If you’re working with a sizeable marketing budget, generating leads is pretty easy.
Just throw a couple of thousand dollars into Google AdWords and/or Facebook ads…
And you’ll have plenty of leads that you can nurture and convert.
But if you’re working at a startup or a small company, and you have little to no marketing budget, that’s when things get tough.
You can’t rely on any paid methods – so you’ll have to be creative and come up with lead generation ideas that don’t cost a single cent.
Don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it…
We’ve done the dirty work, and rounded up 7 tried-and-tested lead generation ideas that you can use (even if you have ZERO budget).
All you have to do is decide on which strategies are a good fit for you, and then implement them according to our tips!
1. Inject “human error” into your email marketing campaign
You’ve probably heard that email marketing generates fantastic ROI.
More specifically, companies get $44 for every $1 they invest into email marketing.
Here’s the thing, though… not all email campaigns are made equal.
As a general rule of thumb, email campaigns that are automated and personalized tend to do a lot better than non-automated campaigns sent to your entire subscriber list.
Here are the numbers:
There’s one caveat, though…
In order to be effective, your automated email campaigns have to feel like they’re NOT automated.
Think about it:
Say you receive two emails in your inbox today. Email A is a generic email that’s CLEARLY sent out to an entire mailing list, and Email B is personal, and addresses you directly.
Which are you more likely to open, read, and respond to?
Email B, of course!
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to make your emails sound intimate and personal (even if they’re 100% automated).
First, use first and second person pronouns such as “I” and “you”.
Negative example: “Most business owners find it challenging to…”
Positive example: “If you’re like most business owners, it’s probably a challenge for you to…”
Next, don’t be too corporate and robotic with your writing. Show off your personality!
Negative example: “This tool was built for small business owners who need to control their cash flow better.”
Positive example: “We know that the biggest nightmare, for small business owners, is to run into cash flow problems. That’s why we built this tool to help you stay on top of your game!”
Finally, inject some “human error” into your email campaigns.
This trick is pretty game changing, so you’ll definitely want to use it when you’re crafting your next automated campaign.
Step 1: Decide on the objective of your campaign. EG: Get prospects to sign up for a free demo.
Step 2: Create an email with a relevant Call To Action (CTA), but leave out ONE critical component. For example, you might do away with your button / link for prospects to click through.
Step 3: Create a second email in the same campaign that’s triggered a day after this first email. In this email, apologize for forgetting to include the button in your first email, and reiterate your CTA.
Step 4: Sit back and watch your open and click through rates soar through the roof.
Here’s an example from Mailchimp:
Pretty smart, huh?
When your prospects receive your second “Oops, I made a mistake!” email, this leads them to believe that you actually sat down wrote that first email to them (instead of simply triggering it via an automated campaign).
And when this happens, they’ll be much more receptive to your offer.
Try this for yourself, and let us know if it works for you!
2. Use content upgrades
Next on our list of free lead generation ideas is… using content upgrades!
Now, we know that most marketers are already writing and publishing blog articles as part of their content strategy.
But if you want to take your blogging to the next level, and generate more leads from it, then you should definitely try out this tactic.
In short, a content upgrade is a lead magnet or downloadable asset that you offer specifically to your blog readers. As a general rule of thumb, this content upgrade should be relevant to your blog article.
Here are a few examples:
Blog article = The Ultimate SEO Guide For Small Business Owners Content upgrade = 10-Step SEO Checklist
Blog article = How To Set Up Your First Facebook Campaign For eCommerce Store Owners Content upgrade = 10 eCommerce Facebook Case Studies
You get the picture!
So, how does this content upgrade help you generate more leads?
Well, if you don’t have a content upgrade within your article, your readers might churn immediately after reading your article, or they might click around your website for a bit, then churn.
But if you do have a content upgrade, there’s a good chance that your readers will give you their contact information in order to get that upgrade.
Bingo! That’s a new lead in your system.
Now, let’s talk about how you can set up your content upgrades.
There are various methods of doing this, but for marketers or business owners with no coding skills, your best bet is to use a tool or plugin.
For instance, OptinMonster comes with a MonsterLinks feature which will trigger a pop-up form upon click. You can use this form to collect your reader’s details.
Here’s how it looks:
Pro-tip: instead of just featuring content upgrades on your newly published articles, it’s also worth going back to take a look at your best-performing content.
If you check out Google Analytics and find that you have one or two evergreen articles that keep bringing you traffic, then update those articles and include content upgrades within them as well!
3. Create more evergreen content
Since we’re on the note of evergreen content, here’s a related tip:
Spend more time creating evergreen content, instead of time-sensitive industry updates and related articles.
Now, if you’re hesitant to move away from time-sensitive articles, we get it. Your goal is to position your company as a thought leader, and in order to do so, you need to publish articles that talk about the latest developments in your industry.
That said, it’s important to look at things from a higher-level perspective.
Let’s use the SEO industry as an example.
One year down the road, do you think anyone will still be searching about Google’s Panda Update?
Nope – it’ll be old news by then. (In fact, it kind of already is).
What people will still be searching for, however, is evergreen content including:
- SEO cheat sheets
- SEO best practices
- SEO mistakes to avoid
So, if you really have to publish industry updates, go ahead and do it – but don’t spend too much of your time on it.
Instead, devote your time to creating content that can withstand the test of time. If you play your cards right, your content might still be generating traffic (and leads!) for you a few years down the road…
Here’s another hack that you can use to maximize the mileage of your content:
If you notice that some of your old articles are still driving a ton of traffic and leads, spend an hour or so to update these articles, then edit the article to reflect the update date.
Say your old title was: 17 SEO Tips & Tricks To Help Small Business Owners Rank On Google.
Your new title would now be: 17 SEO Tips & Tricks To Help Small Business Owners Rank On Google [Updated in 2018].
This will bump up your click through rate, and increase the number of leads and traffic that you generate from you articles.
PS: Don’t forget to use this in conjunction with our previous tip (content upgrades), so that you get more leads!
4. Give your visitors less options
Say you’re at the grocery store, and you’re shopping for toothpaste.
Would you rather have three options, or 20+ options?
If you’re like most people, you’ll probably choose the former. 3 options is sufficient – any more than that, and you’ll start to suffer from decision paralysis.
So, what does this have to do with generating leads?
Just like how you’d find it hard to make a decision if you have 20+ toothpastes to choose from, your potential leads will also find it stressful if there are too many options on your website.
Bearing this in mind, you should simplify your website, and communicate only what’s absolutely necessary to your potential leads.
Here are a few ways in which you can do this:
First, use a SINGLE call to action on each individual page.
You can incorporate the CTA multiple times (above the fold, below the fold, etc), but make sure you use the same CTA throughout.
Next, don’t include too many plans on your pricing page.
If you have 8 different plans, for example, get rid of all your unpopular plans, and offer fewer plans to your leads.
What if it’s not within your jurisdiction to do away with the plans completely? In that case, you could do this instead:
List the most popular plans on your page, and add a note to tell site visitors that they can get in touch to find out about your company’s other plans.
Trust us, this works like a charm.
Here’s an example:
Groove previously showcased 6 different plans on their pricing page, but when their customers weren’t biting, they quickly realized that less is more.
After that, they simplified their pricing page to offer just ONE plan…
And this resulted in a whopping 350% increase in conversions.
Last but not least, make your landing pages (where you collect your leads’ information) as stark as possible.
Check out this case study:
MySiteAuditor wasn’t generating many leads with their landing page, so they tweaked it so that it required their site visitors to make fewer decisions.
Originally, the landing page featured a navigation panel and a logo on top (check out the screenshot above).
This meant that a visitor who landed on this page could easily click back to MySiteAuditor’s home page, or check out the other pages on their site.
With the new landing page, the MySiteAuditor team removed the navigation panel and logo, so all that was left was the sign-up form.
All in all, the new landing page got the company 25% more conversions, which is pretty impressive.
5. A/B test your pricing page
We briefly talked about pricing pages in the previous point, but we’ll now cover these in greater detail.
Now, one huge question when it comes to pricing pages is:
Should you disclose all your prices on your page, or not?
There are pros and cons associated with both options, so unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
If you disclose your prices, and they’re on the higher end, then this may eliminate leads who take pricing to be a key determining factor.
That said, you may also argue that these leads aren’t a good fit, and it’s better to get rid of them from the get-go. You’d much rather spend your time nurturing a lead who can afford your services, rather than trying to convince a lead who just doesn’t have the budget.
If you decide to disclose your prices on your page, you’re facing the same scenario, this time flipped on its head.
With your prices out for the world to see, it’s easier for you to start pitching to a lead. They already know how much the can expect to spend on your products/services, and the likelihood of either party being blindsided by budgeting constraints is close to zero.
That said, you might miss out on some leads who filter options based on price.
It’s possible that you could win over these folks and close a deal IF you had the chance to speak to them… but since you’ve been eliminated from their shortlist, you won’t have that opportunity.
The bottom line?
Whether you’d have more success with disclosing your prices or not depends on multiple factors, including:
- What industry you’re in, and how saturated it is
- The reputation and credibility of your company
- Your lead’s mentality, and their process of researching/shortlisting vendors
Bearing this in mind, you should A/B test your pricing page, and see whether disclosing prices or hiding them gives you more conversions.
While you’re at it, you can also A/B test these other elements:
- Highlighting a “recommended” or “popular” plan
- Including testimonials on your pricing page
- The exact testimonials included on your pricing page (some might be more convincing than others!)
- Including an FAQ section on your pricing page
- Ordering your plans from cheap to expensive (vs expensive to cheap)
- Call-To-Actions (eg Start Your Plan VS Get Plan Now VS Unlock Plan)
- Increasing the size of your CTA button, or changing the color of your button
- Offering a money back guarantee
- Offering an annual payment plan
Go forth, and start testing!
6. Track your website visitors
Next on our list of free lead generation ideas is our very own visitor tracking tool, Albacross.
Now, at this point in the article, we’ve already shared several ideas that you can use to optimize your site, and increase your conversion rate.
But here’s what you need to know:
Regardless of how much optimizing you do, you won’t have a 100% waterproof funnel.
Makes sense, right?
Not ALL your website visitors will be ready to convert, right off the bat.
Some visitors might be shopping around, and they’ll probably want to look at other options before enquiring or reaching out to your company.
Other visitors might need to run your product/service by their team, and they might only get in touch after they’ve gotten their other colleagues on board.
Now, here’s the problem…
What if you visitors forget about your product/service, and don’t return to your site?
Or what if they’ve found your competitor, and decide that they want to work with them instead?
It’s such a pity to let all these visitors (who are potential leads!) go down the drain without trying to salvage them…
That’s why we built our visitor tracking tool, Albacross.
In a nutshell, Albacross allows you to track all the visitors who land on your site.
That’s not all – we even provide these visitors’ contact information; this allows you to reach out to them, and convert them into leads!
Here’s how it works:
First, sign up for a free Albacross account. This takes just 30 seconds, and you don’t need to enter any credit card information.
Next, paste Albacross’s tracking script on your website. Once you do this, Albacross will start tracking your site visitors.
Finally, sit back and wait to receive Albacross’s reports (either daily, weekly, or monthly) in your inbox. These reports will tell you:
- Who’s visiting your website
- What companies they’re from, and
- Their contact information
All you need to do is decide which leads are a good fit for your company, and pass these on to your sales colleagues.
Awesome, or what?
Again, Albacross is 100% free to use, and once you set it up, it’ll run automatically in the background and generate leads for you while you sleep.
Click to sign up for your free account!
7. Work with influencers
One of our favorite lead generation ideas is to work with influencers.
Now, if you’re new to the world of influencer marketing, you’re not alone. Influencer marketing is huge when it comes to B2C, but it hasn’t quite caught on in B2B industries yet.
If you ask us, you should definitely jump in while it’s not yet mainstream.
This way, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors, and stand out from the crowd!
Alright, here’s how you can get started on your first influencer campaign:
Step 1: Put together a list of potential influencers you might work with.
How do you look for B2B influencers?
First, you can Google “your industry” + “blog”, or simply Google keywords and topics related to your industry, and see what pops up.
If I search for “Facebook ads mistakes”, for example, the top hit is this article by AdEspresso.
After scrolling all the way down, I see that the article is a guest post by Johnathan Dane, founder of KlientBoost.
Bingo – Johnathan then goes into my list of potential influencers.
Next, you can also use content discovery tools such as Buzzsumo. This allows you to identify the most-shared content for a specific topic.
After inputting my search term (“Facebook ads mistakes”), here’s what I see…
The first article on that list (which generated an impressive 2.2k engagements on Facebook!) is written by a Facebook ads strategist, Bianca Mckenzie.
If you want to promote a tool that helps you create more effective Facebook ads, Bianca would definitely be going into your initial list!
Finally, you can also use LinkedIn to discover B2B influencers and thought leaders.
Doing this is simple:
Just log into LinkedIn, click on the search bar, and click “Content” from the drop-down list.
Then input your keyword, and you’ll see a feed of updates and content shared by your 2nd and 3rd degree connections.
If you find any worthy candidates from browsing through your feed, then add them to your list as well!
Step 2: Evaluate and shortlist your influencers.
Now that you’ve got a list of influencers to choose from, it’s time to evaluate and shortlist them.
First things first: decide on what type of content you want your influencers to produce, and narrow your list from there.
If you’re just hoping to get a product review (in the format of a blog article), then this is pretty straightforward…
But if you want your influencer to create a demo / walkthrough of your product and post it online, then you’ll want to hone in on influencers who:
- Have experience producing similar videos, and
- Have a YouTube channel with a decent sized following
You get the idea.
Of course, you should also take into consideration each influencer’s following and engagement.
To get an idea of how much traffic they have, use SimilarWeb.
If I search for NeilPatel.com on SimilarWeb, for example, here’s what I see:
When I scroll further down, there are more stats on:
- Which countries Neil’s readers are from
- Which sources make up the majority of his traffic, and
- Which are his top referring sites
Pretty cool, huh?
Traffic aside, you should also look at your influencers’ engagement levels.
This data isn’t on Similarweb, so you’ll have to do a bit of digging. Simply head to your influencer’s website or blog, look at their 10 most recent articles, and check out the amount of comments on each article.
If your influencer supposedly has 100,000 hits per day, but they only get a measly 2 or 3 comments on each article, then something’s not adding up.
It could be that their audience is super disengaged, or they’re buying traffic to inflate their numbers.
Either way, consider this a red flag – and eliminate the influencer from your list!
Step 3: Work out the key details of your campaign.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of influencers, it’s time to work out the key details of your campaign.
Here are a few question to guide you along:
- What deliverables/output are you looking for?
- What product or Unique Selling Proposition (USP) do you want to highlight?
- Are you paying for the campaign? Is this a fixed fee, or a tiered payment (similar to an affiliate marketing scheme)?
- When will you launch your campaign?
- Will you support your campaign using social media and other initiatives?
- Will you create a special offer for your influencer’s followers?
Step 4: Reach out to your influencers.
Once you’ve hashed out the details of your campaign, it’s time to reach out to your influencers.
Most influencers will list their contact information in their profiles/bio, so it should be relatively easy to pull their email address from there, and get in touch with them.
Other than telling them what you want them to do for you, be sure to talk about how your campaign benefits them as well.
If you need some help phrasing your email, you can get some inspiration from these 11 influencer outreach templates.
Step 5: Measure and track results.
Once you get your influencers on board, and you launch your campaign, don’t forget to follow up with this critical step… measuring and tracking your results!
Keep an eye on your key metrics, and at the end of the campaign, calculate the number of leads or ROI that the campaign has generated.
This will allow you to objectively assess your campaign’s performance, and it’ll also help you fine-tune your campaign (assuming you want to do a second run).
Free Lead Generation Ideas To Skyrocket Your Leads
And there you have it – 7 free lead generation ideas to help you grow your leads!
We hope you’ve gained plenty of insights and inspiration from this list of ideas…
It might be tough to generate leads on a tight budget, but with enough creativity, you can pull through and make it happen.
Now, your first step is to shortlist which ideas you want to try for this list, and come up with an implementation timeline. Go ahead and do that now!
Before we leave you, here’s one final tip:
Regardless of what strategies you use, remember that the key is to keep measuring and A/B testing. Let the numbers speak for themselves!