A steady flow of leads is a necessity for any growing company. But, for many small and large businesses, injecting an endless stream of money into paid lead generation, like ads, isn’t always an option. If you’re in this camp and you’re trying to save on marketing costs, try your hand at these five free lead generation channels that are proven to work.
1. Blogging and Seo
We’re going to get meta here by telling you that this article you’re reading is a form of free lead generation. It brings in new readers and, in turn, potential leads. It’s no secret that blogging is one of the best channels for free lead generation for a variety of reasons. With well-written articles, you can establish industry authority, highlight your business’s expertise and indirectly sell your services to potential customers. But, for this avenue to be useful, you need to be able to get people to your website in the first place. This is where SEO comes in.
SEO is about optimizing your blog posts in a multitude of ways. First, there are keywords. You’ll need to do your research not only to determine what topics your potential customers want to read but also what words or phrases they’re searching for. By injecting these popular words into your blog posts, you set yourself up to rank higher on search engines.
Second, you need to provide value in your articles that your readers can’t easily find in other places. Look for topics and ideas that are aligned with your industry, but find innovative ways to write on these topics. Try to predict problems that your readers may have and use your blog posts to help solve them. That way, when they search for a solution to their issue, your post becomes a valuable resource, and they’re much more likely to convert to a lead and potentially even a loyal customer whose needs you can begin to know inside out.
Lastly, you must end with a call to action. This will be an opportunity near the end of your article for them to opt into your sales funnel by providing you with their email address. This is in exchange for something like a freebie or a newsletter with weekly tools or discounts. You can also use an exit pop-up that prompts them to opt-in once they’ve been on the page for a particular amount of time. Most CRMs offer a web-form feature to help you create an opt-in for your customers.
2. Social Media
This free lead generation channel is a classic that almost all businesses today are using in some form or another. It seems like there are a million and one social platforms to choose from these days, so deciding which you’d like to build a following on is an essential first step.
It’s easy to get distracted by all the shiny new apps that seem to become famous overnight, but this is where many companies go wrong. They try to be active on all platforms and spread themselves thin. Instead, we recommend choosing two platforms and focusing your energy on those places only to start.
Social media can be a powerful lead generation option, but it can also be tricky to master with the constantly changing algorithms and app updates. However, there are some standard things that any business can do to grow their social media audience and convert these followers into warm leads.
One helpful tool is to use keywords and hashtags when posting. It varies by platform so make sure you research current best practices for the forum you choose. Still, generally speaking, algorithms will feed your content to interested viewers based on the topics and words you use, as well as the hashtags that you insert into your copy. Take a look at other brands within your space and see what words they are utilizing.
Another trick to leverage social media for free leads is to create a compelling lead magnet offer. This can be a free ebook, resource, or tool for which people will opt into with their email address. If you’re blogging, it’s likely that you’re already using a lead magnet to capture emails when people visit your site. You can use this same freebie on your social media by writing a post or linking to it in your bio. This way, you’re able to capture your social media followers into your email marketing funnel off of the platform.
3. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is another great avenue for free lead generation. This tactic utilizes influencers who have large followings on any number of social platforms to market your product with content like a blog post or a series of social media posts or videos. While some will ask for money to market your product, there are many who will agree to work with you in exchange for your service or product, a discount, or a shout-out to your followers.
To find influencers that you want to partner with, start by doing some research on sites like Buzzsumo, to find people with followers or products of their own that are similar to yours. Consider whether their audience would be an ideal client or customer. It’s a bonus if the influencers themselves are already fans or users of your products. This will make for the most authentic and relevant marketing opportunity. People tend to follow influencers because they like and trust them, which means their opinion of a brand or product is highly valued.
What’s worth considering, though, is that micro-influencers often have a more engaged audience than macro-influencers. Research shows audiences tend to interact and relate more to those with a smaller reach. You can also find influencers by checking out hashtags relevant to your industry or location.
Once you’ve decided on the influencers you’d like to work with, simply reach out with an email or direct message on the platform they’re using. A simple, genuine note that addresses why you like them and their brand and why you feel they’d be a wonderful choice to market your product is a great way to start.
4. Cold Reach Outs
Cold reach outs like calling or emailing are some of the oldest free lead generation tools there are. But regardless of their age, they still work great. To start, you can ask for referrals to potential leads from others doing similar things within your industry or from current or past customers. If you are respected in your field, people shouldn’t have any problem referring you to their own clients when they ask for recommendations.
Another way that you can find cold leads to reach out to is by scouring networks like Linkedin, industry lists, or Google for businesses similar to yours to see who their customers are. Once you make a list, it is pretty simple to find their emails and phone numbers using tools like RocketReach.
When sending cold emails or any type of marketing email, it’s also important to try and make sure that they don’t go to your recipient’s spam box. Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to prevent this, but here are some preventative measures you can take to avoid being left "unread".
5. Guest Posting
Guest posting is simply posting an article on someone else’s website. This is a great free form of lead generation because you’re essentially leveraging the audiences of other similar companies.
This tactic can further your reach immensely by helping you build brand awareness and putting you in view of ideal clients who just haven’t yet discovered your company. Plus, you’ll get backlinks to your site, which helps search engines to rank you higher in search results. Many companies have seen their leads skyrocket after they began guest posting.
How do you find guest blogging opportunities? Start by searching for companies that are industry-adjacent to yours and who have similar potential customers. Find out if they’re posting quality content and assess their industry relevance. Then, look to see if they are looking for guest bloggers.
Even if they don’t explicitly write this anywhere on their site, go ahead and reach out to them. If you pitch a post that they like, most will say yes, even if they’re not actively looking for guest content.
Try Your Hand at Free Lead Generation
While these free lead generation channels are great options, none of them are easy. It will take time to get the hang of what works for you and to tweak things as you learn the nuances. But, if you do decide to dive into blogging, join the influencer marketing trend or stay consistent with the social media platforms you choose, it’s only a matter of time before you’re pulling in new leads on autopilot – without having to pay for a single ad.