Cold Email · · 9 min read

Startup Lead Generation Strategies That Actually Work

Having an effective lead generation strategy is crucial to the success of any startup, but it can be hard to pinpoint the proper steps to take with so many options out there. Here are 9 proven startup lead-gen strategies you can take to the bank.

Startup Lead Generation Strategies That Actually Work

You're looking to grow your startup business and lead generation is at the top of your to-do list. And for good reason too, as 50% of marketers consider lead generation as a top priority in their campaigns.

But how do you start, and where can you find qualified leads that easily turn into paying customers? The possibilities are many, but for startups, there are some options better than others. Which is why in this article, we’ll be covering:

  • What leads are and their different types
  • Outbound vs inbound lead generation
  • And 9 powerful lead generation strategies for startups

Let’s get generating!

Leads: Definition and Types

A lead is essentially a potential customer. Usually (but not necessarily always, as we’ll see below), they have shown interest in your product or service at some point. Lead generation is all about attracting your target demographic, turning them into leads, and eventually into paying customers. Of course, not every lead will become a customer, but becoming a lead is a starting point to getting there.

When it comes to the different types of leads, are three main ones:

  • A warm lead: a person or organization that has shown interest in your business by submitting their contact information or reaching out to you
  • A cold lead: a person or organization that has not shown interest in your business and will need convincing or educating to take further action
  • A hot lead: also known as a qualified lead, this is a prospect that has mostly decided they want your offer and are ready to make a purchase with little effort

Understandably, each lead type involves a different approach in terms of gathering and qualifying. By engaging with leads and deciding which ones match your ideal customer, you can qualify if they are a good fit for your offer.

Lead Generation Strategies: Outbound vs. Inbound

lead generation strategies

Before we can think about qualifying leads, it’s important to set up effective lead-gen strategies that bring in the right lead types to your business. Lead generation is usually done in two ways:

  • Outbound marketing: involves trying to generate interest in your brand through proactive outreach methods such as cold calling, cold emailing, door-to-door sales, etc.
  • Inbound marketing: focuses on creating content relevant to your target audience that drives people (usually warm leads) to your site. Blogs, social media posts, and video content are common forms of inbound marketing.

Including aspects of both methods in your lead generation strategies is a great way to ensure the stable growth of your business through a healthy mix of lead types.

Why Lead Generation Should Be a Startup’s Top Priority

Generating a reasonable amount of sales and having a thriving customer base is crucial for startups looking to attract investors, want to simply grow, or aspiring to reach a level where they can be acquired.

Your lead-gen efforts are what will determine your growth and help you build brand awareness at this critical stage. It’s often what makes or breaks businesses and can be a daunting task, especially for a startup.

But luckily, there are more tools and methods than ever that can help you implement lead-gen systems to simplify the process.

9 Guaranteed Lead Generation Strategies for Savvy Startups

From carrying a billboard by the road to sending out cold emails, there are countless ways to generate leads. Here are 9 tried and tested lead generation strategies you can use to take your startup (or any business for that matter) to the next level.

Cold Email Outreach

That’s right, despite what some naysayers say, cold email outreach is alive and kicking and won’t be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best ways to generate high-quality leads for your business and is nearly 40 times more effective at securing customers compared to social media.

Cold emailing is an outbound marketing tactic that involves sending an email to a prospect you have had no prior contact. A lot goes into crafting an effective cold outreach email, and it depends largely on your service, target prospect, and their pain point.

Let’s take a quick look at a simple formula that has worked wonders for us here at Instantly and for many of our clients:

You can go from A to B in C with D like E.

A - Current Situation

B - Desired Situation

C - Timeframe

D - Your Service/Solution

E - Case Study

Example cold email offer:

Hey John,
Out of the blue question, have you thought about using a one-time multi-platform scheduler for your social media posts?
We can help you go from spending 10 hours a week to 1 hour weekly with our XYZ Scheduler.
Mind if I send over info on how we did it for Famous Influencer?

A - Current Situation: spending 10 hours a week

B - Desired Situation: 1 hour

C - Timeframe: weekly

D - Your Service/Solution: XYZ Scheduler

E - Case Study: Famous Influencer

Notice how short and straight to the point the email is while including a promise, offering a solution, and backing up the claim with social proof. If you want to improve your chances of getting a reply, be sure to avoid writing out long, boring introductions and details similar to a corporate meeting presentation.

Twitter: A Lead-Gen Machine

Twitter still boasts over 200 million daily active users in 2022, making it not only a valuable source of leads, but one you can turn into a lead-generating powerhouse.

strip mall guy twitter
Twitter/ @realEstateTrent

Twitter is where a lot of knowledge gets shared and where people discover solutions through retweets and Twitter threads. There are plenty of ways to leverage Twitter to your advantage, such as:

  • Building brand awareness by documenting the growth of your startup and sharing milestone achievements
  • Creating Twitter threads of valuable lessons learned
  • Actively participating in Twitter discussions and sharing your professional opinion
  • Sharing up-to-date industry insights and observations
  • Reaching out to prospects on Twitter
  • Growing a following you can leverage to promote your brand

Like Instagram is to influencer models, Twitter is to startups. Warm leads from Twitter are some of the most qualified out of all the current social media platforms available. If you’re not already there, dive in and tweet your way to more leads!

Create a Newsletter

newsletter templates

This is a unique and highly underrated way to offer value similar to how you would with a blog, but to a far more targeted audience and with one major advantage. Unlike a blog, people have to sign up for a newsletter, meaning they are essentially warm leads from the get-go, and, best of all, you grow an email list in the process.

Newsletters can be so powerful that they can be a startup business in and of themselves, like The Hustle newsletter that was acquired by Hubspot in the 8-figure range. As your email list grows, your newsletter quickly becomes a digital asset similar to real estate property that you can leverage in all kinds of ways.

Lead Magnets

You're getting traffic to your site through your incredible Twitter page, cold email campaigns, and various other channels. So how can you maximize said traffic? The answer is through lead magnets.

A lead magnet is, as the name implies, a way to attract leads, usually through a free offer or service in exchange for their email or contact details. Prime examples of lead magnets are:

  • A free ebook
  • Templates of any kind relevant to your visitors
  • Free guides that help solve a pain point
  • Free case study reports
  • An invitation to private group access (e.g., to a Facebook group or your newsletter)
  • Cheatsheets
  • Bonus packs
  • Limited discounted offers

You can get very creative with lead magnets, such as creating a free tool or quiz page that users need to submit their emails to benefit from. Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes and consider what types of offers would entice you into sharing your email.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

No, we’re not talking about generic Facebook ads (which actually can be game changers depending on your niche), but specifically Google PPC ads. While the price per click largely depends on the competition, these ads are usually a cost-effective way to quickly generate a stream of warm leads.

This is because PPC ads focus on people searching for the target phrases you are advertising for. This form of advertising is especially powerful given that:

  • You can generate warm leads at a cost less than your industry’s usual cost per lead (CPL)
  • Multi-layered targeting allows you to hone down to specific demographics based on age, location, interests, and more
  • You can drive leads into your lead-gen funnel
  • You don’t depend on SEO or algorithms as your ad is automatically placed at the top of search results

Google generated around $54.5 billion in ad revenue in Q3 of 2022 alone, putting them on track to netting in well over $200 billion for the year. It’s also reported that more than 80% of global businesses trust Google Ads for their PPC campaigns, proving that PPC ads are still incredibly effective.

Get Into Podcasting

how to start podcasting

Podcasts are a rising form of content currently dominating the social media scene. Whether you are participating or even hosting one, it can lead to a wealth of inbound leads and be a great way to grow your network among industry professionals.

With the advent of zoom and a simple microphone setup, virtually anyone can host a podcast. It’s estimated over one-third of Americans listen to podcasts regularly, with experts expecting podcasting to continue to grow significantly as demand for audio content increases.

Offer Free Trials and Gather Social Proof

A free trial offer makes prospects a lot more willing to buy into your deal and will help generate a mix of lead types. In addition to generating leads, the key here is to also make the most of your free trial campaign and gather social proof, case studies, and customer reviews to win over future prospects and help improve your product.

Social proof or some level of experience to back up your claims is crucial for any professional looking to close deals. Since nearly 90% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations, the results of your free trial should give you valuable testimonials and reviews you can utilize in your marketing.

Create a Referral or Affiliate Program

The term affiliate marketing is often viewed in a negative light, but in reality, a referral or affiliate program can set the growth of your business on autopilot, especially for SaaS startups. In exchange for people promoting your brand, you give up a certain percentage of revenue from any resulting paying customers, making it a win-win for all sides.

Consider reaching out to affiliate sites and micro-influencers to get them on board your program. Influencer marketing has grown into a $13.8 billion industry and on average, businesses earn $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. It’s not as much as a $36 ROI for every $1 spent on email marketing, but it can be more cost-effective than paid ads.

Include SEO Into Your Content Strategy

The term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is most often used when discussing how to rank higher in Google search results. Not specific to only blogs and web pages, SEO can be applied in some way or another on any social media platform that has a search engine. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, you can easily apply small SEO tweaks to the content you output.

Applying SEO everywhere may seem like a lot to take care of but there are a wealth of free checklists and cheat sheets for each platform. All you have to do is implement them as part of your content strategy. Eventually, your SEO efforts will drastically move the needle, put you far ahead of your competition, and ultimately result in more leads, thanks to better visibility.

Key Takeaways

Generating consistent revenue and driving growth can only be done with a good lead-generation strategy. Employing the above strategies will help you gather quality leads from multiple sources while building valuable connections and digital assets along the way.

To recap how to effectively generate leads as a startup:

  • Cold emailing is your best friend
  • Turn Twitter into a leadmine
  • Create a newsletter
  • Set up lead magnets on your site
  • Get quick traffic with PPC ads
  • Start podcasting
  • Offer free trials and gather testimonials and reviews
  • Consider starting a referral program
  • Incorporate SEO into your content strategy

If you’re looking to get more leads at record speed, Instantly is exactly the platform to get the job done. Not sure it’s a right fit? Start a totally free 14-day trial today!

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