Lead generation for B2B is special. Typically, it involves selling a complex product or solution. The sales process could take weeks or months. There are probably several stakeholders involved in the decision. Finally, finding B2B leads can be quite tricky.
To get your lead generation for B2B off the ground, you first need to know your options. View this article as a resource to get more leads whenever you need more qualified leads for your business.
Lead Generation For B2B: Foundations
Before you jump on LinkedIn again, there are some fundamentals to keep in mind. Without these fundamentals in place, your lead generation efforts will fall short.
1) Update your target audience regularly
Before you touch Facebook, install a new marketing automation tool, configure a form to gather email addresses, or look at search engine optimization, you need to know your target audience first.
Knowing your target audience is always an excellent starting point in marketing. If you don’t have a clear picture of your customers, you will waste a lot of time. Imagine if you tried to market a warehouse management software solution to a business without a warehouse. All of your marketing strategies would be wasted. As a marketer, it is wise to confirm your definition of qualified leads with the company’s sales teams.
If you already know your target audience well, then make a note to update your understanding six months from now. The world changes over time, and that includes changes in your target audience.
To use a simple example, your B2B buyers might have spent a considerable amount of money on live events and conferences for training in the past. Today, that spending activity has probably shifted to online training tools.
2) Refine your sales process
Fully optimized B2B lead generation is a waste of time if your company lacks a sales process to convert B2B leads into closed sales. After all, we’re in business to win our industry’s best customers, not just users on a website.
While I focus on the marketing side of lead generation for B2B, the sales process also matters. For example, consider how quickly the sales team responds to new leads from webinars. Aside from speed, the sales process should include practical tools such as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to simplify follow-up activities.
To get started with refining your sales process, start with the fundamentals. Ask your best performing sales professional to write down everything they do to engage with a new lead. Once these steps have been documented, you can take additional steps to optimize your buying process. For example, can you add different tactics to your sales funnel (e.g., alternate phone calls and emails even if the marketing automation tool doesn’t automate all of these steps)?
Tip: When in doubt, focus sales teams on improving follow-up practices. Anybody can send a “ready to buy now?” style follow-up email to a person in the CRM. Aim to do better than that!
3) Write your buyer journey as a series of actions
Let me tell you a story about how I discovered the value of understanding the buyer journey. I provide marketing services such as content marketing as a service to technology companies. I often wondered, “what happens inside to company to prompt them to work with me?” Interviewing recent customers one by one is the best way to gather insight on the buyer journey – marketing automation software will not do this for you.
The specific actions of the buyer journey vary, but I have detected a few patterns.
- Company decides to start a website redesign project.
As this project starts, the company realizes that it could use better copy, content, and conversion optimization. If you’re already investing in graphic design, new content management systems, and beyond, improving content and copy makes complete sense.
- A company buys a marketing automation platform like HubSpot or Marketo.
Marketing automation tools are fantastic! However, these tools can only work their magic when they are fully powered up with email copy, content, and other marketing assets.
When you understand the buyer journey, you will find more leads and quickly determine if you can help those leads. For further reading on the buyer journey, check out HubSpot’s overview: What Is the Buyer’s Journey?. Focus on actions rather than thoughts or feelings because it is easier to detect your potential customers’ actions.
Tip: Put descriptive information about your ideal potential customers into buyer personas documents. For more details on buyer personas, check out HubSpot’s post: How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business.
Lead Generation For B2B: Choose Your Strategy Mix
For your lead generation program to deliver results, focus is your best friend. Specifically, I recommend using the 80/20 principle. Start by focusing 80% of your effort on one lead generation strategy that delivers results. Spend the other 20% of your resources on experimenting with other lead generation strategies. This combination approach helps you to attract leads today and include some diversity.
6) Lead Generation for B2B: Email Marketing
Building an email list of people who look forward to hearing from you is one of the most valuable business assets you can build. As a general guideline, it is best to send emails to your list weekly or monthly. If you’re too overwhelmed to organize your email marketing, consider working with an email marketing agency. Choosing a full-featured marketing automation tool can also be a helpful way to stay organized.
If potential leads are not signing up for your email list, the problem might be due to the type of content you are sending. In that case, using tactics like exit popups and infographics might not help. Instead, I recommend going back to the fundamentals: answer questions and share ideas that directly address your prospective customers’ concerns (i.e., relevant content). If your website is not gathering leads, you may find it helpful to outsource content creation to a content marketing agency.
You need a clear and straightforward CTA (i.e. call to action) to grow your email list from a copy perspective. At a minimum, tell people how often they can expect to receive emails from you. Once you have a few thousand email addresses on your list, use that number in a social proof CTA (e.g., “Join three thousand subscribers.”).
Once prospects join your email list, you can start to send offers to them like an invitation to join your webinars or view your most popular articles.
Tip: Strike a balance between offering valuable information (e.g., link to your latest article, infographic image, or other valuable content) to your audience and aiming for sales. If you only send sales letters to your list, your audience will start to disengage over time. The pieces of content you share with your email list should also vary over time unless you want to become known for length like LongReads.
7) Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
For individuals to join your email list or ask for a sign, they need to know your company exists. Content and SEO are some of the best ways to attract attention online because of intent. With a platform like Twitter or Facebook, intent is tough to determine. With a search engine, we can make a good guess about intent (e.g., a search for “content marketing consultant” probably means you seek a consultant to grow your business).
Search engines like Google want to provide answers to people searching online. By the way, search engines cannot show content hidden behind an opt-in form so consider putting your next whitepaper available on your website for anybody to see. Sharing that kind of original research will also help to increase your company’s credibility in the community.
- Research. Talk to current customers and potential customers about their questions and the pain they have. This research will supplement what you learn from using SEO tools like Ahrefs.
- Content Creation: Create exclusive content that people cannot find anywhere else on the web, and you will get more attention. I like to use WordPress to publish content because it is user-friendly. You can also promote your content on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. By the way, creating ebooks is still an excellent way to generate awareness online. If you’re worried about your content strategy, work with a content marketing strategist. A strategist will define your goal and then build a content strategy to achieve that goal.
- Backlinks. Every time another website links to your valuable content, those links send signals to search engines. That means you are more likely to show up on the search engine results page (i.e., SERPs). Posting links to your content on Twitter can also play a role in getting backlinks. Success in building backlinks means more people find your content and your sales team gets more opportunities.
- Tests. Like advertising on Facebook or Google, testing is part of search engine optimization. Remember to be patient, gather data, and evaluate which types of content generate the most interest. For example, test whether your sales reps are interested in sharing company content online on a social platform like LinkedIn. Even better, please encourage them to join conversations and leave comments to be seen as an authority.
While we’re talking about tests, make sure that you test your website on mobile. According to Oberlo, mobile devices account for more than 50% of all website traffic in 2021. Make a plan to test your website on mobile each month regularly. Taking a few minutes to test and tweak your website can pay off in higher traffic and opportunities.
Tip: Content and search engine optimization require both art and science. If you are already creating at research, you may want to focus on the equation’s science side. Use checklists and templates to make sure each piece of content is optimized.
8) Send Cold Emails (i.e., outbound emails)
Cold emails are a tried and true B2B lead generation strategy. I’ve used this strategy myself to win B2B customers. There is an entire set of technologies and methods to make cold email work. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I suggest you pick a leading cold email application like Quickmail or Outreach and get started there.
As a lead generation method, cold emails have a few key advantages. Assuming you have a high-quality list, you can send outbound emails today and start to hold meetings in a matter or hours or days. If you have quality content to share, such pieces of content can help to set your outbound emails apart from the competition.
Once you have your email lead generation software in place, your next step is to obtain potential customers’ email addresses. Fortunately, there are B2B service providers that make this process easy. For example, I have used Uplead for cold email campaigns with decent results.
By the way, sending a single email is unlikely to generate results. Instead, you need to use an email sequence that uses different messages. For instance, you might include several kinds of customer testimonial to connect with different people in your B2B audience.
Note if you have a small list of target accounts, take your time with cold emails. Fine-tune your pitches to appeal to each specific company and person. This customization work takes time, but it will pay off in generating more sales meetings. For example, look at your potential customers’ social channels and websites. If they are already using a similar vendor, you may need to adjust your message accordingly.
9) Use Website Analytics (e.g., Google Analytics)
Your content marketing strategy requires analytics. Otherwise, it will be tough to tell if you are connecting with the B2B buyers you want. By all means, share your videos and content on social media channels. However, your ultimate objective is to bring more prospects back to your website. Once they arrive at your website, you can nurture visitors into leads.
By tracking which blog content attracts the highest engagement, you will know what kind of gated content to offer. Also, analytics will help you spot B2B lead generation problems on your website, such as a broken contact form. In addition, analytics can help you measure your social media strategy’s effectiveness in terms of driving attention.
10) Use Pay Per Click (e.g., Google AdWords) Marketing Campaigns
For B2B businesses, the top pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platforms included LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook. All of these audiences have large audiences of business owners, so you can easily reach qualified leads. Unlike e-commerce, where immediate purchases after an ad click are standard, B2B buyers are unlikely to buy immediately after seeing an ad. However, you can probably get an email address for your email list.
In general, email list growth (i.e., email signups) should focus on using Google Ads. At this point, your email marketing strategy takes over. Testing different headlines and CTA (i.e., call to action) are essential techniques to generate ROI.
Tip: Cost per click for a B2B audience tend to be high: $10, $50, or more per click costs can consume your budget fast. To stretch your budget further, use remarketing. A remarketing campaign means showing your ads to decision-makers who have already visited your website. If you have a high level of traffic to a specific URL, your remarketing can leverage that fact for personalization (e.g., show a discount ad to people who visit the price page on your website).
Lead Generation For B2B: You Don’t Have To Do It On Your Own
Increasing B2B leads doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Contact me today to request a free review of your B2B lead generation.