How to find the lead generation software that is right for your business
In less than 10 years, the marketing software landscape has grown from about 150 solutions to over 7,000 companies. The now famous “supergraphic” on Scott Brinker’s Chief Marketing Technologist blog chronicles the proliferation since 2011. Without a doubt, the universe of lead generation software has exploded right along with it.
Below you'll find framework we’ve developed for finding the best lead generation tools for your business, without falling into the trap of over-engineering a system - or building it too cheap to scale. We've put together our picks for the best lead generation software you can find in 2020, rating each of the solutions by G2 reviews, problems solved, metrics for success, pricing & team resources needed to manage the technology. Borrow our Google Sheets template here - you can make a copy and repurpose for your own search.
Lead Gen Software Decision Framework:
- Reviews: What your peers are saying about the tool.
- Identify the problem: Determine exactly what aspect of your lead gen challenge you’re trying to solve right now - and 18 months from now.
- Define the metrics: How will your team measure success with the solution, and define the ROI from your investment?
- Understand the pricing: Know the budget you’re working with now, and how the pricing scales with your business.
- Resource requirement: How much of your team’s time will need to be dedicated to managing this tool to make it successful.
Let's begin by laying the foundation for a few important concepts:
What is lead generation?
For the purposes of digital marketing and sales, lead generation is the practice of attracting visitors to your website or blog, and turning some portion of those visitors into leads. These leads are known people that indicate they want to learn more about your company’s product or service. Hubspot, a pioneer in inbound marketing, wrote a comprehensive guide to lead generation here.
So, what is the difference between B2B lead generation and B2C lead generation?
The key difference between B2B and B2C lead generation is rooted in the nature of the respective buying cycles. B2C buying cycles are usually short and lead generation efforts often attempt to connect with buyers on an emotional level, creating urgency with sales and other time-sensitive offers. B2B buyers are typically making higher consideration purchases for their companies, and informational content shared in lead generation efforts often help these buyers educate themselves on the industry, challenges they need to solve, and building trust and loyalty with their brand.
We've divided the lead generation software tools into these different categories; feel free to skip around based on your business' needs.
Lead Generation Software Tools
Lead generation software tools
Sales Prospecting Tools
If your company has a new product or service, chances are that you don’t have a relevant database of prospective customers built up yet through things like inbound marketing. Inevitably someone will suggest buying a list. Many of today’s data providers have tried to distance themselves from the stigma of the popular ‘spray and pray’ approach, and focus on providing valuable, targeted data that can help your business or nascent product build out the ideal customer profile and overcome a classic cold-start problem of not being able to reach your prospective buyers. Read on to learn more about some of the best prospecting tools for marketing and sales.
- G2 reviews: 4.5 / 5
- Problems solved: No database of emails and phone numbers for your target market to send marketing & sales communication. More firmographic and demographic data needed.
- Success metrics: Account coverage, pipeline generation
- LeadGenius pricing: From$2,999 per month/user
- Team resources: Minimal. LeadGenius requires very little time from your team, mostly an upfront investment to define target audience and to provide feedback on contacts.
- G2 reviews: 4.3 / 5
- Problem solved: Salespeople don’t have good contact information for prospects to do personalized outreach
- Metrics: More targeted prospecting, better response rates from 1-1 outreach.
- Hunter pricing: 50 monthly searches for free, up to $399/month
- Team resources: Minimal. Requires downloading a chrome extension and clicking a button to get email address.
- G2 reviews: 4.5/5
- Problems solved: Missing email and phone numbers for marketing/sales outreach. More firmographic and demographic data needed fro development of ideal customer profile.
- Metrics: Get greater account coverage with target accounts, improved win rate
- Rollworks pricing: Starting at ~ $4,000 USD per company/month
- Team resources: Moderate. Integrating data into marketing and sales processes is key to realize a strong ROI.
Inbound marketing software
So, what is inbound marketing software?
Inbound marketing tools run the gamut from content creation to SEO analysis tools. Your inbound marketing strategy should focus on attracting qualified traffic to your website with world-class content, then on conversion. Inbound marketing software can enable faster and more efficient creation of high-quality content to attract your audience to your site, and scalable ways to identify and convert that traffic.
- Reviews: new to market
- Problems solved: Not enough internal resources or budget to create customer testimonial videos (and other videos) for marketing initiatives.
- Metrics: Capture and publish more customer video testimonials, faster and cheaper than traditional processes. Increase lead generation, and achieve higher conversion rates.
- Vocal Video pricing: From $99/month
- Team resources: Minimal. The key effort required by Vocal Video users lies in writing the questions they would like to ask customers and sending the communication via text, email, social media etc. Videos with graphics, subtitles, music, and analytics are created automatically by Vocal Video.
- G2 reviews: 4.7/5
- Problem solved: Not enough money, talent, or time to create compelling visual content.
- Metrics: Save money and time compared to internal and external design resources. Ability to created more graphics.
- Canva pricing: $120/year per user
- Team resources: Minimal. There is a learning curve to understand all the capabilities of the software, but templates make it fairly easy for users without much design background to "paint by numbers" and create decent content.
- G2 Reviews: 4.7 / 5
- Problem solved: Can't identify potential leads visiting website.
- Metrics: Uncover more and more qualified leads but finding out who is visiting your website.
- Leadfeeder pricing: Plans starting at $55/month
- Team resources: Minimal. Setup and management include setting up filters and training the sales organization on how to use this new information without "creeping out" prospects.
- G2 reviews: 4.5/5
- Problem solved: Part of the great content marketing shortage is figuring out what to write, create video or create graphics about.
- Metrics: Attract more visitors and leads to your site with the most searched for content topics.
- BuzzSumo pricing: $39 - $499/month
- Team resources: Minimal. About as easy to use as doing a Google search.
Outbound lead generation tools
Outbound lead gen software is used by sales teams to enable and make calls, emails, and messages more scalable, efficient and trackable. A centrally managed tool also enables more consistent messaging, and testing over time.
- G2 Reviews: 4.3/5
- Problem solved: Good prospects are falling through the cracks.
- Metrics: Higher response rates from prospects with better follow up, and better sales conversion.
- Boomerang pricing: From $4.99/month per user
- Team resources: Minimal. Installation is easy, and intuitive design means almost no training required for your team.
- G2 reviews: 4.2/5
- Problem solved: No scalable system for communicating with prospects and customer across all channels.
- Metrics: More conversion and revenue from prospect/customer communication channels
- Intercom pricing: From $49/month
- Team resources: Significant. Intercom's functionality is deep and wide, designed to provide infrastructure for all channels of communication with customers including chat, email, and phone. Messaging for campaigns, and integrations with CRM also require setup and maintenance.
- G2 reviews: 4.7/5
- Problem solved: No system in place for "semi-automatic" emails.
- Metrics: Increase deliverability and response rates from automated email campaigns.
- Mailshake pricing: From $59/user/month
- Team resources: Moderate. Mailshake focuses on simplicity, making setup easy. Most of the lift required by customers is designing and testing email campaigns, and developing a good database to send to.
Lead management software
Having *too* many leads can seem like an enviable position - until you find yourself experiencing this challenge. This critical mass means that software is essential to scoring leads to determine how they are prioritized and segmented, measuring lead performance, and ultimately improving quality of leads.
- G2 reviews: 4.3/5
- Problem solved: No system in place to keep track of leads.
- Metrics: Increased sales productivity though less time spent updating CRM by sales people, and greater pipeline visibility
- Zendesk pricing: From $19/month /per user
- Team resources: Moderate. Zendesk Sell has though through high level sales flows but customization and administration still required to fit your business.
- G2 reviews: 4.3/5
- Problem solved: Need a system to keep track of deals and prospect interactions
- Metrics: Increase deal velocity, better conversion with great visibility and tracking.
- Pipedrive pricing: Free trial. $12.50/per user/month
- Team resources: Moderate. Out of the box, Pipedrive has some nice, intuitive functionality, but can quickly get messy without administration. No technical skills required, apart from setting up some Zapier integrations to other marketing tools you're using.
By putting a pixel on your website, or importing your database you can effectively follow your prospects around the web with your offer. All companies with major eccommerce operations will attempt to entice/remind you to return to their site, often with a picture of the item that you had last looked at.
- G2 reviews: 3.8/5
- Problem solved: Not enough ROI from ad spend, need to build greater brand awareness.
- Metrics: More effective targeting for advertising, designed for SMB to enterprise businesses. Increase conversion from advertising spend
- AdRoll pricing: $1,000/month for 10,000-25,000 monthly site visits
- Team resources: Significant. Setting up campaigns, developing advertising content and emails to test and send can make or break the effectiveness of the investment in AdRoll.
- G2 reviews: 3.8/5
- Problem solved: No way to serve advertising to your best prospects
- Metrics: Better conversion from advertising budget.
- Perfect Audience pricing: Billed based on campaign
- Team resources: Significant. Geared towards smaller businesses, it's still important to budget team resources at the outset to set up campaigns, then test and manage to get the maximum ROI from Perfect Audience.
Landing page software
Ultimately you’ll need to provide your website visitors conversion moments so that they can become leads. These lead captures pages might appear when they register for a webinar, download a white paper, enter a contest - or even as you’ll see below, inserting a form into a video.
- G2 reviews: 4.4/5
- Problem solved: Need to build and test more landing pages with WYSIWYG platform to drive more revenue from website visitors.
- Metrics: Better conversion from landing pages and websites
- Instapage pricing: From $149/month
- Team resources: Moderate: Time needed to learn how to use the page builder with advanced (and more complex functionality and integrations) to run tests and improve conversion.
- G2 reviews: 4.6 /5
- Problem solved: Video conversion. Turnstile by Wistia allows you to insert a lead form at any point in your video, and integrate that data with your CRM or marketing automation tool.
- Metrics: Increased lead capture / conversion from videos that might otherwise be lost.
- Wistia pricing: Free version available, paid versions start from $99/month
- Team resources: Moderate. While the software is easy to use, developing video that will convert still typically requires serious budget and time resources.
Many B2B companies are turning to account based marketing as a sales and marketing strategy after watching traditional tactics flag. By drastically narrowing the focus to truly target ideal customers, many organizations report impressive results.
- G2 reviews: 4.3 /5
- Problems solved: Need to coordinate sales/marketing and increase sales from a defined set of accounts
- Metrics: Increased growth from a set of target accounts
- Engagio pricing: Starting from about $25,000/year
- Team resources: Significant. Many aspects of the marketing team need to be involved to define the ideal customer profile, plan and execute ABM strategy.
- G2 reviews: 4.4 / 5
- Problems solved: Revenue targets falling short, ROI from ad spend flagging.
- Metrics: Have a clearly defined set of target accounts and increase conversion and ROI from ad spend.
- Terminus pricing: From $29 per user/month
- Team resources: Significant. Defining accounts and managing campaigns requires significant setup and maintenance.
Live chat tools
Real time communication has been heralded as the cure for engaging audiences with short attention spans. The software ranges from laser-focused, to encompassing every other existing channel.
- G2 reviews: 4.4/5
- Problem solved: Too many website visitors to handle manually, and need to give sales people back time but using chatbots to do initial qualification.
- Metrics: Increase conversion from website visitors
- Drift pricing: From $40/month
- Team resources: Significant. To take advantage of Drift's advanced functionality including its 'Leadbot', you'll need to invest some serious team resources.
- G2 reviews: 4.4 /5
- Problem solved: Missing opportunities for engaging and converting website visitors.
- Metrics: Greater conversion from website traffic
- Purechat pricing: Free plan available, and the Pro plan starts at $29/month.