For a sales team to continually nurture and close — B2B lead generation plays a crucial role in enabling the process. Over 60% of marketers believe generating quality leads to be one of the biggest challenges they face.
A single best channel or method to generate leads doesn’t exist. It’s often a mix of multiple organic and paid channels. These combine to generate a steady stream of sales leads within the best performing teams.
With this article, we’ll comprehensively cover existing B2B lead generation ideas and channels. We’ll also learn respective strategies to generate leads for your business.
What is B2B lead generation?
A person or entity having interest in your products and can be potentially converted into a customer is a lead. The process of attracting and finding leads is called lead generation. Leads can be generated using many ways, off channels and mediums where your target audience spends time.
Leads introduced into a sales funnel are further nurtured throughout the cycle to eventually close. If a B2B lead generation process isn’t in place — selling becomes difficult and unpredictable.
Now that we’ve understood how B2B lead generation works and how crucial it is for a well functioning sales funnel, let’s explore ways to set up the processes and channels.
11 Ways to Set Up B2B Lead Generation
1. Website Landing Pages
Website landing pages are web pages that your leads reach from various traffic sources. Landing pages can be built in different ways to appeal to visitors. You can then have them take actions respective to the end goal. Here are a few types of landing pages:
Product pages are web pages with detailed specifications and descriptions of a particular product. It serves the informational intent of visitors by detailing out a product’s key selling points. Visitors who feel they can use your product to solve a problem can be directed towards a Call-to-action. CTAs act as a lead capture mechanism and enables you to re-engage with them later.
For product pages to generate traffic, it’s necessary to add links to your product page internally on your website. This way, visitors from traffic-generating pages on your website can be directed to these product pages. You can add links from external websites across the internet — where visitors on those platforms can find and visit you.
Ebooks and Giveaways
Ebooks, compared to product pages, are a resource for educational content, often about detailed case studies and how-tos. They aren’t produced to directly pitch the product. Ebooks educate leads and visitors around an ecosystem, process, or method that eventually leads to product usage. Since Ebooks are educational in nature, they’re of a higher perceived value to your visitors.
Ebooks are typically hosted on landing pages that generate traffic. Visitors are then captured as leads by having to submit a form or verify their email address to gain access. Giveaways also work in a similar fashion — discounts, books, merchandise, etc are given away in exchange for contact details.
Free tools are a way to appear on search engines for queries that have to do with derived information. These can be quick calculations and measurements, or analysis. These tools can be hosted on landing pages, generate traffic, and capture visitors for your b2b lead generation process.
Since the search intent here is transactional — adding frictional components like capture forms will drive users to other tools. So Free tools aren’t gated like the rest of the resources, but the pages themselves have CTAs that can drive visitors to generate leads.
2. Content Marketing
Content Marketing is one of the most popular B2B lead generation strategies for inbound lead generation. It is a way to create and deliver valuable content in various formats that help your audience and ideal customers stay informed or learn something new. Similar to nurturing in sales, content marketing works by nurturing your audience, building trust, eventually helping your audience buy from you or refer potential buyers to you.
Following are the various channels you can create and distribute content on:
Blogs makeup the majority of content marketing efforts at a lot of organizations and are crucial for B2B lead generation. They can be considered as a shorter version of Ebooks, published frequently. Blogs are meant to drive traffic from search and social media. Visitors to your blogs can then be captured using CTAs that lead to free resources like Ebooks or newsletters.
The focus while creating blog posts should be around its search traffic potential and shareability on social media. Also, cover evergreen topics on your blogs — topics that will stay relevant in the future, and hence, keep driving traffic. These include resources like how-to guides, exhaustive lists, deep dives on processes, design, best practices, etc.
Popular B2B software companies like Hubspot, G2, Salesforce, Ahrefs, etc., attract most of their traffic through blogs. The volume of searches on Google is ever-growing, with an average of 5.5B search queries per day. Blogging helps you cater to this search demand, drive attention and eventually scale your B2B lead generation.
Pro Tip: Be consistent with your business blogging. It will help you build an audience across your brand.
Podcasts are recorded conversations around various topics, often involving a guest who’s an expert on the topic. They can be published in a variety of formats. Publishing video versions give you a wider reach across hosting platforms such as YouTube. Monthly podcast listeners are growing at 16% YoY, crossing the 100M mark in the United States alone.
According to the same report — similar levels of growth can be seen from listeners aged between 34-55. This demographic also happens to comprise of B2B buying decision-makers. Being able to attract that audience makes it a great channel to build your company’s presence.
Podcasts work similar to blogs in how they generate leads by distributing content and nurturing. But conversions can’t be directly tracked since it’s a one-way channel (i.e. no buttons, popups, etc). You can, however, ask your listeners to visit branded links unique to each podcast. These can lead them to sign up or provide them with more free resources in exchange for their details.
Similar to blogs, it’ll also matter what topics you talk about. Podcasts with well-known guests tend to attract an audience. So emphasis should be placed on bringing good guests initially. As your podcast grows an audience, you’ll slowly start getting website visits, generating leads for you in the process.
If you’re capturing your visitor’s emails from your website, webinar, or an event you organized, you can nurture them by sending your email newsletters (Value loaded). Newsletters aren’t typically meant to drive sign-ups and conversions. They’re used to direct subscribers to new content on your website in the form of blogs, podcasts, etc. Newsletters are unique in a way because you can have your audience’s attention on demand, by sending a newsletter email. This is the opposite of how mediums like blogs and podcasts work, where the visitors have to discover your content.
Apart from directing subscribers to new content on your website, newsletters also play an important role in nurturing your subscribers. They enable your subscribers to consume more of your content on a regular basis. In long term, this builds trust and reputation, eventually generating leads.
Guest posts are blog posts you write that are published on other websites and publications. Similar to blog posts, they’re supposed to drive traffic and nurture your target audience, which exists on these websites. Leads are captured by adding contextual links back to your website that direct visitors to your website content, and generate leads from referral traffic.
A lot of publications have guest writing programs with write for us pages dedicated to content quality and writing guidelines. You can submit your pitches and completed articles directly on these pages and have your guest posts published once they’re approved. Write content that the particular publication readers would love to read and at the same time it allure your target audience. If you are able to break the ice — someone else audience will become your customer.
In an interview, Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, mentions how he was able to have around 100,000 users sign up for Buffer via his guest posts. As per him, the best way to achieve such results is to be consistent and to learn and copy existing pieces of top-performing content.
Webinars are live events hosted online, often in the form of discussions and talks, on topics that would be relevant to the visitors and target audience. Since these are live events, it gives visitors the opportunity to interact with event guests and other participants as well, which is perceived to be quite valuable.
Webinar hosts also get to talk about and demonstrate their products and services that solve a problem relevant to the webinar listeners. This helps drive awareness around the product and convert webinar guests into leads.
If you look at the above example usually, these events are conducted free of cost for the participants, only the registration being necessary. The process of registration here is the lead capture mechanism, which enables event hosts to engage with participants post-webinar.
GrowthHackers is a community of founders, sales and marketing professionals who discuss everything related to business growth. This is one of the best B2B content distribution platforms to allure your target audience. GrowthHackers allows you to share content from other websites and discuss it with the rest of the community members.
You can create a post, with a title, summary, and link back to a blog post on your website. This helps start a discussion among the community members with respect to your blog topic. This will eventually lead to community members on GrowthHackers visiting your website and engaging with your content.
Pro Tip: Support other’s content, build credibility on the platform, add value consistently, create engagement with your content, and eventually that will drive traffic on your website.
Hackernews is a community platform, similar to GrowthHackers, operated by Y-combinator. Most of the community members share new posts regarding technology and trends. Discussions outside of it aren’t off the limits, though.
Similar to Growthhackers, you can create a post with a link back to your website. It could eventually end up on the HackerNews home page based on its engagement (upvotes and comments). Posts that get listed on the homepage gain more engagement, and as a result, generate more traffic, and leads.
Advertisements (or ads) are an inorganic way to reach your audience. By paying for ad space, or inventory you’re delivering your content to a targeted audience. The goal with most of these ads is to redirect visitors to your website and capture them as leads. Ads networks primarily consist of search engines like Google, Bing, and social media platforms like LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Let’s explore how B2B lead generation using ads works.
Social media platforms like Linkedin and Twitter allow businesses to advertise on a network of billions daily active users. 83% of B2B Marketers in a survey admitted to using social media ads and promoted posts to distribute content. When it comes to attracting B2B leads, Linkedin has been seen to generate the most leads out of visitors, 277% more compared to other social platforms.
More B2B content is being distributed and promoted on Social platforms than ever. Advertising on their networks helps you further capitalize on their engagement. Advertising tools on all these social platforms allow targeting using likes, geography, age, etc.
You can set up Ad campaigns in various formats including Text, Display, and Video. Ad’s CTA can be set up for your audience to fill up forms, or visit your website. Other social media platforms like Quora, Linkedin, Instagram, etc., also allow you to run advertising campaigns on their networks similarly.
Search ads are displayed on SERP, corresponding to the search results of keywords you bought the ads for. These are usually textual, and clickable. If you promote your product using Google shopping, they will appear as thumbnails with product prices and images.
Similar to Ads on social media, search ads are also clickable — but user intent might vary between the two platforms. While social ads are shown based on historical behavior, search ads are shown contextually next to what the user is currently looking for. This will impact your conversions depending on what you’re selling or offering in your ad.
In terms of ROAS(Revenue Derived From Ads), search ads have been observed to return $11 for every dollar spent. As per the same report, 45% of all revenue generated online originates from search ads.
Display ads are similar to social media ads in the way they’re displayed on an Ad network. An ad network usually consists of partner websites and publishers, which offer ad inventory to networks and advertisers. Google Display Network is the most popular display network with over 2 million websites driving billions of impressions for advertisers.
Display ads are often shown in the form of banners and thumbnails on these partner websites. These are usually graphical in format, compared to text-only on search. They can be targeted on websites your audience visits based on their search history and interests.
Native ads are similar to display ads in that they display promotional content in graphical format. But Native ads are formatted to blend in with the organic content — making the Ad less distracting and more engaging.
Native Ads can be run on networks like Outbrain and Taboola, with targeting and pricing similar to Display Ads.
Sponsored spots are advertising spots bought within content that have sizable organic reach. Being a sponsor to content creators is one way to conduct influencer marketing. It not only helps you increase your reach, but also build trust among the influencers’ audience.
You can create landing pages unique for the sponsored campaign, with special offers and customized content. Compared to regular ads, sponsored content often performs better for brand-building and retention, considering that organic content stays online forever.
Rates for sponsorships are measured in CPM (Cost per 1000 views). CPMs are often pricier compared to display or search ads impressions. CPM can vary based on the creator’s audience engagement, demographics, etc.
4. User referrals programs
User referrals are a great way to both retain existing customers and acquire new ones. If your product has great NPS and reviews online, user referral programs make it easier for you to organically acquire new customers through existing happy customers.
For example — take Dropbox. They implemented a 2-sided referral program for its users where both parties get rewarded for referrals. As a result, they were able to grow their user base by over 3900% in the span of 15 months. This was possible because of a few, key things Dropbox implemented to make the process smoother.
The referral process was part of onboarding — so it was tough to be overlooked by the users. Apart from that, it also supported importing your entire contacts list from your email, making it easier for users to refer a lot of new users at once. By rewarding users with credits or discounts on your service on referrals — you’re not only ensuring your existing customers are incentivized, but also staying with you for longer so they can make the most of their rewards.
5. Review websites
Review websites like G2 and Capterra are a great channel for generating leads. Your potential customers are often looking to compare your product with competitors, and reviews websites facilitate that. Reviews greatly affect conversions too, as they signify a product’s quality and credibility. As per research, higher-priced products saw a 380% jump in conversions when there were reviews displayed beside it.
So having reviews on these platforms would effectively drive more visitors to your website, eventually converting them into leads. You can generate leads from review websites using both paid and organic methods. Let’s learn more about them below.
To generate leads organically from review websites, you can simply list out your product on their platform. Listing your product on the platform is free of cost, for most of the popular review websites out there. Your product will then show up in searches related to your category, and visitors will eventually visit your website based on their impressions.
Once your product is listed, try to get reviews on the product listing from your existing customers. Reviews can be a deciding factor for your potential leads while they’re comparing you with your competitors. Listings with more reviews will also drive more conversions to your website.
Most review websites also have a paid listing service, where your product is bumped up in search results for better visibility. Apart from that, sites like Capterra and G2 can also help you add reviews to your product by offering reviewers gift cards in exchange for their reviews.
6. Social media
Social media is one of the best ways to generate leads and increase reach online organically. Similar to writing blogs, social media posts make you discoverable on search engines and user’s feeds. Let’s explore how to use each of these platforms to help you widen your audience.
Linkedin is the largest professional network with over 700M active users. If your target audience consists of professionals, Linkedin is a great place to engage with them. By posting your updates, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and generating engagement in the form of likes and comments, you’re increasing your reach to users outside of your followers. As more users visit your Linkedin profile, they’ll eventually visit your website and to drive traffic and leads.
Facebook, unlike Linkedin, isn’t a professional network. Although, it boasts of a larger network and wider reach. If a potential lead is on Linkedin, the chances of them being on Facebook are high. Running campaigns on Facebook allows you to expand your audience among Facebook users, drive more traffic to your website and consequently, leads.
Twitter is a relatively small network compared to Linkedin and Facebook with 330M active users, but it has a highly engaged audience. Followers on Twitter are enthusiastic about new trends and happenings and spend a lot of time discovering new products and services. Apart from that, Twitter users are also vocal with opinions and reviews. Tweets from happy customers lend you a lot of credibility and help direct intent-rich leads to your profile and website.
Quora is more of a knowledge network in the way it operates. Engagement on Quora is driven by questions and answers, and Quora’s recommendations and discovery algorithms are almost as aggressive as that of TikTok. Questions in your field that are technical in nature are great to write answers for, since it pre-qualifies readers for their intent before they visit your website or landing page. A lot of Quora profiles, including that of businesses, have been able to generate millions of views from their answers and drive traffic from all those impressions.
An online community is a group of people who share common interests and hobbies. These communities could be hosted on social media platforms such as Facebook, Reddit, etc. Let’s learn how participating in these communities can help generate leads.
Since Facebook already has a massive user base, having groups on Facebook is one of the best ways to gather other like-minded users. Try searching for interests and topics within your industry or niche on Facebook, and filter them by groups. While a lot of groups might be open and can be joined immediately, the rest are closed and need admin approval before you can access it.
Once you’re in a group – you can go through conversations(posts) and understand the members’ needs better. You can then participate by actively commenting on posts wherever you can be helpful. As and when you gain some engagement from your content in the group, you can eventually start talking about your product contextually and non-intrusively. There’s a good chance community member would want to check out your product – which directly results in leads being generated.
As seen in the example of a post above, a user has asked the community for product recommendations. Joining in these conversations and sharing your experience can help fellow members, plus next time around when you recommend your product in one of these threads, members are likely to check you out.
Forums are websites that exclusively serve communities around a certain niche. This could be anywhere from tech support to work productivity, marketing, sales, etc. Think of Facebook groups, but as an entire website. There’ll be conversations(or threads) around certain topics where the user who posts will be asking for opinions or solutions to problems. Share your opinions and help users in these communities solve problems.
A lot of these forums have badges for users who’ve been the most helpful – get to those higher levels, then start contextually plugging your product. Being a credible member of the forum, users wouldn’t mind checking out your product and buying from you.
Product Hunt is a product discovery platform where new products and tools get launched or announced. It isn’t very different from review websites in terms of its function but focuses more on new and early-stage products. Most Product Hunt users are product enthusiasts who love exploring new products and ideas, making it a great platform to acquire early customers.
Product Hunt’s home page features the top-rated product of that day (similar to Hacker news posts) and these products get a “Product of the Day” badge on their product page and along with an embeddable badge that can be added to their website. Products featured as Product of the day are known to get significant amounts of traffic and signups from Product Hunt.
Reddit is another great community platform that is host to hundreds and thousands of “subreddits” which are essentially groups catered to respective topics. The platform is known for enabling anonymized content, often attracts honest feedback from genuine users. If there’s a subreddit dedicated to the category of products you sell – find it and get a feel for the content.
Shameless promotions and direct links are often banned, and even if they get through, are scrutinized by the users. So a great way to kindle Reddit user’s interest in your product would be to be genuinely curious regarding their problems and asking for open feedback on your product. Another good thing to do would be to offer discounts and offers exclusively for Reddit users and asking for reviews from existing customers on Reddit threads.
8. Channel Partners & Distributors
Once you’ve established your brand and have a bunch of happy customers, you can explore channel partnerships to scale your sales and B2B lead generation. It is a model where a 3rd party (publications, individuals, lead generation business, etc) sells your product to their audience and is compensated with commissions or fees. Let’s learn about different types of channel partners and how they can generate leads.
Co-marketing & Bundling
There might be 3rd party products and services that complement or go well with your products and will have audiences similar to yours. By partnering up with these companies, you could sell your products to their audience by bundling up your product with theirs for discounts, and vice-versa. This could help both companies efficiently expand their reach beyond their own audience, and acquire qualified leads. You could simply reach out to Partner Marketing or Channel marketing team members within the other organization to explore such possibilities.
Affiliate marketing is a program where publishers or partners with sizable audiences or clientele sell your products to their audience for commissions. If you have a well-regarded product with happy customers, affiliates might greatly help you to scale your sales. Affiliates are only paid on actual sales closures, and not leads generated, so you’ll only pay commissions for customers who’ve bought from you. Either way, you’ll be able to generate leads and close sales, without having to scale your sales and incur overheads, even though margins might be a bit lower.
ConvertKit, a company that started its affiliate program after crossing $20,000 in MRR saw growth coming in from its existing users. It generated 50,000 new subscribers in a single year from the program and ended that year with $625,000 in MRR up from $98,000 the previous year.
You can reach out to publications that pull in your target audience to become your affiliates – this will include B2B lead generation companies, developers, community admins, consultants, bloggers, etc. There are tools that enable affiliates to have unique links to drive traffic to, which can be tracked on your end to analyze the results generated from affiliate campaigns.
Influencer marketing is similar to affiliate marketing — where you get individuals with sizable audiences to share your product. Having Influencers buy-in also helps you be more trustworthy — 97% of buyers find it crucial to have legitimate sources of information and opinions. Audiences care about influencers’ opinions – since they’ve been engaging with their content and follow them as a vote of trust.
Oftentimes, these opinion leaders in your niche will find a cool product or service and will tweet about it, without you having to tell them. This can only happen organically, and the best way to initiate an effort like this would be to provide them with access to your product, where they get to check it out, and the rest is left to your product’s delight factor.
Otherwise, you could simply reach out asking for a shout-out, and it’ll be usually up to them what they can get for it, up to reasoning, of course. You can also ask them to invest in your product/company, so they have vested interests in having you succeed, and evangelize your product over a period of time. Either way, once you have access to their audience, you’ll see traffic spikes which will result in leads and conversions.
PR (Public Relations) is a process to generate content in collaboration with other publications, individuals and companies. Doing PR helps you increase your reach to new audiences, beyond your own marketing channels and drive referral traffic.
Let’s explore a few ways to do PR and generate leads.
If you are an expert in your field – don’t take your knowledge and insights for granted. In a consumption-driven world, everyone wants to listen to what someone more informed than them has to say. For beginners – be a thought leader, post content on your own channels, often. Even if you don’t have a big enough audience – interviewers who will look you up when you reach out to them for collaborations will know you’re legitimate. Having a bigger audience yourself definitely helps – that’s when you’ll start seeing people reach out to you for your opinions. This, essentially, is a way to distribute more of your content, without having to put much effort into creating the content.
HARO is another great way to land interviews – you can access journalists’ requests for opinions and reach out to them with quotes that can get you featured on their publications. As you get featured across more publications, you’ll grow your reach to a bigger audience, gain influence, traffic, and eventually, leads.
Similar to doing interviews – once you have built up big enough a repository of good quality content, you’ll want to have it linked from external sources. This serves two purposes – it signals search engines of your authority on that topic, and it drives referral traffic from whatever page you were linked from.
Linking opportunities can simply be found on popular publications where certain keywords and phrases that are technical or complicated to understand haven’t been linked to a resource where the reader can know more about that topic.
You can simply reach out to the editor or authors of the publication and ask them to go through your article on the topic and link it if relevant. This will help them retain their readers for longer, provide more value and context and make their article more comprehensible. If you do get your article linked, you’ll be able to drive more traffic, rank better in search and generate more leads as a result.
10. Outbound Prospecting
Outbound prospecting is a process to reach out to your potential customers cold and pitch them your product. There are various mediums you can use to reach out to your potential leads – let’s learn more about them
Cold Email outreach
Email is one of the most accessible forms of professional communication. B2B Marketers believe e-mail to be the most effective channel in producing a high return on investment from generating leads. If you have a list of loosely qualified leads you’ve captured from your website, or from Linkedin prospecting, you can send out cold emails to nurture and close them. You can conduct personalized automated cold email campaigns with your list of prospects using tools like SalesHandy, and qualify your leads for the next stages in the sales cycle, as a lead.
It’s been proven that 50% of closures come in after the 5th touch, and hence following up with your leads is also key when it comes to conversions.
Following-up manually can be tricky, especially when you’re doing it on a scale. Personalization is also time-consuming, hence if you want to make follow-ups scaleable while keeping them personalized, use B2B lead generation platforms like SalesHandy to automate them. Once automated, you’ll only need to monitor and attend to responses on your email, helping you qualify and generate more leads.
If you have collected phone numbers from your website visitors, or use B2B lead generation tools like Clearbit or Snovio to capture them, you can conduct outbound calls to your leads to pitch your product. Calling customers can be intrusive at times, compared to something like an email, so there’ll be a lot hanging on your script.
Researching your leads before-hand and asking relevant questions might get you through. Cold calling can perform great for selling essential services and commodities, as they’re frequently needed. Calling also makes it easier for you to make the customer commit to the next stage in case they show interest since you’re communicating in real-time.
Outbound calls are known to have a conversion rate of 9%, which means 9 out of 100 calls will result in meetings and later, conversions. Depending on what you’re selling and how well you know the person on the other end of the phone, outbound calling can be a really effective way to generate and nurture leads for your business
As we discussed before, Linkedin is one of the largest social networks consisting of professionals, who make up for the majority of B2B buyers. This makes it a great source of potential leads, especially given the search and filtering capabilities on Linkedin. Once you’ve found your target audience on Linkedin, there are two ways to engage with them as follows.
InMail is LinkedIn’s messaging feature where you’re allowed to reach out to users outside of your network, without having to be connected. They boast 300% more responses than email, and are more accessible given you can simply search and reach out to your potential leads, not having to find and verify their email address.
InMails are part of Linkedin’s premium suite of paid solutions. Depending on your ticket size, InMails may or may not be a net positive, given that the most number of InMail credits you get per month is 30.
While prospecting on Linkedin, you can extract your leads’ email address and reach out to them over email. There are two ways to extract emails from Linkedin profiles – First, getting connected with your potential lead, and getting access to their contact details on their profile. Second, you can simply use B2B lead generation software like Snovio to find emails of prospects by visiting their Linkedin profile, in case you can’t connect with them.
Once you have their email address, you can simply enroll your potential leads in cold email outreach sequences using tools like SalesHandy. It allows you to send out automated sales emails with up to 9 stages of follow-ups along with open and click tracking. You can later convert these potential leads into prospects and nurture them towards closure.
11. Trade shows
Trade shows and conferences hosted by various unions and associations can be a great place to network and get introductions to your potential prospects. CEIR states 81% of trade show attendees to have buying power, which makes the trade show audience well qualified to generate leads for you.
You can either join an event as a participant and network with other attendees to create opportunities or be an event partner. You can be an event partner either offering your services to help host the trade show, or be a sponsor and offer monetary compensation to the organizers. Either way, you get better access to attendees as a partner and it’ll help you generate high-quality leads.
Diversify and Nurture
Being deeply connected in today’s times, there might be more ways around B2B lead generation than you could imagine. The key is to diversify, i.e. not dependent on a single or few channels for all your leads. This way you could keep generating opportunities if one of them fails. The easier it is to crack a new channel, the easier it is to reach saturation and attract competing products. Constantly scaling new channels and nurturing new leads will keep your sales machine well oiled and fool-proof.
Have you been able to generate leads from sources outside of this article? Let us know about them in the comments below!