32 Insanely Easy Lead Generation Ideas for Small Business

If you’re like the typical successful small business marketer, you’re spending a large amount of your time creating content and campaigns that speak to your audience. Sometimes writer’s block hits and you have a hard time coming up with unique, yet effective ways to build the top of your sales funnel.

We understand that adding valuable content to your website and marketing campaigns can sometimes feel like a hassle. That’s why we’ve created a list of 32 lead generation ideas you can implement today.

Lead Generation Ideas

We’ve broken these lead generation strategies down into 7 categories so you can easily jump around and find exactly what you need.

  1. Website
  2. Content
  3. Email
  4. Social Media
  5. Referrals
  6. Paid Advertising
  7. Other


1. Exit Intent Popup

Did you know that more than half of the new visitors to your site will only visit once? Make the most of their first (and potentially only) visit by giving them the chance to stay in touch. Even if you only convert 2–3% more visitors with this approach, those leads add up.

Entice visitors exiting your site with a free, downloadable offer, such as an eBook or training course. Your offer should be actionable. Fewer people are likely to subscribe to a weekly newsletter than they are to subscribe to a 15-day course on “How to Start Selling Real Estate in 15 Days.”

Adding an exit intent popup takes less than 5 minutes and could significantly increase your lead generation. There are a variety of tools out there you can use, such as OptinMonster or OptiMonk. We currently use SumoMe’s List Builder. SumoMe offers a free plan that encompasses this functionality. After adding a popup in List Builder, make sure the mode is listed as “Smart.” This setting will only show the popup when the visitor is about to leave the site.

2. Add a Welcome Mat

Welcome Mats are a relatively new concept in digital marketing. The idea is that once a visitors lands on a certain page on your site, they’re greeted with a full page call to action.

Sites across the Web have seen their conversion rates increase by using these call-to-actions. This encourages your visitors to sign up for a free eBook, course, or email series.

Welcome Mats can be installed in minutes using a variety of marketing lead generation software.

3. Add Social Proof

No one likes being the only person at a party, and the same can be said for users of new products or services.

Adding social proof, such as logos of users or usage statistics, helps build credibility for your business.

A clever technique many businesses use is to add statistics to their homepage: “4800 Small Businesses Use …” or “More Than 100,000 Emails Sent Monthly.”

4. Add Testimonials

Testimonials are another form of social proof, but because of their importance, I’ve separated them from other types of social proof.

It may seem pretty cut and dry when using testimonials. Sprinkle in a few testimonials that make your company look great. Maybe you don’t have a testimonial, so you make one up and add an unrecognizable name/website to the end. But in doing so, you may actually be hurting your conversion rates!

Testimonials, when used correctly, can influence how your visitors react to the content on your page. We’re all prone to social pressure.

In one experiment, Robert Cialdini found that although audiences disliked canned responses (laugh tracks), the use of laugh tracks often made the material more humorous to audiences compared to the same material without a laugh track.

5. Add a Sidebar Call-to-Action

So you’re starting to get steady traffic to your blog, but you’re not converting many into sales leads. Why not take advantage of valuable space in your blog’s sidebar?

Insert a simple call to action in your blog sidebar that asks visitors to subscribe to your list. This call to action can be anything from signing up for a newsletter to downloading a free white paper.

Just remember — the more actionable your offer is, the more likely the visitor is to subscribe.

Check out the call-to-action we recently added to our sidebar. This simple call-to-action uses SumoMe to collect newsletter subscribers.

Lead generation offers don’t have to be complicated. Make them useful and visitors will subscribe.


6. Share a Case Study or Success Story

Want an easy way to share valuable content with your audience and instead your b2b lead generation?

Use information already at your fingertips. Share case studies and success stories from your clients. Make the content actionable — what can others learn and take away from the case study? Are there 3–5 takeaways they can implement in their own business for greater results?

After making sure the case study is valuable in and of itself, add a link at the end of your case study to more information on getting started with your product or contacting you.

Check out our most recent case study with Powershift Group. Notice the call-to-action at the end of both the PDF and Web page.

7. Write About What’s Working For You

Similar to case studies, a great way to showcase your product or service is to write about how your business is growing.

What kind of software are you using? Are you running experiments on your website? Have you seen an increase in leads by using a specific marketing or sales technique?

Teach your audience by showing them what’s working for you.

8. Best Practices

When thinking of content marketing lead generation, you should always try to make your content actionable and valuable. An easy way to do this is to provide your audience with tips or best practices for your industry.

Take the time to research what industry experts are doing. If you’re able to, provide social proof with testimonials and case studies on how to implement these best practices.

Here’s an example from Unbounce. Notice how they’re using images to prove a point in their copy (information overload.)

9. List of Resources

When we think of actionable content, resource lists often come to mind. Depending on your industry, these may or may not be useful, but it’s always worth testing if you may be able to generate leads for your business.

Resources lists can quickly be added to almost any website. These list are often one of the highest visited pages on many sites. Why? People see that your business is thriving and are often curious on what tools you use to gain success. For example, check out 13 tools our marketing team uses and recommends.

Take a few minutes to jot down the tools you’re currently using, whether that’s Freshbooks for accounting or Automational for your customer relationship manager. Publish this resource list on your site and link to it often. This resource link could eventually become one of your best sales lead generation tools.

10. Downloadable Blog Posts

If you’ve been reading up on inbound marketing in the past year or so, you may have come across the term “content upgrade.” Essentially the idea is to create a complementary piece of content users can download after reading your content.

Many of you may be saying “I don’t have time to write additional content!” That’s fine! If you’re short on time, take the content from your blog post and create a downloadable PDF for your visitors.

11. Quizzes

Quizzes are one of the easiest ways to grow your lead list. But they won’t work for all blogs. B2B or highly-niched blogs may have a harder time producing results from this lead generation idea.

People love interactive content, no matter the industry. Take for example Cloud Sherpa, who created an interactive quiz called “How Mature is Your ServiceNow Instance?”

This quiz allows Cloud Sherpa to generate and qualify leads within their target market. This quiz may not have a high virality (the tendency that content, images, or videos will be circulated rapidly) but it’s highly sharable within the company’s niche.

Quizzes can be a great addition to your content marketing strategy. Read more on how to create an interactive quiz on Uberflip.

12. Giveaways

Another great way to gain traction on social media and gather a larger amount of leads is to give something away. Numerous consumer-based businesses have gained social media attention by holding giveaways for electronics, free software subscriptions, and trips.

Similar to quizzes, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of a giveaway. Will it gather the right type of lead? Do you have the budget to promote the giveaway? Is a giveaway in-line with your company culture?

Shopify wrote a great post on 11 different mistakes that are made during giveaways and how to avoid them.

13. Downloadable Resources

You may be noticing a theme within the content section: everything is actionable or valuable. And what better to provide value than to create a downloadable resource?

Say you’ve written an in-depth article on small business taxes and how to calculate your estimated quarterly taxes. Why not create an Excel workbook that calculates this for your readers? This will allow them to take the information they’ve learned from you and immediately put it into action.

Next time that person has a question about taxes, they’re more likely to visit your site and use your resources (or become a customer) because you’ve helped them solve a problem.

14. Guest Blogging

Everything mentioned so far has been content that you create for your audience, but you should also be thinking about content for other audiences beyond your current reach.

Guest blogging is a great way to start building a presence within your industry or niche. It also helps you gather leads by introducing your content to audiences that may not have heard of you before.

If you’re new to guest blogging, check out The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging by Backlinko.


15. Email courses

What’s an email course? It’s a series of emails that are sent out over a period of time after a person subscribes to your email list.

Why use an email course? It’s harder to sell a product or service to someone you don’t know. You may be able to, but your conversion rate will be low. Instead, create a valuable series of emails in your marketing automation provider’s app and drip content to the subscriber over a longer period of time.

No, you won’t get a sale right away, but you’ll be providing the subscriber with valuable content and building trust, authority, and brand equity. Later down the road, this person is more likely to convert into a customer because you’ve provided value.

Take for example, Double Your Freelancing has created this stylish popup that asks visitors to subscribe and “charge what you’re worth.”

16. Templates

Do you provide a digital service? And if so, are you able to create templates that help simplify part of the processes involved?

Why not offer these templates as a downloadable resource? Write an article about the template, how it can be used, and why your readers should download it.

Leadpages does a fantastic job with this concept. Every few weeks, they offer up another free template that can be used with (or without) their software. Check out one of their landing page examples below.

Of course, using it within their software is easier, but nonetheless they’re providing a valuable resource to their readers.

17. Email signatures

You and your salespeople are already writing emails to potential clients every day, so use the valuable real estate below your email to promote a variety of call-to-actions. What can you put in your email signature?

  • Events
  • Event sponsorships
  • Exclusive offers/deals
  • Surveys
  • Content downloads and resources
  • Email courses

Social Media

18. Twitter Lead Generation Cards

Lead generation cards in Twitter are forms that can be attached to tweets that allow you to collect contact information with the click of a button.

Here’s an example of what they look like:

The great thing about lead generation cards is they’re free.

Follow this guide by Moz to setup your first lead generation card, pin it to the top of your Twitter feed, and then watch the social media leads come trickling in!

19. Slideshare Presentations to a Landing Page

Slideshare, a social media network for presentations, gets more than 60 million visitors per month and has an Alexa ranking of 162. So it’s without question that this network is a ‘sleeping giant’ with tons of potential in lead generation.

Slideshare lead generation ideas are endless. It can be used to:

  • Build your brand
  • Increase your following
  • Add subscribers to your email list
  • Rank in Google
  • Get traffic back to your site (leads!)

Here’s an example of what can be accomplished within Slideshare:

This SlideShare is eye-catching, funny, and educational. With more than 980,000 total views and 135,000 embeds, this presentation has helped establish a brand for the company which posted it.

20. Answer Questions on Quora

If you’ve heard of Yahoo Answers, you know the basic premise of Quora. Quora is an online community devoted to answering a variety of questions. All questions are categorized into topics, allowing communities members to answer questions on topics about which they have knowledge (or opinions).

21. Google+ Business Pages and Communities

If you’re like most people, you don’t spend a lot of time using Google+ to generate business, but what if I told you you’re missing out?

Google+ is often overlooked when small businesses are setting up their social media accounts, but when used correctly, it can yield fantastic results.

If business has a physical storefront, Google+ allows you to add a business page that will show up when someone searches for your business. A box will appear in the search sidebar that shows your address, hours, review information, and contact information. Google makes it easy for searchers to find and visit your business.

Google+ also has a feature called Communities where you’re able to connect with likeminded influencers in your industry. Marketers have begun to use these communities to help build brand equity and understanding around their products and services. Because each community has a specific audience, you’re able to more accurately share content and offers that speak to their needs and desires.

Learn more about creating a Google+ Community.

22. LinkedIn Groups

Similar to Google+ Communities, LinkedIn Groups allow you to talk to and connect with likeminded individuals. Groups are a great way to network and build authority around your company’s product or service.

23. Reddit

Reddit is a social media network where users post useful links, funny photos, and discuss current topics. Reddit is also a great place to promote your content and generate leads. Proceed with caution though: Reddit promotion is fickle and can backfire very easily.

When promoting your content on Reddit, you’ll want to make sure it is valuable, otherwise you may end up getting downvoted and losing karma points.

Karma points are collected by posting valuable content or comments. When a user upvotes your post, you collect karma. When users downvote your post or comment, you lose karma. Why does karma matter? It allows Reddit users see how much you have done for the community. Higher karma is typically associated with valuable content and comments.

Reddit shouldn’t be used only for self-promotion. Take the time to build a presence within the community, similar to any other social media network. Post useful content other than your own so when it comes time to post your own content, users are more likely to take interest and click-through to your article.


24. Create an Affiliate Program

Affiliate programs are a fantastic way to generate new leads but typically require a larger amount of time spent on setup and execution. When starting a new affiliate program, you’ll need to:

  • Draft legal documents and agreements
  • Create lead payment structures
  • Create marketing collateral
  • Setup lead tracking

25. Give Influencers Trials or Subscriptions

Connecting with industry influencers should be near the top of any small business owner’s to-do list. Influencers can extend your reach in a way that may not be cost-effective if done using different channels.

Some businesses connect with industry influencers by offer free trials or subscriptions to their product or service. Why? The idea here is that the influencer will begin to use your product or service and like it, recommending it to others in their network.

Marketing to influencers can be powerful. If you’re able to get a few influencers to start using your product, they will begin to organically advertise your product to their audience, helping grow your reach and credibility.

26. Setup Partner Programs

As small business owners, you probably use a few different products and services daily to run your business successfully. In some cases these products work in tandem with other products, introducing the possibility of a partnership program.

By partnering with other businesses your customers may use, you’re doing two things: extending the usefulness of your product and increasing your lead generation potential. How? Customers of your new partner will now have the ability to try out or purchase your product or service and know it will work seamlessly with something they currently use!

27. Review Sites

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that review sites, such as Yelp, GetApp, G2 Crowd, Thumbtack, or Angie’s List allow you to generate additional leads.

Review sites allow potential customers to see what others think of your product. What are the pros and cons of your products versus others in your industry?

Review sites will often show your product in a sidebar when their visitors are reviewing other products in your niche. This gives you the chance to generate additional leads from people who may not have heard of you before reading reviews!

Paid Advertising

28. Adwords

If you’ve got the budget for paid advertising, then without a doubt, you should be testing Google Adwords as a possible source for additional leads. Every day, 90% of the people on the internet are served at least 1 Adword ad.

Here are 5 reasons you should be using Adwords for your small business:

  1. Reach new customers by bidding on new keywords
  2. Reach local customers more easily
  3. Target highly specific demographics and interests
  4. Target customers based on their device
  5. Use Adwords data to increase your organic results

Want to learn more about Google Adwords? Click here to read through Google’s guide on Adwords.

29. Adwords Retargeting

Once you’ve got Adwords up and running, you’ll want to make sure retargeting has been added to each ad group in your account. Retargeting allows you to retarget customers that have visited your site within the last 30, 60, or 90 days.

Retargeting also allows you to upload a list of customer email address and create a list of people with similar qualities. When retargeting your ads with this method, your overall ad impressions will be lower because there are fewer (but more qualified) people you’re targeting.

What other ways are you able to remarket to visitors in Adwords?

Remarket to:

  • Visitors of specific pages
  • Visitors who visit do not visit a specific page
  • Visitors who visits a combination of pages
  • Visitors who visit a page during specific dates
  • Visitors who visit a page with a specific tag

30. Social Media Advertising

Depending on the nature of business, social media advertising may be a great resource for lead generation. As with any new marketing venture, it’s important to test the effectiveness of ads and the cost per conversion.

Social media advertising can get expensive if you’re not careful. Make sure your ad campaigns have a specific call-to-action and landing page.

If you’re looking for ad ideas, try sending visitors to an eBook or guide that is near the top of your sales funnel. Once the visitors becomes a lead, you’ll be able to nurture them with drip email marketing or automation workflows.


31. Networking

Networking is a tried-and-true lead generation idea. It helps you build relationships with local business owners and influencers in your community. Networking also helps you build a source of organic referrals.

32. Speak at Industry Events

The biggest benefit to speaking at an industry event is that people will see your speech and be interested in buying your service or product.

Other than the potential sales speaking can bring your business, there’s another huge benefit: personal branding. During these events, people are able to interact with you, helping you build a personal brand and creating a strong network of potential partners and customers.

How many of these lead generation ideas have you used for your business? Are there any you’d add to our list? Let us know in the comments!

Originally published at blog.automational.com on April 19, 2016.

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