To grow your business, you need to generate leads.
You know that.
But there’s just one problem: how do you generate leads?
More specifically, how do you generate high-quality leads at a reasonable cost… over the short-term and the long-term?
In this guide, we’ll share 15 lead generation techniques that have worked for thousands of online businesses (with examples).
There’s bound to be something that works for you!
1. The Dream 100
To start, let’s talk about what we believe should be the foundation of your lead-gen strategy — regardless of your industry, niche, or target market.
We call it… the Dream 100.
Here’s the gist.
The people you want to serve — your dream customers — are already congregating in lots of different places online.
They’re listening to the same podcasts, reading the same blogs, signing up for the same newsletters, and following the same Instagram influencers.
What if you could implant your business, your message, and your offers into those congregations?
That’d be super valuable, right?
The first step is to make a list of 100 different places — hence the name, although it could be more or less than 100 — where your dream customers already congregate online.
- 10+ top websites & forums where they spend time
- 15+ active Facebook groups
- 50+ influencers they follow on social media
- 30+ podcasts they listen to
- 40+ email newsletters they read
You could also target YouTube Channels, blogs, or even magazines.
Once you’ve got a list, you can either…
- Work your way in — This means reaching out and building relationships with key people. It’ll include guest blogging, being a guest on other people’s podcasts, and sending free products to influencers for their review.
- Buy your way in — This means you pay money to insert yourself into the conversation. That could be through advertisements, sponsorships, or agreements with influencers.
This is the foundation of your lead-gen strategy because it tells you where your target market is — and once you know where they are, you can create a plan for inserting yourself into the conversation.
As Russell Brunson explains…
“The core strategy to understand is that your dream customers have already been congregated by your Dream 100. If you focus on identifying them and marketing to them, your dream customers will start flowing into your funnels faster than by anything else you could do.”
To learn more about the Dream 100, pick up your free copy of Russell’s bestselling book, Traffic Secrets, by clicking on this link.
2. Reverse Squeeze Page
Who doesn’t love getting stuff for free?
The Reverse Squeeze Page is a sales funnel that offers something free to the visitor — something that the target market really wants — in exchange for the visitor’s email address.
(Sometimes the form will also snag the person’s name and/or phone number — but fewer fields typically mean a higher conversion rate)
Here’s an example…
It really is that simple.
The most difficult part about creating an effective Reverse Squeeze Page funnel is crafting an offer that’s irresistible to your target market.
Here’s the question to ask yourself…
What could you offer your target market that would solve their most immediate problem?
Then create a simple resource that will help — an eBook, whitepaper, cheat sheet, or email course.
We’ll be showing a lot more specific examples of free gifts throughout this article — but if you want to learn more about creating effective lead magnets, check out our guide over here.
Or click below to start building your very own Reverse Squeeze Page funnel for free!
3. Funnel Hacking
To be clear, a sales funnel is simply a series of pages that are crafted to guide the visitor toward taking a very specific action — opting into your email list, downloading a free resource, buying a product, registering for an event, etc…
And since sales funnels are action-oriented, they are the perfect asset for lead-gen.
As an example, check out the format for our Tripwire Funnel below…
Creating sales funnels is a science and an artform — but the better you get at it, the easier it’ll be to build successful businesses. Period.
You’ll have an easier time generating leads and making sales.
(If you’re new to sales funnel, we highly recommend our One Funnel Away Challenge)
If the dream 100 is the foundation of your lead-gen house, then sales funnels are the doorway — ain’t nobody gonna get in the house without a doorway.
But… How do you build a sales funnel that works for your business?
After all, your business is unique and what’s worked for us here at ClickFunnels might not work for you.
The answer is funnel hacking.
Funnel hacking is the process of looking at other businesses that are similar to yours, analyzing their sales funnels, and then creating your own sales funnel based on what you learn.
It’s critical for success.
And if you want to learn more, check out our funnel hacking guide.
Today, ClickFunnels is worth more than $300 million.
And we didn’t work with venture capitalists or reach deep in other people’s pockets — this company has been bootstrapped by a couple of everyday founders just like you.
To be honest…
We attribute a lot of our early and ongoing success to webinars.
It might seem crazy, but webinars have generated more leads and made more sales for our business than any other tactic.
Here’s a webinar we ran early on…
And here’s one we’re currently running…
What’s great about webinars is that they give you an opportunity to generate leads (during registration) and an opportunity to make sales (at the end of the webinar and during the follow-up process).
It’s a win-win.
Now… the idea of running your own webinar probably sounds a little daunting if you’ve never done it before…
But don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
We compiled everything we’ve learned from our decades of combined experience into a simple, easy-to-follow webinar framework.
It’s got everything you need to get started.
You’ve probably seen lots of different quizzes circulating on social media over the past decade…
- What celebrity are you most like?
- What hairstyle looks best on you?
- What’s your personality?
Many of those quizzes seem a little silly and petty…
But darn it, they work.
Because all data points in the same direction: people love quizzes.
Just look at some of these stats we pulled from LeadQuizzes…
- The average quiz is shared nearly 2,000 times
- The top 5 quizzes in 2015 all had well above 1.5 million shares
- The average quiz has a 31.6% lead capture rate.
- The demand for interactive content such as quizzes will continue to grow in 2017 and beyond.
Now, we’re talking about generating high-quality leads… so if you’re going to use a quiz for lead-gen, then it’s in your best interest to create a quiz that only your target market will be interested in taking.
(We don’t want to flood your email list without people who aren’t in your target market)
Let’s look at two examples.
Warby Parker uses a quiz on their website to help people determine what types of frames they should get for their glasses…
This quiz then naturally leads into product recommendations — and it’s a quiz that only people looking for new glasses (i.e. Warby Parker’s target market) are going to be interested in taking.
Another example comes from The Tonic — a personal growth email newsletter.
On Facebook, they’re currently promoting the following quiz…
The Tonic’s motivation is to get new subscribers for their personal growth newsletter — and what’s smart about this quiz is that a lot of people who are interested in history are also interested in the level-headed personal growth that The Tonic promotes.
So there’s alignment between the quiz topic and the “product.”
And that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
6. Tripwire Funnel
At ClickFunnels, we specialize in creating sales funnels — that is, step-by-step experiences that guide people toward conversion.
And one of our favorite funnels is called…
The Tripwire Funnel.
Here’s the outline…
Okay — let’s walk through it.
It starts with a sales page that offers something irresistible — a heavily discounted product, for instance, or maybe something that’s totally free.
Regardless, to move forward, people must input their shipping and billing information.
Then, after people click to submit their information, they’re taken to what we call the One Time Offer Page — this is where you create some urgency and offer an upsell that’s difficult to refuse.
Since the new customer has already input their shipping and billing information (which is where most people abandon their cart in a typical sales funnel), this upsell has a really high conversion rate.
And then there’s the Thank You Page…
To be honest, we don’t know of a better sales funnel for turning cold traffic into paying customers — if you’re selling physical products or online courses, the Tripwire Funnel is a great way to skip the lead-gen process altogether, and jump right to getting new customers.
Challenges are another great way to generate leads — and they’re becoming more and more common.
We’re talking about paid or free experiences that challenge people to accomplish something in a certain period of time — something that appeals to the target market.
At ClickFunnels, for instance, we have a few different challenges…
- One Funnel Away Challenge — We challenge participants to create and launch an effective sales funnel in just 30 days!
- 5 Day Lead-Gen Challenge — Over five days, we reveal how to turn on an endless stream of high-quality leads, one step at a time.
What’s great about challenges is that they can become a product all their own (they don’t have to be free), they give you a unique opportunity to bond with customers, and they motivate participants to try out your products or services during and/or after the challenge.
So what challenge could you host that would appeal to your target market?
It’s no secret that advertising can also be a great way to generate leads.
Earlier I was talking about how a personal growth email newsletter — The Tonic — uses a quiz to generate leads…
But how does The Tonic get people to the quiz?
And I happen to know that they’re getting high-quality subscribers at about $0.50 a pop — not bad, eh?
You’ve just got to promote something that will appeal to your dream customers, identify your target market, and then spend money to get the engine pumping.
If you want to learn more, check out our Facebook advertising guide.
Whenever someone lands on your website, they’re probably there because they’re a part of your target market — they’re interested in what you have to offer.
So it’d be a real bummer if they left without you snagging their email address.
Of course, in reality, that happens all the time.
But there’s a solution.
Although you might not be able to contact those people via email, you can use the Facebook retargeting pixel to run advertisements for those people.
Here are some examples of the types of ads you can run.
And American Express…
These ads don’t need to be super complicated.
Remember — by visiting your website, these people have already shown that they have some level of interest in your brand.
By retargeting them on Facebook, you’re just reminding them that you exist and giving them a gentle nudge to take action.
10. Guest Blogging
In my time as a writer, I’ve done a lot of guest blogging.
I’ve written for SmartBlogger, Jeff Bullas, AdWeek, SUCCESS, and many other publications.
I’ve also helped entrepreneurs and businesses get featured in publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur.
And I’m always surprised by how powerful guest blogging is for…
- SEO — We’ll talk more about this in the next step but basically guest blogging allows you to build your backlink profile which increases your Google rankings.
- Brand Awareness — Getting mentioned or featured in publications that your target market pays attention to is great for brand awareness.
- Traffic — Every guest blog post also drives traffic back to your own website!
If you went through the first tip in the article and worked on building out your Dream 100, then you should already have an idea of what blogs you’d like to write for.
So… what next?
Well, you’ll want to send an email to the owner or editor of the blog and ask if they’d let you write a guest post — you can find email addresses using hunter.io and you can use the below template for sending your pitches (it’s worked wonders for me!)…
My name is [name] and I’m a [profession/position].
I’m interested in writing an article for your blog over at [website] and I am wondering if you’re open to guest posts?
If you are, I’ve got three title ideas — see below…
[3 TITLE IDEAS]
Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll get started right away!
11. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (or SEO) refers to the effort of marketers and entrepreneurs to get their website’s ranking on the first page in Google for specific high-value keyword phrases.
At ClickFunnels, for instance, we’ve put a lot of work into ranking for the keyword “sales funnel” — because that’s kind of our thing 😉 — and we’re now on the first page in position 7…
And guess what?
That Google ranking is bringing us about 238 visits to our website every single month for as long as we stay there.
What’s even crazier is that if you add all of our Google rankings up and their estimated traffic, then we’re driving almost 200,000 visits per month organically through SEO…
That’s the power of SEO.
But you don’t have to be a big company like us to get results from this strategy — I’ve helped REISift drive 160 visits per month in just about 3 months worth of SEO work…
And I’ve helped Call Porter drive 400+ visits per month consistently over the last few years…
What would your website do with 500, 1,000, or even 10,000 additional visitors every single month?
If you want to learn more about working on your SEO, then check out our SEO guide over here.
12. Free Course
Much like offering a free eBook or a white paper, offering your target market a free course on something that they really care to learn about can be a great way to generate leads.
And this course doesn’t need to be as in-depth or hand-holding as a paid course would be… you don’t even need to make any modules or videos.
You could just create an email-based drip course like Email Mastery does…
Or you could create a how-to PDF that walks people through accomplishing a goal or avoiding a pain — like Jacob McMillen…
Again, the question you want to ask is…
What’s the most immediate problem that my dream customers want to be solved and how can I help them solve that with a free course?
Then create the course and promote it.
Podcasts have become a powerful form of media.
Just check out some of these stats that we pulled from Oberlo…
- There are over two million active podcasts
- 60% of US consumers above the age of 12 listen to podcasts
- 75% of podcast listeners in the US say they tune in to learn new things
- 32% of Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis
Now I’m not saying that you should start your own podcast — although you certainly could! — but I am saying that for the sake of generating leads, it might be a good idea to try and be a guest on the podcasts that your target market already listens to.
If you created your Dream 100 list, then you have already identified some of those podcasts.
Now you just need to reach out, sell yourself a bit, and ask to be a guest.
Well, I used to be a total newbie at pitching myself… but then I asked a friend of mine who’s been on tons of different podcasts what I should say in the email and his response was genius.
Here’s the email he recommended sending (works like a charm!)…
My name is [name] and I’m a huge fan of your podcast. I really enjoyed [specific episode] and when you shared [specific topic] — that was great advice.
If you’re up for it, I’d love to be a guest on your podcast.
A few topic ideas I had were…
Let me know if any of those sound good!
14. Email Newsletters
With publishers like Morning Brew and The Hustle, email newsletters are all the rage right now — they reach a lot of people in a specific niche… and their sponsors benefit from all that attention.
Sponsoring a newsletter is very similar to sponsoring a podcast — for a price, someone in the edition, the email newsletter will promote your brand and/or your products.
Here’s an example of what that looks like…
Just reach out to this newsletter and ask about their advertising prices — you might be surprised at how reasonable they are.
15. Referral Program
Referral programs are another great way to generate leads for your business via word of mouth.
It’s also a great way to turn past customers into evangelists.
For Morning Brew — the popular email newsletter with 1.5 million subscribers — a referral program was their “secret sauce” to list growth.
“While the referral program obviously doesn’t account for all 1.5 million subscribers we have today (we began pursuing paid acquisition in early 2018), it does account for over 30% of our total subscribers and is the “secret sauce” that makes our growth flywheel spin. It’s helped turn readers into evangelists and evangelists into walking advertisements. It’s the ultimate 1 + 1 = 3 scenario that makes all of our acquisition channels X times more effective.”
Could a referral program be effective for your business as well?
You can reward people for sharing your brand with their friends. And for every sign-up or opt-in they generate, those people get points toward free merch.
It’s definitely something to consider!
Generating leads is one of the main things that businesses struggle with — it’s also one of the most important things for a business to grow.
But there’s good news.
Thousands of businesses have generated millions of leads and made millions of dollars using strategies that you have complete access to.
And we’ve shared 15 of those strategies with you here.
The only thing left is to choose one that you think will work and give it a try.
Oh — and if you’re ready to make big moves in your business, then click the link below.