Last updated: January 12, 2019

Reading Time: 25 minutes

Last updated: January 12, 2019

Reading Time: 45 minutes

Actionable Lead Generation Strategies to Fuel Sales


Lead generation is tough. There are no magic bullets. No tricks that will solve all your problems. Only testing, testing, testing, testing, and more testing.

That said, it doesn’t mean there aren’t quick wins or ways to blow up your funnel.

If you are struggling to get started or looking to build on an existing strategy, go through the content below. These outlines and templates are guaranteed to help any business.

TACTICS

STRATEGIES

TOOLS

TEAMS

Tactics are the sexy part of lead generation. Here you’ll learn the most clever moves from some of the industry's smartest marketers, ready for you to copy and deploy.

All the tactics in the world are useless without a game plan. Get proven templates for how to assemble a demand generation strategy for both beginners and pros.

What’s marketing without the marketing stack, right? Here we’ll talk about the best tools for implementing your lead generation strategy and how to save precious cash.

Assembling a good demand generation team can be stressful. Figure out who to hire first, how to scale your efforts, and how much to pay everyone—including yourself.

TACTICS

Tactics are the sexy part of lead generation. Here you’ll learn the most clever moves from some of the industry's smartest marketers, ready for you to copy and deploy.

STRATEGIES

All the tactics in the world are useless without a game plan. Get proven templates for how to assemble a demand generation strategy for both beginners and pros.

TOOLS

What’s marketing without the marketing stack, right? Here we’ll talk about the best tools for implementing your lead generation strategy and how to save precious cash.

TEAMS

Assembling a good demand generation team can be stressful. Figure out who to hire first, how to scale your efforts, and how much to pay everyone—including yourself.

Part I: Lead Generation Tactics


Below are 40+ lead generation tactics from some of the industry’s smartest marketers, from Gary Vee to Dennis Yu to Josh Fechter. Unlock them for yourself.

Content Marketing Tactics (17)

Here are the most effective content marketing tactics for lead generation. Guaranteed there will be at least one tactic you’ll be able to implement immediately.

See all content marketing tactics

Social Media Tactics (27)

In the last five years, I’ve generated more leads at a lower cost with social media than any other lead generation program—bar none. Follow these tactics to do the same.

See all social marketing tactics

More programs coming soon...

Download 100+ free templates

Check out the biggest collection of lead generation resources in the biz, from budgeting templates to forecasting sheets to hiring guides. Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel when it’s figured out for you!

Get Free Lead Gen Templates

Part II: Lead Generation Strategies


Building a lead generation strategy is difficult because you and your team are under a lot of pressure to deliver results—fast. This need for speed, however, is usually at odds with budget, resources, and a strong marketing foundation with which to work.

Here’s a high-level process you can follow to set yourself up for success:

  1. Get wins on the board to build trust with leadership and other teams.
  2. Prioritize tactics you can execute to demonstrate program-by-program results.
  3. Once lead generation programs are delivering results, move on to tackle more involved projects.
  4. Take big swings and get significant wins under your belt.

This process of getting quick wins and laddering up will give your boss confidence that she hired the right person while helping you build credibility and political capital.

Step 1: Get quick wins on the board

Quick wins can be tough to nail down because every company is different.

Start with a high-level view of your customer journey. Are there bottlenecks or blockers at any of the following stages that could be easily resolved to get immediate results?

For example, is there a bad review on Yelp that’s lying there like a dead dog on your doorstep, repelling people who come across your business? If you remove it by making things right with the reviewer, you could get an instant, measurable lift in traffic.

Or maybe your reviews are great, but your listings are wrong and people can’t find you.

Or maybe there are broken links in your retargeting ads.

Or maybe you don’t have good lead magnets on your blog posts.

Or maybe you could double appointment bookings by adding a scheduler to your website.

Or maybe you could triple traffic by updating your blog’s URL structure.

The point is, quick wins can come from any stage of the customer journey, depending on the size and maturity of your business. Here’s a list of common ones for every phase:

  • Awareness
    • Implement lead form campaigns on social
    • Launch branded & unbranded search campaigns
    • Run outbound campaigns to LinkedIn connections or scraped lists
    • Attend conferences or shows that offer affordable booths and attendee lists
    • Sign up for industry associations with promotional opportunities
    • Host a third-party webinar, white paper, or case study opportunities to generate leads for a set CPL.
  • Findability
    • Implement quick SEO fixes to your site, such as repairing broken links.
    • Correct wrong listings on directories like Google, Bing, Yelp, Citysearch, etc.
    • Look for missing and/or incorrect listings on directory sources.
    • Go after Google Snippets that you can rank for easily.
    • Revise low-hanging content that already ranks in spots 10-25 on Google. Push more traffic to it from internal pages and build links quickly.
    • Update old posts and republish on the current date.
  • Reputation
    • Contact people who left bad reviews to resolve the situation
    • Turn good reviews into testimonials to publish and promote on social
    • Solicit new reviews from satisfied customers
  • Conversion
    • Add instant demo feature to your site and connect leads directly with sales
    • Add welcome mats and slide-ins to blog posts
    • Add pop-ups to your website (people hate them, but good ones convert)
    • Search and social remarketing on past site visitors
    • Revamp current nurturing campaigns that could use improvement
    • Add lead magnets to top-performing posts that lack a good CTA
    • Improve bad lead magnets on top-performing content
  • Advocacy
    • Ask current customers for referrals
    • Implement simple affiliate tool to generate affiliate leads
    • Survey customers to see if upsell or cross-sell opportunities are on their mind
    • Ask best customers if they are interested in co-marketing

There are countless places to start, but the key is to play to your strengths and get a few wins as early as possible.

What would I do to get a quick win?

Since a lot of my personal experience is running Facebook campaigns, I would step into a new job and implement two key tactics off the hop—Social Lead Ads and Does Your CXO Know?

I can pretty much guarantee that would bring in leads for $10-$50 each at the flip of a switch. I would then take 1-2 weeks to put together landing pages that compare my business to its competitors and promote the pages via search and social. Someone who is less comfortable with PPC and more comfortable with email marketing might decide to collect email addresses and reach out with a proven cold campaign instead.

Moral of the story? Don’t spend weeks trying to do everything above. Instead, leverage your skills to do something you know will work asap.

Step 2: Prioritize tactics for key programs

Once you have a few wins on the board, it’s time to assemble key lead generation programs and prioritize tactics in order to build a strong foundation.

Key programs include SEO, SEM, social, email, events, content, PR, and more.

For simplicity’s sake, create a spreadsheet and list all of the tactics you want to try for each program. This could be under one tab if your team is small or spread across multiple tabs separated by program or role if your team is bigger.

Since not all tactics are equal in terms of time and resources needed for execution, you need a prioritization method to make sure you’re getting the best return on your time.

This is where the PIE framework comes in handy.

The PIE framework (adopted by HubSpot and others) helps you prioritize tactics by using three criteria, each scored on a 10-point scale:

Potential: On a scale of 1-10, rate the potential impact a tactic will have on achieving your goal. The greater the impact, the closer it should rank to 10.

Importance: On a scale of 1-10, rate how important the tactic is overall. Sometimes there are urgent projects that might not have high potential but need to get done, such as building reports or implementing pixels.

Ease: On a scale of 1-10, rate how easy it is to carry out a particular tactic. If something is technically difficult, requires a lot of time to implement, or needs buy-in from others, it should score lower on the scale; if it’s easy, fast, and requires no sign-off, it should score higher on the scale.

Once you rank each of the three criteria out of ten, take the average of the three scores to calculate the final PIE score and sort your backlog.

Overall, you’re looking for the highest impact initiatives for the lowest amount of effort.

Once you’re finished, do a gut check. Are the best ideas near the top? Discuss with your team and adjust scores as necessary until everyone feels good about them.

It’s good to review these backlogs in a weekly or bi-weekly planning meeting and make sure they’re up to date. As you hire people to own the various programs, those people should be responsible for keeping the backlogs current.

Now that your tactics are prioritized, assign them to the appropriate team members. This is when it’s handy to have a task management tool like Asana or Trello. Most tactics have a dozen tasks or more, so track them in an organized system.

Step 3: Tackle messaging and content

As you work your way down your backlog, there will come a point where you run out of low-hanging fruit and need to move onto bigger fruit higher up the tree.

At this point, you want to step back and make sure you have your foundation in place.

Your foundation starts with messaging.

In other words, you want to make sure your story is dialed in.

Without question, Standford’s Why Change research provides the best model for crafting a sales message that converts. Set aside 1-2 weeks with your leadership team to work through this framework and solidify your story. Don’t rush! The research shows your ROI will be up to 300% higher if you follow the formula.

The reason I suggest starting with quick wins instead of high-level messaging is that oftentimes the quick wins can be achieved with the company’s current message. It will also take longer than you think to lock down new messaging, so you want to be sure that you’ve got a steady stream of leads flowing in before setting aside weeks to wordsmith.

Once your messaging is locked down, it’s time to turn your attention to content marketing.

Content marketing, beyond any other lead generation strategy, is the secret to scalable growth. You need to generate content to rank organically and hit home-runs on social.

There are a lot of ways to get content, but hands-down here are the best methods:

By interviewing different people from your leadership team, documenting internal projects, and putting together a pillar show from which microcontent can be created and promoted, you can create a rich supply of valuable content to fuel your campaigns in short order.

Step 4: Take big swings

No risk, no reward—right?

If you’ve followed the three steps above, you’re well on your way to establishing predictable, scalable lead generation.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your growth curve was steeper, though?

If instead of a slow and steady trend upward, your numbers shot off like a rocket launch?

Truth is, “hockey stick growth” is 99% of the time the result of a big swing.

Examples: changing pricing, launching your own conference, hiring a high-profile PR firm.

Kieran Flanagan, VP of Growth for Hubspot, says, “Since big swings require more resources and take longer to execute, drawing on your political capital and credibility in the process, it’s important to make the right bet.”

How? HubSpot identified two key ways to hone in on the right big bets:

  1. Speak with other teams working on the same things you’re considering so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Gather learnings to produce results faster.
  2. Do the math to make sure that, if successful, the big bet will significantly increase a key metric.

Both are key. It’s far easier to sell an idea to leadership if you can show them that someone else has executed it successfully and explain how they did it.

Before jumping in, do the math to make sure the outcome justifies the investment. Determine a baseline conversion rate, do some sensitivity analysis on the impact of conversion improvements, and then project the impact on revenue. Moreover, make sure the experiment impacts a meaningful metric, not a vanity metric. If you can create a significant increase in revenue—not just leads, for example—move forward.

At the end of the day, nothing will propel your career forward faster than taking big swings. Even if you’re a risk taker, however, wait until you’ve built up enough credibility from other wins before swinging for the fences.

Download 100+ free templates

Check out the biggest collection of lead generation resources in the biz, from budgeting templates to forecasting sheets to hiring guides. Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel when it’s figured out for you!

Get Free Lead Gen Templates

Part III: Lead Generation Tools


Scott Brinker’s industry-famous martech diagram lists almost 7,000 tools available for marketers. Each tool is categorized into one of 6 main categories and 50 sub-categories.

If you’re looking for a tool in a particular area, go to the following spreadsheet and filter by category and sub-category. Not all of them are related to lead generation but a lot are.

Want to know which tools I specifically recommend for lead generation? Download Lead Generation Resources: Tools, Templates & Tactics. In it, you’ll find 70+ recommendations for the best lead gen software, as well as 101 recommendations for free tools.

Download 100+ free templates

Check out the biggest collection of lead generation resources in the biz, from budgeting templates to forecasting sheets to hiring guides. Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel when it’s figured out for you!

Get Free Lead Gen Templates

Part IV: Lead Generation Teams


Lead generation professionals who know how to acquire, nurture, and convert customers are in higher demand than ever. They are expected to have a deep understanding of the lead generation process, all while working endlessly to shorten the sales cycle.

When building a demand generation team, the most important factor is finding a good balance of skills rather than trying to plug a predetermined amount of holes.

In The 6 Types of Demand Generation Marketers, Bizible does a great job of breaking down the different types of demand gen personalities. Start by reviewing each of these and then discover which ones you should hire—and when.

The Content Machine

“Content machines come in two flavors,” says Bizible. “The writer-first and the marketer-first." The writer-first comes from an English or fine arts background; the marketer-first cares about the process and structure of generating business via content. Both types can churn out content at volume. They are also masters of reusing and repurposing content. If choosing between writer-first and marketer-first, some argue to go for the writer first because it’s harder to teach writing than domain experience. I suggest doing the opposite. Go for the marketer-first because it’s more about what you say than how you say it (as long as their writing meets a certain standard, of course).

The Data Junkie

Ever feel like you’re drowning in data but thirsting for insights? Data Junkies are the figurative lifeguards who make sure that doesn’t happen. They identify trends, raise insights, and ensure everything’s tracked appropriately. Data Junkies come from a lot of places. Some of them defect from the corporate finance world—sick of banking, insurance, or government work—and find themselves stumbling around start-ups. Others have a background in development and don’t look at you funny when you say SQL or API. Sometimes it’s hard to convince leadership to hire one early because they may not contribute directly to lead growth, but don't want too long. Err on the side of sooner than later.

The Community Builder

“Whether you’re building an online community or creating a portal to talk to your early adopters,” Bizible says, “you need a people person. The kind that can spark a collective consciousness, recruit people to your cause, and listen well.” Chances are, you can picture marketers like this. Social butterflies who are great at documenting every moment of the day, connecting with people, and have a hundred ideas at any given time for how to engage with their followers and spark conversations. They’re extroverts who thrive off relationships and often have a great sense of humor and a warm, welcoming aura. Lead generation programs best suited to the Community Builder are social and content marketing

The Big Spender

It takes money to make money, and the paid media manager's job is to spend your money wisely. Usually an early hire, the Big Spender is an experienced marketer who can generate leads at the flip of a switch for a reasonable cost. He controls his budget meticulously, finds hidden optimization opportunities, and ensures that paid social and paid search are profitable channels. The best Spenders are half artist, half scientist. They can craft copy that stands out and speaks to your brand, as well as leverage advanced PPC tools and make decisions off continuous testing. Lead generation programs that best suit the Big Spender are: PPC, advertising, and paid social.

The Superstar

Close your eyes and picture the influencers in your industry. The keynote speakers at all the events, the evangelists getting interviewed on every podcast. That’s the Superstar. Some companies are lucky to have stars as their founders; others seek them out. “This isn’t an easy hire,” says Bizible. “They must have a personal brand and a deep-seated passion for your industry. How do you know when you’ve stumbled upon them? Give the evangelist a customer scenario to talk about. You should feel as though the evangelist understands the full range of your emotions, what worries you and what inspires you.” When you’ve got a Superstar, you’ll find it’s easier to get speaking spots at conferences, secure news columns, and get PR coverage. On the flip side, it’s difficult to measure their performance.

The Demand Gen Dev

The Demand Gen Dev (who I’ve added to Bizible’s list of six demand generation marketers to make it seven) is a rare breed of developer who somehow found himself in marketing and loves it. Like a regular developer, he can whip up web apps, wrestle with APIs, and update the company website in his sleep—but that’s just the beginning. Thanks to his unique marketing streak, he knows how to scrape contact information for outbound campaigns, set up A/B tests to improve conversion, and dig into the technical elements of SEO, social, and just about any other program to automate processes and improve results. Lead generation programs best suited to the Demand Gen Dev are: SEO, content, social, outbound

The Icebreaker

The Icebreaker can get past any gatekeeper. She can find the right person in any organization and connect with decision makers thanks to her persistence and creativity. Sometimes this person is an outbound sales development rep (SDR), while other times she’s a marketer assigned to work closely with SDRs to generate appointments and presentations. It depends if SDRs report to marketing or sales. Either way, it’s a valuable hire if you have an inside sales team reliant on outbound calling or account-based marketing.

The Unicorn

Unicorns can do it all. They’re enviously creative, extremely data-driven, and highly personable on top of being charismatic speakers and capable developers. As you can guess, unicorns are rare. Chances are you can’t afford them. Instead, look for overlaps when building your demand gen team. It might not be possible to find one person who can “do it all”, but if you can cover all seven of the other skills with two or three people, that’s a great start. Whenever you’re able to hire, fill the gaps and strengthen the team’s weakest areas.

When should you start hiring demand gen?

Many recruiters say start-ups and small businesses should focus on finding growth marketers with diverse skills in multiple marketing areas as opposed to specialized roles in the beginning. Demand gen generalists can often “growth hack” their way to $10M annual recurring revenue as soon as possible.

From $10M to $20M is when a lot of recruiters recommend that you consider hiring a director to build out a full demand generation team consisting of specialists.

Here’s Jason Lemkin’s take on the question:

Jason Lemkin says...

When should you hire your first demand generation marketer?

My overly specific rough rule is about $20k in monthly recurring revenue (MRR). I.e., usually much, much earlier than you might think.

Why? Assuming you are growing reasonably quick, a head of demand gen at even $20k in MRR can be accretive over the next 12 months. In a recurring revenue model, you want to make every accretive hire you can. Don’t wait. Each $1 you bring in may be worth $10-$20 over the lifetime of a customer.

So if you can hire a VP of Demand Gen today and she can bring in say $200k in additional revenue from improving the funnel, BDR management, demand gen campaigns, webinars, events, whatever…hire her today!

Who should you hire first?

The answer, of course, is “it depends.”

Start with your strategy and think about which skills are needed to get there fastest.

If you manufacture aircraft parts, the number of potential buyers might be small and you may want to lean toward an account-based marketing strategy that requires a good content strategist more than a PPC specialist or community manager.

On the other hand, if you sell yoga pants to privileged sorority girls in California, you could probably use a Big Spender who can book you into private tradeshows or an industry Superstar who’s great at influencer marketing.

Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice if content marketing is important to your business:

Gary Vaynerchuk says...

If I had to build a team of three people, I would hire one writer, one creator of video and pictures, and one content distributor with a backbone in paid.

One person has to write. One person has to create the videos and pictures. And one person has to know how to distribute it contextually to the places where the attention is. I would have that last person grounded in paid. I mean, everyone’s ideological about organic. But to me, it’s like when there’s something to buy that’s a deal and you have the money, buy it. And that’s what I think Facebook and Instagram ads are right now.

Some people separate graphics and video. I put them in one. It is rarer for that same person to also be a great copywriter. It is rarer for that person to also be able to be great at Facebook and Instagram ads or distribution. So one writer, one video/pictures person, and one distributor. That’s the triangle.

Demand Generation Salaries

Versique’s Demand Generation Salary Guide is a leading resource for salary information of demand generation positions across the US.

Most of Versique’s data is collected from individuals in New York, Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Austin, and Denver. As they do not have direct access to pay stubs or W2s, responses are taken at face value. To eliminate outliers and ensure accuracy, salary ranges are calculated using 80% of relevant data points. For example, if the listed salary range is $115K to $130K, it means that 80% of the data points will fall within that range.

The following salaries summarize what candidates are currently making. If your organization is looking for a director of demand generation with 10 years experience, that candidate likely makes a salary towards the top of the market value range.

VP of Demand Generation

Start-Up

SMB

Enterprise

N/A

$164,000 - $181,000

$198,000 - 221,000

VP of Demand Generation often requires 15+ years of experience and is very involved in building an organization’s tech stack and ensuring that the team has the best resources to be successful. VPs of Demand Gen lead the overall strategy and direction of 5+ marketers and is typically tied to pipeline growth and aligning marketing with sales. In some instances, inside sales may report to this role.

VP of Demand Generation

Start-Up

N/A

SMB

$164,000 - $181,000

Enterprise

$198,000 - 221,000

VP of Demand Generation often requires 15+ years of experience and is very involved in building an organization’s tech stack and ensuring that the team has the best resources to be successful. VPs of Demand Gen lead the overall strategy and direction of 5+ marketers and is typically tied to pipeline growth and aligning marketing with sales. In some instances, inside sales may report to this role.

Director of Demand Generation

Start-Up

SMB

Enterprise

$112,000 - $128,000

$126,000 - $153,000

$149,000 - $171,000

Director of Demand Generation is considered one of the most sought-after roles in demand generation. Companies typically look for people with equal strategic and tactical skills. Depending on the organization, a director of demand generation will have anywhere from 1-5 direct reports. The ideal candidate would have the ability to develop overall strategy but wouldn’t mind rolling up his sleeves to aid with tactical execution as well. This position often requires 7-10 years of experience.

Director of Demand Generation

Start-Up

$112,000 - $128,000

SMB

$126,000 - $153,000

Enterprise

$149,000 - $171,000

Director of Demand Generation is considered one of the most sought-after roles in demand generation. Companies typically look for people with equal strategic and tactical skills. Depending on the organization, a director of demand generation will have anywhere from 1-5 direct reports. The ideal candidate would have the ability to develop overall strategy but wouldn’t mind rolling up his sleeves to aid with tactical execution as well. This position often requires 7-10 years of experience.

Demand Generation Manager

Start-Up

SMB

Enterprise

$64,000 - $87,000

$74,000 - $95,000

$76,000 - $102,000

While director-level roles are in the highest demand, manager roles are the hardest to recruit for due to the variance in skills required to be successful. Managers should be experts in marketing automation but should also have experience building and executing campaigns from scratch. This role requires 3-6 years of experience and is often the point where most professionals determine whether they want to go down the demand gen path or the marketing operations path.

Demand Generation Manager

Start-Up

$64,000 - $87,000

SMB

$74,000 - $95,000

Enterprise

$76,000 - $102,000

While director-level roles are in the highest demand, manager roles are the hardest to recruit for due to the variance in skills required to be successful. Managers should be experts in marketing automation but should also have experience building and executing campaigns from scratch. This role requires 3-6 years of experience and is often the point where most professionals determine whether they want to go down the demand gen path or the marketing operations path.

Demand Generation Specialist

Start-Up

SMB

Enterprise

$44,000 - $57,000

$47,000 - $61,000

$49,000 - $77,000

No one goes to college to study demand generation (at least not yet) so these professionals typically learn on the fly. People in this role are generally responsible for executing campaigns that support marketing initiatives and reporting on the results. The position requires 1-3 years of experience.

Demand Generation Specialist

Start-Up

$44,000 - $57,000

SMB

$47,000 - $61,000

Enterprise

$49,000 - $77,000

No one goes to college to study demand generation (at least not yet) so these professionals typically learn on the fly. People in this role are generally responsible for executing campaigns that support marketing initiatives and reporting on the results. The position requires 1-3 years of experience.

How to negotiate your salary + bonus

Unlike other areas of marketing, demand generation is intensely performance-based and linked directly to revenue. While compensation structures vary greatly from business to business, here are a few tips and tricks for negotiating a fair deal.

First of all, your bonus should only be related to the metrics that you can influence.

For most demand generation leaders, it makes sense that you tie this to the core goals of your role. If you’re in an acquisition role then you could span this by channel goals (grow organic by x%, generate x% leads from paid, etc.).

Leadership may argue that your bonus should be tied to revenue targets, but respond by explaining that lead generation is a front-of-the-funnel activity and there’s a lot that happens out of your control between a qualified lead and a closed deal. If they are unwilling to compensate on marketing qualified lead (MQL) targets, nudge the goalpost closer to sales. They may be more likely to compensate on sales qualified leads (SQLs), sales accepted leads (SALs), presentations booked, or presentations completed.

As far as actual compensation goes, this depends heavily on your company and how well you handle risk. Most of my friends in public companies lean on equity over cash bonuses since so those assets are fairly liquid to them. If you prefer cash in the bank, ask for that.

As far as your salary goes, evaluate it based on the metrics that you own and the impact on the bottom line they’ll have, plus the size of the team you’ll be managing. Refer to the salary guide in the previous section and compare it to ranges in your city.

Matthew Barby says...

One negotiation tip I have for a role like head of demand generation is to secure headcount for a more senior channel head (e.g., head of SEO, etc.) that would come close to wanting near your salary. If you find an outstanding candidate and you have to offer a higher salary (within 10-15% of yours) then you’ll likely get a bump yourself to bring you in line. You need to rely on them to do the right thing. It’s a great thing to have behind you going into negotiations that someone junior to you is close to your salary.

What's next? Steal my resources!

Check out the biggest collection of lead generation resources in the biz, from budgeting templates to forecasting sheets to hiring guides. Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel when it’s figured out for you!

Get Free Lead Gen Templates