6 Lead Generation Strategies From Fast-Growing Startups

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startup lead generation

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a webinar on lead generation strategies with the incredibly knowledgeable Tim Paige, Conversion Educator at LeadPages.

LeadPages is a dynamic software company headquartered in Minneapolis – and they’re growing fast. They just launched in 2012 and already have millions in revenue from over 30,000 customers. LeadPages hit a $3.5 million run rate nine months after launching and are now growing at a rate of about 20% each month.

Tim and I got together to share the lead generation strategies we’ve used to build our companies far quicker than most are able to achieve. My own company, WordStream, is now seven years old and has grown 677% in the last three years, to $6.6 million in annual revenue.

So how do you DO that?

Have a look at what LeadPages learned from processing over 4 million opt-ins a month and how WordStream used PPC to increase revenue and clients ten-fold in three years!

1. Create a LOT of Opt-In Opportunities and Make Them Irresistible

Webinars, free reports, live demos… don’t stop at just one or two opt-ins. Turn every blog post into an opt-in page. You can give away recipes, PDFs of your blog posts, worksheets, resource guides and more.

startup lead generation

Get the opt-in box out of the sidebar and make a pop-up. Force users to make a decision. Do you want this or not?  It’s easier to say no when the option is just sitting there in the sidebar and saying no is as easy as ignoring it.

startup lead generation


In testing, this increased conversion by 32%.

You can’t make them say yes, but you don’t have to make it so easy for people to say no.

2. Always Be Testing – But Test The Right Way

Getting great advice is a good thing, but it’s dangerous to think that because it worked for someone else, it’ll work equally well for you. That doesn’t mean you should ignore great advice, but that you need to test, test, test – and do it right.

Split test even where you think you don’t need to. Sometimes the results amongst your audience will seem counterintuitive, but this is why testing is critical.  In this test, for example, you might think the use of “my” or “your” would have little effect.

startup lead generation


The treatment actually resulted in 24% fewer conversions!

Point of view can be impactful. In this test, changing “your” to “my” resulted in a 90% increase in conversions:

startup lead generation


Other aspects you’ll want to test for are immediacy, concreteness, images, and more. Split test your headline, your button copy, and your background image. The results might surprise you, but you’ll be making better, more informed optimizations.

3. Make Landing Pages Clear and Easy to Take Action On

Tim shared their best-ever converting landing page; check it out:

startup lead generation

Why is this so effective? Tim explained that it doesn’t require the user to process very much information, like a 3-minute video or a whole page of copy would. It outperforms a free report because a lot of people are feeling information overload and don’t want to download something even longer to read.

Video lead magnets have suffered an image problem lately, in part because of the proliferation of launches and lack of time. For these reasons, this landing page was a hot performer. It also helped that people genuinely want to know which tools other people are using and this fulfills that desire.

Anyone can do this – dentists, plumbers, architects, whoever. This type of page can be set up in under a half hour and is definitely worth trying out.

4. Write Better Ads!

I’ve been saying this for a long time and it’s still true – most ads just suck. They’re boring, they’re all the same, and one isn’t any more compelling than another.

Take a look at these ads:

startup lead generation


If you’re the searcher, you really have no reason other than price to choose one over the other. This is what I call an AdWords Jackpot for an advertiser. When everything looks the same, there’s a huge opportunity to come in with something different and blow the competition away!

Writing better ads can raise your CTR above the expected average, giving your Quality Score a boost. Learn more about writing killer ads and how doing so can lower your costs per click in Going Unicorn Hunting: The Secrets Behind Ads with 3x the Average CTR.

5. Give Better Offers

Unless you’re one of the very top advertisers, there’s a ton of room for conversion rate improvement. In fact, the top 10% of landing pages have conversion rates 3x to 5x the average. How do they do it?

One creative way is to give better offers. This is far more meaningful than your typical, run of the mill optimizations – changing button color, font type, spacing, etc.

Every software company offers a free trial. Every plastic surgeon offers a free consultation. What do you have to offer that is unique, compelling, and offers real value to the visitor?

For us here at WordStream, it meant rethinking our standard free software trial offer. We decided to offer a free AdWords Grader, instead.

startup lead generation


Conversions went through the roof! We had found something non-committal that people could actually use and weren’t asking them to take all the steps of downloading, installing, and then actually using our software. To date, this has proven to be one of our most effective lead generation strategies.

If your conversions are 2% or lower, you need to try something drastic like changing up your offer big time. Small optimizations will beget small results. The top 25% of advertisers have an average 5.31% conversion rate and the top 10% are hitting over 11%, on average! You have a ton of room to grow.

6. Go Nuts With Remarketing

Remarketing enables you to tag site visitors and get back in front of them as they go about their business around the web, checking their email, watching YouTube, searching Google and even hanging out on Facebook.

startup lead generation


It helps turns abandoners into leads, which is huge considering that 97% of people will leave your landing page without converting. Remarketing amplifies the effect of all of your other marketing activities – content marketing, social media marketing, etc. – by positioning you in front of your audience again.

Remarketing using the Google Display Network gives you 92% reach in the U.S., across millions of websites, videos, and devices. We’ve found that remarketing ads fatigue is about half the rate of regular ads, so be aggressive!  Use our Remarketing Cheat Sheet to get started.

Rapid Growth Needs Serious Lead Generation Strategies

Tim and I have seen great success in our respective companies and at a far faster clip than average. If you want to grow and grow fast, you need to prioritize your lead generation strategies and use tactics like the ones we’ve recommended above to get as many qualified prospects as possible into your funnel.

Want to learn more? Check out the full slidedeck from our Lead Gen webinar and leave any questions you have in the comments!

This post originally appeared on WordStream, and is re-published with permission.
Featured Image: Peshkova via Shutterstock
Larry Kim

Larry Kim

CTO and Founder at WordStream
Larry Kim founded WordStream in 2007. Today he serves as company CTO and is a contributor to both the product team and marketing teams. Larry... Read Full Bio
Larry Kim
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  • Hi Larry,

    Great post. Lead generation is very important for our business and we constantly trying to play around with landing pages, call to action etc. We will try and implement some of you advice. Thanks for sharing.

  • Excellent info, I am currently doing some research on how to generate more leads for my business through landing pages. Thanks for your post.

  • I have been working hard to make my ads more profitable and increase the ROI so I would say that your post has helped me. Also making landing pages more clear and adding opt-in forms at various locations will surely help me capture more and more leads.
    Thanks for sharing this post!

  • Hannah

    Thank you for this article. As a marketer sometimes you just need a reminder of the other things you could be doing. I have done remarketing campaigns for other clients, but didn’t really think about doing a campaign for my company. DUH!

    I also found the AB testing you mentioned very insightful. I would have thought the “your” listing would generate a higher conversion rate (mostly because that is the way you usually see it listed). Who would have thought the “my” would convert more?! Thanks for the reminder that even the littlest tweaks can help with conversions.

    What I learned, don’t overlook anything.

  • After these strategies I can make my work more effective, thanks man 🙂

  • Hi Larry,
    Thanks for very informative information. For fast growing start ups, We need follow above mentioned points particularly landing page details. So giving special offers also helps to improve the business very well at the early stage. Most important thing is writing a best ads attract many visitors but most ads they do not.

  • Does point 1 also help in reducing bounce rate as the pop up box will count for the first page?