Hubspot's 2017 State of Inbound report confirmed what small business owners know; the top challenge that 63% of marketers face is generating enough traffic and leads.
In this article, we will present free and low-cost affordable lead generation methods and strategies for B2C and B2B leads. We'll give you some practical ideas you can implement right now to acquire business leads, online and offline.
But before talking about how to generate leads for free or when you are on a budget, let's look at the meaning of lead generation.
What does Affordable Lead Generation mean?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting people into prospects that have an interest in your product or service. In other words, a lead is a person who has explicitly shown interest in your company in some way, shape, or form.
For example, if you're in the process of buying a new car, and you are visiting car dealerships to see new car models, you are a lead to those car brands and dealerships.
Why generate leads? The sole reason why businesses are actively looking for leads is to convert them into paying customers.
Leads are the lifeblood of each and every business.
If you're looking to generate leads for your small organization, you are in the right place. We have chosen the free or low-cost tactics that actually work, and that you can implement starting now.
Want more affordable lead generation techniques? Join a free lead conversion workshop hosted by Jason Drohn and discover how to attract, engage and profit from new leads by systematically giving them what they want.
Without further ado, here is the list of the best online and offline methods to generate quality leads.
1. Word of mouth
What it is:
The best way to generate leads free or when you are on a budget is word of mouth. Word of mouth (WOM) produces high quality leads as the State of Inbound report confirms.
Word-of-mouth advertising is the practice of actively influencing and encouraging organic discussion about your company or product.
It is a fact that people seek opinions and share experiences online and offline. 84% of consumers say that they either completely or somewhat trust product recommendations from family and friends – making those recommendations the top-ranked source for trustworthiness. (Source: Nielsen)
How to generate leads with WOM:
If you want to implement word-of-mouth marketing you must optimize every aspect of your business that affects the customer experience. This involves answering emails promptly, picking up the phone to respond to inbound calls, having a responsive helpdesk, and delivering great customer service.
Also, people often overlook the simple strategy of asking customers to leave a testimony or recommend your service – 70% will say "yes." This will greatly help your local or online reputation. Moreover, have your customers publish the reviews directly on review sites, like Capterra, GetApp, Amazon or other industry-specific review sites. Don't forget to display those testimonials prominently on your site too.
When it comes to online reviews, 88% of people trust them as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. (Source: BrightLocal) That is why it is important to have a system in place to help you get online reviews. Such a system will also help you battle negative reviews.
2. Local meetups
What local meet ups can do for lead generation:
One of the most effective affordable lead generation ideas is still business networking. Online lead generation is essential, but face-to-face communication can’t be beaten for impact.
How to do it:
Join the local Chamber of Commerce or a professional association to get a list of upcoming business events and trade shows you can attend.
Visit www.meetup.com to find a local meetup. Meetup is an online social networking platform, intended for people to organize and/or join offline group meetings in their area.
Also, look for international summits or conferences to join or speak at. You may offer to present for free at these events. You will, in return, get access to a lot of potential leads for your business. Speaking in front of a targeted group is one of the best real-life lead generation methods.
If you cannot participate in yourself, offer your product free for a local event. For example, do you sell chairs and tables? Simply find a local event and offer to provide seats for the participants. Are you in the software business? Offer a free one-year subscription for a small-business summit. Do you provide hosting services? Give away a free plan to the local WordPress meetup.
3. Host a giveaway or a viral contest
Why host a giveaway:
Giveaways are one of the most thriving forms of lead generation. However, a giveaway can also attract a bunch of useless leads and waste your time if you don't follow a well-thought strategy.
The trick? There are two of them. First, make an effort to give away something people actually want. Electronic devices, like an Amazon Kindle, or smartphones, like a new Samsung, usually make people's heartbeat fast. The second trick is to promote your giveaway where your ideal customer hangs out. Is it Facebook? Is it another social network? It's your choice.
How to do generate leads with a contest
To host a contest you need the right tools at hand. Rafflecopter is an online service that helps you run giveaway and sweepstakes online. Whether your giveaway attracts hundreds of entries or hundreds of thousands, Rafflecopter is an affordable choice for most professionals.
Alternatively, you can run a giveaway on Facebook with a normal post, which is completely free. Post your giveaway prize and brief terms of the giveaway and ask people to like and comment to take part.
4. Use your social media of choice
The social media fallacy:
Data compiled by Placester determined that social media had a lot of potential, but it ranked low compared to other lead generation techniques.
There is a reason why social media is clustered at the bottom of the thermometer: People are doing it wrong.
Marketers typically count on social media to be the hottest for top-of-the-funnel marketing. But the key is to use social media strategically for lead gen.
How to generate leads on social media:
How do you do it? Either do mass posting on the most popular social media, if you have the resources to handle that, or choose one or two social media and focus on those. We advise you to opt in for the second option. Start by posting links to your preferred network, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other, at least three times a week.
Link posts directly to specific landing pages built to promote high-performing offers. Make sure you make it obvious to people that you're sending them to a landing page, though. This way, you're setting expectations fairly.
You can also do traffic analysis on your blog to figure out which posts generate the most leads. First, go to Google Analytics and find the posts that attract the highest number of readers. Then, link your social media posts to those blog posts.
Bonus tip: Add an affordable lead generation form to those high-ranking pages to capture more leads that are interested in the topic. You may also offer a freebie to entice visitors to give up their email. Use this set of free list building plugins to power up your site!
Another way to generate leads from social media? Create a contest, as we previously discussed, and promote is on your favorite social profile. Contests are fun and engaging, a perfect fit to the relaxing atmosphere on social media.
Finally, take advantage of the lead generation opportunities each social media platform already gives you. For example, Facebook has a feature that lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, helping you send Facebook followers directly to your website.
5. Reach Out With Cold Emails
How it works:
It is pretty much self-explanatory, right? Pick up your phone and call people. Well, the difficult part is where to find those people who may be interested in your product. That process is called prospecting.
As Shopify defines it: "Prospecting is the first step in the sales process, which consists of identifying potential customers, aka prospects." And continues: "The goal of prospecting is to develop a database of likely customers and then systematically communicate with them in the hopes of converting them from potential customers to current customers."
How to do it:
The best business lead generation tactics are proven to work through frequent, widespread, or long-time use. And cold calling is one of them.
To create a targeted list of potential prospects in your niche, you may have to look at phone directories or trade show lists depending on whether you are a B2C or B2B company. You can also skim through LinkedIn profiles, your Facebook friends or members of topical Facebook groups.
Reach out to potential leads personally to start a conversation and determine if your offering may be the right fit for them is most of the time the best affordable lead generation effort you can make.
Cold calling can result in new clients as well as help you build your email list for follow-ups. The key to success is to research each of your prospects fully before sending them a personalized email.
6. Video and Live video
What this affordable lead generation technique involves:
Video is booming, period! If you're not using any kind of video content to generate leads you are missing out on a great opportunity for your small business.
B2B marketers know that a constant stream of leads is the lifeblood of every business. They also know that, with limited time and other resources, you need to focus on what works best. Generating leads through video definitely works because, put simply, video is the best alternative to eye-to-eye contact.
How to use video for lead generation:
There are two main ways you can use video to produce more business leads:
- Add video to a landing page with an optin form.
- 2. Collect email leads in the media player itself.
Both ways work, and both will generate more leads for your business very soon if not immediately.
Live video is a strong affordable lead generation tool that is also free. Live streaming is becoming more and more popular among businesses across all industries, from technology to education, to healthcare. Live video is expected to rise even higher in the years to come.
Are you utilizing video and live video to boost your lead gen efforts? If not, start with Facebook Live and Hangouts on Air. Both are so easy. You can easily start a Facebook Live on your mobile device. Alternatively, Hangouts on Air is a Google service that help you broadcast to a limited number of people that you have invited or go live publicly on YouTube. Both services are free.
More often than not, videos will be gated behind an email form that locks the content. This means that viewers can’t watch the video unless they type in their email address. Apart from pre-video email gates, you can capture leads through end-of video forms and in-video calls to action (CTAs). Such features are offered by Wistia.
What about the content? Delivering a high-value piece of content, like a free webinar, allows you to build your brand authority and also capture leads directly in the registration form. Scriptly's Webinar Wizard will help you get started with webinars right away. Scriptly's Webinar Wizard offers a free trial that will help you see leads flowing into your business.
7. Connect with journalists and local media
Last but not least, keeping warm contacts in local or online media will help you with affordable lead generation. You might have heard of a site called HARO which you can join for free.
What HARO does is match journalist inquires to content providers. So, a journalist might be writing a story about sales strategies and be looking for sales executives to share their expert opinion. Then, when the story is published, the contributors will be referred to by name and get a link back to their site.
It is advised that small business owners attend local or nationwide publishers’ conferences where they will get to know national and regional reporters and build professional relationships with them.
You should also reach out to local press, TV or radio stations and offer professional advice to their audience. You might offer to be interviewed or take small part in a Q&A section of the show. It’s a win-win situation for both local business and the media outlet -- they do want content.
Ready to acquire leads on a budget?
So, that was it! A range of online and offline ideas for affordable lead generation, for both B2B and B2C companies in any industry. Hopefully you will start implementing one or more of those lead gen tactics right away -- we gave you some action steps!
Keep in mind that however you choose to go about your affordable lead generation process, it’s always going to take consistent work to see results. Don't get intimidated if you take action today and see no results by tomorrow! Every effort takes some time to produce results.
Tired with boring trade shows, uncomfortable meet-and-greets, and the poor results of most B2B lead gen campaigns? Then it’s time to try some new affordable lead generation ideas and tactics, all part of a done for you sales funnel. However, always keep your strategist hat on and focus on the lead generation approach that works best for your individual business.
Instead of finding leads and prospects with mass advertising and email blasts, you must now concentrate on laser-focused campaigns and relationship management.
Hey, what's up? This is Jason Drohn. Welcome to today's presentation. This is episode number 83 of our GSD Dailies, starting for get-shit done. And today we're going to talk about affordable lead generation on a budget. Or more affordable lead generation tactics. Yesterday, we talked about lead magnets. The day before we talked about, on Monday, we talked about affordable lead generation in general and how especially now, you need to be generating your leads online in order to truly grow a business. Because with the rampant cases of COVID across the country, as states have opened up, it is becoming more and more and more apparent that we probably aren't going to get back to the way things were. If you've thought that we would in the first place. Really what we need to do is we need to make sure that you have the skills and tools necessary to transition your business online or to start a business that is able to grow online. Because if you can't, then it's going to be a really, really, really rough road.
Now, with that being said, our preferred method of driving leads online is through paid traffic, Facebook ads, Google ads, all of that stuff. But in the same breath, I know that paid traffic requires investment, the capital. You either need to be generating revenue from your business and then you're dumping that back into paid ads. Or you need to have some ad budget that you're able to roll into paid ads. And a lot of that stuff isn't terribly feasible at the moment, depending on what kind of business you're in, how new you are, what you're doing. Today's presentation is going to be about seven ways to generate leads economically, where you're not necessarily trying to spend ad budget and your basically free traffic kind of stuff.
Here's the thing with traffic and leads. Every affordable lead generation method has a cost. Every lead that comes into your world has a cost. Now, and that cost is either going to be time or it's going to be money, one or the other. If it's time, then it's going to be the time that you're investing doing the social media posts, the time that you're investing doing writing blog articles, the time that you're investing writing for content, or whatever. There's always going to be a time, a cost associated with the lead. If it is ad budget, then it's going to be the dollar figure associated with the ads that started. The $2 per click, a dollar per click, whatever and it took you four clicks to get a lead, which meant the lead was $6, let's say.
There's always going to be a cost when it comes to generating leads. Now it just depends on what you're okay with. If you're okay with investing time to get leads potentially tomorrow, potentially next week, potentially next month, then the content is going to be the way to go. If you want leads much more rapidly then but you don't want to necessarily, you don't have an ad budget then you need to go with a couple of different kinds of methods. Might be social media influencers. It might be affiliates. It might be leveraging email lists or something like that, doing email drops. There are some other ways that you can do it.
Now here, we're going to go through seven different ways of generating leads. This is, here I'm just going to drop the blog post here. Here's the post that is going to serve as today's kind of foundation. Seven highly effective ways to generate leads on a budget. Now, this is the podcast episode we're watching right now. You can go ahead and subscribe here. If you just mouse over the done for you, hit subscribe and then make sure that way you get a notification on all the future episodes.
Basically, what does affordable lead generation mean? Just to kind of kick-off, what is lead generation exactly? Well at affordable lead generation is when somebody basically raises their hand and says, "Yes, I want more information from you." It might be requesting lead magnet or PDF that you have on your website that they want to download and get more information about something you do. Or it might be them opting in to get a quote from you if you have a professional service or something like that. Or it might be filling out a fully qualified lead form to get a call back about the house that they want to sell. There are lots of different ways to generate leads, but when somebody raises their hand and says, "Yes, I want you to call me. I want you to email me. I want you to somehow interact with the business," that is a lead for you. That is when a lead is generated.
Now there's a lot of ways to do it, but the first we're going to talk about is word of mouth. Word of mouth is the best way to generate leads for free. And it's also the one that leads to the highest conversions. This is referral marketing 101. This is how I started years and years and years ago, selling services to people, internet marketing services was, I ended up, I became friendly with a couple of consultants. And they were business strategy kind of consultants. They didn't do any website stuff. I was the website guy that they've turned to. Word of mouth, referral marketing, it's the best way to generate leads and generate sales on a budget. And those people close really, really, really quickly.
The problem is you actually have to get out of your shell. Right now, literally right now, it's difficult to do a whole lot of word of mouth because there are no in-person networking events. There's no chamber of commerce events. People have moved to digital of course, so they're doing Zoom meetups and Slack channels and Facebook groups and all of these other things to foster a digital community. But you're not necessarily able to just walk into a room and show off, if you will, or network or meet people or exchange business cards. What you have to do is you have to be more present. You have to show up more and showing up more looks literally like what I'm doing right here, doing a live stream, doing a podcast, showing up in social media, reaching out to a friend or an acquaintance, jumping on Zoom and being seen. Your face being seen.
There are lots of ways that you can foster that community, foster those relationships to reinforce the fact that they need to send you business, but you literally need to show up. You can't sit in your office and do nothing and then hope that you're going to generate some word of mouth. You might, if your work is that good and then you have one client and that one client tells you another client or another client, but you don't get massive exposure that way.
Number two is the local meetups. Again, local meetups have transitioned online. When this was originally written, the local meetup was a thing. You could go to networking events, you could go to chiropractic association events and pick up clients. You could go to CEO space. You can do, there's all kinds of real-life events that you could show up to. All of those events have transitioned online because they've had to. The modalities have changed. Zoom has been the great equalizer in terms of events. Facebook groups, they've moved online. You have to get into those meetup groups so that if and when they're ever able to start meeting up locally again, then you can join. But for now, you're able to network and go that way.
The interesting thing about events right now is that everybody's craving connection. I have found personally it has never, ever, ever been easier to get in somebody's inbox, to get a call with somebody than it is right now because people are looking for that connection. It's really quite easy to meet up and network. Now, if you're using tools and you're present, the way you should be.
Number three, host a giveaway or viral contest. There's a lot of software that you can do that will help you do this. Rafflecopter is one Viral Loop is another, but at the end of the day, the premise is really pretty easy. You give away a $100 Amazon gift card and you get people to sign up for a contest. That is a way to generate leads really, really quickly. We've had a client who did it with an annual Photoshop license. They were a photographer and that worked out really well. They've also given away Photoshop brushes and stuff. That's worked really, really well. It works well when it's something in high demand and it's digital. There's no cost to you, associated with giving that thing away. You can have somebody opt-in for something and then they can recommend two or three more friends. And then they get a special bonus thing.
There are lots of ways to do the giveaway and the viral contest. But if you're willing to spend a couple of hundred bucks on a cool prize, then you might generate 500, 600, a 1,000 leads organically if the prize is cool enough. There again, you still have a cost. There's still that, you might be spending 30 cents, 40 cents, 50 cents per lead, but it's cheaper than the $2 or $4 or $5 you're going to be driving paid traffic to.
Number four uses your social media of choice. Social media again, you show up, you be seen, you do some live streams, do some imaging. You upload some quotes, you upload some articles, and then you're going to be able to connect with the people in your market, connect with the people who are the gatekeepers of your prospects, or connects with your prospects at the end of the day. And you can do this by investing time in the social posting, by investing time in creating the videos, by investing time in making sure that your social media is updated and frequent and you're consistent about it.
Consistency is really the biggest thing too. You want to make sure your social posts, they link to landing pages, the landing pages collect the leads, all of that stuff, but consistency, every day, 10:00 o'clock or 10:03-ish, I am here. And now it's my clients, my prospects, this is episode 83. I've been doing it for three months now. Literally all of my clients know, this is what I do Monday through Friday. They're like, "Oh yeah, you, you have your thing at 10:00 o'clock." Yes, I do so I'll talk to you at 9:00 or I talk to you at 10:30. Which is kind of cool?
Affordable lead generation tactic, number five, reach out with cold emails. We actually, there's an eighth one I'm going to add in here too. Just crossed my mind, but we don't do a whole lot of cold emails. You can buy a list. You can email that list. You can email that list through Gmail or whatever. There's a lot of clients who they end up coming to us and they have a LinkedIn account. They use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Sales Navigator dumps a bunch of CRM leads off to them. And they're like, "What can I do with these?" Can I send them emails? And to answer it succinctly, cold email, when you send somebody that you don't have a relationship with an email, it's considered spam. When it's a one on one kind of email, just kind of a reach-out email, then people don't necessarily take offense to it.
If you send a second email or third email or fourth email, then you're spamming them. There are fines, that could go along with it. If you upload a list of, a cold list of 1,000 people into a CRM and then you email all those people, you are spamming them. They didn't opt-in. They didn't agree with it. Then didn't agree to receive an email from you. It's up to you if that's how you want to do business. I know lots and lots and lots and lots of businesses that do. We do not. Every lead that we have, they raise their hand. To some degree, they raise their hand and they come into our funnel in one way or another. They opt-in for a PDF, but I know lots and lots of business development representatives, BDRs for software companies and stuff, their teams are taught to purchase lists and spam those lists until they get a lead.
It works. I know it works. Legally is it great? Probably not, but I know it's effective. You can reach out with cold emails. You can curate your email lists and then send them an email. If you buy your email list through a broker, if you were to go to lists.nextmark.com, there's an email list search engine tool. It's a mailing list finder. This is a collection, a big, big ass database of tens of thousands of emails, lists that have been curated that you can purchase. If you want to look for, let's say startups. Just see what comes up. Venture capital and private equity resource. There are 5,010 names on this and it is the mailing address, email address, and phone number for a $125 per 1,000 records. This is going to cost you, it's going to cost you 600, 700 bucks, for this list to get access to this list, they will mail it probably once.
And everyone is a little bit different. This particular list, there's a little bit of a description as to who is on this list. Then you can get pricing or get more information, just go and fill out the little form. And it will direct you to the broker who is responsible for this list. Now, when you're looking at this, so sometimes they send out the emails. Other times they have somebody else who sends out the emails. You can send out the emails perhaps and they'll see the list to make sure you only email it once. Sometimes they will mail it on their behalf. If the list owner has a relationship with the list, sometimes the list owner will mail it. There are different ways that you're going to get in front of these people. This is an approved way of sending out direct mail campaigns because they opted in, the prospects opted into the original list owner. And the list owner is selling you a sponsored ad.
This is a good way of doing it. And if you're able to purchase a list under this pretense, then you're able to mail to it and generate leads. Again, paid ads though. This is a paid thing, so it's 500, 600 bucks for 5,000 names. Of those, you're going to get probably 10% who are going to click the link. Of those, you're going to get probably one or two or 3% of people who, I'm sorry, 10% are going to open the email, one or two or 3% are going to click the link inside that email. It's still dollars for clicks. Does it make sense to do that or go Facebook ads? Do you know what I mean? It's all just bringing it back. Because it's still those apples to apples.
Now, number six, video, and live video. What I'm doing right here, this Livestream is free. Well, so StreamYard, which is the only paid component of this is 49 bucks a month. And that lets me do different channels and groups and stuff, but you can do Facebook live streams for free. If there was one most effective way to generate leads, I would say live streams are it. Because there are lots of ways you can cut it up. You're going to start seeing a bunch of social videos from us that are edited down and done nicely. We're going to drive a bunch of traffic to them. But this in exchange for my time 30 minutes a day, 20 minutes a day, this is a high-value activity for me. Because I can capture some thoughts. We can cut up into video, we can do future promotions. It generates leads. It generates clients, the whole deal.
Video and live video, extremely high leverage, and extremely high value, and you can generate leads on the cheap. You don't need StreamYard. You can literally just open up Facebook. Open up the Facebook app, hit Livestream, and start streaming. You don't need the video. You do need video. You don't need the lights and the microphone and the mixing board and all of that stuff. You need, any of that stuff, you can literally just do it from your mobile phone. Just make sure at the end of every single video has a call to action on it.
And then number seven, connect with journalists and local media. There is a book that I read called, Free PR. It's a fantastic book. Cameron Herold, he's the owner or the writer, I think. Free PR. Yeah. Free PR: How you get Chased by the Press. Fantastic book. I went through it a little bit earlier this year, the audiobook and the Kindle book when the pandemic started because a lot of people were moving into Free PR because who knows what's going to happen. I heard it being mentioned in a couple of kinds of circles. I went through it, but basically, the premise of the book is really pretty simple. You network with journalists. People who are writing articles that you read, write down their email address, start, create a relationship with them, friend them on Facebook, that kind of thing. And then just be cool. And when you have a story, send it to them, see if they want to cover it and go from there. Pick up the phone.
There's another resource here called Harrow, which you can check out too. There are lots of ways that you can generate leads on the cheap, affordably. They all either involve time or money, but you can pick any of these. If there is one that I absolutely loved and I would recommend above all else, it's this, do video, do live video, get out of your own head. These videos are far, far, far from perfect and it's like, I get up here and I talk and I just know that I get to talk about something cool that's something that I like. It's not always received really well. Sometimes I stumble a lot, but at the end of the day, it lets me create content. And it lets me do the thing that I love, which is creating. As long as I can do that, then my day was a success.
20 minutes, 25 minutes, just plan on doing a video. It can be once a week, it can be twice a week, can be three times a week, five a week is aggressive. I'm not going to lie. Every single morning for the first month that I was doing it, I'm like, "Shu, I can't believe I set this personal challenge to do five a week." But now it's fine. Now it's not a big deal. And I'm already on episode 83. And it seems like just yesterday this started. Video and live video, add it to your mix. If you want to generate leads on a budget, do video and do live video. Just forget, just stop with the excuses, stop with worrying about what other people are going to think about you. Stop worrying about what your parents or your friends or your sisters or brothers, what they're going to think. Just do it.
The worst that's going to happen is that they're going to see your video and then they're going to keep scrolling. That's it. Literally, it takes half a second for them to make up their mind not to watch you or to watch you. It's up to them, but you are putting yourself out there. You're doing the videos, you're generating leads, you're bettering your business. And you're surviving this pandemic, you're transitioning and pivoting through this thing so that you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And that's all. If you would like to jump on a call with my team and I, go to doneforyou.com/start, we will put together an action plan for you involving traffic strategies, sales funnel lead generation, all on that stuff, what your offers are going to look like. And just let us know if you have any questions. And go to doneforyou.com/start, there's a little chatbot in the lower right-hand corner. If you have a question, go in and ask it there and we will get you all fixed up. I will talk to you soon, all right? Thanks. Bye.