So you’ve had a ground-breaking business idea. You have even constructed a rock-solid business plan, and have even managed to find investors inclined to support you. High-fives to you! You’ve done well and your startup project is now up and running.
But what about customers? And marketing? Startup businesses face a lot of challenges when they first step out into the marketplace. Putting your name out there, earning the customers’ trust, and building your brand’s reputation are the most common struggles you are likely to find along the way. This is where lead generation comes in.
Simply put, lead generation is the process of finding people interested in your business, making them aware of what you do, and winning them over as clients.
To be classified as a lead, a person or a company has to express some kind of interest in your business. And this interest is expressed by giving consent to gather data and contact them. Once a prospect is converted into a lead, your goal is to nurture them through each stage of the marketing funnel until the end of the journey. If you manage to play your cards right you end up building a portfolio of happy and loyal customers.
So, which techniques and approaches should you try and which ones should you avoid when working on the lead generation plan for your startup? There is an ocean of information out there that is hard to navigate but, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
The Big Picture of Lead Generation
There are two general strategies for acquiring leads known as inbound and outbound marketing. In an ideal world, a business balances resources and strives to make the best of both of them. As a startup, however, it might be more reasonable to focus only on the more budget-friendly one at first.
In inbound marketing, customers find you through the content you publish online, while outbound marketing is when you find prospects through targeted advertising.
Presuming that as a startup enterprise your marketing budget might be tight at first, an inbound strategy should be the more affordable choice. It takes longer to deliver results but can have a greater impact on your brand. It allows the right prospects to find your business online and let you demonstrate expertise in your field.
Here we’ve gathered 8 useful inbound lead generation tips to consider when planning your marketing strategy:
1. Create Your Action Plan
Devising a long-term lead generation strategy requires knowledge, experience, manpower, and resources. As a startup company chances are you’ll have to spread your team thin to cover all bases.
If you don’t have the resources to take care of this part, one option is to hire a professional marketing agency and outsource the lead generation process to them.
An agency will design a strategy that is tailor-made to your needs and will have a team of experienced marketing specialists, SEO experts, and content writers. Professionals know the tools and tricks of lead generation, and how to use them to catapult your business from a startup to a successful enterprise.
If your budget doesn’t allow hiring professional marketers, don’t fret, getting the hang of lead generation is not an impossible task.
For starters, acknowledge that you can’t do it all at once. Consider the resources you can spare, the business niche subtleties, and your target customers. Then set goals.
Setting targets to achieve over a set period of time makes it easier to test out which course of action gives the highest results for your business. Start out by trying just a few of the tips below and see if they work for you.
2. Research Your Target Customers
To find qualified leads, first, you have to know who you are looking for and where to find them. Research any clients of businesses similar to yours and build lead-profiles, also known as buyer personas. This will help you focus your efforts on the right prospects, and will increase the chances of a smooth journey through the marketing funnel.
- Business profile – Where does the person work, position in the company, decision-making level, and so on.
- Personal profile – Demographics, age, location, favored social media, etc.
- Problems to address – What issues the lead faces, what they are searching for online, what do they need, etc.
Once you’ve built a persona, figure out how your business can help solve their problems. Then create content that will match the keywords they search, and help them find solutions.
Investing time in researching prospects will help you build a contact list of qualified leads that you can successfully nurture and convert into customers and/or partners.
3. Write Content Worth Reading
Content is the core of inbound marketing. Quality content is what brings potential leads to your website and introduces them to your business. It’s an unobtrusive way to invite strangers who are interested in your niche to get to know you better and consider working with you.
Content should be on topics relevant to your products and the services you provide. Sharing solutions to common problems customers in your industry face will build your reputation as a reliable source of information. It will also show prospects you are an expert in what you do.
Make sure to research keywords and optimize your content for search engines. SEO optimization improves your pages’ visibility and ranking through organic results.
If your page is hard to find it will not generate leads, and all your content making efforts will go to waste.
4. Master the Landing Pages’ Essentials
Another good way to get leads is creating a landing page with some freebies such as an ebook for example, and a download form. This way prospects who are already interested in your field “land” on your website, and you get an opportunity to obtain their data. As a new business, data collection is very important for building a top-quality contact list. Landing pages have also been proven to have the highest conversion rate of all other types of sign-up forms.
Landing pages should have exact information on what the lead is expected to share, how their data will be used and protected, and, of course, what they’ll get in return for sharing their contacts with you.
Devise Strong Call-to-Actions
Make Call-to-Actions (CTAs) as clear and straightforward as possible. A strong CTA consists of just a few words, has an appealing, yet simple design, and, as implied in the name, encourages the user to do something.
Check-out our awesome DevriX infographics with CTAs that also contains useful tips on devising the perfect messages.
Come Up with Irresistible Lead Magnets
To increase the chances of converting page visitors into leads, consider developing a few compelling lead magnets.
Lead magnets are certain items you can offer to prospects in exchange for their contact information. It can be an ebook with useful information, a free trial of your product, a useful checklist, a template, etc.
Find out what your leads want and give it to them. If your potential customers are often facing certain issues, offer solutions you can afford to give for free. Make sure to think of lead magnets that will show your prospects the advantages of doing business with you. After all, the main purpose of freebies is not only to help you obtain prospects’ contact information but to work towards converting them into future customers.
Come up with lead magnets unique to your business, research what the competition is offering and try to offer something different and, if possible, better.
Make Opt-in Opportunities Hard to Miss
Position opt-in forms on strategic places on your pages. And make them easy to notice. You can have an opt-in window pop up when a user lands on the page or when they reach a certain spot on it. Make sure there are subscribe forms available at the sidebar, and at the end of every article on your blog.
Giving your page’s visitors enough occasions to reconsider signing-up for updates, might encourage them to share their info with you even if they were reluctant at first.
5. Always be Available to Live Chat
Aspiring businesses are often short on staff at the beginning of their journey, but being available via a Live Chat option shows your willingness to help and be of service.
Customers will feel safer doing business with you if they know that they can rely on immediate support. Always be ready to offer help and solutions.
Research shows that 66% of people put the experience a brand provides before the price of its products and services. So at first, it might be best to rely on real people rather than on chatbots. As a startup, more than any other time, you need to establish a connection with potential leads, show them that you care and are willing to meet their needs.
6. Rock Social Media
Everyone is on social media. This means your prospects are there as well. Depending on the social and business profiles of your buyer personas, they might spend more time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Quora, or other social media platforms. Research where prospects and competition’s customers are hanging out and focus your efforts there.
Be Active in Discussions
Take an active part in conversations related to your business. Show you are an expert and people will be more interested in hearing what you have to say.
Offer help in discussions and mention how your business can provide solutions to problems people are talking about. Be subtle, however, when directly promoting your services in casual talks because, if done intrusively, this might lead to the opposite effect.
Repurpose Content for Different Social Media
Every social media platform calls for a different content form and structure. In order to achieve optimal results and maximize the conversions, you should always repurpose content when posting online.
Another expert-proven approach to increase traffic and conversions is to post during different time frames on different social media platforms. But why not take it the extra mile? For example, share a piece of content on Facebook on Monday, at 9:45 am. Then repurpose it for Twitter, but wait for a day to share it, and use a different time-slot. Wait another day and do the same on LinkedIn, and so on.
This way you will make the best of your content on every platform, and at the same time
use as many opportunities as possible to get prospects’ attention.
If a person comes across your content on Monday but has no time to interact with it at the moment, chances are they will just forget about it. But if they see it the next day, or the next one, at a better moment in their schedule, the probability of them clicking to learn more increases dramatically.
Following this strategy will also be a step towards raising awareness of your brand, building your name, and establishing a prominent presence on social media.
7. Encourage Customer Testimonials
As a startup, you probably don’t have many customers yet. When you acquire new ones, do your best to provide top-quality service and in return, ask them to give you a review.
People are more likely to respond positively to a brand or product with client reviews. Testimonials make your company more reliable and your page more trustworthy.
Even if you have just a few customers, make them count. Affirmative testimonials will encourage other prospects, who might still be reluctant to do business with you, to take action.
If you are not sure how to convince people to leave you a review, it’s simple – just ask them. Make it known that you value your clients’ opinions, and distribute feedback questionnaires. When someone comes back with a positive response, invite them to share their experience with the public.
There are various review platforms to choose from, depending on your business:
- Google Reviews
- Social media
- Product hunt
Feature all testimonials on your website and make them easily accessible to visitors. If you have reviews regarding certain products, make sure to also add them to the relevant landing pages.
8. Abstain from Buying Ready-Made Lead-Lists
Although it might seem like the easiest way to kick-start your lead generation, think twice before investing in a list of names and contacts from a third-party provider.
The leads in purchased lists are beyond cold and unqualified and are technically not even leads because they have not willingly signed-up to receive your updates. A considerable amount of those people will probably have no particular interest in what you are offering.
Which makes it safe to assume they might mark your emails as spam. This not only flags your email address as suspicious but you risk getting blacklisted by the email provider. This can potentially hurt any future email strategy where you have genuine leads to contact.
Also, some of the information in the purchased list will be outdated. Checking through it will cost you valuable time and effort that you can otherwise spend in finding and nurturing qualified leads.
Acquiring new customers might be challenging when your business is just stepping out into the marketplace. But a realistic and targeted inbound strategy can help capture and nurture the most qualified leads, using the means you already possess – knowledge in the field you operate in.
So roll up your sleeves and start creating meaningful content. Then rate which lead-generation channels perform the best and focus your efforts there. Once you have a solid list of qualified leads, you will be one step closer to nailing your first sales and starting to build a prominent network of clients!
Which lead-generation strategies have delivered the most promising results for your startup? Share them with us in the comments!
Inbound Marketing Services
One of our core specialties as a part of our full-service suite of services is the Inbound Marketing package. We have 3 team members certified for Inbound Marketing by HubSpot, and our core strategy for both DevriX and our long-term accounts is built on top of the Inbound Marketing methodology.