The Lead Generation Master Post
How would your business change if you had an exhaustive list of methodical ways to generating high quality leads?
What if instead of just one or two lead sources you had four or even six?
It’s totally possible, vital even, and there’s probably nothing more important you could be working on right now.
This guide will help you add new lead sources. I’ll provide EXACT methods that you or someone you direct can put to use immediately.
And, because this is a LONG post, I’ve created a handy table of contents.
Your Platform for Lead Gen Success
Affinity Groups for Authority and Leads
Free Leads! (if you know how)
Wicked Social Targeting
Is Pay-per-click dead?
The Ultimate Question
Is this stalking?
Share those slides
Never Let a Trending Story Go To Waste
Does actual real mail still work?
Your Platform for Generating More Leads
The hub of your business is most likely your website or blog. We’ll start there. Take a look at your blog and make sure you have the following methods of collecting email addresses as leads.
1. Standard email signup form. These have been around forever. They don’t convert well but your more enthusiastic readers will expect to see it and will sign up. Naturally, you’ll want to offer something of value in exchange.
2. Exit pop. These work like crazy. If you don’t have one then get one ASAP. Look for Ninja Pop-ups or Unbounce.
3. Try to create a custom pdf or tool for EVERY blog post. It’s not always possible but try to find a way for every major post. In fact, add creating a guide, tool, checklist (anything of value) to the blog writing process from the beginning so you can reap the benefits. Few people want to join a mailing list to get more emails in their inbox… many people want a nifty, short checklist, guide or tool. After all, why are you writing a blog post if not to get more leads or move your leads further into your funnel?
4. Use a two-step form to generate a lead. If you want to see an example just look for the following pic on the right hand side of this blog post and click it. That is from leadpages.net.
5. On the right hand side of your blog or website have your most popular guides, tools, etc available for download. A lead might only be interested in one of them so having a single offer means you are missing out on potential leads which could be gotten via one of the other 2 or 3 bits of info they may be interested in.
6. Invite people to email YOU directly in a blog post regarding something. Here’s an example, “If you are having trouble with getting leads email me at firstname.lastname@example.org?subj=help with leads”
7. Use HelloBar.
8. A/B test as much of the above as possible. If you use hellobar, unbounce and leadpages.net they all have A/B testing set-ups. Make sure to do it. Don’t be lazy. There can be a HUGE difference.
All of the above needs to be done SMOOTHLY and without annoying others. It must flow in a way and be geared towards educating and helping others. If you pull it off then you know your website is geared to maximizing your lead traffic.
But, what we have there is email captures. That may or may not qualify as a lead for your business. (It doesn’t for my business). Your email sequence needs to do a good job of turning them into actual leads. The emails in your sequence should outline a problem, agitate it for the prospect, provide a solution and then invite a direct response for those who want more help.
Mobile Lead Generation
Hey, if you’re not banging your head against the wall and scheming constantly about how to get into mobile and take advantage of it you are missing the BIGGEST opportunity since the internet itself came along.
You think adwords is expensive? It certainly can seem so. But, I’ve had $3.00 clicks on adwords and nearly equivalent 3 cent clicks (yes, actual pennies) in mobile.
Of course, you won’t always get clicks that cheap but I’ve rarely paid more than about 17 cents.
But, it’s not all roses. Your business is probably NOT suitable for mobile right off the bat. You will most likely have to get creative. But, I can’t imagine not being able to make it work in some way that ends up much cheaper than web-based PPC.
Get Super Targeted Leads with LinkedIn Groups
9. Join the LinkedIn groups that your target prospects are on. LinkedIn is fond of saying that active members get 4x the profile views as non-active members but I bet that is an average. The more active you are the more profile views you’ll get, and 4x seems LOW to me.
How many groups? That really depends. Some groups are really active. I’ve found that I don’t bother with groups of less than 10,000 members and it is difficult to keep up with more than five groups if they are active.
The key in the group is to post quite a bit, several times a week. Those readers will go to your LinkedIn profile first so make sure your LinkedIn profile can get them to your site.
10. Use the groups to connect with Influencers and prospects in your industry. Send personalized invites that give them a reason WHY you guys should be connected. If they’ve seen you active on the group they will most likely say yes because you’ve been adding value…
…better yet, look at who has viewed your profile and invite them to connect if it makes sense. That is almost 100% acceptance rate.
11. There are two types of posts you should focus on in LinkedIn groups. The first is a purely informational post that answers a major question or pain point for your prospects. The other is an open-ended question which will allow you to write helpful answers to them.
12. Once you have a few dozen quality prospects and influencers start posting to Pulse on LinkedIn. In Pulse you can link directly to your blog which (if you followed the above steps) should be an email capture machine!
13. After you’ve maximized the above, do a targeted LinkedIn campaign. Given all of the other ways of generating traffic I think that LinkedIn ads are too expensive for most businesses. However, I do test them out on occasion because you never know until you test. They could work extremely well in your business. It’s worth a few hundred dollars to find out.
14. Create a twitter card for free. This will generate email leads right from twitter.
15. Create a list of twitter hashtags for your industry and search them. Create a twitter list and add prospects and prospect’s influencers to the twitter list. (A tool like HootSuite makes this easier). From here what I do is give the list to an assistant and have them look at the profile to see if they are a good prospect (I target CEOs, Founders and CMOs), get their website address and/or full name and look them up on LinkedIn. All of this gets put in a spreadsheet so I have as much data on that person as I can get. That feeds into direct mail, linkedin outreach and email cold prospecting.
16. I get a fair amount of blog traffic from Twitter. That surprised me but Analytics don’t lie… and, they stick around. The key to twitter is to tweet a LOT. 10 times a day is not too much even though it might feel like it. You have to remember that people are on and off again all day long. If they are following more than a few hundred people they are unlikely to see most of your tweets anyway. Your only real shot of getting them to see your tweets is via volume and good timing.
17. Try to fit one of your main hashtags into every tweet where it makes sense. You want people besides your followers to find your tweets, too. This will help that and you’ll pick up an extra bit of traffic/followers that way.
18. Pin your lead gen twitter card to the top of your timeline so anyone reviewing your profile sees it and can sign up. Here’s mine:
Facebook isn’t going to be a huge lead gen avenue for every business. But, it’s silly not to have an engaged presence there. Your prospects ARE on there. The question is: Can you find them?
While Facebook does have great targeting options for B2C via likes/interests/the-graph it is less useful for B2B unless you get creative.
My suggestion is to use an Affinity interest or Cause.
For example, one of my eCommerce clients sells printed materials (signs, magnetics, banners, etc). No one is going to be particularly interested in a page that is little more than another representation of the eCommerce site.
However, if you go one step further and ask… WHO is using the products and WHAT are they using them for?
You will come up with a list of possible Fan Page ideas. What immediately comes to mind are: Sports teams to show team spirit and for fundraisers, political campaigners for rallies and yard signs, real estate agents to sell or rent houses, churches to notify members of services, to boost attendance and retail stores to catch traffic’s attention and get them into the shop.
One or all of those would be candidates for Fan Pages. How about a fan page for a sports enthusiast who is a parent of student athletes? What are the types of things they’d want to know about? Get behind?
It could turn into a bit of work, but… every SINGLE INTERN in marketing, advertising or PR would LOVE to work on it a few hours per day to get experience. Plus, they probably know 10 times more about Facebook than your Marketing exec.
#20. Brainstorm a Facebook fan page that some segment of your target clients would be interested in and get a sharp intern to post relevant stuff to it. Plan on doing little to no self-promotion on the page for 60+ days. (Oh yeah, use a tool that will allow a more seasoned management to see the posts before they go out… not all interns have great judgement at first. Look at BufferApp.com.)
#21. Test a lead gen ad to an app on your Facebook page that captures leads.
#22. Test a lead gen ad to a landing page on your site. Make sure you use facebook pixels (and retargeting) to measure the CPA. (Search the power of custom audiences).
#23. Facebook tools and people you should know:
http://www.jonloomer.com (sharpest facebook guy)
http://www.canva.com (for making graphics quickly/easily/inexpensively)
#24. If you have an email list upload it to Facebook and send them an offer or direct them to a blog post while they’re on facebook!
You can get CRAZY with Facebook pixels. For example, let’s say you had a launch video that required an email opt-in. You drove traffic to it and only 30% opted-in. Are those 70% lost forever? No. Not in facebook. See… after the opt-in page you can have another pixel named “saw video1.”
Now, you can create an ad that the 70% who refused to opt-in will see… but the “saw video1” guys won’t see. Pretty crazy, eh?
PPC is a mixed bag. It can be expensive for some companies. However, if you have some budget and are willing to grind it out you can usually find a sweet spot.
You know you have to be careful when $50 adwords coupons are stuffed into every new marketing book that pops on the shelves. It means there are going to be a lot of dumbos with delusions of grandeur out there gambling. That, in itself, wouldn’t be so bad except for the sheer number of dumbos.
There are gazillions, and… they seem to be multiplying.
They make it expensive for many industries.
You overcome that by being intelligent. Using data. Not gambling. PPC as a discipline is fairly simple so I’m not going to go into a 101 here. You can find them scattered all over the place. Instead I’m going to show you how I kick other people’s butts in PPC.
#25. Be a contrarian PPC’er. If everyone is doing discounts. Offer upgrades. If offering is offering upgrades, offer how to videos, etc, etc. The key is to TEST LIKE A MANIAC.
Here are a few other ways to be contrarian:
* I like to throw in some doubt. If every other company is touting 10%, etc. then I like to do something like this, “Make a good decision” our white paper shows you how to make the best sign possible.”
* Compare Top X Companies – which goes to a landing page that compares the top sign companies.
#26. Map out customer intent. Are you there when they aren’t yet ready to buy but are collecting information? You really should be because the clicks are mega cheaper. Here’s a KILLER way to do this….
Set up a test similar to this on usertesting.com:
You are tasked with getting more attendance to your Sunday Service. You and your group brainstormed some ideas and someone mentioned yard signs.
1. Tell us if you have ever purchased yard signs before.
2. Think out loud about how you’d find out if yard signs were good for church attendance.
3. Open google and try to figure it out
See that? You are getting DATA about how people might search for your product LONG before they have decided they are going to buy.
Think that might be useful for blogging? Facebook posts? PPC!!!!?!??!?!
Oh boy! You betcha!
Gosh, you know, after that little tactic I almost feel like I am giving you guys the sausage (killer marketing info) so why would you even consider buying the pig (me)?
Oh well, I’ll just have to hope SOMEONE out there is a smart enough cookie to snatch me and my ragtag band of marketing pirates before we get all booked up or start working with your competitors.
#27. Make super sure you are doing retargeting if you are doing PPC. If you don’t then I will just assume you are a goofball. I prefer adroll.
#The Ultimate Question
Ok, I have a confession to make. I think I ruined a marriage. I was on a plane to a software conference and a gentleman and his wife sat next to me on the plan with a copy of “The Ultimate Question” and I just couldn’t help myself.
I bet when they got on the plane the wife thought they’d talk. Maybe have a glass of wine and look out of the plane window at the clouds and share dreams and feelings and whatnot.
But, I had other plans in mind.
Net Promoter Score is BUSINESS CHANGING and I’ll be damned if I got a newbie sitting next to me on the plane with a brand spanking new copy of that book without giving him the education of a lifetime.
So, I told him in no uncertain terms that it was IMPERATIVE that he get it into action in his company. I basically made him think his company would DIE a horrible death if he didn’t get it going. Perhaps he’d even end up homeless.
Where would his marriage be then?
Come to think of it, maybe I actually SAVED both the marriage and the company. (He was a smart guy. While sitting next to me in rapt attention he made sure he was holding her hand and giving a nice squeeze every now and then.)
The same goes for you. If you don’t get NPS in your company all sorts of death and plague will befall you.
Here’s what I told him:
#28. For those considered Promoters, I tabulate their answers and make sure the marketing people know the answers like the back of their hand. Those features/benefits/services/whatever DO NOT GET CHANGED or modified unless there’s a fundamental change in the entire business model or strategy. In which case, you better have ASTOUNDING reasons and proof why.
#29. I also use the most common Promoters answers and themes in ad copy. This by itself will make you seem like an advertising god in your industry. Your promoters will come up with phrasings, angles and thoughts of such advertising eloquence and beauty that even Claude Hopkins himself would cry over.
#30. FIX what the Detractors are complaining about IF AND ONLY IF it’s a failure of your product or service. It’s not always the case. Some people/groups just aren’t a fit for the product or company. You don’t change the business model or features based on what Detractors say ESPECIALLY if it conflicts with what Promoters say. Got it? Much Importante. But, if it’s a failure on your product or company then you MUST fix it. And, if I can’t convince you to do that just because it’s the right thing to do I’ll give you another reason… The WAY you screwed up is now fresh on their mind. At the first mention of your name they are going to PUKE OUT your horrific actions to all who will listen. So, fix it. Capiche?
(On the other hand, the Promoters will do the same which is a GREAT thing).
#31. Take the whole thing to another level by doing an RFM Analysis of your customer database and overlaying NPS with it. Your eyes will open and the heavens will sing forth! You will then KNOW exactly, precisely and unequivocally (spelling?) the top segments your ad budget should be going to. Wouldn’t that be nice? Figure out where all that ad money really SHOULD be going? Pro Tip: Take the Segments who have the most Promoters! They are the most profitable and the most enthusiastic. They’ll stick around longer, be less of a customer service burden and recommend your service to others.
You can get really sophisticated with Retargeting. The thing to remember is it’s NOT enough just to throw basic ads at them again. No. No. No. You want to throw something that shows you know they were there, what they looked at and that you want them back. The most common thing is to show them the EXACT product(s) that they looked at.
I could write several posts on this so I’m not going to go into huge detail here. However, I will say that if you aren’t doing retargeting you need to get started. It is a CHEAP way to get your most interested prospects back to your site.
This is one that I just recently started taking seriously because a few days ago I clicked on a tweet, flipped through a slideshare, went to their website and filled out a form.
Up to that point I just thought slideshare was something a speaker sent people in the audience to when he didn’t have a website. (Partially kidding.)
What makes slideshare work is social media properties. I’d be willing to bet that 90% or more of the people who see a slideshare came from twitter, Linkedin or Facebook. Without those properties Slideshare is much less important.
So, take your best stuff and put the high points into something that can be put on slideshare. I’m in the process of doing so myself.
To be updated when I finally get some up there follow me on Slideshare.
How to Generate More Leads with News Jacking (aka Trend Jacking)
Creativity in tying your product/service in to current news or trend can get you links (important for SEO) and clicks to your website. Now, understand that MOST of that traffic will be a waste BUT it is so easy that it’s worth taking a look at.
As an example, when a soccer player bit an Italian soccer player Snickers chimed in quickly and got a LOT of eyeballs. Click it to see the full tweet.
— SNICKERS® (@SNICKERS) June 24, 2014
This requires really being on the ball. If you have a sharp intern you can put on this along with a graphic designer that can move fast you are in prime position to execute a few of these as they become available. Careful, though. Ripping things out fast can often result in a PR snafu. Make sure a trusted manager or exec reviews things before it goes out.
Does direct mail still work?
In fact, if you were ever good at it to begin with you will make it rain now.
Because everyone has given up on it! Now when you send out direct mail you are almost always the ONLY ad in the mail box. Further, you can combine email and direct mail for better results. Send an email to let them know to look for a postcard. Send a postcard to tell them to watch for an awesome email.
I’ve gotten VERY good at this over the last few years. The INBOX is cluttered. The mail box is empty.
So, there are quite a few things you can test to increase your sales and generate more leads.
If you need any help with your overall strategy or any of these specifically all you gotta do is let me know!