Inbound Rocket

Lead Generation: Best Tips From The Experts

The world is full of millions or make that even billions, of potential customers for your product and services. But how do you find and reach your target audience, without spending (or wasting) too much time, money and resources? And how can you help ensure that the people who visit your website or social media profiles are really interested in what you have to offer?

Two weeks we wrote an article with “9 Lead Generation Ideas to Boost Sales Now”, this week we put those questions to sales and marketing experts. These people do this day in and day out for their own startups and for their customers. So we asked them to share their top suggestions on how to find and connect with qualified sales leads.

The question we asked them all was:

If you are starting out with your company, just launching your product into the world or even wanting to generate sales for your (freelance) work, how do you generate good qualified leads.
Potential customers have not yet heard of your company, how do you attract those leads? Can you describe to us what is your ultimate growth technique and how can we implement that for our own companies?

57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a prospect ever talks to a supplier based on a Corporate Executive Board study of over 1400 B2b customers across industries.

For marketers, lead generation is a trade-off between quality and quantity. Specifically with our a sufficient number of leads, you can’t achieve your sales conversion goals. By contrast, too many leads often translate to unqualified buyers who need lots of persuasion to convert or they’ll never buy. On the other hand, you need those leads coming in, to be able to help them convert at the end of the line to paying customers.

Without further ado and in random order here are the best lead generation tips ever from our 12 experts:

#1 Joanna Wiebe

Joanna Wiebe

Who? Joanna Wiebe is widely known as the Copy Hacker, the copywriting expert for CRO. In her previous roles, she’s worked at Intuit and Conversion Rate Experts. Today she runs the amazing Copy Hackers blog.

Where can I find more information about her? https://twitter.com/copyhackershttp://www.copyhackers.com

Her advice: Guest post! Or write an original post on Medium or Inbound. Or do both. The point is that you need to get your expertise + personality out there stat if you wanna start attracting people to your site (or, better, your lead-gen page).

A common rookie mistake is to fill one’s new blog up with great blog posts – but newbies should actually publish incredible stuff in places their prospects already are. Build your authority on blogs that already have authority, and drive leads to your site. This works on so many levels – as long as the content you share is truly amazing.

#2 Sujan Patel:

Sujan Patel

Who? Sujan has 12 years of experience in digital marketing and co-created Content Marketer, a tool to help automate and scale content marketing. He is also an avid blogger and writes for Forbes, Inc, WSJ and Entrepreneur. In his spare time, he authored the Growth Hacking eBook 100 Days of Growth.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/sujanpatelhttps://contentmarketer.io

His Answer:
If you are starting out with your company, just launching your product into the world or even wanting to generate sales for your (freelance) work, how do you generate good qualified leads?
Great timing for this question, I’m launching my new tool, Content Marketer and over the 6 months I’ve tried dozens of things to get the word out about the company. In the last 5 months we received over 100k visitors, 3500 people requested invites and have been mentioned in 20+ blogs. The best part is that we even have 52 customers who prepaid for a year (for software that isn’t out yet). After a lot of trial and error here’s my 4 tips for a successful launch:

  1. Pre-launch. It’s all about the momentum you build up before you launch. Create a pre-launch page as early as possible. The page should describe what problem you’re solving, explain what you do at a high level and collect email addresses. With Content Marketer, I created a launch page 4 months before the product was live.
  2. Start blogging about your industry and talk about your product/service. I recommend starting a company blog as early as possible because it’s hard to keep people excited about a prelaunch page. Our blog is about our industry (content marketing), but I’m also advocating our cause (outreach & content promotion). I also commented on a ton of blog posts related to the problem I was solving and answered questions on Quora, which brings in 10-15 visitors a day back to my prelaunch page. It doesn’t seem like much, but blogging and talking about my product for 3 months brought in about 1500 people who requested an invite.
  3. Leverage social networks/bookmarking sites/communities. Since my tool is in the broader Marketing category I talked about it on communities such as inbound.org, growthhacker.com and various slack groups for marketers/startups. With this, I was able to reach hundreds and engage in a meaningful conversation (which is key).
  4. Early promoters. I let a 250 people into my beta version and stayed in close communication with those beta users. From there about 12 promotors emerged. These promoters loved the idea and the product, so they blogged about it. Nothing better than social proof before your product is even ready.

Potential customers have not yet heard of your company, how do you attract those leads? Can you describe to us what is your ultimate growth technique and how can we implement that for our own companies?

Start blogging early, comment on other relevant blogs in your industry, build relationships and answer questions on Quora. The underlying recommendation here is to establish yourself as an industry leader. If you can afford it invest in PR. If you can double down on blogging.

#3 Nathan Resnick

Nathan Resnick

Who? Nathan Resnick is a junior at the University of San Diego and the founder of Yes Man Watches. Having launched and advised several successful Kickstarter campaigns, he knows the ins and outs of how to turn ideas into realities.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/yesmanwatcheshttp://www.beayesman.com/

His advice: I’d say one of the keys to generating qualified leads early on is creating a group of early adopters or beta testers. This group will create a community around your product and launch. They’ll be the ones talking about your platform or product on social media and the ones who recommend you to their friends. By creating a community around your company, you’ll have people on the outside eager to provide their feedback, which will make them feel like they are a part of your team.

#4 Aseem Badshah:

Aseem Badshah

who? Aseem Badshah is the Founder and CEO of Socedo, a web platform that helps to automate lead generation on Twitter. He has been a leader in the social media marketing space for more than 8 years. Before Socedo, Aseem founded Uptown Treehouse, a marketing agency for Fortune 500 brands focused on social media.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/aseemb – http://blog.socedo.com/

His Answer: Twitter is a great place to generate your initial leads because it’s easy to find prospects interested in specific topics and then engage with them directly. Many early adopters are hanging out on Twitter looking for solutions to their problems. Here’s a step-by-step process to make it work for you.

It all starts by identifying what value you can provide to customers! You should start by creating a piece of content like a how-to e-book, webinar or free trial that gives a high level overview of the solution you can provide. Publish this asset behind a gated registration form so you can collect contact and qualifying information from leads who have shown an interest in the piece of content. All of these people have a need for your solution and are good qualified leads for you or your sales team to reach out to.

Now you need to find people to get this piece of content in front of. Twitter is perfect for this because you can easily identify prospects who would be interested in the content based on what they are Tweeting about. Look for people using relevant keywords, event hashtags or people engaging with influencers who write about similar topics. Once you’ve found these prospects engage with them lightly on Twitter by favoriting some of their Tweets and following them. The leads who follow you have shown enough interest in your value proposition and content that you can send them a link to the gated content you created.

Do this with 100 Twitter prospects per day and you’ll find that 5 to 10 of them will download your content and turn into qualified leads. We’ve built a platform called  Socedo.com that can help to scale this process but it also pretty easy to get started on your own!

#5 Jason Amunwa

Jason Amunwa

Who? Jason Amunwa is the Director of Products at digital-telepathy, a user-experience design studio that created SlideDeck, the WordPress slider plugin that lets you create awesome content sliders in minutes with no code, as well as Hello Bar and Impress. His most recent endeavour is Filament.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/usefilamenthttp://Filament.io

His advice? If you’re just launching your product, chances are you have at least a few beta users – these folks will be your key to attracting your first warm leads. Find the folks who’ve participated the most in your beta, and treat them like royalty – “charter member” pricing, bonus features or discounts, swag, or even free lifetime memberships are all good ways to give back.

Next, find out how these kinds of active beta users talk about your product, and use that language in your marketing materials, and when you create syndicated content – people like them will use the same language to find solutions to the same problem, so speaking in their language will lead them right to you.

#6 Chris Hexton

Chris Hexton

Who? Chris Hexton is a co-founder of Vero, behavioural email marketing software that helps online retail stores increase their customer satisfaction and sales. Living between Sydney and San Francisco, his favourite part of working on Vero is helping other businesses grow.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/chextonhttps://www.getvero.com/

His advice? We focused on some really concentrated content marketing and tried to find audiences we could share with: Hacker News, Reddit – places that genuinely read and respect good ideas (if you put in the effort). These places had a built in audience that would listen, and that was powerful for us.

#7 Paul Kemp

Paul Kemp

Who? Paul Kemp is a host of the popular entrepreneur startup show called ‘The App Guy Podcast’ with over 300 episodes and world leading app founder interviews. Paul’s built and launched over 80 apps, has reached top 1,2 and 3 in the Apple App Store with various apps and inspired listeners to quit corporate jobs to become app entrepreneurs.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/paul_s_kemphttp://www.theappguy.co/

His Advice? Building credibility, an impactful online presence, networking and really engaging with people on social media is my ultimate growth technique.

Let me explain. I spent years trying failed techniques which all required interrupting somebody’s day to pitch a sales message.

Now, I have more prospects and opportunities than I can handle.

How?
– I built credibility through a daily app entrepreneur show called The App Guy Podcast
– I built up my online presence and brand
– I expanded my network exponentially by interviewing experts for my talk show
– I really engaged with people via social media by replying with personal audio messages and engaging in a human way

Now, all the business opportunities come to me.

The beautiful aspect of this approach is that their is no need for a sales pitch. Through my online presence, hours of podcasts and content marketing something wonderful happens. People approach me already pre-sold. They already know, like and trust me.

Just ask yourself this question. If you are at a BBQ and a good friend says

“hey – come over here! I’ve got something to show you”

You’d go over to have a look – right?

Now switch this around. You are walking past a dark alleyway and a stranger says the same thing. You’d have no trust and would say NO.

Now apply this to what we do as marketers. We want to become the trusted friend in this relationship, not the stranger. That’s why it’s important to build trust, credibility, an online presence and engage with real people in a real way.

One more thing. In all my emails to guests, my network or clients I include the ultimate growth tip. At the end, I write this:

My biggest challenge right now is…..

This single request has introduced me to top influencers, generated real leads, got me onto other talk shows and is ultimately got me here writing this article.

So, let me know what you think by contacting me via my website or getting me via Twitter.

#8 Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

Who? SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Moderator at @ProductHunt and @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

Where can I find more information about her? https://twitter.com/NikkiElizDemere – http://nicholeelizabethdemere.com/

Her advice?  Use Lincoln Murphy’s Ideal Customer Profile Framework to determine who your Ideal Customers are and then get in front of them. Leverage trusted sources that already have your Ideal Customers as their audience. And once you’re in front of them, ensure that you’re doing lead generation and not lead capture.

Also, don’t allow FOMO to cause you to focus on more than one Ideal Customer at a time. As Jim Gray points out, you don’t have a customer if you don’t have non-customers.

#9 Daniel Scalco

Dan Scalco

Who? Daniel is the founder/owner of Digitalux, a digital marketing company located in Hoboken, NJ. When he’s not pitching prospective clients or working on new growth strategies for current clients, you can find him fixing up my old motorcycle or playing with his dog, Max.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/Digitalux – http://digitalux.co

His advice? If I was justing starting out, I would focus on determining the distinguishing factor between my product and my competitors. This will allow me to understand my value proposition – why someone should buy from me instead of my competitor.

There are a lot of ways to figure this out. I would get in contact with my competitors current customers and ask them a series of questions, such as:

– What do you like about product X?
– What do you dislike about product X?
– How could product X be better?

This can be done by creating a simple survey with Survey Monkey or Google Docs and promoting it via Facebook ads (targeting your competitors keywords/demographic).

I would then use the answers to craft my products marketing message.

#10 Kane Thomas

Kane Thomas

Who? Kane is a serial entrepreneur with a background in engineering. He loves being involved in startups, mentoring, and angel investing. My current projects focus on social media marketing, email delivery, and entrepreneurship networking.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/do_social – https://dosocial.com

His advice? Here’s a couple strategies we’re using at DoSocial that seem to be effective so far:

(1) We’re using the Content Marketer tool to identify and contact industry leaders with an outreach email. This has helped us get kickass feedback from social media pros, plus we’ve gained extra traction when some of them have shared our tool to their followers.

(2) We’re directly interacting with people on Twitter that are either customers of our competitors or just fans of social media marketing. We find them by searching for specific hashtags or tweet content, then sending them direct messages that are helpful or funny. You don’t want to be too “”salesly”” right away, so be careful with this strategy.

#11 Benji Hyam

Benji Hyam

Who? Director of Growth at Everwise, Previously first Marketing hire at ThinkApps, Co-Founder Social Proof Interactive + Founder Insights. Marketing at Vistage.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/benjihyam – http://www.geteverwise.com

His advice? Content marketing is where I always turn to generate high quality leads and gain awareness from my target market. The trick is you have to understand your audience really well and deliver compelling stories that cater to the top, middle and bottom of the funnel.

While building a blog audience is a longer term strategy, results can pay off in anywhere from one month to a year. For example, when I was at ThinkApps I grew their blog from 0-35,000 unique visitors in six months. It started generating SQLs by month three. Content was the biggest driver of awareness and leads to the company overall.

3 Tips Around Content –
– Be a storyteller – Don’t write about the same things everyone else does. Find that unique story.
– Forget keywords: Focus on answering questions that people have – use google suggested search to help guide your topic writing.
– Set up a scalable program – outsource your writing. Build a team of freelancers to help you get going. Once you gain enough traffic, your content becomes free as you will trade exposure for content.

For more information, this article dives deeper into the specifics of my content strategy and how to implement it.

#12 Ryan Gum

Ryan Gum

Who? Ryan is the CEO of a SaaS startup called Attach.io, he runs an online community for salespeople called Closing Call, and writes about Growth and Startup Marketing.

Where can I find more information about him? https://twitter.com/ryangum – https://attach.io/

His advice? If you’re starting at day 1 with 0 customers, Inbound Marketing tactics like blogging and answering questions on Quora are great, but it can take a lot of time and effort to start generating results.

Until your Inbound Machine is working, you can’t afford to wait around for leads to come to you. Don’t leave the fate of your startup up to chance – you need to go to them.

At this early stage, you need your first few customers. The single most valuable thing you can do is by doing things that don’t scale (at first), with email outreach:

  1. Come up with your Ideal Customer Profile hypothesis
  2. Find out where these people are – online or offline. This might be groups they belong to, blogs they read, or even just their LinkedIn profile.
  3. Find their contact details (there are plenty of examples how to do this)
  4. Start with 20 of them, and reach out one-by-one. At first, the majority of them won’t respond, but don’t let this discourage you, it’s normal. You’re looking for Innovators and Early Adopters, the small segment of the market that are visionaries and risk takers.
  5. If your emails are relevant enough you might get 4 out of 20 that will take you up on your offer, and 1 of those that will become that all important first customer.

Keep these emails short, simple and personalized. Make it about them. For example:

Subject: Intro

Hi {name},

I noticed {something relevant about them that can link to you or your product} / {common connection}.

I just built {your product} for {their job title} to {what it does & what it helps them do} and I wanted to intro it to you.

If you think it’s interesting, can I show you a demo of how it works later this week? Would only take about 15 minutes.

Love to hear your thoughts,

Ryan
If you truly believe that what your building will help them, then you’re doing them a favour by reaching out to get it in their hands.

That’s it, and we can imagine that it is sure a lot to digest. Take your time.. Do you like what these experts have to say? How are you approaching lead generation at your startup which turned to be a huge success? Let us know what you think or what worked out really great for you in the comments!

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