As a business owner or marketer, generating leads you can eventually turn into paying customers is essential.
However, it’s important to note that not all leads are the same!
Some leads convert better than others.
In the same way, some lead generation ideas work better than others.
So, the amount and quality of your leads are directly affected by the lead generation strategy and lead generation ideas that you use in your business.
In this article, we’ll go through The 7+ best lead generation ideas to grow your business from best to worst.
Tip: It’s not a good idea to do ALL these lead generation ideas at once. Instead, it’s better to focus and master one (or a few) at a time. It’s much better to do ONE lead generation idea really well instead of implementing lots of lead generation ideas poorly.
Table of contents
- Best lead generation ideas for business owners
- Popular B2C and B2B lead generation ideas
- 8. Webinars
- 9. Content marketing
- 10. Optimize your existing website for leads
- 11. Buy leads
- 12. Use AI lead generation sales tools
- 13. Create a free quiz, survey or assessment
- 14. Offer a free downloadable guide
- 15. Cold emails
- 16. Social media marketing
- 17. Guest blogging
- 18. Offer a free trial or demo
- 19. Free eBooks
- 20. Free physical books
- 21. Speak at events
- 22. Business or industry related networking events
- 23. BNI (Business Network International)
- 24. Cold calling
- 25. Exhibit at business trade shows
- 26. Offer discount codes or coupons
- 27. Run a contest or giveaway
- 28. Dinner seminars
- 29. Free online course
Best lead generation ideas for business owners
Here are some of the best lead generation ideas to help you grow your business:
1. Video sales letters
In first place, we have video sales letters (VSL). A VSL is the main lead magnet I use in my own business and for clients when helping them get leads, appointments and clients predictably each month.
Why does a video sales letter work so well?
A video sales letter works so well because it allows you to both generate leads (as a lead magnet) and convert leads into clients (as a sales-person).
A video sales letter is kind of like having a sales-person that works for your business 24/7.
This sales person (the video sales letter) will explain:
- The big problem you solve for clients
- What are some alternative solutions to this problem
- Why is your solution better than those alternative problems
If you can effectively answer these questions for your target audience; chances are you’ll have a high-converting VSL.
What I like & dislike about VSL’s
- Shorter than a webinar
- Anyone can watch it on-demand
- Fully automated
- Easier to setup
- Works as a lead magnet
- Helps convert leads into appointments & clients
- Gets better quality leads and appointments
- Doesn’t require you to be on camera (unless you want to)
- Can get quick wins with existing leads
- And lots more
- You need to know what to say in your VSL to get conversions
Video sales letter Final thoughts
Video sales letters (VSLs) are my number one choice for getting high-quality leads. I believe every business needs to have a video sales letter as a best practice to help them get leads and customers – no matter what it is they sell!
To learn more about creating and promoting a high-converting video sales letter, check out my free Masterclass training here.
2. Google SEO
One of the best lead generation ideas is to improve your Google search rankings with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Why? When people search for something on Google, they’re more likely to convert into paying customers because they are actively searching for a solution to a problem they have.
This means with Google SEO you can get better quality leads with people that are looking for your product or service.
What I like & dislike about Google SEO
- Free leads
- Higher quality leads
- Leads convert quicker compared to other marketing channels
- Evergreen leads
- Automated leads
- You need to create content before you start seeing results
- Results typically kick in after 6-12 months
Google SEO final thoughts
Google SEO is one of my favorite lead generation ideas because you can get high quality leads for free every month in your business for years into the future. It requires some hard work in the start to make it happen. But in time, you’ll be glad you did!
To learn more about using Google SEO to generate leads, check out ‘Step 4’ of my Free Masterclass training.
3. YouTube SEO
YouTube is another great way to generate leads. YouTube is, after all, the second largest search engine in the world.
Like Google, YouTube uses an algorithm to rank videos higher on search. So if you want to generate leads from YouTube, you need to optimize your videos for YouTube SEO.
Some things you can do to optimize your videos for YouTube SEO include using relevant keywords, creating engaging titles and descriptions, and including a call to action. You should also make sure your videos are high quality and offer value to viewers.
I’ve found the best (and easiest) way to rank higher on YouTube search by creating videos that answer questions your potential clients are searching for.
What I like & dislike about YouTube SEO
- Free leads
- Higher quality leads
- Videos can rank faster than written content for Google SEO
- You can repurpose content you write (for Google SEO) into videos
- Videos build trust a lot quicker with your target audience
- Less competition compared to Google search
- You can get recommended on the YouTube homepage for bonus traffic
- Creating videos is usually harder work compared to writing articles
- Some people might not feel comfortable on camera
- Harder to outsource (if you’re the one on camera in your videos)
To learn more about using YouTube SEO to generate leads, check out ‘Step 4’ of my Free Masterclass training.
Final thoughts on YouTube SEO
Creating YouTube videos can rank more quickly than if you were to create blog posts, so it’s a great lead generation channel if you want organic leads instead of paid leads each month in your business.
4. LinkedIn outreach
LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B lead generation. And one of the best ways to generate leads on LinkedIn is to reach out to your connections. When you reach out to your connections, you’re more likely to get a response because you already have a relationship with them.
When reaching out to your connections, make sure to personalize your message and include a call to action. You could even use a video sales letter or webinar (see above) as your LinkedIn message call to action.
To learn more about using LinkedIn to generate leads, check out ‘Step 4’ of my Free Masterclass training.
What I like & dislike about LinkedIn outreach
- Free or low cost leads
- Great for b2b lead generation
- Search for people by job title, industry, company size and more
- Can be automated using LinkedIn automation software
- LinkedIn leads can take longer to convert because leads may not be actively searching for a solution to their problem right now
- LinkedIn outreach is not very scalable compared to other lead generation ideas
LinkedIn final thoughts
Overall, LinkedIn is one of the best b2b lead generation ideas because of how easy it is to target people by job title, industry and company size. However, LinkedIn will only work well if you have the right LinkedIn lead generation strategy.
To learn the best practices for LinkedIn lead gen, be sure to watch ‘Step 4’ of my free Masterclass training.
5. Use a sales funnel
No matter which lead generation ideas you use, a lead generation sales funnel will be essential to generate and convert leads into clients for your business.
A lead gen funnel helps you turn strangers into leads, appointments and clients in an automatic and systematic way.
What type of Sales funnel is best for you?
The best type of sales funnel for you all depends on your goal. For example, if your goal is to get high-quality appointments each month, then I’d recommend using an automated appointment funnel as shown in ‘Step 3’ of this video.
An automated appointment funnel includes 5 main landing pages:
- Opt-in landing page
- Video landing page
- Application landing page
- Schedule call landing page
- Call confirmation landing page
These pages can each be optimized for conversions.
Tip: Make sure you have your sales funnel hosted on an all-in-one funnel building platform for best results.
What I like & dislike about sales funnels
- Capture leads contact info (such as name & email)
- Convert more website visitors into leads and clients
- Track and improve results at each step of your sales funnel
- Landing pages remove distractions that prevent leads from converting
- Sending website visitors or paid traffic to a sales funnel converts better than sending them to your website
- Requires an extra fee to host your funnel with marketing software (such as Kartra)
- Can be difficult to set up if you don’t know how (see our lead generation course if you need help)
Lead generation funnel final thoughts
Overall, a lead generation funnel is critical for any lead generation campaign. If you’re not currently using a funnel in your b2c or b2b marketing, you’re missing out on sales.
6. Facebook Ads
Another great lead generation idea is to use Facebook ads. Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world, so there’s a good chance your target audience is on there. And with Facebook ads, you can target your ads to people based on their interests, demographics, and even behaviors.
When creating a Facebook ad, make sure to include a unique and compelling image, headline, and copy. You should also make sure your ad is targeted to the right audience. And finally, include a call to action so people know what to do next.
What I like & dislike about Facebook
- Quick results
- Good quality leads
- Can be expensive
- Not as profitable as Google or YouTube SEO
- You need to pay for leads and appointments
- Facebook has been known to shut down ad accounts for no good reason (so one day it could be working great and the next day you’re restricted from advertising on Facebook)
Facebook ad final thoughts
Overall, Facebook can be a great lead generation idea when everything is working well. But keep in mind, it’s not the most profitable channel. Even if you use Facebook ads, I still recommend doing other more profitable marketing channels in the background.
To learn more about using Facebook ads to generate leads, check out ‘Step 4’ of my Free Masterclass training.
7. TikTok Ads
TikTok Ads is a new and exciting way to get leads on social media. At the moment, TikTok is more popular with the younger demographic. But TikTok is growing fast with users over the age of 45+.
TikTok ads have low competition, low ad costs and an ever-growing user base (similar to advertising with Facebook & Instagram in the early days).
To use TikTok Ads for lead generation, start by creating short, engaging videos that showcase your products or services. Then, include CTAs in your videos that encourage viewers to visit your marketing funnel for more information.
You can also target your ads to specific groups of people based on their interests and demographics. However, in my experience, TikTok ads work best when you use “Automatic targeting” and let the TikTok algorithm find the best and most leads for you.
Of course, every lead generation campaign is different! So you’ll need to split test both and see what works best for you.
What I like & dislike about TikTok
- Cheap ad costs
- Very powerful advertising algorithm
- TikTok Ads manager looks almost identical to Facebook’s ads manager (so it will be easy to use for anyone experienced with Facebook ads)
- Easier to contact support about any issues (compared to Facebook ads)
- Not as many users (yet) compared to Facebook & Instagram
- The older age demographic isn’t as high as Facebook & Instagram (but it is catching up!)
TikTok ads final thoughts
TikTok ads could be great for your business right now, depending on your target audience. If your target audience is under 45, then TikTok ads will probably work well (assuming you have a high converting funnel of course).
If your target audience is over 45+ then TikTok ads could still work well, but it’s more likely going to work even better for you in the near future (as their older demographic continues to grow)
Popular B2C and B2B lead generation ideas
So far, I’ve gone through the best lead generation ideas to grow your business based on my experience with helping business owners get qualified leads, appointments and clients each month.
The lead generation ideas above should get you off to a good start.
But if you’re still looking for even more lead generation ideas, here are some additional b2c and b2b lead generation ideas, their pros and cons and my personal thoughts and experience in using these marketing strategies.
Webinars work similar to video sales letters, but the main difference is that video sales letters are shorter on-demand videos, whereas webinars are longer videos that people watch at a specific day or time.
Both types of lead magnets can work well as long as the content in the video is good.
Some webinars can also be automated if you don’t want them to be live. However, some automated webinars also bend the truth by saying they are live (when in reality they’re not) and this has made webinars get a bid of a bad reputation in some industries (especially when webinars have been overused).
Overall, webinars are still one of the best ways to generate leads if you get the right message in front of the right people.
As a side note: I’ve tested both webinars and video sales letters in lead generation campaigns. The reason I prefer video sales letters over webinars are because in my tests I found people would prefer to watch a video right now instead of waiting to watch a video at a specific day or time. It’s kind of like watching online streaming services such as Netflix (VSLs) compared to watching a live program on tv (webinars).
9. Content marketing
One of the most effective lead generation ideas is content marketing. With content marketing, you create and share content that is relevant to your target audience. This can include blog posts, infographics, eBooks, and more.
The key to content marketing is to create high-quality content that is valuable to your audience. You should also make sure your content is optimized for SEO so people can find it easily. And finally, you need to promote your content so people actually see it.
To get started with content marketing, you need to determine who is your ideal client and what type of content will provide value to them. Then, you need to create a content calendar so you can plan and schedule your content. And finally, you need to promote your content through social media, email marketing, and other channels.
10. Optimize your existing website for leads
Your website is one of the most important assets you have for generating leads. If you already have people visiting your website, but you’re not getting a lot of leads, you probably have leads and customers falling through the cracks.
So, how do you fix this?
Having a call to action to contact you or schedule a call is usually not enough these days. You need to have call-to-actions throughout your website, sending people to your lead generation funnel (by using a lead magnet).
This is why throughout this article, I have links going to my funnel. And you can do exactly the same!
11. Buy leads
One of the quickest and easiest ways to lead generation strategies is to buy web leads. There are a number of b2b lead generation companies that sell leads, which you can then contact and try to sell your product or service to.
While this method can be effective, it’s important to make sure that you’re buying quality leads from a reputable source.
Otherwise, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money on leads that aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
And the biggest problem with buying leads is that most of the time, the quality of the leads are very low. It’s also cheaper and more cost effective to get your own exclusive leads at cost.
12. Use AI lead generation sales tools
Another great lead generation idea is to use AI lead generation software. These tools can help you automate the lead generation process, making it easier and faster to generate leads. Plus, they can help you qualify leads so you’re only spending time on those that are most likely to convert.
AI sales tools are still very new, but the future is certainly looking promising. At the moment, most AI sales tools help you:
- Automate emails to leads based on behavior
- Marketing automation based on leads behavior
- AI lead generation chat bots that speak to your leads on your behalf
- Help you with marketing tasks (e.g. AI writing tools)
- And more
To find the right sales AI tool for your business, consider your specific needs and goals. Then, look for a tool that offers the features and functionality you need. Once you’ve found a few options, compare them side-by-side to find the best one for your business.
13. Create a free quiz, survey or assessment
A quiz or assessment is another great idea to get new leads. This type of content is highly shareable, which means it has the potential to reach a large audience. Plus, it allows you to collect leads’ contact information so you can follow up with them later.
When creating a quiz or assessment, make sure it’s relevant to your target market. Otherwise, you won’t generate leads that are interested in what you have to offer. Also, be sure to include an opt-in form so you can capture leads’ information.
The best time to capture a lead’s information is after they finish the quiz or assessment. This would be the perfect time to ask for them for their contact information so you can email them the results!
One way to easily create a quiz in your funnel is by using Kartra’s quiz feature.
14. Offer a free downloadable guide
Another great lead generation idea is to offer a free downloadable guide. This is an excellent way to attract leads because it provides valuable information that they can use. Plus, it allows you to capture leads’ contact information so you can follow up with them later.
To create a free downloadable guide, start by choosing a topic that would be of interest to your target market. Then, put together a well-structured guide that offers valuable information and helpful tips. Finally, promote your guide through social media and your email list.
15. Cold emails
Cold emailing is a lead generation tactic that involves sending emails to people who don’t know you. And while it may seem like a risky move, cold emailing can actually be quite effective if done correctly with the right kind of cold email software.
When cold emailing, you need to make sure your email stands out in the inbox. You should also personalize your email and include a call to action (such as to schedule a call or watch a short video). And finally, you need to have a follow-up plan so you can continue the conversation if someone responds to your email.
Although cold email is NOT my favorite lead generation idea, it can work, and it is a low-cost way to generate a lot of leads at scale.
16. Social media marketing
Using social media is another great lead generation marketing channel. Social media marketing allows you to reach a large audience of potential customers with relatively little effort.
To get the most out of social media for lead generation, start by creating profiles on the platforms that are most popular with your target audience. Then, post engaging content that will encourage people to follow you and visit your website.
You should also include CTAs in your posts to make it easy for people to take action. And finally, consider running ads on social media to reach even more potential leads.
17. Guest blogging
Guest blogging is another excellent lead generation tactic. But like with events, it’s important to do it right. The key is to write guest posts for high-quality websites that are relevant to your industry or target market.
When you write a guest post, include a bio at the end with your contact information and a link to your website. This will help drive traffic back to your site and generate leads.
18. Offer a free trial or demo
Offering a free trial or demo is an excellent way to generate leads. That’s because it allows potential customers to try out your product or service before they commit to buying it. And if they like what they see, they’re more likely to become paying customers.
To make the most of this lead generation tactic, be sure to promote your free trial or demo prominently on your website and in your marketing materials. You should also make it easy for people to sign up for the free trial or demo by including clear CTAs. And finally, be sure to follow up with leads after they’ve had a chance to try out your product or service.
A free trial or demo can also be used as the call to action in your lead generation funnel for your lead magnet. A free trial or demo can even replace the need to schedule a call and talk to any sales reps for prospects to learn more about your solution.
A free trial offer works especially well for SAAS businesses.
19. Free eBooks
Ebooks are a great lead generation idea because they allow you to provide value to your audience. And when you create an ebook, you can offer it for free in exchange for an email address.
When creating an ebook, you need to make sure it’s relevant to your audience. You should also make sure it’s well-written and informative. And finally, you need to have a call to action so people know what to do next.
To get started with ebooks, you need to determine what type of ebook you want to create. Then, you need to write the content for your ebook. And finally, you need to design the ebook and promote it through your website and social media channels.
You can create eBooks easily by using free templates provided by Canva, edit the text and then save it as a PDF.
20. Free physical books
Giving away free physical books related to the services you provide is an excellent lead generation idea.
To do this, you can either write your own book or (a lot of people don’t know this) you can use someone else’s book!
As long as the book is related to your services in some way, you can still give it away for free (even if you didn’t write it).
For example, one of my clients would give away a free retirement planning book (written by someone else) for anyone that schedule a free consultation with him.
The cost of the book ($10 or so) was well worth it if it meant getting a sales appointment with a potential client.
Check out ClickFunnels Expert Secrets book for a good example of a free book funnel to get leads.
21. Speak at events
Events are a great way to generate leads. And while you could simply attend events and hand out business cards, it’s much more effective to speak at them. When you’re the one giving the presentation, people will view you as an expert in your field and be more likely to do business with you.
To find speaking opportunities, search for conferences and events that are relevant to your industry or target market. Then, submit a proposal to speak at the event. If your proposal is accepted, make sure you give a great presentation that will leave a lasting impression on your audience.
When I was in the early stages of my business, I would speak at a lot of small business events in London. It was a great way to get leads and clients. But the downside is that it was very time intensive. And I found better, more automated lead generation ideas instead. But it did help in the early days.
22. Business or industry related networking events
Networking events are a great way to meet potential customers and generate leads. The key is to find the right events to attend. Look for events that are relevant to your industry or target market. And make sure to bring plenty of business cards so you can exchange information with potential leads.
Once you’ve attended a few networking events, follow up with the people you met. Send them an email or give them a call to start building a relationship. These relationships could eventually lead to sales.
23. BNI (Business Network International)
BNI groups are a great way for local businesses to get new leads. If you don’t already know, BNI groups are networking groups for business professionals. There are chapters all over the world and each chapter only allows one person from each profession (essentially locking out your competition).
Then each member in your chapter will refer people to you whenever they meet someone that needs your services.
The key to making BNI groups work is to be an active member. Attend the weekly meetings and get to know the other members. Then, start referring business to them. When you do, they’ll be more likely to refer business to you. And that’s how you generate leads through BNI groups.
I was a member of BNI for a number of years in the early stages of my business. I found that some BNI groups are MUCH better than others. So visit different groups before you join a BNI group. If you don’t find one that seems like a good fit, then don’t feel pressured to join.
Although BNI in most cases can help you win more clients, the biggest downside is the time commitment. It requires a lot of time to network with other members in your chapter.
That was one of the reasons I started looking for BNI alternatives and began using more automated strategies as discussed in ‘Step 4’ of this video.
24. Cold calling
Cold calling used to be an effective lead generation tactic (and in some cases still is), but the reality is that the results are getting worse each year. If you’re tired of cold calling, here are some of the best cold calling alternatives.
If you do decide to give cold calling a try, make sure you’re prepared before you make the call. Do your research on the company and the person you’re going to be speaking to. This will help the conversation go more smoothly.
And when you’re making the call, be polite and professional. Don’t try to hard sell the person on your product or service. Instead, focus on building a relationship and see if there’s a potential fit. If there is, then you can discuss business further down the line.
You might be surprised to hear that in the early days of my business, I actually won a few clients through cold calling! I kept my strategy simple. I reached out to larger web design agencies to find out if they needed help with outsourcing any work (at the time we worked exclusively with other agencies).
To my surprise, it worked!
But keep in mind it took a LOT of “no’s”, just to get a few people to say “Yes”!
Cold calling can also be very emotionally draining. So it definitely wasn’t my favorite lead gen strategy and today, I use far more effective lead generation strategies which don’t require any kind of cold calling, cold emailing, networking, relying on referrals or anything else like that.
25. Exhibit at business trade shows
If you have a product or service that’s B2B, then exhibiting at trade shows can be an effective lead generation tactic. Trade shows are a great way to meet potential customers and get your product or service in front of them.
To find the right trade show to exhibit at, search for ones that are relevant to your industry. Then, start planning your exhibit. Make sure you have a professional-looking booth and plenty of information about your product or service. And don’t forget to bring business cards so you can exchange information with potential leads.
Exhibiting at business trade shows can work for finding high value leads and clients, but it does require a lot of work (and sometimes quite a bit of money too!).
26. Offer discount codes or coupons
This is a great way to generate leads from people who are already interested in your product or service. You can do this by offering them a discount on their first purchase, or a coupon for a future purchase. This will incentivize them to buy from you, and it will also give you their contact information so you can follow up with them later.
Another way you could do this is by giving discounts for services your potential clients are likely to use. For example, I have a page that explains how to get a LinkedIn Premium discount and lots of business owners looking who use LinkedIn find this helpful.
27. Run a contest or giveaway
People love free stuff, so running a contest or giveaway is an excellent way to generate leads. Make sure the prize is something that’s relevant to your business and that will appeal to your target market.
For example, if you sell business consulting services, you could give away software that will be helpful to business owners.
To make the most of this lead generation tactic, promote your contest or giveaway on social media and other online platforms. You can also use paid advertising to reach a wider audience.
28. Dinner seminars
A very popular lead generation idea, especially with financial advisors, is to host dinner seminars. This involves inviting potential customers to a dinner seminar where they can learn more about your product or service. The key here is to make sure the seminar is informative and engaging, so that your guests walk away with a positive impression of your business.
For example, a financial advisor generating leads could host a dinner seminar on ‘The 5 biggest retirement mistakes and how to avoid them”.
29. Free online course
One of the best lead generation ideas is to create a free online course. This is an excellent way to attract leads because it allows you to showcase your expertise and build trust with potential customers. Plus, it’s a great way to generate leads that are already interested in what you have to offer.
For example, I once created a free online social media course to later sell my lead generation consulting or lead generation done for you services to clients who needed additional help.
In your business, what free online course could you create that would likely convert leads into paying clients?
The course also doesn’t have to be “online”. It could be a local free course, if you want to target people in your local area only.
To create a free course, start by choosing a topic that would be of interest to your target market. Then, put together a well-structured course that offers valuable information and helpful tips. Finally, promote your course through social media and your email list.
Hopefully, this extensive list of lead generation ideas helps you take your business to the next level. Keep in mind that not all of these ideas will work for every business, so it’s important to find the ones that work best for you and your target market. And once you’ve found a few that work well, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. After all, the only way to find out what works is to put it to the test!
If you’re looking to learn more about the lead generation ideas I personally use to help my clients get 10, 15, 30 or more high quality appointments each month with their ideal clients, then be sure to watch my free masterclass training.
Ashley Davis (or ‘Ash’ for short) is the CEO & Founder of Skyline Social. For over 15 years, he has been helping business owners with lead generation. Ash specializes in helping businesses get high-quality leads, appointments and clients each month in an automated, scalable and profitable way. You can watch his free Masterclass training to learn more.