
People like to learn new things, especially if they feel they’re getting value for free. Offer a webinar with one of your company’s foremost authorities leading the show. Cover a topic that is important to people in your target demographics and be sure to offer signups well in advance of the event. Promote the event on social media and through word of mouth and try to get as many live attendees as possible.
If your live attendance leaves something to be desired, offer free downloads of recorded webinars on your website. This will serve as an excellent addition to your content marketing campaign, and if you stay consistent with the strategy, your audience should grow over time. As long as you’re collecting email addresses and names of the people who show up, you’ll have a reliably growing bank of potential leads, and all it will cost you is an hour or two of your time for every webinar you produce.
2. Resource Guides and Whitepapers
Resource guides and whitepapers function similarly to webinars and demos. They provide important information for free in an effort to dredge up potentially interested customers. The only difference is that these resources are far more comprehensive and exist forever (rather than being limited to a certain time and place).
The best way to offer these resources is to set up a dedicated landing page for them that details the guide’s benefits. Make sure to provide a link to the downloadable PDF upon reception of a user’s name and email address. Like with webinars and demos, you can gradually build up a store of people who have downloaded the material to use as potential fodder for your future sales efforts. Again, the only thing you’ll have to pay here is the time it takes to create the actual material (though the highest-quality pieces should take several hours at least).
3. Search Advertising
Search pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one of the more expensive items on my list, since it actually costs money to do. Still, if you’re savvy and patient, you can find great deals on certain placements. For example, Google is by far the most well-known search engine, but it isn’t the only one that offers advertising. Competitors like Bing and Yahoo also offer advertising programs, and they’re generally far less expensive for the average business owner. And since you’re paying per click, you’ll never have to worry about hitting a certain threshold of traffic. You only pay for the leads you get.
If you’re set on using Google, you can maximize your budget by choosing highly targeted niche advertising with low levels of competition. If you do this, however, you’ll need to strike a balance between choosing words that are relevant and affordable, or risk attracting consumers outside your most valuable demographics.
4. Online Networking
Professional networking is a still great way to find new leads in a physical environment. Online networking just makes that process faster and more efficient. Head to a network of your choice—LinkedIn works best here—and start branching out to people who comprise your target demographic. Start short conversations and test the waters to see if they’re in the market for your products or services. It really is that simple.
LinkedIn has a great feature called “groups,” which allows individual members to connect with one another in specific settings, usually pertaining to a given industry or geographic region. They’re perfect places to engage in conversation, scout for potential new leads and start conversations that lead to meaningful connections.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing is great because it can be used in combination with the above strategies or as an independent campaign. For example, you could collect all the email addresses you gathered from your webinars and whitepapers, and then enter them into a drip email campaign that periodically sends them new offers and updates. Or, you could use email to syndicate and promote the publication of your latest whitepaper.
Alternatively, you can purchase a list of email addresses from an online provider and mass market to them from scratch. Do be aware that there are strict rules regarding spam that you’ll have to pay attention to if you want to take this approach.
These strategies, individually, may not work for every business. Each company is unique, with unique leadership, a unique model and unique customers. At least one of these strategies, however, should function as a suitable long-term institution in your marketing and advertising budget. Experiment with different variations and different approaches, and take note of which tactics work and which ones fall short. If you put in the effort, you’ll eventually fine-tune any lead generation strategy to be more effective.