Marketers and business owners alike face the constant uphill battle of trying to fill the top of their sales funnel with new leads. What adds to this problem is the fact that every business is different. You may find that the lead generation tactics that worked for your friend’s business don’t exactly work for yours. Does that mean you should stop trying altogether? Absolutely not. Rather, you need to keep experimenting. This article provides an overview of 14 different lead generation tactics that are actionable by most businesses.
1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing is a lead generation tactic whereby businesses can increase the visibility of their website in search engines such as Google and Bing.
Search engine marketing can yield great results for businesses as it focusses on the customer’s intent. For example, if a potential consumer is searching for the term “electrician near Surry Hills” in a search engine, it is more than likely they are looking for an electrician to help them with their electrical works near their location in Surry Hills. SEM is actionable either through paid advertising or organic optimisation tactics.
In paid advertising, the search engines will place the websites higher up in the search results in return for payment. This payment is usually on a per click to website basis or per thousand impressions (i.e. the number of times your advertisement was seen in the search results). Businesses can choose which keywords or search terms they want their websites to show and not show. Once the business’ budget is exhausted, the websites will cease to show in the search results.
Sometimes called search engine optimisation (SEO), this form of SEM involves increasing the organic search ranking of your website for certain keywords or search terms over time. It differs to paid advertising in that there is no cost involved, and if successful, your business has the potential to show up in the search results continually.
2. Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Businesses can use social media in a variety of ways and for different purposes. For instance, they can use social media to update customers about news and events, or simply as a way to interact with their clients. Social media when correctly used can also be a clever way to generate leads for your business.
The idea behind social media marketing is to promote content that prospective customers are encouraged to share and interact with on their social networks. This user engagement can have a socially influential effect whereby others are invited to learn more about the product or service based on the actions of their friends.
Like SEM, SMM can be both organic or paid. Some advantages of SMM include:
- Reach: With the plethora of platforms, SMM has the potential to reach millions of people
- Targetability: Unlike SEM, SMM provides high targetability. For example, you can search for specific groups, or if running paid advertisements, you narrow your reach by demographics, location and interests.
- Free or low-cost: You can set up a free business account on most social media platforms. You also have full control over your budget should you decide to run paid advertisements.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a longer-term lead generation tactic aimed at providing valuable content to retain and attract customers. Content marketing is non-interruptive meaning that the content is not intended to sell a product or service. Rather, by keeping your business at the top of your prospective consumer’s mind, you develop a sense of trust which will (hopefully) lead to conversions in the future.
Content can be in numerous forms, such as:
- White papers
- Articles, and
You can integrate this content into the overall marketing strategy of your business (such as in your SMM strategy or email marketing efforts), or into a standalone blog.
4. Referral Marketing
Word-of-mouth remains one of the best forms of lead generation tactics today. When a business can put this free and effective method into a framework, it can be even more powerful. Referral marketing is one of the ways marketers and business owners can do this. It is the process of actively influencing customers to promote the good or service to their network.
One of the best examples of referral marketing is how online cloud storage company Dropbox increased their user base from 100,000 to 400,000 in 15 months. The referral program was simple: refer a friend to get more storage. It kept the users engaged with their product while simultaneously increasing customers.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of lead generation tactics whereby businesses send emails to acquire customers. You can use email marketing in numerous ways. For example, you might send a batch email to a list to tell them about a new product you have introduced. Alternatively, you may send a discount to a selected group of people to promote further in-store purchases. In all instances, you should ensure that you comply with email marketing laws.
6. Affiliate Programs
Affiliate marketing is a lead generation tactic whereby one business will reward another business (the affiliate) for bringing in website traffic or sales. A traditional affiliate program will include four key players:
- The merchant (the business trying to make the sale);
- The affiliate network (the network that takes care of payments and hosts the line of products that affiliates can choose to promote);
- The affiliate (the business driving the sales); and
- The customer.
eCommerce retailers selling products have traditionally had much of the success with affiliate programs. However, with some creativity, affiliate programs can work for different types of businesses. For example, online learning and teaching marketplace Udemy have introduced an affiliate program to drive the sales of their online video tutorials.
7. Event Marketing
Event Marketing is a lead generation tactic using personal engagement to promote a product or service. The event is often a curated exhibition or presentation aimed at increasing customer engagement, building brand awareness or educating your prospective clients. It can be both online or offline, and hosted internally or externally.
Common forms of event marketing activities can include:
- Live streaming events;
- Trade shows;
- Conferences; and
Successful event marketing campaigns often provide value beyond the product or service information. They also don’t stop at the conclusion of the event. For instance, you might offer the attendees a discount or a sample and follow-up with an email in a week’s time.
8. Business Development
Business development involves the many tasks aimed at increasing the number of strategic and beneficial partnerships between businesses. For example, you might forge a relationship with a company that can refer your business leads. There is no single way of doing business development. For example, attending networking events and trade shows is a good way to meet potential customers as well as forge mutually beneficially relationships with other businesses.
LinkedIn InMail is another method that’s available to find individuals who might be open to partnership opportunities. You can filter people by company name, industry or position title and reach out with cold emails.
9. Guest Blogging
Sometimes it may be easier to harness the strength of established businesses, especially when they interact with customers in your target market. Guest blogging is the process of writing articles or blog posts on another business’ blog. It can be mutually beneficial to both parties in that it is an opportunity to increase traffic to both websites. It also provides you with the opportunity to share your expertise with a larger pool of viewers.
10. Public Relations
In the context of lead generation tactics, public relations is the process of getting your business name into traditional media outlets in the hope that it will draw traffic to your business. Public relations does not have to be an expensive exercise. For instance, if you are a local business you can always reach out to local newspapers. It is always best practice to approach journalists who write about similar topics and issues to your business.
11. Guerilla Marketing
Where PR agencies or journalists become inaccessible, guerilla marketing is a creative way to gain traction and traffic. For example, the ALSA Ice Bucket Challenge where participants were encouraged to throw a bucket of ice water over themselves in a bid to promote awareness and charity donations to the ALS Association.
Basic economics tells us price affects demand and discounted offers may be a quick fix to help you meet those quotas. There are numerous online bargain sites which you could promote your business, such as OzBargains, LivingSocial, Scoopon and Groupon to name a few. You could also put offers up on websites like Gumtree. The best thing about most of these websites is that they are all free to make a post, and they house a lot of traffic from potential customers who are on the hunt for a cheap deal.
13. Offline Advertisements
Before there was the internet, lead generation solely occurred offline. Offline advertisements are still commonly used today, and include getting your business advertised on mediums like:
- Magazines, and
14. Engineering As Marketing
Engineering as marketing is a lead generation tactic where a business provides a suite of free tools to prospective customers in return for contact details. For example, this can be in the form of:
- Widgets, and
For example, a tax agent may offer a free online business tax calculator to businesses in return for their contact details. The tax agent may then follow these leads up with an email or phone call to try and engage their services.
Which Lead Generation Tactics Should My Business Use?
Whether certain lead generation tactics work for your business depends on the resources that you can commit to execution. All lead generation tactics will require at least some resources and commitment from your business, whether that be time, money, or human capital. You can’t expect to see results if you have only half executed the strategy.
You may also find that regardless of the resources committed, some lead generation tactics just don’t work for your business. There’s no need to be disheartened – some tactics were just not made for your business model. Your aim is to find the best mix for your business, and the only way to do that is test and measure results.
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