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To grow your business, you need new customers. And to get new customers, you need the right lead generation strategies to bring them to your door (either real or virtual).

lead generation ideas - meme of peter from the show, family guy, looking at an empty doorway surprised

That feeling when you realize there aren’t any leads waiting at your business’s doorstep.

But where to start? We’re breaking down the absolute best lead generation ideas for any budget. That way, you can create the right strategy that helps you generate the right leads for your business.

What is lead generation?

Let’s start off with a definition of lead generation. Lead generation is identifying prospective customers and collecting information from them to later convert them to a customer. For example, you can collect leads from members of your target audience by having them fill out forms, call your business, attend an event, and more.

Since lead generation is all about gaining more customers, it should be prioritized since it plays such a crucial role in your business’s overall growth strategy. In fact, 91% of businesses say that lead generation is their most important goal and 53% put half or more of their overall budgets towards lead generation efforts.

lead generation ideas - pie chart of budget allocation for lead generation across businesses

Learn about the differences between lead generation vs. brand awareness here.

Best paid lead generation ideas

These lead generation ideas require a budget, but they’re some of the best ways to drive high-quality sales leads to your business.

1. Invest in search ads

Search ads, run on search engines like Google or Bing, are the absolute best way to generate leads for your business. Why? Consider these stats:

  • 97% of people begin a search for prospective businesses on search engines.
  • 90% of local searches have purchasing intent.
  • 74% of brands say search ads are a major lead driver for their business.

Plus, with the addition of lead form assets in Google Ads, your search ad viewers can convert to a lead without ever having to leave the search results page.

If you want to generate leads and get more customers, running search advertising is going to be your best bet. But this is on the paid list for a reason. Search ads require setting a budget and bidding on the keywords you want to show for in search engines. Your budget is used once someone clicks on that ad (which is why this strategy is also called pay-per-click advertising, also known as PPC).

However, search ads are well worth the investment. This is especially true if you have the right keyword bid and targeting strategy in place to help you capture your most-likely customers right from search engines.

lead generation ideas - example of search ad with lead form asset

2. Try Google Local Services Ads

Service-based businesses can also take search ads a step further by running Local Services Ads on Google. These ads show for searches related to service-based businesses like plumbers, lawyers, or realtors and are pay-per-lead rather than pay-per-click. Meaning, you only pay if someone takes an action to contact you or book an appointment from your Local Services Ad.

Local Services Ads are a great low-cost lead generation idea for service-based businesses since the average cost per lead for Google Local Service Ads is between $6 and $30. We dive into this strategy in more detail here.

lead generation ideas - screenshot of local services ads


3. Test retargeting

The customer journey has multiple touchpoints, and a person will rarely become a lead after their first interaction with your business. So how can you capture those users and convert them into leads after they’ve left your website? Retargeting is one helpful option.

Retargeting, also known as remarketing (used interchangeably), is the practice of showing your ads to users who have already visited your website or a specific page on your website at least once before.

Retargeting can be an especially effective lead generation idea since consumers are 70% more likely to convert from a retargeting ad. Here’s an example of how retargeting might work to generate leads for your business using a display ad:

lead generation ideas - chart of retargeting for lead generation with display ads

4. Leverage video ads

It’s no secret that video marketing and advertising is often used by businesses looking to increase marketing metrics like impressions or website visits. This makes sense since there are over 244.4 million people regularly watching digital videos in the US, and 91% of consumers want to see more video content from brands. With that, video advertising can also be a powerful lead generation tool. In fact, businesses that leverage video ads get 66% more qualified leads per year.

There are many ways your video ad could turn into a lead generating machine. For example, your video ad could link to a lead capture form for your prospective customers to fill out.

Plus, a video ad can convey concepts and demonstrate value in ways that your text-based ads can’t. Let’s say you have a case study you want your prospects to view. Rather than having them simply read from a case study article, you could create a customer testimonial video and promote it with advertising. This could convince viewers to fill out a form and download the full case study–or take the next step to contact your business.

lead generation ideas - video ad with lead form example

5. Implement social ads

Did you know that there are over 4.7 billion social media users globally? That’s more than half of the world’s population! Odds are, your customers are on social media.

However, it can be tricky to reach all your potential customers if they aren’t already following your business or actively looking for you on social media. Luckily, social ads help you increase your reach with custom targeting options so that you can get more leads fast.

Plus, all social ads have a clear CTA button to encourage viewers to take some kind of action. In fact, some ad types, like Facebook Lead Ads, even have a lead generation form attached so that viewers can provide their information right from within the platform.

lead generation ideas - social media ad with lead form example


6. Run a contest or sweepstakes

Running a contest or sweepstakes is a go-to lead generation idea for many small businesses because it’s extremely effective in collecting information from your target market. In fact, over 70% of companies use “gamification” or contests and other sweepstakes in their marketing.

The grand prize entices people to provide their information in exchange for a chance to be the big winner. If you don’t have the marketing budget to do a major prize, you could offer a set of a few small prizes to multiple winners—which can be equally as powerful.

lead generation ideas - sweepstakes example


7. Attend or sponsor events

No one can better describe your business than you can! When you or your team attend events in person or virtually, you have the unique opportunity to turn prospects into leads through conversation and brand exposure.

For example, attending an industry trade show might allow your business to have a booth with an email sign-up sheet, and more. Another option could be to sponsor a community event or have a booth at a local farmers’ market to connect with your prospective leads in a unique way.

lead generation ideas - regional company sponsoring local event

This small business connects with potential leads through an annual community event.

Best mostly-free or low-cost lead generation ideas

If you’re looking for some lead generation ideas that require less of a budgetary investment, these options are for you. Many of these are (mostly) free or low-cost, but some of them will take some time–and, as they say, time is money.

8. Implement an SEO strategy

One of your main sources of leads will likely be your website visitors. To drive traffic to your website so that you have more lead generation opportunities, you’ll want to leverage a local SEO strategy.

This might mean optimizing your website copy for specific keywords or ensuring your website is accessible to all your potential customers by following website accessibility best practices.

The best part about SEO for lead generation? It’s a completely free way to secure more leads from your target market!

Check out this example below of a business that includes lots of local keywords in its website copy, along with high-quality images, to gain leads through local SEO.

lead generation ideas - example of local seo on small business website

Find more ideas to get free leads here.

9. Add chat to your website

There are countless reasons to add chat to your website since it benefits both your business as a lead generation tool and your customers by providing a streamlined site experience. Like with local SEO, using chat to collect information from your audience is another way to turn your website into a lead generation tool. In fact, chat can generate four to eight times more leads from your website.

However, no business owner has time to manually respond to each of their website visitors. So, you’ll want to take advantage of online chat solutions you can easily implement and run seamlessly on your site. With an automated chat feature, you can have canned responses to guide your prospective customers down your lead funnel without having to lift a finger.

lead generation ideas - small business website with live chat


10. Use an online scheduling tool

A scheduling tool can easily be added to your website so that users can request an appointment or schedule directly without having to call or email your business. This automates your business’s scheduling process while also allowing you to convert leads into customers right away. It’s basically a one-stop shop for customers to quickly book their desired events while also providing key lead information to your business, like their name and email address.

Plus, many online scheduling solutions allow you to customize your required fields as well as your follow-up communications to make lead management a breeze.

lead generation ideas - scheduling tool

11. Optimize your website for lead capture

Once users are on your business’s website, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to convert to a lead. Be sure that your desired lead capture action, like a form, is easy to navigate and quick to complete.

Your website copy should clearly convey the action you’d like your prospects to take. With this lead generation idea, you’re maximizing your business’s ability to secure online leads efficiently. This means that you should include powerful call-to-action phrases and provide multiple ways for people to contact your business, like click-to-call options, listing your phone number across your site, and more.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to tailoring your website for leads, try leveraging free, online tools to pinpoint areas for optimization. For example, the LocaliQ website grader takes the guesswork out of auditing your website for lead capture.lead generation ideas - website grader

12. Try email marketing

Email marketing is crucial to your lead generation strategy as 60% of consumers say they make monthly, if not weekly, purchases off of marketing emails.

To start, you’ll want to build an email list to capture leads. Securing emails for an email list can be done via a form on your site, through live chat, and more. Alternatively, you could leverage paid online services that have access to consumer data and provide email lists for you.

To take this lead generation idea a step further, you could try targeted email marketing to reach a specific list of potential customers who aren’t yet leads. Just be sure to follow targeted email marketing best practices, like including engaging and creative content, to make the most out of this lead generation idea.

lead generation ideas - email for lead generation example

13. Run regular promotions or sales

If gaining more eyes on your marketing is a small business challenge that resonates with you, this lead generation idea is just the thing you need. Regularly showcasing your top products or services through a sale or other type of promotion is the perfect way to hook your audience and move them through the sales funnel. For example, you could have your audience sign up for a special promo code to get access to a flash sale.

As you work your sales or promotions into your regular lead generation rotation, try to make it relevant to your audience. For example, you could add a seasonal theme or connect it back to a problem that your offering solves. You’ll also want to include all the key information about the sale up front, like which products the sale applies to and how long it will run.

lead generation ideas - limited offer sale example on retail site

14. Offer free tools or resources

One easy way to generate leads is to offer something prospects would find useful. Free tools or resources that your potential customers can take advantage of are the perfect lead generation idea for a fair trade-off between your business and your target market.

You’ll want your free tool or resource to be relevant to your business. For example, a cleaning company could provide a spring cleaning checklist with a list of all the places to clean in their homes broken down by day, week, or month.

Once you’ve developed your free tool or resource, you’ll want to offer it in exchange for your prospects’ contact information. You can do this through a separate landing page or by adding a lead capture form to your website.

lead generation ideas - free tool example


15. Launch a referral program

Your business’s marketing channels aren’t the only ways to generate leads. Your current customers can be an excellent lead resource as well. A referral program combines your loyal customers and word-of-mouth marketing to get new leads flowing into your business. All it takes is a special discount, gift, or another incentive to get your current customers to refer your business to potential leads.

lead generation ideas - Airbnb referral program example


16. Build a strong brand

Maintaining brand consistency is something your business should strive for all the time, but it can be all that much more important when implementing any lead generation ideas. A strong brand makes it easier for your audience to recognize and recall your business. That way, when your potential customers are ready to become a lead, your brand will be top of mind.

Building a clear and consistent brand might include:

For example, this business below reinforced its brand offline using its company vehicle. This could help drive leads since people could call the business or visit its website after seeing the truck.

lead generation ideas - example of small business branding for lead generation

Best totally-free lead generation ideas

Don’t let your marketing budget stop you from taking advantage of top lead generation ideas. Here are some totally free ways to generate leads for your business:

17. Post regularly on social media

We know that users spend a lot of time (over 2 hours and 25 minutes per day) on social media and turn to sites like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to discover new businesses. In fact, over half of social media users are on these platforms to research products and services.

So how can you turn a social media user into a lead (aside from running ads)? One way is by regularly posting engaging or educational content. Another is by promoting your business’s products, services, and sales. Either way, getting into a regular social media posting cadence ensures your business is at the top of your followers’ feeds when it matters most.

Try to stick to the 4-1-1 social media rule, which means your content should be a mix of both promotional and educational posts so that you don’t come off too sales-y. When you regularly post genuinely helpful content for your audience, you’ll be more likely to secure leads from social media over time.

Need some help coming up with social post ideas? Try our marketing calendar with free monthly social media calendars.

lead generation ideas - example social media marketing calendar

18. Create and manage your Google Business Profile

Get local leads right from Google with an optimized Google Business Profile. This is a proven lead generation tactic, as 56% of actions sourced from Google Business Profile listings are website visits and 24% are calls to a business.

To get started, claim your Google Business Profile listing, and build out your listing from there by including assets like photos, contact information, and a strong business description.

lead generation ideas - example google business profile

An example of a Google Business Profile that’s optimized for leads. 

19. Manage other listings sites

Your Google Business Profile is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to generating local leads. 93% of people are influenced by information found on business listings, and 68% of consumers would stop working with a local business if they found incorrect information on its listings.

All your local directory listings should be in order to catch all your potential customers on their preferred business directories. This can help you generate leads from folks who may not have known about your business but came across it through your listing profiles.

The more online directories your business is listed on, the more opportunities you’ll have for people to discover you, which can generate leads for your business. However, with that also comes the challenge of managing multiple listings. Try using an online tool, like the LocaliQ Free Business Listings Grader, to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

lead generation ideas - business listings grader

20. Get and respond to reviews (+share them)

One way to maximize the number of leads you get from your listings is to secure lots of high-quality reviews for your business, respond to them, and share them on places like your website, social sites, and in emails. It’s no secret that reviews matter for your business, but a good review can make the difference between converting a prospect into a lead. In fact, nearly 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

To make reviewing your business as easy as possible, you could implement a QR code so that your customers can quickly scan and review your business from their phones. From there, you could schedule regular check-ins to respond to all your reviews and pick a few to screenshot for further sharing!

lead generation ideas - example of resharing reviews on website

This business features its reviews on its website and placed them next to the lead generation forms.

21. Create blog content

Managing a blog for your business can help boost your SEO and give you more opportunities to get found on search engines. A blog can also position your business as a helpful resource and industry leader, which can drive both traffic and leads.

Try testing educational blog content to spark your readers’ interest and help convert users into leads. You may need to try a few different blog post styles to see what your target market might prefer to engage with. And you’ll want to do ample keyword and topic research to identify the best types of content to post on your blog. This is where AI (artificial intelligence) in content marketing could come into play to help with the research portion of your blog management. (Our friends at WordStream also put together over 100 blog post ideas to help you get started!)

To help generate leads through your blog content, make sure to include relevant in-content links and a strong call to action.

lead generation ideas - example of blog content with strong CTAs

This business’s website uses creates blog content that’s interesting to prospective leads coupled with a callout for a coupon to drive leads.

22. Partner with other businesses

Since you know lead generation is a challenge for most businesses, why not share the wealth? You can partner with a complementary business in your area for co-marketing. This means marketing your businesses together to capture leads and get new customers. You’ll be expanding the reach of your marketing efforts by tapping into one another’s audiences.

For example, if you’re looking to market your home services business you might team up with a local real estate business or furniture retailer. You could then point leads to one another or shout each other out on social media.

lead generation ideas - business partnership example

This local resort teamed up with a local brewery to cross-promote for leads.  

Use these lead generation ideas to generate growth for your business

If you feel like lead generation has been a constant uphill battle for your business, you’re not alone. In fact, over two-thirds of businesses say that generating high-quality leads is their most prominent challenge.

However, when you have this big list of lead generation ideas in your toolbox, you can turn that challenge into an opportunity for quick and easy business growth! Plus, if you’re ever still in a bind for leads after trying these lead generation ideas, our solutions are always here to help you maximize your business’s lead potential!

To recap, here are all the best lead generation ideas:

  1. Invest in search ads
  2. Try Google local services ads
  3. Test retargeting
  4. Leverage video ads
  5. Implement social ads
  6. Run a contest or sweepstakes
  7. Attend or sponsor events
  8. Implement an SEO strategy
  9. Add chat to your website
  10. Use an online scheduling tool
  11. Optimize your website for leads
  12. Try email marketing
  13. Run regular promotions or sales
  14. Offer free tools or resources
  15. Launch a referral program
  16. Build a strong brand
  17. Post regularly on social media
  18. Create and manage your Google Business Profile
  19. Manage other listings sites
  20. Get and respond to reviews (+share them)
  21. Create blog content
  22. Partner with other businesses

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