Ever wonder how to generate leads online? Leads are the cornerstone of sales and marketing. Unfortunately, finding them can be like a game of “where’s Waldo,” where instead of minor disappointment, failing can result in waving bye-bye to your B2B business venture. The good news is there are many local businesses in your area that are interested in your products and services—they just don’t know it yet. Time to roll up the sleeves and go Waldo—I mean, lead—hunting!
There are many ways to generate leads for your B2B business, and a lot of them are interwoven. For example, you can generate leads through your blog posts, and also send those blogs out in email campaigns, and so it’s one main idea in two lead-gen strategies! For simplicity’s sake, I’ll cover each by itself, and also touch on how you can combine multiple facets into the ultimate lead-generating machine.
Table of Contents
Content-based lead generation techniques
This one might be relatively obvious, but you can generate leads through your blog! In fact, B2B marketers that utilize blogs get 67% more leads than those that don’t (Impact). Offering relevant and useful information through your blog posts, and linking off to demo forms and hyper-relevant anchor content can turn your “outbound” information into inbound leads. A helpful blog can also position your agency as a thought-leader in the industry, and people will begin to rely on you for quality content, from sales tips to industry insights. Here are a few bullet points on ways to generate leads through your blog.
5 Tips for blog lead generation:
- Use CTAs in your text
Encourage your reader to take action and sweep them off their feet into landing pages where you give them awesome content, or invite them to book a demo.
- Offer exclusive, relevant content
Is your blog about how to respond to reviews? Then offer them some review response templates to help get them started! Attaching relevant, juicy content to your big blog pieces will keep those leads pouring in.
- Offer reader perks
Getting someone to subscribe to your blog is much easier when it comes with benefits! Can you offer special deals for subscribers, or VIP insights in your blog newsletter?
- Make use of that comment section
If people are engaging with your piece in the text boxes below, don’t leave them hanging! If they ask questions, or show further interest, reply with gratitude and throw in a lil’ marketing, or a CTA to get them further through that lead pipeline.
Bonus tip: To make sure your blog gets the most visibility on the SERP, make sure you follow our blog post SEO checklist. SEO leads have a nearly 15% close rate (Search Engine Journal)!
Downloadable content (eBooks, guides, case studies)
As mentioned above, downloadable anchor content attached to blogs is a great way to generate leads and further your brand as a thought leader in the industry. Gating content like infographics, tools, eBooks, white papers and more behind data-gathering landing pages lets you collect information on prospects while giving them relevant information in return. You can add downloadable content to various communication channels like blog posts, email campaigns, social media posts and so on.
2. eBooks and Guides
Downloadable eBooks and guides for specific, industry-relevant topics can be used to educate your audience at the same time as generate new prospects. Make sure whatever information you’re offering in your handy eBook will facilitate a helpful and meaningful conversation with your sales department after they’ve put it down, or move them further down that prospect pipeline.
3. Infographics and Checklists
Design-ified statistics and data, as well as flashy step-by-step checklists for success, are another great content offer to get business prospects in the door. People love data and proof of performance, so why not set up your company as an information-hub by designing and offering your own infographics? You can even generate more leads through infographics by offering relevant company blogs posting permissions of your infographic (or “guestographic”) and linking it back to your website.
As our data shows, people also love checklists to help them carry out specific marketing tasks. Our marketing checklists are some of our biggest content converters, with the Social Media Checklist sitting at a 41% conversion rate, and our Build-Your-Own Buyer Persona worksheet not far behind at 34%! What marketing tactics can you offer business clients in handy checklist form?
4. Case Studies
While case studies are generally considered more “bottom of the funnel” content, they can be a flashy way to showcase real success stories of your services to your clients. Did you know that 82% of organizations use case studies in their B2B content marketing (Content Marketing Institute)? Proof of your value to clients and ability to get results is priceless.
Business clients are desperate to know any and all secrets of the trade that they can apply to their business, and that’s usually exactly what case studies are offering. The proof is in the conversion data! One of our latest case studies about a business that used digital advertising to drive 4831% ROI is crushing our conversion rates at 26%.
When you’re working with a prospect that’s close to making a buying decision, the more case studies you have that are specific to the various services you provide, the better. For example, if you’re a social media and reputation management agency, having two separate case studies on each area of expertise is a good idea. That way you can focus one on good metrics for social media (e.g. gaining X followers in X amount of time) and the other on relevant reputation metrics (e.g. generated X amount of new organic reviews).
5. Content “hub” or library
Having one main “library” of content allows people to search through your downloadable pieces to find exactly what kind of information they’re looking for. Make it searchable with categories, a search bar, and tags to ensure that the readers can filter through to find just the kind of content they need. Vendasta does this through our content library, where we house all of our downloadable content, webinars and more.
Video content is a great way to generate leads, as people are generally very visual learners. I’m not just talking about video ads on Instagram and Facebook either—I’m talking about video content to supplement your written marketing material. You can incorporate video in any part of your lead-gen funnel, and you should! The proof is in the statistics:
- 59% of execs say that if both video and text content is available on the same topic, they choose video (MWP)
- Using “video” in your email subject line boosts open rates by almost 20% (Syndacast)
- Including a video on your landing pages can increase conversion by 80% (Unbounce)
- Over 50% of marketers worldwide say video content has the best ROI (WordStream)
Beyond that, video is a great lead-gen tool on its own too! You can use video to introduce prospects to the people behind the brand and disperse relevant information in a digestible and visually-stunning manner. If you have the time and resources to put into creating compelling, informative video content, don’t pass up the opportunity to mine leads from it.
Hosting webinars is a video-based way to generate leads, as prospects will have to register for the event with contact information. You can also gate your other video content behind a contact information form when you have particularly juicy and desirable information to offer.
Email campaigns lead generation
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—email marketing is far from dead! In fact, email marketing was listed as the top most common lead generation strategy at 78% (DMN). As relevant as email marketing is in the B2C space, it may be even more-so with B2Bs.
In the professional world, many people still rely on email as their main form of communication. It may seem old school to some of you LinkedIn-dominating digital-savvy folks, but if your prospects are looking for help in the digital space, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine that email communication is more their speed. So, as the saying goes, reach them where they live!
Email marketing can take a variety of forms for lead generation, namely:
A regularly-scheduled newsletter that provides high value, relevant content with deep insights can be a great tool for lead generation. Promoting that newsletter can be a great way to get potential customers trading their contact information for the valuable content.
8. Nurture campaigns
Nurture campaigns, or “drip” campaigns can be triggered automatically after someone downloads content. This lets you nurture that fresh prospect from consumer to customer by automating your follow-ups. To generate more leads with this type of email campaign, check out these case studies on successful drips.
9. Cold emails
It’s true that a cold email to the CEO of a top firm may not get you very far in acquiring that firm as a customer, but cold email can really work as its own lead generation channel. Looking for leads in the right places, knowing how to entice them with a killer email, and following up effectively can get you bringing in lead syou never thought possible.
Check out our piece on winning agency clients with cold emails blog to get this channel bringing in big bucks for you!
3 Tips for email lead generation:
- Whatever the form, provide value
What should you include in your email campaigns? While the specifics will vary depending on your email type (newsletter, inbound, outbound etc, a great place to start with prospects is by offering them helpful content. Newsletters with the latest industry insights, new data-backed tactics to boost their digital marketing efforts, and special offers are all great value ads that encourage prospects to become customers.
At Vendasta, we recommend our partners start their email lead-gen efforts by sending prospects a custom Snapshot Report. These reports are filled with exclusive data that shows the business exactly where they stand in the industry, and how your agency stands to improve their online presence and business success.
- Focus on their problems—not your solutions
These topics actually go hand-in-hand, but how you phrase your email copy will dictate who’s clicking through and finding value in what you’re saying. By framing your email copy around their problems, your solutions will naturally fall into place as you’re discussing pain points. If you frame your copy around your solutions, your email campaigns will make a name for themselves as pushy sales messages, and find a way into your audience’s trash bin in no time.
Want to generate leads of our white label solutions? You can click through the Vendasta marketing automation platform to see all of our pre-built recommended campaigns that you can start sending out and turning leads into customers.
- Test until the cows come home!
The great thing about generating leads through email campaigns is that emails lend themselves extremely well to testing. Not getting many opens? Try a new subject line. Click-to-open rate is low? Maybe switch up your value offer, or try new positioning of your CTA. Email campaigns flopping all-together? Oops! Maybe it’s time to rethink your whole email strategy, and if your industry is right for email marketing at all.
You don’t even have to run your tests on your actual audience—why not run a dogfishing email campaign on your own company first?
Social Media-based lead generation
Promoting your content like blogs, webinars, and gated downloadable content through social media is always a good idea. This makes your content visible to a much larger audience than what exists solely in your email list or your existing website visitors, and can generate new traffic and leads for your business.
These platforms are the most important channels that your agency should be actively promoting content and information on:
“I generated 90k B2B leads in about 2 weeks through a viral LinkedIn article. They're just email leads but it's been converting at a very high rate. Some huge companies have come through as a result—Coca Cola, McDonalds, Visa, Activision etc. etc.”
—Jonathan Jeffrey, Marketing Manager of Growth at 24Slides
11. Display advertising
Several platforms have built-in social ad features that you can utilize for the further lead generation. But what platform does your audience live on? If you’re going after corporate clients, then a website like LinkedIn may be the best platform for your campaigns, as it has a more professional business audience. If you’re targeting small consumer service clients like repairmen, then a more casual, SMB-friendly platform like Facebook is likely their home base.
However, just choosing the platform isn’t enough, and advertising on these channels can be a big waste of budget unless you properly utilize their audience targeting features as well! This is where “know your audience” really comes into play, and you can get your ads in front of the right people at the right time to generate new business leads.
12. Facebook advertising
Facebook has a variety of advertising options, most predominantly sponsored news feed ads and boosted posts. These are great options to promote your business, content, promotions and more to an audience you hyper-target through the Facebook ad platform.
- Facebook Lead Ads
Separate from Facebook sponsored ads and boosted posts, Facebook Lead Ads are a feature specifically designed to generate leads for your business, collecting their data without ever navigating the prospect away from the platform itself.
“I've been able to generate 2000+ B2B demo requests in the past 7 months, with over 90 closes.”
—Jamie Taylor, Demand Generation Strategist at Vendasta
13. Twitter Advertising
Twitter is a big platform, especially in the B2B space. Utilizing the variety of ad types that Twitter has can help not only promote your brand and business but also generate new hot leads.
14. LinkedIn Advertising
This professional social media platform doesn’t have to just be a channel for your content and house for your business information. It can be lead-generating machines by itself with the new features and tools LinkedIn is introducing to the social media scene.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a newer addition to the social site that helps connect buyers and sellers on the platform. The tools help with brand awareness, business promotion and lead generation all in one.
- LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms
LinkedIn’s new feature: Lead Gen Forms, launched April 2017, offers a new way to generate leads and collect information on prospects through the popular business channel.
“I'm using a pilot version of LinkedIn's Lead Ads. The quality of leads is crazy. Over February and March, I've generated over 100 leads, with 89% qualified vs. 11% unqualified ratio.”
— Jamie Taylor, Demand Generation Strategist
Vendasta lead generation tools
15. Snapshot Report
Have you heard of Vendasta’s award-winning prospecting tool, the Snapshot Report? It’s easy to plug in a business name and generate an entirely customized report you can easily send to the business (your prospect!) to start a conversation about how you can help them fill the gaps in their virtual doorway.
Spoiler alert: this is a prospecting game changer for any B2B in the digital space!
16. Snapshot Widget
Vendasta’s new Snapshot Widget is an excellent way to turn your website traffic into hot leads.
Here’s how it works:
- You embed the widget on landing pages and relevant pages throughout your website—e.g. solutions related to websites, business listings management, reputation management, social marketing or advertising.
- Your visitors provide their name, email address and business name in return for a Snapshot Report.
- Your salespeople are notified so they can get in touch ASAP. Simultaneously, the new lead gets added to the automated email campaign of your choice, allowing you to stay top of mind until they’re ready to buy.
Other lead generation techniques
17. Quora Marketing
This question & answer platform is full of questions regarding all sorts of topics—from marketing, to nutrition, and so on. Answering user questions and being active in the community will get you the attention of other users and could potentially become a new lead-generation channel for your business! Our most popular answers on Quora usually answer the given question, and back-up the data by pointing to various blog posts and pieces of content we have on our main website. That way we’re not just spamming with links, but providing useful information that also directs interested parties to our home site.
In the last 30 days, I’ve had almost 2,000 views on my answers—and I don’t answer that often, just when I have a spare minute or two and want to clear my mind. However, all it takes is just a few minutes to write a brief, concise answer to an industry-related question that links back to helpful articles and resources on your website. These 2,000 extra views are just a peak into what kind of leads you could bring in with a concentrated Quora marketing strategy.
Inbound.org is another great community forum in the B2B/digital space, but the audience is made up of more professionals than average laymen. Participating in the community discussions and having a filled out profile will help get you, and your company, known in the industry. Plus, You can share articles from your home site to direct traffic to your website and generate new leads. Being an active enough member of the community will even get Inbound users clicking through your profile to see where all your industry knowledge is coming from.
19. Website live chat
With about 96% of website visitors not ready to buy, having an instant chat available can help them move along their buying decision path, and right into your leads bucket (Marketo)!
Vendasta recently began using live chat on our website, and we had some interesting and compelling results. This is from 13 business days of marketing managing the live chat on the Vendasta website.
qualified leads passed to sales
Making your marketing or sales team instantly-accessible to your prospects on your website increases engagement, and helps nurture those faceless prospects into qualified leads.
Bonus: On top of generating leads, using a live chat system can help you collect valuable feedback. You can understand your website’s weak points and biggest areas of interest based on the questions people are asking through the chat. Getting many questions about your pricing model? Maybe it’s time to rethink your pricing page to make it more accessible and easy to understand.
20. Messenger bots
One way to stand out in the marketing crowd is to hit your audience where they don’t expect it—and who expects personalized marketing in their social media direct messages? Facebook messenger bots are still in their early years, and reap huge engagement and conversion rewards if your company can set them up effectively. With the number of active Facebook messenger users is currently sitting at 900 million, it’s definitely worth your time and effort to develop a lead-gen strategy around this new technology.
You can even test out our bot by clicking "Send to Messenger" above, or just clicking here!
The internet is full of opportunity when it comes to generating leads for your business, and new technology and platforms are constantly revealing new paths to explore. Beyond online, there are some real-life channels to explore to generate leads the old fashioned way too. When was the last time you measured your lead-gen efforts from things like networking events, old-fashioned business cards, conferences and word of mouth? Just because some tactics aren’t living on a screen doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable and valid ways to find new business clients.
How many lead-gen channels is your B2B using on a daily basis, and what are your most successful methods? Leave a note in the comments below!