Starting your own business is a journey that will test your perseverance and resolve. You will constantly face one challenge after another. Topping the list is often lead generation. As a startup, only a few people will know your business. So, generating interest and building leads become extra difficult. And without leads, your sales will dwindle, and a vicious cycle will begin.
Finding prospects with a limited budget is a recurring challenge for many startup owners. But there are proven strategies that can help your business, regardless of its scale or industry. Before we get to that, let’s understand what exactly lead generation means.
Lead Generation Explained
Leads are prospects at the very top of your sales funnel. Lead generation strategies help you find prospective clients to nurture and ultimately convert into paid customers.
Primarily, leads are of two types—cold leads and warm leads.
Cold leads are people who have not shown any interest in your business. Converting them into a customer is tough and will take time.
Warm leads, on the other hand, have already interacted with your business. For example, they could have visited your website, asked a question from your chatbot, clicked on an ad, or signed up for your newsletter. Of course, these interactions may not convey an explicit interest in purchasing your product. But with enough nurturing, there is a higher chance of guiding them along your sales funnel.
Even if they don’t purchase, leads can provide valuable insights into customer behavior.
Best Lead Generation Strategies for Your Startup
Here are five proven strategies to generate leads so you can develop a steady sales pipeline.
1. Start networking
As a startup owner, tapping into your network is an excellent way to leverage personal relationships and trust to generate leads. Every entrepreneur has a network of people around them—family, friends, neighbors, suppliers, and business associates. That’s a significant network that already knows you. Reaching out to them is the easiest method to get started with your lead generation efforts. Best of all, it is free.
2. Use a lead generation tool
Lead generation platforms can speed up prospect hunting with accurate and up-to-date data. Leadar is a popular AI-powered tool that can help you find prospects based on a range of criteria—from geographic location, job title, and company to education and skills.
These types of tools often provide a host of valuable information to make nurturing leads easier. For example, they could find your prospects’ social media pages and details about their education, work experience, and those who have worked with them.
3. Reach out to prospects on LinkedIn
With 875 million users across 20 countries, LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for building prospect lists.
Apart from its large user base, LinkedIn has several advantages. For example, it allows you to search its network using specific keywords and criteria, like location, industry, and business.
In addition, its Sales Navigator solution provides various essential tools to help generate leads: its advanced search function enables more targeted searches. With InMail, you can message prospects who are not in your network. Smart Links let you track content engagement, while the Lead Recommendation feature suggests prospective leads based on your search history and other criteria.
You can even search your team’s connections to check whether they have any first-degree connections with potential clients. It could help you generate warm leads through an introduction.
4. Build your social media presence
LinkedIn is an excellent prospecting tool. But it is not for everyone. What if your target audience doesn’t spend much time on it? In that case, there are plenty of other social media platforms to reach them.
Start by identifying where your audience is most active. Keep in mind that each platform has a dominant user profile. For instance, Instagram and Facebook are popular among the 25-34 age group, whereas TikTok commands a younger audience, mostly 10-19. Twitter has a larger male audience, while TikTok and Pinterest attract many female users.
Understanding these distinctions is essential to determine where you should invest your time to network. But remember, cold outreach without a solid social media presence will not yield results. Invest time into creating interactive, thought-provoking, and value-adding content. Also, be generous and ensure you engage with other users’ posts. Like and leave comments, and respond to those who engage with yours.
Establishing a social media presence with an effective content strategy is critical to building trust and credibility. Once you have achieved that, reaching out to potential leads becomes easier. If you do it right, they might reach out to you first.
5. Launch email campaigns
To run an email campaign, you need an email database. There are two main ways to acquire them—purchasing lists and creating them.
Some businesses sell email lists that are filtered based on your target profiles. Certain companies may not share their databases; instead, they will send emails on your behalf. All these are paid services, and their cost will depend on various factors—mainly screening accuracy and the number of email addresses.
Of course, there are potential downsides to taking this route. These are cold lists where the receiver has not shown any interest in your product or business. They have not provided their consent for you to reach them. So, you risk annoying your prospect during your first interaction. In addition, you could be violating GDPR rules and other laws and regulations in place to protect consumers. Your IP reputation might also suffer. To make matters worse, the email lists you have acquired might not even be accurate or sufficiently screened.
This is why creating your own email list is always recommended over purchasing random databases. Newsletters, free downloads, offers, and social media campaigns are excellent tactics for building lists of warm leads.
Generating leads could be a never-ending headache for startup business owners. But networking and using lead-generating tools, social media, and email campaigns could help create prospect lists you could nurture with targeted activities.
However, before you develop your lead generation strategy, spend enough time to identify and define your audience. This is crucial when determining the right prospecting tools and channels for your business.
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