Sitting back and watching the leads roll in is nothing but a daydream. In 2022, when there are more businesses competing for consumers' limited attention than ever before, businesses need to be proactive about identifying and cultivating potential new customers.
With so much competition out there, and cost per acquisition rising, getting ahead takes a bit of creativity, a willingness to test and learn, and some remarkable marketing automation strategies.
In this piece, we’ll explore what lead generation is, why being familiar with your customer’s journey is crucial for lead generation, and — finally some actionable lead generation ideas that will get the creative juices flowing and help you generate quality leads. Ready, set, grow.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation focuses on targeting prospects who are most likely to become customers through acquisition tactics like gated content, targeted ads, landing pages, events, social media, and promotions.
Lead generation is a strategy that helps you generate demand and interest within target markets and potential customers. By implementing a lead generation strategy, you can:
Increase brand awareness
Produce sales qualified leads
Build customer relationships
Lead generation and the customer journey
Every lead generation strategy involves having a deep understanding of your customers’ journey. From the moment a potential lead realizes they need your product or solution to the minute they hand over their money, the customer journey provides ample opportunities for you, as a marketer or small business owner, to make a lasting impression.
Whether that impression ends up being good, bad or completely forgettable ultimately depends on one thing: whether you truly understand where your customer is in their decision-making process. In other words, you must familiarize yourself with their customer journey.
Customers have much more access to information during their decision-making process, they can search online, check out your social platforms, ask questions about your product on forums, and read reviews. Consequently, your potential customers can delay talking to your sales team until they have developed a sound knowledge of your product and, in many cases, they may never need to talk to your sales team at all.
With the help of customer journey mapping, creating a solid lead generation strategy will help you form trust with these customers as early as possible, capturing their interest before they’re even ready to get in touch with you. And having a strong lead generation strategy can reduce inefficiencies in the lead nurturing process, whether that happens through marketing or sales, which means you’ll see more of your leads turning into paying customers faster.
There are 3 stages involved in turning a lead into a customer: awareness, consideration, and decision. Below, we’ve outlined each stage, along with some tips and tricks for converting more leads into customers. Consider this a launching pad to map out your own lead generation strategy for your business.
Stage one: Awareness
In the first stage of the customer journey, your leads have either become aware of your product or have, at the very least, become aware that they have a need that must be fulfilled. For example, let’s say your product is a marketing automation solution that’s easy to use. Your customer could be a real estate agent who has heard about how your software has saved other agents’ time chasing leads, or perhaps an overworked e-commerce business owner who wants to reduce the time he spends on menial tasks each day — but doesn’t know what he should do. Either way, this recognition has gotten to the point where these customers are open to considering alternative ways to improve their current situation or solve a problem.
In any case, your target audience is most likely on the fence about whether or not they even need help in the first place. These potential customers are still at the stage where they’re balancing the pros and cons of seeking external help, let alone your help. Therefore, they’re very likely to conduct extensive research to help them reach a decision.
At this stage, your lead generation strategy should consist of informational content pieces that serve as useful resources that your leads will find valuable rather than blatant sales pitches. Create helpful content such as blog posts and articles that not only show your business as an industry thought leader but helps your site rank on search engines. We recommend thinking about the type of pain points your potential clients may be experiencing and crafting content to assist them in solving their problems.
For example, you could be running your own personal training business and your website may have blogs comprising tips on how to train for a half-marathon, maintain a healthy weight, or meal prep for less than $30 a week. If someone signs up for one of your weekly weight loss newsletters, it tells us they’re an awareness stage lead — they’re interested in working on their fitness, but not quite ready to pay for your personal training sessions.
Although this user has yet to identify a need for your business, it doesn’t mean you can’t help them realize this need. Every touchpoint is a valuable opportunity for you to learn more about your customers — and create a more personalized experience to lead them to take action.
One of the best ways to kick off this new relationship on the right foot is to create more personalized content that speaks to the individual’s needs. To do that, you’ll need to enrich your data.
Using Ortto, you can create an audience segment (let’s say they’ve subscribed to your meal prep newsletters) who will be sent an email asking a question, followed by a list of multiple-choice responses. When they click on the response that most applies to them, they are sent down a personalized pathway where they are then sorted into their appropriate segments. Creating segments in this manner allows you to identify your core audience, discover common pain points, and refine your lead generation strategy for subsequent stages.
Stage two: Consideration
Your lead generation strategy is moving along nicely if you see an increase in organic traffic to your website. At the consideration stage of the customer journey, you can afford to talk more about your product.
At this stage, you should be trying to impress your leads by telling them how they can benefit from using your products. You also want to keep your leads on your website longer, further engaging their interest. We recommend creating high-value content such as long-form content, white papers, eBooks, webinars, and videos; these types of content should support your business’s ability to solve your lead’s problem.
Once you’re done producing your first piece of high-value content, you can package it up as gated content, where you give the content to the lead in exchange for their email address.
Sometimes called lead magnets, gated content forms a strong basis for growing your email database and developing a successful lead generation strategy. If you’re an Ortto customer, you can build a journey where every lead that submits a form to download one of your e-books is automatically and immediately sent an email with a download link. As soon as your lead downloads the e-book, they could be assigned to a salesperson for a follow-up or nurtured via a series of messages sent via email, text message, or on-site messages.
Stage three: Decision
In this final stage, your role is to get your lead to the finish line. Here, your lead is ready to take the next step and is one click away from getting in touch with you to get the sales process rolling. In addition to continuing to provide high-value content, you should now consider the following conversion opportunities to turn this lead into a paying customer:
Ensure a chatbox, contact form, email address, or phone number is visible throughout your website. You want to make it as easy as possible for your leads to contact you.
Continue finding ways to engage with your leads, through email, chat, pop-ups, and retargeted social media or search campaigns,
Create a form that allows your lead to ask further questions about your business. Make it simple and easy to find on your website and within your content.
You can use your customer data platform to score leads, assign quality leads at an enterprise level to sales team members, or continue to send relevant content to leads to nurture them further. With Ortto doing the busy work of scoring and assigning, your team can focus on hitting the home run.
Even in this world of increasing competition and acquisition costs, there are plenty of ways to generate new leads through paid and organic campaigns. We’re going to break these ideas into two categories: The where and the how.
Where to generate and capture leads
Generate and capture leads through Facebook ads
Facebook Lead Ads allow you to run targeted campaigns to attract customer interest for a product or service. Lead Ads encourage Facebook users to fill out a form with their personal details, and those details can be downloaded, then uploaded to your CRM.
If you’re an Ortto customer with Facebook integrated, your leads will be captured into your CDP instantly and automatically, so you can segment them, and put them into the most relevant Welcome Playbook. Ortto’s lead capture feature saves you huge amounts of time while ensuring that you can start nurturing your new lead as quickly as possible, beating out the competition.
Facebook Lead Ads are highly targeted and give you the opportunity to find new audiences (custom and lookalike). This helps you place your ads in front of people who are more likely to show interest, which in turn, reduces your spend on paid advertising, PPC (pay per click) and CPA (cost per acquisition).
Generate and capture leads with Google
Google allows you to advertise on multiple platforms including YouTube, Google Display Network and the Google Search Network. When targeting people who are ready to make a purchase, Google can produce effective ad campaign results. According to WordLead, 65% of people click on Google Ads when they’re ready to buy.
To acquire the right type of leads, it’s vital that you first optimize your landing pages, rank for the best keywords, create highly targeted ads and adjust your bids. Once you’ve optimized each element, Google Ads becomes a powerful platform to collect leads and drive traffic to your website.
Generate and capture leads with SMS
When used well, SMS can become the most powerful marketing strategy you have.
This is partly down to the fact that people are more likely to open a text message than they are any other marketing message — 86.1% of recipients will open an SMS within 30 minutes, and 83% of millennials open an SMS message within 90 seconds of receiving them.
You never want to spam your contacts with text messages that really could have been delivered via the less-intrusive email, so it’s crucial to consider context as you’re building out your strategy. For example, SMS marketing is a fantastic way to generate and capture leads from billboards, bus ads, physical stores or even at an event by putting a phone number on a slide. It's simple to set up and an incredibly effective lead generation tool.
Generate and capture leads at events (virtual or IRL)
Speaking of events… whether you’re sponsoring, hosting or participating in an event, you’re presented with an ideal lead-generating opportunity.
An event humanizes your company and gives you a rare opportunity to capture your potential leads full attention, especially if the event is held in person. It’s important to remember that, even at an event, most of the potential leads you encounter won’t be 100% ready to buy.
To target people who are not ready to buy, you can create a multi-channel journey that targets leads who express interest. A multi-channel strategy requires you to capture a lead’s contact information during an event and follow up with a series of automated and personalized messages across email, SMS, and dedicated sign-up landing pages.
Generate and capture leads on your website
Whether your lead comes to you via organic search, a blog post shared on social media, a feature page, or a recommendation from a colleague or friend, you can capture them using pop-ups, widgets, and banners.
The great thing about capturing leads that are generated through organic means is that they’re already interested in your brand and what you have to offer, making your job on the capture and nurture side a little easier.
Remember to offer your leads something in return, whether it’s content, discount, advice, or an exclusive invitation. Check out the lead generation ideas below to get those creative juices flowing.
So we’ve got the where covered. What about the rest? These 18 lead generation ideas will help you create omnichannel lead generation campaigns that prioritize quality without sacrificing quantity.
Let’s get into it.
Produce gated content
There are many journeys a lead may take before they become a customer — but no matter what kind of journey you’re looking at, it’s likely your leads are best nurtured with a variety of content, some of it free and some restricted.
Restricted content is called gated, and it’s used to generate leads. First, create high-value content which can only be accessed when an individual hands over their details. Then create, distribute and promote a landing page to drive those leads.
Generally, gated content takes the form of a one-sheet, white paper, eBook, checklist, how-to guide, or template. The higher the value, the more details you can reasonably ask your lead for. For example, an email and name may be all you ask for your one-sheet landing pages, but for an eBook it is reasonable to ask for more information like company, company type, department or job title, and phone number.
Check out the eBook landing page examples from Webflow and Thrive Market below to get a sense of how this is done in B2B and B2C businesses.
Invite users to a webinar based on pages visited
Hosting a webinar? You could keep it simple and invite your entire list. Or, if it’s content that may not apply to all or you’re trying to generate a specific type of lead, you could target those who land on particular pages. Try sending a tailored message to those who visit your customer page, events page and perhaps any high-intent pages (such as pricing, product-specific blog posts, or a contact request form).
If you’re an Ortto customer, this is easy to set up using a Playbook. With your customer data unified, you can easily create a branded webinar invitation to be shared via a pop-up when a visitor hits a certain page. You can then track which of your visitors received the pop-up and retarget them with an email down the track.
Offer special discounts to targeted visitors
Ortto allows for targeting based on specific URLs, so you can offer unique discount codes that appear via pop-ups, bars, or takeover units on your site. You can enhance these with features like Spin the Wheel which gamifies the discount or offer, or a countdown timer to create urgency. In any case, the visitor will need to hand over a few personal details before they’re awarded the offer, turning them into a lead that can be nurtured through automated marketing or sales engagements.
This can be especially helpful if you’re an e-commerce company offering 10% off individual products, a SaaS startup trying to woo new subscribers with a free month of service, or a pro blogger waiving the fee to join your membership site.
TAXIBOX, an Ortto customer, offers a huge $50 discount for anyone who books with 7 days' notice and hands over their email address.
Create and promote a newsletter
A newsletter is a great way to generate leads, and nurture them with content that is valuable and related to your industry or product. You’ll want to ensure that your newsletter subscribers are segmented to receive your newsletter and the odd promotional email, rather than every email you ever send.
To grow this audience segment, use a message that appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen of a blog when the reader is roughly halfway to two-thirds through a content piece. This is a far better user experience than an intrusive pop-up that appears the second you hit a blog.
Use a feedback box
Get real, valuable feedback along with leads by using Ortto’s Feedback capture form. This appears in the bottom right-hand corner of relevant pages — like pricing pages or FAQ pages — and allows the visitor to share feedback, ask questions, or answer a question (e.g. How can we help you grow your business?). The visitor will hand over their email address to get a response, and you’ll have a hot new lead, with some extra context.
Use case studies and testimonials
Whether through ads on social media platforms or widgets on site, sharing third-party love for your brand or product can go a long way to driving leads. Get creative with these — for example, try user-generated content from social media, film on iPhone to give your customer’s testimonials an organic feeling, or get creative with the treatment of quotes and star reviews.
Be present on LinkedIn
A huge 55% of decision-makers use LinkedIn to vet organizations. If you’re a B2B (and even if you’re not — remember, professionals are people and potential customers too), LinkedIn is an essential platform. Share helpful information, thought leadership, product updates, and behind-the-scenes updates. People like to buy from businesses they can connect with, so don’t be afraid to show your personality or get your team involved.
Images, blog posts, press releases, feature pages, videos, infographics, product description pages, FAQs, about us, careers pages, templates, community pages — every single thing on your website should be optimized for search. It’s a huge, on-going job, but that organic lead generation is definitely worth it!
Build a community
Community-led growth is a tactic that prioritizes fostering a strong, engaged, and enthusiastic community with your business at the center. Often these communities exist on social platforms, but other formats like Slack channels, forums, and creative communities like Figma Community are increasing in popularity. Whatever shape your community takes, it’s a great way to generate qualified leads.
Perform market research or studies
Offering market research reports can help establish your brand as a thought leader and will provide endless content opportunities. Any statistics and infographics generated off the back of this research aid in link-building for years to come. If you’re a beauty or health brand, you can also consider funding and conducting clinical trials to study the efficacy of specific ingredients used in your products. Yes, this is an investment of time and money, but it can go a long way to setting your brand apart from competitors. In the example from HUM Nutrition below, you can see how a clinical study landing page could drive leads from organic and paid search, or social campaigns.
Appear on blogs or podcasts
Whether it’s a company founder, CEO, VP, or even Head Of, there will be at least one person in your business who is open to being a public figure (and has a great communication style). Have them participate in professional profiles, contributed blog posts, or podcast interviews to reach your target audience and generate some new leads.
Webinars are a great way to generate more leads and can be repurposed for blogs, social content, and email content. Set yourself up for success with a webinar confirmation and follow-up journey that is optimized to maximize attendees and follow up with relevant content.
The quiz has become an ecommerce mainstay, and for good reason. Ask your website visitors some questions about their needs and direct them to the most relevant content or products. They’ll be grateful to find what they need quickly, and you’ll generate a lead while capturing context that will help you personalize your marketing messages.
Create a referral program
Referral programs can feel intimidating, but with Ortto’s unique discount code creator, they’re actually incredibly simple. Create an audience segment with your most engaged customers and target them with emails and pop-up messages that encourage them to share your business or products with their friends in exchange for a discount. It’s a simple way to generate leads that look like your best customers.
Build LAL audiences
With your customers segmented and a wealth of customer data at your fingertips, Ortto will give you everything you need to build a lookalike audience that can be set up and targeted through Facebook or Google. Target this audience with videos, case studies, testimonials, and other content, and run some tests to see which content types result in the most efficient CPA and the most high-quality leads.
Create a free tool
Let’s say you're a B2B brand that works with a lot of media agencies. You could set up a simple tool that automatically calculates individual line item CPMs or eCPMs across your whole plan. These tools are a great way to generate new leads and offer your existing customers something valuable.
Try audio content
We already mentioned appearing on podcasts, but what about creating one? Or creating other audio content like audio versions of your eBooks and articles, branded playlists of songs inspired by your products, voice search optimizations, meditations on popular apps like Insight Timer, or clever podcast ads that can be dynamically inserted and targeted to a specific market, or sponsored directly.
Partner with influencers
Influencers are still an incredibly effective marketing channel and one that can be used by businesses of every size. If you only have a limited budget, try tools like Tribe or Vamp to work with micro-influencers to get the word out about your brand and generate new leads. If you’re a larger brand, opt for bigger, more meaningful long-term partnerships with influencers that really make sense for your brand and offering. And don’t forget — B2B influencers are out there, and can be incredibly effective.
The final word
This may seem like a lot, but we’re really just scratching the surface. There are a million and one ways to generate a lead, a successful lead generation strategy is all about identifying the channels and campaigns that work for your brand, then refining and testing as you learn.
To ensure that every dollar and minute spent is used well, use a CDP like Ortto to automate messages across the customer journey and keep track of performance.