If you can master lead generation, your business will thrive.
Yet only 32% of B2B marketers have a documented marketing strategy.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the key factors to set up a successful B2B lead generation campaign.
What We’ll Cover:
- Define your target audience
- Develop a strategy
- Build an effective website
- Use a lead magnet strategy
- Use targeted ads and remarketing
- Use automation campaigns
- Develop referral programs
- Build in an automated webinar strategy
- Practice SEO
- Be active on social media
- Stage and attend virtual and live events
- Use multimedia
- Engage and nurture leads
- B2B lead generation FAQs
Generating B2B leads can seem daunting, especially in the digital world.
But with the right strategy in place, it’s certainly achievable.
Let me start with a quick summary:
- You need to determine where your customers are.
- You need to determine the cost for each online channel to acquire the traffic.
- Find out the conversion rate for each channel.
- Go into the best performing option first.
- Maximize it to the best of your abilities, until becomes more cost-effective to go into another channel.
- Move into additional channels and scale each one.
- Make sure you look at social, SEO, paid media, email marketing, and conversion rate optimization.
B2B stands for business-to-business, which is a model that’s set up to sell products and services to other businesses.
It differs greatly from a business-to-consumer model, and so too does its marketing strategy.
When it comes to B2B, your campaign must be geared towards lead generation. Luckily most B2B marketers know this, and 85% report their top priority is to generate more leads.
But the strategy behind how they generate leads has changed drastically over the past few years.
Like almost every aspect of a business, the evolution of the internet has had a major impact on B2B selling strategies.
According to a study conducted by Google, some of those changes include:
- Nearly half of all B2B researchers are now millennials
- Now, 81% of non-C-suiters (high-level executives) have a say in purchase decisions.
- On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site, and 71% start on generic searches. This means they’re looking for the product first, not for your business specifically.
- 42% of researchers are using a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process.
With this new information on had, marketers must start planning their campaigns with digital in mind.
Now, let’s dive into the details.
First, Define Your Target Audience
The first step is identifying a clear target audience.
Finding your target is a bit different for B2B models in that you generally want to divide your audience into segments based on “firmographic” features like company size, location, industry and job title.
From there, you can develop a more accurate buyer persona.
But this isn’t your typical B2C persona. When developing a person for B2B, consider the following traits:
- Role in the company
You can usually compile this information through surveys and interviews with customers, prospects and sales teams. And remember, you really want to get inside their heads. You want to understand their worldview and their pain points, and where they stem from.
You should always create more than one buyer persona. Try to come up with at least 4 or 5 real-world examples of persona’s who represent different segments of your target audience. Then, you can use those persona’s to build targeted content around each one.
Additionally, you can look to social media to help you collect data on your ideal customer. LinkedIn is especially helpful when it comes to B2B, and you can use the platform to get contact information, either through direct outreach, Sponsored InMail, or building out an email list.
Keep in mind, there are several other ways that B2B customers are different than B2C customers.
For B2Bs, the customer journey is much more complex. Your campaign will need to target a team of people involved in the decision-making process as opposed to just a single individual.
During your lead acquisition strategy, you might engage with an IT rep or researcher. Alternatively, your lean generation campaign might make contact with a vice president.
That’s why your outreach effort needs to appeal to all individuals involved in the process.
Also, keep in mind an important point that B2B marketers need to understand very well: your campaign needs to account for the fact that you’ll establish long-term, ongoing relationships with clients.
You’re going to need to meet face-to-face. You’ll need to know your clients by name.
Bottom line: your marketing should go beyond simple lead acquisition. You should approach it from a networking perspective.
That’s often not necessary in B2C environments.
Develop a Lead Generation Strategy
This part shouldn’t come as a surprise – any successful campaign, B2B or other, begins with a strategy.
A successful strategy will address the channels you plan to use, what purpose they will serve, and how will you use them to drive and capture leads.
Those channels may include:
- Social Media
- Paid Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google AdWords, Bing, YouTube, Remarketing, Programmatic)
- Email Newsletters
- Content Marketing
- Website articles
- Mobile apps
To determine which channels are best for you, you’ll need to determine how much each online channel will cost and what the cost of conversion is for each. For example, paid media may cost more than content marketing upfront, but if you’re netting more conversions and sales from it, it’s a channel you should be investing in.
I’ve written an entire book detailing the process of evaluating and weighing the best channels for your business, and I highly recommend you give The Forecaster Method a read.
Along those lines, keep in mind that not every channel will work for every business. And that’s just fine.
Sometimes, simplicity is best.
The much-sited Crow Horwath public accounting and consulting firm is a perfect example of a simple, yet effective strategy.
They narrowed their target down to C-level executives most likely to spend money on their business and developed a content plan that focused on four areas, supported by 48 pieces of content including infographics, video, case studies and executive briefs.
In the end, they fared extremely well.
This infographic alone netted a 70 percent open rate and 778 engaged contacts.
Their success goes to show that a narrow target and simple, well-executed strategy can go a long way in lead generation.
It also shows the importance of honing in on your target audience. By identifying those most likely to invest in their product, Crow Horwath was able to strategically target them with tailor-made content, and not waste resources on unnecessary ads, collateral, and content in the meantime.
The most important thing to keep in mind is this: once you’ve identified your target audience and where they spend their time, hit them over and over again through various channels.
Set up remarketing ads on Facebook on Facebook and Google. Send Sponsored InMail through LinkedIn and advertise on YouTube. Make sure that you have a plan for each channel in your marketing strategy and strategically using them to push users further down the sales funnel.
Build an Effective Website
A businesses’ number one tool is its website.
For most, it’s your customer’s first impression of your company and culture.
And we all know the importance of a first impression.
Make sure yours is helping to accomplish your goals by making it consumer-focused.
SmartInsights writes that a B2B site should be able to positively answer the following questions:
- Is the site credible?
- Is the site trustworthy?
- Is this a professional company?
- Is the company stable?
- Does the site feel welcoming?
- Does the site answer my questions?
- Is this a company I could do business with?
Let me focus on this for a second. One thing all businesses need to do is create a list of the most important things prospects look for and the things they hate about the service category. Use this list to create the content for your landing page. It will convert much better than before.
If you can address any issues or pain points in your first impression, your website will do you far more favors then if your copy is focused solely on selling . Identify the exact needs that your product or service fulfills, and make that the focal point of your page.
Beyond that, it goes without saying that your site should be visually pleasing (no generic templates!), and tell your visitors who you are and what you do right up front.
Fill it with quality content – blog posts, videos, infographics – that will help establish your expertise and authority in your niche.
Use a Lead Magnet Strategy
Unfortunately, great content and visuals doesn’t necessarily guarantee a repeat visit.
Which is why you need a way to gather lead data while they’re on your site.
That’s where a lead magnet strategy comes into play.
A lead magnet is an enticing offer you make to someone who visits your site, which usually appears in a pop-up or box in your site pages.
Ideally, you’re trying to capture your visitor’s emails.
And the best way to that? Is often to offer something in return.
It could be a how-to guide, case study or free trial, but visitors will be more likely to enter their contact information if they gain something in return.
Take this example from ConversionXL:
Your B2B lead generation campaign should include a lead magnet strategy
They offer a free download that shows off their expertise and use catchy language to do so.
A few tips to keep in mind:
- Incorporate forms into every page of your site
- Keep it specific – tell your viewers exactly how they’ll benefit from your offer
- Solves a problem – make sure your magnet addresses a real problem based on your buyer avatar
- Offer value – don’t skimp here; put together content that will be of real value to your reader
- Demonstrate your expertise – what you offer in your lead magnet should show your expertise and authority to increase readers likelihood of becoming buyers
This is where some seriously strong content marketing comes into play. Again, you want to offer something of value that appeals directly to your target audience. Content such as industry studies and free webinars work very well here.
Remember, the goal here isn’t a sale, it’s an opt-in. Your initial interaction should always be about collecting contact information so you can get them into your funnel and work towards the sale.
Use Targeted Ads and Remarketing to Generate Leads
Once a user has spent time on your site, you can hit them with remarketing ads.
These will hit them as they continue to browse the web and have proven to be far more effective than regular search ads. In fact, studies show that remarketing convert at 50%, while regular search ads see only a 3% conversion rate.
Of course, any ad campaign needs to be approached with a strategy in mind. In this case, its to continue to push users further down your sales funnel. As such, you’ll want to set up multiple different ads targeted to each stage of the buying cycle and avoid showing the same user the same ad multiple times.
That means you’ll also need separate landing pages that correspond to the different pages.
SEMRush breaks it down like this:
- Thought leadership landing page (awareness stage) – this should feature content relating to the product or service you sell
- Credibility maximizer (interest stage) – this should contain some sort of social proof, testimonials, or case studies
- Conversion attempt (decision stage) – this is the action stage, where you should prompt visitors to request a free trial, quote, or easily contact your company
And remember, you can also build remarketing lists off of email subscribers and extend your reach by creating Custom and Lookalike Audiences based off your existing remarketing lists.
Use Automation Campaigns for B2B Lead Generation
Up the ante on your lead gen campaigns by automating the tedium. Updating segmented lists, targeting behaviors and parsing through data all have one thing in common: they take time.
If you can make your strategy more efficient, you’ll be able to reach more people (which means you’ll be able to help them with that awesome product of yours).
Image source: Invespcro
Plus, with an 80% success rate in increasing leads, it sure seems worth it.
Develop Referral Programs
People are more likely to trust someone they know more than some stranger on the internet. Referral programs cater to this by building a pipeline of social and professional networks, all of which are attached to your brand.
Don’t forget to offer an incentive to the customer (a coupon, money off a subscription, or something in that vain). That way, the juice is worth the squeeze. You can also offer an incentive for both the referrer and the one being referred.
Build In An Automated Webinar Strategy
Webinars are more relevant now than ever before. Anywhere from 20% to 40% of webinar attendees become qualified leads. That’s precisely why 73% of marketers prefer webinars as a qualified lead gen tactic. Of those, most are B2B marketers.
Automation only increases the effectiveness of webinars for B2B lead generation. Additionally, prioritizing evergreen content is a surefire way to maintain relevance in a swiftly changing landscape.
Here’s an example of a recent webinar we did with Oscar Lutteroth, Creative Director at Ignite Visibility:
Practice SEO for B2B Lead Generation
These days, the benefits of SEO can’t be underestimated.
Just a year ago, 54% of B2B companies planned on increasing their SEO spend.
Which was a great decision, considering 90% of B2B researchers who are online use search specifically to research business purchases.
To take advantage of search engine traffic as a B2B, you’ll need to start by identifying 5 top search terms to target.
You can find these using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or the more robust SEMrush.
For B2B, you’ll want to focus specifically on a few purchase-driven keywords.
Depending on your product, these include anything from features and performance characteristics to specs and support features.
Once identified, use these keywords to optimize your website and plan your content marketing.
On your site, focus on incorporating keywords into:
- Your homepage – main business-related keywords
- Product or service pages – specific keywords to detail product or services offered
- Blog pages – informative keywords to address viewers’ motivations or concerns
The other component is link building: both internal and backlinks.
You do this for two reasons:
- To drive organic traffic to your site
- Improve your ranking with search engines
For more information, check out my complete guide to link building.
Be Active in Social Media Campaigns
In today’s digital climate, social media simply must be a part of your marketing strategy.
In fact, 52% of small business marketers view social media as a critical enabler of their products and services.
While many may associate it primarily with B2C companies, it’s become equally effective to B2B.
The key is once again finding and producing the kind of content that your audience will like
Take pharmaceutical giant Novartis.
Not exactly the one you’d picture as a social media star, but they’ve managed to transform their Instagram account into a platform to bring attention and humanize worldwide diseases and put a spotlight on their community involvement.
For lead generation, use your social media accounts to establish thought leadership and encourage them to click through to gated content where they’ll be asked to submit contact information.
And don’t forget the importance of paid ads.
With its ability to target highly specific audiences, features like Facebook Lead Ads and LinkedIn Lead Generation ads are designed specifically to aid in your lead generation campaign.
Stage and Attend Virtual or In-Person Events
Simply put, B2B companies benefit from events.
In 2020, the number of virtual events doubled. This has pretty much everything to do with the pandemic, but innovation in tech is also making it possible. These events have helped make it possible to keep businesses and their audiences connected.
Typical marketing events include trade shows, conferences, webinars and other networking events.
Each of these represents a unique opportunity to present your company and collect lead information.
But due to the emergence of digital, events now include webinars or live streaming events. These can prove especially useful for lead generation; ask viewers to register prior to your event with a lead magnet to collect their information.
Whatever the event may be, they represent opportunities to create landing pages, post social media countdowns and promote your business locally.
Use Video to Generate More Leads
A full 70% of B2B buyers and researchers are watching videos throughout their path to purchase.
Which is a 52% jump in only two years.
Video represents a new – and valuable – way to attract leads.
Why? Because they’re useful.
“These videos are also helping extend the conversation: When asked what they did after watching, B2B researchers said they talked to colleagues, looked for more information, visited a brand’s website/store, or shared the video. Start to finish, videos are playing an increasing role for these researchers. That means you need to be producing content that helps them learn about, compare, and research their B2B purchases.”
The top video categories reported were:
- Product feature
- How-to guides
- Professional reviews
That doesn’t mean you’re strictly limited to those categories, of course. Here, B2B giant Hubspot uses video to break down the complex nature of artificial intelligence.
Why is this effective? First of all, it capitalizes on an extremely timely trend. As AI continues to grow and become a more central part of people’s lives, it makes sense that many would be seeking more information about it. By providing that information, Hubspot is positioning itself as a go-to or thought leader in the space.
Using video to break down complex subjects and offer professional insight is a great way to generate leads as a B2B. Over on our YouTube channel, we dedicate hundreds of videos to educating our audience on all things digital marketing, and it’s proven to be one of our most popular channels.
Engage and Nurture Leads
Leads aren’t a given. Just because you got them once doesn’t mean they’ll stay, or that you can get them again. But through customer retention and re-engagement campaigns specifically targeted to your existing or fringe leads, you can give it your best.
Think about it this way. The whole point of B2B lead gen is to create a consistent pipeline. They’ll be quite a few holes in the hardware if you forget to engage and nurture.
B2B Lead Generation FAQs
1. What Are Some of the Best B2B Lead Generation Tools?
You’ll undoubtedly need to enlist the aid of one or more tools when you work to gather leads. Here are some of the best:
- Wistia – Helps you make videos specifically designed for B2B lead generation
- Zoom – Enables you to produce top-notch webinars
- Canva – Graphic design made easy.
- Optinmonster – A library of popups to help you capture leads
- Sumo – A tool that will help you grow your email list
- LeadForensics – Provides info about companies visiting your landing page
2. What Is B2B Lead Generation Software?
B2B lead generation software enables companies to capture and segment leads with the aid of information system algorithms. It’s an automated means of finding and targeting the best prospects.
A good lead generation system also supports “lead scoring,” or rating leads based on how likely they’ll turn into customers.
Some of the more popular lead generation tools available include:
3. How Does B2B Lead Generation Relate to SEO?
You can use SEO to find B2B prospects online. Here’s how to do that:
- Optimize your site for keywords related to your industry and business.
- When potential customers search for those keywords online, they’ll find your content.
- When they click on the link to view your content, use an exit-intent popup to offer them a freebie in exchange for an email address.
A tool like Optinmonster will help you create popups on your site. No coding skills are required.
4. What are the benefits of B2B lead generation?
B2B lead generation increases conversions for companies that offer deliverables for other businesses. That’s why a solid 55% or more of B2B marketing professionals will spend big on lead generation (making up more than half of their budget).
5. Why is lead generation a leading factor in B2B marketing?
For B2B marketing in particular, lead generation helps develop a flowing funnel of high-value clients and customers. It fills the gap far down the line.
6. What is a simple way to generate B2B leads?
Develop a holistic marketing strategy consisting of email, live or virtual events, SEO and content marketing (these four channels offer the highest ROI for B2Bs, in that order).
B2B lead generation image source: Venture Harbour
Keyword research can help you optimize your efforts, and homing in on target buyers will help you develop a more nuanced approach. Fortunately, you have plenty of tools at your disposal (see above!) to help you streamline the process for B2B lead generation.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to B2B campaigns.
But remember: start simple, and start with a strategy.
Narrow down your target buyers, and choose which of the above channels you think will best reach them. Then, use those channels to send out frequent messaging aimed at capturing their interest.
Do your keyword research, design your content, and you’ll soon be on your way to a successful lead generation campaign.