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3 Passive Lead Generation Tactics for Sustainable Growth

Posted by Grant Robertson-Adams | Oct 22, 2021

Generating leads is at the heart of almost all service-based businesses. Finding clients, nurturing relationships, and persuading them to become part of your business as a customer. The problem is that it can take a whole lot of working hours, leads to large customer acquisition costs, and can be something of an endless slog. That’s where passive lead generation tactics can help.

Typical lead generation tactics aren’t inherently scalable unless you increase your sales team size and number of outreach opportunities. Passive lead generation is, by design, focused on sustainable growth. The leads come to you with minimal effort (at least once the programs are built and launched) and your cost per acquisition decreases. Win-win.

What is passive advertising?

So how does passive advertising (or passive lead generation) act differently to normal client prospecting? The primary definition of passive advertising is that the content you have created and published automatically converts traffic into leads for you. Your landing pages, your lead magnets, whatever you might call them, are your constant 24/7 salesperson working tirelessly to hone new leads.

passive advertising strategy

At first, when a startup launches, passive lead generation is going to be slow starting. You need to build a hefty amount of traffic flowing your way and that usually takes time to build. So you’ll naturally start off with some prospecting manually. However, that isn’t to say that you can’t put in the framework for passive lead generation from the start.

The best analogy is that passive lead generation is like arable farming. You plan the seeds of content into your soil. Eventually, those seeds grow into traffic attracting lead magnets. The crop of content that you’ve grown begins to give you leads without requiring extensive input.

Active vs Passive Lead Generation

To define the difference between active and passive lead generation we need to understand the leads themselves. An active lead is someone who is at the point of sale (or at least near it), they’re purposefully searching for your services, products or even your company itself. You’ll find that companies looking to make the most of these opportunities will invest in pay-per-click advertising campaigns.

Passive leads are those who might still be in the consideration stage of the buying process. They’re reading around the subject, digesting information, and slowly coming to a decision. They will spend time reading and consuming your content and might have their head turned by what you’re offering. Your business is then in their mind when they’re in a position to make a decision.

Active leads capitalize on those looking to go ahead with a purchase in the immediate future. Passive leads sow seeds into prospects’ minds and slowly nurture them over time. In order to maximize the potential of passive leads there usually needs to be some sort of incentive for them to continue engaging with your business, such as an introductory offer, a freebie of some sort, or a discount eventually. A small nugget to entice them further.

3 Passive Lead Generation Tactics that Work


Blogs. Articles. Musings. Emanations. Whatever they’re called on your website longer form written content works fantastically for passive lead generation. Rule number one of content marketing, and this certainly applies to blogging, is that you should aim to provide the user value. Give the user something useful, teach them some new information, or simply entertain them and value has been imparted.

blogging for lead generation

The aim of blogging is to provide a series of lead magnets, in order to maximize the potential leads that come from blogging you’ll want to be sure to encourage the user to take action when they have finished reading the particular piece of content. This is achieved through the use of call-to-actions. These simple requests direct the user towards a signup page, a mailing list subscription, a demonstration or even a trial. There are lots of options but by asking the user to complete an action you are far more likely to convert them from reader to lead.

There are a vast number of different types of blogs you could write. They also vary in purpose or type of value offered to the user. Some examples include:

  • Guides: These could be general guides linked to your product or service in particular or they could be more general. Take for example you offer a service that automates email follow-up. You could write a series of guides related to your own software - these help with onboarding etc. But a better lead magnet would be explaining the best copy to use in follow up emails and how to write them.
  • Resource Libraries: Share information with your users. What are the “Top 5 X for Y” or “The best Y’s for those looking to Z” - these blogs also present a great opportunity to reach out to potential partnership companies.
  • Checklists: Simple checklists that allow users to complete a “to-do list”, this could be in preparation for purchasing your services or product.
  • Case Studies: Share how your services and products have helped previous customers in a way that lets them see what it might be like to work with you.

Referral Marketing

Referral marketing aims to bring in leads passively by incentivizing your own loyal customers to do your marketing for you. The leverage of your customers creates a low cost, highly effective, and simple way to bring new customers to your business. Not only will there be a solid flow of leads but they’ll be some of the most likely leads to convert that your business will handle.

The referral process works by creating an offer for your loyal customers that looks something like, “For every new customer you refer to our business, you’ll receive one month of subscription for free”. This is a typical example of a one-sided referral incentive, just the person doing the referral gets something in exchange for the referral. The more common referral is known as a two-sided incentive referral. In this instance, your loyal customers will promote an offer such as, “For every new customer you refer to our business, you’ll receive one month of subscription for free and they will receive 50% off their first month.”

passive lead generation example - referral marketing

Referral marketing works by harnessing the power of recommendations.

People love to be recommended a service or product, especially by their friends or family. The level of trust is already there. These people are staking their reputation (they’re spending their social currency) on how good your product or service is. That makes for a person that is far easier to market to (your customer has already done this) and a person that is far more likely to convert as they’ve been persuaded already.

Referral programs often have a relatively high startup cost as you need to invest time and financial resources into setting up the program, purchasing software, and completing the initial setup.

But once they are up and running, that’s when they really come into their own. The best referral programs have minimal running costs and run almost completely automatically. There is the potential for programs to automate everything from the initial referral emails to reward fulfillment. This massively reduces your costs and makes the cost per customer acquisition significantly lower than manual prospecting. In fact, in most cases, referral programs have the highest return on investment of any passive lead generation channel.

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Video Content

Video is the most consumed content in the world. There’s no disputing that, and the beast is ever growing. So how can we use video content as lead generation? The answer is much the same way as the strategies outlined using blog content, it’s just that the content is shown in a different way. The same strategy applies, it needs to give the user value.

Simply hosting video content on your own website and social media is one thing, but building a following through platforms such as YouTube is another. There needs to be a strategy to this form of lead generation. Steps to consider when building video content include:

  • Targeting keywords that could generate leads
  • Fleshing out your channel profile
  • Adding call to actions within your video as you would a written blog
  • Including links (through CTAs or otherwise) to your own website from third party video hosting sites
  • Build your profile on the platform by encouraging those viewing your content to like, share, comment and subscribe. All of these help with your organic reach.

Designing a Passive Advertising Campaign in 2 Easy Steps

Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

This step goes beyond just passive advertising or passive lead generation and should really be applied to every aspect of marketing in general. Knowing your target audience is crucial. In fact, knowing who your individual ideal customer is is even more important. Putting it simply, if you don’t know who your ideal customer is then how will you know how to position your content, what content to create or where to publish that content.

Working out your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) can be achieved by completing a process where you create buying personas. Buying personas are fictional people that fit a series of criteria that make them your ideal customers. That goes down to their demographics, their work, their position, their interests, their business problems, and their likely favored solutions.

The idea is that by having an actual person (fictional as they may be) in mind, your content gets more focused, becomes easier for your target audience to consume, and is more likely to generate leads for your business. What might work for a business in financial services won’t work for another offering a different service to a different industry.

To create your ideal customer profile, work through the following steps:

  1. Look at who your best customers are
  2. Work out what their commonalities are
  3. Consider the opportunities you had to engage with them and the challenges they faced that you provided the solution for
  4. Gather this information into a working document
define your target audience

Build Lead Magnets Specific to Your ICPs

Once you have designated your ideal customer profile it’s time to generate appropriate lead magnets. You might have worked out the perfect ideal customer profile for your business. You know exactly who they are, what they want, and what they like to absorb content-wise. But many businesses then go on to generate standard, normal, cookie-cutter content.

When completing your ideal customer profile you might find that particular steps of your onboarding process generated a large number of support tickets. Create content that guides them through that stage of the process.

You might find that ICPs were taking the step to sign up once they found out about one particular aspect or feature of your service. Create a piece of content that doesn’t shout about your particular product but extols why that feature is important to consider when comparing different products (drop in the fact that you offer that feature and that it is awesome…).

The trick is to always write and create for your ICP.

Many businesses fall into the trap of crafting content that reads well within the business, but not well out of it. Get into your customer’s heads, work out what makes them tick, then create content and lead magnets for them. Watch them flock to your doors.

Key Takeaways

Passive lead generation might sound like a far away dream but it’s one worth pursuing. It will take time to build up to a truly passive set of consistent leads, and you might argue that all this work creating content doesn’t exactly make it passive, but in the long run it is truly worth all of the effort.

  • Make sure to ask your customers to complete actions to maximize conversions
  • Always create content for your ideal customer profile
  • Give your customers value

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