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6 Lead Generation Tactics That Can Give Startups a Big Boost A small difference can mean a big difference in the long run, but getting to that point can be arduous at best.

By Thomas Smale Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Generating a steady supply of new leads and building your pipeline is a critical part of developing a profitable business. However, it can be a challenging process. The upside to resource-intensive campaigns, constant A/B split testing and content-marketing initiatives is often a marginal improvement in your conversion rate, which can be frustrating. A small difference can mean a big difference in the long run, but getting to that point can be arduous at best.

That's assuming you even know where to start. If you're lacking inspiration on how to generate leads, here are some you can put to use right away.

1. Build your social media presence.

This might seem pretty obvious, but social media costs you nothing unless you're using it to advertise, which means free off-site promotion for your startup.

Related: How to Get 60 Leads in 24 Hours With a Landing Page and a LinkedIn Group

In particular, focus on visual marketing. Use platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest to catch the eye of consumers and prospective buyers. Share attractive-looking photos, not just of your products and services, but also of your team members, corporate events and other aspects of your business that your potential leads might be interested in.

Remove the barrier between you and your audience by refusing to be just another faceless corporate entity. Use the human element to your advantage.

Furthermore, in addition to your own content assets, remember to share interesting articles and videos you find across the web on your social profiles. Curated content sometimes performs better than your own content, and can also allow you to build relationships and partnerships with other businesses.

2. Increase the number of opt-in offers on your site.

Common sense dictates that if you have more opt-in opportunities on your site, and they are actually valuable to your audience, that you're going to get more signups. You don't have to rely exclusively on the signup forms on your sidebar or at the end of every blog post, although those are great places to focus on.

You can turn every piece of content into an opt-in offer. The key is to make the offer so attractive that your website visitors can't help but click to download the resources you're making available to them. PDFs, ebooks, reports, white papers, webinars, demos and other assets can all be leveraged, and by increasing the number of offerings, you can also test to see what your website visitors like most.

You can also use popup tools such as Hello Bar to make sure your visitors see your offers.

3. Remove friction from your signup forms.

Even willing leads are going to abandon your forms if they aren't easy to fill out. They should be so brainless that anybody that comes to your landing page doesn't have to go back to correct errors after hitting the "Submit" button.

At the very least, you need to do a good job of highlighting the errors so that your visitors know exactly what they need to correct. Fortunately, this is not a complicated process. All you need to do is install some simple JavaScript on your site. This will enable your visitors to make corrections in real time rather than after they've already filled out the entire form once.

Additionally, you might consider simplifying your signup forms by removing unneeded fields. The more fields your visitors have to fill out, the more friction you're ultimately going to create.

Related: 3 Ways Your Startup Can Earn the Trust of Prospective Clients

4. Answer questions on Quora.

Off-site promotion is crucial to establishing your business presence early on. In addition to tactics such as guest posting, answering questions on Quora can also be a good way to become a recognized industry authority and gain more followers and subscribers in the process.

Quora is a question-and-answer forum site where virtually every topic under the sun is discussed. By entering relevant industry keywords, you can view popular discussions and weigh in with your own opinion -- if it makes sense to do so.

As long as you focus on providing worthwhile, value-adding answers, more users will become interested in clicking on your profile to find out more about you. You can provide links to your website as well as your social-media profiles on your Quora profile.

5. Develop a custom 404 page.

You might be surprised to find how many of your website visitors land on a 404 page because of an outdated link or missing page. You can actually turn this into a lead-generating opportunity in a variety of different ways.

For example, you could provide a signup form for one of your opt-in offers. You could also make your visitors aware of a new product. Whatever you want to promote, you can turn a potentially annoying experience into a value-adding one.

Even something as simple as directing your visitors to the most popular posts on the site can make a tremendous difference.

6. Understand the basics of color psychology.

Color is more important than you may think, especially when it comes to call-to-action buttons. Where a color such as yellow might be associated with fun or humor, green might evoke feelings of harmony and love.

In other words, there's more to a button than you may think. It isn't just the copy you use. Its effectiveness is also going to be contingent on placement, shape, and yes, even color.

Take some time to learn about the fundamentals of color psychology the next time you're putting together a landing page or a call to action. Contrast colors tend to work well for call-to-action buttons, and complimentary colors are fine for less important buttons.

Final thoughts

Lead generation ideas can be hard to come by unless you are regularly in the habit of brainstorming. Implementation can also take a great deal of time and effort, but if you're willing to stick with the process, you'll be able to increase conversions and attract more leads for your business.

Ongoing, consistent effort is required to produce a steady stream of leads. Experiment, test, tweak and focus on the most effective strategies. Balance your set-and-forget efforts with work you will be doing on a continual basis.

Related: 9 Pieces of Wisdom to Get Your Lead Machine Running at Top Speed

Thomas Smale

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Co-founder of FE International

Thomas Smale co-founded FE International in 2010, growing the business with zero funds from scratch to a seven-figure-a-year business. Specializing in advising and brokering the sale of established websites and online businesses, FE International has completed over 300 transactions. Smale has been interviewed on podcasts, blogs and also spoken at a number of industry events on online businesses, exit strategy and selling businesses.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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