Lead Generation Tools Guide: Basics and Best Software

Lead Generation Tools Guide: Basics and Best Software

Leads are the lifeblood of your business. If you want to expand your company, it’s important to have a steady flow of new customers to do business with. Lead generation can help you find potential customers to sell your products or services to.

Wondering how they can help your business? Lead gen tools provide functions that make it easier for your company to find, communicate with, and sell to potential consumers. If you want to compete with other businesses in your industry, lead generation tools should be an essential part of your marketing strategy.

In this article, we’ll break down what lead generation tools are, explain the types of tools you can choose from, and go over some examples of quality ones that can help your business thrive. You can use the links below to quickly jump to any section.

What is a lead generation tool?

A lead generation tool is a piece of software that helps your company attract potential customers. A good lead generation tool can help you automate lead campaigns on your website, your social media accounts, and anywhere else you plan to reach buyers.

Getting the attention of random consumers won’t do your company much good, however. Effective lead generation software helps you find, captivate, and stay in contact with a targeted audience (the customers who are most likely to buy your products).

Lead generation tools can help you create marketing processes that are tailored to the needs and preferences of your ideal consumers. Over time, a customer-focused marketing scheme will delight your leads and increase your odds of building a loyal customer base.

Need marketing professionals who have experience with a wide range of lead generation tools? Take a look at Upwork’s massive talent pool of lead generation experts. We’ll even help you vet applicants until only the very best are left.

What are the benefits of buying a lead generation tool?

There are a lot of benefits to integrating software tools to capture leads for your company. Here are a few of the top reasons you should consider using them for your business:

  • Build brand awareness: Lead tools can help you introduce your products to new groups of consumers on various platforms.
  • Increase sales: The ultimate goal of lead generation is to make more profit. Great lead tools bring in traffic and increase the odds that visitors will become buyers.
  • Reach targeted markets without spamming random internet users: The best lead software helps you focus your marketing campaigns in areas where your ideal customers are looking. They’ll also help you save time by avoiding advertising in places that are less visible to your target audience.
  • Gain consumer information and improve customer relations: Consumer data, like a person’s birthday, work history, and preferences, can help you reach potential customers at the right time and strategically market to them.
  • Inexpensive to use compared to marketing on platforms like print or TV: The average cost to run a commercial on national TV can be $100,000 or more. A national commercial may not help you reach your target demographic nearly as well as lead tools can.
  • Easy to use and don’t require technical knowledge or coding experience: You don’t need to be a marketing or programming expert to get results from many of the best lead generation tools out there.

Lead generation tool types

There’s a diverse array of lead generation tools available to businesses. The perfect tool for your company will depend on your business needs. In the next few sections, we’ll go over some of the main types of lead generation tools at your disposal and show you how they work.

Inbound lead generation tools

Inbound lead generation tools help you attract qualified leads to your business website from outside platforms like social media. An inbound tool might integrate with Facebook or Instagram to entice potential customers to visit your webpage. These tools can use things like ads and targeted posts to get the attention of consumers.

Outbound lead generation tools

Outbound lead generation tools aid you in contacting potential leads who may not yet know about your company through cold calls, emails, direct messages, or other channels. The best outbound tools help you get to know things about potential customers, like their interests and professional backgrounds, before reaching out to them.

On-page lead generation tools

On-page lead generation tools are designed to transform casual visitors on your website into qualified leads. These tools help you gather a user’s contact information and sometimes personal data so you can send the user marketing content about your products, updates about your company, or deals that might interest them.

CRO tools to increase leads

CRO stands for conversion rate optimization. These tools help increase the ratio of your leads that end up buying from you. Increasing your company’s conversion rate takes a targeted and well-thought-out approach. To guide a lead through a sales process, you need to have a firm understanding of their pain points and provide a clear explanation of how your product can solve those needs.

Marketing management tools

Marketing management tools help you govern your lead generation strategy as a whole and analyze the results. These tools store lead and customer data and integrate with all of your other marketing tools to help you nurture prospects—from when they discover your product all the way to when they become loyal customers.

Email marketing tools

Email marketing tools help you build email lists of potential customers and send tactical marketing emails based on where leads are in their customer journey. For example, you might send someone who just learned about your company an email with a video ad for your product. You might send a repeat customer an email thanking them for their patronage with a loyalty discount coupon for the next time they do business with you.

Search marketing tools

Search marketing tools help you increase the traffic to your site by utilizing topics or keywords that consumers are already looking for on search engines like Google. The goal of these tools is to make your webpage or content one of the first things a user sees when they type in a search bar for a specific key phrase.

If you want to make it easier for potential customers to find you online, it’s a good idea to find professionals who know how to get a user’s attention. Upwork can introduce you to qualified search engine optimization (SEO) specialists with the expertise to help your company rank highly for various search engines.

Lead generation tool must-haves

There are so many different lead generation tools to choose from, though not all of them are created equally and the criteria of what makes a great lead tool can be totally different from company to company. However, there are a few general qualities that most tools need.

Here’s a list of some qualities you should look for in your next lead generation tool.

Intuitive usability

The whole point of using lead generation software is to streamline the process of getting leads. Quality lead generation software options have marketing automation tools that are easy to use and manage. You don’t want to spend a lot of time or resources doing things like coding to get lead data.


Can this lead tool integrate with the marketing tools and channels you’re already using in your business? You use a variety of applications on a daily basis. A lead tool should make your life easier by seamlessly operating in conjunction with your other software products.

For example, you’re likely already using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to build awareness. Many lead generation tools can automate the process of pulling information from an assortment of social media channels.

User-friendly features

Your lead generation tools should have all the features you need to optimize your sales and marketing strategy. Do you need a tool that splits different leads into categories? Maybe you need software that tracks where your leads are in the sales process. The more specific you can be about your business requirements, the easier it can be to find the best tool for you.

10 best lead generation tools

Now, we’ll cover some of the best lead generation tools around. We’ll tell you which category they fall into and help you find the tools that will provide your company with the most value.

Overall, these are the 10 best lead generation tools:

  • Leadpages
  • HubSpot
  • Hootsuite
  • SlideShare
  • Mailchimp
  • Zapier
  • Salesforce
  • OptinMonster
  • Datanyze
  • Semrush
  • Leadformly

Understanding which functions you need from lead generation software can take time and effort. That’s where Upwork can help—putting you in contact with lead generation experts who can recommend software that will benefit your company the most.

1. LeadPages

Leadpages is a landing page builder that has hundreds of templates you can use to create quality landing pages for your website ads and posts. Each template is fully customizable and designed to help increase the conversion rate on your site. The tool also has other functions that let you do things like A/B testing. A/B testing involves creating two versions of the same website and seeing which has a higher conversion rate.

Leadpages integrates seamlessly with many CRM platforms (customer relationship management), emails, payment processors, social media pages, and several other business tools. The software also lets you design pages using a drag-and-drop builder, so you don’t have to know any coding at all to use it.

Type of tool: On-page lead generation tool

Price: Leadpages costs $37 to $74 a month depending on how many websites your company has. You can also test out the tool for 60 days for only $1.

2. HubSpot

HubSpot is one of the best all-in-one marketing tools you can get for attracting leads and nurturing them down a sales funnel. It lets you do just about anything that has to do with marketing. It helps you create landing pages with SEO content to build organic traffic. It has analytical tools that can help you easily measure the success of your marketing campaigns. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Although HubSpot can integrate with most other marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Zapier, HubSpot has almost all the functionality you need to create an effective marketing movement by itself.

Automation tools like HubSpot’s Workflow can make it much easier to keep up with your leads. With Workflow, you can designate the system to automatically make specific responses based on a user's actions. For example, you could designate the system to send a welcome email to a possible customer any time they click a call to action (CTA) embedded on one of your blog posts.

You can even manage your client relations using the software. The system has live-chat tools that can help you respond to user questions, comments, and complaints quickly and effectively. Not every user inquiry requires a human touch, however. With HubSpot’s chatbot builder, you can create an automated system that will respond to basic user requests automatically.

Type of tool: Marketing management tool

Price: HubSpot offers several free tools. Paid plans run from $45 to $3,200 a month depending on your business needs.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a lead management tool that connects your social media accounts and automates the process of publishing posts. With the tool, you can create a monthly calendar of posts for all your social media platforms. Your posts will be published on their scheduled dates without you having to do anything.

The program also lets you follow trends in your industry to help you create posts that generate the most engagement possible. The system’s tracking and monitoring software lets you find conversations users are having about your business or field so you can connect with potential customers and be part of the dialogue.

Hootsuite also lets you track how well your social media ads and posts are bringing in qualified leads. The company’s analytics tools help you track key performance indicators (KPIs) like shares, likes, and comments for your social media channels. Hootsuite integrates with a variety of other marketing platforms, as well, like Dropbox and Google Chrome.

Type of tool: Inbound lead generation

Price: Hootsuite has a free plan with limited functionality. Their paid subscriptions run from $49 to $599 a month depending on your business needs. There’s also a 30-day free trial available.

4. SlideShare

SlideShare is a social media platform where you can share presentations with the world. Presentations can be PDFs, PowerPoints, Word documents, or OpenDocument productions. They can feature text, images, audio, and video.

When you post a presentation on SlideShare, visitors to the site can read and share your content. The tool even automatically optimizes presentations for mobile viewing.

Presentations give you the opportunity to teach your audience about your industry while building brand awareness for your company. Once your presentation is done, you can include it in your other business content, like your blog posts and videos.

Type of tool: Inbound lead generation

Price: SlideShare is free to use.

5. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is the premier email marketing and message automation platform that allows you to build email lists of current and potential customers and send them targeted messages based on where they are in their customer journey. Many other marketing tools integrate with Mailchimp like Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, and Google forms.

The program has all sorts of templates to help you launch marketing email campaigns. Mailchimp’s templates use drag-and-drop functionality so you can use them to send your leads customized check-ins, updates, quizzes, and deals without learning to code. The platform also has A/B testing tools that can help you continually improve your emails for maximum effectiveness.

When you set up an email list with Mailchimp, you can program the system’s automation tools to send out emails corresponding to things like a user’s inclinations, buying history, and events in their personal life.

For example, you might want to send customers a happy birthday email to their Gmail account along with a coupon that will save them money on your services. Mailchimp can send these types of emails without you having to lift a finger, even when you’re out of the office.

With Mailchimp’s analytics tools, you can measure KPIs like open rates and click-through rates for your emails and use this information to continually tweak your personal emails over time.

Type of tool: Email marketing tool

Price: Mailchimp offers several plans, including a free one. Starting with the Essentials plan, you can expect to pay $9.99 to $299 a month depending on how large of an email list you have.

6. Zapier

Zapier can save your business a huge amount of time and effort by connecting all of your business applications. Zapier integrates with more than 3,000 different programs, including lead generation platforms like Mailchimp, Facebook Lead Ads, and HubSpot.

Not only can Zapier reduce the time your company spends operating apps independently but it’s also easy to use. You can use Zapier without any technical knowledge or experience whatsoever. In addition to integrating all of your applications, Zapier helps you automate them.

To use Zapier, you’ll create a trigger that causes the app to take an action. For example, you might set up a zap that would add a new lead to a Mailchimp email list (action) whenever they fill out a form on Facebook (trigger). The combinations of apps you can use Zapier with are endless.

Type of tool: Marketing management tool

Price: Zapier has a free plan. Paid plans range from $19.99 to $599 a month depending on how many tasks your business has.

7. Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the most useful programs available to businesses. It can help you with everything from cold emailing possible leads to building referrals for your company to letting your reps know which customers are ready to buy.

The cloud-based CRM software gives you a series of tools to help your company increase sales and create bonds with your customers. Salesforce lets you do things like keep track of your leads, touch base with customers, and measure the productivity of your marketing team and sales team in real time.

With Salesforce, you can store, customize, and manipulate customer data so you can manage every aspect of a customer’s sales journey. It lets you plan and manage marketing events and has tools for tracking how many new sales a marketing campaign actually brings in.

You can also set up notifications that alert you when a lead is looking to make a purchase or a customer needs to reach your customer support team. Whenever you get a ticket, Salesforce has email, phone, and short message service (SMS) chat integrations that can help you respond to customers quickly and efficiently.

While you don’t have to know how to code to use the program, Salesforce has several of its own programming languages that allow developers to create applications on the platform. For example, Apex is a back-end language similar to Java.

Type of tool: Marketing management tool

Price: Plans range from $25 to $300 a month.

CRM platforms have a huge range of functions. It can be hard to get the most out of a CRM system if you’re not well versed in it.

8. OptinMonster

OptinMonster is a quality form builder tool that can help you make the best of the traffic that already comes to your website. The program has more than 100 templates professionally designed to catch a visitor’s eye. You can use these templates to create opt-in forms and gather lead data like emails and personal information.

There are several types of opt-in forms you can make on the platform. Each type of form will be featured on a webpage differently. Pop-ups, for example, simply appear in the middle of a page, while slide-in forms usually rise up in the bottom-right corner.

You can even automate your forms to target specific customers. For example, you might designate a pop-up form to appear when a user on your site shows exit intent (signs that they’re about to leave your site). As soon as the visitor hovers their cursor over the exit function, they’d see an attractive form asking them if they’d like more information on your products.

OptinMonster also integrates with A/B testing tools that let you create separate versions of a form to see which one performs best with users. Further, you can see how many leads all of your forms bring in with the software’s recording tools.

Type of tool: On-page lead generation tool

Price: Plans range in price from $14 to $80 a month depending on how many websites you have and the functionality you need. There’s also a 14-day money-back guarantee.

8. Datanyze

Datanyze is a tool that helps your company with prospecting and outreach. You can use the program as a Google Chrome extension or plugin. It lets you collect information about potential customers on LinkedIn.

You can find data like a prospect’s work email, phone number, and even details about the company they work for. Datanyze conveniently integrates with CRM software options, like Salesforce, so you can save prospects to your customer database and contact them.

You can use this information to make targeted sales pitches. If your business is a software as a service (SaaS) company, for example, you can use Datanyze to find business leaders who work for companies that use software similar to your own.

After saving a list of prospects, the program lets you export it to a comma-separated value (CSV) file. The CSV can help you quickly view all of your prospects’ information in one place. It will even give you links to all the social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, they’ve added to their LinkedIn profiles.

Type of tool: Outbound lead generation tool

Price: You can try Datanyze for free for 90 days. After that, plans run from $29 to $55 a month. You can get a discount if you pay yearly instead of monthly.

9. Semrush

Semrush is a super-useful SEO tool that can help you create content that builds traffic to your business website and generate leads. Like other SEO tools, it helps you find keywords that your target audience is looking for on search engines like Google, Bing, and YouTube. What sets Semrush apart is the quality of information that it offers.

The program’s audit function can show you how well the SEO on your webpage is working. It can also tell you how well your competitors are using SEO. This lets you model your competition’s content strategies that work and avoid the ones that don’t.

The audit function will also give you recommendations on how you can improve your page’s SEO. It may suggest things like websites you should try to get backlinks from or different keywords you should try to work into your content.

The whole point of using keywords is to help your content rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs), but even the best keywords can’t help small businesses rank highly if larger companies with more resources are using the same keywords.

Semrush’s keyword magic tool helps you find unique, long-tail keywords (keywords with multiple words) that relate to your subject and that aren’t being overused by your competitors. The tool shows you data like the number of monthly searches a keyword phrase gets and how difficult it will be for your content to rank in the top 20 search engine results for that keyword.

Semrush also helps you manage and enhance your company’s pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns. It even integrates with Google Analytics and social media platforms like Pinterest and Twitter to help you create and schedule effective posts.

Type of tool: Search marketing tool

Price: Plans range from $119.95 to $449.95 a month depending on the size of your business. The company offers discounts to clients who sign up for yearly plans. There are also several upgrades you can purchase on top of your plan. You can try the program for free for seven days.

10. Leadformly

Leadformly helps you create web forms that are incredibly effective at improving your site’s conversion rate. The site features an assortment of form templates that have been pre-optimized for different types of website visitors.

For example, a template designed to attract B2B leads (business-to-business) for a company might have different preset questions or designs than one for a B2C (business-to-consumer) company. After choosing a template, you can customize it however you want.

Leadformly allows you to build forms with multiple steps that use conditional logic. Let’s say you have a consulting company. The first question on your form could be, “What business operations are you looking to improve?”

With conditional logic, you can create a rule that decides what to ask next based on a user’s answer to the previous question. If the user’s answer is, “automation of everyday tasks,” your form might be programmed to ask, “How would you rate your company’s current marketing automation?” If the consumer answers the first question differently, they might get a different follow-up question or skip the second question entirely.

Leadformly does have A/B testing tools like similar platforms, but it takes analyzing a form’s effectiveness a step further. A/B testing only lets you see how many leads an opt-in form is bringing in. Leadformly lets you measure the value of the leads a form is bringing in.

For instance, your consulting company might charge higher prices for clients that bring in more revenue, like $1,000 if a client makes less than $1 million a year and $10,000 if a client makes more than $1 million a year.

The last question on your form is, “How much net income does your company bring in annually?” Leadformly would automatically assign a value of $1,000 or $10,000 to each lead based on their answer.

With this information, you can see which forms bring in high-ticket leads. You can further segment leads based on things like their titles, industries, and preferences. Leadformly integrates with your CRM software, as well, to give you access to a host of other analytical tools.

Type of Tool: CRO tool to increase leads

Price: Plans start at $37 a month and can reach up to $749 a month depending on how many leads your company wants to generate.

Need help? Hire an independent lead generation specialist

The process of implementing a lead generation strategy for your company can be overwhelming. There are so many different tools available that cater to different needs and different forms of marketing. To find the best programs that integrate with your business processes, it’s important to understand your target audience inside and out.

If you can find the right lead generation tools, you’ll streamline many of your marketing processes and steadily grow your business over time. Just remember to look for resources that are easy to understand and use and integrate well with a variety of other marketing software tools.

Just because you’re a business leader doesn’t mean you have to do it all. If lead generation isn’t your specialty, you can use Upwork’s enormous talent database to find the most qualified lead generation specialists with the abilities and experience needed to implement powerful marketing schemes for your company.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Lead Generation Tools Guide: Basics and Best Software
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