B2B lead generation has never been easier with a huge toolkit of tactics at your disposal.
Having said that the effectiveness of some lead generation tactics can be disappointing in an ever changing marketing world. It’s hard to keep up with the latest marketing trends and ways of generating leads.
The purpose of this post?
To identity the lead generation tactics that still work, ones you should give a go and ones you might not have thought about.
What is B2B lead generation?
A good place to start would be to define B2B lead generation.
Lead generation is the process of generating interest or enquiries in your products or services with the end goal of converting prospects from strangers to customers.
A quick run through of the process of lead generation
Lead generation can take many forms either by using traditional lead generation tactics and strategies like trade shows or using digital marketing to attract and convert prospects.
Each tactic and strategy is different of course but the same principles apply to the lead generation process and its purpose. To provide value and convert prospects to customers. The most common model for lead generation in 2018 is probably Attract > Convert > Close – unlike AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action) it takes a more simple approach, with a focus on content to attract, tactics that convert and strategies to close.
Marketing people in different niches will tell you they have the ideal solution with “the silver bullet” for your B2B lead generation problems.
The reality is a silver bullet doesn’t exist.
B2B buyers have become fickle, bored and bombarded by sales and marketing and they aren’t behaving in the same way as they have done in years gone by.
B2B lead generation is not a fine art and involves a lot of trial and error – finding which tactics work for you and your business. You can have the most beautiful lead generation funnel in place – but trying to push prospects through it in an orderly fashion is becoming increasingly tricky.
So, how do you win the lead generation game when the goal posts are moving all the time? Try different tactics – ones you might not have tried before or ones you’ve tested and found a bit rubbish, simple tweaks using data are worthwhile for the rewards in leads generated.
The most effective lead generation tactics used by other B2B businesses
Each business is different and whilst not all of these tactics will work for every business based on our research and experience working with clients to generate leads – these are some of the best lead generation tactics to use in 2018.
The basic principle behind most of these tactics? Provide real value to your prospects.
1. Offer free content
Lead generation is all about providing value. What better way than providing something free? We all love something free. And no I’m not talking about a free pen or squishy branded stress ball.
Offer something of real value. Something relevant to a prospects needs. Something to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.
Some quick ideas for free content you could offer:
- Downloadable ebooks: Ebooks are a great way to share some of your learning and knowledge. If you’re struggling to find time to write your content – repurpose a few blog posts and put them into one downloadable PDF.
Our B2B lead generation ebook is one of our best performing downloads because it offers specific, relevant and helpful information to prospects.
- Blogging: Hopefully you’re already doing this one. If you’re not. It’s 2018, find some time to write a content plan and start blogging. Carefully researched blog posts can drive relevant traffic to your site to then push to other pages built to convert.
- Webinars: Hosting a webinar using Zoom or GoToWebinar is another way to offer free content. Find a topic that is relevant to your audience or try partnering with another business to co-brand a webinar. This is a cost effective lead generation tactic becoming increasingly popular with B2B brands.
2. Set up landing pages for specific traffic
PPC, SEO and Social Media are all drivers of traffic to your website but the audiences have different needs.
The intent of someone searching and clicking a paid advertisement is usually different to someone clicking through from your social channels. Making sure you have landing pages set up specifically for lead generation and specific traffic types is a must if you’re using digital marketing for lead gen.
Important things to get right on your landing page:
- Use clear CTAs (Call To Actions) to drive people to convert
- Keep forms short – long forms turn people off – reduce the number of fields someone needs to fill in to the absolute minimum
- Produce emotional benefit statements – write to convert, why should someone give you their contact information? Give them a reason with clear benefits in concise statements
- Keep your landing page design consistent with your brand – this might seem obvious but if someone lands on your site from social media and your header images look like they’re from a different brand, they might be put off and click away
3. Start writing longer blog posts
According to research by Backlinko, the average first page results on Google have an average number of 1,890 words.
This shows a move from Google towards showing longer posts and content in search results. More in-depth, well researched posts offer more value to people clicking through from search engines so you can see why they have prioritised longer blog posts.
Using tools like Moz Keyword Explorer you can get content suggestions based on your target keywords alongside traffic metrics to make sure people are searching for the topic you want to write about.
If you’re serious about generating more leads with SEO (search engine optimisation) then you need to start writing longer form blog posts.
4. Rethink email marketing
Email marketing has been used a marketing tactic by B2B and B2C brands for years.
Our inboxes are cluttered with offers and newsletters but if done right email marketing can be a vital part of effective lead generation strategies.
We’re not talking bombarding prospects with sales messages, we’re talking providing value again.
By integrating your email marketing with your website you can automated lead generation nurturing campaigns. If someone downloads one of the ebooks you’ve just written (hopefully you’ve started that already!) they should receive it in their inbox immediately, a couple of days later they could receive an automated follow up using email marketing automation to send them a related post or download. A couple of days later send them another one.
Your aim with email marketing is to nurture – to educate or entertain your prospect until they have enough information and trust to start a sales conversation with you.
5. Use exit overlays
Exit overlays or pop ups have a bad rep.
Flashing popups with special discounts are to blame.
Besides a few sites that you either shouldn’t be visiting ? or really need an update to their site build in the Spice Girls era, sites are now using exit overlay as a means of generating more B2B leads.
An exit overlay is essentially a pop up that comes up when you’re heading for the close button. It users your browser to detect when you’re about to leave the site. Clever right?
You could offer your free download or chance to receive a free consultation in exchange for their email address. Most exit overlay lead generation software will allow you to integrate with your email software – perfect for joining up with the email marketing tactics we wrote about above.
6. Investigate online chat and chatbots
Online chat has been big in the B2C world for a while now – it is becoming increasingly popular on B2B software sites and is making its way into all areas of B2B.
We often forget that B2B buyers are people too and the lines between B2C / B2B marketing are blurring.
That’s why online chat has become so popular in B2B. We don’t want to have to wait to receive an email back, we don’t want to have to take time to call someone. If we have a quick question, we want an answer now.
Chat platforms like Drift or Intercom are easy to set up and implement on your site. You can even set up automated messages to promote your lead generation content using their chatbots.
Chatbots are a whole other topic so we’ll leave that to Chatbots Magazine. But it’s definitely something to consider for your business if you’re serious about automating your lead generation.
7. Host a branded in person event
Marketers often forget about offline marketing as part of their lead generation strategies.
However, in person events have become more popular with niche communities popping up especially in the creative and technology sectors.
Holding a seminar, roundtable or workshop is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and help prospects understand a particular topic or issue. By branding these events with your company brand – you’re building profile and trust amongst your target audience.
The most important things to remember when hosting an in person event:
- Market the sh*t out of it: People won’t find out about it by accident. Let people know about the event by using your social media presence, email contacts and partners. Try to give yourself at least a month to promote the event – otherwise you won’t build enough traction to fill the room.
- Focus on something specific: You need to attract the right audience that are likely to become leads, by addressing a specific problem or topic you will make sure the right people are attending.
- Follow up: Make sure you send interesting follow up material, whether that’s a link to your ebook or a post you’ve written on the topic. Try to do this within 24 hours to ensure the event is fresh in your prospects head.
8. Offer a free trial / demo of your B2B product or service
This one seems obvious but it’s still not used by the majority of B2B brands.
Free often starts to ring alarm bells with senior management and finance but it can be a great way to generate leads by demonstrating the value and level of service you can offer a client. If your service is time based you’re not losing money, you’re exchanging time for a potential new customer
By giving a prospect a test drive of your product or service you are getting the opportunity to demonstrate exactly why they should buy from you.
Set up a landing page to promote your free trial and include call to actions across your site or posts to drive people to convert on the page. Get in touch with existing prospects to offer a trial too – it might be the ideal way to generate some new sales conversations with prospects who have gone quiet on you.
9. Get personal with traditional B2B lead generation tactics
Traditional lead generation tactics still work.
Digital marketing and automation are important and effective but you shouldn’t neglect traditional marketing tactics that have worked in the past.
Printed direct mail is an effective tool to have in your lead generation toolkit. There has been a move away from sending thousands of badly designed, cheap leaflets to a more personalised outbound approach.
Personalisation in digital print means you can personalise each piece of printed mail you send to a prospect – allowing you the chance to generate interest and leads with data you have including names, location or pages visited on your website.
One outbound lead generation campaign we produced generated £1.6m in annual revenue for a manufacturing client so we know it still works if done properly!
10. Join all of your lead generation tactics together
Perhaps the most important step in any lead generation campaign is to join your lead generation tactics together.
What do I mean by joining them together?
In isolation tactics are less effective. By trying to integrate them you stand a much better chance of success at B2B lead generation.
Some quick ideas to join up some of the lead gen tactics we’ve covered:
- Push download form submissions from your ebooks to your email marketing platform and CRM to send informative content to prospects in the future
- Set up an exit overlay to allow website visitors to sign up to a free trial of your services – send them an automated email to arrange an initial set up call using calendar scheduling software
- Promote an in person event using a long form blog post about the topic, drive people to a landing page to get a free ticket and use email marketing to follow up and share with their colleagues
Lead generation isn’t just a nice to have anymore it’s necessary to grow sales in any B2B business in the long term.
With a constant stream of leads from effective lead generation you can be sure you have a strong pipeline of prospects wanting to do business with you.
If you want to find out more about B2B lead generation, download our free guide: An Introductory Online Lead Generation Guide for B2B Brands