So your goal is to grow your business to $1 million this year but you have no real plan yet.
Want to hear the good news?
You don’t have to come up with anything crazy. Other companies have already tried and tested revolutionary B2B lead generation tactics that have become a norm by now.
So whether you run an agency, a SaaS company, or a service-based business, a step-by-step B2B lead generation strategy is most likely to work for you. But there are a few prerequisites that can guarantee if one tactic will bring you the expected results or not.
In this guide, we’re having a look at over 15 B2B lead generation strategies, how other companies are using them, and how to tell which one is right for you.
- What is a B2B lead generation strategy?
- Focusing on top-of-the-funnel traffic
- Updating old content
- Social media ads
- Experiment with content to create lead magnets
- Link building
- Email marketing
- Cold outreach campaigns
- Video as a B2B lead generation tool
- Podcast series
- Free tools to loyalize users
- Finally making PR work
- Product Hunt frenzy
- Partnerships to tap into new markets
- Clear website copy
- Adapting to different needs
What is a B2B lead generation strategy?
At its most basic understanding, B2B lead generation refers to driving leads to the top-of-the-funnel level. This is done through various channels including blog content, social media, and even PPC.
Some of the reasons why you might want to start generating leads include growing your email list, starting a loyalty program, staying top of mind, and simply creating a database of potential clients.
From a marketing perspective, the steps of the B2B lead generation process look as follows:
- Findings leads: At this point, you’re creating ToFu content, crafting ads, sharing updates on your social media pages, doing email outreach, and testing out other B2B lead generation strategies that can place you in front of an ideal audience.
- Capturing leads: This stage provides multiple paths you can take to start collecting their contact information. Later, you’ll use this for the lead engagement stage to interact with your leads by sending educational information, directly writing to them, retargeting through ads, etc.
Let’s see how other B2B companies execute upon these lead generation steps from the types of content they create to how they get potential leads to give out a method of contact!
How do other B2B companies generate leads?
Through the years, I’ve analyzed all possible B2B lead generation tactics and what’s required for them to work properly.
In this guide, I’m presenting you the most effective ones along with how other companies are doing lead generation the right way.
Focusing on top-of-the-funnel traffic
The best long-term lead generation strategy?
It’s got to be growing your website’s traffic. 🥳
Bringing leads to your homepage can be costly as it requires paid ads and partnerships. So working on targeting ToFu keywords keeps a steady traffic stream. And guess what? As you’re growing your organic blog traffic you’ll also start getting backlinks to your homepage or product pages. So it’s really a win-win situation.
Things aren’t as easy as they sound though. Simply creating content without a solid strategy in place is bound to waste your money and time.
This being said, this B2B lead generation strategy is one of the most complex ones, requiring SEO planning and research in addition to the writing part.
A detailed editorial calendar where every topic is tied to a main keyword you’re able to rank for using the resources you already have and your current business stage. For instance, a new company is not likely to see great results from their first post.
So instead of tackling difficult keywords with a super high volume, you’ll want to look for keywords with fewer competitors that can still help you straighten your thought leadership.
Now here’s a little secret: This is one of the approaches we’re taking at Zengrowth too.
“Our long-term B2B lead generation strategy is focused mainly on content generation and distribution. It’s in the DNA of our company, working with a lot of experts and a lot of good content writers.
So depending on the stage of your company, the maturity of your services, and your domain authority among others, you’d focus your efforts on different goals. We started off creating a lot of ToFu content, around topics that are linked to our service, simply to gain more visibility. These are educational, in-depth articles that can show our potential clients that the people at Zengrowth are real experts in their field.
Along with increasing traffic, we then started focusing on serving users who are interested in specific content, so we added downloadable case studies and our newsletter. If you have a small team, it’s also important to focus and measure what works and integrate these learnings back into the process.” – Katrin Marx, COO @Zengrowth
With content being such a vast realm to explore, every brand is taking the path that’s most likely to convert in the end. Some build topic clusters or focus on multiple parts of the funnel. Others are laser-focused on targeting high-intent keywords or creating product-related content that matches what users search for:
“We don’t try to capture traffic from high-level and highly competitive keywords like Instagram marketing. Instead, we go after high-intent long-tail keywords like Instagram insights report template. This keyword has a fraction of the search volume for Instagram marketing and so little competition that SEMrush can’t report it:
By creating helpful how-to pieces and walkthroughs of our reporting and dashboard templates, we’re able to generate not only organic traffic…
… but also conversions:
An extra benefit is that we don’t have to build links or wait months for new posts to start ranking and/or generating leads. Also, we don’t have to spend any money on promoting these blog posts since each of them generates hundreds of organic pageviews per month on their own.” – Pinja Virtanen, Content Marketing Manager @Supermetrics
Updating old content
Most B2B companies already use content with the purpose of generating leads. The problem is that often this doesn’t happen. Specifically, if they’re just launching their blog or if their content is not up to par with readers’ expectations.
That’s exactly where a good old content update comes in to save the day.
The most reliable example?
Have a look at the Backlinko blog. All of the posts there rank well and bring in consistent leads simply because the author takes the time to keep everything fresh. You can even try going to page 20 and you’ll find up-to-date articles that are still relevant despite all of the frequent changes that happen in the SEO industry [Thanks, Google!].
Social media ads
With 3.6 billion social media users worldwide, you had better bet it’s your next go-to B2B lead generation technique.
Not as a stand-alone strategy for generating traffic and conversions though. Few business models rely only on their social media pages to promote and sell their services. Many courses, DTC products, or photo filters and presets are most often sold via a strategy that relies solely on Instagram.
Similarly, not all social networks will provide the perfect distribution channel for your content and ads. The easiest way to launch your first social ads campaign is to have a look at where your biggest and most active current network is. Another factor to consider is where your ideal audience is. So if your target customers are on LinkedIn but your Twitter account is bigger and not providing any leads, that’s a good sign you’re focusing on the wrong platform.
In general, most B2B companies will find LinkedIn as a good place to start with since 89% of B2B marketers are already there and naming it as their first platform of choice. This tactic alone comes its a bunch of secondary tweaks you can make:
- Targeting different audiences
- Testing your CTAs, text, and images
- Diversifying your landing pages
But your target audience could be somewhere else. This is what the White Label Loyalty team noticed when they decided to stick with Google Ads which provided more qualified leads:
“Inbound lead generation has been most successful as our website is our best resource, which is why we spend a lot of effort on it. As a start-up, it can be difficult to rank high for important keywords. That’s why we’ve been doing not only a lot of content marketing but also using Google Ads to drive traffic and find leads.
PPC has really been invaluable in getting our brand in front of our prospects. We’ve tried paid social too but it wasn’t right as our audience wasn’t actively looking for a loyalty program. This led to very high costs and a low ROI for us. Google Ads is great because you can target your customers along the entire customer journey and it helps us reach audiences we would have never found otherwise.” – Kristyna Kroblova, Marketing and Customer Success Manager @White Label Loyalty
Experiment with content to create lead magnets
There’s a reason why solid content pieces are called lead magnets. These are mostly common articles, guides, lists or libraries, ebooks and reports, and even videos that offer exclusivity, social proof, and, beyond everything, authority.
They are able to single-handedly generate the majority of a website’s traffic and, with the right elements in place, they too can grow your leads database like never before. You can try adding in links or reminders for readers to sign up for your email list, on-site links to other product pages or offers, CTAs to a webinar or guide download, freebies, etc.
“To generate leads that are potentially interested in our agency services, we created a rich collection of native ad examples. We saw that our past article that was featuring up to ten campaign examples was performing great and realized that we could get more out of the topic. With that in mind, we collected over 35 native advertising campaigns in one lookbook and placed it in the most prominent places on our website.
We haven’t been doing any paid advertising or taking any extra effort to promote our lead magnets besides on-page SEO. To reach great results from our lead generation campaigns, we just needed to understand the user behavior and add a few banners to the most relevant blog posts.
Exclusively with the lookbook, we increased the conversion rate of website visitors to leads to 2.5% from 1%. And the conversion rate of our lead generation landing page is almost 50% now.” – Adelina Karpenkova, Marketing Manager @Joinative
Google itself is a great lead generation asset to consider for your B2B business. Thanks to link building, of course.
The search engine’s algorithm has changed in such a way that any mentions and links you’re getting contribute to strengthening your website’s authority. In fact, having your name attached to a certain topic increases your own thought leadership as Google connects every piece you’ve written to deduce what your area of expertise is. Once people also link to you, that’s a pretty good clue that you know your stuff. 🙌
Waiting for the backlinks to come your way does take time. But you can speed link building efforts by guest blogging on relevant business blogs and linking to your target articles or product pages from them.
“First, to successfully get backlinks to our content consistently, we had to redesign the blog and improve its UX. Then, we started publishing four articles/month. We focused on increasing our content quality and made sure our articles were long (2,000 – 3,000 words long), SEO optimized and covered the topic in-depth to provide more value.
We also reduced the number of niches we were covering and decided to cover only one at a time. Then, we set link targets for every article, depending on the Keyword Difficulty metric. We prioritized those that had a solid traffic potential but weren’t too hard to rank for.
And it worked. Some pages reached top rankings even after 1-2 months. We now have many top rankings and even scored featured snippets on Google.
Since we published relevant blog content regularly, improved the blog formatting, created longer articles, and built backlinks to these articles, our organic traffic tripled compared to the same period last year. More importantly, this traffic is also more relevant and converts much better.” – Todd Penny, Founder and CEO @GoCodes.com
The Mio team has taken a different approach to secure their organic backlinks:
“We combined an age-old tactic, newsjacking, with conducting our own independent research to produce the Mio Workplace Messaging Report.
Knowing the power of independent research, we knew this would be a hit for gaining links and growing our brand reputation. By timing it alongside the Slack IPO, we naturally had a pitch to publications both inside and outside our industry.
To turn this content from a link builder into a lead generator, we included an email gate just at the right time when the reader was already invested in the stats and commentary we provided. Within 3 days, we got 600 email sign-ups.” – Dominic Kent, Director of Content Marketing @Mio
Email is that one channel that ultimately connects leads to a seller. Yes, you can’t buy anything without an email and the subsequent stream of announcements, news, updates, and promotional content.
But email remains a strong lead generation tool too.
Once a website visitor comes across your email opt-in, you’re launching the first call-to-action. For many companies, this is the very beginning of their lead generation campaign with all the following emails being used as lead nurturing methods.
How valuable is email really?
59% of people are influenced by marketing emails when it comes to making purchase decisions. Not to mention the average conversion rate for most industries is above 5.86%, making email a top leads source. 👏
With such stats in place, the outlook on email marketing looks profitable. AI algorithms, product recommendations, lead scoring, and predictive analytics are all taking our lead generation via email efforts towards new horizons. More personalization and delivering content people truly want to receive seem to be what the future of our inboxes holds.
In particular, the following factors contribute to effective B2B lead generation through email:
- The value of your offer: People won’t join your email list unless you can provide your own insights and information they can’t find elsewhere.
- If the landing page is related to what you’ve promised: You want a clear landing page that’s aligned to your sales messaging and presents the benefits of your product and makes it easy for people to find your call-to-action.
- Segments you’ve created: To increase your click-through, divide your email list into separate categories depending on people’s interests.
- Subject lines and their performance: Test and monitor your email subject lines to ensure you’re maximizing your open rate.
“Email marketing works differently than cold emailing. When someone is interested in your newsletter and opts in, you’re starting a long-term relationship where you get to guide them through your sales funnel. Email marketing allows you to segment your audiences so you can share the content that’s most relevant to each individual. B2B marketers on average see a 760% increase in revenue from their segmented email campaigns.” – Jonas Fischer, Content Lead @MailerLite
Cold outreach campaigns
Cold outreach is perhaps one of the easiest yet most time-consuming B2B lead generation opportunities to go for. The peculiar thing about this method is that it provides incredible results when applied the right way. Lack of personalization, no previous interactions, or a target list that’s not interested in your product will cause it to fail at any time.
Andrus Purde, Co-Founder and CEO @Outfunnel, shared with us his insights on identifying your ideal customers, curating a list of contacts, and crafting valuable emails:
“This past October I launched my first ever cold email campaign and here are the results:
- 1139 people targeted
- 33-51% open rate
- 3-6% engagement rate
- 10+ high-value demos
- 10+ new high-value partner newsletter subscribers
- 1 paying customer
Here’s our process, line by line:
- Curate a list of target companies.
- Find the decision-makers from those companies.
- Craft personalized and segmented emails.
- Send your first email and a follow-up after a while if needed.”
Video as a B2B lead generation tool
With video, it’s easy to let people slip away unless your CTA game is strong. For YouTube, you’ll want to get people to subscribe to your channel, become a member, or check out your website and sign up for your newsletter. Tools like Wistia can also help you host videos on your website and add a form at the end to capture some more leads.
Webinars are another key driver of lead generation for B2B organizations. Joshua Shulman,
Content Marketer @Bitmovin breaks lead generation through video into two categories companies should mix to capture the attention and interest of a lead, nurture them, and drive the consumer to a gated landing page:
“The direct lead generation method is one that Bitmovin has used most extensively and successfully to drive leads—wherein the video itself is a gated asset. This can be any variation of video type, but most commonly is a webinar, fireside chat, interview, or virtual events. These videos can be hosted live, pre-recorded, or even rebroadcasted to drive new leads. Ultimately, this gets a consumer to view the content or convert. We’ve used a mix of all of these content types and hosting variants throughout 2020 to overcome the drought of leads from no in-person events, generating over 5,000 unique leads.
On the other hand, the process for generating a lead indirectly via video is a much more complex process and requires additional tracking (via short links or UTMs). This process focuses on ‘open’ content that drives a consumer to click. The method can be applied by providing either an introductory video series or a preview of the gated content. Bitmovin is currently testing this approach, but other organizations and influencers use this method frequently to improve the depth of the lead funnel.”
Relying on a single B2B lead generation method can prove a wrong move. Podcasts, for instance, shouldn’t be conducted with the single goal of generating leads. Such side-projects provide all kinds of companies with the opportunity to reach out to industry leaders and consolidate their own thought leadership. Think of it this way: you’re setting out to educate listeners and, in return, they might just end up being interested in your offer.
“I never imagined hosting a podcast would be my thing, but 2020 showed all of us the true meaning of ‘never say never’. In April, I started the Get Your AI On! podcast mostly as a personal project, inspired by one of the mentors we had at MorphL during Techstars Montreal AI.
Although my initial motivation was simply to meet and talk with inspiring, smart people activating in the AI space and bring those conversations forth for others in a podcast format, one thing led to another and every time I would publish a new episode (which comes out every 2 weeks), the quality of the leads at MorphL increased. Not only that, but we got in touch and struck partnerships with companies that would have been otherwise very hard to approach.
For me, starting the podcast was never about generating leads. It was about growing my network and bringing value to others. Generating leads was and still is a by-product. Get Your AI On! has less than a year and we’re addressing a tech-savvy niche and as we enter 2021.
I certainly understand the need to professionalize this activity and make it more goal-oriented, however, I do not see generating leads as being the direct metric, at least not for us at MorphL. The podcast can absolutely support that bottom line goal, but the number one mission of the Get Your AI On! podcast is to educate as many listeners as possible into matters of AI and to help people succeed through the use of AI.” – Ciprian Borodescu, Co-Founder & CEO @MorphL
Free tools to loyalize users
This, although time-consuming, is literally one of the best B2B lead generation strategies you can make use of. From a free calculator or invoice creator to a fun game or idea generator, hundreds of companies are already taking control of the SERP using these.
One of the best examples is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. The tool was initially completely free, being created as an alternative to the more costly Ahrefs and SEMrush. Its features though could easily compete with basic needs these other alternatives offered. So people got familiar with Ubersuggest, providing a solid sales leads database and making it easier for the company to start charging for some of their features in time.
Other businesses, like Toggl Track, are turning to side projects such as entertaining games to bring leads back to their main product while still “keeping it in context”:
Note: Similar side-projects to try as a B2B lead generation hack include courses, podcasts, webinar series, online communities and groups, events, and books.
Finally making PR work
To be honest, PR is a super vast field so if you’re barely starting to consider it as a lead generation strategy, things get confusing. But we all want to see our brands in the news and all over TV [if it’s for a good reason 😅].
The very basics of public relations?
Getting the outlet and audience right. This is valid both for your PR efforts and other types of outreach. Once you’re 100% sure that people on the outlet you want to make an announcement will be interested in your offer, you can finally start crafting the actual pitch.
“Building industry authority through PR is vital to B2B companies. Having coverage in a top-tier news outlet means you’re positioned as the industry leader and can get your insights in front of hundreds of thousands.
This leads to keynotes at conferences and helps you win investor confidence. To start your B2B PR journey, consider your timelines and announcement runway. Using a press release and securing an exclusive from your dream outlet will jumpstart your PR success, so use announcements strategically. Combine two or more news (such as new funding and partnership) into a single powerful announcement for an improved ROI.” – Gloria Chou, Founder and PR Guru @Gloria Chou PR LLC
Gloria also shared some glorious examples of winning press releases she’s put together over the years that can pose as an inspiration for your own PR attempts.
Product Hunt frenzy
Over the past few years, companies have been taking their startups and even product updates to Product Hunt. While oftentimes the upvotes you get here are mere vanity metrics, some B2B companies are seeing huge lead generation opportunities in the platform. As an added bonus, the website is also used as a community where you can interact with other creators, boost your brand awareness, and find partnerships.
Going forward with this plan without doing the research beforehand can be a huge waste of time and you’ll end up having to “relaunch” on Product Hunt. So here are a couple of best practices:
- Prepare separate materials that are tailored to the platform so you can display them on your company page [including an intro video].
- Reach out to a “hunter”—a person who’s been on the platform for a while and knows all of its nooks and crannies, having launched several other products before.
- Create a basic following before the launch and get familiar with the community thereby interacting with others from your industry.
- Don’t choose Monday [too much competition] or the weekends [fewer users] for your launch.
- Make sure your network outside of Product Hunt is ready to help you with the launch. Talk to some of your connections beforehand and announce the launch on social media.
- Customize your homepage with a Product Hunt call-to-action or special offer for the platform’s members during the week of your launch.
- Answer all comments and questions you’re getting on this website.
Partnerships to tap into new markets
Whether you’re offering a one-time deal or getting together with a company to offer an additional feature or product, these opportunities let you reach out to a brand’s current customer base and turn them into leads. Given they’ll start using your offering right away, you’re more likely to convert them in considerably less time. The benefits go both ways as you’re also placing your own customers in front of your partner.
“A B2B lead generation tactic that I’ll always swear by is partnerships with brands and influencers that share your audience but have a completely different yet complementary subject matter expertise. It’s a strategic way of thinking about a lead sharing program, which also elevates brand equity.
For example, Eventbrite wasn’t considered an expert on event promotion. Instead, it was mostly seen as a transaction tool by event creators. By partnering with Moz, Facebook, Instagram, and other trusted marketing brands on webinars and other marketing campaigns, we were able to gain credibility and introduce a new audience to our event promotion tools and integrations. The leads generated from these efforts were of high-value and converted better than other campaigns by a wide margin.
Not everyone can convince major brands to partner with them. The good news is they don’t have to. There’s ‘power in numbers’ when two entities partner to bring their separate audiences together. The same tactic would work between two emerging startups or small businesses.” – Ronnie Higgins, Sr. Content Marketing Manager, @Udemy (formerly Eventbrite)
The SaaS industry in particular sees huge numbers from this lead generation technique. Integrations are one of the most frequent associations. As a matter of fact, many software sellers are aiming to create huge lists of integrations in an attempt to attract leads who are already using those.
Many companies take it to the next level and make it a rule to actively promote their partners. Market places, partner pages, case studies, and regular social media updates are all preferred choices. Here’s what’s possibly the most complex partner page you’ll come across:
Clear website copy
Confusing messaging makes people leave. And that’s it. No leads, no sales.
“Clear, concise homepage copy is paramount for B2B lead generation. How are visitors to provide their information (or much less make a purchase) if they don’t know what they’re signing up for? If I have to exit your website and Google your brand to understand why you exist, your homepage copy is too complicated.
It should read like an elevator pitch: In 30-seconds or less, I should know what you do, who you serve, and how I can benefit from working with you or buying from you. Write as you talk. In terms of length and complexity, less is definitely more.” – Allie Decker, Content Strategist
To keep people on your website, ensure you’ve got the next four points in check:
- Tell people how you can solve their problem
- Show them how your product or service is different
- Avoid having too much text they’re not going to have time to read
- Add a clear CTA to make it easy for people to purchase your product or simply find out more about it
Here’s a landing page from a startup that gets all of these right:
Adapting to different needs
By now you must have at least two different kinds of audiences, each with their own needs. So while a B2B lead generation tactic might for one, there’s a chance you’ll see no effects for the other.
A common example is targeting an audience who is familiar with what you’re selling along with a target audience who is just getting to know the industry and doing their research.
The Latana team identified a group of potential leads with no preexisting knowledge of what they were selling. Taking advantage of this status allowed them to introduce a need [brand tracking] to marketing managers who were already part of their ideal customer profile:
“As a brand tracking software, our target audience is quite limited: mostly brand and marketing managers. It is only in recent years that smaller companies are beginning to see the true value of branding and are investing in that area. Therefore, there is a substantial chunk of our audience that doesn’t really know how brand tracking works and how they can benefit from it.
Based on this information, we implemented a lead generation strategy that relies on gated content with a target of educating people. Our Ultimate Guide Series began with The Ultimate Guide to Brand Tracking, followed by The Ultimate Guide to Brand Awareness and The Ultimate Guide to Rebranding.
We regularly release gated brand insights and reports but these guides are the ones that generate the most leads for us. My recommendation to other companies is to educate your audience first before jumping in with the heavy selling. People need to understand the general benefit of the product before they can appreciate what you have to offer.” – Joy Corkery, Content Marketing Lead @Latana
Are you ready for your first B2B lead generation strategy?
The above list is a lot to consider for your first lead generation plan. So narrow it down for now based on the resources you have available or can get a hold of soon. In all cases, these are the common steps to check before investing in a B2B lead generation tactic:
- Have a clear understanding of your product/service and its benefits
- Create a detailed profile of your ideal audience and break it down into segments with distinct needs
- Map out your customer journey
- Get a sales team together
- Settle on a manageable budget and timeframe
- Know what you can excel at by taking into account the professionals already working with you
Bookmark this article and get back to it for the next quarter to see which lead generation tactics you can try once again. If 2 or 3 of the tips above proved successful, it’s time to move on to lead nurturing and closing into sales.
More on this next time. 😉 In the meantime, you can always contact us if you need to clarify your approach to B2B lead generation.