Business to Business lead generation should be a priority for a company, whether you have done lead-generating activities in the past or if you are looking to start a business and aren’t really sure what lead generation is. It’s simply something that can’t be ignored if you are going to run a successful business.
The lead generation process is a must for businesses that are offering both goods and/or services. It is all about discovering potential customers and determining your target audience. It doesn’t have to be a complicated process as there are basic ways of garnering a quality lead, developing them, and then converting them into customers.
We have created a guide to offer business leaders the ability to clarify, refine and change lead-generating activities. Following this guide will make sure you are on the correct path to having the optimal conversion rate.
Understanding Lead Generation
Whether you are new in the business world or have been in it for years, you should have a basic idea about how to interact with and discover customers. There are more options available now that were not a part of online lead generation in the past.
First, let’s define what exactly “leads” are; to put it simply, they are people who show some interest in your business’s goods or services. And since they are interested, it is worth it for your business to engage in some sort of conversation with them so they become even more interested in your services or goods. Normally you will get a potential lead through standard channels such as:
- A referral
- An offer targeted a specific demographic
- Email signups
- Relevant blog content
While all these channels are important, knowing what to do with your company’s lead generation strategy is knowing how to use a sales funnel. These things will change based on the type of industry, sales cycle, strategies around sales, demographics, competitors and any other business influences. It is critical that business teams have a standard definition around the types of leads.
The Progression of Lead Generation
There are two types of lead generation: inbound and outbound. Some outbound endeavours that can work are things like direct cold email, through apps like LinkedIn or digital marketing ads. However, outbound lead generation needs to be strategic and targeted more than before. Because the world uses the internet more than ever, the shift is that your new lead is actually searching for you, rather than you tracking down customers. Customers tend to want to look for your brand and are not looking to be sold on it. They are educated, do their own research and know the choices available before you even get to them. Products are available anytime and anywhere in a virtual world. That means businesses have to stand out in a market that is crowded and busy, so their product is the one that is sought out.
B2B Lead Generation
Inbound marketing is somewhat different in a B2B situation versus B2C. The interest you are trying to instigate is different in nature. Marketing a brand to other business people requires different tactics than B2C. The marketing goal should be to address the needs of those who are original prospects. Marketing should target businesses but also show that you are addressing the struggles or needs of a particular prospect or lead. Marketing needs to include industry, size of a company, the infrastructure of an office and other factors as well. Research is the key to having this understanding.
Understanding a Buyer’s Journey
If you want to understand what your prospects want and expect, you need to have a grasp of a buyer’s journey. This includes the stages of awareness, consideration as well as decision. If it’s a B2B lead, the buyer’s journey has action between those stages that include:
- A business professional discovers your brand through a particular digital or other channel.
- Then that person clicks on a call to action on your website.
- Once they have clicked, they are taken to a landing page where they input the information in exchange for something of value to them. It could be free or an inexpensive thing, but it has to be worthwhile, so they are comfortable in sharing their contact information.
- Having their contact information, your business or brand has the opportunity to interact with them through emails from the marketing team, working on convincing them to buy your brand.
The central point of the interaction is to offer something that people value and want to engage with. Information, education, or something that is entertaining can be offered depending on the brand. Diversity needs to be part of content creation and marketing.
Common Tactics for B2B Lead Generation
There are standard marketing tactics when it comes to B2B lead generation. Some channels include social media, email campaigns, presenting eBooks, online newsletters, discounts, or paid advertising on appropriate websites or search engines. There is also the ever-reliable SEO (search engine optimization) that you can use. All should be customer-first, understanding what is appealing and which choices will have the greatest impact.
There are two types of lead generation: organic and paid. Organic is generating leads through website traffic without using paid ads to do it. Social media, blogs, content marketing, and videos are all organic. Paid are pay-per-click, SEO, and advertising.
Organic lead generation
This is where content marketing and lead gen are closely linked. Content is a way that you can be engaging, inspirational as well as informative in an organic way.
- SEO – stands for “Search Engine Optimization” – is a great lead generator strategy, and it goes hand in hand with content marketing. When used in tandem they will drive content to your site because the SEO value is founded on your content quality. Content requires SEO and lead gen needs content, so it is the trifecta of organic lead generation.
- Create a solid and trusted online presence
- Give potential customers needed info on brand value
- Create a foundation of trust with potential clients
- Make sure your brand stands out in a busy marketplace
Paid Lead Generation
Google Ads are popular for marketing. Having potential customers find your site quickly over competitors is important. To make the best use of ads, you will need to:
- Create a strong landing page with relevant and real content. Do not just throw keywords around for click-throughs.
- Be real. Truth builds trust when it comes to gaining a prospect’s contact info.
- Keep it simple. A page needs to be easy to navigate. Basic text and call to action should be in place along with a quick load time.
- Social media ads offer a lower conversion rate than PPC (pay per click) or SEO, but new social media advertising tools are coming online and upping their game. Some pages even let you include a call-to-action button and platform integration as well. LinkedIn is a good start as it is business-centred, popular, and allows for sponsored content and InMail too.
- Social media content is a must. Tie activities to blogs, landing pages, and any other lead-generating activities.
It is important to understand that not all buyers are going to purchase immediately. This means sales and marketing have to work on building trust. Generating leads to converting customers can take some time. Don’t stop at the top of the funnel. Refining content and interaction are crucial parts of B2B lead generation.
B2B Lead Gen Using Social Media
Social media is a tool you can use to build and work your sales funnel. Social media can build brand awareness and create engagement. It can also work with the capture and nurturing of possible leads. Hashtags get the attention of those in looking at your field, so using them is critical. Make hashtags consistent and adaptable as needed. Groups work for lead gen as well. They gather people who have an interest in your brand/industry letting them chat and offer insight.
Social media networks are to engage others so encourage ongoing interaction and get people commenting and posting on experiences, joining in contests, gaining contact info can all be done to gain useful lead data.
Don’t just post on every platform available. Choose the ones that are right for your brand. The best B2B site platforms tend to be Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook depending on your industry. If you need visual response, then Instagram is good. Sharing and interacting is better on Facebook. LinkedIn is the first choice if it is going to be all about business. Use more than one platform to target multiple demographics but don’t waste time with ones that are not going to generate leads. Multiple platforms work if you understand their pros and cons and how to capture leads on each one.
This is a critical part of B2B lead gen. Sources need to offer education and entertainment to prospective clients. You are targeting content consumption habits and choices. Content can be e-newsletters, white papers, vlogs, blogs, and webinars. It is inbound and outbound. You can offer content to your potential leads, and they can also find it on their own as they explore your social media profile and posts.
Content marketing is a must for B2B companies. Long-term relationships are needed. Companies need to be upfront and offer easy-to-access resources with quantifiable data around product development, relatable issues of the customers and how those issues were addressed, and most importantly why your company stands out in a crowded marketplace. Providing relevant, informative as well as exciting data means it can be easily told to others.
Content marketing is integral when used with lead generation. It moves leads further through your funnel. Putting out eBooks, webinars, vlogs, blogs, and social feeds will gain attention while conveying your brand’s benefits.
Creating Content for Lead Generation
Lead generations won’t suddenly jump because you started a new type of content production. But when multiple channels are used, you see the numbers rise. Here are some ideas you can work with:
Blogs – Blogs are a great way to interact with potential customers. They are flexible, informative, and can be entertaining as well. You can design them to say and look however you want. No matter what style you choose, you want the blog to stand out:
- Make sure you have it listed on appropriate social media sites
- SEO optimization is a must
- Use an interesting call to action such as subscribe or follow
- The format has to be clear and readable
- Content and format should match the right channels the blog will be on
Email – Email offers high ROI and is versatile without being invasive. It can be personal and connect in a positive way.
Social Posts – Social media allows a brand to have a personality. It offers informal customer interaction and doesn’t seem to be driven by sales. To make the most of this lead generator you want to choose the best platforms for the businesses you are targeting. Post content that is attention-grabbing, interesting, thought-provoking, or maybe educational. You want sharable content. Likes, comments, and reposting are the targets and good indications that your audience is paying attention. It is important to recognize those who support you online and share your content.
eBooks and White Papers
This content driver is more detailed. It is for sharing complex and detailed ideas. How-to and new development can be shared in both these ways. They are ways to share your authority and knowledge with prospects. It will lead them to your site and engage them through email as well.
You don’t have to be a tech wiz to make this work. Small videos can add extra content that engages potential customers. Demonstrate a product or service or do a how-to one. Webinars and information videos can help too. Video is a way to give information quickly and easily.
Thanks for reading. Next steps? Pick one or two strategies you’ve read here and get started! If you need any help along the way, don’t hesitate to book a meeting with a digital marketing strategist at a time that works for you. Good luck!
Conversion Rate Optimization
These are the marketing tactics that get potential customers to look at your ad and perform the actions you want them to. This can be clicking on an ad, offering contact info, answering a survey or any other interaction action. Here are some to focus on for B2B lead generation.
- Calls to Action – These can be a button at the end of an e-newsletter or a hyperlink at the end of a blog. It is a section of content that wants the viewer to participate. You want them to be persuasive and easy to see. The person uses them right away leading them to the funnel.
- Landing Pages – These are where you want to capture leads. Make sure the headline is clear, visible and something people can relate to. They want to be understood. Also, tell them about the company and product but don’t overwhelm them. Make them short, warm and to the point. Use images and clear subheadings.
Lead Generation Software
Using software to generate leads is smart as it helps you to improve your overall business-to-business lead generating process using data. It will be dedicated to customer demands and will set you off in the right direction of optimal conversion rates.
Metrics are crucial to assess what works and what doesn’t and is needed for good marketing plans. You have to understand:
- What you want to measure
- When do you do the measuring
- How is it going to be measured
- What is the primary audience base
- Which social media platform engages the most
- Who in the company understands lead metrics
You may have numbers with metrics but someone has to be able to read them so you can assess progress and make adjustments.
Understanding Basic Metrics for B2B Lead Generation
Understanding KPIs (key performance indicators) is a way to measure lead generation performance. They inform you of details on sales strategy and the sales funnel.
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR) – This measures how the call to action is moving people to the landing page. The number of clicks divided by the number of visitors.
- Conversion Rate – Visits to sales. This should be used to adjust marketing campaigns.
- Time to Conversion – If you have complicated or long sales cycles then that is hard on your lead generation.
- ROI – Return on Investment is important, but it is really critical to understand a certain ad campaign or social media input.
All metrics can assess your sales funnel and give you a cost-per-lead along with capture and conversion.
Lead Generation Marketing
There are various types of leads that you want to look at in marketing. Sales qualified leads (SQL) and Marketing qualified leads (MQL) are both helpful to sales. You want to be able to understand and measure what companies or people are interested in your brand. It is part of the sales funnel that comes from lead generation but happens before the conversion point.
Leads can’t just be left to flounder through the sales funnel without direction. It is not ok to just assume they will find their way to a purchase point. They need to be helped along. It is important to determine the best way to direct sales and marketing. Assess the leads that need a nudge along and ones that need a lot of interaction to make that sale happen.
MQL are the ones that are just heading into the funnel. You have been given their contact information but that could be it. It will be important for the sales or marketing team to reach out to those new contacts with emails to build contact and trust. You want to gain more insight and information on these potential customers. You have to work on your inbound strategies so the leads have lots of information on which they can base a positive choice. It is not about being overt. It is about building a relationship.
SQL are those leads that need some encouragement. These are the leads that are more complex and maybe have already been talked to, emailed, and given the opportunity for free resources. They may have even been able to test the brand under a free trial period or free sample. These are the leads that need some attention to get them to convert. These are sales department leads since they are the last part of the funnel that can get them to conversions.
Understanding this evaluation process is crucial when a business is bigger and has both sales and marketing teams. The numbers convey things that they may not know since they aren’t dealing directly in the other’s realm. Qualifying leads helps streamline and target the leads that are generated. Good lead generation means you have to keep an eye on metrics so you can assess lead quality and conversion rates. Watch the following:
- SQL quality
- Number of SQLs
- Number of conversions of MQL to SAL (sales accepted leads)
- Number of conversions of SAL to SQL
No sales or marketing team can sit back and just hope that the leads will roll in for their follow-up. The world of sales is less about cold calls and business lunches and more about setting things in place to enhance B2B lead generation online and in the marketplace.
Business teams should always be assessing, observing, and adjusting the factors that are going to instigate business-to-business leads. They have to know about converting marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads. It is important to know why they are or are not happening. Understanding how to create and define lead gen and get them converted into sales means each person involved needs to be attentive to staying on top of defining and being on top of the interactions. Missing an interaction can mean the lead is lost and that means not the loss of just one potential sale but multiple potential sales if that person had become a repeat customer.
Increasing B2B leads will happen if this guide is followed but it is important to be aware nothing is stagnant. Assessments, adjustments, and changes are always going to play a part in increasing numbers, so the business is always at the forefront of the marketplace and adjusting to meet potential customer demands and needs.