Prepared by Brandon Pindulic for the Marketing Operation Blog at proofHQ.
As B2B marketers, we’re always looking out for, and testing, lead generation tactics that will both bring us more qualified leads and deliver value for our readers, customers and visitors, whether it’s by giving them something in exchange for an opt-in or simply just delivering a better experience or by more accurate ad targeting.
While we of course rely on many proven lead gen tactics, we also try to get creative and test the waters on ideas that pop in our heads at random times. With this in mind, there are scores of things that quite simply don’t work out, but the tactics described below have consistently delivered us great results the majority of the time that we’ve implemented them and we believe they’ll work well for you, too.
Organic Lead Generation
1. Exit-intent popup:
Few things are more frustrating than entering a website and immediately being smacked in the face (screen?) with a popup before you can even check out what the site is all about. However, what if you didn’t see a popup at all until you’re ready to leave, and then you were offered something of value?
Now we’re talkin’.
Also, a bit meta, but OptinMonster uses their own product pretty darn well for lead gen. They created content in the form of a guide about how to increase leads using exit-intent technology in exchange for an email (re: permission to market to you). More value and not nearly as annoying as automatic pop ups.
SlideShare is a community of visual presentations on a variety of subjects, and it just so happens to be one of the best organic lead generation opportunities available. Users that submit high-quality slides on a topic that command viewers’ attention reap the rewards that content marketing is all about.
Mattan Griffel, co-founder of One Month Rails & formerly GrowHack (which has amazing content, by the way), leveraged SlideShare to promote his Skillshare course on learning how to code, and then followed that up with a case study on the amazing results he received in under 60 hours. These slides alone have hundreds of thousands of views, and hundreds of shares, which would not have occurred at all if Mattan decided to never repurpose the slides he made for his class and put them up on SlideShare for anyone to check out.
Note: SlideShare Pro allows for analytics, email lead generation, video uploads, etc. but as of now, they are currently not accepting new members until they make some product changes internally. The free SlideShare plan is still worthwhile and can be a huge opportunity to take advantage of.
Online education is booming, and while there are plenty of people making a healthy income from teaching classes online in various marketplaces such as Udemy, there are scores of others who are actually teaching classes for free simply to get in front of an interested audience. What makes this even more attractive is that you can message your audience at anytime with updates, which effectively gives you the same access an email opt-in does.
Bronson Taylor at Growth Hacker TV executed this strategy flawlessly. He posted several GHTV episodes for free, which acted both as a free trial and a communication stream between him and over 5000 interested individuals.
4. Email Signatures
Email marketing is far from dead, and marketing via email signatures is extremely underrated.
Take AppSumo for example. They’ve built a 7-figure business out of a newsletter that sells discounted digital products, kind of like Groupon. Recently, they created SumoMe.com to help bloggers grow their audience more effectively.
What did they do to promote it once they launched SumoMe? Well, just about everything except take advantage of the 750,000+ email subscribers that they have at AppSumo.
What happened when they did take advantage of their built-in following? Well, a lot more than before according to Chief Sumo himself, Noah Kagan.
Also, If you run a larger operation using Outlook and want to take advantage of email signature marketing at scale, I highly recommend Xink. It allows you to change your employees’ email signatures on-demand to ensure consistency, track analytics and promote various messages at any time.
5. Gated Video Content
Ungated content is freely available for anyone to take advantage of, while gated content usually requires an email or some sort of opt-in to consume the content.
Now, most B2B marketers understand the benefits of offering an ebook of some sort for an email, but few are taking advantage of other forms of content, such as video.
Neil Patel does this well with QuickSprout University, where he displays all of the amazing content that he had available in short, bite-sized videos, but upon clicking on them, you’re directed to sign up for this Traffic System product.
6. Membership Perks & Bundles
This is personally one of my favorite lead gen strategies for software businesses. Also, it can be used in a couple different ways by either making it freely accessible for anyone to download, or by keeping it closed off just for current customers to offer an additional perk or as an additional reason to join with them as opposed to a competitor.
Below are the best membership perks and bundles I’ve seen and have taken advantage of.
GrooveHQ created a Small Business Stack that is available for anyone willing to opt-in. It has over $10,000 worth of free software in the form of discounts and extended free trials, and it’s something I’ve taken advantage of quite a bit.
Also, if you have a .CO site, then you need to take advantage of GO.CO’s membership program. They have a ton of great deals lined up there to help you improve your site in every way imaginable, from hosting to design to marketing and much, much more.
7. Don’t Forget About Old Content
This might be the biggest mistake a content marketer can make. Just because content isn’t new doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. In fact, one of our best performing posts is from 2010! As you can tell, it’s a great post on design blogs, but there are still a ton of things we can do to improve it, such as update the post with more blogs that have since emerged, enhance the design and create a proper distribution strategy for it.
In addition to improving upon the content itself, you should take the time to identify your top performing pieces of content and add a highly-relevant CTA at the bottom, much like how HubSpot takes advantage of their organic traffic.
This CTA was attached to the bottom of a post about how various marketers started their career, so it makes sense to offer a piece of content on marketing resumes. That’s inbound marketing lead gen at its finest. Well done, HubSpot.
8. Guest Webinars
We all know about guest posting and likely have it embedded into our marketing mix, but what about guest webinars?
This, of course, takes more effort to put together since you essentially need to prepare a talk, slides and a promotion strategy, but it’s an amazing piece of evergreen content that attracts the right kind of audience.
After analyzing KISSMetrics’ webinars, it’s clear they create some of the best digital marketing webinars around and do so on a consistent basis.
They understand their core audience, they have high standards for content, and they reach out to expert marketers from various disciplines to create the webinars, which is key. Essentially, they allow these individuals, many of whom speak at conferences on a regular basis, to speak to their audience on a particular topic within their expertise.
If you can tap into the thought leaders’ expertise within your niche and your audience on a consistent basis through webinars, or any form of good content for that matter, you’ll be on your way to creating a successful content factory. Even if you don’t have a large and active following, there’s plenty of smart individuals out there looking to get a chance to speak to a new audience, regardless of size.
Paid Lead Generation
9. Pay To Promote Media Mentions
This is a tactic that I heard of Yesware using through Alex’s tech thoughts, and I thought it was genius. Essentially, Yesware saw that they were mentioned in a press outlet (in this case, Forbes) and that it was converting really well. So, what did they decide to do? They bought targeted traffic through Outbrain and Taboola to that post and treated it as an ad, which not only helps Yesware attract more qualified leads, but it also helped out Alex’s article immensely, which could lead to coverage later down the road again.
10. Buy AdWords Around Upcoming Marketing Events
There’s surely to be plenty of events and conferences that cater to your niche or your audience, and there’s plenty of different ways to take advantage of these events whether you’re attending them or not.
One way is to buy AdWords using the conference title as your keywords.
More often than not, there will be very few companies (if any) doing this, and since the keywords are not highly trafficked, you could find yourself with a rare AdWords bargain.
11. Niche Sponsorships
While we have a bevy of advertising options and a suite of tools to select from that help us with tracking every bit of information, sometimes it’s easy to overlook a plain and simple niche sponsorship, which can be highly effective given a good match.
For example, before Mint.com launched, they sponsored Paulstamatiou which is a tech-focused startup site and has the right audience to attract early adopters to what was then a little pre-launch startup in Mint.
According to Noah Kagan, the then lead marketer at Mint, this tiny sponsorship (costed a few hundreds bucks a month) brought thousands of email opt-ins before Mint even launched.
That’s a classic example of building trust through a micro-influencer that caters to your target audience.
If you need help finding these individuals to sponsor, I highly recommend the following:
BuzzSumo to help find what kind of content is being shared (and by who), which can help assist you find some attractive sites to contact.
Followerwonk to filter through Twitter profiles and find some interesting thought leaders in your niche (hint: go after the up-and-comers in abundance rather than a handful of major influencers).
Then, simply reach out to these individuals and genuinely appreciate their content. From there, ask about working out some sort of sponsorship whether it’s in the form of sponsored content, a mention on their podcast, an ad on their site or maybe even an ad in their newsletter. Get creative.
Finding ways that resonate with potential customers doesn’t have to be super complicated. In fact, sometimes the best ways are the most simple and do not require technical hacks, APIs or any other kind of crazy wizardry.
The most important things to remember is that action trumps strategy and consistency is the key to sustainable growth.
If you have any other creative lead gen tactics that have worked for you, or have any feedback on the tactics mentioned above, drop a comment below.
Prepared by Brandon Pindulic for the Marketing Operation Blog at proofHQ.