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The Ultimate Guide to
B2B Lead Generation
What is B2B lead generation?
B2B lead generation is the beginning step in the sales process for a business. A lead is generated when a potential client initiates interest or enquires about the products or service that you offer. B2B lead generation refers specifically to developing company leads.
The lead-in question is the potential customer. They can be represented by a number, job position, email address or any other piece of personal/professional information. It is a critical aspect of sales generation.
Virtually every sale will begin with the generation of a quality lead so this tends to be the top of your marketing funnel.
Which lead generation strategies work?
When exploring lead generation, it is crucial that you do find a strategy that is effective. You need to avoid a marketing funnel that isn’t suitable for your needs or goals. One prevalent issue is going to be the form you use and whether or not they are optimised. But what strategies will actually pay off?
There is some debate between experts on the most successful course of action. While some favour SEO as the number one lead generation channel, others suggest email is the way forward. Various alternate pros suggest social media or content marketing. Collectively, these are the strategies that will provide the greatest chance of the results you want. Don’t forget, it’s not just about which strategy you use. You need to think about your plan of action.
Email provides a solid line for B2B lead generation and is considered to be a tried and true method. It’s actually one of the oldest strategies and has seen a resurgence lately due to marketing automation. With marketing automation tools like Hubspot and MailChimp, you can use email marketing to respond immediately to a potential lead who have proactively opted-in.
Highly targeted emails are sent out to leads and crucially will be personalised for their individual pain points and demographics. B2B marketers now can also use behavioural triggers to further increase the benefits of email for lead generation.
Another popular strategy is SEO. Similar to email marketing SEO is one of the earlier strategies and used to be far easier than it is today. Ten years ago, you could increase your site revenue dramatically with a small collection of keywords ranking at number one.Time has moved on and now SEO is an umbrella term. To see success here, you need to focus on and perfect various areas of your online profile. This does tie into content marketing, social media and the overall design of your website.
Creating unique, high-quality original content is a fantastic option. As long as you are providing and publishing content that is targeted and offers value you will see growth here. There are various different types of content of course with the most popular being information published specifically for social media.
There are also eNewsletters, website articles, blogs, case studies, and videos. A wide variation as part of your marketing strategy is the best way to see results.
Many business owners struggle to find the results they want with their social media strategy. It’s often rated lower than other options despite providing results. Like any other tool, social media must be handled the right way.
For instance, if you choose to use LinkedIn then you can easily target specific leads within your chosen industry. You can send personalised messages and these again can be automated with the right software. It’s also worth noting that content marketing won’t work unless people are following your social media profiles and are interested in what you are publishing.That’s a key point worth mentioning. While all these strategies are effective, they work best collectively. You need to combine them to create a lead generation strategy that operates on numerous levels and platforms. You also need to experiment with what works to find the right mix for you.
The Best B2B Lead Generation Tactics
Various different tactics can form a part of your overall lead generation strategy. Here are some of the best B2B lead generation tactics we recommend you consider.
Customer Case Studies
Arguably one of the best ways to generate leads is to ensure that various case studies are accessible for potential leads to view. Remember, leads aren’t interested in the tricks you can offer them. They want clear and concise info that demonstrates how your business can help theirs. That’s exactly what a case study is.
A case study highlights proven results in a specific situation or industry that a lead will be able to understand. With the right case studies, a lead will recognise the benefits you can bring and be inclined to make contact with your company.
Paid advertising can be arranged across both search engines and social media. It can allow you to pick up cold prospects or retarget business owners that you may have lost somewhere along the funnel.
With the right data, you can form a key message for a specific profile leading to a great CPA.
With webinars, you will be using video marketing that will allow you to communicate directly to potential prospects. They can ask questions, you can provide answers and this delivers a strong opportunity for conversions. You can also provide more detail to key prospects.
It offers an excellent form of representation for your company and you can also save time by inviting people to attend a webinar instead of individual presentations. One key way to make sure these are popular is to offer ‘secret’ info here that they won’t anywhere else.
You also need to make sure that you are prepared to effectively answer any and all questions that they could ask.
With account-based marketing, you treat the prospect like their own industry. You can create events, content and entire campaigns around the people who are connected to that specific account.
ABM is able to generate qualified leads because it provides you with the individuals who want to hear from you. As such, you won’t have to worry as much about grooming leads and helping shape them into customers. This can shorten the time between the first point of contact and the final sale. For more about account based marketing we've got a more detailed article here.
Landing Page Optimisation
Landing pages can be an effective tool for lead generation, however, they must be optimised. You need to make sure that your landing pages are crafted with the right content and features. For instance, you might want to add a floating form to your landing page.
This ensures the contact point is always clearly visible. It’s also crucial to get the CTA right and ensure it matches the promise made at the beginning of the page.
Lead Conversion Tools
The right tools can greatly benefit the level of opportunities for lead generation. With software support, you can identify businesses and companies that have visited your site. This information will be delivered in real-time allowing you to transform a prospect into a lead.
Data can be highly specific too. You will be able to see the specific pages they visited and the time spent viewing particular products or services. This gives you a clear process with the right info on the right prospects. It will help you understand pain points and what prospects are most interested in.
If you are using content, you need to ensure that you have a plan in place. Content needs to either engage, entertain or educate. Planning can help you avoid content that lacks interest or could be considered pointless. All content should be connected with a goal and a target audience. Think about why the content is going to be effective and what you are setting out to achieve.
Earned Social Media
Earned social media is the exposure that has been gained through word of mouth. This could be due to the specific content that you have produced or SEO efforts. It’s another example of how the tactics we’re talking about function together. Earned social media can be gained through reposts, great reviews, and recommendations. You can also focus on creating thought leadership content which is then added to publications connected to your industry.
Which B2B Lead Generation Tactics Really Work?
Now that we have established the various lead generation tactics available, let’s explore the best ones to use and crucially, how to use them.
We have already touched on this with regards to email marketing. Lead generation is often only one part of a comprehensive marketing automation strategy. With marketing automation, you can deliver content that is targeted offering leads a reason to convert. It’s a streamlined process that reduces the time it takes to build up leads. All you need to do is input the outcome you want into the software.
With automation, you can track behaviour across social media and then use this data to generate leads. Leads are nurtured through responses that are personalised and relevant to a specific audience. They are then guided through the marketing funnel. While not as simple as most businesses assume, with the right assistance, marketing automation can work wonders in your business.
GDD or Growth-driven website design is a tactic that has grown in popularity recently. It moves away from the traditional choices in website design. With a typical website, the platform often isn’t scalable and is not easy to evolve. As such, it doesn’t allow the business to alter the site based on the buyer persona or the experience of the prospect. As your business evolves so to do your leads.
Your website should be able to adapt to this and provide the experience they want or be the answer to the needs that they have. With the right design that is constantly being shaped by data-driven planning, you will gain more leads. This option should be chosen over simply building a site based on assumptions that you already have on potential clients.
This is a crucial element of an inbound marketing strategy for lead generation. Using this tactic, you will be able to generate leads by providing nurturing experiences through external channels.
With retargeting, cookies on your website are used to track the activity of a visitor. After they leave the site, targeted ads can be sent off to appear on websites they visit next. The aim is to lure them back to you. Of course, for this to work, you need to make sure there’s quality content and that’s where landing optimisation is crucial once more.
Don’t forget that you’ll also be focusing on prospects that have already shown interest in what you can offer.
Content marketing is insanely popular with about 91% of B2B businesses using it to generate leads. B2B companies also spend around 33% of their marketing budget on content. There are a variety of different forms of content that will help you generate leads.
Video is key here. With video, you can make sure that you are making your website more interactive and appealing directly to an audience. The best video content won’t just introduce your brand. It will provide the answers to the questions companies want.
Blogs provide a way to take a deeper dive and provide more context to a prospect. You can use blogs to highlight that you are a leader in your industry and demonstrate your expertise as well as your history on the market.
There are a variety of different ways to use social media to generate leads. We have already discussed how businesses failing on social media are taking the wrong tactic. One option that will work is offering the chance for users to sign up to a newsletter. Newsletters can provide great value to a business, particularly if you have already established yourself as a valuable source of info with the right content.
As soon as they sign up, you have an email address and a potential lead. You can then proceed from there. If you are using social media you should also be providing clear CTAs on occasion. You need to show prospects how to take the next step.
For more information on B2B lead generation and sales strategies that really work, check out this article from Marcus Svensson over at Albacross.
Building an integrated lead gen plan
We’ve discussed how you shouldn’t be focusing on one tactic. Instead, you need to make sure you formulate a comprehensive B2B lead generation strategy. But how does this work in practice
First, you need to make sure that you understand your target customers. It is important that you understand why these businesses are searching for a company like yours. What are their pain points and their goals? Recognising this will ensure you understand how you can help them and provide the solution that you need.
You also need to be aware of the channels they use and where they are most likely to consume information. Not all prospects use every channel. While some will favour social media and specific networks, others will use search engines and blogs. Noting used channels will highlight where you should focus your efforts on lead generation. This can help you avoid a low ROI and limited results, even with significant levels of spending.
When you are building your B2B lead generation strategy consider the message you are going to use. How are you going to approach prospects? What answers can you provide and what value can they bring to their company? This will help you devise a key message for your first content which should be personalised based on the particular prospect. This is where account-based marketing can provide the results you want.
When you have the answers to these questions, you should be creating the content that connects it all. Content should be targeted for your prospects, address the pain points that they have and provide the message that they will respond to. Do this and you will gain success with lead generation. But it’s not the end of the story.
The process needs to be constant and continuous. You should always be moving your leads through the funnel onto the next step and that’s where marketing automation comes into play. With marketing automation, fewer leads are lost and there is a cyclical process that constantly increases engagement.
It is important to recognise that the solution you use will not remain in the same form. You need to use lead generation tools to measure and analyse the results.
You must use deep data dives to explore behavioural triggers and develop the right strategy. You should constantly be making tweaks and improvements as you continue to develop an integrated strategy.
30 ways to generate more leads
You might already be seeing a lead generation with your marketing strategy. But is it at the right level? Here are more ways that you can increase your number of leads.
Lead Generation Tip #1: Use Twitter
With Twitter you can find people with keywords and hashtags. There are over 300 million active users on Twitter every month so there is massive potential here. You can engage simply by following or getting involved in a conversation. While time-consuming, Twitter is a tool that will deliver results.
Lead Generation Tip #2: Email Signatures
Email signatures demonstrate a high level of professionalism and ensure that your emails are more personalised for prospects. Think about how many emails you send out annually and how many people are working in your business. You can use email signatures to promote content or even provide a link to your LinkedIn profile.
Lead Generation Tip #3: Lead Generation Paid Media Ads
If you are already using paid ads as part of your strategy, consider lead generation ads. These can be run through Twitter and Facebook. They allow you to gather emails within the platform. As such, there is no reason to direct users away from social media. It’s an easy option for users too which means that you’ll likely see an increase in the number of emails you gain.
Lead Generation Tip #4: Online Reviews
Remember over 87% of B2B prospects will look at the reviews before they consider making a purchase. That’s why it’s crucial that you have reviews available for them. A mistake many companies make is buying reviews. These are easy to spot and will immediately send the wrong message about your business brand.
Lead Generation Tip #5: Guest Blogging
This is a great way to expand your reach and encounter a larger audience. You can do this by taking advantage of a resource or individual that already has a wide following. All you need to do is offer great content that benefits them and you will see results here.
Lead Generation Tip #6: Lead Magnets
With this, you are creating a free piece of content that provides fantastic value to users. This could be something like an eBook. It demonstrates that you can provide value to prospects and gives them a reason to find out more about your brand.
Lead Generation Tip #7: Try Different Types Of Content
Make sure that you are experimenting with different content possibilities. Ideally, you need to find the option that provides the most value to your audience. Infographics are great for B2B models. With infographics, you can provide clear, concise information in a format that they can read in minutes. It’s also easy to use infographics to demonstrate the effectiveness of your service.
Lead Generation Tip #8: Lead Databases
Lead Databases - You just need to make sure that these are going to gain quality leads here. There are various lead databases including Salefinder. LinkedIn can also be considered with various professionals and all the contact information that you could want.
Lead Generation Tip #10: Get Involved in Online Conversations
This can be as simple as ensuring that you are connected to the right Facebook Groups and that your LinkedIn account is set up correctly. In conversations through online groups, you can provide the answers that business leaders have been searching for. You can show them that you could offer the right solution.
Lead Generation Tip #11: Exit Intent Popups
You’ve almost certainly seen these during your own experiences online. The popup appears when a user is about to leave a site. They can provide a chance for users to sign up to something like a newsletter or simply trigger a conversion. They can deliver the most compelling offer available for your business.
Lead Generation Tip #12: Use Your Competitors
With the latest tech, you can access the leads who are viewing services and products of your competitors. Solutions such a LeadCandy allow you to do this. It searches for followers of your competitors and delivers you with their contact info. You can then use the info to contact them directly with the starting point that they are already interested in a company similar to yours.
Lead Generation Tip #13: Offer a Free Tool
We’ve mentioned free content, how about a free tool? It has to be something that is useful to your target audience and relevant to their needs. Ideally, it should address pain points and ensure that it does deliver value. You don’t have to code a tool yourself either. There are countless platforms that can help you without needing to go through this process.
Lead Generation Tip #14: Question and Answer Services
These can be ideal for generating leads because you can provide value. Quora is a great option which many professionals use to solve problems. As well as generating leads you’ll also immediately send a message that you are an expert in the industry. Quora isn’t the only Q&A service but it is one of the most popular and can help you generate higher levels of traffic too.
Lead Generation Tip #15: Content Upgrades
These are add ons to existing pieces of content that leads can access for free. All you need to do is track the most popular pieces of content and add anything from a checklist to case studies of infographics.
Lead Generation Tip #16: Direct Mail
This can be more effective than email if it’s presented the right way and part of an Account Based Marketing strategy. Clients can’t delete direct mail so you have a better chance of them responding and it does provide a 5.4% success rate. The key thing here is to target your hottest leads and provide real value through your strategy.
Lead Generation Tip #17: Content Syndication
You need to make sure that your content is getting as much interest as possible. Syndication is a great way to do this. You can reach out and potentially guest blog or you can use advertising platforms. These help ensure that your content does appear on more sites.
Lead Generation Tip #18: SlideShare
This can be seen as a great alternative to blogging which could ultimately provide more value. You can share and deliver presentation slides and this platform does get 159 million page views each month.
Lead Generation Tip #19: Site Reviews
Reviews are great but if they’re on your site they’re only going to help nurture existing leads. To get more, you need to ensure that reviews build up on an external site. To do this, you must work to get your company listed on a site like Capterra.
Lead Generation Tip #20: Public Relations
This is another great way to attract leads by being recognised in the media. Generating press releases is one of the easiest ways to do this. All you need to do is circulate it and hopefully, the media will pick up the story.
Lead Generation Tip #21: Gmail Sponsored Promotions
This provides you with a way to gain access to leads even if you don’t have the email address. The trick here is not to start with a hard sell. Instead, you need to make sure that you educate on who you are and what you can offer.
Lead Generation Tip #22: Create a Facebook Audience
You can do this using tools like PhantomBuster. This allows you to automatically extract information from different platforms. You can then use the info to build up your audience who will be high-quality potential leads.
Lead Generation Tip #23: Podcasts
This might sound complicated but it isn’t. All you need to do is run a podcast related to your potential lead. Then, you can get in touch with them for an interview.
Lead Generation Tip #24: Great Conversations
You need to make sure that you are engaging with prospects and having great conversations with them as much as you can. When you connect with a prospect in a chat, a long call is better than providing a link. You can even offer video calls through email marketing rather than simply keeping it text-based.
Lead Generation Tip #25: Use HARO
HARO can be great if used the right way. Once registered, you can set yourself up as an expert to answer questions relevant to your industry.
Lead Generation Tip #26: Featured Listings
With a listing, you can make sure that you are in a directory that businesses are searching to find a company just like yours. Of course, you need to make sure that you appear near the top and solutions like Capterra offer a PPC service that provides the answer.
Lead Generation Tip #27: Google AdWords
You can generate leads by setting up a landing base for your business. You can then complete some keyword research and start setting up a campaign with bids on specific keywords. Once someone clicks your ad they’ll be directed to a landing page that you can use to generate them as a lead.
Lead Generation Tip #28: Monitor Mentions on Social Media
It would be fantastic if you could find out when people were mentioning your brand online and respond immediately. Well, you can with software available on the market. This allows you to target potential leads even when they haven’t tagged you. It can also help you turn a negative mention into something positive.
Lead Generation Tip #29: LiveChat
You might have optimised your site as much as you can. However, some users are still going to struggle to find the information they want. Live chat is great for delivering immediate results and is widely favoured by customers. Indeed over 42% prefer live chat for customer support. These tools also collect emails providing even greater options for lead generation.
Lead Generation Tip #30: Customer Referrals
This is a great way to generate high-quality leads. You just need to make sure that you know how you’re going to transform previous clients into promoters of your business. There are a few ways to do this. We recommend NPS Score to find the right clients. You can then send them info on how to promote your company.
Finally; work smarter not harder
What does this mean? It’s important to accentuate the sheer potential of automation in the B2B lead generation process. With marketing automation, you can cut out the level of work it takes to generate and nurture leads while still seeing the results that you want. You should run your marketing team like the pros in the software development industry. In this sector, the software does the heavy lifting and this allows the employees to provide more value near the end of the funnel.
To do this, you need to build a hypothesis. This should be based on what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. You need to streamline the process of putting this into action. As soon as a strategy is running, you can track and learn from your actions.
You can work to improve your strategy so that your next campaign delivers better results. This is a constant process that you can continue until you reach the level of success you want with B2B lead generation.