Online lead generation. Pic by Fe Ilya

5 online lead generation ideas (that won't cost a thing)

For sales and marketing people looking to get more leads for their business, the Internet offers great opportunity wrapped up in some interesting challenges.

Inbound marketing strategies (ones that don't interrupt readers, unlike, say, banner ads) are proving to be more effective as the Web migrates to mobile enabled, content based marketing.

Capturing sales leads is no longer a case of securing an online advertising budget and plastering ads all over social networks, blogs, and industry websites.

Instead, online lead generation techniques require multidisciplinary skills, plenty of analytics and research, highly targeted content, and a great understanding of the what the audience wants to see.

This article looks at five of the best ways that businesses can generate leads that drive decent amounts of qualified Web traffic to maximize conversions.

1. Quality content

Creating highly valuable, relevant, and focused content that is optimized for search and shared socially is arguably the most effective way to generate any type of lead online.

Becoming a brand publisher is not easy though. Your content strategy needs to be purged of sales and marketing, leaving only content that engages with potential clients by offering value.

Applying great SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to your published content will also ensure a steady stream of valuable organic search traffic (which represents the largest share of the online revenue pie).

But content is not only a great way to generate new leads, it is also a platform to capture leads elsewhere in the online ecosystem.

Content lead gen idea #1: Identify problems potential clients encounter, and create fantastic SEO content that solves those problems (Be careful not to turn articles into sales pitches).

Content lead gen idea #2: Establish authority and credibility by creating lots of accurate, relevant content that helps people in your industry - become a goto resource.

Content lead gen idea #3: Find a way to be really interesting. Do things differently. Be creative. Apply some thought before going through the motions.

2. Social media marketing

Social media marketing probably sounds a bit more sexy than content publishing to the average marketing team.

But, social marketing relies heavily on quality content. Without offering and sharing something of value to potential clients and customers, social media marketing is simply an empty shell.

Without a great content marketing strategy in place, you will find it hard to sustainably generate online leads via social networks.

Social lead gen idea #1: Incorporate games and competitions into your social media presence. Entertain people and educate them about your business at the same time.

Social lead gen idea #2: Incentivize interaction and engagement with prizes.

3. Word of mouth... online

Despite the continual advancements in technology, the rapid evolution of the Internet, and all the sales and marketing strategies that go with it, the best form of lead generation is still plain old word-of-mouth.

Your existing clients and customers are a powerful marketing tool provided you can convince them to talk about your business. By integrating social sharing and encouraging online community involvement, you can convert your clients into a great marketing and advertising resource.

What's more, recommendation to friends, family, and colleagues from your clients will convert at higher rates because there is already an elevated level of trust associated with word-of-mouth recommendations.

Word of mouth lead gen idea #1: Create an online forum or group for existing clients and customers to interact and engage with. Encourage them to invite people or businesses they know to join.

Word of mouth lead gen idea #2: Offer comprehensive online support and encourage clients and customers to share their positive experiences socially, online.

4. Email marketing & RSS

Content is a great way to generate leads and conversions, but not every person who reads an article is ready to convert.

It seems a waste to create awesome content only to have a potential client read it, and disappear forever. That's why offering RSS feeds and an opt-in newsletter is the perfect way to keep potential clients and customers within reach of your content.

Opt-in email marketing is one of the most tried and trusted methods of generating leads, sales and conversions online. If you are already creating content, then this lead gen strategy is an absolute must.

Email lead gen idea #1: Offer special deals and discounts for readers who sign up to your newsletter. This gives you the opportunity to generate sales leads on a weekly basis (eventually that reader will be ready to purchase).

5. Content based advertising on niche blogs & sites

Traditional online ads are efficiently filtered out by today's Internet users. How often do you visit a website, only to click on a banner ad?

But, creating a high quality article that offers a reader information of value while linking back to your own business/blog/products/services is much less intrusive, and far more effective.

Not only that, but by selecting high quality, authority blogs with the right target audience for your business can also help to get your content to the top of search results (when it may not have stood a chance otherwise).

Content ads lead gen idea #1: Research a handful of niche blogs that target the right audience for your business. Create a high quality article that compliments their content, and have it posted to that site.

Those are my top 5 lead generation ideas to get more online sales. What lead gen techniques have you used with success? What lead gen strategies have not worked?

Share your tips and advice in the comments.

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