20 lead generation ideas work best in 2021

Tony Katsabaris

Apr 30, 2021

Tony Katsabaris

Apr 30, 2021

It’s hard to take a few steps into the sales and marketing world without hearing people talk about email lead generation or lead capture. 

Lead generation techniques have been around for a long time. We’ve seen so many opt-in forms inviting readers to subscribe to a newsletter. We’ve also witnessed eCommerce brands display a coupon popup on their website and ask visitors to enter their email addresses to get the offer. 

But that’s also where the problem comes in: so many lead generation tips make it challenging for brands to know what works and what doesn’t. You need to find new, creative lead generation tactics to cut through the noise and hook potential customers in for more.   

To help you go above and beyond, we’ve rounded up the 20 best lead generation tips in this post. Read on to discover what they are, plus their best use cases and real-life examples. 

Table of Contents
  1. What is lead generation?

  2. How to develop an effective lead generation plan

  3. Top 20 lead generation tips you need to try right now

What is lead generation? 

Before jumping in on the tips to generate leads, it’s worth reviewing some basics about lead generation.

A lead is someone who shows interest in your product, service, or brand in any way, for example, following your Instagram account or downloading a free guide. 

Lead generation is the process of capturing leads’ personal information like name and email address that you can use to nurture them into future sales. It’s a fundamental point in an individual’s journey to becoming a delighted customer. 

A lead generation funnel is a systematic approach to generate leads and turn them into real customers. 

Lead generation can be useful for businesses of all types and sizes, including B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer). 

When you implement a lead generation process, you increase brand awareness, build relationships with prospects, and find new customers. The more qualified leads (those who are more likely to make a purchase) you have, the more of them will result in sales.  

How to develop an effective lead generation plan

A lead generation plan ensures you’re targeting the right people and doing it the right way to find qualified leads. 

Here are four steps to building a sure-fire lead generation plan:

  1. Define your leads: Start by determining who your targets are and what makes someone a qualified lead for your business. Ensure your sales and marketing teams agree on the definition of a good lead. 
  2. Determine your offer: Use your research about your target audience to figure out what offer will attract them. Your offer doesn’t have to be something big as long as it brings real value to those you’re targeting. 
  3. Select lead capture tactics and channels: Identify appropriate tactics and channels to capture leads. For example, if you’re running an eCommerce store, you may want to run an Instagram contest and offer a discount. But that’s not a good idea if you’re in the B2B space — in this case, you can think about LinkedIn marketing or content marketing. A high-converting landing page is a must-have if you plan to run ads. 
  4. Measure and optimize: Use metrics like the number of subscribers, conversion rate, click-through rate, and lead generation rate by channel to evaluate your performance. Determine what has worked, what hasn’t, and use the insights to improve your next campaign.  

Now that you’ve learned an overview of lead generation strategies, let’s move on to discover the best 20 lead capture ideas to implement this year. 

Top 20 lead generation tips you need to try right now

1. Offer a free tool

Best for: SaaS.

Developing a handy tool and offering it for free is one of the best ways to generate B2B leads. When your solution helps people solve their problems, they’re happy to share their contacts.

By doing that, you also give prospects a glimpse of your capabilities and offerings, making them more likely to buy a paid product. 

A good example is CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer that helps develop and optimize headlines. 

When you type a headline to the box and click to analyze, a popup shows to ask for your personal information. Enter your details, and you’ll receive a report of your headline performance.

Offering a trial version of your product is a good alternative. 

You give people a chance to experience all the premium features in, for example, 30 days for free. They can try your product, create something, and see firsthand how it can serve their needs. Those who see the value of your product will convert into paid users. 

Here is a great example from Hootsuite:

2. Show a popup on your website

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS, bloggers.

Fashion behemoths like Toms, Shopbop, Saks Fifth Avenue, Mango have been using this B2C lead generation technique for years. Here is an excellent popup from Shopbop:

We also apply this technique on our website: 

Popups are also bloggers’ favorite inbound lead generation technique to drive more subscribers for their email marketing campaign. They often give away free perks like eBooks, guides, templates, or recipes to encourage visitors to give them their email addresses.

Source: Lovely Indeed

You can use Insider to create high impact lead collection overlays without hurting the user experience. For example, you can create a wheel of fortune overlay to invite visitors to spin the wheel and enter their emails to get the reward.

Local lead generation 

In the example below, you’ll see two local lead generation overlays, one in Italian and another in French, serving potential and existing customers geographic-sensitive content and signaling that your brand understands who they are. 

Or you can display an exit-intent popup with a compelling offer to keep shoppers stay longer and make a purchase. 

Here is the spirit:

Another way to make your exit-intent popup more effective is to add some sense of urgency. Take a look at this example:

The popup uses the words like “high demand” and “not be available later,” which helps communicate the loss of not making a buying decision right away. 

You can apply this technique by adding words that create urgency or showing a count-down timer or a count-down stock in your popup. 

3. Display a smart banner

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS, bloggers

A smart banner or a hello bar sits at the very top or bottom of a website. It hangs out in those spaces and appears as the site loads. 

You can use Insider’s smart banners feature to create something like this:

Smart banners are useful to showcase your free delivery, shout out flash sales, give away free coupon codes, link to your next webinars, and more. 

4. Create a welcome mat

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS, bloggers

If you want to catch visitors’ attention right from the moment they land on your site, then you might want to try a welcome mat.

A welcome mat is a full-screen dynamic overlay that can make your offer clearer and distraction-free from the background. 

Forever New AU did a good job of applying this technique. When you land on their site, you’ll see a full-screen call to action displayed as shown below:

Like popups and smart banners, you can also use welcome mats to display coupons, showcase new products or send visitors to your social media profiles. 

5. Show a live chat on your website

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS

Nearly 70% of consumers prefer chatbots because they deliver quick answers to simple questions. No wonder live chat is a great tool to improve customer service. 

But what many people don’t know is that live chat proves to be effective in lead generation. Look at this chatbot from Pandadoc

Source: Pandadoc

From the moment someone lands on the Pandadoc website, their PandaBot appears to ask the visitor what they’re looking for and how it can help them. The bot also announces new events from Pandadoc, and the visitor can register by giving it their email address. 

You can optimize your live chat to make it conversational and personalized so your visitors feel more comfortable chatting with you and want to share their details. 

6. Publish original data and research reports

Best for: SaaS, real estate, finance, research firms, enterprises.

If you’ve done original research, you can take advantage of it to capture more leads for your business. This lead generation technique works well for B2B companies since business clients often seek for insights to understand their end customers.

A great example is Mention’s 2020 Instagram Engagement report. They analyzed over 80 million Instagram posts and about 1.6 million top uses to identify trends about engagement, influencers, location, caption length, and other insights that would be interesting
and valuable to businesses. Visitors can fill in a form to download the report.

7. Offer free webinars

Best for: Educational entities, SaaS, research firms, education entities.

Approximately 91% of B2B professionals say webinars are their preferred type of content. And a single webinar can generate over 1,000 leads

When you run a webinar, you offer your audiences all the knowledge from a conference session without having them leave their desk or change out of their pajamas.  

Source: OSPLabs

As webinar platforms automatically record every webinar, webinars become an excellent evergreen asset. For example, you can invite people to leave their email addresses to get access to your recorded webinars — which is pretty awesome! 

8. Use social lead ads

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer lead ads. You can use them to run a lead ad campaign and get all the information about your leads, like full name, emails, phone numbers, and more.  

9. Optimize social media profiles for lead generation 

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS, bloggers, freelancers.

Your social media profile is the place where people look for information about your business. So, you should make it as easy as possible for them to reach out to you. 

For example, include call-to-action buttons like message and email on your Instagram business profile. In your bio, you should also add a link to the website or where you expect them to find you.

10. Use content upgrade in your blog

Best for: SaaS, bloggers, research firms.

A bonus piece of content (or content upgrades) is what you offer to your readers in exchange for their email addresses.

Imagine you write a long-form blog post with a lot of valuable insights. Instead of publishing the entire content like usual, you post one-third of it and add an opt-in form to invite readers to enter their emails to unlock the rest of the post. 

Here is a good example from GetFeedback:

There are various types of content upgrades you can use, for example, case studies, cheat sheets, swipe files, checklists, or video transcripts. Be sure to understand your target audience’s needs and pain points before settling on a type. 

11. Create a lead generation quiz 

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS, bloggers.

Insider allows you to create a lifestyle quiz or a product discovery quiz to capture leads. You can also segment your leads for future retargeting campaigns. 

For example, here is a style quiz from Stitch Fix. When you visit their homepage, they invite you to take a style quiz to “get style that’s 100% inspired by you.” 

In addition to learning how often you try out the latest styles and trends, Stitch Fix asks you questions about your feelings when shopping. They also ask how much time and effort you put into getting the right look.

At the last step of the quiz, Stitch Fix invites you to sign up for an account and briefly explains the benefit of doing so.

By now, you may be curious about your style, so you’re more likely to share your email address to get the quiz result. 

12. Use influencer marketing

Best for: eCommerce and SMEs. 

Working with influencers is a quick way to reach out to a broader audience who has an interest in your niche. Because influencers are trustworthy and have a lot of following, they can help you generate more leads. 

To find the right influencers, check out the content they create and their posts’ engagement. You should choose the influencers whose messages resonate with your brand’s values. This way, your campaign will be likely to succeed. 

For example, the online dance learning platform Steezy collaborated with Aileen Xu, owner of the Lavendaire Youtube channel, to promote their dance classes. 

Aileen Xu is a lifestyle YouTuber and blogger focusing on productivity, self-love, and a healthy diet, so she’s the best match for Steezy.

13. Ask for feedback

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS, service providers. 

Asking for customers’ feedback brings some benefits. First, it tells if your customers are satisfied with your product and service. Second, it reveals what customers exactly need and how you can improve your offerings. And third, it helps maintain an ongoing relationship with customers and keeps them loyal to your business.

Some brands take advantage of customer feedback by including the email field in the feedback form and leaving it optional. 

Because the field is optional, the high chance is that visitors who enter their email addresses really want to hear from you and care about your business, making them qualified leads.

14. Run an Instagram giveaway

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs. 

Everyone loves to win free stuff, and they love to have fun, too. Both of which you can give your existing and potential followers by running giveaways on Instagram. 

Also, the truth is Instagram accounts that hold contests can achieve 70% faster follower growth than those that don’t hold any contests.

To generate leads with Instagram contests, you can run giveaways like “tag to win,” “follow to win,” “like to win,” or “comment to win.” Ensure you offer relevant prizes that align with your brand and your audience will want to have. 

15. Make a promo video

Best for: SaaS, educational entities. 

A promo video can be useful to build trust with your audience because it helps demonstrate your product and share values. 

Some video hosting platforms like Wistia allow you to embed an opt-in form directly to your video. When someone clicks to watch the video, they’ll see the form like the one from Zaius’ promo video below. 

You can add a form to the beginning or towards the end of the video. According to Marketo’s research, “adding a lead generation form 20-30% of the way through your video or 60-70% through your video will garner the most conversions.” 

Because people take the time to learn what your video is about and decide to opt in, the high chance is that they’re qualified leads. 

16. Use partnerships

Best for: SaaS, financial and real estate services. 

A partnership is where you team up with another person or business and market to one another’s audience. Done right, it can help both parties greatly increase their exposure and get more qualified leads. 

For example, the ecommerce fulfillment service ShipBob partners with the ecommerce customer support tool Gorgias to reach out to more merchants. They offer $200 in shipping free for any Gorgias users using their service.

To find the right partnership, you can contact a person responsible for connecting with partners. Alternatively, you can go to their websites and look for the partner program page, as we offer it on our website. You may find a form to fill out your information, and often, you’ll receive a response immediately. 

Insider’s partner program

17. Set up an affiliate program

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS.

You may already click on an affiliate link multiple times without even knowing it. For example, you read a post about how to style outfits and see your favorite blogger recommends products from online stores. There’s a good chance they have an affiliate agreement with merchants.

When you run an affiliate program, you give others an opportunity to earn a passive income by promoting your products to their network. Because the affiliates get better insights about their audience, they know the best way to share your products. 

Source: Bombas

Using an affiliate program is a good lead generation tactic for new businesses or those who want to expand their customer base. No matter if you’re an ecommerce brand or a SaaS startup, you can use affiliate marketing to grow your leads.

18. Run referral marketing

Best for: eCommerce, SMEs, SaaS.

Each of us has a network of trusted friends, colleagues, and peers. When we’ve used a product and share it with our network, they’ll believe it. That’s why running a referral marketing program is great for lead generation. 

Referral marketing works because of the relationship between your customers and their referrals. Since they trust each other, their referrals will be more likely to sign up or make a purchase of their own free will. 

Source: Radius Bank

Another reason referral marketing works is rewards. Because you incentivize your customers for referring your products and their friends also receive rewards when taking action, they feel more encouraged to spread the word for you. 

19. Connect via communities

Best for: Finance brokers, real estate brokers, freelancers, consultants, entrepreneurs

Online communities like Quora, Reddit, Slack, or Facebook groups allow like-minded people to connect and exchange values. That’s why joining these communities can be helpful to capture leads for your business.

If you’re selling high-value products like real estate, you should also think about offline communities. Kim Murray, an Arizona agent, shares that she volunteers to work at an annual golf event every year and finds it a huge opportunity to find new leads. 

20. Join a Clubhouse room

Best for: SaaS, freelancers, consultants, finance brokers, real estate brokers.

You’ve probably heard about Clubhouse — an invite-only social media app for those who love chatting about a particular topic. 

When you get access to Clubhouse, you can enter rooms and listen to experts talking about all kinds of topics, from finance to writing. You can also join “break out” rooms to network virtually. 

To generate leads with Clubhouse, the first thing you should do is share your expertise. Join a room related to your industry and raise your hands to share knowledge when it’s the right time. In doing so, remember to introduce yourself, how you can help further, and where people can reach you. 

Try these lead generation ideas and capture more leads today 

Have you tried any of the ideas to build a successful lead generation funnel? If you haven’t yet, it’s time to do some experiments. Request a consultation with our digital growth experts in case you need any help. 

Responsible for running the Australia and NZ business for Insider. Triple digit growth dictates hiring exceptional talent and building a team culture that is focused on hyper growth and creating value based enterprise client outcomes. We have a compelling GTM and we are helping our clients to achieve significant competitive advantage. We are changing the value game for our clients and we are having fun as we go!