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10 min read

The best lead generation tools in 2023

This is the lead generation software you need to build your funnel.

By Toby Peterson · February 22, 2023
A hero image of 3 people icons on a yellow background to illustrate leads and contacts

You're here because you want to locate, segment, contact, nurture, convert, and manage precious future customers. Honestly, I'm exhausted just thinking about the number of verbs involved in establishing—and maintaining—a successful lead generation funnel.

It only makes sense, then, to rely on lead generation software to help you with this hugely-important, potentially-distracting, and labor-intensive work. An off-the-shelf lead generating tool like HubSpot or Salesforce is a step in the right direction, but to cover all your bases, you're going to need a lead gen software stack: a collection of tools to help you generate leads. Then you can connect them all—that way, you have a set of tools for lead generation unique to your business.

Read on to learn more about the different lead generation software available to help you find more prospects, so you can focus on converting them.

The best lead generation software

Lead gen forms like HubSpot and LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms

LinkedIn Lead Gen Form example from TI Health, with human-sounding language on the form

There's no magic formula for capturing leads (though there are a few things you're definitely going to want to avoid). But if you want to make sure that you're grabbing the data that matters most to you, creating your own lead generation forms makes a lot of sense. With a custom lead gen form, you can be laser-focused on your target prospects while saving yourself the time and effort of wading through a ton of irrelevant data. And you have a lot of options for how to get the job done. 

Some of the most popular lead gen forms are actually on social media. It's a form of paid advertising (more on that later), but it lets leads give you relevant info without ever leaving the platform they're on—and usually, the platform fills in most of their info for them.

  • LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms shows prospects a pre-filled form right in their feed, requiring just two clicks and zero typing to pass along their info. The possibilities for how to use these forms are pretty broad; you can take inspiration from these examples

  • TikTok Lead Generation does something similar: your lead's information is auto-populated by TikTok (or the lead adds extra details), so they can show interest in what you're offering without clicking away from their For You page.

  • Facebook lead ads offer the same thing but on Facebook, and there's a slew of strategies for how to engage prospects and boost your form response rates. (Instagram is owned by Meta, so Instagram lead ads work pretty similarly.)

Automate your lead gen forms

Forms can serve as a lead generation tool in their own right, but once people start filling out your forms, you need to be responsive. If compulsively refreshing your inbox at three in the morning sounds like more than you want to take on, give automation a try. 

  • You can integrate your entire tech stack with LinkedIn, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram lead ads, so you can get your lead details where they need to be, without the manual data management chores. 

Automation can keep your workflows humming with effortless tracking and analysis that keeps you on top of your prospects while delivering valuable insights. The result is a seamless set of workflows that lets you grow your business without getting bogged down in data management. 

Read more: Turn a contact form into a business growth tool with these 3 workflows

Ad platforms like Facebook and Google

A search for "artificial Christmas tree" that shows shopping ads and a search ad for Balsam Hill

Lead forms solve just one of your problems. You still need to drive traffic to those nimble, tailored, and conveniently-automated lead gen forms. Sign spinning on a street corner is one option, and probably a great workout to boot. But to scale that appeal, you'll need to go with slightly larger advertisers.

If you're unsure which advertiser is right for your business, here's how they compare. Still can't decide? You have more options than just the Big Two, including Twitter, Reddit, and a host of other platforms just waiting to help you spread the word.

Automate your ad tools

Once you've picked the perfect advertiser, there's still the work of making sure your message is timely and directed at the right prospects. Once again, automation can help you manage your lead outreach, streamline your campaign management, and grow your ROI, giving you the freedom to focus on your company's core mission. 

Landing page builders like Carrd

Carrd, our pick for the best free landing page builder

So, you've reached your prospect and gotten their attention. Now it's worth thinking about where you're asking them to go. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and a good landing page—a lead generation website—is the digital version of a winning smile and a firm handshake.

Just like lead gen forms and advertising, landing page lead generation isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. Are you focused on mobile traffic? Selling products? Looking to grow your subscriber base? Maybe it's a combination of all three. Whatever your needs, you don't have to build from scratch. 

Take a look at Zapier's roundup of the best landing page builders

Each of those apps comes at it from a different angle. If you're looking for free lead generation software, for example, Carrd offers its product for free and is focused on simplicity. Other tools are focused specifically on mobile-first lead generation landing pages or sales pages. 

Automate your landing page builder

Once your leads have arrived, your follow-up workflows don't have to dominate your time and attention. Link your landing pages to your other apps with automation, so all your business-critical tasks run in the background. 

Live chat apps like Intercom and Drift

A screenshot of Intercom, our pick for the best live chat app for lead nuture

Engaging prospects is another key piece of the online lead generation puzzle. If a lead has to craft and send a query, then sit around and wait for your reply, odds are that they'll be as cold as ice by the time you reach them—if you ever do.

Live chat apps, like Intercom and Drift, give you the power to interact with your leads in real time. You can go fully automated with chatbots, or choose a more personalized approach. Opt for built-in lead nurturing and scoring features, or pick and choose your favorite features a la carte.

Here are Zapier's picks for the best live chat apps for sales.

Whichever app you choose, you'll want to give your leads a chat experience that's proactive, dynamic, and authentic as possible. Nothing's more off-putting for a lead with questions than a trip through the uncanny valley. Consider, too, how those chat conversations can be used to jumpstart the rest of your sales pipeline. Incorporate features like chat transfer, visitor routing, and lead segmentation, as well as integrations with your other marketing applications, to deliver a seamless sales experience.

Chatbot builders like Manychat and Chatfuel

ManyChat, our pick for the best chatbot builder overall for the price

Sometimes it makes the most sense to customize your very own bot. That's the best strategy for keeping your business responsive in ways tailored to your specific needs. And if you're thinking that this kind of customization is out of your price and skill range, think again. 

Here are the best chatbot builders that anyone can use, regardless of your skill level.

Manychat and Chatfuel are the frontrunners, but there are lots of options ready and waiting to engage your leads in a way that makes the most sense for your business. Before choosing, you'll have to consider the amount of set-up work you're willing to put in, as well as the number of bots you'll be deploying and the kind of lead generation (email capture, segmentation, subscriber creation, etc.) you might want to ask your app to do. 

Webinar software like Demio and BigMarker

A screenshot of BigMarker, our pick for the best webinar software for built-in webinar automation

Of course, when it comes to engaging prospects, even the most sophisticated chatbots can only take you so far down the yellow brick funnel. You're most in control of your messaging when you're delivering it yourself, and webinars and other promotional events offer a human touch to that messaging.

Here are Zapier's picks for the best webinar software for marketers.

Whether you're automating a built-in option for your single platform, streaming to multiple services, or pre-recording your presentation, you can take advantage of a variety of different apps, like Demio or BigMarker, to help you deliver your personalized presentation to your audience. (And once you're done, don't forget to repurpose your webinar content.)

Automate your webinar software

Once the Q&A has come to an end, the follow-up work begins. Automate your webinar follow-up, so you can manage registrant data, follow up with attendees, and add guests to your marketing funnel without slowing down the rest of your processes.

Email marketing software like Benchmark and Mailchimp

Mailchimp, our pick for the best drip email campaign software for automation templates

Once you've built your email list, email marketing can help you turn cold leads back into warm ones. Email is one of the best tools for lead generation because it follows your prospects down the funnel.

  • Email newsletter software like Benchmark and Campaign Monitor include dynamic templates, tailored segmentation, and well as analytics and reporting to give you detailed insights into just what's moving the needle for your prospects. You can even try some free email marketing apps if you're just starting out.

  • Drip email apps like Mailchimp and Flodesk give you the power to trigger customized messaging at a predetermined time to a segmented audience. Drip campaigns give you a surprisingly affordable way to reach leads at the best possible time with a relevant, engaging message.  

Automate your email marketing

Automation can help you re-engage cold leads—and then continue to nurture them—from within your email marketing software. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

SMS apps for business like TextMagic and SimpleTexting

A screenshot of TextMagic, our pick for the best SMS app for getting started quickly

If you need to hit a moving target, there's no better choice than SMS marketing. Mobile messaging reaches leads where they live: on their phones. SMS apps like TextMagic and SimpleTexting also offer unique functionality that conventional email marketing doesn't have—namely, high open rates. And you can still engage in seamless, two-way conversations with prospects, with your choice of automated or personal responses. 

Take a look at Zapier's list of the best SMS apps for businesses.

Automate your SMS messaging

With an SMS messaging app, you won't be sacrificing any of the automation options you get in a more conventional marketing approach. Stay alert to upcoming events, loop in your team with status updates, and automate replies to offer 24/7/365 responsiveness. Here's how to get the most out of SMS messaging with automation.

Meeting schedulers like Calendly and SavvyCal

Calendly, our pick for the best meeting scheduler app for simplified scheduling

Once you've had success with your outreach, you'll be ready to close the deal with a good old-fashioned face-to-face. Got time for an endless back and forth to find a mutually convenient time to meet? I didn't think so.

Software can simplify your scheduling workflows, too. Apps like Calendly and SavvyCal offer you simplified schedule management in a variety of platforms and across venues. Beyond just managing your calendar, these apps give you the power to set up video calls, send follow-up emails, and add reminders so that you're never caught unprepared.   

Here are Zapier's picks for the best meeting schedulers.

Automate your meeting scheduling

Meeting schedulers play nice with other tools, integrating with your productivity apps of choice and simplifying your workflows. Connect your meeting scheduler with your CRM for automatic contact management, confirm meetings and email conference links, and nurture leads with click-free follow-up messaging. Here are a few scheduling automation workflows to make meetings easy.

Other helpful lead generating tools

You'll need a combination of the lead gen platforms above to make your funnel run smoothly, but that's nowhere near an exhaustive list of possibilities. You never know where you'll find the best lead gen tool for your business, so be sure to think outside the box.

  • Take video hosting, for example. You'll need somewhere to organize and track all of that video content you've worked so hard to produce. YouTube is a great way to get in front of millions of viewers, but it's not your only option. Look for apps that offer features to simplify your life, like analytics, SEO tools, team collaboration, and more.

  • You can also easily scale your email outreach without getting overwhelmed. These apps, like SimilarWeb's Chrome extension, can supercharge your inbox: research and qualify prospects, manage your email lists, and personalize your follow-up outreach to boost your email campaign's ROI.  

  • Or maybe you're focused on smaller, more incremental growth steps. Sometimes the best lead generation tool isn't even digital. Small-scale marketing, like farmer's markets, doesn't require a massive digital footprint to help get more leads in the door.

How to find the best lead generation tool

The best software for lead generation is going to be a collection of lead generation platforms in different categories. Your lead generation process should be unique to your business, so review all the categories above and see which apps you're missing from your stack. And then, of course, connect them and automate your entire lead funnel.

Related reading:

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'