A lack of leads can cripple any business.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling software, educational products, or physical goods; just like us humans eat food to stay alive, businesses need leads to survive and fuel growth. And winning leads in today’s marketing world is no easy feat.
It’s not just about getting people to visit your website or download your free e-book. It’s about cutting through the noise, and bringing in high quality leads that convert into customers who like, trust, and stay with you.
So how do you do that?
That’s what we’ll tackle in today’s article. We’ll walk you through the most effective methods for B2B lead generation.
1. Master The Sales Funnel
Even though funnels may seem boring, just ignore this feeling and start taking funnels seriously. Why?
A whopping 68% of B2B organizations fail to identify their sales funnel. This is a huge mistake. You have to know how potential leads will slot into your sales funnel before thinking about how to attract them.
Here’s a structure of a B2B sales funnel that contains the principles that should guide your marketing.
Let’s see what kind of activities you can run to attract people to your business based on the three stages of the funnel. Don’t forget. Just keep it simple.
Top Of The Funnel (TOFU)
If traffic to your website is alarmingly low, that’s a TOFU problem. Your focus should be on attracting attention from the market. You need to constantly attract new prospects and raise awareness for your product or service.
Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU)
If you manage to attract attention to your business, but not enough people are filling out your forms, that’s a MOFU problem. To fix this, you could improve how you market your B2B lead generation hooks (webinars, ebooks, etc.) or create new ones on demand.
Bottom Of The Funnel (BOFU)
Leads at the BOFU are low hanging fruits in comparison to leads at other stages because they have already expressed interest in you. If you retain them, you can increase the lifetime value of that customer, and also reduce churn.
Understanding the basic principles of a sales funnel help you create the resources that are essential to your business growth. You cannot afford wasting time on creating content that doesn’t generate results.
Talking about content, let’s see how it will help you generate B2B leads and profits for your business.
2. Differentiate With Content Marketing
Content marketing reigns supreme as one of the best B2B lead generation strategies. But only if you differentiate.
The tone of voice, the niche that you choose, the visual appearance of your blog, the way you organize webinars, are only a few examples of how you could differentiate from your competitors.
A great idea that you can try is improving your strategy on visuals.
Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer app is one of the best examples in the SaaS industry that succeeded with content marketing. Using an aggressive content strategy he exploded growth for his app, leaping from 0-100,000 customers in 9 months.
There’s no doubt about it, content marketing can send an avalanche of leads your way. But it isn’t as simple as slapping a few posts together and sharing on social media. To generate more leads with content marketing, you need to strategically produce (and promote) your content.
You need content to feed all your prospects across the funnel’s stages. On the other hand, you need conversion rate optimization to guide them towards becoming happy customers. The secret is to stick to your value proposition and offer to your audience what you promised in the first place.
3. Practice SEO Hacking
Over time, specific SEO tactics may have changed, but the goal is still the same:
Building quality backlinks to your content, and having your content rank for the right keywords.
To attract attention to your website, you need to produce content that’s 10x better than anything out there. Brian Dean from Backlinko.com has provided some great updated SEO tactics that you can try. One of the most successful being the skyscraper technique.
Don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. In fact, it’s a pretty simple strategy that just requires some elbow grease.
The skyscraper technique can be broken down into the following 3 steps:
- Find a piece of content that gets a lot of backlinks
- Create something better. Either by making it more relevant, or adding more information
- Let all the sites that link to older content know that you’ve got a better version
Also, you can use the WASP method for creating SEO boosting content to be successful with the skyscraper technique.
WASP Method of White Hat SEO
Write content that will appeal to journalists and influential bloggers who will promote your stuff. They have the power to instantly boost exposure and traffic. Ideally, you will know who you will promote to before you create. This will allow you to make content tweaks that increase the chances of them sharing your work.
Remember to ensure that your quality is kick-ass. For this strategy to work, your content must be better than the best out there. Ask yourself, can you add better information? Better illustrations? Or maybe add a unique twist on the subject?
Add share triggers. Compel people to share and link to your content by adding triggers. Use social share buttons on your page, embed tweetable quotes, and offer content upgrades in return for a share, etc. Make it easy as possible to spread word about your content.
Set up on-page SEO
Target keyword should be in the URL. And keep it short, Google prefers short URL’s
Drop target keyword in the first 100 words of your content. Google puts more weight on pages that include pages that place keywords closer to the top.
Add outbound links to content, they help Google understand your page’s topic.
Email those people who will share your content. You have created a piece of content that is better than what these bloggers have already linked to, and it’s on a subject they’ve expressed interest in; so there’s a high chance of them wanting to link to it.
4. Don’t Ignore Outreach And Cold Emailing
If you’re afraid to get exposed in front of the most influential people in your industry, then you’re probably afraid to succeed. There’s no other way to get eyes on your business.
As an example, freelance writer Jake Jorgovan generated over $12,000 in the first 7 months of his freelance career by using cold emails to get clients.
The key to getting results from cold emailing is to understand that it’s a numbers game.
In his post, Jake says “you can expect to send roughly 100 e-mails to close 1-2 jobs”.
“Wow, 100 emails?” Before you cross this tactic off your list, break down the numbers into daily actions:
Spreading the email campaign over a month, you only need to send out 25 emails a week – which is roughly 4 emails a day.
Not so scary now, is it?
Once you have a solid pitch formula down, it’s just a matter of sending your emails to the right people.
One of my favorite formulas is inspired by Susan Su from 500Startups.
- Show praise – admire your prospects for what they do in the first paragraph
- Use social proof – amazing trigger to make someone be interested in what you have to say
- Tell clearly what you want – have a specific call to action and don’t let the prospects think
Here’s an example of this formula in an actual email template:
To hit the ground running with cold emails:
- Understand the pains points of your prospect
- Provide solutions to their problems in your email to show your expertise
- Have a strong call to action
- Follow up
Want more cold email templates? I recommend Susan’s book. If you don’t want to pay for the book, you can also try these 26 templates from Criminally Prolific or these 50 templates and follow ups from Polymail.
5. Organize Reward-Based Promotions & Events
To understand that this type of campaign works for B2B companies, I will give you an example from the B2C industry.
In a case study by MarketingSherpa, Sony used a reward-based strategy to get customers to embrace their “Sony Credit Card.”
Now, Sony could have emailed their whole mailing list and politely asked users to, “check out”, but they made a smarter choice to segment their audience instead.
In the emails they used for the campaign, Sony led with positive messaging stressing, “the cardholder could receive up to $250 in rewards and $100 credit for any friend referred.” This initial email was sent to a list of “Influencers” in the Sony customer base.
This approach “rewarded” friends of influencers and provided Sony with a 300% conversion boost and 2.8 times more people using their card.
Early growth can be boosted by rewarding customers just like the big name players.
Dropbox is worth billions despite spending very little on advertising. Dropbox makes it really easy for users to tell one another about the product; even giving them incentives. For example, when one person who has Dropbox refers another, they both get a 500MB increase, pending signup. This type of referral system increased Dropbox signups by 60%.
Other ways to generate leads is offering books at the end of a Q&A session or webinar with an influencer. Also, you can think of several gifts that could make your prospects like you more and want more resources and help from you.
6. Play With Surveys & Quizzes
The biggest challenge B2B marketers face in regards to lead generation is generating high-quality leads (61%). Source
So, how do you make sure you don’t send irrelevant leads to the sales team?
You simply qualify them.
The most popular methods are lead scoring and progressive profiling. They help marketing teams build a lead generation machine. It takes time to come up with a strategy and choose the right marketing automation software.
But I’d like to present you a much more simpler method that we use at Omniconvert.
Surveys with the lead capture form feature will help you achieve 3 things:
- Treat the prospect’s objection in real-time
- Get more information to close the deal for the Sales team
- Get insights for A/B testing for the Marketing team
Here’s an example of a pop-up survey in action:
This pop-up survey generated 25% more leads on the same traffic for Provident.
Here’s another great example:
This is the pop-up that we use on a small sample of visitors. It helped us determine the buyer personas for our business and also got us some hot leads for the Sales team.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t adopt marketing automation tools like Hubspot, Marketo or SharpSpring, but until you manage to finish with the on-boarding, use this tactic to feed your sales team with qualified leads.
7. Organize Webinars
Webinars are great at generating new leads and also nurturing them.
Webinars are high-value, practical training events that help educate potential customers. They’re an excellent way to gain more leads, interact with your audience, and promote your business. You can also repurpose your webinars by recording them and offering them as incentives or content upgrades.
77% of marketers use webinars to generate more leads.
To get more bang for your buck with webinars:
1. Take advantage of all your channels. Promote your webinars on social media, your blog, and in your emails.
2. Use social proof. Tell people that your webinar will bring them more profit and they might/might not believe you. But have a previous webinar attendee tell them…and they will be more likely to believe you. Collect testimonials from people who enjoyed your webinars and use them in your promotions. You should also use a registration count to show how many people signed up to your webinar.
3. Create Urgency. Display a registration countdown for your webinar. It’s a well-known fact that urgency spurs people to action and reduces procrastination.
4. Invite influencers. When you offer to your audience advice from the people they admire the most, they will want more from you.
BONUS: 10 B2B Lead Generation Tactics Shared By Marketing Experts
Here are ten lead generation tactics that our guests (all of them marketers that I admire) used to take their business to a new level.
Siobhan McGinty – Campaign Marketing Manager (EMEA) at Hubspot
My favorite lead gen tactic for B2B is co-marketing.
Co-marketing is a great way to tap into databases that aren’t your own. For example, we often co-create content with brands like Twitter, LinkedIn, Prezi, and Canva. We then promote the content to each of our databases and share any leads that result from this promotion. By doing this with the right co-marketing partners, you can basically double the yield of your efforts. Of course, you need to make sure that your co-marketing partners are aligned with your audience. As well as increasing the number of leads you generate from a campaign, you also can also half the work required to get a campaign over the line by sharing content creation.
Ben Sailer – Content Marketer at CoSchedule
Gating content upgrades (such as infographics, guides, templates, or anything else useful) within blog posts. It’s an easy way to offer your audience something of value and make it worthwhile for readers to sign up for your newsletter.
James Scherer – Head of Content at Wishpond
For the past six months, rather than creating new landing pages for our ebooks or content upgrades, we’ve instead created a simple, in-line, conversion funnel with click popups. Click popups can be converted upon without opening a new tab or window, which results in fewer drop-offs and decreases conversion friction. Users see a CTA link in-article, click it, provide their lead information in the popup that shows and download their ebook or content upgrade in the subsequent Thank-You window.
Our results have been really exciting. The average conversion rate on our email-gate landing pages is 27.47%, and blog click popups are averaging 54.84%. That’s a 99.64% increase – close enough to double as makes no difference.
Dan Levy – Content Director at Unbounce
The best way to generate leads is by using a dedicated lead gen landing page. A landing page is a campaign-specific web page that has one unique goal – in the case of lead gen, to get people to fill in your form and click your call to action. When you send people to a dedicated landing page instead of your homepage or some other page on your website, you can tailor the page to the persona you’re targeting, the campaign (PPC ad, email) that brought them there and whatever you’re offering – ebook, webinar, email subscription – in exchange for their email address. You’re also reducing the number of opportunities they have to click away from your form since a high-converting landing page won’t have any links (i.e. leaks) or site navigation – just your form and a single call to action. At Unbounce, we’re used lead gen landing pages to generate tens of thousands of highly-qualified leads. For an in-depth case study on how to do this, check out the free 7-Day Lead Gen Landing Page Course: http://the.unbounce.com/lead-generation-course/.
Andra Zaharia – Marcomm Manager at Heimdal Security
As a quick disclaimer, the Heimdal Security blog is focused on generating B2C leads, but we also use the blog as a tool to create awareness for the B2B product and to build the company brand further.
Consequently, our favorite lead generation tactic is content marketing. It’s worked very well for us so far, and, on the B2B side, we’ve received great feedback from our colleagues in the sales team. Very often, they’d go to a meeting and the prospect would say that they already knew all about Heimdal, that they read the blog and want to go ahead and buy Heimdal CORP.
The blog has also helped us support building our distribution network through resellers, which often reference the articles published on the blog. Moreover, competitors from the industry read our blog and reference it, which doesn’t happen very often in cyber security.
Chelsea Hunersen – Social Media Manager at Hubspot
The lead generation tactic I’m really excited about now is targeting. As audiences become more diverse, content becomes more common and engagement more important, targeting is the best way to make sure to get the right content in front of the right audiences. Targeting is available organically for Facebook and LinkedIn (and should always be used in your emails). It has allowed us to increase our posting volume, without increasing the posts seen by each audience member.
Jonathan Bentz – Organic Strategist at Direct Online Marketing
My favorite B2B lead generation tactic is to provide an overview of pricing for your products/services on your website. Many B2Bs objective to this because they want to collect as many opportunities as possible. In my experience, not having pricing on your site WILL result in more inquiries on your website. However, a large percentage of those leads you generate will be unqualified because they are simply filling out your form to seek a price, and will make a purchasing decision based on that alone.
With a pricing page that gives your site visitors a general idea of how to budget for your products/services, B2Bs should be prepared to receive fewer total inquiries from their website. With that said, the percentage of those inquiries that are qualified will be higher, and price will no longer be a barrier to your sales opportunity.
Kevan Lee – Head of Content at Buffer
We’ve seen a lot of success from spinning epic (long) blog posts into email courses. It’s a great way to repurpose content, and the nature of the course allows us to engage with readers over a series of days rather than a single blog visit.
Dave Rigotti – Head of Marketing at Bizible
I’m really obsessed with connecting all of our marketing to the outcome of our activities, which is revenue. Doing so has kept us aligned with sales and honest in terms of quality of our handoffs. This has been our biggest demand generation and ABM tactic and has allowed us to make great strides across all our marketing channels especially LinkedIn.
Tia Fomenoff – Social Media Strategist at Buffer
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that relationships really matter, and can help open otherwise heavy doors. 🙂 Do what you can to cultivate strong partnerships with great companies that share your values and ideal audience, and opportunities will follow! You can work together to build creative initiatives that have a bigger impact, and grow your marketing lists with the added bonus of knowing you’re gaining high-quality leads.
Cody Campbell – SEO Manager at Unbounce
Implementing highly relevant exit intent overlays across our content and events webpages has been a huge win for us over the last year. So far, our greatest successes have come from three use cases:
- Encouraging participants who attend our virtual webinar style events to take away educational video recordings
- Promoting a major content piece (like an ebook) to our blog readers
- Growing our blog subscription list
In many cases, we’ve found exit intent overlays to be the top performing conversion opportunity for our marketing campaigns.
After launching exit intent overlays on the Unbounce blog, our subscription rate increased 166%. In 2015, exit intent overlays captured roughly 20,000 blog subscribers for Unbounce.
On our Brazilian blog, 11.2% of abandoning visitors who view the exit overlay successfully sign up for additional blog updates. For our Spanish blog, this conversion rate is 12.2%. Both of these conversion rates are far above average for exit-intent tools.
Finally, I hope that this 7-points blueprint will help you generate a greater number of qualified leads for your business. Remember: the process of B2B lead generation is infinite and you should always experiment with new tactics. The 7 methods presented in this article are the ones that, if used well, generate results.
Have you tried any of these methods by now? What’s the insight you’ve got? Let me know in the comments!