Lead Generation: The Definitive Guide [+ 8 Proven Tactics]

The internet is a noisy place. There are flashing buttons, risque banner ads, and even those horrific songs that autoplay when you visit a website. *cues Kelly Clarkson* Whatever the method, the goals of these tactics are all the same. The sites want to grab your attention and convert you into a precious lead for […]

The internet is a noisy place.

There are flashing buttons, risque banner ads, and even those horrific songs that autoplay when you visit a website.

*cues Kelly Clarkson*

Whatever the method, the goals of these tactics are all the same. The sites want to grab your attention and convert you into a precious lead for their sales funnel.

Do these tactics work?

Yes, but as you could have guessed, there are far more effective ways to generate high-quality leads for your business.

In this guide, I am going to share with you actionable lead generation tactics that your company can start using to generate high-quality leads.

From content upgrades and ebooks to running contests, explore our tried and true tactics for lead generation.

Before we delve into our list of lead generation tactics, let’s first talk about what lead generation is, how leads are created in the sales funnel, and how businesses score the quality of a lead.

Lead Generation, Scoring, and Tactics:

    1. What is Lead Generation?
    2. Demystifying the Funnel
    3. Scoring your Leads
    4. Lead Generation Tactics

What is Lead Generation?

As you could have guessed, lead generation is the process of capturing new leads for your business. From inbound marketing to good ol’ fashioned cold calling, there are seemingly endless tactics that B2B and B2C businesses use to increase the sales pipeline and create new customers. I can imagine you’re able to connect the dots on why lead generation is essential for any business.

However, leads don’t appear out of thin air.

As lovely as that would be, not everyone is going to buy your product or service. Some have no intention of ever purchasing, others will require nurturing to purchase at a later date, and very few will be ready to buy right there and then.

To simplify this understanding, we use the visual of a funnel to explain the lead generation process.

Demystifying the Funnel

“So if we produce a ton of content we’ll generate a ton of new business?”

Content Marketing Profit

Well…not exactly. This thought can be argued by marketers alike until the cows come home.

You need traffic to generate leads, but traffic alone doesn’t mean the leads will come.

Traffic should be viewed as potential leads, but not confused with an actual lead. Imagine a blog that produced badass content, but had no contact information or phone number to learn more about their services.

You get the point…

However, the more qualified traffic you attract to your through content marketing, SEO, or even pay-per-click (PPC) the more likely you are to convert leads from those efforts.

This is why we use the funnel visual to explain the stages of traffic turning into customers.

This process is known as the buyer’s journey. For the sake of this example, we’ll use our industry and services to convey the process of a consumer moving through the buyer’s journey.

Buyers Journey

The marketing funnel will differ for each business, but the typical process is as follows:

  • Awareness or Top of the Funnel: The consumer realizes they have a problem and resort to a search engine for answers. In this case, they’re not getting enough qualified traffic to their website, so they decide they need digital marketing services. They’ve become aware of the problem, researched potential options, and shortlisted the solutions to resolve their issue.
  • Consideration or Middle of the Funnel: Now that the consumer has become aware of their problem, they move into the consideration phase to determine what digital marketing service is best suited. After reviewing the pros and cons of each option, they decide that content marketing is going to solve their issue of not generating enough traffic to their website.
  • Decision or Bottom of the Funnel: The consumer creates a list of potential content marketing vendors and vets them individually to decide which one will be best suited to help. In the process of vetting vendors, they’ll provide their contact information, such as a phone number or email address. This is the point at which a consumer will become a lead for most businesses. This is also the step where the consumer will make a decision and become a customer.

In a nutshell, this is the process of the buyer’s journey from start to finish, as well as the process of how leads are created. But not all leads are created equal.

Naturally, businesses need to score these leads to determine which ones are worth investing sales efforts towards.

Scoring Your Leads



Have I lost you yet? There are dozens of industry terms to identify the quality or stage of a lead. But where do you start?

Any lead generation campaign should start with a defined lead scoring system. This will vary for every business, but for the sake of this example, we’ll use the two most common terms.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQLs):

You have a list of potential customers, but you’re not sure they’re ready to buy from you just yet. Sure, you could pick up the phone and cold call them, but that could be a costly effort for your sales team and brand integrity.

Wouldn’t you instead nurture them with helpful information until they’re ready to buy from you?

This is the idea behind an MQL. The qualities that define an MQL can also vary, but below are a few example criteria to consider when creating your internal lead scoring system.

Qualify them with an MQL scoring system such as the following:

  • Do they have a business email address?
  • Did they express interest in any particular service?
  • Is the company in an industry that you service?

Once you’ve defined this lead is an MQL, you can engage marketing efforts to move them down the funnel until they’ve been identified as an SQL.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL):

You’ve qualified your MQL as a sales lead and believe they’re ready to be passed off to the sales team.

But how can you know for sure that you won’t be wasting the sale team’s time?

Qualify them with an SQL scoring system such as the following:

  • Have they indicated a budget they’re willing to spend for your product or service?
  • Does the lead have the authority to make the decision to work with you?
  • Do they have an actual need for your product or service?
  • Is it the right timing to begin working together?

Marketers love acronyms, so this SQL scoring system is better known as BANT in the industry. Which is short for budget, authority, need, and timing.

Once you’ve determined that the lead is an SQL, this is the point where the more ambitious efforts come out in an attempt to convert the lead to a customer.

Of course, this information is helpful and all, but what use is it if you aren’t generating any leads in the first place?

Let’s delve into our favorite lead generation tactics in detail and share some of our favorite resources to help you to implement on your own.

Tried and True Lead Generation Tactics

1. Content Upgrades

Content upgrades are one of our personal favorites when it comes to lead generation tactics.

Content upgrades are add-ons to an existing piece of content that provide additional value to your readers in exchange for their email address. They can be anything from downloadable checklists, as seen in our Hiring an SEO Company article, to additional insights in a step-by-step guide, as seen in our Twitter Leapfrog Method article. While these leads will be considered top of the funnel, it still presents an excellent opportunity to nurture them for a sale at a later date.

Additional Resources:

2. Email Newsletter Signup Forms

Companies with a reputation for creating badass content may find email newsletter signup forms to be the most impactful lead generation tool for their business.

Companies like Backlinko and Sumo acquire subscribers on autopilot by creating incredible content and making it very easy for their readers to sign up to hear about their newest content/offers. Audit your blog to ensure you include concise calls-to-action for users to subscribe to your email newsletter.

Additional Resources:

3. Retargeting

Remember the last time that you looked up that fly pair of kicks on Amazon, and then saw ads for those shoes nonstop for the next two weeks?

Ever wondered what witchcraft Amazon had to cook up to put this together?

This is a technique known as retargeting, and it’s one of the most profitable marketing investments that a business can make.

Retargeting allows you to send highly targeted ads to people who perform specific actions on your site (such as adding an item to their shopping cart without completing their purchase). Setting up retargeting can require some help from an expert, but below are a few helpful resources to get you started.

Additional Resources:

4. Contests

I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing that grabs my attention, it’s free stuff.

“Give my email for a chance to win an Aston Martin DB9?! Say no more…”

People will jump through all sorts of hoops to win free stuff. Just look at the Global Citizens project – they’ve figured out how to get people to sign petitions and call their senators for a chance to win tickets to a music festival.

The best part is that a contest can involve a smaller investment than most would think. Whether it’s as simple as some company swag or a luxury getaway to next year’s Fyre Festival, take time to think about what types of prizes would attract your target market and get promoting.

Additional Resources:

5. eBooks

Similar to a content upgrade, an ebook is an effective way to capture a lead’s information in exchange for a long-form piece of content.

The success of an ebook can vary depending on your industry. We’ve found that they perform best when people are looking for long-form and detailed information around the consideration phase of their buyer’s journey.

Ebooks can be challenging to compile on your own, which is why our friends at Hubspot put together an ebook about creating an ebook for your viewing pleasure. You sly dogs…

Additional Resources:

6. Email Courses

Rather than compiling a massive eBook and expecting your customers to read it from cover to cover, it might be better to try breaking those insights into smaller chunks and sending them out over time.

Email courses enable you to do just that. Rather than expecting someone to digest your “7 Ways to Be Better at ___” in one sitting, email courses enable you to send out one tip at a time throughout several weeks.

Since you’re continually exposing your readers to bite-sized pieces of advice, they are much more likely to read each email, and also much more likely to remember your brand at the end of the series. Below are a few helpful resources to help you get started on creating your first email course.

Additional Resources:

7. Webinars

Writing isn’t for everyone.

For those who weren’t blessed with the wordsmithery of Hemmingway, webinars can be an excellent alternative for lead generation. Webinars give you the ability to capture emails by putting together video lessons on your areas of expertise.

Webinars also give you an opportunity to establish a relationship of trust with your viewers, which increases the likelihood of their purchase down the road. It’s also worth mentioning that you can gate this webinar afterward as an additional lead generation tactic.

Additional Resources:

8. Conversion Rate Optimization

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Said no marketer ever.

We could write another blog about all of the conversion rate optimization (CRO for short) tactics that are out there. However, this should be one of the first initiatives that come to mind for lead generation efforts.

CRO is an umbrella term, so naturally, there are hundreds of tactics you can utilize, but the process is all the same.

Assess the pages on your site that are best suited to capture leads. Sometimes this is a landing page for a particular campaign, and other times it’s a frequently visited page that details your product or service offerings. For us, it’s our content marketing and web development service pages, but this will vary for every business. If you’re not sure where to start, check out data from Google Analytics to find out where most of your visitors are landing.

Top performing website pages

From there, use a tool like Hotjar or Fullstory to uncover any opportunities to convert visitors into leads better. From updating copy and button colors to shortening form fields, the list goes on and on. Below are some helpful resources that detail initiatives you can implement to optimize the likelihood for conversions.

Additional Resources:

Lead Generation Overview

Need a recap? Here’s a list of the most effective ways to generate leads.

  1. Content Upgrades
  2. Email Newsletter Signup Forms
  3. Retargeting
  4. Contests
  5. Ebooks
  6. Email Courses
  7. Webinars
  8. Conversion Rate Optimization

Still not sure where to get started with lead generation? Give us a shout, and we’d be happy to discuss opportunities to drive and capture more qualified leads to your website.

Otherwise, be sure to check out the rest of our blog and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest digital marketing tactics.

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Lead Generation: The Definitive Guide [+ 8 Proven Tactics]