Updated April 19, 2022
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. Improve your Aesthetic
Your website and social media platforms serve as your front line for generating free leads. With millions of websites, blogs, and social media pages to explore, the bar for an eye-catching aesthetic is higher than ever. If your website bounce rate is high or your social media following is dwindling, update your look and flow.
Here’s how to make your website more visually appealing:
- Stunning graphics are essential. Update your web design and images accordingly.
- Keep your menu or site navigation simple, clean, and easy to use.
- Don’t put too much content or too many images on one page.
- Implement inviting lead capture forms throughout the site.
- Make sure your buttons and other lead-capturing elements really pop.
And here are a couple of tips for boosting your social media aesthetic:
- Consistency is key: Create a color palette and select a few fonts and filters that make a statement suitable to your brand. Use these same elements consistently to build your brand identity on social media.
- Know your audience: When it comes to aesthetics, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Research some of your successful competitors. What aesthetic do they use, and what appeals to your customers?
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
It’s also important to consider partnering with a macro-influencer vs. a micro-influencer. A macro-influencer is defined as 10,000-1 million followers, and a micro-influencer has between 500 and 10,000 followers.
While micro-influencers have far fewer followers than macro-influencers, they might be more profitable for some businesses. Micro-influencers tend to engage with their followers more. Their followers feel more connected and loyal to them, whereas macro-influencers’ followers can feel lost in a sea of fans.
In one study by HelloSociety, micro-influencers drove 60% more engagement than macro-influencers, and therefore were 6.7 times more cost-efficient and drove 22.2% more weekly conversions than macro-influencers.
Here are a couple of tips for finding the right influencers for your brand:
- Search the hashtags you’re planning to promote, for example, #CAsmallbusiness or #customshoes.
- Even better, find the influencers who already use and love your products or services. Search for your company name or hashtags related to your brand to find them.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. Improve your website’s design
Another way to generate more leads for your website is to improve its design. Data shows that 42% of people will leave a poorly designed website. That’s a significant chunk of potential leads that may never interact with your company if they don’t enjoy being on your website.
So if you haven’t already, now is a great time to make sure that your website isn’t costing you leads. You can do that by partnering with a designer who can help you make targeted improvements where they’ll have the greatest impact.
25. Pay closer attention to your web analytics
Part of generating more leads for free is understanding where the best opportunities for this are on your website. One of your landing pages might be getting a good amount of traffic but performing worse than others. If so, updating that landing page could help you convert a higher percentage of those visits into active leads.
The only way to accomplish this is by tracking your website analytics. If you’re consistently looking at the performance of your website over time, it becomes much easier to spot opportunities for improved lead generation when they present themselves.
26. Use a chatbot
If you’re not already using one, now could be the right time to add a chatbot to your website. These can help you generate free leads by improving your web visitors’ online experience.
When you have a chatbot, a website visitor can get the information they want 24-hours per day, seven days per week. And they can get that information without tying up your staff’s time.
This can help you generate free leads by getting customers to stick around your website for longer. When you give web visitors a positive browsing experience, they’re likelier to return to you in the future.
27. Host real-world events
The majority of work to attract leads happens online nowadays. There’s a good reason for that. 81% of customers browse online before making a purchasing decision. So you have to dedicate a significant amount of time and energy to tracking down leads on the internet.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore lead-generation opportunities that occur in person. Hosting events in the real world can be a fantastic way to meet new leads in your area and get their information. You can host things like networking events, workshops, and informational sessions.
The key is to lead an event that your target audience will find valuable. You do that by allowing them to advance their career through either networking or learning a new skill.
Then, when people come to your event, you ask them for their information so that you can send them more helpful tips in the future. That’s how to bridge the gap between your online and in-person leads.
Websites you can use to learn more about free leads
Nowadays, there are many websites explicitly designed to help you get more free leads for your business. But when you discover a new lead, you often need a little more information before targeting them with marketing material effectively.
The sites in this section can be a great resource if you want to learn more about the free leads you uncover
VoilaNorbert is a basic tool that does one thing very well – and that’s to help you find anyone’s email address. All you need to get started is their name. Simply type it into the search box, and the platform will do the rest.
The cool thing about VoilaNorbert is the site offers 50 free lead searches per month, so you can use it without paying a dime. Then, if you find you’re getting a lot of value out of VoilaNorbert, you can sign up for an affordable plan to get more lead searches each month.
Whitepages is an online search tool trusted by more than 30 million people every month. You can do a name search, reverse phone search, address search, or reverse address search. That means, pretty much whatever piece of information you have on a potential lead, you can use it to learn more about them with Whitepages.
BeenVerified is a tool that’s pretty similar to Whitepages but also lets you input different information to learn more about a potential free lead.
The main difference between BeenVerified and Whitepages is that BeenVerified has a broader search functionality. So if you’ve tried Whitepages and aren’t getting the results you want, BeenVerified could be a solution.
AnyWho is a service that helps you find leads’ phone numbers. It’s a really useful tool if you already have a lead’s first and last name. Input that information into a search box and get the lead’s phone number.
But if you don’t have a lead’s basic information yet, AnyWho won’t be very useful. In that case, you’ll need to circle back to it once you’ve done a little more research.
LeadLander can also help you generate more free leads. We’re currently offering a free 14-day trial of our website visitor tracking software. You can use this to:
- Discover new leads visiting your website
- Receive real-time alerts for existing leads
- Learn which pages a lead is visiting most often
- Discover how leads are getting to your website
With this intel, it not only becomes easier to find new leads, but it also becomes easier to turn them into paying customers. You can sign up for our risk-free trial to learn more.
Generating leads for free in 2022
All of the 22 methods above are tested and proven to produce new leads for free, but the best techniques change quickly. As consumer technology and preferences continue to evolve, what are some of the up-and-coming ways to generate leads for free?
- Maximize your business listing: In 2022, there are plenty of places you can list your business for free to help prospects find you. Create or claim listings on Bing Places, Google Business Profile, Yelp, Apple Maps, TripAdvisor, and Yahoo. Of course, don’t forget your social media outlets, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn being four of the most important. These are also some of the best places to accumulate glowing online reviews, which are still critical in 2022.
- Host webinars: We’ve mentioned webinars throughout the article, but this relatively new sales technique will continue to grow in 2022. The right webinar will help you reach a large audience for a small cost. You can provide real value, thus building a relationship with prospects, while also placing calls-to-action throughout the webinar to boost sales. Some of the best tools include Livestorm, Demio, or Zoho, and provide free trials.
- Offer freemiums: Freemiums, aka a free trial period or another temporary free offering, is one of the best lead generation strategies for 2022. Successful businesses like WordStream, Grammarly, and Hulu all provide free trials to let their leads get acquainted with their products. Worried you won’t see any conversions from freemiums? Actually, one study suggested companies that utilize free trials see an average of a 66% conversion, and with more businesses offering them, many consumers now have the expectation of a freemium. If a freemium costs your business too much time and money, consider coupons, discounts or other methods to attract leads.
Low-cost options for advertising online
As you’ve read above, there are many ways you can advertise your company and its products without paying a dime.
While these strategies work, paying to run ads is still effective because it helps you reach people who might not otherwise see your content.
That’s why we’ve included this section. It covers four low-cost options for paid online advertising. You can advertise on these sites without breaking your budget.
If you sell a physical product, Amazon ads are perhaps the most cost-effective way to get it in front of more people. The cost per click for these rarely goes above $0.35 – one of the best rates of any platform.
On top of that, people go to Amazon because they already want to make a purchase. The same isn’t true on many other platforms you might pay to advertise on.
That means with Amazon ads you’re accessing a group of highly motivated buyers at a highly affordable price point. PSA: This strategy might not work if you sell a digital good like software.
Facebook ads can also be affordable to run. The average cost per click on the platform is $1.76. But that cost varies based on the industry you’re in and the specific audience you’re targeting.
For example, the average cost per click on Facebook for an education company is just $1.06. That means you may be able to run ads on Facebook at a competitive price point.
Plus, Facebook has the largest active user base of any social media network. That doesn’t just mean you have a bigger potential pool to target with your ads; it means you can get more specific about defining your ideal ad audience.
Google Banner Ads
Google Banner ads are another cost-effective way to expand your marketing reach. These banners are run on ad-enabled websites, including most sites you visit. A Google banner ad’s average cost per click is under $0.58.
Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping ads are great for selling physical products like clothes, pet supplies, and outdoor gear.
These advertisements pop up when you perform a Google search and click on the “shopping” tab on the results page. When you pay for a Google Shopping ad, your product goes up to the top of that page.
This strategy lets you reach a motivated group of buyers at an affordable price. The average cost per click for Google Shopping ads is just $0.66 – but your exact CPC will depend on your industry and your keyword bidding strategy.
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.