B2B Lead Generation

How to build a reliable sales pipeline for your business

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What is B2B lead generation?

B2B lead generation is how modern businesses create demand for their products online. The end goal is a reliable pipeline of engaged prospects that sales can contact and convert.

In the past, a lot of B2B digital marketing activity was focussed on brand-building and ‘soft metrics’ like traffic or time on site. But as digital marketing has become more sophisticated, B2B marketers have become more focussed on ROI.

As a result, lead generation has become a core focus for most B2B marketing teams.

What are the most common B2B lead generation tactics?

Modern marketers have a huge range of platforms and tactics at their disposal. Some of these tactics are complex, expensive and only viable for large businesses. Others have been around for many years and are available to anyone.

Some of the most common tactics used for B2B lead generation are:

You can find a handy graph from Hubspot below breaking out which tactics their users thought were most effective for B2B lead generation below:

graph showing most effective b2b lead generation tactics

What are the core elements of a B2B lead generation strategy?

B2B lead generation is a holistic, end-to-end process. When done right, it engages prospects at every stage of the decision journey, from not knowing your company exists, to being a die-hard advocate.

If you need a refresh on the core stages of the customer decision journey, here’s a great graphic from Highspot which I use all the time:

aligned sales process diagram showing all stages in the customer journey which should be used during the sales enablement strategy planning process

Source

In order to help potential leads on their path-to-purchase, digital marketers need to do six things:

  1. Build a website for contacts to visit
  2. Generate a reliable stream of traffic
  3. Create irresistible lead magnets & CTAs to convert
  4. Optimise their entire site to convert
  5. Nurture contacts using personalised, one-to-one emails
  6. Smoothly hand-off contacts who are ready to purchase to sales

1 – Build a website for contacts to visit

If you’re on my site I guess you probably work in digital marketing, so let’s skip over this bit, shall we?

2 – Generate a reliable stream of traffic

Like almost everything in digital marketing in 2019, there are a range of different ways to drive traffic to your site.

To simplify things, I like to think about traffic in terms of paid, owned and earned media. A good traffic strategy will cover all three.

Paid media – traffic that you pay for in the form of advertising. This can come from social ads, Adwords, display ads, influencers or paid content partnerships. Paid media can deliver traffic fast but it is expensive in the long run.

Owned media – traffic driven from communities that you have grown over time. Examples include social media accounts, email lists or your own sales team. Traffic from owned media can take a while to build, but it’s sustainable and will continue to build. Also, because followers have to opt-in, they tend to be a more engaged and relevant audience than you can get with paid.

Earned media – traffic that is driven by unpaid, third-parties, examples include SEO, partnerships, brand advocates. Earned media is particularly important for SEO backlinks.

KEY METRICS:

  • Unique visits
  • Visits
  • Pageviews
  • Time-on-site
  • Pages per visit
  • Bounce rate
  • Top performing content / categories
  • Traffic sources

3 – Create irresistible lead magnets & CTAs to convert

Sadly, not everyone who visits your site will be ready to buy. So you need to convert them in order to carry on the relationship after they’ve left your site.

Most B2B lead generation strategies do this by using ‘lead magnets’. A lead magnet is anything you give away in return for a visitors’ contact data. A good example of a lead magnet is the campaign I was promoting earlier on in this article. Other examples include webinars, reports, free trials or repurposable templates.

People don’t want to give their contact data away for nothing. In order to be effective, lead magnets have to target your audience’s goals and be suitably substantial.

For instance, in the example above, I’m giving people 63 ways to optimise their campaigns. That’s a lot of value to be giving away for free. And it’s fair to assume that most of the visitors to this site will want to optimise their B2B lead generation campaigns. For those two reasons, that campaigns performs very well for my business.

However, if your lead magnets are targeted poorly or not substantial enough, they will fail to convert visitors.

KEY METRICS:

  • Landing page or campaign conversions
  • Site-wide conversion rate
  • Conversion rate by campaign

4 – Optimise your entire site to convert

Setting up strong lead magnets and CTAs is the first step if you want to convert visitors. In order to maximise the odds of someone accessing your lead magnets, you need to optimise your site for conversions.

Conversion optimisation is a blind spot for a lot of B2B brands. They invest time and money in driving traffic to their site, but still rely on basic contact forms to convert. Or they run lead generation campaigns but bury their landing pages deep in their site architecture. Or, worse still, the landing pages themselves aren’t optimised to convert.

In order to maximise the value of your site, your entire site needs to optimised to convert, not just your landing pages. Messaging needs to be clear and to-the-point and users should never have to guess what they’re expected to do next.

Site optimisation is a complex subject. But for most B2B brands there are plenty of proven best practices that can be quickly applied in order to secure quick wins and see an uplift in performance.

KEY METRICS:

  • Landing page or campaign visits
  • Landing page or campaign conversions
  • Site-wide conversion rate
  • Conversion rate by campaign

5 – Nurture contacts with targeted, personalised emails

Once you have converted anonymous traffic into known contacts, you need to engage them by email. Email is still the most powerful tool in a digital marketers arsenal. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • You can tailor the content and timing of your communications according to your contacts’ actions and interests
  • You can monitor how contacts respond on an individual basis, building a detailed picture of their preferences and level of intent

Targeting contacts on a regular basis with targeted, relevant contact keeps the brand front-of-mind. And allows you to steadily deepen and grow that relationship over the course of months, even years.

Content should be targeted according to what stage in the decision journey the prospect is in.

Someone who has just converted and is showing only mild intent may receive a curated monthly newsletter of relevant content from the rest of the web. Whereas someone who is showing high intent in a particular service might receive a case study along with an invitation to request a call from the sales team.

KEY METRICS:

  • Total contacts
  • Contacts by key segments
  • Unique open rate
  • Unique click-through-rate
  • Click-to-open rate

6 – Smoothly hand-off contacts who are ready to purchase to sales

The threshold at which a contact is passed on to sales will be different for every business. Generally, when this happens, the contact is referred to as a MQL – a ‘Marketing Qualified Lead’.

Contact data as well as information on their preferences and interests, which will have been built up over the course of the email engagement, should be shared with sales. The more information you can share, the better.

But that’s not the end of the journey for marketers. It’s also important for sales to regularly feed back to marketing on the quality of the leads they are generating. If marketing are generating lots of leads, but few of them are becoming customers, that’s an issue. The lead-to-customer ratio is crucial in determining how effective a business’ lead generation programmes are.

KEY METRICS:

  • MQLs generated
  • Sales closed
  • Lead-to-customer ratio

Are you building a B2B lead generation strategy?

If you’re looking for help building your own B2B lead generation strategy drop me a line anytime using the button below.

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