Building a Lead Generation Business: 5 Models + Tips

Getting started with a lead generation business can feel like a daunting task. There are a ton of industries you might specialize in, numerous models to consider and plenty of best practices you shouldn’t forget.

Today we are covering everything you need to know for a successful lead generation business. We’ll also share our favorite tool of all at the end.

  1. What is a lead generation business?
  2. 5 different lead generation business models
  3. 5 tips for your lead generation business
  4. Userlike: your hack for a more effective lead generation business

What is a lead generation business?

While “lead generation business” can mean many things, at its most essential, it is a business that generates leads for other companies who then try to convert them into customers.

A lead generation business can play an important part in other companies’ success. By taking on the responsibility of generating leads, it frees the businesses that it works with from the pressure of constantly needing to generate leads on their own.

Another benefit is that a lead generation business can bring outside expertise. For example, while I was working as a Facebook ads consultant, I didn’t know much about some of the industries I worked in. But, my lead generation experience combined with my clients’ industry expertise made for a great combination.

5 different lead generation business models

There are numerous models that a lead generation business can follow when generating leads. There are pro’s and con’s to each, and it’s up to you to determine which models fit your working style best.

Let’s look at five of the models now, as well as some questions you might consider when getting started with your lead generation business.

Paid advertising

Being responsible for running ads aimed at lead generation for another company. This can happen on any ad platform that your clients advertise on.

LinkedIn advertising
LinkedIn is just one of many platforms you can generate leads on.

In starting a lead generation business focused on the paid advertising model, you will need to deeply understand how the platform you are using works. Depending on the business you are working with, the platform will likely be either Google, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Regardless of the platform, don’t forget certain advertising fundamentals. Ads will almost always function better, for example, with solid copywriting and an irresistible offer.

SEO content

Creating content for a company with the intention of generating more leads for them over time. This content will typically be paired with a signup form that allows the consumer to become a lead.

The Userlike blog
Our own collection of SEO content, which is one of the main drivers of lead generation at Userlike.

To effectively follow this model, you will need to create content that follows the "10X rule." This means that the content you create for a company isn’t just good – but 10 times better than any other resource on the web for the problem it solves.

While this can be challenging, the rewards are well worth it. That’s because most companies actually aren’t so skilled in creating SEO content for their industry.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind if you build a lead generation business through this model:

  • You need to be an expert in the field you are writing about, or at least combine great writing with superior research skills. After all, you are aiming for “10x content” here.
  • Content needs to be optimized for search. While this is a huge topic on its own, check out this Ahrefs guide to SEO optimized content creation.
  • Pair your content with a lead magnet that the business can offer. This will improve the chances at lead conversion.

Content syndication

Pushing a company’s content to other platforms or RSS feeds in order to drive more traffic to their site. With this model, you will typically be less focused on creating content for companies and more focused on promoting it in the right places.

NetLine for content syndication
NetLine, one of the content syndication tools you might use.

This is easier to get started with than the SEO content model because you aren’t actually creating the content yourself. You are instead publishing it in the right places with the purpose of driving targeted traffic to your client’s website.

Even though starting with content syndication is straight-forward and doesn’t require as much time investment as creation, the competition here is a difficult barrier to overcome. There are numerous options like NetLine (see above) that streamline the syndication process for companies. This can be difficult for your own lead generation business to compete against.

Cold email

Sending emails to potential prospects on behalf of a company with the intention of getting them to take action. This action can be anything from signing up to an email list to jumping on a sales call to signing up for a free trial of a product.

We have all heard horror stories about cold email as a lead generation tactic, and for good reason: do it wrong and it’s a waste of time. And that’s exactly what it ends up being for the majority of businesses that try it.

Businesses usually fail at cold email
This meme is sadly too accurate for most lead generation businesses.

That said, it doesn't have to be. Cold email, done right, can get you results for your client. It pays here to know how to write a cold email as effectively as possible. The trick is to make “cold” emails as warm as possible. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Personalizing your subject lines and email content to stand out from the crowd
  • Giving some sort of value in the first email without expecting anything in return
  • Prioritizing consistent (but not annoying) follow-up

Affiliate marketing

Leveraging another company’s audience audience to drive traffic to your client’s website or offer.

Two brains chatting

Affiliate partners, preferably blogs and magazines with high reach, will implement a link to your client’s website and receive a small commission if a purchase is made.

You can use existing affiliate networks like ShareASale that connect you to tons of potential affiliate partners, or you can build your own platform using affiliate marketing software. As existing networks charge an additional commission, it’s often smarter to invest some time and money in finding your own partners.

Here’s how your lead generation business will typically approach affiliate marketing:

  • Researching ranking websites/blog posts
  • Making a list of them and where they might place a link to your client
  • Contacting them individually

5 tips for your lead generation business

Become an expert in the industry you’re targeting

How much you understand your chosen industry is perhaps the biggest predictor of your future success with your lead generation business. The fact is, businesses want to hire lead generation experts, not generalists.

Userlike review
If you want better customer understanding, you need better customer relations. Userlike can help.

Only when you deeply understand the needs and pain points of an audience can you craft the material that will turn them into a lead for a company. So be sure to pick an industry that you know something about before you try to generate leads for it.

Don’t know so much about an industry? Pick one you’re interested in and become an expert.

Don’t be afraid to niche down even further

Now that you have your industry, it’s time to get even more specific. This will allow your lead generation efforts to be hyper-targeted (and more effective). Examples of niching include targeting a specific age group, location, or “sub industry.”

For example, let’s say you are starting a lead generation business for the fitness industry. More specific “sub industries” (or a niche within a niche) might include stay at home moms looking to get fit, people interested in starting with yoga, or seasoned powerlifters wanting to gain muscle.

Here are a few more examples of industries you can target along with more specific niches within each one:

Industries vs. sub-industries

Don’t worry about being too specific. The purpose here is for your business to be able to implement lead generation strategies that are incredibly relevant to your target audience. This relevance will result in a higher conversion rate and better results overall.

Work on a team

If you want to work with more than one or two lead generation models, you can’t do everything on your own. Consider hiring for these necessary skills: email prospecting, social media management, search engine advertising and client management.

Upwork website
Sites like Upwork allow you to hire talent for fair prices.

To save time and allow you to focus on what you do best, you might also outsource them cheaply on a site like Upwork. This can also allow you to expand your lead generation business to include different models you may not have used before.

Make sure you have high quality leads

You want to be sure that the leads you hand off to your clients are as good as possible. This keeps your clients happy with a higher conversion rate, likely results in more work for you, and can even be necessary for you getting paid if you use a “revenue share” model.

Screenshot of Userlike website
A tool like Userlike makes it easy to qualify leads.

Reliable ways to ensure high quality leads include:

  • Targeted ads. If you’ve followed the previous steps, you know how important precise targeting is in appealing to the exact profile you’re looking for.
  • Audience specific lead magnets. Let’s go back to our example of fitness niches. The lead you generate with a lead magnet titled “How To ​Increase Your Deadlift By 50 Kilograms In The Next Month” is usually going to be a higher quality than one that signs up for your ebook entitled “How To Get In Shape.” That’s because the first one has expressed interest in solving a very specific problem, which you can then provide the solution for.
  • A solid lead qualification process. For more information on this check out our post on qualifying leads.

Know your clients

Deeply understanding your clients is non negotiable, and ensures continued success at your lead generation business.

Understanding their brand positioning and goals gives you insight into how your services fit into their business plan. This makes it easier for you to provide assistance to them that is both customized and effective.

Here are some questions you might ask your client to better understand them:

  • How do you want to position yourself to potential leads?
  • What lead generation tactics have you tried in the past?
  • Which ones worked, and which ones didn’t?

Userlike: your hack for a more effective lead generation business

When you’re generating leads for other companies, it’s important to use the right tools. This not only makes your job easier, but gets you better (and faster) results for your clients.

An often overlooked lead generation tool is website chat. By implementing our website messenger on your client’s website, you are able to generate more leads and accompany them through their customer journey. That’s because Userlike allows your client to:

  • Understand their site visitors’ main pain points with the quick and easy conversation that live chat provides
  • Give potential customers the instant help they need with convenient on-page guidance
  • Quickly qualify leads with features like registration forms and proactive chat so they are able to focus on their most promising prospects

Watch our video on how the popular local skateboard shop Titus uses Userlike to improve their customer service.

You can also install Userlike on your own website to win more clients for your lead generation business. This gives you firsthand experience with the benefits of chat and puts you in the position to advise your clients about how they can use it as a lead generation tool.

And the best part of all? You can be up and running with Userlike in the next five minutes…no complicated coding required!

Want a more effective lead generation business?

Sign up here to get started with a free Userlike trial.