So much software, so little time (and potentially budget). This is the problem for a lot of small businesses. With such a vast array of lead generation software on the market but with a team, time and budget that stretches only so far, how do you choose/prioritise the software that is going to get your business the biggest bang for its buck?
Having been around the block a few times, and having started out as a small business ourselves, we’ve tested our fair share of lead gen tools and always end up circling back to the same ones.
If you’re looking for ways to level up your lead generation but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve put together a quick guide on what to look out for and we’ve even shortlisted our top ten lead generation tools for small businesses. Thank us later.
Where to start
First up, have a think about the type of lead generation tool you want to invest in/what is going to work best for the team and structure you have in place already. There are lots of different types of lead gen tools which serve different functions – so if you’re already pretty strong in one area e.g. SEO, perhaps you want to focus on an area which needs a little more help, like marketing automation. Let’s take a look at some of the different lead gen tool categories:
- Inbound lead gen tools: Drive leads to your website.
- Outbound lead gen tools: Discover and message leads via email, calls, social media, etc.
- On-page lead gen tools: Capture leads via your website (lead capture forms).
- CRO tools: Improve how many leads convert.
- Marketing management tools: Measure performance to enhance lead gen campaigns and target high quality leads.
- Email marketing tools: Create nurture campaigns to keep prospects engaged and moving through the funnel.
- SEO tools: Increase traffic generated by paid and organic to increase on-site leads.
What to think about
Once you’ve settled on what type of lead generation tool it is you’d like to invest in/explore – there are a number of other considerations to take into account such as:
Before you start looking, it’s a good idea to make a note of the ‘must have’ features vs the ‘nice to have’ features. For example, if you’re looking for a marketing management tool with plans to set-up some email automation such as an abandoned cart message, you might want to make sure it will integrate with whatever you use for stock management.
Presumably you’ll also have a budget in mind, so make sure when exploring different software that you understand the product pricing structure and whether multiples seats/subscriptions will be needed and thus will be covered by your budget, and whether an annual contract is required that would be difficult to end should you decide the software isn’t right for you.
Best lead generation tools
So, now you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, we’ve rounded up our favourite lead generation tools for small businesses across a range of categories. Enjoy …
Great for: Building email lists through lightbox pop-ups, floating bars and scroll boxes.
OptInMonster is designed to help you generate mailing list subscribers, leads and traffic. The platform boasts hundreds of pre-built templates (or you can build your own) which allow you to design a range of pop-ups which could feature anything and anything from a newsletter sign-up pop-up which triggers a discount code through to a flash sale pop-up displaying a time limited code.
There are plentiful options in terms of personalisation and segmentation so you can show the right offer to the right audience – with more flexibility available the higher your subscription tier.
Pricing: There are 4 packages available, starting at $9/mo (billed annually) for their basic package and increasing to $49/mo (billed annually) for their top tier Growth package. You can choose to pay monthly which costs more but would give you the option to trial for a few months before committing to an annual subscription. They also offer an unconditional 14-day moneyback guarantee if you aren’t satisfied after signing up.
Alternatives: Ninja Popups is a popular and affordable plugin available for WordPress sites and a good alternative for smaller businesses who won’t need advanced options and support.
Great for: Automating your Webinar efforts
Webinars as a B2B marketing tactic have a huge number of advantages. They allow you to establish yourself as a topical authority and provide you with an opportunity to reach, teach and connect with a relevant audience.
You can also use them to your advantage during different stages of the funnel – at the top to discuss broader industry challenges, or in the middle to highlight the benefits of your services/products.
A webinar also providers multiple touch points through which you can reach out to your customers to keep them engaged and increase your chances of capturing their business.
The downside, however, is that a webinar requires quite a bit of set-up and administration – from developing the webinar itself, through to setting-up the registration page, the landing page and all of the reminder and follow-up emails.
EverWebinar allows you to automate your efforts, focusing on on-demand webinars which give the appearance of happening in real-time:
- On-Demand Webinars – Users will find a webinar session about to start in a few minutes to give them the impression they’ve arrived just in time. They will also have the option to replay immediately or enter into an ongoing webinar.
- Live Chat – Since your attendees don’t know they’re joining a pre-recorded event they may want to post questions and comments as they would in a live webinar. With the live chat feature, the team can answer any incoming questions in the moment, giving the impression the webinar is live.
- Flexible scheduling – Pre-configure automated webinars on recurring days or specific dates to provide plenty of scheduling options to your audience.
- Live Chat simulator – Write or import your own chat history for the system to roll during the event. This makes the webinar feel like it’s happening in real time.
- Polls and Surveys – A good way to stimulate interaction with your attendees.
- Split testing for webinar landing pages – Track different variations of landing pages to see which performs best.
- Offer pop-ups – Can be used throughout as a sales mechanism.
- Full email and SMS - Schedule reminder notifications and post-webinar emails based on audience actions e.g. missing a webinar or leaving early.
- Analytics – View show up rates, dropout rates etc.
- Dynamic attendance – Choose to pre-define your desired attendance peak and the system will progressively build up the attendance count before curving down. Or you can keep attendance levels hidden if you prefer.
- Landing pages – Select from a template of mobile responsive landing pages with options to split test.
Pricing: At $499 a year, EverWebinar might seem like a bit of an investment but it’s important to consider the time you’ll be able to save. They also offer a 30-day-risk-free money back guarantee.
Alternatives: eWebinar is another automated webinar platform with similar functionality.
Great for: Small businesses who want to easily build websites, landing pages, pop-ups, alert bars and banners without Web Developer intervention.
Leadpages offer a few different services areas but our favourite by far is Landing Pages. Here you can pick from a number of templates which you use as a base to then DIY to suit your needs.
The landing page builder features built-in conversion guidance, unlimited lead collection (some competitor services charge the more leads you get), unlimited page publishing and super speedy page load times.
Custom landing pages are a great way to increase your Quality Score and subsequently engagement figures for paid ads, enabling you to match any ad and every campaign to a relevant landing page uniquely designed for a specific target audience. They can also be used for opt-in pages to collect subscribers, thank you and confirmation pages, sales pages and checkout pages.
Split test your pages and integrate with other lead generation tools such as Facebook, Salesforce, MailChimp etc. to really start to understand what works.
Pricing: The lower-tier Standard subscription is $37/mo billed annually. The Pro subscription offers some more advanced options and comes in at $74/mo. Pay monthly options are also available if you don’t want to commit. Free trial also available.
Alternatives: Landing page builders are available as part of a range of inbound marketing software platforms – though often on the higher tiers. HubSpot for example, offer a landing page builder on their Starter subscription which comes in at £38/mo. Mailchimp also offer landing pages on their Free subscription – though with more limited functionality than is available in Leadpages.
Great for: Businesses looking for a full CRM platform where they can unify marketing, sales and other functions.
HubSpot is a marketing, sales and service platform that, if used correctly can help businesses to attract visitors, convert leads and close and retain customers.
It’s broken down into different ‘hubs’. A marketing hub, a sales hub, a service hub and an operations hub – meaning you only have to subscribe to the parts relevant to you. It’s also pretty scalable, so there are some pretty cost-effective options for smaller businesses but with the opportunity to grow and expand your usage and modules over the time if/when required:
- Marketing Hub – Build landing pages, create workflows and automated emails, track your paid ads and consolidate your community management efforts.
- Sales Hub – Store contact data and interactions in one overview, create a shared inbox for email and chat that’s available to the entire team, automate chat conversations with conversational bots, or offer visitors a live chat option to get answers quickly. You can also schedule one-to-one emails for prospects, track emails and get notified when they are opened and clicked.
- Service Hub – Service Hub includes conversational tools, a shared inbox, help desk automation, knowledgebase functionality and a customer portal among other features
- Operations Hub – Clean, synchronise and keep on top of customer data.
Pricing: Pricing for HubSpot varies hugely depending on what modules you need and what features you’re looking for, but they do offer a free, albeit basic version which provides contact management, deal management and the ability to set some tasks and activities.
For the Marketing Hub, Customer Service Hub and Sales Hub, prices start of £38/mo and go all the way up to £2,624/mo for the Enterprise version, so speak to HubSpot for a better idea of what you might need.
Alternatives: There are tonnes of full-service CRMs that rival HubSpot – it really depends on your needs and budget. Mailchimp, Sendinblue, Zoho and Pipedrive are probably the most well-known alternatives that would be suitable for smaller businesses.
Great for: Small businesses who don’t have a designer/budget for a design work but who want to create professional looking graphics for social media and marketing materials.
In-house designers tend not to love Canva because it puts design into the hands of, well, non-designer folk. However, for small businesses where access to a designer is limited and work needs to happen quickly and efficiently, Canva provides simple to use and professional designs for social media templates, marketing materials, videos and presentations.
Pricing: Canva do offer a pretty great free version which provides access to 250,000+ free templates, 100+ design types, thousands of free photos and free storage for you to save your creations. However, for even more functionality and access to premium tools and content, you can go Pro for £99.99 a year or £12.99/mo (this provides access to 5 people), which is a pretty great deal. Education and non-profits also get free, premium versions of Canva.
Alternatives: VistaCreate is probably the closest alternative to Canva, with a similar layout and core functionality. They also offer a free package, with similar pricing to Canva for their Pro version.
Great for: Email automation, workflows and transactional emails.
Probably one of the most well-known inbound marketing platforms there is – Mailchimp is predominantly known for, well … email – allowing you to create and send engaging emails quickly and easily.
In more recent years, the platform has evolved to become more of an all singing all dancing full-service inbound platform, so you might find it ticks multiple boxes for you. From building a website, lead capture forms and campaign landing pages through to A/B testing, behavioural targeting and dynamic content – Mailchimp offers a lot of the services needed for a growing business.
Email, however, is still it’s hero service in our humble opinion.
Pricing: Pricing varies considerably depending on your needs, starting at Free for limited functionality and going all the way up to $299 for the Premium subscription. As usual there is a discount for annual payments but Pay as You Go Plans are also available.
Alternatives: See HubSpot alternatives.
Great for: Delivering personal and scalable customer support as well as onboarding and engaging customers.
Live Chat has fast become the preferential mode of customer comms for the masses. Now, instead of spending hours on hold, you can often resolve any issues you have quickly and efficiently with a live chat window running in the background to whatever you might be doing.
Intercom is a well-established live chat service that allows customers to chat directly when and where they need it and it provides a robust system whereby you can reply at the time or later and conversation history is stored for both you and the customer as well as a huge number of other services and features to help you build stronger customer relationships.
Pricing: Prices start at $74/mo (billed annually) for very small businesses, with a free trial available.
Alternatives: … See HubSpot alternatives.
Great for: Businesses looking to better optimise for conversions and improve User Experience.
If you’re looking to understand how your users behave on your site, HotJar provides a number of services which will give you this insight. Our two most used features are:
- Heatmaps – These visually represent where users click, move and scroll on your site so that you can better structure your pages and CTAs.
- Recordings - Another incredibly useful feature, providing playbacks of site visitors in the wild scrolling, moving and clicking on your site – great for spotting problems, pain points and bugs.
Pricing: A free Basic package is available which covers up to 35 daily sessions. Plus and Business packages are also available for €31/mo and €79/mo respectively and are again based on session volume, with Plus allowing up to 100 daily sessions and Business starting from 500.
Alternatives: Crazy Egg is another website optimisation tool offering similar features and functionality.
Great for: Businesses looking to up their SEO game.
SEMrush isn’t strictly just an SEO tool, they position themselves as a marketing platform for SEO, content marketing, competitor research, PPC and social. Indeed, SEMrush does offer all of these services, but we predominantly use it for SEO purposes as that’s the bit that really sings for us. Our favourite SEO features:
- Site Audit – Run an audit of your site to get a full list of any technical issues which need resolving.
- Keyword Research – Level up your keyword research with a plethora of useful metrics and filter. Check out competition level, keyword difficulty, search volumes, intent and more.
- Rank Tracking – Our most used feature, track day-to-day rankings for your target keywords across multiple locations and devices in one single dashboard.
- Backlink Audit – Run an audit to help you understand how healthy your backlink profile is, carry out backlink gap analysis to identify other sites linking in your niche but not yours and set-up outreach campaigns from the link building tool.
- Competitor Analysis – Take a deep dive into competitor keywords, backlinks, ad campaigns and best performing content.
Pricing: The Pro subscription is suitable for marketing newbies or smaller businesses and starts at $119.95/mo.
Alternatives: Try Ahrefs and MOZ.
Great for: B2B businesses who want to identify companies who have visited their website.
Leadfeeder identifies the names of the companies visiting your website. Granted that sounds a little bit creepy but it gives you a chance to turn anonymous visits into actionable opportunities:
- Contact leads more quickly, pipping competitors to the post before they might even be aware of them.
- Identify ready-to-buy leads who you know have already visited your site.
- Build better sales pitches and anticipate needs using information such as what content leads are interested in/what pages they have been viewing.
Pricing: A Lite package is available free of charge which provides limited features that shows the last 7 days’ worth of leads only. If this doesn’t provide enough scope, you can opt for Premium at €79/mo and a two-week free trial.
Alternatives: Lead Forensics offer a similar service of identifying anonymous visits but in our experience are a bit pricier and potentially more suited to larger organisations.