If you’re wondering what B2B lead generation is all about, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we explain what B2B lead generation is, and walk you through:
- How to choose B2B lead generation tools
- How to evaluate different B2B lead generation channels, and
- B2B lead generation best practices
Think of this as a crash course for marketers, sales reps and business owners who would like to bring their companies more leads.
Ready? Let’s dive right in!
What Is B2B Lead Generation?
Lead generation might sound like a fancy term, but it’s actually pretty simple.
It basically refers to the act of identifying consumers who might be interested in purchasing your business’s products and services.
Now, if your first thought is that this sounds pretty all-encompassing, you’re absolutely right.
If you engage in cold-calling, you’re doing lead generation.
If you look for prospects on LinkedIn, and reach out to them via InMail, you’re also doing lead generation.
What about if you connect with potential buyers on Twitter, and strike up a conversation with them? Again, that counts as lead generation.
Now that’s clear, let’s move on to discussing the two different lead generation approaches: inbound vs outbound.
First, outbound marketing or lead generation is also known as “interruption marketing” in some circles. This involves interrupting someone’s workflow to get their attention.
Outbound marketing methods include:
- TV, radio and print ads
- Billboards and outdoor advertising
- Flyers and brochures
- Pop-ups and interstitials on websites
Inbound marketing and lead generation, on the other hand, involves a company earning their prospects’ attention organically.
Instead of shoving messages and ads in their audience’s faces, a company that does inbound marketing builds assets that entices their audience to come to them.
Inbound marketing methods include:
- Opt-in email lists
- Supporting or sponsoring events
- Media pitching and PR activities
- Community building
- Thought leadership (through blog articles or other means)
- Influencer outreach
- Public speaking
- Word of Mouth marketing
While sales reps and marketers used to rely a great deal on outbound methods in the past, we now know that inbound methods are a lot more effective.
Why is this so?
Well, outbound marketing (on its own, at least!) isn’t very sustainable.
Say you’re running ads on Google AdWords, for example. Because AdWords costs increase pretty significantly year-on-year, you’ll either have to increase your marketing budget every year, or be content with getting less leads.
Also: once you stop running your ads, the number of leads you generate will crawl to a halt.
With inbound marketing, on the other hand, there’s a snowball effect.
You’re basically building up your brand, and with this strategy, your pay-off will increase more than proportionately as compared to the amount of effort that you put in.
Take blog articles, for example.
Sure, publishing high-quality articles every week is a ton of work.
But once you’ve built up a treasure trove of informative, useful articles, the number of leads that you get on a monthly basis will shoot through the roof.
Of course, we’re not saying that you should rest on your laurels and stop publishing posts.
But the idea is that your old blog articles will keep generating leads for you.
It’s a once-off effort that you’re putting in, but you can reap the rewards for months (even years!) to come.
Think this is too good to be true? Think again.
HubSpot has gone on the record to state that 90% of the leads they generate each month come from blog posts that were published months or years ago. That’s pretty amazing, if you ask us!
How To Choose B2B Lead Generation Tools
Now that you know what B2B lead generation entails, let’s talk about how to choose B2B lead generation tools to use.
In evaluating the best tool for you, you’ll need to take a few factors into consideration.
First, there’s user-friendliness.
Does the tool or software come with a steep learning curve, and are there plenty of advanced features that might intimidate your team?
Assuming that there’s new technology involved, is there any training provided for your team?
Next, think about integration.
Does the tool integrate with the CRM or sales platform that you’re using? If not, can you get a developer to build an integration for you?
On top of that, consider the tool’s analytics feature as well.
What metrics does the tool track for you? Do these make sense for your company, and if not, can you customize them? Is there a function to auto-generate reports that you can share with your team?
Last but not least, determine if the tool fits into your budget as well. Request for an all-inclusive quote, and work out how much you’ll pay for the tool in total.
Some pricing plans work on a per-account basis, so if you have 50 people in your sales team, and they all need access, it might work out to a pretty penny.
Most tools also offer a discount when they bill you annually (instead of monthly), so take that into consideration as well.
BONUS: Free B2B Lead Generation Tool
While there are plenty of pricey B2B lead generation tools in the market, there are also some tools which are completely free to use.
One such tool is Albacross, which tells you who’s visiting your website and how to reach them.
Here’s the thing:
The vast majority of the people who land your site will leave without signing up for your newsletter, or filling in your form.
You know these folks have at least some interest in your product - but you don’t have any way of reaching out to them, and nurturing them.
Now, isn’t that a shame?
With Albacross, however, you can stop these leads from slipping through the cracks.
To help you out, here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Create an account on Albacross (this just takes 30 seconds).
Step 2: Paste Albacross’s tracking script on your website, so that it can start tracking valuable data about your site visitors.
Step 3: Wait for Albacross to collect data. You’ll get daily, weekly, and monthly reports on which companies are visiting your website (and how they interact with it).
Step 4: Get your reps to reach out to the leads who are likely to convert. Albacross gives you detailed company information on your site visitors, which makes contacting them a breeze!
The best part?
Albacross is 100% free to use – you get access to data on unlimited visitors and companies, and you can create unlimited accounts, without paying a single cent.
Advanced filtering and tagging features are available, so you can filter your site visitors based on their company size, industry, and more. Again, this is completely free.
To sign up for Albacross and start generating leads while you sleep, click here.
What Are The Different B2B Lead Generation Channels?
Cool beans – you now know how to evaluate and choose a B2B lead generation tool that’s a good fit for your company.
Now, let’s move on to discuss the different B2B lead generation channels that you can use to source for your leads.
1. Social Media
Traditionally speaking, most marketers and sales reps look at social media as more of a B2C channel than a B2B one.
That said, B2B buyers are increasingly hanging out on social channels…
And plenty of companies have acquired customers through social media.
So if you’re not already using social media as a B2B lead generation strategy, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon!
To start off with, we recommend focusing on a few key platforms, instead of spreading yourself too thin.
Statistics show that B2B buyers favor LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook over other social channels, so go ahead and focus your efforts on these three areas.
At a basic level, you should post regularly on your company’s social media accounts, and interact with your followers and potential leads.
Also, make sure that your contact information is clearly displayed on your social channels – you want it to be easy for your leads to get in touch.
If you’ve got the time, we also recommend hosting live videos on social media. This helps you reach out to more leads.
Hosting A Live Video To Generate Leads
There are two ways you can go about doing this.
First, you can present your video as gated content, and get interested viewers to register and provide their contact information.
Alternatively, you can open up your video for public viewing.
Content-wise, you have plenty of options. There’s the standard product demo video, but you can also do a Q&A video, or even take your viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of your office.
During your video, encourage interaction by asking your viewers questions. Have someone from your team on standby to follow up on all the comments that your viewers leave.
At the end of your video, direct your viewers to a special offer or another piece of content that will nurture them and bring them further down the funnel. You can set up a custom tab on your Facebook page, or get your viewers to click through to a separate landing page.
2. Email Marketing
When it comes to generating B2B leads, email marketing has consistently performed well.
If you’re on a tight budget, then email is definitely where you should channel your resources.
Statistics show that you earn $44 for every dollar spent on email marketing; this makes email marketing the channel with the best ROI.
When it comes to email marketing, the most important thing is your conversion rate.
If your Call To Action (CTA) is for your leads to download a free eBook, then you’ll want to know how many people went ahead with the download.
If you’re promoting an offer, then you’re looking at how many people took up that offer.
And if you’re trying to get people to register for a webinar, then you’ll hone in on how many people signed up.
Now, let’s break down the various factors that influence your conversion rate.
Email subject line
Obviously, your leads can’t convert if they don’t open your email to start off with! In order to maximize your number of opens, your email subject line should be non-generic and compelling.
Segmentation and targeting
As a general rule of thumb, the more segmented your email list is, the better.
Why? When you’re addressing a smaller and highly-segmented pool of leads, you can tailor your message more specifically to them. This increases your open rates, click through rates and conversion rates.
Check out: The Complete Guide To Lead Segmentation.
In order for your leads to convert, your offer must be appealing.
It sounds simple enough – but for some reason, many marketers and sales reps seem to be blind to this.
When their email campaigns don’t perform, the average marketer drives themselves crazy A/B testing various factors (the length of the email, the tone of voice, whether they include pictures or GIFs, the color of their CTA button)…
And more often than not, they neglect to test the one most crucial element: their offer.
Look, you might be a wordsmith who’s highly skilled at convincing your prospects.
But if we asked you to sell an ordinary, run-of-the-mill ballpoint pen for $1,000, do you think you’d be able to pull it off?
Nope – simply because the offer is what makes or breaks the deal.
Bearing this in mind, make sure your offer is both relevant and attractive to your leads. And tell them the benefits of your offer!
Instead of simply sending across an email which says “Download our free eBook”, for example, elaborate with: “Download our 18-page eBook jam-packed with the best tips and tricks from seasoned industry experts.”
Check out: 7 Ways To Make An Offer Irresistibly Attractive.
Last but not least, optimizing your landing page will help you increase your conversions as well.
First and foremost, make sure your landing page is consistent with your email copy. This reduces the chances that your lead will become confused, and exit the page.
If your email copy says “Learn How To Do A DIY SEO Audit”, for example, then the heading on your landing page should say exactly the same thing.
Don’t try and switch it up with:
- Learn How To Improve Your Website’s SEO
- Learn How To Audit Your Website For SEO
- SEO Is Important For Your Website
On top of that, remove your navigation menu and links from your landing page. You don’t want your leads to get distracted, and start browsing through your site.
Check out: A Simple Guide To Optimizing Your Landing Pages.
3. PPC Ads
Moving on to the next source of B2B leads… PPC ads.
Like we’ve mentioned earlier in this article, PPC ads can get pretty expensive. New advertisers join the fray each year, and seeing as how most platforms operate using a bidding system, this inflates the price of your ads.
For this reason, we don’t recommend that companies use PPC ads as their only source of B2B leads.
That said, companies can use PPC ads in conjunction with other strategies. Just make sure your PPC campaigns are profitable!
Facebook Lead Ads
Facebook Lead Ads are quickly gaining popularity among B2B marketers.
If you’re unfamiliar with these ads, they basically feature a contact form that your lead can fill up, with the understanding that you’ll reach out to them.
You can do a variety of things with these ads – build your email list, get sign-ups for a product demo, or promote your free trial.
Now, you might be wondering:
What’s the difference between using Facebook Lead Ads, and using a regular banner ad to direct a lead to a landing page with a form?
Well, Facebook Lead Ads are more direct, and involves less steps. Your leads can sign up for your offer without leaving the Facebook app.
On top of that, Facebook Lead Ads are already pre-populated with the contact information that users have shared with Facebook.
Many times, users don’t even have to tap to input any data - they can simply click “Submit”, and be done with it. Again, because the process is easier and quicker, this results in more leads generated for you.
Another option to consider is LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms; like Facebook Lead Ads, these ads are also pre-populated with details from a user’s LinkedIn profile.
What’s the difference between Facebook Leads Ads and LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms?
For one thing, LinkedIn is a professional networking site, which means that most users on LinkedIn state work-related information (such as their job title, company, seniority, etc) on their profile.
Bearing this in mind, you can potentially get a richer set of data when you advertise on LinkedIn, and this allows you to target your leads more effectively.
On top of that, LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms are also available in different formats. You can choose between running a basic ad which shows up on mobile, Sponsored Content, or Sponsored InMail.
Go ahead and experiment, and see what works best for you!
Last but not least, we have Google AdWords.
Generating leads via AdWords isn’t as straightforward as it is with LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms or Facebook Lead Ads, but it can still be done.
First, you’ll have to set up a dedicated landing page for your company. If you offer different services, then you might want to set up multiple pages.
The next step is to do keyword research, and determine what keywords your target audience is searching.
Finally, set up your campaigns and bid on these keywords. When someone does a search and clicks on your ad, they’ll be redirected to your landing page, and this is where you’ll capture them as a lead.
Before we move on to the last B2B lead generation channel, here are a few AdWords tips:
First, use the right keywords.
Don’t waste your ad spend on low intent keywords, because these will bring you consumers who are still in their research phase (not those who are ready to make a purchase).
Long-tail keywords, as a general rule of thumb, tend to indicate low intent.
If someone is searching for:
- How does SEO work
- How can I use SEO to improve my ranking
- How to optimize blog articles for SEO
Then it’s safe to say that they’re still gathering information, and they’re not going to engage the services of an SEO agency any time soon.
Next, have your landing page copy align with your AdWords ad copy.
If you’ll recall, we previously talked about making your landing page copy consistent with your email copy – this is basically the same thing.
The goal is to provide clarity to your landing page visitors, so that you increase the likelihood of them converting as a lead.
Last but not least, make sure you provide your visitors with a good Landing Page Experience.
How do you do this?
Well, Google says that you can offer a good Landing Page Experience by:
- Offering relevant, useful and original content
- Promoting transparency and fostering trustworthiness on your site
- Making mobile and computer navigation easy
- Decreasing your landing page loading time, and
- Making your site fast
Check out: Google’s guide on Understanding Landing Page Experience.
There are plenty of great guides out there on B2B blogging strategy, so we won’t delve much into this particular channel.
One thing that we do want to address, though, is the idea of blog post quality vs quantity.
Now, plenty of expert marketers will tell you that you should always aim for quality over quantity.
On an intuitive level, this makes sense. After all, if your articles are fluffy and don’t provide value to your readers, then how can you expect these readers to convert as leads?
But think about it, and you’ll realize that these folks are creating a false tradeoff between quality and quantity.
The truth is: you can and should aim for both quality and quantity at the same time.
Consider this: the traffic (and consequently, leads) that B2B companies get from blogging stays roughly the same until they hit 11+ blog posts per month.
Basically, it doesn’t matter if your content is super valuable and kick-ass… if you’re publishing too infrequently, you won’t experience a spike in your leads.
Feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of creating 11+ posts per month (or approximately 3 posts per week)? Take a deep breath.
You can always get your team to pitch in, and have everyone write an article each.
Alternatively, hire a freelance writer from Upwork to help you produce content.
If you’re worried that you’ll run out of blog article topics or ideas, here’s a list to get you started:
- Thought leadership posts
- Opinion pieces
- Original research / case studies
- How-tos, guides, or tutorials
- Trending content that address the latest industry developments
- Product comparisons
To get the most out of your blog articles, consider repurposing them into other formats such as:
- Powerpoint presentations (to use on SlideShare)
Also check out: HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator.
B2B Lead Generation: Best Practices To Follow
Time to work smart – apply these best practices to your B2B lead generation efforts in order to maximize your number of leads.
1. Define Goal & Key Metrics
Defining your goal and key metrics helps you gain more clarity on how successful your campaign is.
If you’re running a social media campaign, for example, is the goal simply to increase your number of followers? Or are you aiming for an increase in enquiries generated from your social media channels?
Sit down and work out all the specifics, and make sure your entire team is on the right page.
2. Measure Your Results & A/B Test
Once you’ve ironed out your key metrics, you can then measure your results. Regardless of whether your campaign has met expectations or not, be sure to run some A/B tests.
Maybe changing your CTA button from green to red will increase your conversions. Maybe running ads on just weekdays instead of weekdays and weekends will do the trick. You never know!
3. Automate wherever you can
Statistics from Salesforce show that the average sales rep spends 21% of their time on lead research. That’s a lot of time.
The goal here is to get your reps to spend more time on revenue-generating tasks, so go ahead and automate wherever possible. You can use an AI scheduling assistant to schedule your meetings, for example.
Check out: Lead Generation: Marketing and Automation
A Final Word On B2B Lead Generation
If you’re struggling with generating leads for your company, you’re not alone.
A study by HubSpot shows that 65% of companies indicate generating traffic and leads as their biggest challenge.
Another study also echoes this sentiment, showing that 76% of CMOs view lead generation as their biggest challenge.
Unfortunately, there’s no hack that you can use to get more leads overnight – you’ll just have to put in the hard work and effort, and slowly fine-tune your strategies.
What you can do, though, is to start with the low-hanging fruit (aka the easiest strategies).
Go ahead and sign up for a free account with Albacross, so that you can gain a new source of leads from your website visitors.
If you haven’t already done so, also set up a drip email campaign that runs on autopilot while you work.
Then implement more tactics as you go. Before you know it, you’ll have a fully-fledged, multi-faceted B2B lead generation strategy!