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People hate ads.

Although marketing is still at the core of any business success, we wouldn’t want you to stick with just the traditional advertising methods.

Because it might not work for today’s “anti-advertising” generation (Dropbox learned that the hard way).

We here reveal stories of how certain businesses generated leads and customers, and earned revenue.

Ten Creative Ways of Generating Leads And Customers:

1. Customer Referrals

In their startup phase, Dropbox discovered that “paid search”, albeit effective, didn’t yield the best results.

They were spending $233-$388 to acquire a new consumer for their $99 product. So, naturally, Dropbox was not happy with AdWords, affiliate program and other advertising efforts they had invested in. Their revenue was suffering.

So, they switched to a new experiment – customer referral.


Dropbox encouraged their existing customers to send out invites to their friends, with the incentive that they would get free extra space for every new user who accepted the invitation and signed up.

Result: 2.8 million invitations were sent out over a period of just 30 days (I also got one). Signups increased by a whopping 60%, boosting Dropbox’s user base by 400 million and counting.

In short, this customer referral program was a huge success (although getting an explainer video helped Dropbox gain 10 million more consumers … more on explainer video below).

Among other success stories, PayPal too reports of seeing 7% to 10% daily growth rate thanks to their referral program. (But they dropped the bonus rewards once the targeted number was met.)

Amazon, Airbnb, Uber and Evernote also generated customers through their referral program, the best thing being that it yielded quality leads a lot more quickly than traditional advertising methods.

Takeaway: Give your existing customers referral rewards such that they would be motivated to reach out to their friends and generate high quality leads and customers for you.

2. Quiz

People consider quizzes to be fun and thus can’t resist to try it out… little do they know that quizzes have turned into marketer’s secret weapon to capture their email addresses for lead generation.

For instance, Funifi reach out to its target audience (parents) with an engaging parenting quiz (What Type of Parent Are You?), and in the process captured 2,700 emails of prospective leads in just a matter of 3 days.

Components of An Effective Lead Generating Quiz:

  1. The topic of the quiz should be highly relevant to your customer base. For instance, Funifi’s consumers are largely parents, and hence the “What type of parent are you?” quiz attracts parents and brings in highly qualified leads.
  2. Make it easy for people to share the result of the quiz over their social profile such that they can get the word out to their friends and bring in more leads.
  3. The cover should be irresistible. The quiz should have a visual appeal and the language should be enjoyable.
  4. Generally, 4 to 6 questions are the standard for quizzes when you are aiming for lead generation. After all, you don’t want a prospective lead to abandon the quiz by boring them (and their brains) with too many questions.

Most importantly, demand for their email address right before giving out the result. The need to know the result will overpower any misgivings and make them give out their email address.
Death Wish Coffee also had their opt-in form placed right before unveiling the result, which helped them get richer by 146 new subscribers in 1 day.

(Indeed, you could have also asked for the email address up front i.e. right before starting the quiz but that restriction would have resulted in fewer people taking the quiz.)

3. Testimonials, Customer Reviews & Ratings

When choosing between two similar apps, why do we also install the one with the higher download rates? Why, when your friend orders something, you too want to order the same thing? Herd mentality.

Explored in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book “The Tipping Point” as well as in Jimmy Doherty’s documentary “The Human Swarm”, herd mentality is a concept suggesting that we humans think and behave like members of an animal herd, not making our own decisions but rather imitating what others are doing.

Testimonials have the same effect. 63% of prospects are more likely to purchase after reading a good customer review.

Hence, collecting good testimonials and customer reviews is essential for converting visitors into leads and customers.

Components of a Good Testimonial:

Testimonials can help boost the sales by 18%, if done right.

For example, the following testimonial from a Quicksprout customer is not essentially a bad testimonial. You can see the customer’s name and picture… but it still is not convincing. The tone is rather promotional or, should we say, salesy.


But this one looks credible, since it speaks of the problem that the customer faced and the actual results from using the product.


Moreover, you will also notice the website address of the customer, another factor that boosts credibility. Overall, this in-depth consumer story has been written nicely (the typo surely adds to the appeal).

No wonder, the detailed testimonial helped Quicksprout to gain 11.3% more sales than the short one.

Again, don’t just stick to the traditional text testimonials. Try video testimonials.


Learn from Silverpop’s use of video testimonials and follow suit to incentivize the fact that videos can be more convincing than their text counterparts, telling the viewer that it’s not a fake testimonial and the product really works.

Takeaway: Don’t just sit back and wait for customers to give their feedback. Request and help your happy customers in writing a good testimonial for your business. And, put those valuable testimonials on the homepage and the page with the price models (as well as any other page that gets most visited).

4. Squeeze Page

Squeeze page basically squeezes out the email address from a website visitor, and hence the name.

Again, creativity is the name of the game.

Traditionally, offering free ebooks in exchange of emails was the standard squeezing technique but there are other smart ways too.

Like using videos.

Backlinko used a video on their squeeze page, which converted traffic into leads at an insane 21.7%. In simple words, the squeeze page with the video helped Backlinko capture the email addresses of 812 highly qualified leads.


Side bar forms do help capture emails but they don’t necessarily obstruct the visitor from accessing the content and don’t demand compulsive interaction. Squeeze pages on the other hand are like babies, demanding for abrupt attention. Like pop-ups and splash pages.


Pop-ups are the most common example of squeeze page. You can encounter one on most website blogs,

But there are the good ones and the bad ones.

Here’s an example of a bad pop-up. It kind of looks like an ad, doesn’t it? A better way would have been to use a white background which would have complemented the website’s feel… better yet would be adding a thumbnail of the video to give it the visual appeal and pique the interest.


Here’s how a good one looks like.
See the difference? This pop-up looks clean and credible, and makes use of the herd mentality factor to motivate visitors to sign up, by telling you that 500,000 marketers are already using the service. It certainly doesn’t look like an ad.

Still, the greatest squeeze page I have encountered would be that of Quora. It lets you read a little of the content and then, boom, this popup appears asking you for your email address (for better measure, it even blurs the answers). Quora has adopted a less obtrusive pop-up recently.


Splash Page

According to this usability research by Jacob Nielsen, 95% of people found pop-ups to have a negative effect on their user experience.

A better alternative would be a splash page. Any visitors coming to your website homepage would stumble onto the squeeze page, covering the full page.


It generally includes two call-to-action buttons, one asking the visitor for an email sign up and the other CTA button to let them access the website.

5. Media Coverage

Mashable, Entrepreneur, Hubspot, Techcrunch, Like Hacker, Fast Company, Business Insider… there’s obviously more of these “A” ranked blogs around, and they all have a huge following.

Getting covered by any of these top media blogs would give your business credibility.

Thousands, if not millions, of people will discover you overnight. Hundreds, if not thousands, will visit your website and turn into qualified leads.

You will be seen as an industry leader, and the next sales pitch would be a piece of cake.

All this is possible if you have got a really good product that solves a consumer problem. Olark does.


How To Approach The Bloggers For Coverage Request?

These high ranking blogs get lots of pitches from everywhere, every day. The first challenge would be to stand out with a good email… something like this. Hubspot loved it.

bryan_harris_guest_post_pitch_example-1a) The founder of the business himself/herself should send the mail. It makes the blogger happy.

b) It should be short and to the point, and the language should sound friendly (do not use “to whomever it concerns”).

c) Use visual content such as infographics and videos in the email such that even if they forget what they have read (because they would be reading so many other email pitches like yours), those visual content, especially videos, would ensure that you remain in their mind for a while longer.

6. Explainer Video

People love videos. Videos are 41% more likely to get clicked than its text version. Moreover, videos get shared 1,200% more times than links and text combined. In that sense, your explainer video can you get a large number of organic backlinks and generate leads.

Case Studies and Numbers

You must have heard how an explainer video helped Dropbox get 10 million extra consumers and earn $48,000,000 in extra revenue. (Even Steve Jobs came knocking on their door but Dropbox refused to be sold).

Rypple also saw 20% conversion thanks to their explainer video, and sold to Salesforce.

Not only that. Email click-through rate increase by 200-300%. Business deals were won in 7 days. Complex software gestures explained in seconds.

All because of a short 1-2 minute explainer video, which businesses would put up on their homepage and share over social media and sales pitches as a quick demonstration of their awesome product.

The best thing is that explainer video increases the likelihood of purchase by a whopping 85%. So, any prospects who sees your explainer video would be 85 times more likely to turn into a customer.

How To Generate More Leads Through Explainer Video?

  • Use the Dropbox strategy. The reason why Dropbox’s explainer video could help get 10 million extra customer signups is because they limited their landing page to just the explainer video and signup.


  • Likewise, Rypple and Crazy Egg (and many other businesses) saw more conversion when they put their explainer video on the above-the-fold portion of their landing page.


Generating Leads Is Nothing. Converting Leads Into Customers Is Everything.

CaseComplete had hundreds of leads and saw thousands of unique visitors every month. But what they wanted was customers.

So, they decided to use an explainer video aiming for at least 5% conversion (i.e. 50 customers from every thousand visitors).

The result was far better.


The Casecomplete explainer video boosted the conversion by 23% (i.e. 230 customers per thousand visitors).

Crazy Egg also saw an increased conversion rate by 64%, leading to $21,000 extra income per month i.e. over 250,000 extra revenue on yearly basis.

Takeaway: Explainer Video not only generates leads but converts the prospects into customers.

7. Offer Valuable Content For Free (In Exchange For Email, Of Course)

Most landing page converts visitors into leads by offering the prospects something of value to them for free of cost, the only criteria being that you have to give your email address to get that free but valuable stuff.

In most cases, this free content would be in the form of free ebook, case studies, white papers, free course or product demo.

If you are an online retailer then, provide sales offers. Groupon does just that, by sending exciting sales offers to its subscribers in a visually appealing newsletter format.
A video course is also a great idea to capture leads, not only because people have a soft spot for videos but rather since video analytics will tell you which leads watch your video till the end and therefore are ready for a call from your sales team.

Takeaway: If the content appeals them, the targeted visitor will not hesitate to subscribe. And, you can send them promotional emails/newsletters to boost your sales.

8. Sharing Visual Content Over Social Media Generates More Likes, Shares and Social Proof

Social media is an important platform for reaching out to leads and engaging with them.

Understand that each “like” or “share” can be seen as a potential lead.

Moreover, since social profiles reflect the life of the real people, you will understand more about your target audience and tailor your content and services to suit them.

Regarding content, the trends on social networks reveal that visual content, especially videos, memes and infographics, are more effective in garnering likes and shares than plain text post.

The All Powerful Social Proof:

Social media is where you flirt with your consumers and try to win their hearts.

Offering valuable content will make prospective audience take a liking to the client’s product or business, and persuade them to share the same over their timeline and influence them to act as the brand ambassadors.

Business pitch doesn’t work here. What works is the social proof. It can boost conversions by 68.7%.

The social proof can be a client testimonial or recommendation. Or even user generated contents like pictures and videos.

GoPro uses the idea of “contest” to motivate users to generate content for them.


Social proof can also be the engagement metrics (number of views, likes, shares, etc.) and interactions or conversations with consumers (responding to the good reviews, comments and mentions or addressing the consumer complaints, issues and questions).

Takeaway: Social proof is anything that tells a new prospect that the product works, and motivates them to like and signup for the product. The social proof is important as it influences prospects to buy into the product.

9. Co-Marketing (Business Partnership)

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

Well, that’s the principle of co-marketing.

It’s sort of a business partnership wherein you connect with businesses that complement your product and recommend that business to your customers in exchange for the other business doing the same for you.

Quicksprout happens to reveal that in their startup phase, business partnership was their biggest acquisition channel, driving over 40% signups.

Here’s an example of co-marketing between Rankwatch and Unbounce.

Unbounce features Rankwatch as its business partner.


Rankwatch returns the favor, and even offers 50% discount for customers

10. Speak At Industry Events and Conferences

As a marketer or an entrepreneur, have you ever stopped to wonder that you know not only Apple but its founder Steve Jobs too, not only Google but Larry Page too, not only Quicksprout but Neil Patel too?

Apparently, revealing the face of your business helps people to remember and connect more with the business.

Speaking at business events and conferences can help you establish your business as an industry leader, as well as do networking with large and small businesses who can turn out be valuable business partners.

For instance, here is Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter) speaking at the Y Combinator Startup School (free to attend). Watch it here on YouTube if you want some valuable business insights.


Moreover, you can also upload those conferences videos on your website and YouTube as well as share over social media as a means of branding and, of course, to lure in prospective leads.

If you are looking for conferences and industry events, then Eventbrite, Inc., Icon, LeanStartup, Hostingcon and YourStory are some great websites to find one.

Takeaway: Seeing the human factor behind the business also builds trust among prospects and makes them confident to strike a deal with you.

Deepasha Kakkar

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