Online lead generation is difficult. There’s no way around it.
There are tons of companies competing for the attention of a finite group of website visitors, and the content marketing world is only getting noisier.
So this leaves you with three broad options:
- Bring in more valuable and relevant traffic
- Create better, more enticing offers
- Optimize your lead generation pathways on your site
The first two topics have been touched on many times before. This article will cover lead generation software and tools that help you reduce friction and increase the conversion rate of website visitors to leads. This will include both paid and free tools.
Let's take a look at 17 of the best overall tools first (many of which have free options available), and then we'll cover some great strictly free options.
The 17 Best Lead Generation Tools in 2021
- HubSpot Marketing Hub
- Turnstile by Wistia
- Survey Anyplace
- Hello Bar
1. HubSpot Marketing Hub
HubSpot Marketing -- and specifically its lead capture tool -- can be used for free (then upgraded) and has tons of lead generation that make it easy to capture, store, and nurture leads, including:
... and more. It all plugs naturally into HubSpot’s free CRM, or you can easily integrate with your CRM, email tool, or customer data platform of choice.
Using HubSpot Marketing help you build an inbound marketing flywheel from start to finish. You create content that allures visitors, capture leads through one of several tools available, and then nurture them through kickback emails.
Eventually, your sales team will have full visibility of the previous touchpoints and can close leads with the full context of their previous touchpoints with your brand. Finally, you can create happy customers with features like free ticketing.
It’s a full suite lead generation machine.
Intercom is another product with many components and use cases. You can use their on-site messaging and chat feature to engage with on-site visitors and collect their information.
Once in the system, you can analyze their on-site or in-app behavior and create message triggers to help with onboarding, support, or retention.
They also have an integrated help desk and knowledge base to provide support for current customers.
This is another great tool when you want to accomplish marketing, sales, and support features under one roof.
Proof is an early stage SaaS startup based in Austin, Texas. They make software that helps you rev up your website's conversion rate using social proof, personalization, and A/B testing.
Have you ever tried to book a trip on a site like booking.com or Airbnb and seen a message that reminds you, "three people have booked this hotel in the last 24 hours?"
Proof helps you implement social proof messaging on your own website. Here's a great example of the product in use by LawnStarter (another great Austin-based startup):
MobileMonkey chatbots make lead capture, lead qualification, and lead nurturing easier via live chat for your website, SMS text messaging, Messenger for Facebook and Instagram, and other popular chat channels, from one platform.
OmniChat by MobileMonkey is a multi-channel chatbot builder and automation platform that enables you to create chat campaign content once and use it on each of the above channels while unifying customer support chat in one streamlined inbox.
Here are some examples you can get started with to generate leads, sign-ups, and opt-ins using MobileMonkey:
- Add MobileMonkey’s Free Facebook Lead Generator product to your Facebook Page and Posts to automatically capture names, emails, and phone numbers of those who “like” your posts and follow your business.
- Use proactive live chat to engage prospects and customers on your website.
- Setup Facebook and Instagram post autoresponders to capture the contact information of anyone who comments on your content.
- Run a giveaway or contest with Messenger chatbots on Facebook or Instagram.
Then, run remarketing campaigns with interactive Facebook and Instagram Messenger ads to turn those leads into sales.
Lastly, connect the opt-ins, signups, and leads generated from your chat messaging channels to your CRM, such as HubSpot, as well as your email service providers, training & webinar platforms, and other business applications.
This is great for many purposes, of course:
- Sales development
- Content promotion
- Link building
- Public relations
But it's also great for lead generation.
One of my favorite parts about the tool is that you have tons of ready-made templates. So even if you're not a world-class copywriter, you can still get responses.
Qualaroo is an on-site polling tool that can not only collect user feedback (that can be used to improve any part of your product and marketing experience), but you can also collect leads using the tool.
In the best case, you can use Qualaroo to do both.
In this way, your customer feedback tool can double up as a sort of popup form.
Even if you don’t plan on using Qualaroo for lead generation, I’ve found the tool to be invaluable for collecting user experience and conversion optimization insights.
HotJar is a customer experience analytics platform with many helpful tools. They’re one of my go-to solutions for conversion optimization research. Some of their features include:
- Form analytics
- On-site polls
- Heat maps
- Session replays
Like Qualaroo, their on-site polls can double up as conversion points. Basically, you can use the opportunity to collect feedback as a double opportunity where you can also collect an email address:
8. Turnstile by Wistia
Video is a big focus for marketers right now, and I can only see that focus increasing with time. As such, it helps to look at video as a direct lead generation channel in addition to a brand building channel.
Wistia makes a really cool product called Turnstile that allows you to gate videos after a certain time period has elapsed. At this point, the visitor has to enter their email to continue watching.
9. Survey Anyplace
Survey Anyplace is an advanced survey tool that has all the features to keep your sales machine running. Forms and surveys are often used to collect information from prospective customers, but they are rarely ever used to return something of value.
Not with Survey Anyplace’s ReportR pack. This feature allows respondents to walk away with a personalized PDF report based on their answers immediately after completion. This can be a detailed offering, the best service or product based on their answers, or any key information you want the respondent to have. Turning them from a cold prospect to a warmed-up lead in a matter of clicks.
They integrate smoothly with your existing marketing stack, so you can easily transport leads through to your CRM or email marketing tool and start building nurturing campaigns. Bonus, you can use answers given during quizzes to personalize the follow up.
Formisimo isn’t lead capture tool, but it helps you optimize your lead generation forms.
They provide form analytics that, in my opinion, are the most robust in the industry. They work with pretty much every form, and their reports include:
- Form Overview
- Field Drop Off Report
- Most Corrected Fields
- Real Time Report
- Completion Time
- Problem Fields Report
- Fields Before Submission
- Field Times Report
You can also segment reports based on device, such as desktop, mobile, or table. Additionally, the tool actually gives you ideas and tips for how to improve your forms. You can export and share this data with additional systems so it can be used by other team members.
As for installing it, it’s a lot easier than doing form tracking manually in something like Google Tag Manager. You simply copy and paste the provided source code on the page, and Formismo starts tracking immediately.
While they don’t offer a free plan, they have a 7 day trial where you can try out the product.
Clearbit has a forms tool, but they have a broader use case for lead generation no matter which form or lead capture tool you use. They help you enrich contact profile data, which means you don’t have to ask for every little piece of information in a mile-long form.
All you need is an email address or corporate domain, and Clearbit Enrichment fills other important data (like company size and industry) and appends it to your CRM records, in your product, or anywhere else you need them.
Datanyze is another data company, though they focus on “technographics.” What’s this mean? Basically, Datanyze helps you discover what other software tools your website visitors, prospects, or customers are using.
The lead generation purposes for this are unparalleled if you have a way to personalize your website experience.
Imagine if you knew a website visitor was using a direct competitor. You could change up the copy on a landing page or an offer to reflect that.
Or if you had a WordPress plugin, and if you knew your visitor was using WordPress, you could design a custom CTA to let them know about your plugin.
Hull.io is a customer data platform that helps you collect and centralize all the data you have from different marketing tools. It also helps you push that data out to your marketing tools so you can operationalize it and personalize experiences in real time.
I look at customer data platforms as a core component of a personalization strategy, since you generally need three components to make personalization work:
- Good user data
- An ability to deliver experiences
- Content (the experience itself)
Hull.io, and other customer data platforms, help you collect data and deliver experiences.
When you combine this with a tool like Clearbit, which can give you tons of data points to use, you can really ramp up your personalized lead generation campaigns.
TypeForm is a survey tool, but it’s got many real world use cases. It’s also got a beautiful user experiences. When I take a survey using TypeForm, I actually enjoy the experience.
While I’ve mostly used TypeForm to send customer surveys to get conversion research insights, I’ve also used it in the context of lead generation.
These are the top lead generation tools, but not all of them are free to use. Now we’ll cover the best free lead generation tools (some of which are on the above list).
15. Hello Bar
Hello Bar is a CTA and lead capture tool, but it’s got a very specific use case and user experience. Instead of a static web form embedded on a landing page, or an exit intent popup that appears when a visitor is leaving your site, Hello Bar gives you a sticky banner that appears on the top or bottom of the browser.
It looks just like the one on Hello Bar’s home page:
I find these types of CTAs are great for general campaigns and promotional announcements. Therefore, they’re good for short term lead drives, for things like a webinar coming up shortly or a new product feature announcement.
Hunter.io isn’t exactly a lead generation tool, but it helps you find and validate email addresses. If you’re looking to reach a particular person, Hunter is a good way to find their information. It’s not always perfectly accurate, but it’s free to use, and it’s a good tool to have in your toolkit when you need it.
Discover.ly is a lead generation tool that gives you additional information on social media profiles. For that reason, it’s a great complement to other tools on this list, particularly Hunter.io.
When you want to learn more about specific prospects, this free Chrome extension can give you a lot of additional details like their connections and other social profiles.
I don't want to add to the noise, so this list is limited to those I’ve found particularly useful or impressive.
Lead generation software is a big category.
If you want the best lead generation software for your particular business, you may have to try a few of them out.
In my experience, it’s best to have a comprehensive solution like HubSpot to bear the brunt of the workload.
Then you can add in other tools like Survey Anyplace or Hello Bar to mix things up, and of course, some optimization tools like Clearbit and Formisimo to help you crank up the volume on your results.
Originally published Mar 12, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated June 21 2021