In a fix over how to revamp the lead generation framework for your B2B business?
Well, thousands of business owners are in the same boat as you. It’s indeed tricky to grasp B2B lead generation and apply it correctly, just as cracking an advanced mathematical problem might seem tricky to someone who isn’t a numbers wiz!
You’ll have to make your way through hordes of competitors and engage with buyers of different traits from time to time. Moreover, there are plenty of online lead generation resources for boosting sales, which can make the process seem all the more confusing.
That’s why we’ve decided to curate this guide to take you through everything you need to know on B2B lead generation. So, let’s jump in!
To get a grip on B2B lead generation, it’s essential to understand the concept in-depth. That’s why we’ll start with the basics of this technique and a few other significant aspects before moving on to the strategies.
Defining B2B Lead Generation
First off, let’s break the term into two parts, viz. business-to-business (B2B) and lead generation, and look at them separately. B2B is used to describe any transaction between two businesses, while lead generation refers to the process of acquiring potential customers, commonly called leads, for any business.
Thus, B2B lead generation adds up to the method of identifying ideal customers from other businesses and attracting them to purchase a service or product.
The sales process, as a whole, is often compared to a funnel through which a business progresses to sell its offerings. And B2B lead generation is the first part of the funnel.
It involves gathering information on a potential customer and using that to pitch a service or product to them through different marketing activities. Generally, the information includes their name, email, job title, and company name.
Also, do note that lead generation in B2B transactions is different from that in B2C or business-to-consumer transactions. A company dealing in B2B transactions will seldom find leads using the strategies applied by a B2C company.
A research study by HubSpot revealed that the most effective sources of leads for B2B businesses are email marketing (13%), social media (12%), and SEO (14%). However, B2C companies derive more leads from traditional advertising besides email and social media.
The origin of leads isn’t the only differentiating factor here, but also the process in which the leads are nurtured so that they can convert into customers. That’s why marketers need to make a good start in both respects.
Why Is It Important?
Lead generation plays a key role in making a B2B business successful — it fetches more customers for the business. Now, let’s delve deeper and look at how this process helps the sales and marketing teams drive a business towards growth.
How It Helps The Sales Team
- B2B lead generation shows the team the portion of the market that they can address through their sales pitch.
- Lets them contact leads using accurate and updated data.
- Ensures they’re engaging with the leads most likely to turn into customers; this helps improve conversion rates.
- Ultimately, it will help them build a strong lead pipeline and increase the percentage of closed deals.
How It Helps The Marketing Team
- They can know in detail about ideal customers.
- This, in turn, helps create valuable and relevant content.
- Targeted and correctly amplified content increases the brand awareness of potential customers.
- They can track and measure marketing activity accurately.
The combined effort of these two teams provides your business with more opportunities to close deals, ultimately helping you generate greater revenue.
The Types of B2B Leads
The leads or customers likely to find value from your service or product are categorized into the following two types:
1.) Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs)
MQLs are targeted customers who are considered quite likely to convert into paying customers. Notably, this qualification is the outcome of the engagement they have had with the marketing efforts of your business, such as:
- Visiting the company website repeatedly
- Downloading content uploaded by the company
- Filling out one or multiple forms on the company website
- Registering for one or more of the company webinars or events
2.) Sales-qualified leads (SQLs)
SQLs are those who have progressed along the sales funnel and are considered perfect for engagement with the sales team. Such customers get the designation when they show the intent of buying the product or service.
They might express this intent in ways such as:
- During a discussion over the phone with a sales team member
- By asking for more information about the company’s offerings
- Through a LinkedIn or email message indicating their intent
- By asking for a demo of the service or product
How Does B2B Lead Generation Work?
To achieve a marked increase in sales, B2B businesses have to carry out an intense lead generation procedure. And there’s much more to it than learning how to locate the leads.
The sales and marketing teams of the businesses need to be closely aligned throughout the procedure and follow a proven lead generation framework with the utmost efficiency. Here’s a round-up of what the process entails for these two teams:
Step 1: Finding The Leads
As mentioned earlier, the process starts with the search for contact details of potential customers. The teams may source the information in-house, through a third-party company engaged in lead generation, or from a third-party lead database. That said, lead databases aren’t considered very fruitful for B2B lead generation companies.
Step 2: Reaching Out To Them
When the members of both teams have put together a list of high-quality leads, they reach out to the leads using a variety of methods.
- Cold Calling: Calling B2B leads manually or using automated technology to explain the benefits of the service or product.
- Social Selling: Following leads on social media, preferably LinkedIn, to interact with them and develop a relationship over time.
- Outbound Email: They send emails to the leads, hoping to strike a conversation; an email automation platform is used for the process.
- Sales Cadences: When the above techniques are combined, the method is collectively called a cadence and increases the chances of getting a response.
These tasks aim to make the lead agree to a product demo by other members of the sales team who specialize in this activity.
Step 3: Prospecting High-Value Leads
The teams then proceed to interact with leads and gauge how likely they are to purchase the product or service. Through these interactions, businesses can figure out the stage where the leads are in the buying process, which includes:
1.) Awareness and research
The leads are aware of a problem they’re facing or a solution they require, and they are beginning to learn about it. At this stage, they’ll look for content like whitepapers, case studies, blogs, webinars, videos, eBooks, and podcasts.
The customers know the product or service that they need, and they’ll detail those needs before researching and initiating discussions with vendors.
The leads are filtered through vendors that are most suitable for their needs. As such, they’ll hold meetings and check in with other decision-makers in their company to make the purchase.
Based on the stage the leads are in, the marketing team will carry out campaigns to nurture them or get them to book a demo. Some other strategies used to turn leads into customers include:
- Growth Hacking: It refers to the application of out-of-the-box techniques such as contests, free tools, and incentives to increase demand.
- Account-Based Marketing: Marketers identify the key people involved in decision-making in the targeted company and create personalized campaigns for them.
Step 4: Closing Leads With A Purchase
After holding meetings with several vendors, the lead picks your business and seals the deal! They’re then transferred to the department that carries out the onboarding process.
21 Best Strategies to Generate B2B Leads
Even though you might have become well-versed with the lead generation framework, it’s essential to tailor the strategy around the needs of your business. This implies you’ll have to modify the process according to the product you’re selling, the industry, and the buyer.
Naturally, knowing one or two strategies won’t suffice if you’re willing to boost your business performance remarkably. The sales and marketing teams should be willing to learn, experiment, and implement novel ways to find and nurture B2B leads. As such, you’ll have to test several strategies before you land on the one that works perfectly.
The following unique strategies for B2B lead generation will help you fast-track business growth:
1.) Gather social proof to earn your customers’ trust
New to the term social proof? Know that it’s among the most powerful strategies for generating B2B leads.
There’s no denying that initially, buyers will have doubts about the claims of a business regarding its product or service. So, before making any thoughtful decision, they’ll search for social proof — genuine customer reviews on social media that tell them the claims aren’t false.
According to a research study by RevLocal, 92% of buyers go through online reviews while considering any service or product. It also revealed that buyers are likely to spend 31% more on the businesses that have garnered stellar reviews.
It’s essential to include links to social media reviews on the homepage or landing pages as part of this strategy. The website design should also allow clients to add detailed reviews easily.
Another excellent method in this regard is to gather positive ratings and reviews on G2 Crowd.
Ultimately, the reviews should indicate that the quality and effectiveness of your offerings are in line with your claims.
2.) Use Q&As for lead generation
Answering questions relevant to your niche on popular Q&A platforms like Quora can fetch you high-quality leads.
If you’re frequent on platforms like Quora, you might know that buyers searching for quality business solutions often use such platforms to put forward their queries and problems. That’s why answering such questions can be highly effective in getting leads to view your content and ultimately land on your website.
Here’s the formula you’ll need to follow:
- Find questions that buyers in your niche are asking
- Answer their questions and add links to your content
Innumerable businesses have used this technique to skyrocket their growth, and an excellent instance in this regard is the content marketing agency Digital Press. It has earned a solid reputation in the content industry through the detailed and personalized answers of its founder.
3.) Utilize a free B2B tool for lead generation
Think free tools aren’t of much use in increasing sales? Then you probably haven’t analyzed them closely, especially for tech and SaaS businesses.
Here’s why free tools can considerably boost B2B lead generation:
- It utilizes the “try before you buy” approach
- It provides an opt-in offer to attract high-quality leads
Some companies that have scored big through this technique include the website analysis platform Crazy Egg and the SEO analytics firm Ubersuggest. While the former uses a free Heatmap tool to help potential buyers, the latter offers free analytics reports. And the list is endless.
4.) Run A/B tests on the key pages
If you didn’t know this yet, A/B testing is an experiment with a website interface that tells you what works best in attracting leads.
Different groups of visitors to the website are shown multiple versions of a variable, such as a page element or an entire page. This helps determine the version that has the maximum impact and can drive conversions.
But this knowledge isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of utilizing these tests to increase B2B leads. You’ll have to learn to employ them strategically — start by knowing the website pages or the parts of the pages that are most likely to boost conversions. You can then apply the A/B tests for those portions, gauge the results, and make changes to your website.
For instance, the custom wall graphics seller WallMonkeys applied a heat map tool to see where visitors looked first on the website.
The results of this survey made them confident that tweaking the homepage could help increase their B2B sales. So, they put this theory to test by trying out different background images and search bars. Believe it or not, these changes helped increase conversions by a whopping 550%!
Another impressive example is a project management software that saw 34% more sign-ups when it changed the look of the sidebar for their testimonials. Just using a black-and-white bar in place of a colored one created a marked difference in their lead generation.
Not sure if A/B split tests will work for your business? We’d suggest giving this strategy a try – that’s the only way to find out.
5.) Build effective lead magnets
Experts describe lead magnets as a valuable resource your business can offer potential customers in return for their contact details. You’ll need a systematic approach to create effective lead magnets — focus on the buyer persona and a challenge they’re facing that you can resolve.
Do note that companies often falter in applying the lead magnet theory effectively. They end up creating surface-level content that buyers can find in abundance on typical blog posts. Of course, you can’t call that magnetic!
So, avoid using content that doesn’t offer any new and valuable information; instead, share detailed real-world experiences in the form of:
- Comprehensive how-to guides
- In-depth guides on a concept relevant to your niche
- Resource libraries
- Analytical case studies
- Checklists or workbooks
6.) Focus on tweaking the landing page
There’s no one who doesn’t love a low-hanging, ripe fruit.
And when it’s about increasing B2B leads, the landing page is perhaps the most transformative point in the buying process — it’s the bountiful tree perfect for sourcing fruits. Modify your landing page using the following tweaks, and you’re sure to get quick lead generation wins:
- Make the call-to-action (CTA) copy more relevant
- Add social proof to back up the copy
- Add a live chat feature to educate visitors
- Make the headline more catchy
7.) Develop dynamic web pages
Personalizing the website can’t be called a bonus now; it’s a must-do for all businesses. So, create a buying experience tailored as per the visitor’s details like:
You can use account-based marketing to add a personal touch to the potential buyer’s journey, as that will considerably increase the chances of conversion.
8.) Reach out to the visual audience
Yet to apply videos to your campaigns for lead generation? The numbers definitely suggest you should begin this practice at the earliest:
- Nearly 90% of marketers consider videos to be the most effective in repurposing B2B content as they help connect with buyers better.
- YouTube is the second-most popular online search engine.
Remember that you don’t need blockbuster videos for the purpose. Simply convert the existing content on your page into resourceful videos to generate more leads. For instance, you can use the topic of a recently-added guide on your website for an online panel discussion.
Not only will it fetch more views from potential customers, but they will get valuable insights into the topic that might prompt them to buy your service or product.
9.) Showcase original research
Surprising as it might sound, today’s average B2B buyers go through about 13 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. These include in-depth reports, information on the vendor’s website, and reviews from trusted third-party sources.
You can utilize this demand for concrete data to boost inbound lead generation. Publish reports that contain industry-related information, verified data, and trends. Thought-leadership can produce the following outcomes:
- Generate fruitful PR coverage and strong SEO backlinks
- Deliver value to potential customers
- Earn the respect of your peers in the industry
Most leading businesses have leveraged this trend to demonstrate their expertise in their domain and remain relevant to customers. For instance, HubSpot’s comprehensive reports have significantly built its reputation in the marketing and sales software industry.
10.) Try alternative social media channels
Robin, a popular workplace platform, took the less-traveled road by directing B2B lead generation towards social media channels where finding leads was tougher. And you’ll be glad to know that their efforts paid off. Their web traffic saw a 50% rise, and they brought in 20% more leads than earlier.
All they did was showcase user-generated content on Pinterest and Instagram rather than on conventional platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn. This is a great example of how B2C social channels can help generate leads for B2B businesses.
Also, don’t hesitate to try out newer platforms like Clubhouse, Vero, and TikTok for showcasing relevant content. After all, it’s the early bird that catches the worm (or lead)!
11.) Reach out to new leads on mobile
With the continuous growth in mobile traffic, optimizing the website of a B2B business for mobile has now become vital for effective lead generation.
As per the findings of DemandGenReport:
- 74% of buyers research ½ or more of their previous online B2B purchases before making a new purchase
- 91% of B2B buyers search on mobile devices
This online publication for B2B businesses also found that marketers already utilizing mobile optimization experienced higher customer loyalty and reduced purchase time. Moreover, since buyers can check the mobile compatibility of your site within seconds, you can’t be excused for not making it mobile-friendly.
12.) Utilize LinkedIn for high-value leads
LinkedIn is the leading social platform for communicating with high-value leads and sealing the best deals. Advertising on this platform fetched the global events business Reed Exhibitions 20% of the revenue they needed for a security and SNSR risk expo.
On the other hand, MatMatch, a supplier of engineering materials, grew its suppliers 10 times with such advertisements.
Remember that you’ll face greater competition and will need to spend more on LinkedIn than on other platforms. But this platform will make it possible to hyper-target potential customers.
When advertising on LinkedIn, ensure that you offer:
High-Level, Unique Resources
Members of this platform are known to be skilled and career-minded. So, providing content that’s truly valuable to them will fetch better returns for the ads.
Premium B2B Services Or Products
A larger Lifetime Value (LTV) will naturally allow for the larger budget you need to allocate for advertising on LinkedIn.
Apart from this, make sure to optimize the LinkedIn profile of your business for lead generation. If a list of achievements of your team stands out on the page, know that it’s time you introduced some changes. Potential customers will want to see a snapshot of the company’s network, thought leadership, and activity rather than a static document.
- Make sure your company logo looks clear and bright
- Add keywords in the company description to appear in searches that customers might make
- Include a prominent call to action (CTA) on the page to make your prospects know how to find you
Once everything is in place, keep the page active and share content regularly to engage with industry partners and followers. Also, make sure to tag your customers in the mentions about projects for which you’ve worked with them.
13.) Create and promote more case studies
Expect potential buyers to be risk-averse and analytical and to need the approval of different ROI-minded decision-makers prior to making a purchase. So, case studies should be pivotal to your content marketing strategy.
In fact, buyers have admitted that this predominant trend makes case studies capable of enhancing the lead generation process, especially in the middle and end stages. That’s also why you shouldn’t restrict case studies to the website and promote them on all possible media channels to boost your credibility.
14.) Utilize epic content campaigns
It’s no secret that content is the “web currency” for all B2B businesses out there, and many are making it big with this lead generation tool. But very few businesses have achieved the feat of publishing epic content that eventually attained evergreen appeal.
By using this strategy, they managed to generate leads in tons, even when the content was a few years old.
The office snack supplier Snack Nation once struggled to enhance its SEO strategy to increase B2B leads. And there was a time when the monthly searches for their target keyword dropped substantially.
Then they thought about targeting a larger audience, including their B2B leads, and came up with a post on employee wellness — a broader keyword used by their target customers.
While creating this post, they were cautious to ensure it was powerful enough for lead generation. The company surpassed its competitors with 121 wellness ideas featured on the post and adopted a powerful outreach strategy of roping in influencers.
This post drove Snack Nation to the top spot on Google for their new target keyword. And even after three years, it finds a place among the pieces of content generating the most leads in the industry.
If you’re confident in producing content that can outperform competitors, don’t think twice about it.
15.) Target your competitor’s leads with Gmail ads
Though it might be hard to believe, email is indeed one of the most popular B2B lead generation channels — 77% of marketers use it to propel leads.
The best part about email ads is that you can use them to draw the attention of a competitor’s customers. For example, Gmail Ads lets you target the Google Ads campaign to the inboxes of leads who’ve received emails from competitors.
Though this strategy might sound sneaky, it’s quite effective and allows you to access people already well-versed with the nature of your products or services. Utilize this opportunity to project what puts you ahead of the competitor.
- Use user-friendly language
- Optimize the layout of your email ads
- Give them “hard-to-refuse” offers
16.) Automate your social media
By now, you know the importance of strengthening your digital footprint, so promoting content on every social media channel, be it conventional or unconventional, is a must. But prioritizing social networking can become difficult for marketers who have a lot to take care of.
Fortunately, numerous apps and tools are available for automating social media or scheduling shares, posts, tweets, likes, and other engagements. Some highly-recommended tools include Hootsuite, Buffer, and Sprout — they not only automate your sharing tasks but also provide analytical data to ensure you’re putting forth optimal content.
17.) Engage prospects with AI
The artificially intelligent chatbots in pop-up windows can work wonders in engaging visitors autonomously. These bots can automate any B2B transaction effectively by sending a powerful message that can get potential buyers talking.
They will want to know more about your service or product and gradually progress through the marketing funnel.
Plus, utilizing AI in the lead generation strategy will open new avenues by making the business process optimized and more efficient. Decrease the dependency on manual customer support, and that will lower operational costs. So, ultimately, you can concentrate on the more vital aspects, such as content marketing.
18.) Rope in micro-influencers
Remember when we mentioned Snack Nation gaining more traffic by getting influencers to share their content?
Well, there are many more examples in the B2B scenario to show how influencer marketing can propel business growth. There’s a catch to it, though — since 2018, businesses have shifted toward utilizing lesser-known influencers. Their list of followers might be shorter, but that doesn’t create much difference in their ability to influence potential buyers.
Also, do note that major influencers have to handle a host of requests, which naturally makes them more expensive. They even become picky while choosing whom to work with. In comparison, micro-influencers cost less and aren’t fed up with unwanted approaches from different brands.
That’s why leveraging micro-influencers is the need of the moment — they’re untapped despite having immense potential to reach new audiences.
19.) Launch lucrative referral programs
Again, buyers won’t take your word-of-mouth for granted — that’s a key factor behind 50% of today’s buying decisions. Studies have shown that B2B businesses with referrals have achieved conversion rates 70% higher than their peers. Furthermore, they’ve recorded a much faster closing time on sales deals.
Satisfied clients are among the key people who can fetch you high-value leads. So, go ahead and incentivize referrals; you can employ customized referral codes that provide them discounts. This will also help you easily track where the leads are coming from and which ones are converting.
20.) Monitor your outcome at multiple levels
Make sure both the marketing and sales teams are monitoring the performance of their outreach activities. They should keep a close watch on metrics such as the website traffic and the views for the shared content.
Plus, you can utilize internal performance metrics to gauge the content quality and the effectiveness of the leads generated. This will allow your business to consolidate sales content that’s performing well and remove collaterals that aren’t gaining traction. Ultimately, rest assured your content library will include sales motions that deliver value, both to your clients and to the industry.
You should also record and analyze the user sessions on your website through tools like Mouseflow and Hotjar. These will tell you the most-clicked options on the site and the most-visited pages.
Experts in Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) consider such an intensive analysis to be among the fastest ways to know the “whys” in lead generation:
- Why aren’t visitors filling up the forms?
- Why aren’t they converting?
- Why do they love a particular webpage?
That way, you can correct a situation or use the same marketing strategy in a more refined manner for the other website pages. Such an analysis will also be helpful for A/B testing.
21.) Use gated content, strategically!
Most marketers aren’t confident about whether they should go ahead with gated content. But know that it’s still highly effective in identifying and attracting leads who are interested in your business.
If you gate content the right way, leads and conversions are most likely. A noteworthy example is the trade and finance website Trading Strategy Guides, which managed to add nearly 11,000 subscribers to its mailing list within a month.
That said, it’s wise to put forth gated content provided you’ve already built a content library that you’re sure the audience is fond of. Loyal readers would then shed all their apprehensions in giving their details to read more of your content.
How to Know What Works Best for You?
Given that there are so many effective tactics and strategies to generate B2B leads, it’s not surprising if you find yourself getting tangled in this web. So, the next big question is, how do you choose the most suitable ones?
Stop panicking and think of the answers to the following questions:
- Where are your potential buyers hanging out?
- How do they decide on a purchase?
- What are their concerns?
- Which form of content do they like the most?
This information is sure to help you pick the most suitable strategies — the ones that will work both for you and your customers. For instance, if you find that most of your leads are active on Twitter and Facebook, you can focus on the strategies for improving social media content.
Knowing some of the biggest concerns of your leads will help you address those through your web pages and by generating high-value content based on original research.
Likewise, you can tap into the form of content that they are enjoying the most. Create videos associated with the most popular blog posts on your site and add them in between the text, or include interactive quizzes on a web page.
Some Popular B2B Lead Generation Tools
Based on the data you gather about potential buyers, you can utilize a suitable lead generation tool to connect with them effectively. Here are some of the most significant templates and tools for creating different lead generation assets for your site:
1.) Form-scraping tools
Form-scraping tools collect submissions on the existing forms on your website and help consolidate your leads automatically into the contact database. Do note that this applies to all types of forms submitted on the website.
2.) Landing page builders
These are, in effect, website designing tools that can help you build and publish new web pages with minimal effort. You can also use them to design pages for targeted marketing and sales campaigns to enhance your conversion rate. Notably, most of these tools provide marketers with a drag-and-drop interface and several customizable templates.
3.) Tools for sales engagement
Last but not least, sales engagement tools facilitate efficient scheduling, management, and tracking of buyer engagement throughout different channels. Businesses use these tools to enroll their Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs) into nurturing campaigns for conversion into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
Final Thoughts on B2B Lead Gen Strategies
Doesn’t B2B lead generation seem a lot simpler now? So, it’s time you apply this technique the right way to consolidate your business and scale new heights.
Again, we’d urge you to be careful about choosing the strategies and spend enough time on narrowing down the best ones. You should also remember that data is the key, as we mentioned earlier. By evaluating what’s fruitful, you can double up your revenue and stop wasting money on less profitable initiatives.
That’s it for today, but stay tuned for more informative content. Till next time, take care!