Bringing in new customers is often the hardest part of the sales process, but a quality lead list makes it simple. Without qualified leads, a business can’t move its product or sell its service – no matter how great it is. But where does a business owner begin?

In today’s age of smartphones and search engines, businesses must cultivate leads in a digitally-savvy marketplace, but the more conventional means of attracting customers can’t be overlooked, either.

Here are five effective ways to acquire top-notch leads:

Host a webinar

startup-photos-largeBusiness owners possess a wealth of knowledge to share, so why not use it to attract interested customers by offering that knowledge in a webinar? Think of a webinar as a mini class conducted over the internet, where the owner is the teacher and potential clients are the students.

By providing a free 30-minute webinar on a topic that’s beneficial to potential clients, owners can turn those students into customers.

After the webinar, owners should send follow-up emails thanking people for participating, and don’t forget to mention the benefits of their products or services. Sweeten the deal with a discount to webinar participants, or use some sort of incentive to nurture the lead.

Make a contact form the gateway to your high-quality content

Gather leads by putting high-quality content behind a contact form. The content can’t be run-of-the-mill articles; it has to be in-depth, top-notch content such as the results of a big study or a white paper that offers hard-to-find information.

To access this content, visitors must fill out a contact form with their names and email addresses. It’s called gated content. Visitors have to pass through a gate, in this case a sign-up form, to get access.

Don’t gate every piece of content, or even “beginner content” that early-stage customers read to learn about the company. If businesses only gate content that draws the more serious customers, the emails collected are qualified leads.

Try social advertising

A lot of businesses lack an advertising budget, but social media advertising is an affordable and effective way to generate leads. Try a small-scale ad on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Select the social channel on which your business is most successful and research ad options. An online business that sells hair-styling tools, TYME, used Facebook ads and tripled its year-over-year sales!

Twitter offers Lead Generation Cards that give customers a deal on a product in exchange for their email addresses. These leads could turn into loyal customers if nurtured correctly.

Start networking

74% of consumers say positive word-of-mouth plays a key role in their purchasing decisions, so never underestimate the power of networking.

It’s a digital world out there, but that doesn’t mean businesses should ignore more conventional means of lead generation.

Consider joining a local business association or chamber of commerce. Get to know other business owners and build relationships with them.

Host or speak at an event

Nothing generates strong leads like a little face time. Search for upcoming trade shows and conferences that are important in the industry. Rather than just attending the event and networking with attendees, see if event organizers are looking for speakers.

Like the students at a webinar, guests see speakers as authority figures, which means attendees gravitate toward them. Talk about a captive audience! There’s no better opportunity to talk about products and services.

By using a combination of digital and conventional methods, businesses can accumulate more qualified leads.