Acquisition Channels & Lead Generation Strategies for Startups (Part 1)

Written by Spencer Cowley, Copywriter at BriefBid
lead generation strategies

Startup companies face a cyclical financial directive – find customers to find investors to find customers, and so on. While investors nurture a startup’s experiments, customers prove the team’s hypothesis: the startup is offering something that people are willing to pay for.

What separates the startups that grow the fastest is finding the most efficient way to acquire customers at low cost.

No matter how good a product or service might be, you can’t rely on word of mouth alone if you truly intend to grow and thrive. Customer acquisition is crucial to the life of any company, and startup companies ready to take the next step know that they need effective lead generation strategies on the right acquisition channels to succeed. 

In this article, we will cover how digital marketers can create long lists of high-potential leads using effective methods of reaching their audience.

How does lead generation strategy drive customer acquisition strategy?

To choose the right customer acquisition channels, you’ll need to be informed by a strong lead generation strategy. Lead generation is the conversion of familiar consumers to potential customers. Earning a potential lead can seem like a game where persuasion meets problem solving – a user who’s ready to buy needs to know why they should actually make the purchase.

But customer acquisition, then, is not just about knowing where to meet the right people, but how to meet them the right way (and how to keep meeting them until the shift is made – “fancy meeting you here!”). When strategic lead generation guides your marketing strategy, you’re approaching customer acquisition as an investment rather than just a game of chance.

How to build better lead generation strategies

Getting lead gen right is dependent on knowing your product or services and knowing your audience. With those in mind, you can begin to strategize ways to make those customer conversions.

With all of the available media and methods reaching your audience, performing some market research and testing different methods of user acquisition marketing will be a sensible place to start. Here are a few key ideas to remember when building your startup’s lead generation strategy.

Context is king

Contextual advertising thrives on the natural connection consumers make when presented with ads that fit in with other content that they are already experiencing. Being contextual with your ads gives you an edge because of this connection, making your creative actually offer value to the browsing consumer, rather than interrupting them. Your company can contribute to the conversation in which they’re already engaged, and invite them to try a new product or service related to a topic that they care about. Keeping context in mind when you’re reaching out to potential leads can position you as being worth the time.

Transitional CTAs lead to direct CTAs

Everyone enjoys free stuff, which is why offering free content or a free trial to one of your premium services can be an effective method of generating leads. This free content should be strategically advantageous to customer acquisition, while also being valuable enough to consumers to encourage them to seek more.

To fulfill both of those goals, you’ll need to offer a strong content marketing piece, like a white paper or ebook, or free access to products or services – but, these rewards can only be earned in exchange for something no frills like the consumer’s email address or other contact information.

This kind of exchange is the result of a transitional call to action (CTA), which is a valuable lead generation tactic. Direct CTAs, such as buttons to “Buy Now” on your product’s landing page, exist to initiate a purchase or other business transaction. Transitional CTAs should not be overlooked, because, as their name implies, they have the power to take a consumer from being a prospect to becoming a lead (and then, possibly, to becoming a customer), even when a consumer may have been too uncertain to follow through on making a purchase.

Securing some simple contact info is all you need to add a new lead to your email lists and empower a future email marketing campaign, getting you ready to retarget. And the price you paid for that email address? A piece of evergreen content that can keep on proving it’s worth as a means of lead gen.

Remember to react when opportunity knocks

In an age where social media dominates the public discourse and news spreads in seconds, virality is achievable with the right message shared at just the right time (and a bit of luck). It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or a multi-billion dollar company – you can earn the attention and adoration of the masses if you can capitalize on a viral situation with reactive marketing. 

One perfect example of reactive marketing is Relief’s response to the overwhelming popularity of Netflix’s hit series Squid Game. The Korean show featured a plot where massively indebted South Korean citizens were invited to join a deadly game for a chance to win millions in cash, promising to help them escape their financially troubled lives. The invitations to this game were delivered on mysterious business cards. Relief, an app-based debt firm startup, capitalized on this thematic connection by printing 10,000 lookalike business cards and distributing them in populous city centers. Relief’s business cards invited anyone with financial struggles to achieve relief from their debt through the help of artificial intelligence and collective bargaining (rather than participation in a life-or-death game). 

lead generation strategies - relief cards

This example proves how even small companies can captivate audiences and earn notoriety by capitalizing on what’s trending. Startups can also capture the spotlight for free. A simple tweet or a thrown-together meme made in minutes is all you need to dominate social feeds when the world is hyper-focused on one event. The important thing in reactive marketing is recognizing how your company is relevant to the public discourse of which you’re trying to commandeer.

Testing 1, 2, 3

As a startup working with less resources, you can’t always rely on pouring money into high-quantity inventory. Being deliberate in your advertising strategy also means being deliberate in the optimization of your advertisements. That’s why, whatever channels and platforms you decide to leverage, you’ll need to make testing a part of your routine. A/B testing different ad creatives can help you narrow down your best messaging and designs, while testing your ads on different channels will help you figure out where your audience is more likely to engage. Let the data lead you to more effective lead generation and more future customers making it all the way through the sales funnel.

Audience behavior can drive buying behavior

Modern tech platforms can collect and utilize a massive amount of user data that paint a clearer picture of how audiences behave. Through these tech vendors, advertisers can access insights into daily user behavior, like where someone is going, what they’re talking about online, and how they’re using their mobile device to carry out their day-to-day activities.

This means advertisers can build better audience segments than ever before, making ultra-effective, hyper-targeted ads achievable. Advertisers can feel more confident in reaching audiences with highly-specific messaging based on behavioral strategies like these.

If you can understand how a segment of your audience lives – what areas of the city they travel through, what brands and interests they’re mentioning on Twitter, and what apps power their chores and downtime – you can find new ways to reach them that actually make sense for your business and their online experience.

Where do I start generating leads?

Now that you have built a foundational lead generation strategy, you can start looking for the right customer acquisition channels to meet the high quality leads who will convert. Remember that various tactics like contextual targeting, transitional CTAs and reactive marketing can be effective methods for meeting your prospects in an engaging way. 

This article has been part one of a two-part series on lead generation and customer acquisition. In the next article, we’ll talk about customer acquisition channels and how to choose the best ones for your startup. 

Want to generate leads more effectively?

BriefBid’s media planning platform gives startups a foot in the door to discover new media vendors and plan effective advertising campaigns using tactics like contextual targeting. With a range of free media planning tools, you can start generating leads with any budget. Learn more about BriefBid and get started today!

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