This is how I generate free leads for my business

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Conversion is usually higher when prospects reach out to you looking for your brand or business category. It is much easier compared to a cold outreach or push campaign. There are multiple channels to generate leads, offline and online. This post is about how I generate free leads for my consulting practice.

About me

I am an independent business strategy consultant. I work with small and medium businesses to help them validate their business strategies. As I work alone, I do not need too many leads and clients.

In the past, I had used paid medium to generate leads. I set up landing pages on my website and used PPC marketing to reach out to prospective clients. It worked. There were visitors. Some relevant. Some not so relevant.

The Problem Statement

The volume was too high for me to manage all by myself. I could not keep up with the increasing volume of inquiries.

I tried reducing the daily spends on the PPC campaign. However, I soon realized that there was a sweet spot for the campaign to be effective. Spend too little and there weren’t any relevant leads. Spend too much and I needed a lot of time to manage inquiries.

I could have outsourced the lead management piece, however as mentioned above, I only need a handful of clients for my consulting practice.

What I needed can be summed up as:

  • A regular supply of relevant business leads
  • A workflow for lead nurturing so I can interact only with interested prospects

Hence, I developed this mechanism to generate free leads. A system that constantly keeps adding to the pipeline and cuts through the clutter to ensure I interact with relevant and interested prospects.

The Solution: Leave breadcrumbs along the web to generate free leads

What I needed was an easy solution that I could manage on my own. One time effort with some fine tuning once in a while.

  • A little research to start. I needed to find a low hanging fruit to drive organic traffic to my website. I identified a common challenge faced by small and medium businesses – lead management. Most businesses struggle with optimum usage of sales CRMs. They either don’t have a system to manage leads or fail to utilize the functions of a lead management system
  • I created a free Excel based lead management sheet. The LMS is easy to use and has in-built reports to track sales KPIs and trends
  • I set up a landing page on my website and optimized it well for search engines. Check the first page rankings on Google and Bing for related keywords given below. These drive relevant traffic to my landing page – prospects who need an easy solution for lead management
  • I created a video tutorial on how to use the free lead management sheet. Close to 40% of all traffic to my website comes from YouTube
  • While search optimization and the video tutorial were one time efforts, I schedule posts on Twitter and LinkedIn once every fortnight using Zoho social to promote the landing page

These steps help drive free organic and social traffic to my landing page. Most of the visitors download the free lead tracker once they visit the website.

To download, they have to fill up a lead form that gives me access to their email for further communication.

This easy method to generate free leads gives me about 8 to 10 new leads every day.

New leads tracking
New Lead for Free CRM in Excel

Workflow to manage free leads

Initially I responded to each new lead. I would send an email to every lead:

  • To thank them for visiting my website and downloading the lead tracker
  • To let them know that I would be happy to help them set up processes to manage their sales pipeline

This is where I needed to solve the second problem – time spent responding to leads. Not all leads were prospects. Some were individuals or freelancers. They did not fit my client persona.

I needed an automated system to nurture leads and qualify prospects.

The solution: Zoho One.

A combination of Zoho One apps (CRM and campaigns) let me set up a workflow for all new leads.

  1. The lead tracker sheet is free to use, however it is password protected to avoid accidental changes or deletion of formulas
  2. Once a visitor downloads the tracker by filling up the Zoho CRM form on the landing page, a new contact is created in the CRM
  3. CRM is integrated with Zoho campaigns. An automated introduction email is triggered to the new contact. This email contains the password to customize the lead sheet. Visitors see a note on the landing page that the password will be shared by email. This ensures that most visitors submit correct email addresses
  4. The intro email has a couple of links. Based on the prospect’s interaction with the email and the links, a workflow has been created and Zoho campaigns triggers those emails
  5. This workflow lets me nurture the new leads. Contacts that reach a certain stage in the workflow are qualified for a personal interaction

Does this lead generation process work for all?

The exact replica may work for some, not all.

However, the method is relevant for all. You need to identify a common pain point for your target audience. Find out easier keywords to rank. There are multiple tools you can use – Google trends, Ubersuggest, Answer the public etc.

Create high quality content for the shortlisted keywords. This will help you rank high and get regular free, organic and relevant traffic.

Have a clear call to action and a give-away to capture leads – email and / or phone number based on your audience’s preferred choice of communication.

Use other lead generation platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook etc. Regularly post interesting content linking back to your landing page.

Set up workflows as explained above to automate emails and nurture leads.

Spend time to find out more information about qualified prospects. Check their website and business profile on LinkedIn. Check information available on the internet – Google reviews, user reviews etc. Once you have done your research and the lead has reached the desired stage in the workflow, initiate a personal contact.

If you need help setting up a lead generation process and workflow, I’d love to talk to you. Send me a note. Happy Selling 😊

By Nitesh Verma

Founder - Business Management Blog

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