Updated November 9, 2021
If you can generate leads, it’s one of the most effective ways to keep costs low while maximizing your company’s earnings potential. But it’s a tough thing to do.
So we’re back with an update to provide you with a few more ways you can start generating a greater number of free leads. Let’s get into it.
Getting your company to generate leads for free is a great way to set your business up for success – you free up the money you would have spent on finding those leads for other important parts of your company. Here are three additional strategies you can try to start getting more free leads.
Lead generation, or the process of identifying and cultivating potential customers, is always a top priority for sales teams and marketers. Paid techniques to generate leads — like pay-per-click advertising and paid media — can yield results, but it’s often the business with the biggest budget that wins.
Here’s the good news: There are plenty of sales and marketing strategies you can use to generate leads for free while maintaining lead quality.
In this article, we’ll go over seven free lead generation tactics and tools to implement them. First, let’s unpack the importance of free leads.
Generate leads for free: the value
Creating a steady stream of leads is essential for growth and profitability, but it can be expensive work. According to one analysis, the average Cost Per Lead (CPL) for B2B companies is $198. It may cost businesses nearly $200 to acquire someone who isn’t a paying customer yet.
If we take a closer look at this dollar amount, we’ll see the most common methods of types of lead generation costs:
- Advertising costs
- Media distribution and outreach costs
- In-house labor or third-party agency costs
- Incentive costs, like discounts, samples, and coupons
- Contact list purchasing or renting costs (not recommended if you want high-quality leads)
So, is it really possible to have a free lead? A lead is simply someone who’s demonstrated an interest in your product or service. They may have visited your website, clicked a link in your email, or filled out a form at an event.
You can absolutely generate a cold, warm, or hot lead without breaking the bank on the above costs — we’ll explain how below.
Top strategies and tools to generate free leads
Whether you’re trying to lower your marketing costs or test a new sales approach, it’s hard to go wrong with these tools and tips to generate leads for free.
1. Send effective emails
Email is arguably the most popular channel for lead generation, and for good reason. Email produces an estimated $38 for every $1 spent, or a whopping 3,800% return on investment (ROI). It’s consumers’ preferred method of communication with businesses, making it ideal for introductions and follow-ups.
Here are some time-tested techniques for a better sales email:
Grab your reader’s attention: Research shows that a whopping 47% of all email recipients decide to open an email based on the subject line alone! Your first big move is creating a compelling subject line. Try a thought-provoking question, a surprising statistic, or anything that reminds the reader of a problem they are facing (that you can solve). Make the first few sentences of the email equally engaging, presenting gripping information about the problem or opportunity at hand.
Personalize your message: Your message should never sound generic, because personalized emails are 5.7 times more likely to produce revenue. Include your prospect’s name (in the subject line and/or in the opening lines of the email). You might also mention something about their role, needs or accomplishments (for example, “I loved your recent social media post…” or “Congratulations on your recent event.”)
Optimize the logistics: Consider the recipient, word length, and timing of your email. Do your research and address your email to the company’s decision-makers whenever possible. In some cases, a brief email can help get your foot in the door, but one study found that emails with about 300 words had much better response rates with shorter emails under 100 words. And don’t forget, you’ll have much better luck if you can time your email correctly, like after leadership changes, product launches, or new funding within the target company.
Add plenty of value: Make every email valuable so you don’t end up in spam. Include original materials, helpful resources, and tips that are catered to the prospect’s needs. You might say “I read your recent blog post, and thought of this article, which has a lot of insight on the same topic. I thought it might be helpful to you. Let me know what you think.”
Include a clear call-to-action: Make sure your link, button, phone number, etc. stands out – make it as easy as possible for your prospect to get in touch with you. Also, describe what the next steps are (for example, scheduling a demo, responding to the email, or placing a casual call).
For inspiration, check out Yesware’s handy list of 10 cold email formulas. You can start sending quickly with free email marketing tools like HubSpot, Omnisend, or Mailchimp. If you need to grow your email subscriber list, add an opt-in form as a pop-up on your most popular landing pages.
2. Track your website visitors
Consider this: The people who visit your website are likely interested in your product or service, so they definitely deserve a spot on your list of prospects. But if they leave before signing up or making a purchase, they remain anonymous forever.
There’s a better way. Site-tracking software like LeadLander helps you turn unknown visitors into qualified leads by giving you detailed contact information in real time. It uses the IP addresses of web visitors to uncover details like company names, email addresses, phone numbers, and even LinkedIn profiles, letting you build a deep pool of potential leads. You can integrate it with your customer relationship management (CRM) software for easy lead scoring.
Take advantage of the LeadLander’s free 14-day trial to capture the leads already visiting your site.
3. Leverage social media
Many businesses think of social media as a brand-building tool, but it’s also a lead generator. This is due to the wealth of information social media users readily share, and the sheer number of users on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Here are some ways to attract new leads:
- Host a live event featuring notable speakers, like a Q&A, Ask Me Anything, or Twitter chat.
- Run polls or surveys that ask about a pain point or relevant topic.
- Share gated content, like an e-book or infographic.
- Try a giveaway or contest with a donated prize to increase your profile’s reach.
Use social media automation tools to schedule posts and earn leads on autopilot.
4. Optimize your blog content
As the heart of inbound marketing, blogging is an excellent source of free leads. In fact, leads who progress through the inbound process are some of the most qualified and engaged. It’s effective as long as you keep one keyword in mind: value.
With every piece — article, webinar, podcast, etc — you need to address your audience’s challenges. If they struggle with razor-thin margins, you could create a guide called “5 Proven Steps to Maximize Revenue.” Visit forums like Quora, Reddit, or AnswerThePublic for ideas, and most importantly, ensure the next step after reading is clear.
Finally, use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices so that your content is visible in search engine results.
5. Utilize guest posts
Guest posts offer a powerful combination of impact, ease, and affordability for your lead generation efforts. Companies will often agree to an article exchange for a mutual readership boost.
Whether you request posts or submit them, they create instant brand exposure to a new audience. Each post helps you position yourself as an industry authority, either by featuring thought leaders or becoming one yourself. This is particularly important with B2B marketing, where personal relationships can be crucial to winning and keeping customers.
In one incredible example, Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich said he reached 100,000 customers by regularly guest blogging. Not only did this strategy stir up sales leads, but it quickly earned backlinks that boosted their website’s ranking and credibility.
6. Partner with an influencer
Influencer marketing is a textbook example of “social proof,” or the idea that consumers will adopt the opinions or actions of people they trust. It’s also a rapidly growing lead acquisition channel.
You can use the voice of a thought leader, expert, or influencer to bring your brand’s message to your audience, often in exchange for social media mentions or free samples or services.
One mistake businesses make is controlling the influencer’s voice or creativity, damaging the most valuable element — authenticity. Share clear guidelines for your brand and goals, then let them come up with content that fits their voice and style.
7. Increase customer referrals
People trust user reviews and word of mouth much more than outbound marketing tactics like cold calls or ads. So, one of the best ways to generate new business is to mobilize your existing customers.
Create a customer referral offer that’s compelling for both the referrer and the referee, like gift cards or discounts. To keep costs low, you can also unlock access to premium features or exclusive content. This could be the nudge your customers need to recommend you to their inner circle.
For an easier ask that still produces new leads, ask your customers and subscribers to refer their friends to your email list instead.
8. Be a helping hand
It’s our job to find the customers who could really use our products or services. Google search opens up a world of curious leads – people who are asking the right questions.
You can find people searching for answers related to your product or service on question-answer websites. Try poking around sites like:
Remember that these sites are not designed for direct selling; however, they are the perfect place to open lines of communication with potential leads.
Take the time to construct a thoughtful response to each pertinent question. This is your opportunity to build trust and familiarity with your business. It is important to add value to every post, and to be genuinely helpful.
As long as you are providing a thorough response, you can also add links back to your website. Install links to articles that build upon your answer.
In the meantime, you should also update your bio regularly with relevant offers and links to your content. The more thoughtful answers you provide, the more readers will take the time to peruse your bio.
9. Give the gift of creative content
Go above and beyond to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Provide free content to your users such as videos, webinars or podcasts. You might consider original photography, printables, apps, eBooks or audiobooks.
Your content should:
- Offer significant value to potential customers
- Encourage viewers, readers and listeners to utilize your products and services
Keep in mind that your content should be about 90% helpful, 10% persuasive.
You might try to generate a how-to video, supportive webinar, or informative podcast. Once people use your free tools and buy into your authority, they are likely to become future customers.
10. Take Advantage Of LinkedIn’s Search Feature
With LinkedIn, finding new high-quality leads may only be a search away. You can use the platform’s search function to find undiscovered potential prospects that match your ideal customer profile.
You can start with a simple keyword that applies to the types of companies you’re targeting. Then, you can narrow down the field of results by company type or location. There are also several other ways you can zero in on potential prospects that are a perfect match for your company.
Once you’ve found a lead that appears to be worth pursuing, you can reach out directly on the platform. Or you can begin targeting the company through your other marketing channels to get them into your sales funnel.
11. Improve Your Landing Pages
When you think about generating free leads, you rarely think about improving the quality of your website. However, that could be exactly what you need to increase the rate at which you’re able to convert the traffic that comes to your site.
More specifically, improving the quality of your landing pages can have a huge impact on whether a site visitor becomes a lead. The most important thing to do is make sure that your landing page is highly relevant to the search term that a website user would input to reach it.
For example, if someone searches “what is a website analytics tool?” Then you need to make sure that you answer their search query in a clear, simple way.
It’s also important that your landing pages offer a simple way for a website visitor to take the next step and enter your sales funnel. Ensure that your landing pages have clean, simple forms for your visitors to fill out.
Consider some form of enticement to nudge them to complete the form. In the scenario used above, you could offer that enticement by providing an in-depth ebook on website analytics tools or a weekly newsletter discussing related topics.
12. Ask For More Online Reviews
Research has shown that up to 93% of internet users read online reviews before buying a product. That’s a huge percentage underscoring the importance online reviews play in the buying process.
You may be able to leverage this to generate more leads for your company. Doing so would require you to convince prior customers to leave a review about their experience with your products or services.
Consider some of the following methods:
- Offer an incentive
- Make it easy for customers to write reviews
- Automate the ask, so you don’t have to do it yourself
- Provide a template for reviews
If you’re able to generate more reviews, interested parties will take notice. And if you can get those potential customers to start visiting your website, then you can begin targeting as you would any other lead.
13. Cold calls and emails
Cold calling gets a bit of a bad reputation. However, it can still be an effective way to find new leads. The key to getting the most out of your cold calls is to provide value to prospects before pushing too hard to close a sale.
For example, influencer Gary Vaynerchuk proposed a strategy for cold sales outreach that he calls Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The idea behind this is that you need to consistently provide value (the jabs) before you earn the right to push the prospect for sale (right hook).
Strategies like these are effective because they emphasize creating connections with prospects. When you become a reliable source of value for somebody, they become much more likely to buy from you when you finally ask because they experience a sense of wanting to return the favor.
14. Optimize your website for SEO
One of the most common ways that companies pay to earn new leads is with PPC ads on Google. These campaigns can offer excellent returns. But you can also earn free leads through organic Google search results if your website ranks highly for strategic SEO terms.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re regularly reevaluating your website to improve its SEO rankings. It’s also crucial to perform SEO research and target the right keywords to rank for searches made by the people or companies that are most likely to buy your product.
15. Use surveys
Marketing is a business process that sometimes feels shrouded in mystery. We spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what our target customers care about, what they want, and how to interact with them.
But this doesn’t all have to be guesswork. You can use surveys to ask your target audience what they value most and how you can better serve their needs.
Use survey questions to improve your understanding of your audience. The information you get from the survey questions that you ask can be incredibly useful for optimizing the other free lead generation methods listed in this blog post.
For example, if you wanted to start producing more creative content for your customers to generate more free leads, you could run a survey before doing so.
You might ask your respondents what type of content would be most impactful for them, as well as the method of publication they enjoy interacting with the most. Doing this could make your content that much more targeted and effective, helping you generate leads.
16. Take advantage of Google My Business
Google My Business can be a compelling way to get local leads. If you’re unfamiliar with it, My Business is Google’s way for local companies to get discovered. It’s what pops up on the right-hand side of your search results whenever you look up the name of a local company.
You can do many things through My Business to help your company stand out from others in the area and attract more leads, including:
- Giving a virtual tour
- Sharing promotions and upcoming events through your Google+ page
- Receiving in-depth analytics for how people are interacting with your page
- Posting high-resolution images that show off your business
Google My Business is best for companies interested in attracting local leads. If that’s you, then it should be part of your free lead generation strategy.
17. Build backlink rapport
Backlinks play a crucial role in determining your website’s SEO rankings. They are essentially a vote of confidence from another website that says your site is an authority worth referencing on a particular topic.
That means getting more backlinks from other websites will typically help you move up in Google search rankings. One way to do this is to partner with companies in related industries and “trade backlinks.”
This is something that will be beneficial to both your company and theirs. So you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a partner who is receptive to the idea — as long as you share the same target audience.
18. Add or update an FAQ page to your website
Adding a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to your website is another unconventional way to start getting more free leads. When you have a list of answers to many commonly-asked questions, it helps you keep leads on your site for longer. This reduces your bounce rate, which can mean Google will start ranking you higher in search results.
Plus, if you build a robust FAQ page, it can start ranking highly for a wide variety of standard search questions. So try to answer questions that are relevant not just to your company but also to a more general audience.
By doing so, you could make your website the first link that pops up when someone types a question into Google – a fantastic way to start getting more people to visit your site, which you might not have found through standard marketing channels.
19. Create relationships with the press
Have you ever heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad press?” It’s popular for a reason. When you get your business into the press, it’s an excellent source of free advertising. People read about your company and naturally want to check it out for themselves.
The best part is, it’s possible to get your business into the press. One of the best ways to do that is by writing press releases whenever you release something new or there are new company updates.
You can send the press releases that you create to various industry news sources. You hope that these news companies will share your new offering with the audience that they’ve already curated.
It can also be really helpful to make yourself available to the press for comments about industry matters. If you form a relationship with a reporter that way, it becomes much likelier that they help you out in the future.
20. Upsell current customers
Current customers are an often-ignored source for free leads. They’ve already demonstrated interest in what your company has to offer by paying for its services.
If you have an add-on service that you think would be useful, don’t neglect to pitch it to your existing customers. Doing so is completely free for you to do and could lead to an increase in the lifetime value of your clients.
21. Get yourself listed in online directories
Various organizations and agencies maintain online directories for different types of business services. Getting your companies listed (and maybe even featured) in these directories can be another excellent way to generate free leads.
Let’s say you run an accounting firm and locate an online directory for accounting companies in your area. Simply reaching out to whoever runs that directory and providing them with your information will likely get you included on the list. And that’s a new channel you can begin leveraging to find more leads without paying a dime.
22. Increase the size of your sales funnel
Another way to generate free leads is to focus on increasing the number of leads you catch in your sales funnel. You can do that by focusing on expanding the mouth of the funnel with practices you’re already using.
For example, don’t just write blog posts. End your posts with targeted calls-to-action and maybe even a sign-up form for people who want to learn more about your product.
Similarly, instead of focusing on incorporating a few key SEO terms in your web content, try expanding the number of key phrases you’re targeting. When you create a wider mouth for your sales funnel, you’ll naturally start catching more leads.
Feed your sales funnel
We’ve covered a variety of simple ways to generate free leads in this article. However, if these strategies aren’t paired with a proper lead nurturing strategy, converting them will be an uphill battle. Learn everything you need to know in our in-depth guide to nurturing and closing leads.