41 B2B lead generation ideas. Matthew Johnson - Head of Marketing & New Business by Matthew Johnson, Head of Marketing & New Business

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Introduction.

A lead is anyone who expresses an interest in your company’s product or service but hasn’t been qualified to buy yet. Lead generation is the process of identifying those potential customers who might be interested in your service. This blog post aims to provide you with a few ideas and methods of generating leads.

Research suggests the top most important lead generation practices for B2B organisations are; content, email, search, and social. That’s why we’ve created this blog post on the 41 ways you can generate leads across content marketing, email marketing, search optimisation and social marketing. We’re going to focus on what you can do to turn your digital ecosystem into a well-oiled sales engine.

We won’t go into a huge amount of detail on each point (we might end up with a book) but we will touch upon many different ways of generating more leads and revenue online. So if you want more information on any of the 41 areas below, simply ask us!

Content marketing.

Content marketing is a strategic business process which focuses on providing prospects with valuable & educational content. If planned well, the content will be relevant to the individual and with time should stimulate an interest in your services. Your content marketing strategy should align with your overall business goals and build trust with your audience. After all, a prospect who trusts that you know how to overcome their challenges is far more likely to want to do business with you. Here are 12 ways you can use content marketing to generate leads:

  1. Personalise your content marketing

    • Develop richer experiences for your audience with content they’ve shown an interest in. Marketing should be all about getting the best information to the right people, in the most engaging way and at the right time. To do this you need to understand where your prospects are in their buyer journey and what content would be most useful for them at that stage.  
  2. Gate your content

    • Create high-quality informative content that you know will interest and help your audience. Before handing it over, ask for a few bits of information i.e. Name, Email, Company, Job Role in exchange. Consider ungating your content if you want to take a long-term approach and position yourself as a market leader/educator/guru. Neil Patel has done this really well over more than a decade. 
  3. Lead forms

    • One of the most common ways of generating leads is to add a few well-placed forms to specific pages on your site. By customising the form (adding/changing fields) over time you can further pre-qualify and refine the quality of leads generated. 
  4. Build an app

    • For this to be successful for B2B you probably need to offer something that your competition isn’t. You may have to think outside the box, but it’s a great way to drive a stream of new leads and nurture your existing audience. If you’re thinking of developing an app for your business, speak to us. Nothing technical scares us.
  5. Run a webinar

    • Are they looking but not engaging? Ready to turn them into people who actually want to buy your product or service? Run a webinar and structure all of the information they need into an educational and interactive experience. Not only will the webinar pre-qualify certain leads, but also help generate interest in your service, set expectations, define next steps and more. Make sure you run a lead nurturing campaign afterwards.
  6. Make branded videos

    • Take advantage of free audiences on YouTube and Vimeo. YouTube is now the second-largest search engine behind Google, so stop thinking of it as an entertainment platform. People go there to search for answers to their questions, so post a video, add a few links to a landing page on your site and start generating leads. With the rise of video and the benefit of some 3bn searches per month on YouTube alone, creating ‘How to’ videos could generate leads for years to come.
  7. Set up a podcast

    • As with video, podcasts are evergreen marketing tools and can be played over and over again. If you host them on your site, Google will find and list them in search results. You’ll also benefit from promoting them on social media to a wider audience and listing them on SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify, Libsyn, etc.
  8. Write an eBook

    • eBooks have long been a go-to sales tool for marketers. They position your business as an expert in the field and can be used as a reference point throughout the buyer’s journey. This sort of content can be gated, sent out in an email campaign, or shared on social media. They’re informative, interesting, and they help solve real problems.
  9. Publish infographics

    • This is the sort of content, in my opinion, you shouldn’t be gating. Infographics are cleverly designed long-form pieces of content. They help translate complex, long, or boring information into digestible, visually-stunning pieces of content. Everyone loves an infographic. 
  10. Comment marketing

    • Done in a tasteful way, posting comments on blogs and social posts will increase brand recognition and even position you as a thought-leader in your industry. Instead of self-promoting, focus on helping people by offering expert advice for free. Just steer clear of spam. Don’t overdo the comments, and make sure you ask yourself: “what value am I offering?” before posting anything.
  11. Help a reporter out (HARO)

    • HARO is a platform which provides journalists with a database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources (you and I) to secure valuable media coverage. Check it out.
  12. Add live chat

    • Engaging with leads in real-time is a fantastic way of increasing conversions. Answer their questions/objections on the spot and improve their experience with you. You could use programs like LiveChat, Drift, or Hubspot. 

Website optimisation.

We strongly believe that your website should outperform your top salesperson when it comes to generating leads. Your site should be built to drive sales. Your site should be geared to do business. Your site should be your number one salesperson 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Here are 8 ways you can optimise your website today to help generate more leads.

  1. Run A/B tests

    • The best way of finding out whether your website is geared for conversions is to test it. A/B testing software such as Hotjar & Visual Website Optimiser can help you to determine where things on your website should be. They analyse user behaviour so you can develop a deeper understanding of your audience. Over time, the more you test and optimise, the more leads you can convert.
  2. Fix broken pages

    • 404 pages, broken links and slow speed all contribute to low conversion rates and poor website performance. Screaming Frog SEO allows you to scan your site for issues that cause lower conversion rates.
  3. Increase mobile conversions

    • Try the Mobile-Friendly Test from Google to ensure your site is optimised for mobile. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile Google has probably been penalising you for years, greatly reducing your chances of success online.
  4. Find new keyword opportunities

    • Use Google Analytics to look at the long-tail traffic coming to your site. A long-tail keyword is a phrase of 3 or more words and is very specific. These keywords usually get low search volume but high conversion rates given the specificity of the search (e.g. “set up inbound marketing today”). Your competition might not be doing this so it’s a great chance to get ahead.
  5. Implement pillar pages and topic clusters

    • Over recent years, pillar pages and topic clusters have risen in popularity due to the evolving nature of online search. They have become vital components of a successful inbound marketing strategy and have changed the way many marketers approach SEO. More here.
  6. Target competitor’s keywords

    • Tools like SEMrush allow you to uncover the keywords that your competitors are already taking advantage of. By understanding which keywords your competitors are getting traffic from, you can optimize your site to rank for the same keywords.
  7. Analyse competitor backlinks

    • You can also compile a list of backlinks your competitors have and reach out to the right people in charge of posting those backlinks. Building an authoritative backlinks profile is a solid way to increase your search rankings.
  8. Record visitor behaviour

    • Again, tools like Hotjar allow you to see and analyse visitor behaviour. Where people are clicking, what’s being scrolled past, etc. Knowing exactly how your audience behaves means you can optimise your UX and encourage conversions.

Email marketing.

If you’re in marketing or sales, I bet you’ve heard “Email is dead” in the past few years. It’s not. But it is A LOT harder to engage leads via email than it ever has been before, so I can understand why some people think it’s all over. The people you email are wise to automation, see right through your efforts and are sick of receiving 2-10 ‘sales’ emails per day. This means personalisation is a must. Hence I haven’t included a section on it below. Make sure you personalise every email for the recipient and do your research. If you’re going to use templates, write them yourself and tweak them where necessary. Never use a template from the internet. The chances are, junior salespeople who work for your competition are using the same corny templates. Be yourself. Be human. Be valuable.

  1. Send cold emails

    • Provided you’re operating within GDPR, ‘cold’ emails are a viable method for generating new leads. However, the chances that you’re going to connect with someone are low. Increasingly low year on year.  Today, you may have to send 100 emails before someone replies to you, although you can boost your reply rates with automated follow up emails. This method should be used in tandem with calls to the same people. So this can be very time-consuming with little reward. But that’s why we now have Inbound Marketing and Account-based Marketing or ABM. More on email marketing here.
  2. Set up sequences

    • Sequences are automated emails that you can schedule to be sent to a prospect at specific times. For example, you may send an email to a prospect with some tips on how to improve something they’re doing. If they don’t reply to your first message you can enrol them into a sequence of emails. You may choose to follow up with 3 emails over the course of 2 weeks and if they still don’t reply, they’re probably not worth your time right now. This method, if done politely and cleverly, can dramatically increase the number of replies you receive.
  3. Create an FAQ post

    • Do a bit of soul-searching. Look through your emails. What do your prospects/customers frequently ask for? What do they have problems with? Gather as many questions as you can, answer them and turn them into a blog post. This will do wonders for your search rankings (SEO). For enhanced cohesion and user experience, you should link parts of the FAQ blog post to other posts.
  4. Find the right person to email

    • You can use tools like RocketReach to find and verify valuable contact information. Alternatively, you can install the Chrome Hunter.io extension. You can also purchase GDPR-compliant email lists from the likes of Alf, Experian, and more.

Paid advertising.

SEO is so popular because organic traffic is free. The trouble is, SEO is a long-term strategy for attracting leads and you need to be an expert if you’re going to be successful with it. A pure SEO agency will likely cost you a fortune. Paid advertising, on the other hand, is a quick and effective way to generate new leads. Again, you do need to know what you’re doing as you can burn through your budget in hours if you’re not careful. Here are 8 ways you can generate leads using paid ads.

  1. Facebook ads

    • As you may already know, Facebook Ads is one of the most powerful paid advertising platforms around. Facebook collects data on every user and makes it available to advertisers so you can drill through the noise and create laser-focused campaigns that work. Turn Facebook Ads into an evergreen source of leads by running ad retargeting. However, Facebook is known to be better for B2C than B2B brands.
  2. LinkedIn ads

    • LinkedIn Ads is the number one platform for B2B lead generation. The average cost-per-click on LinkedIn is much higher than Google Adwords for example, but it allows you to connect with a huge number of businesses in your space. I’m sure 2020 will the highest number of B2B brands turning to LinkedIn for advertising. 
  3. Google AdWords

    • The original pay-per-click network. In order to maximise your ROI you need to invest time optimising things like; ads, landing pages, creative media, targeted keywords and bids. Much like LinkedIn, you could probably spend your monthly ad budget in a matter of hours. So make sure you know what you’re doing. Alternatively, speak to an AdWords expert to set them up for you and talk you through everything.
  4. Media buys

    • The largest businesses in the world have been using this as a lead generation tactic since the birth of the internet. A media buy is simply buying ad space on someone else’s platform (website, tv, radio, etc). Media buys are pretty costly, so we suggest speaking to an ad-buying company. These experts often buy blocks of ad space and then resell chunks of the space for a fraction of the cost.
  5. Affiliate marketing

    • This is where someone else promotes your services in exchange for a commission (set by you) when a sale or conversion takes place. If you have a good offer, sites related to your category will start running your text ads or creative banners on their site.
  6. Remarketing

    • One of the most powerful Google Ads tools is the ability to remarket to your site’s visitors. When someone visits your site but doesn’t convert, a “cookie” (small piece of code) will anonymously follow them around the web so when they land on a page with Google AdSense on it, your ad will be reshown to them, thus keeping you front of mind. Facebook also does remarketing. Use Facebook Pixel alongside Facebook Custom Audience to supercharge your lead generation.
  7. Social media influencers

    • Make sure you’re well informed about the laws regarding the use of social media influencers. We would suggest using a specialist like Goat Agency to really maximise your returns in what is an emerging and tricky space with huge potential.
  8. Forum sponsorships

    • Forums are still a good place to get in front of people with a specific interest or problem they need to solve. Reach out to a few forums in your chosen category and offer the “webmaster” of the forum some money to run your banner ad for a few weeks.

Social media.

Social media marketing is much more than posting self-serving comments once per week to your existing network. Not only do you need to create consistently engaging content, but intelligently leverage each social media site you use to target your ideal demographic. Here are 6 ways you can generate leads using social media as a tool.

  1. Social media chatbots

    • You’ve heard of chatbots and probably interacted with a few. A social media chatbot helps you reach a wider audience by automatically starting conversations with people and qualifying the best ones as a warm lead for you to follow up with. We can build you a bespoke social media chatbot, or you can use ManyChat, Mobile Monkey, or FlowXo.
  2. Start a group

    • Facebook or LinkedIn groups are highly dependent on the quality and frequency of content posted. If done properly you’ll start many conversations, provide insight and value, and create a consistent pipeline of leads as it grows over time.
  3. Become a thought leader on Twitter and LinkedIn

    • Many marketers would say Twitter is a waste of time for B2B lead generation. We disagree. Twitter is a great way of positioning yourself as a thought-leader in the industry. Whether an individual spearheads this or it’s the business page itself, using the site regularly and engaging with people in the same space will undoubtedly help get your business noticed.
  4. Build a following on Instagram and Pinterest

    • If you work in an industry that could benefit from photo-sharing of the work you’ve done then Instagram and Pinterest are your best bets. A window-cleaning company could reach thousands of people with a few far-out pictures of them “hanging out” on the side of the big buildings.
  5. Generate positive online reviews

    • Potential clients want to know you can be trusted. The best way of telling a prospect that you can be trusted is to get someone else to do it for you. It could be someone who has had a great experience, or someone who had a complaint which was dealt with professionally. If you can get clients/customers to do video testimonials, you’ll have one powerful tool in your sales arsenal. 
  6. Run a contest or discount

    • Everyone loves free stuff. Everyone loves saving their hard-earned money. Offer a £200 Amazon gift card in exchange for some information and you’ll gain a heap of leads. Do this in an intelligent way with a very clear purpose and messaging so as not to confuse or annoy people. 

Conclusion

It’s unrealistic to think you can do everything on this list. Rather, you probably can’t do all of this stuff at once and do it all well. It takes time, effort, consistent tracking and much more. You should identify what works for you, draw up a list and double down on that stuff. Use some of these tools and methods in conjunction with others and create a powerful lead generation ecosystem.

If you think you could benefit from anything in this post but don’t know where to start, drop us a line and someone will get back to you with some answers. We’d love to hear from you.

Matthew Johnson - Head of Marketing & New Business by Matthew Johnson, Head of Marketing & New Business
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