Online lead generation. Pic by Fe Ilya

5 Free Online Lead Generation Ideas

Disclosure: Just so you know, we may sometimes earn a small commission from affiliate links on this site.

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).

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 Generation Ideas

  1. Identify problems potential clients encounter, and create fantastic SEO content that solves those problems (Be careful not to turn articles into sales pitches).
  2. Establish authority and credibility by creating lots of accurate, relevant content that helps people in your industry - become a goto resource.
  3. Find a way to be really interesting. Do things differently. Be creative. Apply some thought before going through the motions.

It's important to understand that publishing content is free in the sense that you can write an article and publish it to your own blog/site free of charge. However, the time and effort required to create great content and market it is significant. In this sense content is not really free because either you will need to become a fantastic blogger, or ultimately pay an employee or service to generate content on your behalf.

I'd recommend starting off yourself in order to learn about how content forms the basis of virtually all online marketing strategies. Once you know what you're doing you'll be in a far better position to make the best possible decision about how to create and publish high converting content, based on your business' content requirements.

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 Media Lead Generation Ideas

  1. Incorporate games and competitions into your social media presence. Entertain people and educate them about your business at the same time.
  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 Generation Ideas

  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.
  2. Offer comprehensive online support and encourage clients and customers to share their positive experiences socially, online.

4. Email Marketing & RSS

Not every person who reads an article is ready to convert, right at this moment, but that doesn't mean that they won't become ready to convert at some point down the line.

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 Generation Ideas

  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. Guest Blogging

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

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 - if done responsibly. 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).

Guest Blogging Lead Generation Ideas

  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.
  2. Become a guest columnist or opinion writer for a leading publication in your niche. Share useful ideas, tips and insights and cite your sources of information (which can, very occasionally, be your own website).

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 below.

Check out this list of ten great hyperlocal marketing strategies, by Carlo Pandian, that can help to drive local consumers to your site.

Introduction to AdWords PPC advertising

PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising on a platform like Google AdWords can be challenging to ge

Marketing hacks that worked. Pic by Steven Depolo

Every company in the world is obsessed with marketing and sales - trying desperately to get in front of potential clients, gain visibility, join the conversa

7 ways to network effectively

When I started my first company some years ago I placed all my focus on creating a great offering, but almost no effort went into sales and networking. Needless to say that it took an incredibly long time to get off the ground - 6 years in fact.

During that time I learned a lot about how business works, and my focus has shifted almost completely onto sales, marketing and networking.

Nowadays, a good idea with a quality product backed by excellent service is the bare minimum required to succeed. Because there is so much competition (especially online), what sets companies apart these days is how effectively they can network and promote themselves.

Creating viral social media content

For many bloggers, webmasters and entrepreneurs there's nothing quite as exciting as seeing an article or brand mention taking on a life of its own and gener

Email marketing intro

Email marketing is a popular and effective online strategy for small businesses (as well as large corporates).

top digital marketing questions

Online marketing is about much more than introducing carefully selected keywords and phrases into content to optimize for organic search; or build up backlin

Free email marketing setup guide. Pic by Wayne Stadler

Modern email marketing campaigns, especially from small businesses, need to be able to grow a killer mailing list and deliver awesome emails to the right aud

Drive traffic without SEO

I am an ardent supporter of creating great quality content that ranks well in Google search for marketing purposes.

Recently, however, I have been forced to concede that organic traffic from Google is no longer reliable enough.

Since 2012 Google's search results have been in upheaval, and while the general thrust of the changes are to improve search results and cut out spam, there has been significant collateral damage along the way.

How to increase site traffic an conversions. Pic by Tony Alter

Everyone knows that in order to make more money online you either have to increase the volumes of website traffic, or increase conversion rates (or both

How to work with social media effectively

Social media marketing is one of those things that most entrepreneurs and small business owners wonder if they really need.

In general, my answer is yes, but I need to qualify that by saying that the amount of time, effort and cash you invest must be proportional to the returns you want (and can realistically achieve).

I serve on the board of a wonderful not-for-profit, registered charity, and we have utilized the tools and technologies provided by the Web, and in particular, social media, to drive visibility, engagement, and awareness that would simply be out of reach otherwise.

Marketing explained with cows. Pic by Chris Marchant

It can be a challenge, especially if you're new to the game, understanding what marketing jargon means.

Back to Top