An effective lead generation strategy is vital to the success of any B2B business, but putting a successful B2B lead generation strategy certainly isn’t a walk in the park. how can you ensure you have a steady flow of leads for your product or service?
The process that works best for your particular business will vary, based on your industry and target audience. However, several important steps stay the same – meeting potential leads where they are, establishing trust and authority, and crafting optimized lead capture forms and pages.
Let’s examine top B2B lead generation tactics and strategies proven to generate high-quality leads and increase sales. We’ll cover best practices for designing B2B lead capture forms and landing pages, as well as crucial trust-building techniques that will convince potential leads to become paying customers.
What is B2B lead generation?
B2B lead generation (sometimes shortened to B2B lead gen) is the process of attracting ideal audiences to your B2B product or service, and capturing their information to aid in more targeted selling.
It involves three main steps:
- Drawing stakeholders within your ideal business audiences to your product or service,
- Building up their trust in your company, and
- Convincing them to leave their information with you in order to learn more about your products or services.
The B2B lead capture process
Once an audience member is interested enough in your product or service, you’ll capture them as a lead by collecting their information, such as their name, contact details, business name, and business address. At this point, they become a marketing qualified lead, or MQL. The information they provide helps your business identify if they are a good potential buyer, which lets you focus on generating sales from those qualified leads. But at this point, they are an outbound lead who needs nurturing before they might be ready to buy.
The lead capture, or collection of the lead’s information, moves the lead into the sales funnel, where you can target them with campaigns based on their demographics and interests. This way, the lead can be more effectively persuaded to purchase through strategic lead nurturing. After all, you know their needs and problems, and are ready to show them how you can provide a suitable solution tailored to their company.
Once the lead is nurtured enough that they decide to engage with your sales team – say, they request a demo or contacted sales with a question – they are known as a sales qualified lead (SQL) or inbound lead. They’ve shown a clear intent to buy; now it’s up to your sales team to convert them.
What are the differences between B2B and B2C lead generation?
The longer research process that takes place before a lead expresses their interest, and the multiple stakeholders involved, sets B2B lead generation apart from B2C lead generation. A B2C lead can quickly give their information to a business they’re interested in, as they’re purchasing a product for themself. But for B2B companies, the buyer’s journey is longer and the lead generation stakes are much higher.
Since B2B stakeholders intend to purchase a product or service for their business in the long-term, they usually engage in extensive research before they decide to give their information to you. They’ll only become your lead if they see you’re truly offering something of value.
B2B stakeholders usually need to discuss their decisions with other key players in their company, and seek a personalized experience that proves you’re equipped to meet their unique needs. Thus, building trust and authority among your audience, and giving them something of value, is vital for B2B lead generation.
Another difference that sets B2B lead generation apart is the need to qualify leads after they are generated, to see which ones are most worth focusing on. Your B2B will identify marketing qualified leads (MQLs) when they show enough interest in your marketing efforts and fit your ideal customer profile. Then, your sales team will identify sales qualified leads (SQLs) who are seriously considering your product, based on the conversations they have with stakeholders.
How to start B2B lead generation?
For the best B2B lead generation strategy, you’ll need to focus on optimizing your B2B sales process and lead capture process. This includes determining how you’ll format your lead capture form, and how you’ll design the landing pages this form will live on.
Of course, that’s only half the battle. You’ll also need to figure out how to direct high-quality potential leads to those landing pages, and how to build their trust so they’re ready to give you their information.
What are the best ways to get B2B leads? Our list of B2B lead generation tips covers all aspects of generating leads, from building your authority to optimizing your lead form.
B2B lead generation tips and strategies: Build trust and authority
Before someone gives their information to a business, they usually conduct at least some research to see if the product or service will likely meet their needs. And thanks to the ease of finding answers online, the ball is truly in the buyer’s court.
Gone are the days of cold calls and cold email marketing – buyers are able to initiate contact themselves, and don’t want information forced on them. Instead, they prefer to compare solutions carefully and limit their contact with sellers.
And they will only send their information to you (and initiate conversations with sales reps) if your business makes their list of potential solutions.
Therefore, a key component of B2B sales and lead generation is to build trust and help potential customers find the information they need.
Once a buyer trusts you and sees you as a reliable authority, they’re much more likely to turn to your solution. Top trust-building techniques include thoughtful website design, content creation, SEO, referral programs, and more – which we go over below:
1. Optimize your website
Before they decide to contact your actual sales team, your potential leads are repeatedly consulting your first “salesperson” – your website. Therefore, it’s important your website is professional, easy to navigate, and clearly shares your authority and offered benefits. Follow these best practices for a website that generates B2B leads:
- Make sure your website loads quickly – in under three seconds. Otherwise, you may lose your shot at leads who choose not to wait and simply click away. Studies show if a webpage takes over three seconds to load, 40% of buyers will leave the site before they even see the first page.
- Optimize your website for mobile. If your website doesn’t work equally well on smartphones and other mobile devices, you’ll lose out on numerous potential leads who do their research on mobile. According to Swiftcloud, more than half of B2B-related online searches are done using smartphones.
- Use SEO to help people find your site. When a potential buyer is searching for a particular product or service, it helps if your site shows up in the results for those relevant keywords. Optimize your content for relevant keywords that describe your business and its offerings, as well as for keywords your market is likely to search for at different points in their journey.
- Motivate buyers to take action. Create clear calls to action and value propositions, especially when directing visitors to a landing page. Someone won’t take action if they don’t know why they should become your leads in the first place. Any visitor to your site should be able to easily find and understand the benefits your product or service offers, and how you are different from other competitors.
2. Create engaging, helpful content
Content marketing is vital to building brand awareness and establishing your expertise in a niche, while building B2B leads in the process. Marketing Blender reports 80% of B2B decision-makers prefer to gather information about a company from articles, rather than from ads.
It’s best to create content that’s relevant and speaks to the needs of the buyer. Don’t simply sing praises about your business. (If a piece does this, it’s practically the ad that buyers tend to avoid.) The best content gives potential buyers the answers they are actively seeking at different points of their journey.
Also, remember a single B2B purchase can involves multiple buyers. And each of these buyers has distinct points of view, usually shaped by:
- Their distinct position and priorities
- The challenges of their role and their pain points
- The knowledge they have and seek to gain
- The goals they hope to accomplish through a purchase
- The obstacles (actual and in the mind) that might impede them from making a purchase
How can you speak to each of these buyers and deliver the specific information they’re searching for through different pieces of content?
Let’s go over the main channels used to create authoritative content for B2B sales and lead generation:
Text-based content is the most popular option.
This includes informative blog posts on both general and specific topics your buyers often search for. Be sure to optimize these posts for SEO – so they’re found by more people in your target audience – and include links to relevant landing pages on the content page.
B2Bs love in-depth, original, and relevant research. So, if you’re in the position to collect and publish data you’ve collected on your blog, you can create a trust-building lead generation machine. In a similar vein, you can also create roundups, which are essentially surveys and compilations of insights from other experts and individuals relevant to your industry.
For those who enjoy your content, but don’t visit your site regularly, it’s best to offer the option to sign up to a newsletter. Newsletter sign ups are an easy way to create an email list of those interested in your insights, and stay at the top of mind when they actually need your product or service.
With a wealth of industry information, it’s also a good idea to put these together in an eBook or whitepaper. Alternatively, you can also assemble this information into a “hub” or “microsite.” This is a version of your website targeted towards a specific topic, where buyers can access all your content on that topic. This structure will help with your site’s search engine optimization, increase the volume of potential B2B leads, and build trust in your expertise.
Content can also be posted directly on other sites, such as LinkedIn or Medium – or on sites that let you write as a guest. A guest blog on a related website lets you share information with another audience (an easy trust-builder). Plus, these sites usually allow you to include a link to your website. So if someone thinks you can help solve their problem, they will often seek you out themselves.
But visual content is easiest to digest.
Images are another effective way to communicate statistics, share testimonials, and condense information into smaller bites.
Infographics and slide decks work particularly well when presenting several ideas at once in a simple, sequential package.
Videos offer an engaging way to educate viewers on particular topics. They can also be used alongside existing content, allowing you to simply repurpose your most popular blog posts into short videos.
Both images and videos are a fun way to complement the text in your blog posts, but also work well as standalone content in social media posts. Social media has proven to be a great avenue for B2B sales and lead generation. In fact, 75% of B2B buyers use social media to support their purchase decision.
A B2B infographic on pitfalls of bad customer service, created by Column Five and Get Satisfaction
3. Generate reviews and testimonials for your B2B business, and publicize them
Where can you source customer reviews for your business? A natural resource would be from existing third-party review sites, such as Capterra, G2, Yelp, and more.
Third-party review sites aren’t just for B2C businesses. They’re a rich source for generating qualified B2B sales and leads from those who are actively looking for a solution like yours.
According to Avangate, “77% of B2B buyers conduct their own research before talking to salespeople” and “buyers who consulted online reviews during the software selection process were ultimately more satisfied with their purchases.”
Therefore, it makes sense to include reviews as part of your lead generation efforts. Find and become familiar with relevant review sites and encourage your loyal clients to leave reviews there. (Most of these sites will allow you to set up your own business profile.)
An example of a Capterra review of Referral Rock
You should also reach out to your most loyal customers directly, and ask if they’d like to give video or text-based testimonials for your website. If they’re willing to provide more extensive case studies, even better.
In time, you can feature the best reviews and testimonials on your website as a way to instantly gain your visitor’s trust.
Your buyers trust the recommendations of other people far more than they trust any message that comes directly from your brand. A good practice would be to dedicate a review page or a portion of your homepage (or both!) for customer reviews, testimonials, and stories. You can also create a rotating carousel as a way to include more testimonials without cluttering a page.
4. Use social media to your advantage
Don’t underestimate the power of social media for lead generation. B2B buyers often check out a company’s LinkedIn profile, and other social profiles, before considering that company’s products. In fact, over half of B2B decision-makers use LinkedIn to screen businesses. They’re more likely to trust you if you’ve posted relevant, trust-building content regularly on the social platforms they frequent. So, take the opportunity to share streamlined, unique insights on these channels, to build up your thought leadership.
Social media is also the perfect place to promote the trust-building blog content you worked hard on. By posting links to relevant blog articles on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’ll bring in traffic and increase the odds that you’ll generate leads.
5. Add a human touch
After receiving someone’s contact information, it’s always good to continue generating B2B leads through a personal connection.
One of the most well-known, classic methods for B2B sales and lead generation is through event marketing. For example, attending (or even speaking at) a trade show is the perfect way to place your brand in front of a select audience and interact with potential leads in person. In fact, several of these engagements will likely result in generating B2B sales or leads on the spot.
Even a live chat widget can generate a number of B2B leads. Live chat, when it clearly indicates an actual customer support person is on the other end, enables buyers to get assistance in real-time. This personalized touch shows the level of service they will likely receive if they become your buyers.
We mentioned webinars above as a way to direct listeners to a dedicated landing page. But they’re worth mentioning again, because of how easily a webinar can build authority through both informative content and direct networking.
Focus your webinar around the needs of your target audience. Choose a topic that lets you answer common questions, or solve common problems, that someone in the B2B industry may have. You can even format your webinar as a Q&A or a panel to share personable, real-life information that solves existing pain points.
When using these direct methods to generate leads, be sure to follow up with everyone who gave you their information. After all, relationships take nurturing to thrive.
6. Start a referral program
Your prospective clients trust and listen to peers who have already had a positive experience with you – far more than they believe ads and other messages that come straight from your business. Therefore, it’s no surprise that B2B referral programs are one of the strongest methods of B2B sales and lead generation.
B2B referral programs use the direct recommendations of your existing clients to generate new leads, who are in turn much more likely to purchase from you. Research indicates 84% of B2B buyers start their purchasing process after a referral, and referred leads take less time to close than any other leads. Generate and nurture more leads, and boost your conversion rate with a well-designed referral program.
Digital Ocean’s B2B referral program encourages existing customers to refer their peers by offering subscription credits for every successful referral.
7. Launch an affiliate marketing campaign
Another option for using trusted voices to generate leads is a B2B affiliate program. These programs involve recruiting trusted content creators, influencers, and expert voices in the B2B space, and asking them to promote your products or services on their blogs or social media accounts. When promoting you, creators will place trackable affiliate links on their channels, which direct readers to your landing page. Thanks to the links, leads and sales will always be attributed to the affiliate who helped bring them in.
Readers will trust the affiliate’s voice more than your brand, especially if the affiliate is considered an authority. As a result, affiliate programs will bring in leads who are more likely to convert.
8. Form a strategic B2B channel partnership
Partnering with individuals or other companies is yet another effective way to generate leads. There are many lead generation channel partnership options available to B2Bs.
- Enter an agreement with an agency or broker to connect you with relevant B2B leads
- Form a mutual partnership with a connected, but non-competing, business where you agree to send referrals to each other
- Create formalized referral partnerships with businesses or individuals, bound by a written agreement, where partners refer business stakeholders they’ve already built a personal connection with
B2B lead generation tips and strategies: Direct visitors to your landing page
Now that you’ve built trust in your solution and established your authority, you’ll have to figure out the best ways to send potential buyers to your landing pages, where they’ll ultimately leave their contact information and become a lead. The methods you choose should be tailored to meet buyers where they are, both in terms of their location (i.e., website, social media platforms) and where they are on their journey toward a purchase. Here are some of our favorite “lead magnets.”
1. Offer an eBook, data report, or whitepaper for free
You’ve probably seen this B2B sales and lead generation campaign on other websites – after spending some time on a particular page, you see a pop-up offering a free eBook or other useful piece of content. This “lead magnet” or “gated content piece” offers something of value in exchange for a person’s contact details, and is a great B2B technique to apply.
Craft a piece of valuable content packed with useful information, and place the offer to download this content at relevant points on your website. The link or pop-up should take visitors to a dedicated landing page, where they can fill out a B2B lead form in order to access the free download.
Be sure to apply the landing page best practices listed above, and emphasize the download is available for free.
RingDNA generates leads with their free guide to Salesforce.
2. Offer a free tool, free trial, or free plan
For B2Bs in the SaaS space, granting free access to a digital tool is a great way to give people a taste of what your software has to offer their business. That’s why HubSpot offers a free version of their CRM, and Crazy Egg lets interested visitors try out their heat mapping tool at no cost – no cost except, of course, the visitor’s contact information.
By requiring a sign-up before someone can use the tool, you’ll be able to collect information from high-quality leads, who are truly interested in what your tool can do for their company. Leads will be able to try parts of your software’s capabilities before they buy, and get a taste of its functionality. This may further encourage them to purchase the full version of your product.
3. Include prompts within your blog content
Blog posts filled with useful information are another good place to direct potential buyers to a lead capture form. Whereas the landing page pictured above does offer something useful in exchange for a contact details, placing the offer in a blog post offers useful information first, and then encourages readers to visit a landing page if they like what they see.
Place a call to action with a link to your landing page in a place that is most relevant. This can be at the top of a post, right after the conclusion, or even somewhere tucked into the middle of the article. According to our own lead generation survey, marketers use inline prompts most often to draw attention to their lead capture forms.
An example of how an inline prompt might look, as illustrated by G2.
4. Host a webinar
Offering a webinar to discuss a topic in your niche is an effective way to not only build relationships, but also generate a large amount of B2B sales and leads among those already interested in what you have to offer.
Webinars allow for direct interaction with potential leads, allowing you to answer their questions in real-time. This is an optimal way to build trust and establish your authority. In fact, a GoToWebinar study reports 73% of B2B marketers and salespeople believe webinars are the best way to obtain quality leads.
To advertise your webinar, you can place notices on your homepage, pop-ups throughout the website, and posts on social media. These ads should direct interested individuals to a dedicated landing page that details what you’ll cover in the webinar and, of course, contains that all-important lead form.
5. Use exit intent pop-ups, but use them carefully
We’ve all seen exit intent pop-ups. They appear as a visitor tries to leave a website, as a way to convince them to stay and give their contact info. Exit intent pop-ups can work for B2B lead generation, but you’ll need to time them and design them carefully so prospective leads don’t find them annoying.
Exit intent pop-ups need to offer something valuable, such as a webinar sign-up, a detailed report or guide that can’t be accessed elsewhere, or a discount code.
They must also be targeted based on on where someone is in the marketing funnel, as one pop-up definitely doesn’t fit all. You’ll want separate pop-ups for people in the awareness, interest, and consideration stages. Each pop-up should contain a valuable offer that meets the visitor where they are, and encourages them to investigate your business further.
Finally, the best exit intent pop-ups provide relevant information, closely related to the page being viewed. For instance, if one of your highest-traffic blog posts is related to account-based marketing, you might offer a downloadable account-based marketing guide with more info. Or, if it’s a list of landing page design tips – and you offer a landing page software – this might be a good time to offer a discount code.
Ultimately, each pop-up should direct visitors to a distinct landing page, with more details on the relevant offer.
6. Start paid ad campaigns
Paid ads are perhaps the most common way to direct people to your landing page. For example, a business can place a search engine ad (pay-per-click or PPC ad) at the top of a search results page for a given keyword. However, it’s best to practice careful keyword selection and target settings to ensure the most relevant buyers see your ad.
Determine the main keywords that your potential buyers search for when looking for products or services in your niche, and only bid on those relevant keywords.
Social media ads (like those on Facebook or LinkedIn) are also effective options, as long as you play your cards right. Facebook, in particular, allows you to target viewers by exact demographics, interests, and browsing habits.
Another useful tactic is to retarget ads – these are specifically aimed at buyers who have expressed some interest in you. Retargeting ads show up only for people who have previously visited your website and continue to “follow” that person as they browse the web.
This is a convenient way to stay at the top of mind for those who have already seen your brand, and therefore increases the odds they’ll return to your website and become a lead.
B2B lead generation tips and strategies: Optimize the lead capture process
Your lead capture form is at the center of your B2B lead generation playbook, as it’s where the majority of website visitors formally become leads.
Since this form, and the landing pages it sits on, are where you’ll generate your B2B leads, it makes sense to investigate this part of the B2B lead generation process in close detail.
Here’s how to optimize this core of lead generation:
1. Create the best lead capture form
How to optimize your B2B lead capture form? Follow these best practices:
- Balance the number of form fields. Your form should be long enough to weed out those who are not really qualified or interested in your offer, but not so long that it overwhelms otherwise interested parties. Forms that are too long can cause people to simply abandon the form, and your business to lose out on valuable leads.
- Ask only for the information you need to qualify leads. Typically important are the buyer’s name and job title, company name, and work email. Also, consider asking for a work phone number, company location, size, and industry.
- Consider including qualifying questions on your form. This can be an open-ended question or drop-down box to help you learn more about the individual’s company or situation. The most common qualifying questions are about the person’s business goals or challenges, which can help determine if your solution can meet their needs.
- Don’t overwhelm your potential buyer. Your first priority, though, is not to make it too hard for the person to move on to the next step of your B2B sales funnel.
- Include a submission button with a clear call to action (CTA). The CTA button should stand out – use a color that draws the eye and text that communicates what you want the lead to do.
An example of a lead form from the Salesforce website.
2. Maximize your landing pages
Your lead capture form will usually be placed on a landing page – a page dedicated to explaining what your company has to offer and convincing visitors to submit their contact information.
Don’t limit yourself to one landing page, though. You should ideally have multiple landing pages that speak to specific needs and desires of different buyer personas, at multiple stages of the sales funnel. Or, if you market to multiple business types, design a landing page for each type of business.
A landing page shouldn’t try to meet the needs of every single type of prospect, as that will make it tough to present a convincing, detailed case. Instead, address specific needs of a buyer persona or segment, and outline how your product or service helps people in that segment achieve specific objectives.
The exact content found on each landing page will greatly depend on the goals and needs of the people you’re targeting, as well as what stage of the buying journey they’re in. However, these best practices apply no matter what your landing page holds:
Have a specific goal for the landing page
- Should they sign up for a course or webinar?
- Is the end result for them to download an eBook or whitepaper?
- Will they receive access to a free tool once they sign up?
- Do you want them to fill out a lead form?
- Are they agreeing to a demo or sales call?
Use a concise header to state your call to action (CTA). The header should draw in buyers and serve one or both of these purposes, in a single sentence or less:
- Communicate what you want the visitor to do (i.e., fill out a form, download an eBook)
- State one or more benefits of your product or service, which are directly relevant to the visitor
Create a clean and uncluttered landing page
- Explain the benefits of your product or service in a concise manner
- Share information using short paragraphs, catchy copy, and bullet points
- Images or a quick video can help you cover more details about your product/service without cluttering your page with text
- Add a live chat feature so potential customers can easily message you if they have questions
Place the lead form above the fold
- Make sure your lead form is accessible: Save visitors from scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page
- A lead form is best placed next to the value proposition (the statement of your benefits). This helps potential leads easily see the benefits of leaving their contact information.
Utilize trust-building social proof techniques
- Show how you’re a trusted business by including a few customer reviews and testimonials
- List companies that use your products or services
- Consider including statistics and data, either about your product or the previous usage in recent history
Keep visitors on your landing page
- What should you not include? A navigation bar or link back to your homepage. If visitors are easily able to navigate away from the landing page, there’s less of a chance that they’ll complete the lead form.
- The only button you should include on your landing page should be the one to complete the action.
MediaValet offers a solid example of a landing page, meeting several best practices:
- Concise lead capture form, to the right of clear call-to-action and hero image
- List of features, divided into several short sections with images
- List of clients who use the service
- Uncluttered layout
- Review and testimonial section
- Live chat option
- No link back to the homepage
B2B lead generation and marketing automation
Using the right marketing automation software can help make the demand generation and lead generation processes easier for your sales and marketing teams. By automating repetitive tasks in your lead generation process, you’ll have more time to focus on closing leads. Software that can help you out includes:
- Lead capture software, which automatically identifies and filters potential leads that visit your site
- Referral software, which automatically tracks the referrals customers make, organizes your referral-related metrics for clear visibility, monitors where referred leads come from, and passes info about those leads into your CRM
- Email campaign tools, to help you segment email lists, create and send email templates, and automate lead nurturing via email outreach
- Live chat and automated chat tools, which can help get leads the info they need with quick customer support
- Lead enrichment tools, which can help pull additional contact info for a given lead
This is all in addition to your CRM, which tracks leads as they move through your sales pipeline. Learn more about different B2B lead generation tools and their software providers.
For successful B2B lead generation, you’ll need to implement B2B digital marketing strategies with two clear goals in mind – to capture leads and build trust.
An effective lead capture process will make you get the right information, while building trust through content and referral programs will help move your ideal customers along your sales funnel. One of the best ways to do both in the same strategy is to start a B2B referral program.