Leads are the cornerstone of sales and marketing for every B2B company.
If you are a B2B marketer, you already know how notoriously evasive B2B leads are.
It is common for B2B marketers of small to mid-size companies to struggle to produce qualified sales B2B leads.
Many times it’s because marketers don’t have a great understanding of the nuances of selling B2B products and services or the right tools to use.
In order to show campaign results, less savvy marketers typically resort to simple tricks to obtain names instead of generating qualified leads.
Though difficult, there are many ways to generate leads for B2B businesses. The secret is to find a method that works and execute it well.
But before one can learn how to generate B2B leads one has to know what a lead is and the different types of leads:
A lead refers to a person or company you are hoping to transform into a paying customer. A lead should be a person or business that is a good fit for your product or service and who could benefit from the solution you are offering.
The qualification and categorization of leads vary greatly from company to company, but most will use a scale ranging from cold to hot.
Cold Sales Leads
A cold B2B lead is a company that hasn’t yet engaged with your brand but is a good fit for your product or service based on your own pre-determined criteria.
Cold B2B leads are generally purchased from a third party lead generation company not generated organically by the purchasing company.
These usually have a lower conversion rate due to brand unfamiliarity. The aim should be to nurture these leads over time, to turn them into warm B2B leads.
Warm Sales Leads
A warm B2B sales lead is a business that has interacted with you directly, completing a set of predefined actions. These actions include filling out a contact form, downloading certain content or multiple visits to your website.
The actions are usually demonstration that they are getting closer to the point of purchase. They may be ready to be contacted by the sales team because the leads have actively shown an interest in the product or service you are offering and will be much more likely to talk to you.
Hot Sales Leads
Also known as a SQL (B2B Sales Qualified Lead), is a business that has shown a strong intent to purchase and is worth contacting immediately.
So how do you determine that a lead is now hot?
There are many ways but here are the most common determinants:
Now that we have explained what a lead is and the different types, here are five good ways to generate B2B leads:
Elements of a good campaign to generate Sales B2B Leads
The basics of a good campaign:
To improve the effectiveness of your B2B lead generation campaigns, focus on these three elements:
Campaign with Multiple Touches
An integrated media campaign focusing on touching your audience multiple times through multiple channels is a great way to get the attention of your sales targets:
Your multiple touches will build upon each other, hitting your targets from different angles to make sure your offer is heard. It’s more expensive than a single touch but far more effective.
Make Compelling Offers
The attention span is pretty low these days because everybody seems busy. You only have that much time or opportunities to make a good impression. Therefore, it’s important for your offer to stand out, which in itself is not easy.
To stand out from the noise, get creative and make unique offers to entice your target audience to take action.
Incorporate some Human Touch
In this highly digitized world telemarketing is considered one of the dinosaurs of marketing.
But as people are growing weary of digital marketing, the human touch is becoming more and more effective when utilized as one element in an integrated marketing campaign.
When designing your campaign it’s important to follow a single process. The more sales is involved, the less likely they are to ignore the leads generated by the efforts of the marketing department, and the more likely you are to generate qualified leads that produce customers.
Searching for the right leads in the right places, knowing how to entice them and following up effectively can help you to bring in leads you never thought possible.
We’ve said it in several blogs and we’ll say it again – email marketing is still very effective at capturing qualified leads, especially in the B2B space (click to read the blog).
Despite all the bells and whistles of new digital marketing techniques, in the professional world, many people, especially decision makers at the executive level, still rely on email as their main form of communication.
The fastest and most predictable way of generating leads from executives in the digital world today is email.
Here are three crucial tips to use cold email for effective lead generation:
By framing your email copy around their problems and addressing pain points, your solutions will naturally fall into place.
If you do the opposite, your email campaigns will come across as pushy sales messages that will likely end up in your audience’s trash bin or flagged as spam.
The specifics will vary depending on the type of email, but a great place to start with prospects is by offering them helpful content.
Special offers, new data-backed tactics to boost their digital marketing efforts, newsletters with the latest industry insights, are all great value ads that encourage prospects to become customers.
Unlike some other marketing techniques, emails lend themselves very well to testing. Experiencing low conversion rates? Try a new subject line. Click-to-open rate low? Try switching up your value offer, or try new positioning of your CTA.
Lead generation tools is a critical component of any lead generation campaign and can make your lead generation process more effective and easier. There are thousands of lead generation tools available in the market.
Therefore, selecting the right ones is the most challenging task for any business.
We did an extensive break down of some of the best lead generation tools for the B2B space.
While online marketing will continue to evolve, here are three proven B2B lead generation techniques that work for professional online lead generation firms today.
Direct Mail: reaching the right audience with the right offer and the right message is the key to marketing success, and no other lead generation technique gives you access to any number of otherwise inaccessible prospects.
Direct email is an extremely efficient and flexible medium that can serve many different purposes:
It allows you to present every benefit of your product or service anywhere, anytime, not just in their offices and during the business day, but in their homes, in the evenings and on weekends.
Cold Email: is organizing email outreach to potential customers who fit your target customer profile, but don’t know you yet and had no prior relationship with you.
Warm Email: on the other hand a warm email is outreach to someone who has shown interest in a product or service either by following your company on social media, signing up to your email newsletter, as a referral from a friend or previous client or some other expressed interest.
LinkedIn may not be the social network that first comes to mind when talking about marketing. In fact, it is mostly considered as the jobseekers platform.
As a result, B2B marketers sometimes overlook the platform’s ability to generate professional B2B leads.
Social media is one of the most over-hyped lead generation tools considering how many leads it actually gains.
However, of the five major networks, LinkedIn is easily the most effective. According to LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, 79% of B2B Marketers say LinkedIn is an effective source for generating B2B leads.
With more than 530 million users in over 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network online.
So it’s no big surprise why over 80% of leads for B2B marketers generated through social media comes from LinkedIn, which is over four times more than all the other social media platforms put together (19.67%).
Is spreading the word about a product or service through a business’ existing customers, rather than traditional advertising.
The most coveted prize in sales, besides making the sale of course, is getting customers to recommend and encourage other people to try your products or services.
Referrals account for 65% of all new business according to the New York Times. That means on average, two-thirds of consumers make purchases because someone they know recommended a particular product or service.
It makes sense because people are always talking about the products and services they enjoy, and the companies who offer them.
The Word of Mouth Marketing Association reports that every day in the United States, there are approximately 2.4 billion brand-related conversations.
People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend, therefore strategic use of referral marketing allows professionals to tap into the remarkable potential of consumer recommendations to achieve exceptional results.
Using downloadable content such as infographics, eBooks, white papers etc. behind data-gathering landing pages lets you collect data on prospects while providing valuable and relevant information in exchange.
Offering relevant and useful information through your blog posts, and linking off to demo forms and hyper-relevant anchor content can turn your “outbound” information into inbound leads.
A helpful blog can also position your agency as a thought-leader in the industry, and people will begin to rely on you for quality content, from sales tips to industry insights.
Here are a few bullet points on ways to generate leads through your blog:
Content is a widely used marketing technique, but in order for it to be an effective lead generation source in the B2B space, it has to be used in a particular way.
Always encourage your readers to take action and sweep them off their feet into landing pages where you give them awesome content or invite them to book a demo.
Attaching relevant, juicy content to your big blog pieces gives you a better chance at landing B2B leads.
Getting someone to take the action you want on your blog is much easier when readers get rewarded with benefits.
A great way to showcase real success stories of your services to your clients. Proof of your value to clients and ability to get results is priceless.
In fact, according to CMI (Content Marketing Institute), 82% of organizations use case studies in their B2B content marketing.
In many instances Case studies are used as the ‘closer’ – when you’re working with a prospect that’s close to making a buying decision, the more case studies you have that are specific to the various services you provide, the better the chances of closing the deal.
People are generally very visual learners. Using video content to supplement your written marketing material is one of the most effective ways to generate B2B leads.
If you have the time and resources to create compelling, informative video content, you can incorporate video into any part of your lead-gen funnel.
For example, hosting webinars is a video-based way to generate B2B leads, as prospects will have to register for the event with contact information.
Check out these statistics for reinforcement:
Downloadable eBooks and guides for specific, industry-relevant topics can be used to educate your audience at the same time as to generate new prospects.
A regularly-scheduled newsletter that provides high value, relevant content with deep insights can be a great tool for lead generation.
Promoting that newsletter can be a great way to get potential customers trading their contact information for the valuable content.
Infographics and Checklists
People love data and proof of performance, so establishing your company as an information-hub by designing and offering relevant statistics, data, and step-by-step checklists for success is another good content offer to generate more leads.
All the aforementioned lead generation methods are most likely among the first that comes to mind when it comes to lead generation.
These are all great tools, but one of the best and most effective lead generation methods out there is word of mouth or referral marketing.
Referrals are potentially the most valuable sources of leads, according to a study conducted by Heinz Marketing, companies with formal referral programs reported nearly 40% of their leads coming from referrals.
In comparison, companies without referral programs attributed a mere 22% of their leads to referrals.
Yet it remains relatively untapped by most businesses.
When you think about it, referrals are the most organic lead generation method there is. Pretty much every adult has tried or purchased a product after a recommendation from a friend.
Then, if you like it, you are likely to recommend it to someone else after you shared your experience with another person.
Seen as a go-tool for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) brands, B2B brands have been reluctant to adopt social media as a lead generation tool.
However, as social media becomes more entwined in information consumption habits, the opportunities for B2B businesses are beginning to evolve.
Social media complements content marketing strategies due to its content promotion features and low-cost avenues.
Promoting your content like blogs, webinars, and gated downloadable content through social media makes your content visible to a much larger audience than what exists solely in your email list or your existing website visitors and can generate new traffic and leads for your business.
These platforms are the most important channels that you should be actively promoting content and information on:
LinkedIn can be a lead-generating machine by itself with the new features and tools it recently introduced.
Facebook has a variety of advertising options such as sponsored news feed ads and boosted posts, which are great options to promote your business, content, promotions plus more to a targeted audience.
There are several platforms with built-in social ad features that you can utilize for lead generation.
However, advertising on these channels can be a big waste of budget unless you properly utilize their audience targeting features well. So just choosing a platform isn’t enough.
First, “know your audience” – identify what platform your audience live on. If you’re going after executives and corporate clients, then a website like LinkedIn may be the best platform for your campaigns, as it has a more professional business audience.
If you’re targeting small consumer service clients like repairmen, then a more casual, SMB-friendly platform like Facebook is likely their home base.
When you “know your audience” and know where they congregate, you can get your ads in front of the right people at the right time to generate new business leads.