1. Start an email newsletter.
  2. Share a gated free guide.
  3. Share a gated discount code.
  4. Email-gate your free trial or free tier / product.
  5. Create a gated free report.
  6. Create a quiz, and email-gate results.
  7. Use social ads, with email capture built in.
  8. Create and promote an email-gated free course.

When you’re stuck on how to grow your business – including getting client leads or MQLs – lead generation ideas can get you unstuck. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, if you operate online, you should be focused on lead generation. Read on to get examples for the 8 ideas listed above. And then action your ideas – what will you do first?

Let’s get this out of the way: Do leads (i.e., busy people!) even share their email addresses anymore?

Lead generation is the fancy name marketers give to the process of finding potential customers for your product or service and engaging them.

The end goal is conversion — getting them to buy your offer.

But sometimes the process can feel like a real struggle.

Lizzo gif - you have to try

With so many distractions online, how can you possibly convince prospects to share their email address and open up their inbox to your advances?

By having an effective lead generation page and offering a lead magnet that your prospective customers will actually want. Not some free nonsense report an Upwork VA whipped together in the last 20 minutes. Something with real value.

So here are 8 tried and proven lead generation ideas you can use to grow your list. And give them the value they need to see before they pay you a dime.

8 lead generation ideas and how to use them

1. Start an email newsletter

Email newsletters can be a very rewarding lead generation tool when done right.

By sharing valuable content with your audience consistently, you build a relationship with them. This relationship makes it easier to convert them when you’re ready to pitch your offer.

The landing page example below is for Ann Handley’s successful newsletter Total ANNARCHY.

Ann Handley newsletter landing page - lead generation ideas

2. Share a free guide

If there’s something you can teach your potential customers how to do, use the opportunity to collect their email address.

Show off your expertise while helping your audience with a free guide.

Wordstream shares a free guide on their website with “25 ways to increase traffic to your website.”

Wordstream free guide landing page

3. Share a discount code

If you’re an e-commerce business, sharing a special signup offer like a discount code is a good way to generate leads for your business.

If your prospect is looking at your products, that discount offer is often effective at convincing them to signing up for your email list.

Just ensure that you actually deliver what you promised.

Phone case retailer Peel has a popup that promises “10% OFF your next order” when you sign up for their list. It’s a straightforward approach that is often effective.

Peel homepage with discount offer popup - lead generation ideas

4. Offer a free trial or free tier

If you’re a SaaS brand, a free trial or a fremium option is a great way to generate leads and get users to try your solution.

Armed with your users’ email addresses, you can take them through an onboarding sequence and eventually upsell them to a paid plan.

ClickUp does this well on their homepage with a promise of the app being “free forever.”

ClickUp home page

5. Share a special industry-related report

Industry reports provide insight that may not be readily available elsewhere.

If you’re in the B2B space, your prospects will likely trade access to their inbox for industry insights, especially if the information is current.

Social Media Examiner uses this technique by sharing a “Social Marketing Trends” report on their website homepage (above the fold).

Social media examiner home page example - lead generation ideas

6. Create a quiz

Who doesn’t love a good quiz? Quizzes do so well as a lead generation tool because we love learning about ourselves.

Pull in your audience with a short quiz then request an email address to share their results with them.

(You can learn more about building your own quiz here.)

Hair brand INH Hair invites website visitors to take a short quiz to find their perfect hair shade.

Upon completing the quiz, an email address is required to see the results. Even if you don’t buy right away, INH Hair is able to capture your email address for future marketing efforts.

INH Hair home page with quiz popup

7. Use social media ads

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can all be great lead generation sources when used effectively.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may find that a particular platform works best for your brand, based on where your customers spend time online.

For example, once you understand LinkedIn ads, they can be very lucrative if you’re operating in the B2B space.

8. Run an email course

If there’s something you know your audience would love to learn, you could create an email course.

Unlike a traditional course, an email course does not require you to record videos or go through an extensive planning process.

It could be as simple as “10 lessons on (insert topic) in 10 days,” delivered to your subscribers as 10 short emails over 10 days.

Another beautiful things about email courses is that they’re pretty much set-it-and-forget-it, but they don’t feel that way to subscribers.

Whether you choose to drip the course out daily, weekly, or with some other cadence, your subscribers will feel connected to your brand over time, based on the repeated exposure via email.

James Clear drips his email course daily over 30 days, and subscribers can sign up on his website homepage.

James clear home page with free email course

Nurturing the leads from your lead generation efforts

Once you start growing your email list with these lead generation ideas, it’s going to be important to engage these leads regularly by email.

This is where having an effective lead nurturing email sequence can come in handy.

In the Tutorial Tuesdays video below, Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers shows us how to write a lead nurturing email using a SaaS example.