Generating leads can be difficult for even the most experienced startups. You can go at it alone and see how far you get, but a much better strategy is to learn from others and hone your lead generation skills. Here are some tips and tricks from experts on how to generate leads for your startup.
The path to success for early-stage companies comes from making your first few customers incredibly successful and incredibly happy. It's hard to get your first few customers, and many startups often do not have the perfect product/market fit. Your goal should be to get very close to your early customers, learn the intricacies of their problems, and try to make them incredibly successful in their jobs. When you focus on the success of those early customers, you not only get raving fans that will be happy to give you case studies but you also get people willing to pick up the phone and tell their friends about your company.
Contributors: Kurt Uhlir from Uhlir Ventures
By far the most effective lead generation strategy I've found has been to partner with other businesses on content projects. These include formats like webinars, ebooks, and more complex standalone products and micro-websites. The idea is to find something low-friction for both parties. Does your partner have insights that you don't, that they could easily present in a short webinar? Do they have content already written that you can combine with your own to make something new?
If you can approach potential partners and show them that they barely need to lift a finger, obviously it's going to be easier to get them on board. The big win comes with promotion. You promote the finished product to your audience, and they do the same with theirs. This puts your name and content in front of a whole new audience, hopefully, delivered by a company that new leads already trust. The big key is to find other companies with audiences who look like your ideal buyer. This makes the lead generation a lot more targeted.
Contributors: Patrick Whatman from Spendesk
Incorporate lead ads into your marketing budget. Lead Ads are similar to standard social media ads, but they let users interact with the content of your ad by filling out a form to either receive something in return or simply to indicate an interest without leaving the social media site! B2B companies will benefit from LinkedIn Lead Ads, while B2C firms might find it more relevant to give a preference to Facebook Lead Ads. Automate the process of adding new leads to your CRM with Zapier. Voilà - you've got your first lead gen process set up!
Contributors: Anzhelika Osmanova from Lendonomy
We believe that lead generation needs to be a value exchange. What can you offer someone in return for giving up their contact information? Think outside swag and coupons. One way to entice (and excite) someone is through a unique, exclusive brand experience. This could be through a live event registration, offering a virtual reality simulation or giving them a thrilling zip line ride. If the experience ties back to your new company, product or offering, you'll be able to move someone completely through the sales funnel: brand awareness through conversion. Whether it's event-based or done through guerilla marketing efforts, activating your brand with in-person experiences can build your user base quickly. Startups who have successfully used experiential marketing to grow brand recognition include: Casper with their nap pods, Slack with their brand-owned events and Justworks with street marketing kiosks.
Contributors: Emily Fritz from Dio
You need to first find out your target keywords that are related to your product/service. Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool or other third-party tools to assist you with this, and then you can launch a text ad campaign targeting that keyword. Google Adwords text campaign will virtually guarantee an instant flow of traffic, and at its worst, will only take a few weeks tops before you see significant results.
However, it can be costly, and so you will need to optimize for cost efficiency. Validate the message, validate the landing page, see what people like and dislike, and see whether they are converting or not. The average cost per click is $5 and the conversion rate is 2% which means you will only need $250 to generate a lead which is a relatively low cost comparing to the other marketing channels and you can see results almost instantly.
Contributors: Mike Khorev from Nine Peaks Media
Create a Meetup on a hot topic in your field where you can showcase your product or expertise.
Meetups or other tools that help plan face-to-face interaction with potential clients/customers are exceptional tools for creating a forum to showcase what you know or how your product solves a problem. For my business, I held a meetup for small businesses interested in learning 5 key things to consider when writing a killer business plan.
Contributors: Brian Cairns from ProStrategix Consulting
Everything you do, be that online or offline needs to be consistent with your brand image. By doing this your potential customers will be able to instantly recognize any content or messages that you put out as they will be familiar with the style and tone of your message. A marketing campaign needs to be seen as much as 9 times to convert a person into a customer. By building a brand from the offset these potential customers won’t need persuading each and every time they see a campaign from your business.
Contributors: Ashley Hooper from Neobo
Unless you’ve just closed a multi-million dollar fundraising round, your startup will likely have a much smaller marketing budget than your established competitors. If you try and match their marketing like-for-like, you’re going to get drowned out and receive a paltry stream of leads. If you want to get heard over the din, it’s all about getting the most bang for your buck. And for us, that meant being outspoken, controversial and ruffling feathers. By saying things that provoke a reaction and engagement, you’re getting your message out to a much wider audience than would otherwise see it.
Contributors: David Vallance from LeaseFetcher
I strongly believe that the best practice in lead generation can be achieved by building your business credibility. This can be attained through high-qualified blog posts, participation in various online communities such as LinkedIn, Slack, Quora, Reddit, etc., and finally, collecting testimonials on your site.
Thus, gaining credibility means attracting more prospects clients. And I can’t help but insist on the excellent tool for gathering new leads, ALBACROSS, which is a FREE Lead Generation platform. It enables you to turn website visitors into leads and to get extra information on companies interested in your business, such as pages they have visited, their chief decision makers and the means of contacting them.
Contributors: Oksana Chyketa from Albacross
Many business owners think of blogging and website copy-writing as a long-term marketing strategy, but it is actually essential to lead-generation, especially for a new business. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the brands they interact with: advertising is no longer about simply hooking a potential buyer with a catchy slogan or image. Your new clients are looking for a reason to engage with your brand. One of the ways you can make a case for your service or product is by answering their questions and offering insight via a thoughtful blog post, web-page, or article. If you invest in quality content, you are more likely to not only draw in readers but have your article shared, increase links to your website, and improve your search engine rankings for relevant keywords.
Contributors: Abby Sanders from Stone Interiors
Affiliate marketing is a very cost-effective and targeted mechanism for letting others direct traffic to you. It overlaps with influencer driven leads, however, it is unique as affiliates programmes are usually driven by large networks who can have a whole bunch of affiliates working for you in every geography you want to target.
Contributors: Sandeep Todi from REMITR
The most crucial aspect of generating leads and sustaining them if you're a startup is to not only retain your current customer base (which is smaller), but to prospect new potential clients as well and expose them to your offering. Properly segmenting your targeting in this regard (no matter what kind of runway you have and no matter if you're doing Email, PPC, Social Ads, or any other channel) with the right exclusions and inclusions is a huge component of this so that you are dedicating your resources and tailoring your message in the right way and hitting each of those segments with the most value!
Contributors: Patric Kreidler from Power Digital
It’s the freebie you give potential customers in exchange for their contact information. While there are many ways you can offer this freebie for customers to sign up to consume, ask yourself:
- What juicy information is so irresistible to my ideal customer that they will not hesitate to sign up for?
- How will my ideal customer prefer to consume this freebie? Would they prefer something to read (a downloadable pdf, checklist or ebook), something to listen to (a video or audio series) or something to do (such as a contest or a challenge)?
- Where will they see it in order to take advantage of it? Social media? Emails? Blog posts?
Once done correctly, this is a great way to get in front of more people, and showcase your talent and expertise to the waiting public.
Contributors: Carla Williams Johnson from Carli Communications
While a megabrand can take months to model out layers of annual plans, startups can take an agile approach. The basics are: Know who your target buyers are, their titles, where they are geographically located, what industries they’re in, what conferences they attend and their reading/personal interests. Now, prioritize. It’s tempting to want to go after everyone at once. Take this data, pick one vertical where you have expertise and resource to support it, then choose two more verticals to start nurturing. LinkedIn is a great tool for this primary research and your outreach.
Contributors: Michael Hammond from Storyboard Media Group
Google uses links as an indicator that your content is reliable. Link opportunities are all around. Contact your partners for links, run webinars and list them on event sites, write relevant blogs etc.. Just remember to always ask a link whenever your contact information is published somewhere online.
Contributors: Joonas Jukkara from SEOSEON
People love startups and love hearing about new business ideas. Chances are that your new startup could make for an engaging new content or article topic by a journalist. Many times, journalists can run out of ideas to write about (especially when they write for a very targeted industry), so you reach out to them with an idea for an article topic, is also you helping them. Make sure you are clear about why you are reaching out, the topic details, and how your startup plays a role in that.
Contributors: Jenna Erickson from Codal
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