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10 Creative Lead Gen Examples Sourced from Marketing Legends

10 Creative Lead Gen Examples Sourced from Marketing Legends

Lead generation is the number one challenge for marketers today. And it’s only going to get harder now that most Google search results pages have become saturated with promotional lead magnets masquerading as “great” content.

There are millions of free resources out there already competing for attention. And customers are quickly catching on to the fact that most of these “Ultimate Guides to Dog Grooming” aren’t really worth giving up their personal information for.

Jessica Meher, VP of Marketing at Notarize, put it really well on Twitter:

To stand out, you need more than quality content. You need to think outside the box. Try something a little bit different. Maybe even a little bit experimental.

For inspiration, we talked to some of the most legendary marketers working today and asked them to share their most creative lead gen examples. And believe me—some of these folks needed QUITE a bit of convincing to spill their most useful and interesting ideas.

But we got ‘em here for you: 10 unique examples lifted straight from the private swipe files and secret marketing playbooks of the pros. Use these ideas as inspiration for your next lead gen campaign. Or, just keep them handy for the next time you want to try something more interesting than creating another ebook or webinar.

Ready? Let’s get cooking.

Jump to a Creative Lead Gen Example

  1. Create an Interactive Tool
  2. Embed Your Lead Gen Forms in Videos
  3. Interview a Third-Party Expert
  4. Send Attention-Grabbing Direct Mail
  5. Share a Customer Experience to Spark Brand Searches
  6. Connect via Communities
  7. Promote a Personalized Template
  8. Look for Unique Cross-Promotion Opportunities
  9. Start an Interesting Side Project
  10. Publish a Surprising Quiz
If you’re creating a lead gen campaign, make sure you check out our professional landing page and popup templates. You’ll be able to optimize your page design to earn more conversions and qualified leads.

1. Create an Interactive Tool

There’s a good reason why so many brands—including HubSpot, Moz, and, yes, even Unbounce—have invested time and effort to create free tools. Tool-based marketing is popular because even simple interactive ideas can generate boatloads of qualified leads.

For example, Larry Kim, CEO of MobileMonkey, says they developed a Free Keyword Tool for the Wordstream website. Marketers could use it to research and prioritize new keywords in just a few minutes.

And while developing an interactive tool might seem like a lot more work (you might need someone who knows how to code), Larry says they were able to generate a huge number of leads as a result.

Creative Lead Gen Example Create an Interactive Tool

Here’s how the tool works: you start out by entering a keyword or website URL that you’re interested in analyzing. To hone the results, you can also choose the industry and country you want to focus on.

What makes this tool particularly clever is the way it displays the results. Hit the “Search” button, and you’ll instantly be able to see some of the related keywords. But all the other information? It’s hidden, blurred out, or obscured in some way.

Creative Lead Gen Example Create Interactive Tool

This smartly creates a curiosity gap for visitors, who feel like they’ve already started the process of doing research on their keyword. All they need to do is take one teeny-tiny extra step to get their results.

That final step? You gotta give up your email address.

Boom, lead generated.

This simple tool took just 3 months to build, yet has generated over a million email signups.

PRO TIP: Even a simple tool can be expensive to create. When considering your tool-based marketing idea, speak with a sample of your target audience first to see if they’d be interested.

2. Embed Your Lead Gen Forms in Videos

I believe it was old Billy Shakespeare who once wrote: “To gate or not to gate? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous website traffic, or ask for an email address against a sea of troubles…”

At some point, every marketer faces this dilemma. You have an amazing piece of content—now are you going to give it away for free as a way to attract organic traffic? Or do you gate the content and use it as a lead gen magnet?

Cara Hogan, Content Strategist for Zaius, considered these options and asked—why not both?

For their Marketing Unboxed series, Cara says they took a hybrid approach to gating each video. Rather than lock up their content entirely behind a lead gen form, they actually embedded forms into each video so they showed up as you watch.

We created the Marketing Unboxed video series as a top-of-funnel piece of content designed to engage our target audience of B2C and commerce marketers. By including a lead gen form within the video itself, we encourage people to subscribe, but we don’t require it.

Creative Lead Gen Example Embed Forms in Videos

The forms draw just the right amount of your attention, without being too distracting. It slides off the video if you move your mouse off the screen, but then pops back on whenever you come back. All in all, a very classy approach that Cara says has driven some serious results.

We’ve generated hundreds of net new leads from this video series so far. We’ve only published 10 total episodes, and older episodes continue to earn subscribers over time. Some of these subscribers have since been nurtured to become new Zaius customers.

3. Interview a Third-Party Expert

For many brands, consistent blogging is one of their main sources of lead generation. Every time you put out an article, it’s an opportunity for someone new to visit your site, discover your brand, and opt in for more communications.

And there’s nothing wrong with looking outside of your own organization and team for content, either. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and providing a fresh perspective can actually be a fantastic way to bring in new audiences.

Creative Lead Gen Example Interview Expert

Take, for example, this lead gen example brought to us by Aaron Orendorff, Content Strategist for iconiContent. To help Shopify Plus rank for some valuable keywords, such as “ecommerce replatforming,” Aaron interviewed a high-profile expert in the industry.

Aaron says it’s the quality of the interview that makes this lead gen example work.

Rather than a heavy-handed sales pitch, the piece is an interview with Paul Rogers—one of the brightest and most respected leaders in ecommerce … That objectivity—and framing the article as an honest conversation about a ‘dirty word’—is highlighted throughout.

But wait, how do you actually generate leads with an interview or blog post? Well, Aaron explained that they peppered the article with three separate lead gen CTAs (including an Unbounce popup) to present visitors with downloadable content upgrades, related to the topic of the interview.

Creative Lead Gen Example Interview Expert
Popups and sticky bars can turn any high-traffic page into a lead generator. Find out how you can use these targeted offers to drive more conversions.

4. Send Attention-Grabbing Direct Mail

Direct mail might seem like an old school marketing tactic, but that’s exactly what makes it so darned interesting for lead generation. Why not focus your efforts on a smaller customer segment, and put together packages that really get them to sit up and take notice?

Take, for example, these direct mailers that Hero Conf sent out to promote their PPC marketing conference. The event organizers took a pretty interesting approach to get the attention of marketers like Casie Gillette, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at KoMarketing:

Each piece of mail embedded a small video screen to show clips of the presenters who would be speaking at Hero Conf. And while these must have cost a fair bit more than a typical event brochure, Casie says the unique packaging really helped to win her over.

What got me was if you played the video to the end, they had a free ticket offer—you just had to respond to the email they had sent earlier … By placing the offer at the end, only those who watched the video all the way through would learn about the offer. A really cool way to grab attention.

5. Share a Customer Experience to Spark Brand Searches

Andrew Davis, best-selling author and keynote speaker, recently pointed out that most video testimonials are pretty dry. They’re usually just a lot of talking heads, with nervous customers babbling on about all the reasons why they like some marketing brand.

But there’s also a different type of video testimonial—one that actually tells the complete customer story. And although these can be harder to produce, they can also serve up a different type of indirect lead generation for your business.

As an example, Andrew suggests watching this video on YouTube that recently went viral: Vance’s Incredible 365-day Transformation. The video currently has over 31 million views and 50,000 comments on YouTube.

Creative Lead Gen Example Share Customer Experience

Unlike other video testimonials, this customer story is shot in real time. It’s compelling, it’s emotional—and it doesn’t have a single call to action.

Instead, Vance mentions throughout the video the diet and exercise program he is using to lose weight. The references start out subtle, but eventually become a main focus of the video. Andrew calls this an “implied CTA” that generates leads by inspiring viewers to take the next step.

A great testimonial video needs no call to action. It actually should create a moment that inspires people to do the next search … It doesn’t need a button, it just invites people who are so inspired to actually check out the next step of the product.

If you want to try this for yourself, all you need to do is start thinking about how you can frame your customer stories more like, well, stories. Connect with viewers on a personal or emotional level, and tease out the results so they get curious to learn more.

6. Connect via Communities

For freelancers, consultants, and smaller marketing agencies, you might have to take a slightly different approach to lead generation. While you can still build lists using your website and landing pages, a lot of your success will also come from word of mouth and social interactions.

For example, Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, B2B SaaS Consultant, says their go-to lead generation strategy has been to build sincere connections with other people, in both online and offline marketing communities.

Being an active member of my favorite communities has lead to me receive leads from other members, because I’m demonstrating expertise in that domain.

Nichole says that being an active community member on websites like Growth Hackers has often lead to them becoming a part of the team, responsible for either community management or growth.

Creative Lead Gen Example Connect via Communities

As you build relationships and demonstrate expertise, people will naturally start to think of you or your company for future opportunities. The key is to be genuinely helpful and selfless in your interactions, and to try to build actual friendships with other members of the community.

The thing is, ‘getting leads’ was never my end goal for any of these communities. I was just actively building relationships by bringing value to others.

7. Promote a Personalized Template

The right template on the right page can be a powerful tool for generating leads. That’s because visitors are willing to give up their personal information in exchange for something practical they can actually use.

But while traditional templates are usually just generic PDF downloads, Ross Simmonds, digital marketing strategist, says you can get better results by making a downloadable template that’s more personalized and interactive.

Almost every audience loves a template. If you can think about a simple template that arms your audience with the steps they need to take to solve a problem – it can be a great win. Even better; make it an interactive template that gives the user the ability to download it at the end.

As an example, Ross points towards this Free Privacy Policy Generator created by Shopify.

Creative Lead Gen Example Promote Personalized Template

Privacy policies are one of those things that ecommerce business owners know they need, but probably don’t have time to create. And while Shopify could have given their visitors a sample policy or instructions on how to create their own, instead they decided to go above and beyond by building a personalized template generator.

Creative Lead Gen Example Promote Personalized Template

The form you fill out to generate your privacy policy serves two purposes. Not only does it help personalize the template with your company info, but it also lets Shopify follow up meaningfully with every lead that uses the tool. How cool is that?

The template approach is interesting because there’s a true value exchange. If you’re offering a template that is closely aligned with your product or service it can be both a rewarding user experience and a rewarding lead generation tactic.

8. Look for Unique Cross-Promotion Opportunities

Cross-promotion isn’t a new idea, but it’s not something too many marketers think about strategically when it comes to lead generation.

The hard part, of course, is finding the right brand to partner with. If the other company is too similar, then your audiences might already be overlapped. If the other company isn’t similar enough, then you run the risk of promoting to people who just don’t care about your brand or products.

This is where a bit of outside-the-box thinking can come in handy. Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist at Moz, points to this particularly clever example of cross-promotion between Hydrate IV Bar and Live Love Lash:

Creative Lead Gen Example Unique Cross-Promotion

Rather than partner with another health or fitness company for their cross-promotion, the marketers at Hydrate IV Bar decided to try a different strategy. They thought about different places where their target customers might be available to try an IV bar, and struck up a smart partnership based on that:

The Hydrate IV Bar team was brilliant in thinking outside the box for local lead gen! In what instances are people in a position of stillness/rest where they could also benefit from IV therapy? Lash extensions! This cross-marketing has done very well for both businesses and feels like an efficient use of time for their customers.

And the thing is, there are all sorts of unique cross-promotion opportunities available that marketers might miss. Let’s say you’re a running shoe company, for example. The obvious cross-promotion opportunity would be a sports store, right? But you could also partner with a gym or training facility, and target athletes in the places where they spend the most time.

9. Create an Interesting Side Project

Sometimes, the best leads can come from the projects that have very little to do with your actual business. If you dig into related topics, you can discover whole segments of customers who otherwise might not have been exposed to your brand or marketing.

And when it comes to side projects, Ryan Robinson is a self-described aficionado. Once, he launched a public challenge on his blog to validate a random business idea in under 30 days with only $500.

Creative Lead Gen Example Start a Side Project

The project took up a lot of Ryan’s time for that month, even though it was something he was doing on the side. He figured it would just be an interesting way to educate readers on how to validate their business ideas, and perhaps bring in some new audiences to his blog. But he was surprised by the number of leads he was able to generate as a result.

I saw a sizable surge in traffic during my first week of the challenge. Throughout the course of the full month as I updated the challenge post, I picked up almost 3,000 new subscribers on my blog.

To take advantage of all these new leads, Ryan even built a new course based around his learning.

Creative Lead Gen Example Start a Side Project

A couple months after the challenge wrapped up, I launched a course about validating ideas to that new audience … This new group of subscribers that tuned in and kept a close eye on my challenge were very qualified leads, and that course ended up generating over $15,000 in revenue during just the first week of open enrollment.

10. Publish a Surprising Quiz

Online quizzes have been around for years, but many marketers still haven’t discovered their potential for lead generation. They’re powerful because they’re so compelling—visitors actually have fun filling them out, and then get super curious about the results. (“Why yes, I do want to know which piece of IKEA furniture best represents my personality.”)

To find a creative quiz example, we went to the quizmaster herself, Chanti Zak. Chanti is a quiz funnel strategist and copywriter who specializes in creating quizzes for lead gen, and really brings a special flair to the quiz creation process.

As an example, she shared this saucy quiz she created to target entrepreneurs for Jenna Kutcher’s website.

Creative Lead Gen Example Create a Quiz

The key to a great quiz? You’ve got to surprise and delight visitors with every click, so they stay engaged throughout the process. Throw them a couple curveballs along the way, and then hit ‘em with results that speak to their unique situation.

The results go deep into what uniquely positions you to create a successful business. The custom results meet people where they’re at and are intentionally designed to empower them to take action.

Creative Lead Gen Example Create a Quiz

To attract the most leads, you’ll want to create a quiz that speaks directly to your brand and target market. For this example, Chanti created playful questions and answers that really get in the headspace of a budding entrepreneur.

And the strategy seems to have worked too, with this quiz alone generating over 100,000 leads.

When this interactive and personalized approach is the first impression someone has of your brand, your chances of converting them from onlooker to customer are exponentially higher than with a generic lead magnet.

Are You Ready to Take the Lead?

Of course, we’re only scratching the surface with these 10 ideas. There are all sorts of different ways to generate leads, including more tried and true methods. You could always host a webinar, offer a free ebook download, run a contest, or buy ads on social media.

Whatever you try, the most important thing to remember is that in order to generate qualified leads, you need to offer up quality content. Give those top-of-funnel leads something that’ll educate, entertain, inform, or inspire and soon you’ll be overwhelmed with too many leads. (#firstworldmarketingproblems)

Share in the comments below if you have another method of lead gen that works well for your business, or if you think there’s something we missed. The more ideas we can round up, the better!

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

Check Also

The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community

Intuit

The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community

Jamf

Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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