How to Get Leads for IT Startups? 3 Effective Lead Generation Techniques for Software Development Companies

Leat generation for IT company and startup

Nowadays many entrepreneurs are entering the digital market with their innovative ideas, products, and services. And the main question for all of them is: How to get leads?

We will research different Inbound and Outbound marketing techniques to build the most cost-effective and time-saving lead generation strategy for a newly created IT company in a highly competitive market.

Hint! We have analyzed most of the existed marketing tactics and have found 3 the most effective lead generation methods for a startup company. They DO NOT contain classic  SEO, PPC, or SMM approaches.

What are the best Lead generation techniques for software development companies?

 First case: Let’s consider a company that sells numerous goods via its website. The company is successful enough and generates a certain amount of revenue.  There is an opportunity to increase company’s sales starting its own mobile application. But stakeholders don’t recognize such an opportunity yet or just not ready to take specific actions for creating such an application. We are talking about “cold” lead. It’s time to provide definitions of different leads types.

3 Lead types

Cold Lead – a stakeholder of a business which potentially may benefit from your product or service, but this stakeholder has never demonstrated an interest in your company and hasn’t even planned to.

Warm Lead – a stakeholder who visited your company’s social media or the website and completed specific actions such as form filling, inquiry making, or signing up for letter.

Qualified Lead –  a person who showed a strong interest in your product or service acquiring. Very often such leads come from a Search Engine.

We can use  SEO and PPC techniques to target Warm and  Qualified Leads only.

In the case described above, stakeholders cannot be targeted by classic inbound techniques such as SEO, PPC, Social Media, and Email marketing.  They will not search for information.

Second case: Stakeholders already know about an opportunity and looking for a software developer for their project. In this case, stakeholders will choose from a long list of potential contractors. So, making stakeholders pay attention to a specific software development company costs a lot of time and money.

Both cases describe a common situation for startups. So, we need much deeper research.

Inbound vs Outbound marketing

What is Outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing generally refers to “cold” marketing, when a lot of people get an unexpected message. This message is delivered to a certain audience with the highest probability to be addressed to the right people, who are potentially interested in the consumed information. I mean if you sell cars most likely you will place a banner on a website about cars. Generally, outbound marketing is used in Display and Media advertising, press-release distribution, spam email campaign, “cold” calls etc. As you can see, outbound marketing deals with a “one-way” information delivery which is more expensive and less effective than inbound marketing.

Inbound vs Outbound marketing

What is Inbound marketing?

On the other hand, inbound strategy refers to “hot” marketing. Such a strategy deals with interested or “hot” people. All materials and marketing messages are created to provide value for these people. The main differences from outbound marketing are: engaged people should find your information on their own. The brightest examples are SEO (Search Engines optimization), PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising, Content marketing, opt-in email marketing (Email campaigns).

Here is the main techniques table:

Inbound and Outbound Techniques

There are three main components of an inbound prospect acquisition strategy: attract, engage, and add value (delight).

Let’s consider the first component – attracting prospecting customers.  You may know this process as lead generation.  When you have engaged prospects and delighted them with additional value such leads can be converted into customers. So, lead generation is a part of a customer acquisition strategy.

We will study all of the techniques to build the most effective lead generation marketing strategy. 

How to Get Leads using Inbound Techniques

Let’s consider Main inbound lead generation techniques: SEO, PPC, SMM, Email and Content marketing. While such techniques are very popular for lead generation, there are serious limitations for their effectiveness for startups.

SEO and SMM Lead generation Techniques and their limitation for startups

To get prospective clients we need to create high-value content for them first. The next step is promoting this content via SEO, PPC, Social Media channels or using an existing email database of prospects.

Sounds easy? But this process is not so straightforward as it may seem at first sight.

Search Engine Optimization

Of course, SEO is a must for any IT project. But there are several challenges for startups SEO to consider. Take a look at the picture provided by Ahrefs research.

How long SEO takes?

As we know, SEO techniques will not provide an immediate result. Usually, an article might get noticeable traffic from search engines in a half a year or later. According to Ahrefs study95% of all webpages will not appear on the first page of Google Search Results within a year.   That is why SEO is a part of a long term strategy. Several types of information could become outdated for such a time range. For instance, an article about the company’s important event, invention or significant changes in services couldn’t be delivered fast enough via SEO channel.  Besides, the number of effective positions in search engines result is limited. That is why on a highly competitive market free traffic from search engines becomes very expensive.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Here we will consider only Search Engine Result Page advertising based on pay per click model.

In contradiction to SEO, PPC advertising is able to deliver information immediately to potential customers. But there is one main requirement: people should search for such information in a specific search engine. So, if we are talking about a new product, service or event, we shouldn’t expect fast results from PPC. To identify query popularity, we use Search Volume per months for this query.

If we are talking about a highly competitive digital market such as software development services, we must notice that expenses on PPC are extremely high:  $20 – $200 per click.

PPC advertising cost for software development queries


In this case, an email campaign could help. But any email campaign will target the already existed prospects from your database. You will not be able to obtain new clients using classic opt-in email marketing.

So, there are several significant limitations for inbound Leads generation using SEO and PPC:

  • Long term period and significant budget are needed to create and deliver information to the interested people via Content Marketing and SEO. Startups usually do not have such a budget.
  • PPC campaign could be over expensive
  • Prospects should be familiar with certain products, services, or companies that are able to satisfy their needs.
  • Prospects should have an informed need in a product or service (otherwise people will search for nothing).

Such a case is very common and widespread:

IT Startups  are limited to benefit from SEO and PPC

Email marketing

We have the same limitations here. A fresh startup has no or very small database of prospects emails.

Besides, email database contains already existed warm leads prospects when our main goal is to generate new leads. Of course, email marketing is very useful. But we should raise emails database with the help of other techniques.  It takes a certain amount of time.

Prospects information is being gathered via lead acquisition forms on a website. We are talking about warm lead generation. When obtained such leads should be nurtured and transformed into warm leads and, finally, clients. Take a look at one of the best lead generation forms I have ever seen from

To fill a lead acquisition form, a prospect should be able to see this form. It means a prospect should visit a website or company’s social media. Obviously, we will attract visitors to company sources using other methods than email marketing.

We should find such techniques that will help a startup to get visitors on its website and social media, engage them to fill a form with an inquiry and contact information, and, finally, convert them into clients on the first stage. It is necessary for most startups survival.

So, one of the main goals of this article is to find such sources. Let’s go ahead and consider the following type of marketing activities.

Content Marketing

According to HubSpot research, most marketers consider Content marketing is a part of Inbound Marketing. We know that content marketing has two most important component: creation and distribution. Of course, companies will create different types of content for their websites and blogs. To be useful, content should be visited and read by as many lead prospects as possible. It takes time to get a valuable audience to any content project such as a corporate website, blog, or social media.

Content marketinf tactics

Here are Top 2016 B2B content marketing tactics. Let’s consider several most common of them.

Company website, blog and other internal resources

Usually, a company’s website contains information about this company and its products and services. The main page of a corporate website, categories, and product pages are the main target for SEO. Sometimes, companies create additional websites based on separate domains or subdomains for certain kinds of services or product. So, high-quality content with appropriate SEO van benefits a company with good quality leads.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media are limited by its existing audience. I mean Facebook company page, Instagram, Instagram or Twitter company’s accounts with own text, image, and video content. The audiences are too small at the beginning of company life. Moreover, many people move to social pages from a company website, not in the reversed order.

In this article, we are talking about an IT startup –  newly created software development company which is looking for its way of the business. Such companies need clients from beginning to have enough funds for rising. So, we should pay attention to the technics that are able to provide a company with high-quality leads in a short time.

Guest blogging

 I have already mentioned that more than half a year needed to get visible traffic to a certain article, website or blog. So, along with the creation of good content, startups marketers should consider their content distribution to the other relevant websites with good traffic. I am talking about Guest bloggingplacing your article in the relevant website with a huge appropriate audience. This inbound tactic will help.

So, I have researched Inbound techniques and may conclude that only Guest blogging can benefit startup in a short time with relatively small expenses. Such an inbound technique provides a website with a link for SEO and with visitors to be converted to leads. In addition, a company will start earning brand awareness, authority, and reputation

Now let’s take into account outbound techniques such as  Display and Video Ads, Cold Emails

How to get leads using outbound techniques?

Display Advertising

In contradiction to the classic old school marketing, in the digital environment, we are able to choose an audience to whom we will deliver an advertising message.

In my opinion, display advertising as an outbound marketing techniques along with appropriate content marketing could be extremely useful in the described cased. 

Display advertising

Social Media Advertising

This type of advertising works in the same way as Display As. But here we are able to use video ads as well.

Social Media Advertising

There are Facebook Lookalike and Custom Audience, Tailored audiences on Twitter, Matched Audiences in LinkedIn.  Today we have numerous services and tools to find and research an appropriate targeted audience for Social Media Advertising.  So, we can target the right message to the right people at reduced costs.

Hint! According to Hubspot research, LinkedIn 277% More Effective for Lead Generation Than Facebook & Twitter

LinkedIn is the most effective for Lead Generation

Video Advertising

Along with video Ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, You may start Video advertising campaign on Youtube. Such advertising technique could be very effective for certain kinds of business. To reduce costs and to increase Display or Video advertising campaign effectiveness we need to target our banner or media advertising on the most appropriate audience.


Video Advertising


Target your advertising on the most appropriate audience


Audience Classification

As we observed previously, the weakest component of inbound marketing is prospect attracting. It might take a lot of time and money without any visible result.  On the other hand, the main advantage of outbound marketing is the ability to get clients almost instantly. The main disadvantage is relatively high costs and low effectiveness of outbound marketing. So, we need to enhance inbound marketing with outbound lead generation tactics and techniques and find a way to increase its effectiveness and reduce costs.

 Remarketing (retargeting) audience – advertising platform collects information about your website visitors or advertising viewers. We can segment a remarketing audience easily with Google analytics to separate the most engaged viewers to show them the next campaign. This is a cyclic process.

Similar Audiences – this is a Google ads audience title. Such an audience on Facebook called Lookalike audience. A platform creates a similar audience for an existing one. Usually, a segmented remarketing audience is taken for similarity.

Affinity audience is made according to people’s interest, demographic, gender, language, interests, keywords.

Custom Intent, In-market Audiences – based on the users searching activity.

Customer list – uploaded customer list from your CRM

Google Ads cistom intent audience

Here is custom intent audience built for a Magento extensions developer


We may set up a remarketing audience with most engaged people with our content (product pages, blog articles, video). Then we may promote new content via banner ads on these audiences. Besides, Google Ads can help us to make our audience broader and to find new clients with Google Similar audiences, Affinity Audiences, In-Market,  a Customer list. There are a few good targeting options.  So, we will be able to promote our content very fast at a low budget.


Table of useful audiences for Display and Video Advertising

  Advertising Platform   Audience
  Google Ads   Similar, Affinity, Customer Lists
  Facebook   Lookalike, Custom
  Twitter   Tailored, Different Targeting Options
  LinkedIn Ads   Matched, Lookalike
  Bing Ads   Custom Audiences, LinkedIn
  All platforms   Remarketing Audiences


Audiences research for the best targeting

Moreover, we can study our audiences and find certain characteristics of our clients. In B2B area it could be a company profile related to a certain market. In B2C area it is known as a buyer persona. Using such a profile or persona description, we may find appropriate contact information and the best way of communication. Here is a good tactic for targeting your prospect leads via Facebook.

Google Analytics audience insights

At the same time, we can send appropriate messages via LinkedIn Ads and Twitter Ads – the most effective tools in B2B area to get prospects programmatically. In this case, sales managers would be contacted by already engaged clients.

Here is the general Outbound Lead Generation model for Audience-based Display and Video Advertising:

Outbound Lead Generation

What kind of content to promote?

Now we know that for a digital product or service startup such techniques as Guest Blogging and Display and Video Advertising could be extremely effective. But what are we going to promote?  In other words, what kind of content will we link to in our advertising?

Leave product pages and regular blog posts for SEO and SMM. We need something special that will show company expertise, proficiency, and success. Nobody wants to start working with no name losers from nowhere. The best thing a startup can do is to tell the story of its success. So, I am talking about successful case studies here.

Conntent types to promote

Usually, IT startups appear when good developers and companies that need certain software for their business met each other.

A startup is a story of success that needs to be told to its prospective clients.


So, the most simple way for a startup is to describe the most successful case studies and to promote them on its own websites via Display Ads and Video, and on popular websites in appropriate niches using Guest blogging.

Finally, let’s consider cold emails as a direct method of getting leads.

Cold Emails

Almost the same story is for cold email marketing. We should deliver the right message to the right people. So, the question is how to find contacts of the right people.

How to find contacts for cold emails

Lead Generation for Cold emails

First, analyze your clients. it companies can analyze and map their existing clients: their needs, expectations, preferable communication channels, demographics, yearly income, etc. to build your Ideal Customer Profile.

Second, there are many Lead Generation Services and Tools that may provide startups and small companies with very useful contact information about lead prospects to make effective cold emails.  They are worth to be studied carefully.

Third, Making a good segmentation of the provided databases we can find the most appropriate prospects for cold emails. Such information as prospect names, titles, LinkedIn accounts, emails will become a powerful tool for sales managers to make their “cold” contacts more “hot”.

Finally, along with direct personal emails, explore numerous possibilities to get prospects information on the base of your website visitors and automate the cold emails campaign.

In short:

  1. Analyze your existing clients
  2. Find appropriate contact information related to your market
  3. Segment obtained contacts carefully one the base of existed client analysis.
  4. Consider email automation

When you find the contact information of stakeholders who are very likely interested in your services, your could emails could be very effective. Maybe cold emails is a single way to target stakeholders who didn’t discover a new opportunity yet. Here are several more useful Lead Generation services.

3 lead Generation Services that worth to look at – a sales Automation Platform to find automatically prospects email for launching a cold email campaign. – provides contacts of prospects on the base of technologies they use. – a powerful B2B lead generation platform

Reviewing several provided serviced you may find the best for your own business.


To summarize all above-mentioned thoughts, I would say that the integration of inbound and outbound tactics and activities into one sustainable marketing strategy will lead to a much better result in sales at much less cost. Outbound activities provide useful methods and tools to attract new clients who will be engaged or re-engaged further and provided by additional value with all appropriate inbound methods and tools.

3 working techniques for IT startups: starter marketing kit

3 working techniques for IT startups
Guest Blogging –  Place Guest posts on the websites with a huge relevant audience. You will get traffic on your websites, Leads to Convert to prospects, and Links for Seo.

Display and Video advertising – Create all appropriate remarketing Audiences and Lead Prospecting audiences on different Social Media platforms. Set up appropriate advertising campaigns.  You will get leads and brand awareness.

Use Guest Blogging and Display Advertising to promote your Case studies – the most successful experience with clients.

Send Emails for targeted prospecting leads – Use special services to buy the most potentially interested prospects list for personal mailing. Use automated lead generation services for cold emailing.

Smart use of these 3 techniques may significantly boost the leads number for your startup on a highly competitive market in a relatively short time with a limited budget.

Watch this useful video to get maximum information about the topic. This video itself is a great example of lead generation via Video marketing.



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