Need a lead generation website? Good news! You’re in the right place. If you’ve decided to handle lead generation in-house instead of outsourcing to a lead generation company, this article will explain everything you need to know.
In this comprehensive guide I’ll cover:
- 6 affordable tools to build your lead generation website right away
- 15+ helpful resources to enhance your lead generation platform and increase your conversion rate
- 3 advanced lead generation tactics to get a leg up on the competition
- An execution plan to put these resources and tactics to work for your business
So if you want to generate more leads with your website, this is the guide for you.
Let’s get started.
Your Lead Generation Website Toolbox
Whether you’re paying for top of the line software or building free lead generation websites, the key components are the same.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for your lead generation website shopping trip.
- Domain name. First, you’ll need a place for people to find you.
- Web hosting. This is the home for your site.
- Email service provider. This is how you’ll contact the leads you generate.
- Landing pages. This is where you’ll send your ads and blog posts so that you can convince your visitors to give you their contact information.
- Forms. This is how you’ll collect visitors’ contact information.
- CRM. This is where you’ll store your leads’ contact information.
- CMS. This is how you’ll manage your content marketing.
- Image editor. This is what you’ll use to make your campaigns look good.
- Marketing automation software. This makes lead generation and nurturing easier by automating the process.
- A web analytics service. This allows you to measure your results to see what’s working and what’s not.
That’s a lot of stuff. Fortunately, you can find free options for every component (even a domain name). There are a lot of great cheap lead generation tools out there as well. So there’s no reason not to get started.
This guide will walk you step-by-step through the process. First, I’ll give you what I call the “Quick Start Guide to Lead Generation Websites.” If you only read that, you’ll be well on your way to generating your own leads.
Then, if you want to know more, keep reading for the in-depth guide. That’s where I’ll share over 15 resources you can use to build your own lead generation website.
Disclaimer: My wife doesn’t like me to spend money on cigars, so I put affiliate links in this guide in order to pick up a few sticks from time to time. That means that if you make a purchase through one of the links that follow, you’ll be helping an old man take a few moments to relax and savor the finer things in life.
Quick Start Guide
If you’re in a hurry, these are the basic tools you’ll need to start generating leads on your own. Then you can determine whether or not it’s worth it to pursue a more robust in-house strategy.
If you’re successful, you can spend more money on better tools (you might want to invest in a paid lead generation website builder, for example). If not, you can take another look at one of those lead generation companies or try to find a consultant.
WordPress is a free content management system that makes it easy for beginners to put together professional-looking lead generation sites. It’s not specifically a lead generation website builder, but it has a lot of great free themes (take a look at the latest default theme, Twenty Seventeen, for example), and free plugins (like Yoast SEO) to make your life easier.
HubSpot CRM is a free customer relationship management solution that allows you to organize and track all of your leads so that no opportunities slip through the cracks. It integrates with HubSpot Marketing Free, HubSpot Sales Free, and MailerLite so that you can hack together a full-featured marketing automation tool at no cost.
Email & Marketing Automation
MailerLite makes it easy to build an email list and conduct email marketing campaigns. Better yet, it also includes free marketing automation functionality so that you can automatically welcome new subscribers, follow up on leads, and implement automated lead nurturing campaigns.
Canva makes it easy for beginners without graphic design experience to create professional graphics. Use this for call-to-action images, social sharing images, and anything else that requires graphical elements.
Look for Digital Advertising Credits
Just about every digital advertising network (e.g., Facebook, AdWords, Bing Ads) offers free advertising credits (usually from $50 to $100, but sometimes more). Often they’ll come with your web hosting (Bluehost does that, for example).
It’s won’t be enough money to adequately test digital advertising for your brand, but it will allow you to learn some of the basics and start generating some traffic to test your shiny new lead generation platform.
You’ll Also Need…
You will have to pay for two things: web hosting and a domain name. Fortunately, they’re very affordable.
You can get cheap web hosting (and a free domain name with certain plans) from companies like Bluehost.
Ready to build your lead gen site?
Time needed: 59 minutes
Now you know enough to be dangerous. Here’s how to build your own lead generation website in less than an hour.
- Buy web hosting.
I use BlueHost, but anything should work.
- Choose your domain name.
This is included with most web hosting plans.
- Install WordPress.
There’s a one-click install option available on almost all shared web hosting plans. (Look for MOJO Marketplace, Softaculous, or Fantastico.)
- Choose a WordPress theme.
- Set up MailerLite.
This is where you’ll build your marketing automation and emails.
- Sign up for HubSpot’s CRM.
You’ll need this to track leads as they flow through your pipeline.
- Build lead generation websites.
That’s all you need to get started!
Want to know more? Keep reading!
The In-Depth Guide to Building a Lead Generation Website
Finding a free domain name is tricky, and probably not worth the risk. Depending on where you get it and what extension you choose, you can typically find a domain name for $2 to $15. But there are also some free options out there. And this wouldn’t be a complete guide to building free lead generation websites if it didn’t include somewhere you could find free domain names.
This is a big part of your brand so choose wisely. It needs to be easy to remember and easy to say. Avoid numbers, hyphens, hard to spell words, homophones, and anything else that could confuse people when they’re trying to remember your address.
Like I said, free domain names can be risky, but I wanted to provide a truly complete guide to creating free lead generation websites. So I found a no-cost option for everything. That way you can start generating leads without spending a dime on anything. Then when you start bringing in some revenue you can begin to upgrade to bigger and better things.
If you’re willing to accept the risk that you might lose your domain for some unforeseen reason, here’s a free option:
As long as your website doesn’t contain any adult related content, content related to gambling, or content related to weapons, you can get a free .tk address. You’ll need to have your actual site hosted somewhere else (we’ll talk about hosting next).
This isn’t great for SEO (because it’s a redirect), and there are reports that once you start generating traffic, the company will take the domain name back and direct it to their ads. So “buyer” beware.
If you’d rather go ahead and lock down your domain name, you’ll want to go with a paid option. This is the route I’d recommend. You can save money on other things, but when it comes to your domain name, go ahead and pony up the dough.
It won’t cost more than $15, and you’ll be able to build your brand without having to worry about directing people to a new site a year from now.
Bluehost (and most shared web hosting providers) will actually give you a free domain when you sign up for hosting with them, but they do charge for hosting, so the domain name isn’t exactly free.
If you decide to sign up for paid web hosting (which I recommend), just make sure you choose a plan that includes a domain name. Then that part is taken care of.
Most .com addresses are only $8.88 a year here.
This is where your free lead generation websites will live. You won’t need anything fancy, just a reliable web host that can handle the level of traffic you’ll throw at it (which probably won’t be much at first).
These free options require the ability to use a command line interface (CLI) to launch your site, so it requires a bit of technical prowess. (If you use a Chromebook, you can launch your site from a cloud-based IDE like Cloud9.)
You can use a custom domain or one of the free alternatives mentioned previously with Firebase. Here are instructions on how to deploy your site to Firebase.
You can use a custom domain or one of the free alternatives mentioned previously with Surge. Here are instructions on how to deploy your site to Surge.
Web hosting is another area where you really get what you pay for. Deploying to one of the free web hosts above can be a pain, and they limit your CMS options. For example, you can’t use WordPress (or Drupal, Joomla, or almost any other popular CMS) with Firebase or Surge. There are some options that will work (like Jekyll), but they’re not as easy to use. (Siteleaf is a promising option that I haven’t tried yet. It might make things easier, and they have a free plan.)
This is the only other area that I recommend you go ahead and drop some cash. Web hosting is cheap, and most plans come with a free domain name. So you’ll actually only be paying for one thing for all of your (almost) free lead generation websites.
I use Bluehost. I used to use them, then I quit using them because their customer service sucked. Then I started back because I got a good deal. I’ve been happy to find that their customer support is way better now.
Also, if you decide to use WordPress, they give you a free SSL certificate (if you don’t have one of these, Google will flag your website and warn visitors that your site is insecure).
A good option for creating landing pages should be one of your top priorities. This is where you’ll send people who click on your ads, and it’s where you’ll hope to convert visitors to leads and leads to customers. Choose carefully!
In addition to email and marketing automation, MailerLite offers landing pages with their free plan. They’re nothing fancy at the moment, but MailChimp says they’re working on enhancements. But they’ve recently made a lot of changes to their pricing structure that might make it less suitable for marketers looking for a free option.
Drip is only free up to 100 subscribers, but their marketing automation is waaay better than MailChimp’s.
There are a lot of paid options out there, like LeadPages and Unbounce. But if you’re already using (or have decided to use) WordPress, you can find free templates and plugins to generate landing pages.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
You’ll need a CRM to keep track of your interactions with prospects. That way you can keep up with what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in and send them relevant content.
With all the ridiculously expensive CRMs out there (Salesforce, Marketo, etc.) you might be surprised to learn that there are actually a lot of great free options. And the one I recommend isn’t from some random startup you’ve never heard of.
In fact, it’s one of the most trusted names in sales and marketing.
That’s right. HubSpot’s CRM is free. For life.
HubSpot’s customer relationship management solution allows you to organize and track all of your leads so that no opportunities slip through the cracks. It lets you have unlimited users and contacts, so you can stick with the free version until you’re need some of the other features they offer (e.g., blogging).
It integrates with HubSpot Marketing Free, HubSpot Sales Free, and MailChimp so that you can hack together a fairly robust lead gen platform on the cheap.
Why would you get a paid CRM when HubSpot’s is free? Here are a couple of reasons:
- You need more features than HubSpot offers with its free plan and you want everything in one place
- You don’t like HubSpot and you don’t want to get locked into their ecosystem
Zoho is a great CRM with a free plan you can try, and then scale up later. Their pricing is more affordable than HubSpot, but they don’t provide all of the features (like blogging for instance). If you’re going to use WordPress for your website and blog, you won’t need that from HubSpot, so Zoho might be a good alternative. I don’t have a ton of experience with it, but in my limited to use of Zoho, I’ve found it to be one of the better cheap lead generation tools on the market.
Content Management System (CMS)
If you plan on doing content marketing or any sort of blogging on your free lead generation websites, you’re going to need a CMS. A CMS makes it easy to manage frequently updated content.
There are a lot of free options (e.g., Drupal, Joomla), but my go-to CMS is WordPress.
WordPress is free, easy to use, and it has a huge community building templates and plugins (a lot of which are free or have free versions). It does have some security issues that you have to be aware of and fix. Fortunately Yoast SEO has a great article on how to secure your WordPress site easily. (By the way, Yoast SEO is a must-have free plugin if you decide to go with WordPress.)
A lot of the paid CMS options out there are really expensive. HubSpot is awesome, but it costs $200/mo to access their blogging feature. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives, so do some research first.
Ghost is a sleeker, more secure WordPress. It also has a lot of features to help with SEO.
Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal. If you’re trying to reach people through your Facebook page or Twitter account, you’re at the mercy of a corporate behemoth with no interest in helping your company grow. If one of these companies decides they can make more money by making it harder for you to reach your audience… poof. You disappear.
On the other hand, with email you’re at the mercy of corporate behemoths who, while they don’t have an interest in helping your company grow, they know that if they don’t deliver the emails people are expecting to receive, people are going to start switching email providers.
One thing to remember when choosing an email service provider (ESP) is to make sure they have good email deliverability. Some ESPs are lazy and more worried about making a quick buck than long-term growth. Spammers have a nose for these sorts of providers and use them to send out their junk mail.
Gmail and other email providers pick up on this activity and start sending more emails from that ESP right to their users’ spam folders. Don’t let Gmail find you guilty by association. Do your research when choosing an ESP.
Continuing their recent tradition of creating free options for every possible marketing need, HubSpot’s email marketing is now free! You can use their drag-and-drop editor to design your emails, schedule emails in advance, and of course it all integrates with their free CRM.
MailerLite is an easy-to-use email marketing tool. It also includes free marketing automation functionality so that you can automatically welcome new subscribers and implement automated lead nurturing campaigns.
Unfortunately, MailerLite doesn’t allow you to send emails based on website traffic.
Once you reach a certain number of subscribers, your email service provider will begin charging you to use their service. Then you’ll have to compare their functionality to that provided by other paid options.
If you’re looking for more functionality just upgrade to a MailerLite paid plan. The paid plan removes the MailerLite logo from your emails, adds popup functionality, and a lot of other features.
When it comes to forms, you just need something that will get the job done. It definitely needs to work, but that’s about all it needs to do 🙂
There are lots of free options, like JotForm. And there are tons of WordPress plugins that offer free forms. And HubSpot of course.
If you use MailerLite, your forms are built-in. You can embed them in WordPress or any other website with a simple code.
There are some useful features you can get when you pay for online forms. For instance, Gravity Forms has calculated forms, conditional logic, and the ability to save and continue (among many other things.
NinjaForms is a form builder for WordPress. The basic functionality is free, but you can pay for additional features as you need them.
If you don’t want to use WordPress, try Gravity Forms.
Marketing automation makes the lead nurturing process easy. Based on website activity, email engagement, and more, marketing automation lets you deliver targeted content.
Mautic is the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Open-Source Marketing Automation Project.” They boast a community of over 1000 contributors, and are used by over 200,000 organizations. But it’s complicated to install (if you don’t know what a cron job is, don’t even think about trying Mautic).
Of course, there are lots of paid options too. Autopilot, HubSpot, Pardot, etc. Customer.io is one of the more affordable options.
HubSpot isn’t cheap, but when it comes to marketing automation, it’s hard to beat HubSpot’s workflows.
You’ve got to track the efficiency of your campaigns and make sure your funnels are optimized. That requires data, analytics, and insights.
The king of analytics is Google’s longtime free offering.
With Google Analytics, you can track conversions, user behavior, and more. It takes some time to figure out your way around, but it’s worth it.
There are a lot of paid options that offer additional functionality and easier interfaces.
Unlike Google Analytics, Kissmetrics is focused on getting the data you need to optimize your funnels. There’s a time and a place for each. Make sure you need the functionality of Kissmetrics before you buy.
You’ll need some graphic design tools to create call-to-action images, social sharing images, and anything else that requires graphical elements.
Canva makes it easy for beginners without graphic design experience to create professional graphics.
Infographics are one of the best ways to earn backlinks and Piktograph makes infographics easy. It’s got lots of templates too.
Beacon has a bunch of great templates for creating professional looking eBooks. It even has an option to automatically turn your blog posts into an eBook. They’ve got a branded version for free, but you can get a premium version along with a lot of other tools in AppSumo’s Briefcase for only $49 a month, so that’s worth checking out.
Lead Generation Services
There are a lot of lead generation companies out there that will generate leads for you— for a price. But there are also a few that offer free trials. After you’ve started building free lead generation websites, you can put them to the test with some of these free lead generation services:
- D&B Hoovers is the biggest name in the game. You can get a free trial here.
- MegaLeads offers a free trial with no credit card.
- ReadyContacts offers a free sample dataset.
- Salesgenie offers a three-day free trial.
- Get a free trial from ZoomInfo.
(If your lead generation service offers a free trial, let me know and I’ll add you to this list.)
You’ll have to do a bit of searching, but you can usually find free credits when you first open an account with AdWords, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, LinkedIn Ads, or pretty much any other ad network. It’s not a lot, but it will allow you to learn the basics and start generating some traffic to test your shiny new lead generation platform.
Many times your web host will offer credits, but if they don’t, just do some digging and see what you can find.
Bonus #1: Free Live Chat
On-site messaging isn’t a must-have by any means, but if you want to try it out, Tawk.to is an awesome free messaging app. They charge for add-ons, removing branding, and other stuff like that, but the basic functionality is great and totally free.
Bonus #2: Free Lead Generation Website Template
Advanced Lead Generation Website Tactics
I won’t get too deep into this since I’ve covered it extensively elsewhere on the blog, but here are three advanced tactics that will allow you to give your lead generation website an edge:
- The Traffic Panning Technique. The Traffic Panning Technique helps to fill your funnel without relying on SEO. If you’re still waiting for your website to start ranking for competitive terms, give the Traffic Panning Technique a try.
- The SaaS Marketing Funnel. The SaaS Marketing Funnel can be used in any industry to generate leads at every stage of the funnel based on the buyer’s journey.
- Direct Mail Retargeting. Direct mail retargeting allows you to take your retargeting efforts offline. It’s an affordable tactic to add to your marketing mix.
There are three things you need to do before we get started.
- I’ve created a free website template for you. Download it here.
- Then, go sign up for a free Cloud9 account*. This is where you’ll edit and upload your website.
- Finally, sign up for MailerLite. You’ll use this for emails and marketing automation.
The rest of this article will show you how to use those three ingredients to cook up a lead generation website without spending a dime.
*Technically, we’re cheating a little bit since Cloud9 isn’t free anymore now that Amazon bought it. But they’ll give you free credits to start, so you shouldn’t have to pay anything for this exercise.
Create a Lead Generation Website with Surge & Cloud9
Once you have a Cloud9 account, you’ll login in, unzip the template, and upload it to Cloud9.
Then, in index.html you’ll edit:
- The title
- The meta description
- The headline
- The unique selling proposition
- The navigation menu
- The subhead
- The copy beneath the subhead
- The call-to-action
- The social proof
- The copyright information
In style.css, you’ll edit the location of your background file.
For the navigation menu, replace each stage of the buyer’s journey with the name for the actual content that’s going to go there. Then, duplicate index.html and update them to serve as the location for each menu item.
Remember to change the “active” class to the link for each page. That’s what highlights the menu item for the current page.
Set Up Forms with MailerLite
You can use MailChimp, Drip, anything else you want here. I recommend MailerLite because it’s affordable and pretty good for marketing automation.
Once you’ve created the forms you need, add them to the form sections of the proper pages in Cloud9.
Build Automations with MailerLite
In Drip, build workflows to send the right content to leads who fill out the various forms on your site. You can also create workflows to send a sequence of emails after the first download.
Launch Your Lead Gen Site
Now you’ll head back to Cloud9 and go to the terminal (it’ll start with “bash”). We’re going to use a free web publishing platform called Surge to launch our site.
- Enter “npm install –global surge” to install Surge
- Enter “surge” to run Surge
- Choose the project path (I just leave this on the default) and hit enter
- Choose the domain and hit enter
(For more information on deploying to Surge, read “Getting started with Surge.”)