B2B Lead Gen Made Easy 9 Effective Lead Generation Strategies for Your Marketing
20. July 2021

9 Unbeatable Tips on How to Generate B2B Leads

According to surveys, sales employees in B2B consider lead generation to be the greatest challenge in the entire sales process. In a survey conducted by CRM provider HubSpot, 42 percent of the sales managers surveyed said that obtaining leads, i.e. information about potential customers, is one of the most crucial tasks for them.

For this reason, in this article we will take a closer look at how B2B lead generation works and show you 9 unbeatable methods for your marketing.

What are B2B Leads?

The term "lead" stems from the English word "to lead" and means a new contact generated by any type of marketing activity. Speaking of a "B2B lead", it is important to note that this lead is not a private individual, but is acting on behalf of a company.

The contact data that makes up a B2B lead depends on the company's own definition. For example, a B2B lead can consist of a name, a business email address, the company name and/or a phone number.

In addition to this data, the lead must have the potential to become a new customer. The best indicator to be a promising lead is when someone aka. a company shows interest in your product and your content. Let’s say a visitor downloads a whitepaper from your website or asks for prices – this is a clear sign that a company has a demand or a pain, which the person interacting with you wants to solve with your product.

What are MQL and SQL?

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead who has shown interest in your offer as a result of your marketing campaigns or has a high likelihood of becoming a customer for other reasons. A good example for a MQL would be a lead who downloaded a whitepaper on your website.

An MQL is usually a very promising lead. This is because such a lead is more likely to be ready for a sales call than a lead who has not willingly given you their data by downloading something. With this type of lead you can be pretty sure he or she is interested in what you have to offer.

By submitting data, the MQL has taken the first step towards becoming a customer. However, there is not yet a clear purchase intention behind it. Before MQLs are passed to sales, they must first become an SQL, a Sales Qualified Lead.

An SQL is a lead that is ready to be contacted by a sales rep. The lead becomes an SQL either through lead nurturing or a direct purchase intent (e.g. by requesting demo). With Sales Qualified Leads, you save your sales force valuable time because an SQL is considered a truly relevant lead.

What Makes B2B Lead Generation Efficient?

Efficiency is the top priority in B2B sales. Especially complex, high-priced offers that require explanation are associated with a great deal of effort for your sales department. Generating qualified B2B leads therefore is the basis for subsequent sales activities – and it’s the most effective way to reduce effort, keep wastage to a minimum and the sales cost ratio low.

Usually, gathering the most comprehensive company information possible on potential customers is not a task for your sales team. It rather is a responsibility of your marketing department.

Although in many B2B companies there are also opportunities for sales staff to collect leads to a certain extent (e.g. at trade shows), digital lead generation is primarily a marketing task as part of a company’s communications strategy.

How does B2B lead generation work?

Now that you know what a B2B lead is and that lead generation is essential for efficient sales, let's get straight to the point: What exactly is B2B lead generation and how does it work?

B2B lead generation is the process of acquiring prospects for a product or service. B2B leads are usually acquired through various marketing measures. Marketing measures include, for example, content marketing or advertising. You can include checklists and test versions in your free content, so that leads are generated directly before readers even click on your product page.

The trick is: Your readers don't get these "extras" for free. If they want to download the checklist or test your product, they have to fill out a so-called lead form before receiving anything. This lead form is your gate to data that is essential for a B2B lead. When creating a lead form, you have to be careful not to ask too much of your potential lead!

You should always ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which data do you absolutely need?
  • Which data can you enrich with external data afterwards?
  • How much data is a person willing to give in return for a whitepaper or a test account?

As a rule of thumb you can say: The less data you ask for in your lead form, the higher the conversion. 

Only when a person has willingly given his or her data, the person gets access to the "extras" and you have generated a B2B lead with the given contact data. There are many ways in which you can generate B2B leads. Are you ready to see which types there are? Let’s go!

1. Tools for a Succesful B2B Lead Generation

You can’t image doing efficient sales without technical tools, can you? There are helpful tools for all phases of the sales cycle. They can relieve you of time-consuming work and, thanks to modern technologies, deliver results that are almost impossible to achieve even with the greatest experience and expertise.

Today, tools are also part of lead generation. They help you to make the most of market potential. One of these tools is Echobot TARGET, the largest B2B database for current sales opportunities in German-speaking countries.

The tool allows you a targeted query for relevant companies. It is not only possible to filter according to target audience-specific company characteristics, but also according to so-called business signals. Selected trigger events, such as upcoming expansions, location or management changes can indicate a specific need of your target customer.

2. Content Marketing

"93% of B2B buying processes start with an online search" (source: www.ecommerce-platforms.com). As a communication discipline, content marketing therefore is at the center of digital lead generation. Producing target audience-specific content and distributing it via suitable communication channels has proven to be the most effective and thus most popular source of leads in recent years.

In content marketing, a company's own website is particularly important. Individual pages, so-called landing pages, provide prospective customers with valuable content and give them the desired information about a company and its product. Therefore, you should pay special attention to the optimization of your landing pages.

On the one hand, landing pages must meet the highest usability standards, and on the other hand, they should be SEO optimized. If potential customers need a solution for their problem and your article or landing page might help them, it’s best if you’ve achieved a good ranking. The better the findability of a content offer and the easier the access, the higher the probability of reaching your target customer.

Some formats have proven particularly successful in content marketing:

All formats have basic characteristics in common: They offer comprehensive, subject-specific information that provides consumers with recognizable benefits and added value.

3. Whitepaper

In B2B, spontaneous purchasing decisions are rare. Instead, interested parties first gather comprehensive information before even taking a product into consideration.

That's why whitepapers are a proven method for generating B2B leads. With whitepapers, you can support the research process and show professional expertise. Provide your target customer with relevant information which justifies getting a business email address in return.

You should include some sort of reference to your product in your offered content as this marks the first and basic step of lead qualification: An interested reader will automatically get in touch with your product even though it is not in the center of your whitepaper.

4. Webinars

In B2B, products or services are usually more in need of advice than in B2C. Before purchasing something, prospects like to compare several providers and products. They want to get a feel for whether they are investing in the right tool or not.

If you as a provider use a webinar to generate leads, you can show your product to several people at the same time, highlight benefits and areas of application, and answer questions. This is your chance to shine a light on the best sides of your product and all the benefits that customers have with it! Don’t waste that chance.

Attending a webinar usually does not take that much effort and people register more easily for it than for an online demo – higher conversion rates promised! Lead generation takes place with the registration of a prospect, who in return can participate in the webinar for free.

5. Blog

A blog is an excellent way to generate B2B leads. Try not to focus on marketing your product or service too much there, but help your target audience with relevant content. Position yourself as an expert in your topic and build trust with potential customers. When it comes to a purchase decision, they will already know your product and be more willing to buy it.

It is important that you provide content that your target audience also searches for on Google or other search engines. Optimizing your articles based on keywords or search queries is key here if you don’t want your competitors to lead the way. Improve your rankings on Google and you will achieve more visibility within your target audience, get more views and, you guess it, more leads.

In the articles themselves, you can offer checklists, blueprints or anything else as a download and generate B2B leads via these so-called lead magnets.

6. Visitor Identification

If you have the contact details of someone who has shown a demand for your product or services, they are considered a B2B lead.

Every day visitors come to your website – unfortunately, not every one of them downloads your whitepaper, asks for prices or books a demo. This person is still of interested to you though! They already have shown interest in your product – they just didn’t engage yet. In the next step, you must find out how to engage with them.

The question is: How do you find who was visiting your website? The solution is called visitor identification! There are tools that reveal the IP address of your website visitors and therefore tell you which companies have a demand for your product. This gives you B2B leads that you might otherwise have missed.

In addition, these tools often display other relevant company data, such as employees and contact details. What's especially exciting: IP identification and visitor tracking tell you exactly which one of your pages was visited and how often. This allows you to easily prioritize the next steps and sales approach with each visitor.

7. Social Selling

LinkedIn is an absolute must-have, especially in B2B. Here you will not only find a lot of useful content, but you can also become active yourself.

On the one hand, you can create yourself a network by providing relevant content and seeking exchange with your target audience. With a little diligence, you can position yourself as an expert on your specific topic. The goal is that interested parties will approach you or someone will recommend you as they have seen you several times in relation to a certain topic.

On the other hand, you can still post about other relevant content, such as webinars, other exciting insights on your blog or topics on your company website. This way, the perception of your company increases – and will help you gather more leads!

Social media is becoming more and more relevant for B2B lead generation – don’t miss that trend!

Effective Tactics in Lead Generation

Source: www.themarketingscope.com

8. Advertising / Traffic Generation

Effective lead generation with the help of content marketing follows clear steps. First, you need to attract the attention of your target customers: A detailed and carefully planned analysis of your target audience provides you with the necessary information.

Afterwards, you will see which media is suitable for a particular target audience. You should find out which channels certain groups like most: Touchpoints include social media and search engines. If you know which touchpoints are particularly important to your prospects, you can place appropriate ads and direct traffic accordingly.

Google Ads

As an addition to general search engine optimization of your own content, the strategic use of Google Ads has proven its worth. If your target customers search for certain topics or problems, they will automatically find advertisements for your content, which will generate leads in return. When doing search engine marketing, there’s always a link leading to your landing page.

Here, the content – for example a whitepaper – is described in more detail. In the next step, you have to “seduce” the interested party to get to the gated content e.g. fill out a lead magnet (e.g. a checklist) or a lead form (e.g. price lists).

As already mentioned, in most cases a business email address is sufficient for a lead form. Of course, it is always helpful to have as much information as possible from a lead. However, the danger remains that your target customer will be deterred by a lead form that wants too much information and will then cancel the registration.

LinkedIn Ads

B2B lead generation via social media is different. Above all, LinkedIn is of great importance in B2B, even though Facebook and Instagram offer comparable opportunities, which you can consider when you’re in B2C. You can direct your target customer to an external landing page via a link on social media. However, these platforms save you time and money and thus significantly increases the efficiency of your marketing measures.

There are so-called Lead Gen Forms on LinkedIn with which you can do advertisements, sponsored content or sponsored InMails with a call-to-action. With one click, the user's profile data, name, contact information, company, position, job title and location are transferred to a form and, for example, a linked e-book is released for download. The most important piece of information for lead qualification is the company’s name. Regardless of the person filling out the registration form, this provides the basis for further research.

The data collected via Lead Gen Forms can be downloaded directly from your LinkedIn account and even transferred directly into your preferred CRM system.

Native Advertising

In recent years, advertising has experienced a rather negative perception, especially in B2B. Even the largest advertising budgets no longer achieve the response that advertisers were used to. Quite a few experts even predict the end of classic advertising. At the same time, trust in independent content is growing. Editorially prepared information on companies, products and services is receiving the attention that advertising is now often denied.

Native advertising, for example, the service offered by the U.S. company Taboola, combines the goals of advertising with the basic principles and possibilities of editorial reporting.

In these days, advertisements are found as native ads specifically on blogs, in newsletters or on news sites, and in social media. Of course, they’ve been adapted visually and stylistically to editorial formats. As teasers, they consist only of excerpts and link to landing pages of the clients.

With ads you can create trust, which can be leveraged on the landing page through clever design. If advertorials are attractively designed, they attract attention and help you to generate new leads.

9. B2B Lookalikes: Generating Leads from Existing Customers

Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you no longer had to wait for leads? If you could simply approach companies that are similar to your existing customers?

We got news for you: That is possible! With the help of artificial intelligence, you can upload a customer list and the AI will hand a list of similar companies back to you. These companies are also called B2B lookalikes. Lookalikes have certain or the same characteristics as the companies that you entered as a basis.

You can use B2B lookalikes for cold calling or even for advertising. Often you already have directly suitable sales stories or use cases that make it easy for you to convince a prospect of your product.

You can find more information, advantages and best practices of B2B lookalikes in our article "Find Similar Companies: How to Generate Relevant Leads with Lookalikes”.

More Tips for a Strong B2B Lead Generation

  1. What is a lead for you? Which data do you need from the beginning and which can you enrich with external data? Define your B2B lead and only ask for data that’s absolutely necessary.
  2. Put yourself in your target audiences’ shoes and provide them with relevant content that offers value. Then your content will be successful.
  3. Lead does not equal lead. Your sales team's time is precious. Therefore, check whether you can use lead nurturing to further qualify whitepaper leads, for example.
  4. You can use lead scoring to assess the maturity of your lead. Hand over leads to your sales department only once it has achieved a certain score.
  5. Time is money – also in marketing and sales. Use tools that simplify and automate your processes. This way you and your sales department can concentrate on the really important tasks!

Conclusion: B2B Lead Gen in Summary

Leads are the basis of any business success in B2B. Without reliable information on potential customers, you are literally fishing in the dark and leaving results largely to chance. With strategic planning, it is possible to gather information on potential prospects and generate leads.

Defining your target audience, analyze their customer journey, and determine touch points – then you will understand when you get a prospect’s attention and how you can convert them into leads with clever advertising and strategic content marketing.

Your aim should be to use existing aids and tools in such a way that lead generation delivers optimum results in terms of quality and quantity. In addition to the continuous generation of new leads, you should also include lead enrichment and qualification in your lead process.

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