B2B Lead Generation – An Ultimate Guide. We explore the topic of lead generation and the complete process proven to deliver your business a significant increase in traction, lead quantity, quality and overall sales potential.
- → What is B2B Lead Generation and how it’s essential for your business growth?
- → Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
- → How create an effective Lead Generation plan
- → How can you generate more leads for your business?
B2B lead generation is essentially utilising different marketing methods to create business interest in your company.
Lead generation is the result of your B2B marketing efforts at the top of the funnel – that is once the visibility has been created, awareness has been registered and access for contact has been made in some form.
Generating new leads consistently is the decisive factor influencing the potential number of sales in the pipeline and this is the key to your business succeeding in a competitive market.
It is important to maintain an advantage over your competitors with innovative and refreshing approaches to your B2B marketing strategy – which means testing new approaches and learning from them.
Lead generation strategies come in all different shapes and sizes, through various creative and logical channels.
But generating new leads is considered a major challenge to overcome for B2B marketers. And not only generate more leads, but qualified leads.
An important point, it is to remember that every business is unique and has its own demands. And even more important than that is knowing your audience, their needs and behaviors.
Knowing your audience this is the first step to create effective strategies for not only generating more qualified leads, but to create a long trustful relationship with them.
With so many possible lead creation strategies available for you to experiment with, it is important to distinguish which is the one that will work for your business.
And it all starts with understanding the marketing processes.
Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation Strategies
Inbound marketing activity involves using digital channels to bring business directly to you through online presence, visibility and website access.
You can say that Inbound Marketing is a cycle of attracting, evolving and delighting.
The beauty of inbound marketing is that once you have created the ideal customer profile, which you want to target and built a framework of each prospect’s journey from Point A – all the way through your acquisition funnel, it turns into a largely automated process.
When constructed with appropriate attention to detail, inbound marketing strategies can produce extremely effective results in terms of scalability and have a positive return on investment for your business.
It is a logical and practical way of being discovered and generating new business in the digital era.
Outbound lead generation is still relevant, even with the developments of digital marketing.
Because sometimes, nothing can beat the manual and direct approach of identifying businesses you believe are ideal customers and going out to them to make things happen.
However, both can be blended to create a strong dual marketing assault. And again: it all depends on your business reality and your public needs.
How create an effective Lead Generation plan
Creating a lead generation plan requires testing different approaches according to your audience and market context.
Actually, It’s a never ending process which requires consistency and analysis. How can you use your current data, the market knowledge and your audience behavior to grow your business?
Only with the appropriate research, planning, techniques and tools, you can achieve the volume and quality of leads required to improve your sales results.
To be honest, there is no such right or wrong answer when it comes to lead generation.
It is all about what technique works at the time and allows progression and business development based on:
And that’s because the ever-changing world of business is fast-paced. Things which work at one stage may not do so in the future (which can be in a few months or less).
For that reason, there are 3 things you must pay attention to when creating a lead generation plan that involves the before, the during and the after
Organize your goals before startIt is pretty clear that you need amounts of qualified leads to generate more sales, so that your business will be able to succeed.
But every campaign needs a goal, that’s the only way you know that your efforts gave positive results. That said, ask yourself those questions before creating your lead generation plan:
To summarize: know your business from end to end and be interested in getting to know your audience.
Lead prioritizing and data management
Try to order which lead generation processes you want to prioritise in terms of testing and determining the long-term potential of.
Consequently, return on Investment is a key metric to build around. And to understand this, you need to take lead scoring and qualification into a serious consideration.
Above all, you need to organize all of your data so that you can use it to improve your customer journey and sales processes. Start asking yourself those questions:
With those answers, you can create a whole and clear process to better lead management.
Some lead gen strategies can provide quick-win situations, often spray and pray on a large scale, with less sustainability in the detail of the leads generated.
But it may bring your business through a period of downtime in the moment and allow you to then plan more pragmatically going forward.
How are you going to nurture your leads and keep them engaged with your business?
The process of evolving your leads with your business so that you can continue providing value is called Lead Nurturing.
It is important to your business because nowadays it’s all about customer experience and constantly delivering value information, so that you can create a trustful relationship between your business and your potential customers.
There’s variety forms that you can do that, through:
Pro Tip: to define the channels for your lead nurturing strategy – again – you should know a sort of things about your audience and your business ICP.
Keep reading: Getting To Know Your Profile Customer
How can you generate more leads for your business?
The following resource can be considered as an Ultimate B2B Lead Generation Handbook – and will help you in preparing your marketing strategy and ultimately instigate your lead generation.
Some actions we are going to talk about:
Content marketing is the perfect digital marketing platform for your business to be creative and establish its own personality and identity.
Not only that, but it is an opportunity whereby you can achieve vast levels of visibility, build trust and authority in your business and assemble a solid foundation for leads.
B2B Content Marketing can be aligned with your SEO strategy and will enable you to dominate search engine results and be found where your potential clients are looking.
It is the perfect inbound solution. Content Marketing is material which gives you a reason to be seen and found by your audience.
Not only will prospects be discovering you with absolute ease, but they will then begin trusting your advice as you gain authority and start that all-important customer-client relationship process.
Keep reading: How To Write Quality and Effective B2B Content For Your Business
Content should be produced with the intention of engaging, educating and entertaining your potential readership of customers.
If you take this into account when planning and preparing what you produce, you will never find yourself creating pointless or empty substances.
Make sure that all of your content is coherent and pulls in the same direction to the pre-established goal.
Content marketing is a long-term lead generation strategy and you are unlikely to succeed without a detailed plan of action outlining the direction and intention of your content.
It is important to document the plan going forward so that you have a benchmark to use and so that you can assess the eventual success of the campaign.
Breaking your content down into three categories will help you organise and manage the overall project.
TOP OF THE FUNNEL CONTENT
Top of the funnel content is about broad topics which you can use to help gain visibility and awareness of your business and brand.
You can use that kind of content to position your business around your market and generate authority and educate the public.
Blog posts, podcasts, videos, infographics which offer value and build the framework of your brand identity.
Advertising through giving knowledge, insight, enjoyment and assistance.
Due to the nature of targeting ‘umbrella terms’, you will find traffic to content in this category will be greatest, but direct conversions at their lowest.
This is because the wider subject areas reach more people, but of whom, not all are an ideal customer profile. This is where you’ll work the funnel next steps.
MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL
The second stage of your content marketing funnel should be more aligned towards your industry specifically.
Give away advice and tips to become the hub for legitimate industry information. And if your advice is trusted then your product and service will follow.
You are no longer trying to gain the initial awareness by spraying content widely, but aligning more detailed content topics, drilling down with a bit more of a niche.
Now you are becoming a genuine thought leader amongst the decision-makers in your remit. This can be extremely powerful.
A quality blog or publication releasing frequent content that is in demand gives your business a massive opportunity to grow with effective exposure levels.
BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL CONTENT
This content category involves short-term, hard selling material. This is going to be found on your website for prospects at a different stage of the buyer cycle.
They don’t want information about generics, or industry ‘tips and tricks’, they want to know why and how you can help their business get results in different ways which they can relate to.
It could also be wise to take advantage of the low-volume, high conversion, SEO conversion pockets directly-related to your product or service.
Creating landing pages for the specifications of each element with craft and engaging features.
All stages of the funnel have their own purpose and have the potential to generate leads for your business – but some will be more direct than others.
Have patience and trust in the process of the effects of good quality content and a funnel which ticks all of the boxes.
The production of your content is not always straightforward. Even with a brilliant plan and ideas for the subjects of articles and videos, actually creating the content in its raw form is a challenge.
If you do not have a specialist content writer, graphic designer or someone confident getting involved in creative projects, then it can be tough to compete with the level of quality which is being published by other businesses who possess superior budgets and creative assets.
Another factor is the time which it takes to prepare and complete your content.
This must be taken into consideration and weighed up in terms of the balance and therefore the opportunity cost of working on one campaign against doing something else.
It may even need to be outsourced if this works for your business on a practical level.
Be prepared, if you really want to generate leads consistently with content, you will need to release frequent updates and you must implement the strategy for this.
And don’t forget that in terms of creating business authority, nowadays, delivering relevant content is an important pillar.
Not only creating great content is important, but delivering it at the right moment to the right public will be essential for positive results.
As you see, it is amazing that you are now sitting on a content portfolio which has so much positive influence on your prospects and the potential to start generating awareness, brand trust and leads.
But all of this means zero if it is not distributed effectively.
Content throughout your funnel with varying intentions must be distributed in alternative ways. However, these are some platforms that you can explore:
All of these will contribute to the exposure of your content.
So the first thing you should do for any new content is run through a check-list of your marketing channels and give it the best chance to launch successfully.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is an unbelievably wide-ranging area with so many platforms at your disposal to create ongoing lead generation opportunities.
You must keep in mind that not all social media channels will be perfectly suitable for your industry and niche, so it is important to divide your time and investment accordingly.
Understanding the nature of each social community is vital and often comes from experience and personal use. And must of all, you should ask yourself where your business audience is paying attention.
LinkedIn itself is a database for professionals so it should come as no surprise that it is a leading social media source for B2B leads.
With regards to your approach when using LinkedIn, It is crucial to create a clear and respectable presence and make sure to be active.
It is effectively the ‘Facebook of industry’ and you must transition your social formality with that in mind.
There are many ways to get active on LinkedIn, which will include:
Let people know that you are there and ensure that you leave a good opinion of your business, what it stands for and what you can provide.
An organic B2B marketing strategy on Facebook must be approached with the long-term in mind.
Though the main aim is to generate leads, it is not an overnight procedure and will take time.
Asserting a brand awareness by obtaining shares and interaction without the success of leads initially, is expected.
Visual content on Facebook is key and most importantly your business’ Facebook profile needs to be there for access and information first and foremost. It is also important to have ‘call to actions’ visible on your page along with newsletter sign-up opportunities.
The main lead generation impact from Facebook and your business will be from using the paid advertising tool.
This again requires a targeting funnel and a lot of data collection to perform at an optimum level for cold prospecting.
But retargeting will allow you to package ideal customer profiles, based on demographics who have interacted with your website and converted.
You can also use this data to create lookalike lists for further promotion.
The intelligent algorithms can really increase your presence and help you considerably to find new business with a respectable balance for a cost-per-lead.
Keep reading: 10 Ways To Expose Your Content Marketing Using Facebook
Twitter is a wonderful community for engaging closely with an audience. But you need to build that audience up firstly.
You need to be extremely active and consistent to build your profile and again it is about finding a balance to leverage value and making users aware of your own purpose.
There are some really useful functionalities on Twitter which can work for different businesses to generate leads quite efficiently:
One way to look at the impact of the Twitter followers you have gained is that they are captured in your funnel and they have a potential to see all posts from your account going forward.
Surely you can produce one Tweet engaging enough to leave them wanting more information?
Do not get caught up in the world of vanity marketing. Yes having a positive follower ratio can look impressive but if it doesn’t transition into any goal completions, then it means absolutely zero.
Worry less about the impression of your account and focus more on the production.
A thousand, real, relevant and engaging followers is a far better situation than 20 thousand bots, spam accounts and zero potential leads.
‘Followers’ don’t pay your wages, sales do.
Keep reading: How To Gain Additional Website Traffic Through Twitter Advertising
Instagram is all about storytelling and displaying visually who you are and what you do.
Again, it is not always going to be a sudden burst of lead generation, but with patience and quality, informative, entertaining images, you will succeed in leading through potential clients out of awareness.
You can display your company culture which can have a psychological effect on people who view your account.
Instagram is your chance to get into the minds of potential clients when the decision-makers are relaxing and not expecting to be interested in business-related matters. It is the planting of a seed.
You can certainly have some fun with expressing your business across Instagram. Using hashtags in your industry and making an effort to interact with other accounts to build a buzz.
That is the only way Instagram is going to work, if you are willing to buy into the nature of it.
Instagram also has numerous features you can optimise when you set-up a business account.
You can link products directly into posts, place links in stories and pin specific information to your profile. The advertising platform is also linked to Facebook and this can drive direct traffic to your site.
Quora is a form of social media which specialises in question and answer and you can utilise to discover, promote and analyse business topics with great detail.
By searching for the related-keywords for your industry, you will automatically be presented with the questions which real, potential clients are having issues with, wanting advice on or seeking to understand more about.
This is priceless data and allows you to get involved and be reactive.
Educate the people who are sitting there waiting to be prospected, directly.
Therefore you would not only be creating visibility for potential leads who are also reading around the topic, but also giving a solution and presenting yourself as an industry expert.
It is very specific targeting, and you are able to view how many times your answer has been seen and evaluate its success with tracked links.
Upvotes can also help to establish the success of that answer which you can gain organically through the help you have given others.
Essentially you can take it as far as you would like, create your own business account or appear as an experienced professional in the field.
But if people are asking questions that you have the answer to, then it is a monumental lead generation opportunity.
PRO TIP: Remember these three things: consistency, experimentation, automation
You will never get anywhere on social media without a commitment to consistent activity and engagement.
Try different things. There is no fundamental correct way. It is trial and error to discover what resonates effectively with your audience on different platforms.
Content variation is crucial. Create a backlog of ideas and release them with the intention to track the reaction.
Try to automate where possible. This will save you time and allow you to maximise your productivity to focus on alternative lead generation routes.
Paid advertising across social media and search engines really is an extremely powerful dynamic for enhanced lead generation.
The complexity of the systems and the level of detail of data collected can contribute to amazingly appropriate messaging for an ideal profile. It offers large-scale potential with a reasonable cost per acquisition.
Paid ads can be used for cold prospecting or to re-target your website visitors at different stages of the customer buying cycle.
Retargeting with online adverts is the fast-growing trend of constantly creating visibility in prime digital and social locations through perfectly optimised and positioned content packages based on the cookies of the website visitor.
Designed with the intention of re-capturing the interest of a prospect who has been on a particular pathway or journey to and around your site.
We all know that first-time conversion is not always practical. That is why retargeting campaigns can provide you the automation to trigger deeper levels of engagement at more convenient times for the consumer.
With it’s cost-per-click formatting or paying by impressions, you can control the balance to achieve an ideal return on investment.
Creating the ideal retargeting funnel is a complicated yet rewarding challenge.
Understanding the mindsets and thought processes of those viewing each page, what information they need, want more of and what will be the key nugget that re-converts them to the site and even beyond that.
Further to this, you need to consider where you are sending them back.
You can’t allow a buyer cycle to take three steps forward but two-steps back.
It is about progressing them to a deeper stage with an environment surrounding them that is optimised for conversion – based on the specific details you know about their actions and engagement.
Email marketing is all about communicating through structured content to establish a relationship with your leads and clients.
The more trust there is between your business and your leads, the more they are willing to deliver valuable information to you.
Individualisation will be the start for creating a strong relationship, which is what you want to establish throughout your emails.
It is wise when marketing through email that you do not treat everybody as one.
Once a potential client can see that they are valued and more than just a number, they are far more likely to listen and take notice of what you have to say.
Then, just as with your content marketing, you need to be sure that you are providing an email with a purpose which is going to help, inform and captivate.
Your email timing is important as is your patience and persistence. Not everybody is going to become a guaranteed lead from one, two or three emails.
It is an exposure gateway which has so much potential if you can build a campaign which goes hand-in-hand with your industry targets.
Cadence structure and content is always a difficult challenge to get right when planning an email campaign. Everybody seeks the perfect answer, which is guaranteed results – like some kind of magic potion or formula.
But it doesn’t really work like that. It is a matter of timing, circumstance, research and logical matching.
You can experiment with subject lines, content inclusions, copy length etc.
But the main thing to remember is that like any other prospecting communication process, you need to offer actual value and you can only put that information as clearly as possible in front of the best-qualified profiles.
Email Automation – you can automate your follow-up process and simply action the responses which come in across the course of the campaign whilst getting on with other lead generation tasks.
Practicality for sender and receiver – email allows the receiver to respond with no pressure or expectation to do-so immediately.
This means they can come back to you down the line when the timing is better.
If you can identify strategic partnerships which are mutually-beneficial and align with your own branding and market positioning, it can be a strong lead generation avenue.
Depending on what stage your business is at and the finer details of your industry, teaming with a business who has a similar audience but is not a direct competitor is a good way to gain exposure and create cohesive momentum.
It can add an authority to your brand and also create a contextual perspective from the eye of the consumer looking to justify their decision to commit to your product or service over another.
You can also use some strategic partnership developments. Chances are you will get incredible results for your brand awareness and authority. Eg:
Understand your position in contrast to the partner in question. Find a leverage which is appealing for both.
Public relations – a construction of communications, media relationships, event marketing, creating your overall perception as a business.
Your business public relations strategy can play a major role in lead generation success.
PR activity can act as a platform to generate new exposure within the market through different contacts and opportunities gaining new awareness and visibility.
Having other publications, professionals and businesses sharing positive information about you is far more authoritative, believable and effective than you saying it yourself through advertising.
Creating relationships which influences the wider audience rather than ‘selling’’ to them. It is a more powerful technique in that sense.
It is the perfect way to blend business and pleasure through the integration of socialising and building relationships which almost border on friendships with the right people.
Let us explore the option of Webinars for B2B Lead Generation.
Webinars are a form of video marketing which allows businesses to communicate very directly with prospects.
They provide a platform for specific information and question and answer sessions which create such a strong opportunity for conversion of webinars is different.
You are only going to have strong-qualified leads present. Therefore the levels change. The technical detail and the attention to individual prospects and businesses can be greater.
They are an excellent representation for your business. Going out of the way to arrange frequent webinars is appreciated.
But for your own business benefit, they are extremely practical in the sense you can save time by inviting people to your webinar rather than arranging individual demonstrations or meetings with all attendees.
But to have a successful webinar you need to access relevant people and market it in an appealing way.
Giving away secret information is a brilliant pull to get more numbers to your webinar.
From here it is all about the quality and value of the content and the personality of the host.
Being fully prepared for the range of questions is also crucial. Having the answer to the difficult queries from the audience can be the difference between generating leads from the webinar, or not.
People who think that cold calling nowadays is not relevant would be wrong.
Although the focus may have come off the process of cold calling, with so many automation and digital channels available for lead generation, there is still nothing like the practise of picking up the phone to a prospective business and literally exploring the opportunity to speak with the most appropriate person and running them through a brief overview.
It is direct, instant and effective. But there are definitely levels to cold calling and the ‘temperature of approach’. If the prospect has a relevance then it is not freezing.
If you have done business with competitors or similar companies.
But it is a case of weighing up the tie of quality research against the activity of being on the phones.
Finding a balance of this is crucial to finding results.
Perfecting your cold calling pitch can take some trial and error. So be patient and learn from every conversation.
Be prepared for every objection to return with an answer which leaves opportunities open-ended.
Also ensuring that the company size is going to allow you to reach your ideal target, of which should have been identified as someone with authority and decision making power.
Warm calling can allow you to begin the calling outreach at a later stage in the qualification funnel.
For example calling a business that you know has been on your site, looked at a number of pages and returned.
Also been looking at specific products for a long period of time and even viewed pricing or more details.
This is a more productive use of time and you can expect a greater conversion rate.
Website and technical tips
Even if your marketing department is firing on all cylinders, delivering a large volume of traffic to your website, presenting the opportunity for lead conversion, all of the good work can be undone if prospects arrive at your website and are left feeling uninspired and underwhelmed.
Do not allow this final hurdle to be the barrier preventing the increased flow of leads into your business sales cycle.
Aim for a web design template which is clean, engaging, progressive and, most of all, which cares about User Experience.
In addiction, don’t forget about trying implementing some psychological authority building features, like:
The subconscious effects of including these will instil a confidence and trust in your brand, helping to grow the likeliness of conversion through professional appeal.
The perceptions that your leads create about your business when interacting with your brand is crucial for a successful sales strategy.
You must care about every touch point that your business offers for your leads during the buyer journey – especially when it comes to your website.
A well designed User Experience and User Interface can help your business to guide your leads through a clear journey until sales.
So it’s very important not to turn your site structure into a maze so you can make it easier for your leads to find and get attracted by your solutions.
Pay attention to:
Your website needs to be optimised for mobile and tablet devices or you are set to miss out on a large proportion of leads. This is also important for search engines so your website can stand at high levels rankings.
It is also essential to consider the response time of your website as this will directly correlate to conversions.
Besides optimisation for search engines, there are some conversion features that you should consider for your leads:
All conversion optimisation actions are important to perfect your business convert rate, which is called CRO, and it is also a progressive activity.
Pro tip: combine CRO and SEO techniques to get a better performance. Chances are that beyond increasing your organic traffic, you will have better conversion results.
You must take the time to A/B test your website and web pages for a more complete result.
Create as many designs as you want to and utilise the features which you have ideas about and run them all together.
Over a sustained period, you will be able to analyse the results of each and filter out the elements which have not worked from some and ones which have for others and compile the ideal situation from across the samples.
This is another trial and error approach and will take time to get right.
However, it will be worth it in the long-run. It can open your eyes to finer details you had not anticipated taking effect or being useless.
REVIEWS AND SOCIAL PROOF
In 2020, the powerful influence which reviews can have on a business is significant.
Every consumer or interested party will very much likely take to search engines or directly to trusted platforms and look for specific reviews from current or previous customers / clients.
This can be applied to any industry, product or service type. People want reassurance and something to qualify their trust in developing their purchase.
They want reliability and context around what they are paying for and how well their money is being spent. Comparisons, in every detail possible.
You need to be aware of this and have an approach set in place for both delivering and managing reviews.
Of course, ideally, if your service and quality speak for themselves and you deliver to an expected level or beyond. Setting the bar higher only makes it easier for you to then score anyway.
If you have nothing to hide and you are genuinely doing business in the right manner, then the review community should do your lead generation prospects no hard but positive impact.
But the internet has given a platform to everyone to voice an opinion and not everybody uses that to be nice. Hiding behind a computer screen, ‘keyboard warriors’ come alive.
And any opportunity to expose or put down is often taken advantage of by trolls.
It can keep you on your toes, especially if you pride yourselves on your service or specific quality detail. Because one bad review can tarnish so much good work.
Because not everyone who leaves a review wants to be positive. You rarely go out of your way to be positive, because part of you expects good things as a minimum requirement.
Alternatively, one slip up and a person can feel energised to share their poor experience. And the underlying damage can be quite severe.
You can combat negative reviews. Reply and ask what was the issue more specifically. It shows activity, willingness to change and also rectify the situation.
Working hard as a business and a marketing / sales team to instigate more positive reviews is also a great idea.
Any customers who you have a strong rapport with or even newer ones who you feel have understood a good vibe and a positive relationship is developing.
Ask for a review, send it in an email. Say that it is appreciated as we are working to build this, or change that.
You can even incentivise to some extent. Or offer to link back to their site or produce your own review.
There are always ways to ensure that you stand out in a good way amongst the reviews.
Using Lead Conversion tools for a better performance
The return on investment from Lead Generation software can be extremely positive when maximised to the full potential.
Allowing you to run it alongside your Cost-Per-Click, Social Media campaigns, Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation projects to ensure that you can make the most of the expenditure and do not waste chances to convert anonymous businesses who have browsed and left your website – despite showing a genuine interest and having relevance.
WEBSITE VISITOR TRACKING SOFTWARE
B2B lead generation software can enhance the number of opportunities which you have by providing business identification data of companies who have been on your website.
Delivering you the practical information, in real-time, to turn a prospect into a genuine lead.
A company visiting your website doesn’t become a sales lead until it is actioned or further contact is made.
But website visitor tracking is a catalyst for this to develop in multiple ways by showing you:
This puts you in control with regards to dictating an effective follow-up process specifically designed around their unique journey and particular interest in your business.
It can be hard not to generate a lead when you know who they are, what they are interested in, how they arrived at your site and what their pain points might be.
Implementing a software in an organised way, with automatic trigger alerting and reporting to the correct sales and marketing people will give your business the platform to generate more qualified leads.
Especially when combined with enhanced traffic delivery campaigns running consistently.
This software can provide a safety net or bonus lead bucket and give you another chance to convert website visitors through manual follow-up.
Identifying the businesses who have visited your website but not converted.
You can categorise these visitors and create specific trigger settings for qualifications which match what you consider to be ‘showing interest’ or a hot prospect.
IDENTIFY THE PATTERN
Once you have been able to identify the pattern of who is being attracted and what is attracting them, you can enforce that specification in greater detail with more time or money behind it and continue to improve your lead generation results.
As you can see, there are numerous actions and ways to build your Lead Generation strategy. And most of all, important steps to follow before and after doing it so you can improve your business results.
Here is a compilation of the main tips: