As long as there have been businesses, there have been lead generation strategies and, frankly, issues with generating enough qualified leads. Companies of all sizes have struggled at one time or another with how to attract more customers.
If you currently find yourself in this sticky situation, or just want to maintain a steady pipeline of customers for your products or services, here are 25 business-to-business (B2B) lead generation ideas that have worked well for others—including your competition.
The fight for new business is fiercer than ever, and great marketers know you must continue to test new strategies to reach your audience. Now’s the time to let others know how you can serve them, and here are dozens of tactics to help you.
Before we jump into lead generation strategies, let’s back up and answer the question, “What is B2B lead generation?” so that we’re on the same page moving forward.
Lead generation is simply the process of how you attract prospects to your company’s products or services. And, of course, the purpose is to make a sale. B2B lead generation happens through a sales funnel, and there are 3 parts of the funnel to be aware of: ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu.
ToFu is where most customers will come into contact with you. It’s meant to generate interest for a wider audience and serves as a first step. Content marketing is a great example and can include tactics like blogging or social media. You might get someone’s email in the process, or you may only hope to generate awareness for your brand.
MoFu is where you begin to deepen the relationship with your lead and show them that you have what they need. Email marketing is the most common approach here and remains quite effective.
BoFu is where you ask for the sale. It comes after you’ve nurtured your lead and demonstrated that you are the right choice for them. These strategies may include one-to-one sales conversations, an email directing someone to the purchase, or a webinar with a sales pitch at the end.
To create your sales funnel, consider your customer’s journey. Think about how they interact with you, what the process is for becoming a customer, and how you can make each transition along the way a smooth one.
The sales funnel is their guide from start to finish. It not only informs them but allows them to become more comfortable with you and then ready to buy. Of course, another essential piece of the lead generation puzzle is your sales process, so let’s tackle that next.
The sales cycle timeline varies greatly depending on your specific product or service—and your ability to persuade. It could be as short as a few hours or days, or it could take months. But, no matter the length of time, you’ll follow these six sales process steps.
First, of course, you have to identify and find your leads. Your sales process begins when you know who you’re selling to and where to locate them. By doing extensive market research ahead of time and narrowing your target market, your sales process will have greater success.
After you know who your audience is, it’s time to reach out. Because of the high level of B2B competition, you must be proactive and consistent to grab your prospect’s attention. This is where you’ll employ some of those ToFu methods discussed above, which means that “reaching out” could be online or through a traditional sales technique like cold calling.
Next, you need to capture your prospect or lead’s information so that you can begin to build a relationship with them. One tool you’ve likely seen used a lot in online marketing is a lead magnet, which allows you to provide valuable content like a downloadable PDF or video in exchange for an email address.
A simple contact box on your website can work, too.
Now it’s time to lead someone through MoFu (the middle of the funnel). Here’s where you further educate your leads on your product or service, remove barriers to sale, or ask them for more information. Your goal is to connect to their wants and needs.
For someone to have the best experience possible with your company, and to ensure a lead is worth your salesperson’s time, you want qualified leads. Once they are near the closing stage, they’ll generally fall under two categories: MQL (marketing qualified lead) and SQL (sales qualified lead).
The MQL is interested, has the available budget, and meets your customer criteria. Essentially, this person is ready to move to BoFu. The SQL is primed, ready to buy, and should be given high priority by the sales team.
It’s time to make the sale! Whether this requires a conversation with a salesperson or is done through an automated sales funnel, now you are ready to ask for a purchase.
Just remember that follow up is an important part of closing. Furthermore, 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the meeting. And 44% of sales reps give up after one follow-up.
Now let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of B2B lead generation strategies! Depending on your experience level, budget, and availability, some ideas may be easier to execute than others. But, rest assured, you’ll find a few tactics that you haven’t tried yet.
Clearly, we’re a fan of this option. In our own experience and the experiences of our clients, high-quality articles (blog posts) can convert warm leads, help you get found on Google by cold traffic, and are likely to be shared by industry peers.
Besides making your website easy to read, search, and look at, you should include CTAs (calls to action) in multiple places. Don’t assume everyone will click over to your contact form, and you need to offer something valuable in return (eBook, whitepaper, etc.) for getting someone to option with their email address (just your newsletter isn’t going to cut it).
Billions of people are on social media, and that includes your B2B customers. The keys with social media are creating engaging content and being consistent, though, so make sure your strategy isn’t half-hearted or you won’t see results.
While organic leads and traffic are still possible on social media, it’s largely become a pay-to-play space. But with such terrific information and targeting data at your fingertips, especially with Facebook Lead Ads, you should definitely give it a try.
You’ve worked hard for past clients, and it’s time to show off their success—as well as yours. Case studies demonstrate your value and results, which is just what a lead is looking for.
Lead generation tools show you who visits your website even when they don’t leave their contact information behind. This not only gives your insight into who your website attracts but allows you to reach out to them proactively.
The benefits of email marketing can’t be denied, especially when you segment your list. Marketers who used segmented campaigns noted as much as a 760% increase in revenue.
B2B lead generation tips don’t often include cold emailing, but they should. Cold emailing is still a huge opportunity for new business when done right. Sometimes the best method is to go out and find your customers, especially if they can’t find you. It can be time-consuming, but it can also pay off. And don’t forget to test various email subject lines to see which get the best open rates.
And just so we’re clear—we’re talking about cold emails, not spam emails. Cold emails are personalized, targeted, and contain relevant content or valuable information. Spam emails (the ones you hate) are impersonal, read like a form, and try to sell you immediately. Be the person who sends emails worth opening.
One of our favourite B2B lead generation tools is the infographic. You need to learn more about how infographics generate qualified leads. In that post, you can even see the infographic that secured one of our clients a $300,000 contract!
Even if you don’t have a PR department, you can hire a freelance PR professional to help you make headlines or use Help a Reporter Out (HARO) as a DIY option. Gaining editorial exposure is a wonderful way to build trust with your audience.
Webinars are a great way to present information, interact with potential customers, and pitch your product or service simultaneously. You can even automate your webinar if you don’t want to go live each time.
Because there are so many niche events that draw a crowd, attending or sponsoring one might be a great way to connect with a large number of leads at once. And both in-person and online trade shows and conferences offer a variety of ways to engage with others.
Paying complementary companies to promote your product or service to their audience through affiliate marketing is another powerful lead generation tactic because their people already trust them, and will therefore trust you, too.
Influencer marketing is a growing and highly effective tactic for B2B sales lead generation, particularly in the awareness stage, because you are harnessing the audience of someone your target market already follows and finds interesting.
When you can’t be in the same room as someone, video is the next best thing.
Videos on your website or social media, videos in your emails, gated videos, a YouTube channel and customized/personalized videos are just a few B2B lead generation tools you can leverage. And this can’t just be all promo videos for the company; demonstrate your expertise around solving their challenges.
Working with a small budget? Consider bartering. Find a complementary product creator or service provider and then swap emails or social media posts with them so that you can each gain exposure to a new audience.
Whether you have your own blog or not, you can write informative and authoritative articles and guest posts for others. This might be for an industry blog or online publication. You can also ask others to guest post for you—just be sure they share it with their audience!
Wouldn’t it be great if leads found you, rather than the other way around? SEO helps you accomplish that goal. By incorporating the terms people are searching for into your website copy, people can find you when they are interested or ready to buy.
Ready to dive into the wide world of Google or Bing advertising? If so, a PPC campaign might be for you. The good news is that you have access to Google’s incredible data (and Bing) and you can set a daily budget.
But it can easily get overwhelming, complicated, and expensive quickly, too, if you don’t stay on top of monitoring and optimizing your campaigns at least once a week.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may get more attention because they appeal to the general public, but for B2B conversations, LinkedIn is likely the way to go.
From free merchandise to free software to a free online tool, people have a hard time saying no to free. Think about what aligns with your product or service and would attract your ideal audience—and then give it away.
Notably, lead magnets remain a popular content marketing tool because they are fairly easy to set up, can be automated, and continue to get results across all kinds of industries. As mentioned above in the capturing section of the sales steps process, offering valuable content in exchange for an email address will continue to be a winning marketing strategy.
No one loves a popup because they are intrusive, spammy, and open in a new window rather than what you were actually interested in. The good news is that they are also being phased out by legit websites. Instead, you should try an exit-intent lightbox or overlay.
These alternatives slide or lay on top of the page, and show up when someone scrolls to a certain point on a page, after a specific amount of time, or when someone moves their cursor to close a page. They will be far more appealing to your website visitors.
Because you want to answer customers’ questions right away, installing a live chat feature or employing a chatbot can be a fantastic way to not let another lead slip through your fingers because no one was available when the customer was ready to take the next step.
This may seem counterintuitive for big-ticket products and services, but if you don’t want to chase unqualified leads, list your prices on your website to filter out those who aren’t a good fit.
As mentioned in #2, you should optimize your website with multiple CTAs scattered around your site, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by adding an announcement bar or banner with a tool such as Hello Bar, Sumo, or Poptin so that you can have the same CTA at the top of every page. Your visitors won’t miss it!
Word-of-mouth is still the best lead generation tool around because we all innately trust the recommendations of our peers, friends, and family. Build a referral marketing strategy that helps people proactively tell others about you.
Just like blogs, there’s a podcast for pretty much everything, which means customers can find exactly what they want or need. Become a guest on your industry’s favourites. Then, if you can make the time and financial commitment, later on, consider starting your own. Either way, you can be known as a subject matter expert.
Giving people the opportunity to try your product or service out for free is a great way to create an educated (and warm) lead. This allows them to see both the benefits and features up-close.
Everyone loves social proof, so ask your current and past customers to leave a review for you on sites where people would be interested in your products or services. Just be sure to make it easy for them to do so!
Remember when you looked at that pair of shoes on Amazon and then they showed up on every site after that for a while? That’s what we’re talking about with remarketing. It’s a great way to win back lost or old leads.
How are your sales? Is the trajectory trending up or down? And by what rate?
If they’re down or unpredictable, it likely means that you need to work on your lead generation efforts so that you consistently have people lined up and ready to buy from you or work with you. This struggle is a common one for businesses, but you don’t want to wait until you’re desperate to try something new. Lead generation should always be a priority.
It’s also important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to lead generation marketing. You’ll need to consider your target audience, your product or service, and your budget. But with these 25 B2B lead generation strategies to give an advantage, you’ll be one step closer to consistent sales, increased revenue, and sustained business growth.
Which lead generation strategy will you try first? Let us know in the comments below! Or, if you need assistance with generating more qualified B2B leads, contact us at Bubblegum Marketing to get the conversation started.
CEO & Founder at BubbleGum Marketing
As CEO & Founder of BubbleGum Marketing, Cam leads a world-class Marketing team, that serves businesses all over the world to achieve their marketing objectives. In his spare time, you'll find him chilling with his family, paddling his SUP, riding his mountain bike, or walking his golden retriever dog, "Summer"
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