22 Unconventional Marketing Tactics that Always Work

What’s the number one quality a good marketer needs to have?

It’s not a specific skill such as being good at SEO or conversion optimization. A good marketer needs to be creative.

Why? Because all of the normal marketing tactics that everyone knows about are played out. And sadly, they are not as effective as they used to be.

Luckily for you, my creativity gets the best of me sometimes, which leads me to discover marketing tactics that can help you grow your business too.

I am going to give you my favorite tactics you should use to increase your customers and sales.

1. If you want to know your customers, you need to talk to them

Do you like talking on the phone to people you don’t know?

If you do, you’re a unicorn. The vast majority of people either don’t particularly care for it or straight up hate it.

When it comes to the latest generation of Internet marketers, this is actually a huge problem.

A lot of people are drawn to online marketing because they think they don’t need to have any human interaction. No offices, no meetings, no phone calls, etc.

There are many different forms of marketing jobs, and many of them indeed don’t require any interaction.

However, if you ever want to reach that next level of success, you have to push yourself past your comfort zone.

The tactic in question here is talking with your target audience.

This is usually done through a phone or Skype call.

Why is this important? Because there is absolutely no better way to understand your target audience than to speak with them.

It’s the fastest way to learn how they talk, what they like, and what they are and aren’t interested in.

This is not only important for your content marketing but also for any product development.

I understand that it might not be the most comfortable thing for you to do, but you don’t have to do it too much to get a ton of value from it.

In addition, try to think of it this way:

For whatever reason(s), your goal is to create great things for this target audience, which means that you care about them. If you care about them, why wouldn’t you want to get to know at least some of them on a more personal level?

It’s worth mentioning that this tactic works regardless of whether you are selling to consumers or businesses (although you might find it easier to do with businesses).

Step #1 – Find customers you could talk with: Your first step is to find people with whom you can connect and whom you can convince to take a call from you.

There are 3 communal circles where you find these people:

  1. friends
  2. groups
  3. forums

If any of your friends fall into your target audience, that’s always the place to start. It’s pretty easy to convince a friend to hop on a quick call or let you buy them lunch.

In the event that none of your friends are in your target audience, you’ll need to find people elsewhere.

I recommend heading to groups next.

Both LinkedIn and Facebook have groups focused on just about every topic imaginable. It’s simple to find a group that contains many (up to thousands) of people in your target audience.

Start by searching for your niche on either of those sites and filter down the results by “groups”:


I’ll show you what to do from here in a second.

On top of these two sources of groups, you could also find groups in real life. Meetup.com is a fantastic place to find these groups. It’s free, and you can narrow down the groups by a category that contains your target audience.


In-person events are usually more effective than quick Skype calls for a number of reasons.

The main one is that you’ll get to see your target audience engaging about your subject in a natural environment. You can also form relationships easier in person, so the people whom you meet may help you both in the short- and long-term.

Obviously, this might make you more uncomfortable than you would be if you were just making a phone call, and it is optional. But it’s a great option if you’re one of those marketers who love interacting with people.
Finally, if all of those options fail (which they rarely will), you can also find a forum about your niche by Googling “(niche) + forum.”

For example, if I were selling a weight-loss product, I would search for “weight loss forums”:


Step #2 – Make them an offer they can’t refuse: Why on Earth would anyone want to have a 10-20 minute talk with you?

That’s the question we have to answer.

And the best answer is that they’ll do it because they get something out of it.

If you simply want to contact people in your target market individually and ask them to talk to you as a favor, that’s an option.

I don’t recommend it though.

You’ll end up wasting a whole lot of time.

Instead, offer them something valuable.

If they’re local, it could be a free lunch.

If it’s over the phone or on Skype, it could be $10-20 to their PayPal account or a free sample of a popular product.

Once you know what you can afford to offer, it’s simply a matter of getting people to agree to talk to you.

In a group or forum, you’ll want to post a new topic with a message like this:

Hi all,

I’m new to the group, but I’m already loving all the discussion about (topic) that I’ve seen here.

I’m currently doing some research about (topic) and am looking for a few people who’ve been interested in it for a while who would be willing to talk to me about it.

I’m just looking for a quick 10-20 minute chat so I can understand (topic) better.

I’m happy to offer $20 in exchange for your opinion if you are interested.

I recommend finding at least a few groups to post in because some will flag this as spam.

As long as you’re offering something valuable, you shouldn’t have a tough time getting takers.

Step #3 – Come prepared, but leave room for flexibility: Okay, you’ve finally gotten a few people who are willing to talk to you.

Ideally, talk to as many as you can afford to, but get at least three to get a decent picture of how they view your niche.

Here are some questions you might want to start with:

  • What are the main reasons you’re interested in (niche)?
  • What are the websites related to (niche) that you use most often? What do you like about them?
  • What are your favorite products for (niche)? Why do you choose them instead of other similar products?
  • What’s the biggest problem in (niche) you see right now?

Don’t limit yourself to just these questions, but as long as you get answers to at least these, you’ll get a lot of valuable information from the talk.

It’s a great idea to record the call so that you don’t miss anything.

2. Want to be a thought leader? Get used to being vulnerable

There are thousands of bloggers in just about every industry.

However, there are always 10-20 of those bloggers who are considered as leaders by most.

When they share their thoughts, everyone else listens and often relays those thoughts to their audiences.

It’s a very good position to be in.

Being a thought leader isn’t about how old your website is or how many blog posts you’ve written.

It’s about whether or not your peers (industry bloggers) respect you and consider you an expert (even among other bloggers).

Obviously, this has many benefits beyond a sense of accomplishment you might feel.

A great example of this is Brian Dean, who founded Backlinko just a few years ago.

Even though he had focused on SEO only for a short time, he quickly became a thought leader in the community.

He was able to drive tens of thousands of visitors to his new blog within a few months.

The main reason for his success was because other bloggers (like me) saw his work and were happy to showcase it in front of their audiences.

As a thought leader, you get as many links and as much traffic as you need to grow a healthy business, which Brian has done admirably.

On top of that, it also makes it easier to connect with those other bloggers because they already know you. Many of them will reach out to you before you ever get a chance to reach out to them.

Becoming a thought leader: I wish I could give you a simple formula for becoming a thought leader, but unfortunately I can’t.

There are many paths to becoming one.

They all require one thing: expertise. You need to have ideas and thoughts about your industry that are not only intelligent but also new.

You need to be one of the voices in your community that is making your community better.

If you have that, you have to get your messages out in front of your peers.

You can do this all online, but it’s a slow process.

A faster way is to start speaking at conferences.

I have a lot of experience with this, having spoken at more than 230 conferences so far.

Something interesting happens when you start speaking in front of audiences. All of a sudden, you are presented as an expert to the audience.

Since the audience is full of your peers, they’ll typically give you the attention and respect you’re after. If you deliver quality ideas to them, you will have become a thought leader in their eyes.

The benefits and drawbacks of conferences: Sounds amazing, right? And it can be, but only in an ideal situation.

When you first start out, you won’t get to speak at big conferences. You’ll be lucky to get to present in front of more than 50 people.

However, if public speaking is something that you excel at or want to develop and you’re willing to commit to doing at least 20-50 smaller events, you can have some success.

As you get better at speaking and your name slowly gets out there, you’ll get chances to speak at bigger and bigger conferences (that are invite only).

Using this one tactic alone, you could become a thought leader in a year or two if you work hard at it.

Oh, and did I mention the money? Conferences can benefit you financially in a few ways:

  • payment for speaking – while you won’t get paid at first, once you start getting invited to speak at conferences, you will. Even though I’m not the highest paid speaker, I can still typically charge $20,000 per hour plus travel expenses.
  • extra business opportunities – your audience will typically be a mix of peers and potential clients (mostly peers). Speaking has led to many 6-figure opportunities for me. People want to work with thought leaders.

How do you start speaking at conferences? Starting at the bottom means that you can’t be picky. Be prepared to accept whatever opportunities to speak you can get even if they aren’t great.

Your main goal is to get some experience to improve your speaking skills and learn how events are run.

Forget about making money right now because the ROI will suck until later on.

First, you’ll need to track down conferences, and then apply to be a speaker. They’re really easy to find; just search for “(industry) conferences speaker proposal”:


Just because an event isn’t huge doesn’t mean there aren’t a decent number of people who want to speak at it. Not all proposals are accepted, so you need to put in some effort here.

Here’s what you need to do to get accepted as a speaker:

  1. Read the requirements – Different conferences ask for different things in their proposals. Read what they want, and give them everything they ask for.
  2. Niche down – Don’t just pitch yourself as a “marketing speaker.” Pick a specific area that you are an expert in (i.e., email outreach or link building).
  3. Nail the bio – Most proposals require that you submit a bio. Make yourself sound as impressive as possible (exaggeration isn’t always a bad thing).
  4. Pitch a specific idea – You need to include a short description of what you want to talk about and why it’s interesting to the audience at the event. Pick a topic you know that no one else will be trying to present on.

At first, this is somewhat of a numbers game. Don’t apply to just one conference because it could be weeks until you hear back from the organizers (and if you’re not selected, sometimes you’ll never hear back).

It’s a lot of work up front, but it gets easier.

Once you talk at about 50 events (give or take), you’ll typically start getting invited to speak at events (and offered some payment).

3. It’s a lot easier to build relationships in person

Maybe public speaking in front of large audiences is a little overwhelming for you—fair enough.

But that doesn’t mean that you still couldn’t benefit from going to conferences and other similar events.

Conferences are attended by a lot of your peers, which gives you the opportunity to build relationships with them—much better ones than you can build through email.

While you won’t be a thought leader all of a sudden, having a handful of influencers on whom you can call for advice and get help with traffic goes a long way.

But conferences can be a huge waste of time if you don’t approach them strategically. Most people go to conferences, hand out business cards, and wonder why it doesn’t lead to anything.

You’re not going to do that…

Step #1 – Find a list of conferences in your industry: First, you’ll need to identify conferences you want to attend.

Obviously, local conferences are easiest to get to, but pick the ones that interest you the most.

It’s not hard to find lists of conferences anymore; just Google “(industry) conferences (year).”

For marketing, as an example, there are hundreds of conferences listed in the top few results alone:


Step #2 – Make a list of potential customers who are attending: Here’s where the real work begins.

The next thing you want to do is find out which of your peers are going to the conferences you’ve chosen.

As an example, I’ve chosen the International CES conference in early 2016.

Find the conference (or company putting it on) on social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter.

People advertising the conference on social media will almost always include a hashtag for it. In this case, it’s “#CES2016”.


Next, click the hashtag to see all the results of this mention on the network.

Look for those people who are saying that they’re excited to attend. For example:


You’ll need to monitor these results in the month or two leading up to the event. You should be able to make a list of at least 100 people going (for bigger conferences).

Step #3 – Open lines of communication before the event: Out of your attendee list, pick the people you want to meet the most.

Don’t target 100—that’s way too many. Instead, pick about 10 that you’d be interested in meeting and getting to know. You won’t meet them all at the event anyway.

The big mistake that most people who attend conferences make is that they wait until the conference to introduce themselves. That’s what the other 100 people are doing, and it’s a mess.

But what if you introduced yourself beforehand?

Sign up for the email list (if they have one) of each of your targets. If that’s not possible, you’ll have to make first contact on the social network you found them on.

Send them a short email like this:

Subject: (Conference name) 2019!

Hey (name),

Couldn’t help but notice that you’re planning to attend (conference name)—as am I.

I’ve seen your name come up a lot recently online, and you seem like an interesting guy.

I’m also in the (industry). I’m probably best known for (description).

I’d love to buy you a beer sometime at the conference if you have time.


(Your name)

It’s casual and explains your mutual connection as well as why you want to meet.

If you get a positive response, thank them and send them your personal cell number.

Step #4 – Meet, then follow up: If you’ve sent an introduction like that to 10-15 people, half will say they’re open to meeting up with you.

You probably won’t meet them all at the actual conference unless it’s a small one.

The hard thing at this point is to be natural. Don’t be creepy, and don’t hunt down people at a conference.

Instead, if you happen to see them, re-introduce yourself, and schedule a drink or lunch.

Alternatively, if you don’t come across someone you really wanted to meet, send them a quick text (if you have their number) after the first or second day along the lines of:

Hey (name), it’s (your name). I’m sorry we didn’t run into each other today. Still up for a drink? How about (time and location)?

Meet with whomever you can, and then just be natural. Don’t try to get anything out of them; simply enjoy getting to meet someone interesting in your industry.

What will usually happen is that they will either give you an idea on how to improve your business in some way or they will make you think of an idea by accident.

It’s crucial that you implement that idea as soon as you can when you return from the conference.

Then, in a few weeks, send them a follow-up email, letting them know it was nice meeting them and telling them the results of the action you took. When you actually apply someone’s advice, they are much more likely to help you in the future.

4. Transparency—the only way to get modern consumers to care about your business

Most people are guarded.

You want others to like you, respect you, and think you’re great in general, so you try to show them your best qualities.

But there’s only so much someone can like about you unless they get to know you.

If you really want someone to care about you, you need to be vulnerable and let them past that initial guard.

Surprisingly, a very similar thing happens in business.

The companies who have those super fans who can’t stop raving about them are more vulnerable than others.

Those companies use transparency very similarly to the ways people use it in their personal lives.

They don’t just have a great product. They go to great lengths to let their customers know what goes on behind the scenes.

This includes good things as well as bad things.

Whenever I mention transparency, I think of Moz.

Every single year, they publicly release their revenue numbers. Sometimes they have great years, and it’s probably really fun to share those results:


But what really separates them from everyone else is that they share the bad news as well. For example, they actually lost money in 2013:


On top of just results, Moz always talks about what actions they are taking based on the results. They describe the lessons they learned, ways they will implement them, and so on.

In niches like SEO and marketing, there isn’t a lot of trust.

Many businesses will say anything to get you to buy their products, and they disappoint you every time.

But I don’t want to run a business like that, and I know companies like Moz don’t either.

So, how do you prove that you aren’t out just to make a quick buck?

You become vulnerable=You become transparent.

Applying transparency to your business: Not every audience cares about revenue or monthly visitors. That’s no different from how much you want to get to know most people: you don’t care about every single aspect of their characters, just the important ones.

Your first step is to determine what your audience cares about the most. It could be any of the following:

  • your revenue (if they are interested in business)
  • your processes
  • how you make your product
  • how you respond to customer complaints and suggestions
  • how you handled a recent business crisis (e.g., after an employee made a mistake)
  • how you decide on what products you’ll focus on in the future

Notice that some of those things are “bad,” like exposing mistakes you made.

Transparency is about showing your business as it truly is. And if you’re trying to run a good business, it will hopefully show.

You might lose a few fair-weather customers, but you can also gain super fans who love seeing the real people behind the company.

Those customers will make your growth substantially easier.

Overall, transparency is a commitment.

You have to show both the good and the bad because your customers can tell.

If someone in your company makes a big mistake, your customers will find out about it on social media these days.

Instead, take the opportunity to get ahead of the issue, make your company better in the long run, and do something that many customers will appreciate.

5. If you began in content marketing, you might want to venture out


The final “scary” thing that I want to talk about involves different marketing channels.

Comfort is a good thing in many ways, but it can stop us from progressing, both as individuals and as businesses.

At some point in your business (maybe you’re already there), you’ll be getting results that you’re “happy” with.

That’s actually a very dangerous thing.

It’s tempting to keep everything exactly the same in order to sustain the results. But in life and business, most things either grow or shrink. Very few things stay the same.

For example, maybe you’re having a lot of success with blogging.

Would you try to create videos or a podcast or try a different marketing channel altogether like paid advertising?

Those alternatives are “scary” because you don’t know them well.

You could end up losing hundreds or thousands of dollars if they don’t go well.

So forget them, right?

I hope you don’t. Instead, continuously give new, “scary” channels a try because you never know if your current channel will become less effective. Or you might discover a channel that’s even more effective.

Keeping an open mind and trying new scary channels leads to diversification and maximum growth for a business.

Those are two very good results. All you need to do is overcome any fear holding you back from experimenting. It’s okay if you fail on a few channels because when you succeed, it will far outweigh those losses.

6. Trialists rarely leave for no reason

It makes me want to bang my head against my desk.

Some marketers are so focused on getting new customers that they don’t realize that what happens after a signup or purchase is the most important factor behind growth.

Growth comes from creating a product that is as close to the needs and wants of your customers as possible.

You can’t create that kind of a product going on intuition, without any actual customer feedback.

No feedback is feedback: If someone signs up for a demo or a trial or purchases something from you, that tells you something.

It tells you that:

  • They need a solution to a problem you’re trying to solve.
  • They like the sound and/or look of your product.

But if a customer stops using your product right after they start using it (particularly for software products), that’s your feedback.

Their problem didn’t just disappear. What happened is they concluded that your product couldn’t help them sufficiently.

What’s the point of getting new customers if you barely retain any of them?

On top of that, you need to absolutely thrill customers if you want them to recommend you to others.

The solution? Get feedback: As long as you collect email addressed when people sign up, you can contact them.

If a large portion of your new signups are disappearing on you, personally send them an email and find out how your product fell short.

The customer is still in “pain” because they haven’t solved their problem, which makes them pretty receptive to outreach.

It’s not scalable to email every single new customer you get, but this type of feedback is how you’ll make your customers love your product. You could even survey a fraction of your customers and still get really valuable feedback.

You can also preemptively get feedback by sending your customers a welcome email, asking them how they found you and what they’re hoping your product can do for them.

Here’s how Groove did it with great success:


Try something similar, and you’ll get a high response rate with great feedback.

7. Don’t be afraid to sell one-on-one at first

I’ve started many companies at this point, and believe me, they weren’t all successes at first.

It’s a huge job to start a business from scratch. Getting customers is just one area, but it is indeed very difficult since you don’t have your perfect product yet or any word of mouth in most cases.

Sometimes, you can throw money at advertising and get your growth off the ground.

Sometimes you can’t. Whether it’s because of your budget or because of your product, advertising isn’t always a great option.

An option that I recommend is to have one-on-one conversations with your potential customers.

Where do you find them?

  • Forums
  • Sites like Reddit
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites
  • Friends in real life

Let me give you an example. Say you’re selling a website builder. You could spend time on the startups and entrepreneur subreddits, forums such as Warrior Forum, and many groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

It will take time, but you’ll come across questions and conversations like this one I pulled from Reddit:


Someone was looking for a website builder with search functionality.

Then, you can send the user a message. Something like this:

Hey, I saw that you were trying to create a search based website. I actually have a lot of experience with that sort of thing and even built a website builder for that specific reason.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about it. Just send me your email address, and we can hop on Skype or Slack or have a quick email chat.


Note that everything in this message is about how you can help them, and not the other way around.

It’s much easier to sell to someone when you have their full attention during a chat, and especially when you’re actually providing them with additional help and guidance.

8. Make customers come back with a little extra effort

Like I said above, the customer experience after they try or purchase something is what leads them to become return customers and to start talking about your product to others.

One way you could make sure they end their experience on a high note, which will encourage them to talk about your business and come back, is with a handwritten thank-you note.

Unless your customers are very young, handwritten letters are typically perceived as a caring, personal gesture.

For example, this is a simple card that a Jawbone customer received:


When the recipient of the note posted the above photo on Twitter, this one tweet resulted in over 100 shares (at the time of writing).

While a card will take you a few minutes to write and send (if you batch them), it will return much more to you if do it well.

9. Trade your product for something more valuable

I mentioned it earlier: it’s tough to get customers for a new product with no customer base.

People want to see that others have had a good experience with something before buying it themselves.

Translated to marketing, this is social proof, primarily seen in the form of testimonials and case studies.


Both can provide assurance to potential customers considering buying from you and often have a large impact on conversion rates.

You have to give to get: Great testimonials or case studies are worth several times the cost of your product.

One option, early on, is to give away your product or service in return for a testimonial or case study.

The hard part is finding a way to actually get this offer in front of people.

It will depend on your product.

For some, you can simply make a forum post or Reddit thread and offer a few samples of your product (say 5-10) to any users willing to give you feedback. You can get their emails and go into more details later.

If that’s not an option, you need to be more creative:

  • Offer it to anyone who contacts you with questions about the product.
  • Install live chat on your website, and offer products to anyone who engages.


  • Actively reach out to customers if possible (say you sell a product for bloggers)

Most people are pretty receptive to trying something for free.

Once you’ve invested in these testimonials or case studies, you need to make sure they’re effective. Luckily, I’ve written about it in the past:

10. Have a broad market? Consider stickers…

I’ve mentioned Reddit a few times in this post as well as many of my other posts. Reddit is now one of the largest sites in the world.

Do you want to know how Reddit got off the ground?

In 2005, the two co-founders got $12,000 from Y Combinator.

That’s $12,000 for the whole business, so not a ton to go around. They were left with $500 for a marketing budget.

They promptly spent that $500 on stickers of their alien mascot:


They plastered them in public everywhere they could and handed out the rest at events or to random people on the street.

Soon after, stickers started showing up on social media and other websites, and people learned about Reddit. The picture above is of Wil Wheaton in the background of a sticker.

I love this idea because you’ll always stand out. Just make sure that your site or product is identified on the sticker and that it ends up in view of the people you’re trying to target.

The Reddit stickers worked out well because they were placed on bus stations and buildings on college campuses. Reddit had a pretty broad audience, even at the start, but primarily focused on young, tech-savvy users (college students).

You don’t necessarily have to use stickers. You could try:

  • Backpack or luggage tags
  • T-shirts or hats
  • Bracelets
  • Glow sticks

Be creative.

11. It’s all about the long tail

long tail seo

Having good content on your website is great. The easiest way to do this is to start a blog. Through blogging, you can rank for thousands of keywords naturally, and you’ll build up your company’s brand at the same time.

Whether you already have a blog or not, there is one thing that you need to do if you want your long tail strategy to work well: you have to write really good content.

The easiest way to do this isn’t to write the content yourself. It is to hire bloggers and either have them ghost write for you or publish content under their name. If you don’t know where to find them, just post an ad here, and you’ll get over 100 applicants.

Once you go through the applicants and find a few bloggers that you want to hire to write blog posts for $20, here are the requirements you need to give them:

  • Quality over quantity – each blog post should be at least 1,000 words long (without containing any fluff). It is because you want really detailed content that provides value to the readers.
  • A picture says a thousand words – you should have at least one picture within your blog post. It helps makes things easier for your readers. The bloggers you hire should be able to provide you with a picture.
  • Are you smarter than a 5th grader? – tell your writers to write as if they were talking to 5th graders. They need to avoid using crazy vocabulary, and each blog post should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
  • Spice up your titles – the most important part of a blog post is the title. If it isn’t sexy, people won’t read it. Have your writers read ourformulas for a perfect headline before they start writing for you.

With this content strategy, in the long run, you’ll notice that you will start getting a ton of traffic from search engines. You just have to be patient and, more importantly, be consistent with how many blog posts you publish each month. Make sure you are publishing at least four blog posts every month.

12. Homepages aren’t everything


If you want links to internal product pages, consider giving away prizes, t-shirts, and even products or services to bloggers to get them to blog about the stuff you are selling.

If you don’t have time to email hundreds of bloggers, post an ad on Craigslist to find someone who will work for you for $10 to $12 an hour. Once you have a candidate who knows something about HTML and a few things about sales, have him or her do the following:

  1. Go to Alltop and find bloggers that could potentially blog about your site.
  2. Before choosing your bloggers to email to, make sure you pick blogs that are semi-popular but aren’t the most popular blogs out there like TechCrunch. You can usually do this by checking each blog’s Alexa ranking. Anything between 30,000 and 300,000 is typically worth emailing. Anything below 30,000 means that the blog is too popular and its people probably won’t be interested in reviewing your company.
  3. Now you can email each of those bloggers and offer them something to review. Make sure you don’t offer cash as you start getting into grey areas because technically you’re paying for a review at this point.
  4. Send out 30 to 50 emails a day to different bloggers, and do this straight for 90 days.

After you do this for 90 days, you’ll start noticing that the internal pages of your website will start getting a lot more traffic. In the long run, your internal pages should be getting more traffic than your homepage.

13. There’s nothing wrong with exit pop-ups

popup tactic

Before someone tries to leave your website, why not pop up another window that collects your visitor’s contact information? I know it may sound spammy, but if you do it right, it should work just fine.

Here is what I recommend:

  1. Pick your audience – don’t show everyone an exit pop-up; only show it to traffic sources that are not converting well for you. For example, Google traffic isn’t converting very well on Quick Sprout, so I could show an exit pop-up to those visitors only and collect their names and email addresses so I can email them every time there is a new blog post.
  2. Don’t be rude – cookie visitors so if someone comes back to your website, that person won’t see the pop-up again. If you keep showing pop-ups to the same people over and over again, they’ll get irritated.
  3. Offer a gift – with your exit pop-up, offer your visitors something for free to entice people to give you their names and email addresses. On Quick Sprout, I offer a free ebook.

Once you start collecting hundreds, if not thousands, of email addresses, you’ll start getting a lot more return visitors to your website. That should lead to more sales (assuming you are selling something).

14. Five dollars go a long way


Facebook and Twitter can drive a lot of traffic, so why not leverage them, right? You should, but it won’t be effective unless you have a lot of friends and followers.

The best way to build up your accounts is to follow and friend influential people within your industry. In addition to that, you should be tweeting and posting status updates that are also relevant to your industry.

Doing those two things will help you get a larger following in the long run, but it can take months, if not years, for that to be effective.

One method I use to speed up the process is to pay people $5 to get me more relevant Facebook fans/friends and Twitter followers. On sites like Fiverr, you can pay people $5 to build up your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This way, when you write a new status update on Facebook or when you tweet a message, thousands of people will be seeing it.

15. Ask and you’ll receive


All of my startups are largely sales driven, so the more leads I collect, the more money I can potentially make.

One easy way to collect more leads or get more signups is to add signup forms on your website. And if you add forms to your homepage and all other major pages, you’ll find that it is effective, but it tends to be a bit tacky.

What my business partner started doing is adding KISSinsights pop-ups on certain parts of our site, like on our blog, so that we can collect more leads. The best part about it is that it looks clean, and it is really effective in capturing web leads.

So, if you have a sales driven business like me, start popping up KISSinsights forms that collect a person’s name and email address.

16. Reverse your funnel

Who says someone has to hit your homepage, then your product page, your cart page, and lastly your checkout page to buy your product?

Sure, that’s how most sites do it, but why can’t you switch some steps around?

Just put yourself in your customers’ shoes. They are likely to think:

I’ve already come this far and invested this much time, so I might as well complete the transaction.

With HelloBar, instead of having you to sign up for the product first, we let you put in your URL, install the product, and start using it.

Just look at the HelloBar homepage:


Once you enter a URL, you go into the product before you even have to sign up.

hb app

By reversing the funnel and not requiring customers to provide their emails and passwords to see our application, Hello Bar increased signups by 52.11%.

17. Evoke curiosity

Even if people give you their email addresses, it doesn’t mean they are engaged. If users are not engaged, they may not open your emails, complete the purchase, or continue to come back.

How do you make your visitors engaged so they stick around? You evoke their curiosity!

A good example of this is a CTA on NeilPatel.com. People type in their URLs in order to find out how they can increase their traffic.


Then the number of errors are shown:


In the last step, the form collects leads, without showing the prospective customers what the errors are:


By evoking curiosity, the number of leads increased by 63.5%.

18. Don’t forget to follow up

Marketing isn’t just about driving people to a website. It covers a variety of steps ranging from getting someone to your website to writing persuasive copy and following up with your prospective customers to get the stragglers to buy. Marketing, in essence, takes the whole funnel into account.

One person who is great at following up is Timothy Sykes. When people apply to his millionaire challenge, in which he promises to teach them how to become millionaires through the stock market, he follows up with them with homework assignments.

tim sykes

By following up with his applicants, Timothy is building a relationship with them. Because he is continually educating them and giving them free advice, people end up loving him, which makes them more willing to give him money when he asks them for it.

His strategy of following up helped him increase his revenue by 84.7%.

19. Quiz your visitors

Would you rather play a video game or visit some boring corporate website? Chances are you’ll want to play a video game.

Why not integrate the principles that make games fun and addicting into your website? A good way to do this is to create quizzes to engage your visitors and convert them into customers.

A great example of this is a tool by Crew that’s called How Much to Make an App? This interactive quiz is designed to increase the company’s revenue.

app cost

If you want to use quizzes to increase your lead generation efforts, consider limiting your quiz to five questions. For each question, limit the number of responses to four. Plus, add images when possible.

I’ve used this strategy frequently for my lead generation sites, and it typically helps increase the number of leads I collect by 281%.

20. Make signing up easy

Do you have a Gmail account? If not, you probably have a Facebook or Twitter account, right?

These sites are so popular that your visitors are likely to have an account with one of them already.

So when people visit your website, why make them register? You can use Google, Facebook or Twitter authentication to allow people to register with your website. This way, they don’t have to type in an email and password. All they have to do is click a button.

We did this on KISSmetrics, and it made a world of difference. The last time we tested it, we were able to increase our conversion rate by 91.88%.


When you let your users log in through Facebook, Twitter or Google, test your calls to action. We found that the phrase “Log In” converted 20% better than the phrase “Sign Up”.

21. Get personal

Dating sites taught me a very useful marketing strategy – to get personal with my visitors. Just think about dating ads: they are personalized to you. For example, when I am in Las Vegas, Nevada, and browse sites like AOL, I see ads that state:

Find true love in Las Vegas, Nevada!

These advertisers are using your geo-location data to insert the city you live in within their marketing messaging.

This makes the messaging personal, which increases the number of signups you get.

Neil Patel tried this on his site and it converts exceptionally well:


If you use personalized messaging throughout your site, and not just your homepage, you’ll find your user engagement will increase.

By using this tactic, I was able to increase return visits by 68%.

22. Optimize your email deliverability

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again: email marketing is one of my highest converting marketing channels. And it’s not just me. Other companies like Amazon, eBay, and Apple make a large portion of their revenue through email marketing.

But there is one big issue. It’s tough to get your emails into people’s inboxes. Spam filters and promotional tabs within Gmail prevent many people from seeing your emails.

How do you ensure that your emails get delivered? You should follow a lot of the basic tips marketers are talking about, and you should also sign up for a service called Return Path.

Return Path has a deal with a lot of providers, and they can ensure that your emails get delivered into people’s inboxes. It’s so effective that once I started using it, my email traffic increased by 38%. Now, that’s a lot of extra visitors.


No one said it would be easy to become a top marketer.

You have to constantly operate outside of your comfort zone if you want to grow as a professional marketer or business owner.

I’ve shown you 5 techniques that are “scary” to most marketers, and I bet at least one could benefit your work.

You don’t need to overcome all your fear in one day, but take small steps and push your limits. Over time, you might learn to enjoy the process.


  1. Adarsh Sojitra :

    Hey Neil,

    Just saw the outline of the article and It is really worth reading! I am starting it from the first now and Yes, Again, The great article on Quicksprout. Actually, Sometimes I think how can you write this much content on just one topic! I can only write 2000-3000 words per article when I know much about the topic I am writing.

    That’s cool article and I am going to start it from top!

    Adarsh Sojitra

    • Adarsh, I’ve been doing this for over a decade now so it doesn’t take me as long as it use to. I’ve also have an assistant who helps with research.

      • Awesome skills Neil
        I agree with Adarsh, your article are really in detail. My question looks personal, but I was excited to know this, How many words do you write daily? 😀

  2. Ramchandra Yadav :

    Very Nice Sir
    Thanks For Share
    Really Like You

  3. Hey Neil,
    I always enjoy the articles you put out! And, as a newbie in marketing I follow all of your advices! So, if I’m ever attending a marketing conference And know that you’ll be there, I’ll be sure to follow your advice given in this article; I’ll probably be sending you a message and see if I could buy you a drink. 🙂

    • lol that sounds great Mai, I would love that. I am glad I can help. Let me know if you need any other help along the way.

  4. Michelle @ Modern Acupuncture :

    Great article, as always. I definitely agree about reaching out to your audience and actually talking to them. I do lots of interviews to feature on my website but they are usually written (I email a set of questions, they email back their answers – barely any interaction!). But lately I’ve started asking my interviewees for a Skype chat first, so that I get to know them and have a better idea of what specific questions to ask in the interview. This has been a wonderful approach – that personal connection after speaking via Skype is way better than just emailing. I think it really allows us to see that we actually like each other and we have common goals! This in turn has made these people my supporters (and vice versa) and many new and exciting collaborations have been suggested as a result! So 100%, yes, speak to your followers and those you work with once in awhile via Skype or phone. It makes a huge difference!

    • That’s great Michelle! It’s incredible how big of a difference it makes to connect with people on the phone, video, or in person. There’s a lot of communication that happens non verbally, and it’s critical that you receive that data. Whether it’s negotiating a deal or data mining your customers, you’ll get a lot more for a little more effort

  5. Great inputs!

    You went through sensitive areas which most of the online marketers hate. Most of them really don’t like to apply most of these points you have listed.

    I think the personal preferences play a huge role here, yet agreed with you in most of your post.

    Mingling with your audience by all means maximizes your reliability and I believe that all you do there is part of your Online Reputation.

    Thanks for sharing this valuable post.

    • I know it’s uncomfortable for a lot of people :\

      It’ll take baby steps, but going the process will not only bring more success in business, but it’ll also contrbiute to more joy in your life

  6. Neil – I drafted an email idea specifically on this the other day!
    “If you want to know your customers, you need to talk to them”

    Admittedly, I feel like I need to be in the right frame of mind to get on the phone but I can ALWAYS tell the difference it makes to call someone up and have a proper conversation.

    So much value.

    Love the article, cheers

  7. You totally read my mind Neil. I’ve always disliked working in sales while going through university and thought venturing into the digital frontier would help me avoid having to talk to clients, but it’s been even more client stress working agency side than I had when I was in sales haha. Ironic a little, isn’t it?

    Anyways, great post as always, and thought I’d say hi for the first time.


    • Sales can suck in the beginning, but as you get more and more practice, it’ll become easier and easier. Luckily got had a chance to experience sales during university because you got to carry what you did learn over to your agenyc. Whether its our products and services or our ideas, we sell everday

  8. You’re right Neil, these tactics are scary and uncomfortable for the majority of Internet marketers. But I guess, taking these uncomfortable steps is the best way to stand out in your niche. And getting in touch with your customers is a great technique to start with.

    Thanks for sharing the awesome tips Neil!

    • You need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s hard at first, but if you do the things that frighten you day by day, you’ll effortlessly make your way through and grow.

  9. Dear Neil,

    They’re all scary!

    But I’ll go for it.

    Currently I stay in comfort zone where I regularly private-message my friends on Facebook. I also like to post tips publicly there, hoping to get some attention from audience. I’m actually trying to look like an expert in digital marketing.

    I think if I do everything online I’ll be succeed.

    However the result proves how wrong I am.

    Thank you for your guidance, Neil.

    • It’s not that you’re wrong, it’s that you’re learning of a balance necessary for you to achieve success. While these methods are scary, every thing you can overcome will make you significantly more powerful

  10. As usual, awesome advice! Most online marketers are regurgitating information but your posts always offer something unique and insightful that can’t be found elsewhere. Kudos, keep up the great work!


    • Steve, glad I could help. I love marketing more than anything in the world so it’s my pleasure in putting it together. If you need anything else please let me know.

  11. Hello Neil,
    Great Post.
    About your question, if i tried any scary technique. I joined few groups which were related to my niche. But hastily i shared few of my posts, and got more likes than the group admin’s post and so he removed me. Well that was some experience ;). Though that was my mistake. What do you think 😀 ?

    • I think it’s great that your post did well and if you’re going into someone’s group, you’ll want to respect their rules 🙂

  12. Neil,

    Awesome advice on conferences. You gave a very actionable plan that I am going to implement, thank you.

  13. Repurposing my content is not only saving me money for paid ads as a means for traffic generation, it is also building my blog quality backlinks from the high DA site that most of these marketing channels have. Thanks for the other strategies will be working to improve on them.

    • Techniques like these help you become more efficient allowing you to focus on doing things effectively. You’re welcome, let me know if there’s anything else I could help you with.

  14. Hi Neil,

    Article is mostly about getting in-person which I think is great idea. There are lot of things you can express while you meet someone face to face that can’t be expressed on phone or Skype. Great article as always 🙂

    • 7% of your communication is words while 38% is tonality and 55% is body language. Meeting with people in person gives you a myriad of nonverbal communication.

  15. You hit it on the head. One of the great ironies about online marketing is how such a people-focused industry seems to attract so many “not-a-people-person” people.

    Personally, I hate asking people for favors, even when the favor is actually fairly small.

    For this reason, I was really nervous to try out guest posting. I figured they probably wouldn’t be interested in who I was or what I had to say because I wasn’t already a thought leader in the field.

    However, when I took the plunge and actually started pitching websites, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my ideas and blog posts were extremely well-received, both by the blog editors and their audiences.

    It took some courage to put myself out there, but I’m quickly becoming recognized as a thought leader in a very competitive field.

    Courage delivers results, folks!

    • wow, good for you 🙂 With all the time we spend in front of our computers or smartphones, we get stuck in this “safe space”. Getting comfortable being in “real time” is where it becomes challenging for people because they don’t know how to think fast enough. It’s a skill like anything else that needs to get developed.

  16. Andrew TicketGun :

    Speaking at meet ups can seem very daunting, until you actually do it. I was asked to give a talk on blogging a couple of years ago and even although I made the talk super casual and made it clear from the outset that I didn’t consider myself an expert I’m still feeling the positive benefits all this time later.

    Be brave, you might be amazed what can happen!

    • Your story is inspiring Andrew. It’s true, it’s daunting at first, but when you just “do it”, you allow yourself to become something more. When you’re done, you think, “why was I ever scared of that in the first place”.

  17. That headline was treading along the lines of click-bait however, some fair advice was given in your post. I did expect to read about fear-inducing marketing tactics.

    • I’m glad it was better than you expected 🙂

      Let me know if there’s anything specific I can help you out with.

  18. In my opinion, one of the scariest marketing techniques is one you do all the time, Neil. It’s giving away some of your best content for free. It seems to contradict everything about entrepreneurship and marketing, but it works. Still, I think it paralyzes many people (including myself).

    Number 5 is also spot on. Content marketers develop tunnel vision, especially because content marketing is all the rage right now. Other marketing channels are no less valuable, and almost always, you need more than one channel.

    Thanks for the list, Neil!

    • I give it all away for free because I focus my audience first. People who really enjoy my content subscribe, take my other free training, attend my webinars, hire me and engage with me in other ways.

      Content marketing doesn’t just have to be in blog form, it take go into a myriad of other mediums. Have the courage to try new things, you may just surprise yourself

  19. Jack Knopfler :

    Hi Neil,

    Reading this article was quite serendipitous as it’s something i’ve been thinking a lot about lately. As an introvert, I’ve been completely satisfied earning an income from my digital business (I run an infographic design agency) with no face-to-face interactions, but I think to take things to the leve I need to break through my comfort zone and join the real world.

    Conferences have been on my mind for quite a while now. This was the kick I needed to take some real action. Thanks a lot!

    • I think you’re exactly who this blog post was for 🙂

      I know how you feel, I enjoy being in my head all the time too. I’m happy to hear you’re inspired! Let me know how things work out. Also, check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004J4WNL2/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

  20. Neil, what’s the difference between Neilpatel.com and Quicksprout.com? Both have same great contents

    • I’ve had quicksprout for over a decade now. I started neilpatel.com as more of an experiment to grow a new blog.

  21. Awesome and oh so true Neil.

    Looking forward to this months $100k challenge post. I’m really glad you chose the nutrition choice. It is really motivating seeing it done from scratch.

    Real curious as to why you chose to focus on mainly content creation and backlinking.
    Unlike Derek Halpern, there doesn’t seem to be much blog promotion or guest posting.
    What’s the optimal time spent on these and why the emphasis on content creation?

    • It varies, but I like spending more time on content creation and promotion. Everyone has different strategies…

      The update will come out on Monday.

  22. Hi Neil,

    Yes, Scary is the word, Most of the bloggers or content marketers simply provides contents. There are only a few who provides wide range of contributions like Podcasts,Videos,Webinars,Public speaking so and so, it may sound crazy lol

    • The competition gets thinner and thinner as you go, which gives the bravest and ones with courage the biggest opportunity 🙂

  23. Neil,

    Once again I can only say AWESOME !!! As I have worked in B2B industry so I always had trade shows and conferences in mind to generate leads but I always thought of exploring them from organizational perspective. You made me realize it can be used as an individual too. Thanks for showing up another way.

    You are simply awesome !

    • All the experience you’ve had will help you go along way as you shift to the individual perspective. I’m glad I could help. Let me know if there’s anything else I could help with.

      • Hi Neil,

        Surely you can help a lot and you have been doing it so far. I would request if you can guide (or even write) a blog post on:

        How to create content and what type of content to present in a conference specially when an individual is a beginner and without any portfolio.

        That would be really interesting because conferences are attended by professionals so it will be a big challenge for beginners.

        • Adeel, I suggest you take a look at my beginners guide to online marketing: https://www.quicksprout.com/the-beginners-guide-to-online-marketing/ In it you’ll find a step by step way of learning and presenting something at your conference.

  24. Neil,

    Awesome advice, especially about how uncomfortable it can be to talk to your target audience in person. Strangely, I hadn’t thought of joining LinkedIn groups to get an inside view of the fears and needs of my target audience, although I do use forums. A great aha! moment for me!

    • Yah and you begin to realize that everyone has the same feelings and share similar fears. We’re all in this together 🙂

  25. Great post Neil, This is a great way to improve your conversions and leave a long term impact on your customers. This tactic is really very beneficial for local businesses. When it comes to being more global regardless of location, there I think this approach could be little challenging or limited.

    For most of online information portfolios do you think that this tactic would work? What could be alternatives to implement same marketing strategies when you have only and only online communications, contacts which are actually unknown to you.

    • Deepak, the easiest way is to escalate your communication to phone or even video chat. Whether you’re talking with clients, or vendors, seeing and hearing them will you grow tremendously.

  26. Pengedar Sah Shaklee :

    Amazing Neil! Million thanks for this great article. Im so amazed to your abundant knowledge in this area that able you to bring out this lengthy masterpiece. I shall print this out and read it again and again, practicing i step by step as per taught by you in this article… thanks again Neil..

    • That sounds great Pengedar! All these techniques will build on top of each other, so you’ll want to start off doing what feels easiest and most comfortable to you and then work your way up.

  27. Taranpreet Singh :

    Hello Neil Sir,
    The ‘5 scary marketing techniques’ you have shared through this post don’t seem much ‘scary’ to me. In fact, I believe they are techniques most marketers & bloggers aren’t using because they have an indirect impact upon the growth of their business/blog, not the direct one.
    And amidst the super excited next gen class of people, it’s obvious to demand quick results. Fear moves away when you don’t think about it as ‘Fear’.
    It’s all about thoughts, I think.
    Anyways, thanks for this post.

    • I think you’re right about it all just being “thoughts”. A lot of marketers are scared because they don’t have the same control in real time, that they have when they’re in front of their computer. It sounds like you have courage and that will take you very far 🙂

  28. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the post ” Make them an offer they can’t refuse ” . Can you quote a real life example of yours. I need to work a lot on that

    • You want to give someone so much value that they can’t turn it down. In the past I’ve done a lot of free work for clients and have given free talks to get my name out. It’s a bit more work at first, but essentially you’re building your foundation here.

  29. Hi, great post. Very helpful techniques for effective marketing. Thanks for sharing this amazing post.

    • You’re welcome Aditya, I’m glad I could help. Let me know if there’s anything else I could help you out with 🙂

  30. excellent post yet again, thank you!

  31. Ramneet Singh Kalra :

    I have been following your articles and I must say, they are awesome.
    I have been trying many things and I have a question.

    Should startups hire brand managers/ known personalities irrespective of the cost as they may bring business to them. Also startups have a limited budget so I am a bit confused on this topic.


    • As they get bigger, yes. When they are smaller, no… it’s expensive.

      It doesn’t just have to be for startups, it could be for any business.

  32. You mean I actually have to talk to people…like in real life? Ahhh. lol I love it Neil. As marketers its easy to hide behind our keyboards and computer screens typing away. But there is no greater form of communication than face to face. Even, doing a video can be much more meaningful than Facebook message or email. I will often even send people personal videos if I am contacting them through email or Facebook. It comes off as more real and people enjoy it.

    • People want to talk to real people, so when you give them that effect, you’ll have a much deeper connection than if you’re just typing.

  33. Jinky Tolentino :

    Hi Neil, thank you for this article. With your title “Scary Marketing Techniques…”. It’s like you just read my mind as I was currently looking for ways to find other ways to offer my online marketing services (Marketing Automation) instead of the usual job seeker websites as advised by my mentor Jomar Hilario. And I was having second thoughts and was hesitant because of the fear that people might think I’m spam. But now I’m confident it will work and I will do exactly as you mentioned above. Thanks again!

    • That fear of thinking its spam is inside your head. I know it feels real to you and as you begin to realize that it’s something you can overcome, it will effortlessly go away.

  34. Neil is one guy that I really like his sharing on marketing tips.

  35. Neil Patel, my friend, you never fail to deliver!

    This is absolute brilliance and I wouldn’t blame you if you locked all of this juicy content behind a payment wall – it’d be worth every penny. Great stuff as usual my man!

  36. Hi, Great post. very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Hi Neil
    Thank you for this article. I liked the spirit behind it – venturing out, getting closer to your client.
    In our company we like talking with clients, could even travel to a different city to meet in person
    Our offer – writing an article about client’s story, so they are motivated to meet with us

    • Yah plus it’ll end up being a lot of fun. It can feel scary out there at first, but first take baby steps, then big steps, and then giant leaps as venture off into the world.

  38. Hey Neil,
    Like the #1 If you want to know your customers, you need to talk to them – this is how you can understand and give them the best solution. Great scary techniques. Cheers!

  39. Bhuboy de Leon :

    Of all the methods you mention, the scariest for me is speaking in conference or even speaking to a small group of people. Its been my longest fear, when I stand in front of people I don’t know I always get conscious and always thinking of what are they thinking, and my mind always comes up with negative things

    • It happens to all of us Bhuboy 🙂

      It’s that moment from worry about what people think and just going for it when you experience the magic. You can do it, you just need to put yourself through it a couple times. The reality is that people want just want you to be yourself and give it your best shot.

  40. Amar @ WhatsApp Tricks :

    While making offers, one must try this technique.

    If you plan to give 50% discount on your product then advertise your offer as 30% + 20%. Most of the people think they are getting 50% off on the product but actually now.

    Thanks for such awesome guide and yes they are really worth taking risks.

    • There are lots of ways you can get people engaged through deals. Obviously you don’t want to trick people, but you’ll want to give them deals they can feel excited about so continue to shop with you a stay a loyal customer.

  41. This post is really worth it to the bloggers amazing ideas which no one follow while writing blog and article.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed Sonali, I appreciate you coming by. I hope you get a chance to put these techniques into action. Please keep me posted on how everything works out or if there’s anything you need help with.

  42. Hey Neil, I was wondering where to find the people could be interested to share their views in my niche. The idea you have given here provides very good insights to find them. I also liked on other aspects. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I really helped.

    • Try places like quora or search for facebook groups. There are a lot of communities you’ll come across as you connect with the people you meet with these niche groups.

  43. Thanks. Some of it that looks scary is not really scary at all. It is just outside of the comfort zone. But when you try it, you’ll find that it is worth all the risk.

    • Exactly Ivan. When you do it, you’ll ask yourself “why were you afraid in the first place”. When you step out of your comfort zone, the magic happens.

  44. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that it is not even scary at all. It just feels different from the usual things that you do. And if you really cannot do it, you can always hire someone who can do it.

    • It’s challenging at first because you’re so worried about what other people think, making a mistake, looking stupid etc., but as you practice, make mistakes, and keep moving forward, it’ll begin to feel a lot easier, and often times exciting 😉

  45. Hi Neil,

    Quite Impressive and really interesting. But while implementing this will be not so easy.Just let me know if this idea can be useful for mobile application or not ? I am going to launch my app wuhoo.me soon but i am quite scared of promotional activity. Could you Please suggest me some magical idea for promotion?

  46. mohammed asif iqbal :

    Hi Neil,

    It’s worth to spend time on your blog post 🙂 , thanks to you for this encouraging insights.

  47. Resep masakan top :

    Hi Neil, impressive and interesting. But while this application will not be so easy. Do let me know if this idea might be useful for mobile app or not? I will launch my app wuhoo.me soon but I am quite afraid of promotional activity. You could please suggest me some magical ideas for promotion?

  48. cara membuat rica entok :

    can u tell me best for marketing techniques?im try 5 your strategy but zero for now..thank u for answer

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