Finding the right tools for lead generation can be tricky. While many paid services are available to find and share leads with businesses, the one you select will vary depending on your industry and needs. That’s why we wanted to cover 6 of the best tools for lead generation that any industry can benefit from (and many of them are free).
Let’s get started!
What Is A ‘Lead Generation Tool’?
A lead generation tool is any tool that you can use to attract, contact or market to new leads. In other words, these tools for lead generation can also be defined as “outreach tools” because you are using them to reach out to people who are not yet patronizing your business.
Many of the channels we will be covering can be used for various purposes. You may have heard of many of these tools but haven’t necessarily been using them for outreach. But since we are explicitly focusing on targeting new leads, we will be discussing how to best use these different avenues to boost your sales numbers and draw new customers in, starting with social media.
One of the most common but underutilized tools for lead generation, social media is excellent for reaching new audiences and gauging the public’s interest in your products and services. While many people only use social media for branding, announcements, and networking, these platforms also provide opportunities to reach out to leads. Here’s how.
Social Media Ads
Social media ads are a great way to target your ideal customers with specific ads. This is especially true of Meta ads, which can be tailored to appeal to specific demographics. While they can often be costly, they are also an effective way to get your message out to people who might be interested in your services.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you run a carpet cleaning business. You want to target people in your area who own homes. So you set up your Meta ad to run on Facebook and Instagram, specifically targeting people who own homes within a 50-mile radius. Within 2 days, you have 4 leads reaching out about pricing.
Congratulations! You’ve just generated 4 leads through social media ads!
Social Media Groups
Social media groups are an excellent free way to market your business to interested customers. When used correctly, they can also be some of the best tools for lead generation.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you run a custom dressmaking service. You decide to market your business by starting a Facebook group that appeals specifically to people who enjoy crafting, fashion, and tailoring. This group ends up attracting 2,000 users in total. When your business has its annual BOGO sale, you post about it in the group, and 3 users reach out to ask what it would cost to have custom dresses made.
Congratulations, you’ve just generated 3 free leads.
While organic posting often doesn’t get much traction, it can still potentially be a fruitful source of lead generation. This is especially true if you’re an e-commerce or online business, because if tagged correctly, your posts will appeal to a broader geographic audience.
To take full advantage of organic posting for lead generation, you can focus on tagging your content correctly, making it shareable, posting it in multiple places, and branding it effectively.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you run a business that mails floral arrangements to customers around the country. You are having a Mother’s Day sale, so you create a Facebook post that has a shareable, touching video attached, is clearly branded for your business, and links back to your online ordering page. You ensure that you research tags and apply the correct ones in an optimal way to your post. Then you put it up on your page as well as several relevant community pages and groups. Your post ends up being shared 100 times, resulting in 20 new orders and 2 customers reaching out about pricing for potential floral arrangements for events.
That’s how you successfully generate free leads through organic posting.
A Great Referral Program
Referral programs are highly reputable tools for lead generation because they rely on a form of marketing that 88% of people trust (that is, recommendations from friends and family).
These programs can also often be free! However, offering an incentive to customers for successful referrals can also greatly boost the amount (and quality) of referrals you do receive. This can come in the form of gift cards, coupons, or free products for every successful referral.
But what does this look like in practice?
Let’s say you have an auto repair shop. You offer a $50 gift card to every client who successfully refers someone else (i.e., their referral actually goes on to do business with you). Tom, a regular customer, refers his 2 nieces to you to get their brakes changed. They come in to learn more about pricing and decide ultimately to get the work done at your shop. Once their work is completed, Tom gets 2 $50 gift cards, and you have converted 2 leads through your referral program.
Google Ads can be great tools for lead generation because they address a vast pool of potential customers. The best part of these ads is that they can be tailored to appeal to your ideal customer through their specific interest groups.
There are several different Google Ads, but we will cover the search and display varieties here. You can click here if you would like to learn more about Google Ads as a whole.
If you’ve ever typed a question into Google, you’ve probably seen one of these ads. Usually appearing at the top of a search inquiry page, search ads are targeted at users based on the questions or topics they type into Google. The businesses that purchase the ads also bid on keywords that match their area of expertise and can even target their ads based on location. Then the business adheres to a “pay per click” model, where they only have to pay Google every time one of their ads is clicked.
So how can this be used for lead generation?
Let’s say you run a plumbing company. You create a Google ad that is set to only target people within a 50-mile radius of your business. Then, among other keywords, you select “trustworthy plumbers near me.”
When Gladys, who lives 20 minutes from your business, types the same question into Google, she sees your ad first and clicks on it. She sets up an estimate appointment to learn more about your pricing.
Boom — you’ve just found a lead.
Unlike search ads, display ads are targeted toward a specific audience, not particular questions. So rather than bidding on keywords, you are trying to be seen by users that have expressed previous interest in your product or service. That means that you can set your ad to be shown based on geographical location, user interest group, age, gender, and more!
Like search ads, display ads can also be paid for on a “cost-per-click” basis (where you only pay if your ad is clicked). However, they can also be purchased on a “cost per thousand impressions” basis, where you pay based on how many people have seen the ad.
These ads also have a visual component and often appear on web pages as banners, sidebars, and squares. The visual appeal of these ads often contributes significantly to their success, so it’s essential to keep that in mind when designing them.
For example, let’s say you own a bakery and want to sell more wedding cakes. You create a banner ad that communicates (in as few words as possible) your business’s name, industry, and location. Then you set the ad to display for people who have expressed an interest in wedding planning.
A few hours later, Jack and Jill are browsing on Google to find a good bakery to create their dream wedding cake and click on your ad. They set up a tasting appointment for the next weekend.
Congratulations, you’ve just earned a lead using display ads!
It should be said that for Google Ads to be maximally effective, they need to be optimized. Depending on the saturation of competitors in your community, they can be costly. But for most industries, Google Ads provides a valuable targeted service for reaching out to customers.
Out of all the tools for lead generation, email marketing is one of the best ways to stretch your marketing budget. Typically, the ROI for email marketing is between $42 and $44 for every $1 spent (a return of 420%–440%). The inexpensive nature of email marketing gives it an advantage over other forms of media that can’t be underestimated and makes it perfect for sending out frequent messages to your base.
Now, that’s all fine and dandy when it comes to marketing to your current clients. But what does that have to do with lead generation?
If you are trying to use email marketing to attract new clients, you will first need to get their information. We never suggest doing this by purchasing a preexisting email list. Not only is emailing people without their consent often illegal, it’s also unlikely to help you to reach your goals and generate authentic leads.
Instead, you need to appeal to leads by offering them something of value (like a lead magnet). Once you do that, you can provide them with that information through email. While you’re at it, it’s worthwhile to channel them into a nurture campaign.
A nurture campaign is a lasting email campaign that seeks to provide readers with consistent value, with the ultimate goal of converting leads. This can also be used for lead generation by reaching out to people who have expressed a previous interest in your company with information about your valuable products and services.
For example, let’s say you’re a general contractor. You want to reach out to homeowners with an interest in home improvement, so you start a weekly email newsletter. This newsletter contains before and after pictures from projects, tips, hacks, and stories from successful jobs.
Now let’s say James is interested in home improvement. He opts into your newsletter and enjoys reading your weekly content. While reading the newsletter, he notices a “book an estimate” button at the end of every email.
So when James decides he needs help redoing his deck, he clicks the button to get an estimate from your company.
Congratulations, you’ve just generated a lead through email marketing!
One of the best ways to reach out to potential customers, direct mail provides a reliable and often underutilized channel for lead generation. Unlike email marketing, it is not illegal to send direct mail to people without their permission. That is especially helpful if you are trying to reach out to people locally.
For example, let’s say you’re a real estate agent in a wealthy area and want people to sell their houses through you. So you send out a flyer detailing information about your services. The next day, you get a call from 2 people looking to sell their houses. Congratulations, you’ve just generated 2 new leads!
A tried-and-true method, in-person marketing remains a great way to reach out to potential leads. This can be done door to door (which is often ineffective because people automatically have their guard up) or in a specific location. But the most effective way to get leads through in-person marketing is at events.
Events provide a great opportunity to gather people together who share a common interest. Setting up a booth that’s relevant to your industry can be a great way to attract people in your target demographic. You also have the added advantage of being able to verbally persuade people while they’re there.
Let’s say that you make personalized comic books and art. You decide to display your services at your local convention. While you’re there, 5 different people ask for your card so they can commission some pieces.
Congratulations! You’ve just generated 5 leads!
By getting the most out of these often-overlooked tools for lead generation, you can start boosting your lead numbers exponentially. This can help you to increase your profits, and by extension, your revenue to new heights. That’s good for you, your employees, and your business.