No matter what industry you're in, the reality is that acquiring new customers/clients can be pricey. While exact customer acquisition costs can vary significantly by industry, it's not uncommon for businesses to spend about $100 for a single new client. With these figures in mind, it's easy to see how marketing costs can quickly add up—and why getting the absolute most out of your marketing budget (no matter how small) is so important.
So, what are some of the most effective and budget-friendly ways to bring in more leads and customers? We've got some valuable insights for you to consider, no matter your industry, company size, or marketing budget.
Before diving into our extensive list of budget-friendly lead generation ideas, let's define what it means to generate leads in the first place. Lead generation refers to recruiting customers to purchase your company's products and/or services. Bringing in new leads doesn't always result in conversions and sales, but it's an important starting point for obvious reasons. After all, without new leads, where would your customers come from?
A strong lead generation strategy should be at the forefront of any successful business marketing plan. So, by having several lead generation ideas to draw upon, you can maximize your marketing budget by bringing in as many new leads as possible.
Historically, lead generation can be pretty expensive. Again, costs will vary depending on the industry (among other factors). However, it's not uncommon for growing businesses to spend about 15% of their gross target revenue or more on lead generation alone.
Okay, but what if your company doesn't have 15% of its gross target revenue to allocate to lead generation? Perhaps your business is just starting out and doesn't have a lot of capital to work with—or maybe the majority of your marketing dollars have already been allocated to other things. The good news is that plenty of affordable lead generation strategies can be highly effective without breaking the bank.
Let's start with your company blog. Aside from the domain costs (which you most likely already have) and hosting, creating and maintaining a blog is relatively inexpensive. From there, it's simply a matter of investing your time to crank out some well-written and engaging blog posts. When you create helpful and unique blog content for your audience, you're more likely to get traffic to your website. Meanwhile, adding "share" buttons to your blog posts makes it easier for your readers to share your content on their social media profiles. This, in turn, allows your blog to essentially function as an inexpensive advertising method that can be highly effective at bringing in new leads.
If writing isn't your strong suit, you might consider recruiting internally to find a great voice for your company blog. Another option is to hire a freelance writer online who can pitch creative blog topics and craft posts that your audience will genuinely love reading.
In addition to ramping up your blogging strategy, you may also want to consider offering some exclusive content to entice new leads. Many successful businesses, for example, will offer free guides and eBook downloads to those who subscribe to their email newsletters or provide some other contact information.
For example, in exchange for your lead's email address, you can send a useful guide or other exclusive content directly to their inbox. This will contain information that's useful to them and not readily available anywhere else on the web. In turn, you have the lead's contact information which lets you continue to send newsletters, alerts about special promotions, and more.
Another low-cost lead generation strategy is hosting an online event, such as a free webinar or class. This is a great way to generate buzz and interest in your brand while obtaining the required contact information for potential new leads. Meanwhile, because the event is virtual, it will be much more affordable to host than an in-person event; you won't have to worry about renting out a hall, providing food, or most of the other logistical costs that go into hosting an event. Still, you can provide your attendees with helpful information and position your brand as an authority within the industry. All of this is great for your lead generation and brand recognition!
Consider recruiting influencers in your industry to drive attention to the event. This will allow you to tap in to a new audience that you do not yet have access to. You can use an engagement calculator to ensure that you’re only collaborating with influencers that are able to engage their audience.
Nowadays, online reviews and testimonials can be powerful lead generation tools. This is especially true when you consider that 93% of customers today read reviews online before making a purchase. If your company doesn't have a lot of reviews (or if the reviews are lukewarm), there's a good chance you're missing out on new customers in a big way.
If you're looking for an affordable lead gen idea, try reaching out to some of your current and/or existing customers who have had great experiences with your brand. Ask them if they'd be willing to write a review or testimonial of your company. You might be surprised at how willing most people are to leave a positive review if you simply ask—and you can begin enjoying the lead generation benefits of more positive reviews right away.
What better way to stir up excitement around your brand than to hold a special contest or giveaway? Social media is an excellent outlet for contests because you can require participants to "like" and/or "share" your post to receive an entry. This gives your followers some incentive to spread the word about your brand, which can boost your lead generation significantly.
Giveaways and contests don't need to be expensive, either. Many brands, for example, will have their company merchandise/swag printed for giving away at special events or during social media contests. You can further cut costs here by using a print-on-demand service, allowing your brand to create branded merchandise without needing a significant up-front investment or a place to store your inventory.
Another budget-friendly lead generation strategy is to offer a free or discounted trial for one of your brand's products or services. If you decide to go this route, be sure to choose your most potent product or service offering to improve your chances of conversion once the trial period is over. It will also be necessary to carefully crunch the numbers and decide precisely how long of a trial to offer your customers. On the one hand, you want to let your potential customers try the product/service long enough to realize its value—but you also have to be careful about driving up your operational costs too high.
If you plan on launching a free or discounted trial, you’ll want to promote it prominently on your site. Some brands do this through a top banner above their main navigation, other brands do it through well-timed popups. Whatever you choose, be sure to promote your offer to get as many sign-ups as possible.
Regardless, when carefully calculated and considered, a free trial can be a great way to bring in new leads who may have otherwise overlooked your brand. And, of course, if your brand can't currently afford to offer a completely free trial, a discounted trial can sometimes be just as enticing to your potential customers.
People love taking fun surveys and quizzes online. Why not join in on the fun? Consider putting together some of your surveys or quizzes and using these as lead generation tools. For example, if you run a skincare company, you might offer a quiz that matches users up with their ideal moisturizer based on their answers to questions about skin type, problem areas, and budget.
Here's where the lead generation part comes in, though. Before providing users with the results of their quiz or survey, ask them to provide an email address or some other contact information. From there, you can have the results emailed to them directly. In exchange, you can reach out with further promotions or other special deals.
With a bit of creativity, survey and quiz creation don’t have to cost you anything but your time—and it can be extremely effective when it comes to generating new leads.
One of the best ways to bring in new leads without spending a lot of money? Rely on your current customers to recommend your brand to their friends and family members. And if you want to encourage your customers to recommend your company, you need to give them an incentive. This typically means developing and implementing a referral program that rewards your customers for each new customer or client they send your way.
A referral program is great because it doesn't need to cost your brand a lot of money. You might set up a program, for example, that entitles your existing customer to a $5 credit to their account for each new customer they bring in. These small incentives can improve brand loyalty while encouraging people to recommend your products and/or services to others. It's a win-win for everybody!
These days, many popular social media platforms (including Facebook and Instagram) make it easy to host real-time polls. These can be a great way to generate interest and conversation on your brand's social media page while also bringing in new leads.
You can get as creative with your polls as you'd like. Ask about something related to your brand/industry specifically—or ask about something completely random. The most important thing is that your poll sparks interest and generates responses. This gets people talking about your brand, improves your visibility, and ultimately increases the chances that people will visit your website.
Last but certainly not least, consider supporting a special cause as part of your next lead generation strategy. You might consider, for example, donating a small portion of your sales to a charity or other cause that is important to your brand values. Even if you're donating just 5% of your profits, you can make a big difference and generate some new leads who may not have otherwise been interested. Meanwhile, you'll build your brand's reputation and create a positive buzz around your company.
If you decide to go this route, be sure to advertise the details of the cause you'll be supporting on your website, on social media, and even in an email blast to your existing subscribers. Explain exactly where the money will go, how much of each sale you'll be donating, and how long the promotion will last. Your customers and potential customers will appreciate the transparency, and more details are always better for building trust.
When you don't have a lot of money to spend on lead generation, it's important to get creative and make the most of your marketing budget. With these affordable lead generation tips, you'll be well on your way to bringing in some new potential customers without breaking the bank. Ultimately, a successful lead generation strategy begins with knowing your business, its target customers, and your long-term marketing goals. From there, you can decide which of these budget-friendly strategies will best suit your brand and support your vision.