Which B2B Lead Generation Methods Work Best?
B2B lead generation is one of those topics that is discussed a lot, but it’s often talked about in an abstract sense. So even after reading a few blogs on the subject, you might feel at a loss when it comes to starting a marketing campaign aimed at attracting leads and closing B2B sales. To remedy that, we are focusing this post exclusively on the actual methods you might use in your campaign and looking at how those can fit into a conventional inbound marketing style or a more focused, client-driven account-based marketing (ABM) model.
What are the most effective B2B lead generation methods?
In our previous blog in this series, we explored some of the key differences between B2C and B2B marketing companies, namely the difference in the quantity of leads you may be chasing. Because B2B businesses specialize in their products and services, they do not have an appeal for everyone. There is no reason to waste time and resources building out awareness campaigns for targets who will eventually drop out of the purchase cycle, because they were never qualified leads in the first place. So, what does that mean for your B2B lead generation methodology? It means that you need to have a clear audience in mind for each of the following tactics, whether you are creating imaginary buyer personas for inbound marketing or targeting specific potential clients with an ABM strategy.
- Blogging on your own website and guest blogging to increase your exposure and brand authority, while offering real solutions to consumer pain points.
- Using social media to position your company as a thought leader and a problem solver in your industry.
- Networking professionally, both online and in-person.
- Data mining to determine key details of buyer personas and home in on specific leads.
- Utilizing varied email marketing campaigns to reach important individuals within the company (or companies) you want to target.
- Creating PPC ads leading to high-value content for download in exchange for email addresses, survey responses, and other essential buyer data.
Why do these lead generation methods work?
The methods described above are client-focused. They aim to show your potential leads that you can solve the specific problems they face with your services, while helping your company build credibility. Plus, they present opportunities for you to collect vital client data so that you can refine marketing materials for later stages of the buyer’s journey. Let’s take a closer look:
- Self-hosted blogging – Blogging is a huge component of B2C marketing, because it regularly generates relevant content to align with specific keywords and boost placement in organic search results. It tends to have mass appeal, so is it relevant in B2B marketing? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, if you do it right. Before you post a single blog to your website, think about this: Is this fulfilling a specific client need? If so, then it is a valuable resource to publish, and it will help to attract the right leads. Of course, with this being the case, you may not be so eager to see tons of hits on your blog. You may be more focused on ways to get your targeted blogs in front of the right audience. Distribution is the key here. Whether you are promoting your blog through email marketing or distributing on social channels, you should have a good idea of how a particular post will get in front of the right eyes before you even write it. The effort is worth it when you consider that B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that don’t.
- Guest blogging – So you are using your own blog for more specialized information that is great for a small, dedicated audience, but it’s not necessarily going to produce much by way of increased traffic to your website. Now you are left trying to figure out how to get your company’s voice heard without losing sight of your mission to capture leads. This is where guest blogging can be powerful. With guest blogging, you will be posting your content to other sites—in the case of B2B marketing, this will likely include industry organizations, business journals, and professional networking sites. Before you make a guest blog pitch, you should know the audience of the blog you want to write for, the individual(s) you would contact to get your post featured, and the tone and style of the average post on that site. Once you start getting your presence known on other blogs, this can get you seen by more potential leads and build your authority as a brand, making your company more attractive to potential clients. Plus, you might build a reputation as a blogger and see more of your work featured on other sites to continue driving your results.
- Social media thought leadership – Like other marketing strategies, it takes time to achieve a status of notoriety and recognition on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social sites. So, when you think about social media thought leadership, don’t consider it a single goal or something that is going to come together overnight. Your goals may include gaining specific followers—again, the point is to target the right groups rather than simply looking for a larger number of followers—and achieving certain types of engagement from those followers, such as likes, discussions, or page views. How do you achieve these goals?
- Post meaningful content that is directly relevant to your business.
- Offer insight on the state of your industry, closely following and commenting on key developments within it.
- Address specific pain points for high-value clients and highlighting solutions.
These content goals on social media can get you far, but you also have to consider how you deliver that content. Video is a solid investment, because it provides a higher volume of information in a shorter period, and it’s more likely to stay in a potential client’s memory and get shared to other influential individuals within your industry.
- Professional networking – Because there are so many opportunities to reach leads with the many channels of digital marketing, it’s easy to forget about the value of professional networking. Forging a personal connection at an industry event or conference can make a big difference when it comes to B2B lead generation, because you are competing for attention in any industry. Just remember that you have to follow up that initial contact with an email or call, and you need to bring something of value, not just a sales pitch.
- Data mining – The process of generating leads is hands-on and full of interactions, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to be done on the back end. Research is going to be incredibly valuable throughout your campaign, so you need to utilize data mining. This process involves examining the data you already have about your leads or other leads with similar characteristics. This data can reveal buying patterns, preferred methods of communication, and much more, so it should be a part of the planning process before you identify your B2B lead targets and as you continue to reach out at different points in your campaign.
- Email marketing – When it comes to B2B email marketing, we aren’t so much talking about sending out a newsletter or promotional offers. Depending on your initial strategy, you might be targeting just a small handful of people or a single individual with your email marketing, so the message should be personalized. About 75% of customers say they prefer a personal offer, and email is the perfect opportunity to create just that.
- PPC ads leading to downloadable content – Earlier, we mentioned how PPC ads can be used to pitch gated content, which should be value-added content, such as an eBook or other downloadable. By drawing in leads through this multi-point process, you will filter out unqualified leads while gaining valuable information about those you do want to target. Even if they are just subscribing to receive emails, you will have gotten something helpful while offering something that your potential clients need—everybody wins.
How do these methods fit into the ABM framework?
So far, we have been focused on how B2B lead generation methods draw leads to you, but what if you want to target a small selection of carefully-chosen leads using account-based marketing? What does your campaign look like then?
Let’s start with blogging—if you have a blog, you should keep it active and post regularly. Once you launch an ABM campaign with a client set in mind, you should target your blogs to those clients’ needs, so that might guide your editorial calendar over a series of months as you lead those clients through the purchase process.
On social media, you again want to keep an active presence no matter where you are with your individual campaigns. However, you can tailor your social content by focusing more on the social channels where you know your target leads spend most of their time. In addition, you can mention specific companies and influencers in posts linking to higher-value content, so you can draw the exact attention you want.
Email may be a valuable resource for ABM, because it provides an easy means of contact to reach out to your target leads and remind them of what you have to offer. Account-based marketing is a high-touch process, meaning that it will need several points of engagement to close a sale.
There’s a lot to work with and digest here, but there’s always room for more discussion. Let us know your thoughts and insight on how to generate B2B leads, and feel free to ask any lingering questions in the comments.
As a premier Phoenix marketing agency, our experts at Nuanced media are always willing to answer your questions about B2B and B2C marketing. If you liked what you read, give us a shout out on social media, and feel free to share this article.
Ryan Flannagan is the Founder & CEO of Nuanced Media, an international eCommerce marketing agency specializing in Amazon. Nuanced has sold $100s of Millions online and Ryan has built a client base representing a total revenue of over 1.5 billion dollars. Ryan is a published author and has been quoted by a number of media sources such as BuzzFeed, CNBC, and Modern Retail.