This guide, based on my experience working with many rapid-growth B2B organizations, outlines lead generation best practices to help businesses build the foundation for and improve upon their lead generation efforts.
Setting Up The B2B Lead Generation Funnel
The B2B lead generation funnel can take many different forms, but the standard components in most at-scale lead generation funnels are:
• Lead magnet content to exchange with users for their contact information. Consider the most pertinent questions/concerns your customers have, and create content to illustrate how your product/service can help them address them.
• An optimized landing page that includes a clear value proposition, a strong call to action (schedule a demo, start your trial, etc.), user testimonials and existing customer logos (for social proof), and benefit-based language (explain how your product/service benefits users, instead of listing features). I find that reviewing questions/concerns from existing customers helps guide the landing page copy.
• An email-based lead nurturing sequence containing educational content such as blog posts and videos, actionable advice/suggestions, and strong calls to action. I advise automating this and including five to seven touches over the course of 30 days (fewer than 10% of leads convert on the first touch).
• Analytics and tracking to attribute marketing spend and efforts to leads and sales.
• An intelligence and enrichment tool to capitalize on site traffic that hasn’t converted, as well as to add data points to existing leads. These tools leverage B2B databases and IP data to map your site visitors and existing leads to customer profiles, helping you enrich and generate leads even when visitors don’t take any action on-site.
Cold Email Outreach Campaigns
Cold email outreach campaigns are an effective way to generate sales qualified leads, making this a very popular tactic used by large B2B sales organizations. One of the biggest barriers to entry for this tactic is lead prospecting (finding the list of email addresses to contact). Prospecting can generally be broken down into buying lists, scraping data, mining data from B2B databases and manual prospecting, ranked from worst quality/highest volume to best quality/lowest volume. Having seen all four in action, I would recommend manual prospecting over buying lists, scraping or data mining. Traditionally, buying lists and scraping will perform worse in terms of opens/clicks/bounces, but layering them into an existing prospecting strategy will yield a higher lead volume than manual prospecting and mining alone.
As with lead nurturing campaigns, it’s important to create several touch points in these campaigns — a very small percentage of prospects will convert on the first touch.
Creating Valuable Content To Generate B2B Leads
B2B companies that leverage content marketing significantly outperform those that don’t, both in terms of traffic volume and lead volume. B2B buyers are also becoming increasingly more prone to conducting their own research, so lacking content to aid them in their research can mean an immediate disqualification from their considerations.
The types of content that are most valuable to your potential buyers are:
• Videos or webinars showing your product or service functionality
• Blog articles addressing common problems in your industry and how leveraging your product or service will help your prospects address them
• Industrywide trend reports that aggregate industry-insider learnings for your potential buyers.
Once the content is created, it needs to be syndicated through as many relevant channels as possible:
• Sharing through your company email newsletter
• Sharing across all owned social channels and online properties
• Syndicating through employee social channels
• Syndicating through press releases (for major content pieces)
• Promoting through paid channels such as boosted posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
• Paid content syndication networks
A great strategy to lay the foundation for your content marketing efforts would be to research your competitors’ most popular content. See what content is already ranking in search engines for search keywords that are relevant to your business, and improve upon this existing content. This is commonly referred to as the “skyscraper technique.”
Driving Paid Traffic To Your Content And Landing Pages
Paid traffic for B2B lead generation is a predictable and scalable strategy, but tends to be significantly more expensive than organic efforts. The two channels I have found to be the most performant in terms of ROI are search engine ads and LinkedIn.
Search engine ads are a great way to send high-intent prospects to your content and landing pages by targeting the keywords prospects use to find solutions like the ones you provide. In the B2B space, search ads can get quite expensive depending on the industry, so I suggest making sure your landing pages and funnels show promising conversion rates before investing in a scaled search campaign.
LinkedIn is another great channel to generate leads. Using their precision targeting and their native ad formats, you can target the exact buyer personas you are looking for in a multitude of ways, including native lead generation forms, sponsored InMail campaigns (a great addition to your outbound cold email campaigns), sponsored content ads (a great addition to your content marketing mix) and banner ads.
Create Free Tools
Creating free tools that address the needs of your target market is a great way to generate qualified leads for your B2B sales efforts. By helping your potential customers solve a problem, you simultaneously capture their contact information and build goodwill, which helps convert prospects at a higher rate than traditional B2B lead generation tactics.
A great example of this is Hubspot’s free email tracker tool. Hubspot identified that sales professionals use email trackers and built a great free tool to give away in exchange for salesperson contact info, after which they upsell their paid software package through email and ads.
The aforementioned B2B lead generation strategies are evergreen, meaning that they will always be relevant in the B2B space and will be around for the foreseeable future, so ensuring that your business is well-equipped will pay dividends for years to come.