Many B2B companies believe that lead generation matters only for businesses that market to consumers. In reality, B2B lead-generation strategies matter just as much.
You simply have to adjust your approach when you’re marketing to other businesses.
Take Facebook, for instance. People often assume that it’s just a meeting space for people who want to look at cat pictures and tag their friends in photos.
Facebook offers much more than that. According to HubSpot, nearly three-quarters of respondents to a survey say they use Facebook for professional purposes.
Worryingly, however, that same survey revealed that 60 percent of small business owners can’t track their ROI from activity on social media.
This means that B2B lead-generation strategies have never been more important. If you’re not capitalizing on channels like social media, and if you’re not tracking ROI, you might be wasting your time — or missing out on a great opportunity.
Learning how to get B2B leads can massively transform your ROI and total revenue. But first, business owners have to understand lead generation and why it’s so effective.
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What does B2B lead generation mean?
B2B lead generation involves attracting and collecting potential leads from prospective customers. You can solicit leads in numerous ways, from cold calling to social media.
The B2B lead-generation meaning can change depending on your specific goals. For instance, do you want more people to sign up for your email list? Are you interested in attracting more social media followers?
Whatever the case, you need a lead-generation strategy — ideally, more than one. When you look for leads in multiple places, you expand your audience and gain access to new communication methods.
Essentially, though, all strategies serve the same purpose. They help you attract more prospective clients to your business.
What are some quick facts about B2B lead generation?
If you’re still not sure about B2B lead generation and its potential impact on your business, let’s look at a few important facts.
First, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 report, 85 percent of B2B survey respondents revealed that lead generation represented their top priority in content marketing. This means that, even if you aren’t actively pursuing lead generation, your competition is.
The CMI also summed up the key takeaways from their research in four essential truths about top-performing B2B marketers:
Content marketing, communication, and documentation remain essential to any B2B marketer’s success. Without those foundations in place, lead generation becomes nearly impossible.
We mentioned above that the vast majority of B2B marketers are focusing on lead generation as a primary content-marketing goal. The CMI further revealed that they’re tracking two key metrics: lead quality and conversion rates.
Both of those metrics boil down to lead generation.
If you’re not attracting high-quality leads, your prospects won’t convert. They don’t have the means to buy your product or service, for instance, or they don’t have a serious need for it right now.
And without lead-generation strategies under your belt, you can’t attract those high-quality leads and convert them into clients.
How is B2B lead generation different from B2C?
B2C and B2B marketing share lots of the same fundamental goals and strategies. However, a major ingredient in the equation — the target audience — vastly differs between the two.
For instance, when you’re creating buyer personas for your content-marketing strategy, you likely focus more on your target audience’s professional needs and goals. A B2C marketer focuses more on personal traits.
Additionally, when you’re coming up with potential lead sources, you’ll likely consider corporate-related materials and channels.
For instance, LinkedIn might become a more effective social channel for lead generation than Twitter if you’re targeting a B2B audience. Similarly, you’ll probably create lead magnets and other assets related to helping your target client resolve work-related pain points.
Which B2B lead generation strategies work best?
The whole point of developing B2B lead-generation strategies is refining your target audience and deciding where you can reach them most effectively. If you try to do everything, you’ll spread yourself too thin — and risk diluting your message.
There’s one lead-generation tactic that works equally well for both B2C and B2B marketers: content marketing. Without content, you’ll struggle to attract people to your website and social channels.
In fact, the CMI reveals that, while B2B marketers allocate only 28 percent of their resources to content marketing, on average, the most effective B2B businesses boost that number to nearly 50 percent.
The CMI also offers a high-level view of how B2B marketers allocate their time for lead generation.
Social media, blog content, case studies, and email marketing rank in the top four. However, you have to do your own testing to figure out the best lead-generation strategies for your B2B business.
6 ways to generate B2B leads online
The three-stop B2B lead-generation process looks pretty similar no matter what channel you use:
For instance, let’s say that you write lots of blog content. That’s great. You’ll attract visitors by ranking in Google, posting on social media, and otherwise sharing each piece of content.
If your blog just sits there, however, it’s not doing enough of the heavy lifting. You need an engaging lead-generation strategy.
Include a compelling call to action (CTA) on every blog post you write. It can be the same CTA for every post, or you can adjust it based on your target audience for the content.
You’ve created the content and invited the reader to engage. Now you present an offer.
It could be a lead magnet to get the user’s email address, a discount on your B2B product or service, or anything else your prospect might want.
You’ll do the same thing through other channels. When you generate leads through email, you send your subscribers content. You invite the reader to engage and present an offer. It’s that simple.
But what B2B lead-generation strategies should you be using to attract new leads? Let’s explore six of the most effective options.
1. Attract and convert B2B leads through content marketing
We’ve already touched on content marketing, but we can explore it a bit further. After all, content isn’t just about words on the page.
When you create content for a B2B audience, you need to pack in as much value as possible. Even if you have to give away a few secrets of the trade, your audience will reward your generosity by interacting with your firm.
Start with the type of content you do best. You have lots of options:
- Long-form guides
- Content round-ups
- Audio content
When you get comfortable with one type, move on to others so you can attract the widest possible potential audience.
For instance, some people would rather read information. Others prefer to watch video or listen to audio.
2. Optimize your content for search engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for attracting organic traffic from search engines like Google. Without organic traffic, you have to pay for it — such as through PPC or social ads.
It’s far less expensive to concentrate on optimizing every piece of content you distribute. Conduct keyword research, write a descriptive headline, organize your article with H-level subheadings, and add alt text for your images.
SEO is only part of it, though. You also have to create content in which your target audience is interested.
AS mentioned above, keyword research can help. Visit a site like Ubersuggest and type in keywords related to your industry.
After you hit “LOOK UP,” you’ll get tons of data related to your original keyword as well as related keywords.
Keywords with high volume suggest high levels of interest. Focus on them to make sure you’re delivering content that will prove valuable to your audience.
3. Create irresistible lead magnets
A lead magnet is a piece of content or other tool that you use to incentivize potential leads to interact with your brand. In other words, you’re trading the valuable piece of content for something you want, like the user’s email address.
The best lead magnets offer value far and beyond what you might post on your blog. Ideally, they’re immediately useful for your target audience.
Some of the most effective lead magnets include the following:
- In-depth case studies
- Tools and calculators
- Free demos for your app
- Free trials for your software
- Report or white paper
Whatever you choose, make sure you can pinpoint its value during the lead-generation process.
For instance, let’s say that you’re giving away an in-depth case study that helped one of your clients increase sales by 322 percent. That’s pretty impressive.
Using that number (322%) increases the chances of your prospect becoming a lead. The user wants to know how he or she can generate similar results.
Making bold claims and using impressive data points are both great ways to improve B2B lead generation. Just be sure you can back up your offer with solid information.
4. Get active on several social channels
Believe it or not, the tools you already use to establish and promote your brand can become B2B lead-generating machines. Social media is great for not only spreading brand awareness, but also converting followers into leads.
As mentioned above, LinkedIn often provides the best source of leads for B2B marketers. However, don’t discount other social platforms, including the following:
- Facebook: Link to blog articles, post images, host giveaways, and invite people to subscribe to your newsletter.
- YouTube: Include relevant cards directing viewers back to your website. You can also include a link or two in the descriptions of your videos with appropriate CTAs.
- Instagram: Use the “Link in profile” code to direct users to the one link you’re able to provide. Giveaways and contests work particularly well for lead gen.
- Twitter: Link to articles and videos, share your clients’ good news, and get involved in conversations.
- Pinterest: Create your own boards related to your B2B niche.
All of these channels can make you a more effective B2B marketer.
5. Audit your website for conversion rate optimization
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) helps increase the chances of your leads converting on your offers. In other words, you’ll gain more prospects from your B2B lead-generation strategies.
We’ve already talked about optimizing your individual pieces of content, but what about the rest of your website? You likely have static pages, landing pages, and other areas of your website where prospects might convert.
Conducting a complete audit of your site can help you identify areas where you could apply CRO strategies. We’ve come up with a simple guide to help you complete the audit and generate more leads for your B2B business.
Consider mobile optimization
A website that hasn’t been optimized for mobile will struggle to rank in the search engines. Additionally, people who access your site via mobile devices might click away because of a poor user experience (UX).
For instance, websites that aren’t mobile-optimized often load very slowly on smartphones and tablets. That’s never good news, especially since nearly 50 percent of consumers expect a site to load in as few as two seconds.
Non-mobile-optimized sites often render poorly on mobile devices, as well. Images might appear stretched, distorted, or too big for the screen, and the text might prove too large or too small for easy reading.
You can create two websites — one for mobile and one for desktop — but it’s easier to develop a responsive website. That way, it will adjust automatically to the screen the viewer uses.
It’s far easier to manage one site than to spread you time between two sites.
Add relevant CTAs
The CTA is the backbone of any B2B lead-generation campaign. It tells your visitor what you want him or her to do next.
It’s kind of like parenting. If you want your child to clean up toys, you don’t expect him or her to read your mind. Instead, you say, “Susie, please pick up your toys.”
In B2B marketing, you say, “Susie, please download my free e-book and join my mailing list.”
Of course, you don’t want to put it exactly like that.
A great CTA incorporates several features:
- Visibility: Make it obvious on the page. Use different colors, but the text on a button, and make the text larger than the other content on the page.
- Specifics: “Click here” doesn’t work anymore. Provide clear, complete directions for your users to follow.
- Imagery: Try to lead your viewer’s eye to the CTA. You can use images of people looking at it, for instance, or arrows pointing to the button.
Of course, you can’t use all of those features in every CTA. On social, you have limited ways to design your own CTA. However, on your own site, you get the freedom of total creative control.
A/B test different offers to make sure you’re using the perfect copy, offer, and CTA. Hello Bar not only lets you A/B test your CRO efforts, but also automatically tells you which one won.
After you create a campaign, you’ll get the option to A/B test versions of your offer and CTA. Hello Bar takes care of the rest.
There’s no need to comb through ridiculous amounts of data.
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Use exit-intent popups
Of all the different CTA types, exit-intent popups often work best. They’re designed to bring back visitors who want to click away.
Bounce rates — the percentage of website visitors who bounce away from your site instead of exploring it further — are especially high on blogs and lead-generation pages.
That means you have to try extra hard to keep visitors around.
An exit-intent popup appears when the user attempts to close the browser or browser tab. You’ve probably experienced hundreds of them by now.
Your mouse cursor drifts toward that familiar X, but a popup appears on the screen. It offers you a discount on an upcoming purchase, a free download, or some other incentive to stick around.
Why do exit-intent popups work? Because they capture the user’s attention. It’s hard to miss a sudden change in the screen content.
They work particularly well on blogs because blog posts often include the CTA at the end. If you’ve written a 4,000-word article, you can guarantee that much of your traffic won’t read to the end.
The popup ensures that everyone sees your CTA.
You can add an exit-intent popup with Hello Bar. It’s fast and easy to set up, and you won’t have to worry about missing out on leads.
Incentivize opt-in newsletter signups
We’ve already talked about lead magnets, but they warrant another mention. Lead magnets turn an offer into an incentivized offer.
Imagine that you’re visiting a website for the very first time. There’s a signup form in the site’s sidebar that requests your email address. That’s it.
Then you scroll down the page and see a CTA. The website still wants your email address, but now they’re offering a free case study that will help you solve a problem you’re already experiencing.
You might have ignored the first request, but now you want that case study. That’s exactly how incentivizing opt-ins can work for your site.
Use chatbots to engage with website visitors
A chatbot is extremely useful for B2B marketers — especially those who can’t remain at their computers 24/7.
Let’s face it: That’s all of us, right?
Chatbots mimic human communication and help drive users toward a specific goal. For instance, if you want people to sign up for a free trial, your chatbot can point out its benefits and help your prospect sign up.
Plus, chatbots make your prospect feel special. You’ve gone to the trouble to set up a feature on your website that’s engaging and interactive. That can score you serious loyalty points.
6. Install a great B2B lead-generation software program
We’ve talked a lot about manual B2B lead-generation options (chatbots aside), but what if you could automate much of the above and generate leads while you sleep?
Hello Bar offers a quick and easy way to generate B2B leads from whatever channel you’re using. Maximize your email subscribers, boost social media engagement, and encourage people to follow you. With Hello Bar, you can also A/B test your CTAs and other elements to figure out what combination works best.
It’s easy to get started with Hello Bar. Once you set up the code on your website, you’ll be ready to capture more B2B leads within minutes.
Integrate it all together to create B2B lead-generation strategies
It’s true that you can’t automate everything. That’s impossible — and ineffective.
You still want to communicate with your audience, distribute content, and grow your brand awareness. That means posting on social media, blogging, conducting outreach, and answering customers’ or clients’ questions.
The important thing is to find balance. Automate what you can so you’re able to devote as much time as possible to the things you can’t automate.
Take a look at recent data from social, your website, your blog, and other channels. Identify three to four of those that have the highest engagement.
Once you’ve done that, create a lead-generation strategy for each channel. You might specify the types of blog posts you want to write for each of your buyer personas, for example. Then figure out how you’ll generate leads from those activities.
Optimize your entire website with CTAs. You can do that with Hello Bar so you don’t have to manually change every page.
Finally, track your progress. Conduct lots of A/B tests to refine the process and to generate the most leads possible.
Creating effective B2B lead-generation strategies doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. If you have the necessary resources at your disposal, you can automate much of the process.
The best B2B lead-generation tactics result in not only more leads, but also qualified leads. You want to attract potential clients who can and want to pay for your product or service.
While it’s similar to the B2C process, B2B lead generation focuses on potential clients’ professional accomplishments, goals, pain points, and needs. You can hit all of those with six simple strategies.
Start with content marketing and SEO. Create high-value content, then optimize it for search engines.
To incentivize prospects, offer lead magnets with your compelling CTAs. Tell your website visitors exactly what you want them to do, then offer them a reason to carry through on that action.
Make sure your entire website is optimized for conversions. You can use an automated tool like Hello Bar to take over the heavy lifting.
If you’re optimizing your site for lead generation and CRO, you’ll see an increase in both leads and revenue.
What is your favorite B2B lead-generation strategy?