Lead generation is an important part of an inbound marketing strategy. Finding and qualifying leads in a brainy manner is what makes your company succeed, especially when working on the Business-to-business market.
What is B2B lead generation?
B2B lead generation is about prompting target customers towards making a purchase in the B2B market:
- It starts with building awareness about the company, its brands, or both.
- It continues with making leads interested in what the company offers.
- It finishes when leads become buyers and far more — company’s advocates.
B2B lead generation differs from that in B2C. B2C companies deliver their goods or services to households. In their case, lead management starts with gathering personal data, such as gender, age, language, family status, etc.
Here common data sources and tools are used, including email search, social media accounts, CRM, and others. The marketing team comes up with a buyer persona profile — an enhanced description of the target buyer — and builds the acquisition strategies over it.
Image source: Brightspark Consulting
Unlike B2C, B2B companies target organizations. Their purchasing cycle differs from that of private persons, so lead generation gets complicated by:
Tiered decision making
Organizations have several stakeholders: owners, investors, C-level management, procurement departments, etc. Some of these may or may not participate in the buying decision, so for suppliers, it may be difficult to determine who their actual lead is.
For example, according to LinkedIn’s 7th Annual Technology Buying Research, 63% of those who influence tech purchases in IT companies now work in the IT department.
Long procurement time
In the tech sector, over 40% of buying journeys last longer than 1 year. This means that in the B2B market, there’s a substantial time lag between starting the discussion and coming up with the deal.
Image source: LinkedIn
Personal contacts and references, as well as professional conferences and industry exhibitions, can’t be overestimated when it comes to B2B.
High cost of a single failure
All else being equal, companies working in the B2C market have agility when building customers’ loyalty. Meanwhile, in B2B, especially for niche products or services, subsequent orders may become a key survival point.
Why is B2B lead generation important?
B2B lead generation is the framework of lead marketing, and the latter is inseparable from the sales funnel.
Image source: Sales Funnels Expert
Depending on what step a potential client is at, the marketing team is about to find the right points of contact and messages to finalize the purchase.
The B2B lead generation process gives insights into:
- The market share the company can potentially obtain in the niche
- Ways how to improve conversion rates
- The best marketing tools
- Ways how to predict sales pipeline
Answers to the above-mentioned points make the overall company’s growth predictable and scalable.
Who conducts B2B lead generation?
Depending on what your company’s organizational structure is, the B2B lead generation process can involve sales and marketing departments. If you have both — you are on the right track to success. In this case, the 2 departments shall coordinate their activities.
B2B lead generation involves the following departments and employees:
- Sales Department (sales representatives and business developers)
Both get involved in lead gen at different stages, from building brand awareness to after-sales support.
- Marketing Department (demand generation marketers and growth marketers)
Lead generation is the full-time responsibility of demand marketing specialists. User acquisition specialists are responsible for finding and encouraging leads to move through the sales funnel. Growth marketers do sporadic revenue-growing actions; however, their activity brings leads as well.
Whatever the interaction between lead-gen specialists is, a data-driven approach to decisions is what can make B2B lead generation cost-effective and drive the overall company’s growth.
How do you generate leads for B2B?
As far as both sales and marketing departments are involved in lead generation, there are 2 batches of relevant approaches:
Marketing B2B lead generation approach:
Social media marketing
SMM in B2B seems straightforward: you find industry-relevant social media → you search for target clients → you start building relations. BUT! The market is overheated nowadays, and clients get dozens of proposals every day. Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Facebook, and Twitter may not be enough to be visible.
B2B companies shall widen their focus onto what’s trending, such as industry influencers, YouTube channels, streaming platforms (TikTok, Twitch), and others.
Pay-per-click campaigns work well for both B2C and B2B; however, ROI calculations differ. In B2C, clicks can be turned into measurable conversions. In B2B, the paid campaign will less likely bring sales, but it may help build brand awareness.
Do not neglect email automation tools, but use these conscientiously and with attention to detail. Email hunters, trigger email campaign builders, integration tools — all these will work in the hands of professionals. Using spammy techniques should be on the list of strong “Don’ts” when it comes to mailing your clients.
SEO and content marketing
Blog posts, expert reviews, media publications, as well as quality website optimization, are an essential part of lead generation, especially if your market is (hopefully) competitive.
If you don’t have many resources, start with 2 or 3 quality landing pages, think of what distinguishes you from competitors, and write about it in a few paragraphs. Invest some time in keyword research and add SEO-friendly titles and descriptions to your web pages.
Prepare one strong article and submit it via free resources, such as PR Newswire or Google News. Do not chase too many — simply start with small actions.
B2B lead gen sales techniques:
Reaching out to “old” leads
Leaving behind clients who made one purchase is a strategically ineffective decision. In the B2B market, the CPA of a single client is usually high, so it may be vital to work on customer loyalty. Invest in CRM, collect and study purchases’ data, and find contact points with “old” leads.
Selling related goods and/or additional services
Think of lead generation as the process of meeting customer needs in a broad sense. Offer complex solutions or, if you don’t have some, collaborate with peers. Develop co-branded products or make sales references and see what benefits it brings to your business. Some of the successful B2B partnership examples include:
- Apple Inc and Mastercard — for the Apple Pay App
Image source: Mastercard
- Uber and Spotify — for the “Soundtrack for your ride”
- Amazon and American Express — for helping small businesses grow in the U.S.
Developing salespeople as spokespeople for your company
Invest in people who directly communicate with leads. Make them 360-degree informed over the product you sell, enforce them with selling tools and techniques, and make them motivated to be concerned about the client’s needs.
A combination of marketing and sales lead generation techniques can give you good results, but these may be not enough to make a breakthrough in B2B. A casual acquaintance can do more for your business in terms of sales than 100 social media posts.
Image source: Leadfeeder
Additional lead gen activities
Workshops are the matter for reputation. And, yes, they do require investment. Figures reveal that 68% of customers give more credit to the brand after they’ve got useful content from it. Due to the fact that 1 B2B client can bring a million-worth contract, workshops pay off.
Attending industry exhibitions
Thousands of professionals from all over the world attend the biggest global events. They provide an opportunity to establish personal contacts with foreign clients. Some of the most famous in B2B are LeadsCon, Digital Summit, Content Marketing World, MarketingProfs B2B Forum, and others.
Sports or other events sponsorship can be a powerful tool in both B2C and B2B sales. For example, DHL has become an official supporter of a Rugby World Cup due to the fact that many logistics decision-makers are rugby fans. DHL has launched a #Scrumshare Twitter campaign so that fans could win World Cup tickets for sharing their photos.
Is lead generation legit?
As lead gen usually involves personal data gathering, proceeding, and storing, companies are obliged to act in compliance with data protection laws. The most relevant are:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
GDPR applies to data collected from residents of any EU countries. The law defines personal data components, data subjects’ rights, and rules on how companies can collect and use data.
- CAN-SPAM Act
The Act contains rules and requirements for commercial mailing and messaging. For example, it establishes the right for recipients to unsubscribe from emails and sets penalties for violation of this right.
There are regional (CCPA, SHIELD Act) and/or industry-relevant (for example, in healthcare) data-protection requirements as well. Be sure you’ve got comprehensive legal advice before launching your campaigns.
How to improve your B2B lead generation?
Earlier in the article, we’ve discussed what sales and marketing techniques are used in B2B lead generation. Make sure they work effectively as they are, afterwards — think of extra effectiveness points. These techniques can help understand when your efforts reach 100% potential:
- Use A/B tests and test ad campaigns
Make sure your website, ad creatives, and email content stay effective — hypothesize and run split tests to see what needs to be improved.
- Monitor competitors and niche TOP-s
There is a lot to learn from successful peers. Looking for ideas for email strategy? Subscribe to several newsletters from top companies in your industry, research features they use, think of what you can use as well. Do not steal the content. Strive to be one of a kind, but don’t forget about applying “best practices”.
- Bare in mind sales funnel when making development decisions
If you see your B2B leads come to mobile, think of buying apps’ ads instead of investing in “traditional” commercials.
- Use the data-driven approach at all levels
Make sure marketing decisions are fact-based. Do not underrate the importance of acquisition and effectiveness metrics. CPA, CPC, CPT, and ROI must become hands-on statistics, whether you work in B2C or B2B.
B2B lead gen tools: how email search works
Email campaigns are an effective and relatively inexpensive tool you can use when working in the B2B market. To launch the campaign you need to:
- Have email database
- Develop content and creatives
- Plan mailing strategy
To get the most from email marketing and avoid inaccuracies, it’s better to use email automation software. There is a large number of mailing tools, for example, OptinMonster, HubSpot, Snov.io, Contactually, BenchmarkONE, Intercom, each having similar features.
As a whole, mailing software will assist you in 3 dimensions:
Creating an email database from scratch can be tricky, especially if done for the first time. Email automation software can help find relevant emails. There are few options of how the process goes:
- Searching emails from a given domain list
- Searching for emails by industries
- Searching for emails through lead names, company names, or domains
- Searching for emails using links of leads’ profiles on social media
Bulk search and advanced filters reduce the amount of manual work when collecting primary information.
Analyzing emails’ effectiveness ratios
Besides email hunter options, automation software allows tracking and comparing campaigns’ results, such as open rate, click-through rate (CTR), and response rate. These are notably helpful if your marketing team studies what works best for your emails’ target recipients.
Scheduling mailing campaigns
Automation of follow-ups and trigger emails’ delivery is a great time-saving feature. In addition, developing the logical sequence of emails increases their open rate and CTR metrics.
There is no one particular pattern of how B2B lead generation shall be conducted. Depending on the industry, the company’s resources, and its strategic goals – different sales and marketing leadgen techniques can be applied.
Companies who invest time in developing and maintaining effective sales funnel become TOP players on the B2B market. Lead gen, hence, is a strategically important thing for long-term business growth and development.