On every marketer’s professional Christmas wishlist is more leads for their business.
A good lead generation strategy has multiple methods and keeps things fresh and interesting for audiences. A good strategist also understands that in today’s customer-centric landscape, you don’t get something for nothing: lead generation strategists should know, in every strategy, to somehow offer value in exchange for access to your subscriber’s inbox.
If you’re running a small business, this can seem an expensive undertaking: booths at high-profile conferences can break the budget. Producing appealing swag is costly and hard to measure returns on. Even moderately-profiled advertising can be expensive.
If you’ve been struggling with ideas, here are 7 remarkably effective lead generation strategies for small businesses that won’t break the bank and that can be used again and again.
1. Hold A Webinar
In a constantly connected, nomadic world, webinars are the new mini-conferences. They’re accessible, easy to fit into a schedule, don’t require commuting or expense accounts and are a great way to get real-time interaction with industry experts.
Numbers-wise, more people register for webinars than end up showing on the day -- either they forget, their calendar gets full, the time zone get confused or a last-minute meeting gets in the way. (We’ve all been that person.) You can expect around 25% or 30% of your registrants to show up on the day.
A good way to make sure people still feel like they’ll get value from signing up to your webinars, without feeling overly burdened by a set date and time, is sending out a recording of the webinar after it ends, like Gia & Claire at Forget the Funnel.
Note the friendly tone and easy access to resources. This is the kind of thing that will make subscribers want to sign up for your webinars in the future: even if they know they won’t be able to make it, they’ll know they’ll get their value’s worth at the end anyway.
Tips for holding a good webinar:
- Have a dedicated landing page to collect registrant information, and use a service like GoToWebinar or Zoom.
- Don’t go in cold. Do a test run a few hours before, and ensure your audio and video are working.
- Ensure you’re near a strong and reliable internet connection. (I.e. if possible, don’t run your webinar from a cafe.)
- Treat your webinar like any professional presentation. Use slides, real examples, photos, infographics, real-life examples of using a tool or live interviews. A webinar that’s just you talking straight at the camera for 60 minutes might struggle to gain repeat viewers.
- Consider copresenting with another influencer or leader in the industry, and let them invite your followers! You can arrange a lead-share after for double the leads, and double the appeal.
Another thing to remember: promotion will be key.
Promote weeks in advance, through paid ads, on your email newsletter, on social, on your blog, through partner channels: it takes a while for the word to get out, and a while for people to sign up (remember, many people don’t register the first time they hear about a webinar.)
2. Offer a free Ebook
Ebooks are a fantastic way to demonstrate your authority on a subject. What’s better, if you have a blog, they’re easy to recreate by compiling related subjects and weaving them together in a compilation.
This saves users clicking endlessly around your website, bookmarking relevant information for them, and gives you the added benefit of a new lead (and potentially a future loyal customer!)
Wishpond provides browsers with a library of ebooks to choose from, on a range of subject matter.
Another good thing about ebooks is that they tell you a bit about your audience because of the subject matter they’re interested in, helping you automatically with lead segmentation once they’ve signed up.
3. Offer Downloadables: Calendars, Checklists, Templates
If you don’t have enough material for a full-fledged ebook, bite-sized downloadables are equally popular; especially those that make life easier for industry professionals.
Checklists appeal to our natural inclination to want order, advice and a set of steps to follow (especially if we’re tackling an unfamiliar task).
They boil down all the advice of an article into actionable bullet points and are good for busy professionals who just want to know what they have to get done (and want the satisfaction of physically checking it off a list once they’ve done it.)
Templates are another resource that downloads folders can’t get enough of. With innumerable ways to tackle any creative project or document, it can quickly get dizzying. Sometimes even the pros want the basics done for them, and are happy to sign up to a service for the assistance.
Lucidpress showcases how to do this brilliantly.
Each template is viewable, so users can see the value of what they’re getting, but they need to provide their email to download and edit.
4. Provide a solution with Free Online Tools
Online tools increase your site traffic, your brand authority, establish you as an industry leader and have visitors returning to your site again and again and again and again.
While it might seem like a lot of work to offer a tool you could charge for for free, several brands have found success offering powerful tools at no cost to users.
- Coschedule headline analyzer: Analyzes headlines for their clarity and clickability
- Pablo by Buffer: A super simple, but powerful design tool for social media posts.
- Mozbar by Moz: An all-in-one SEO toolbar.
There are a few ways you can use these tools for lead generation. You can put pop-ups on the page or require an email sign-up to use it.
5. Old School Networking: Organize a meetup
Small businesses of a feather flock together.
There are few other people who understand the struggles (and rewards!) of starting and running a new business like other business owners. And the best marketing strategies rely on a mix of online and offline methods.
Meetups can take any form. They don’t have to be flashy conferences or expos. They can be small, friendly competitions, movie nights, discussion series, workshops, pitch events or mixers.
The most important thing is that your business facilitates making new connections in your city or sector. It positions you as an industry leader, builds your brand (and your lead list!)
How to hold a successful meet-up:
- Decide what your meet-up will be. Who’s invited? What’s your budget? If it’s your very first time doing something like this, it helps to recruit an event planner, at least for the first event.
- Spread the word online, in person, through a press release. Start promotion early, and get the date in people’s books well in advance. Create a landing page to collect registrants’ names and emails and make sign up easy.
- Plan the look and feel of your event! Ideally, there should be food, drink and branded swag on offer, and a planned agenda. Remember, this event is going to reflect on your company. Make the impression a good one.
6. Provide Original Research & Reports
For many practitioners, keeping up with the industry is half the job.
If you can promise them to take care of the slog of curation and analysis with thorough and trustworthy state of the industry reports, you can rely on a steady stream of emails as people come to snap it up.
An email-gated industry report should feel worth it. It should include up-to-date stats on current market leaders, original thought leadership, projections based on current trends and actionable data.
For an example of this, look at Digiday’s State of the Industry report on Ad blocking and UX.
Note that they back up how valuable their industry report is, stating the work that went into compiling it (interviewing 330 professionals) and the questions it answers.
This is a great offering because it answers a real pain point and offers something new and of value, that readers can’t get anywhere else.
7. Make it Interactive with Contests & Giveaways
One of our personal favourites, contests -- sweepstakes, photo contests, caption contests -- are one of the most effective lead generation tools.
They’re user oriented, interactive, fun, shareable, time-limited and well designed, can be on-brand and a great image booster across social media platforms.
Contests can be intimidating to organize and launch, if you’ve never done one before, which is why it helps to recruit experienced organizers.
Also - another great thing to consider for lead generation are quizzes. Facebook quizzes might be a great source of new leads.
If you want to arrange a contest independently, it helps to do your homework first and research what makes a contest great.
Tips for throwing a successful lead generating contest:
1. Choose a contest that will get you the most leads and signups -- something that will encourage people to submit their email addresses.
2. Pick a good prize -- something aligned closely with your brand, not just something shiny and valuable. While it might be tempting to put a thousand-dollar prize up for offer (if that’s in your budget), you’ll likely attract entrants who aren’t at all interested in engaging with your brand after the contest is over.
3. Communicate the contest rules and regulations well: before, during and after the contest.
4. Pre-promote well before the contest and promote during it: across social media channels, on your landing page and among your network!
5. Track your performance! Use it to analyze where you did great, and where you can improve for next time.
New business may not have the resources to throw a multinational conference, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of options for dynamic lead generation.
Here’s a quick summary of 7 B2B lead generation strategies for small businesses you can try today:
- Hold a webinar
- Offer a free ebook
- Offer downloadables
- Provide a solution with free online tools
- Old School Networking: Organize a meetup
- Provide Original Research & reports
- Make it Interactive with Contests & Giveaways
What about you? Any lead generation strategies you’ve tried that you love? Let us know in the comments!