Sometimes in marketing it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. Marketers spend so much time looking at impressions, likes, click-through rates and other metrics that the campaign’s ultimate goal can become obscured. For service-based businesses, that means generating new sales leads.
All the website traffic and ad impressions in the world don’t make for good marketing if they can’t deliver new leads. If you’re a marketer for a service-based business interested in some creative lead generation ideas, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites below.
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1. Gated content
Gated content is premium content like whitepapers, e-books, or software tools that are available for free if the user provides contact information such as name and email. In essence, users willingly become a sales lead in exchange for the value of whatever your gated content is.
This means the bar for quality content is set very high, but the quality of leads you get in return make the effort well worth it.
2. Guest blogging
Whether you’re in a B2B or B2C vertical, odds are you have some idea of what kinds of websites your target audience visits. If they accept guest posts, offer to write one.
Guest blogging is a great way to push your brand, appear as an authority and even get some referral traffic to your website.
And although Google has officially condemned guest blogging for the express purpose of link-building, it has been known to offer SEO benefits.
3. Native content
If guest blogging isn’t an option, native content—also known as sponsored content—could be another solution. The principals are similar, but there’s not likely to be any direct SEO benefit (and you usually have to pay a little more).
One of the benefits native content has over guest blogging is that more overtly promotional content is often tolerated, which may be beneficial for generating leads in the short-term.
With native advertising, your ads are front and center. They catch readers' attention by showing up in places that they're already checking out, instead of in a place that they've grown accustomed to ignoring.
4. Video marketing
Video is the future of the internet. Web users spend more time watching videos than ever before, and marketers across the board report huge returns on investment in video.
Video content improves SEO, increases conversion rates and more. We believe in video as an effective lead generation tool so much that we wrote an entire blog on how to use it for that very purpose. Things like using high-quality, informative videos as gated content, adding calls to action at the end of free videos and housing videos on a landing page with a related offer can help you start generating some leads.
5. Facebook ads
These days, people are dedicating more and more of their daily lives to social media—especially Facebook. So why not take advantage of their relaxed, click-happy mood with Facebook Ads?
As the numbers show, Facebook ads are a definitive way to get a great return on your marketing investment and gather high quality leads. With incredibly detailed targeting capabilities, great page placement and an opportunity for a variety of calls to action, advertising on Facebook is a big win for lead generation.
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Custom ads are set up to display when certain search queries are entered. You don’t pay until someone clicks, as the name suggests. By targeting keywords and queries with a high conversion intent, highly qualified traffic can be effectively funneled into your site.
It’s nice having friends for its own sake, but the ultimate goal is to have an authority in your corner when you need a piece of content promoted or a high-profile name supporting what you've done.
If you have a good relationship with one or more influencers, they can provide an invaluable signal boost to lead generating content like tools, blog posts or e-books.
8. Retarget marketing
Have you ever left a website only to be followed by its ads for weeks afterwards? That’s retarget marketing.
In a nutshell retarget marketing works by placing a small pixel of code on your website that attaches a cookie to every user who visits the site. When they browse the web elsewhere, that cookie triggers your ads. This means only users who have already been to your site and left will see the ads.
As part of a larger strategy, this can be an effective tactic for plugging holes in your marketing funnel and converting users who might have otherwise browsed and gone without looking back.
This list is of course far from comprehensive. There are endless ways for creative marketers to generate leads. The crux of the best ones is usually pretty similar, though—figure out what your audience wants, and find a way to deliver it to them. From there it’s just a matter of giving them a little nudge.