Even marketers with decades of experience would say lead generation is tough. If you, as a novice or veteran B2B marketer have tried increasing B2B sales by generating leads, you would admit it’s tough, too.
The reason? You are navigating a minefield of shrewd buyers. They are well-informed, assess numerous options, and research multiple choices to qualify a purchase.
If you are a marketer, you would have probably asked yourself, “How do I increase lead generation for my B2B business?”
Lead generation tactics as a part of digital marketing are a must-have for marketers and businesses looking to grow. Increasing leads means increasing brand awareness and interest in your services or products. You can then nurture these prospects through a marketing funnel and into the sales pipeline.
Lead generation allows you to build strong relationships with qualified customers who would then invest in your business.
The 12 most effective and proven B2B lead generation strategies for 2021 are:
- Creating gated content
- Offering a value-packed newsletter
- Hosting an online event
- Prioritizing LinkedIn automation
- Referral marketing
- Offering free trials and freemium products
- Optimizing the website for conversions
- Providing in-content lead magnets
- Innovative lead magnets
- Offering bundled packages
- Targeting top of the funnel keywords
- Running retargeting ads on Google and social media
Let’s see how you can put these 12 lead generation ideas to use.
1. Creating Gated Content
What Content Works for Bottom-of-the-Funnel?
We’ve talked about who BOTF content is for. But what does it actually look like? These are some of your main objectives with BOTF content
- Ensuring and clarifying the value that your product/service offers and how it works
- Accelerating the decision-making process
- Showcasing how your product is better than other options in the market for your client’s use case.
The content you are creating should align with these priorities. Remember that questions these leads have are very different from TOFU and would be very closely aligned with how the product works, instead of broad value.
Unlike normal blog posts and landing pages, gated content is locked and accessible to users once they fill in a contact form. To access this content, audiences must fill a lead capture form. This is one of the most effective lead generation strategies because it gives the reader something of value for free in exchange for their contact information.
Gated content assets include formats such as:
- Case studies
- Access to online tools
HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales software, is a great example of gated content done right. They have dozens of gated content assets placed strategically on the website and blog. For example, along with this article on sales management traits, they provide sales plan templates that a reader can download by giving their email address in exchange.
The flowchart below will help you decide if you should create gated content:
A tip to consider: place your gated content asset on the web pages getting maximum traffic to grab your leads' attention.
Marketing automation software can help you segment your audience and nurture them with personalized content that appeals to each of the audience segments.
2. Create a Value-Packed Newsletter
Another B2B lead generation idea is to use the content as a lead magnet in your newsletter. A weekly or monthly newsletter, as a part of an email marketing campaign is an excellent way to connect and stay in touch with interested audiences. This gives you a chance to stay on top of the mind with people interested in your business and share promotions for your products and services to drive potential customers into the purchase funnel.
Your newsletter can include:
- New Blog osts
- Recommended Industry Reads
Digital marketing pioneer Ann Handley’s newsletter includes tips, examples of blog posts, upcoming events and a call to action to buy her book. She has a newsletter achieve on the website that you can refer to.
3. Host an Online Event
Lead generation can happen as much online as it used to happen offline. Hosting online events can attract the target market while capturing their contact information in the form of event registration. The benefit of live events is the chance to connect with potential users in real-time to answer questions, respond to their queries, learn more about the prospects and guide them through the sales funnel.
Content Marketing Institute (CMI) hosts live and pre-recorded on-demand virtual events to generate leads.
4. Prioritize LinkedIn Automation
If you are looking for B2B customers, LinkedIn as a lead generation platform cannot be discounted
LinkedIn automation tools help you generate B2B leads because of the following benefits:
- Expands your LinkedIn network
- Leverage personal branding
- Automate lead generation
- Personalize LinkedIn outreach, cutting your time investment into half
If you are wondering how to use LinkedIn for sales to generate high-quality leads on autopilot mode, start with optimizing your profile photo, background image and tagline. Then, connect and engage with the right target audience. Using LinkedIn automation, you can retarget people who engaged with your content using personalized outreach messages.
5. Referral Marketing
Several brands such as PayPal, Uber, and Airbnb used referral marketing to drive qualified traffic to their site.
The short-term benefit of referral marketing is that you can quickly convert a lead into a buyer as these coupons cater to the bottom-of-funnel prospects. In the long-run, you have attracted someone interested in buying your product.
Dropbox used referral marketing as a minimum viable product strategy to gain thousands of users even before releasing their MVP into the market. Along with saving resources and time, it establishes an early feedback loop, giving clarity on the business processes needed to achieve profitability.
6. Offer Free Trials and Freemium Products
Internet marketer Neil Patel offers freemium features on his SEO tool Ubersuggest to capture leads from interested and qualified prospects. Here's a look at the Ubersuggest interface:
The goal of free trials is to attract qualified and interested prospects who aren’t ready to buy. Almost like a test-drive. In the case of Ubersuggest, free users can access certain features. Neil Patel regularly delivers drip email campaigns promoting the benefits of upgrading the account towards paid plans.
7. Optimize Your Website for Conversions
Ensure that your visitors can easily find your lead magnet on the website. The right website design can accelerate sales.
Some ways to promote lead magnets on your website include:
- Highlight it on the homepage with a call to action.
- Promote relevant lead magnets at various places on the blogs.
- Create a lead-gen pop-up.
- Create a resource library that has gated content.
- Promote the gated lead magnet in the sidebar.
Additionally, use a live chat and a call us now button on your website. A live chat can prompt your audience to ask questions about the product or service when they are browsing your website. You could promote other lead magnets such as a demo. A call us now widget lets people call your business by clicking a button or text on your website. This starts a conversation in real-time either over a VoIP connection or through a regular call.
Employee experience platform Leena AI has a downloadable case study that pops up on their homepage to capture relevant leads. They also drive interested users into a free trial with the “Schedule demo” CTA in the primary hero section of their homepage.
8. Provide In-Content Lead Magnets
You would have come across in-content lead magnets on Backlinko. As a part of content marketing for lead generation, the lead magnets are placed in the blog. More commonly used within blog posts, they can also be placed among ebooks and presentations.
A content upgrade is a form of in-content lead magnet that provides greater lead conversions because they are more contextual.
For example, one of your blog posts (possibly a report) could be gated. People interested in this post would provide you with their email address to access this data-rich resource. That way, you capture leads that would have otherwise read the article and moved on.
This technique helped Backlink’s Brian Dean increase his conversion rate from 0.54% to 4.82%.
9. Innovate Your Lead Magnet Strategy
Sure, e-Books are a tried and tested resource used for both B2C and B2B lead generation.
But what if your audience craves something more interactive? What if your website visitors can relate to other forms of resources better?
Online collaboration platform Flock has an interactive sales productivity score calculator as their lead magnet.
For inspiration, here are some of the other lead gen-oriented lead magnet ideas:
- Video series
- Free course/webinar/training or free education in any format
- Assessment or survey
- Free coupon
- Free shipping
- Guide to save money when shopping for (the product)
- Membership or entry to VIP course
- Free account or demo
- Free online tools such as a calculator
10. Offer Bundled Packages
How do you step up your lead generation game when competitors are also offering free resources?
Consider raising the stake of your lead magnets with a whole package of content. If even a single free resource can tempt your visitors, image how invaluable a package of free assets would be!
Copyblogger uses this strategy to offer a package of valuable content resources in exchange for the visitor’s email address.
Then, the form leads you to a registration page with the list of e-Books included in the bundle.
11. Target Top-of-the-Funnel Keywords
A content marketing plan can help you attract interested prospects and drive them towards your lead magnet. Start with keyword research to find the keywords your prospects look for at the top of the buying funnel.
Then, target those keywords in the following ways:
- Create long-form evergreen content optimized for target terms.
- Develop a blog strategy around targeted keywords.
- Use pay-per-click marketing to create awareness about your brand.
- Guest post on synergistic websites and websites that rank for the target terms. This format of SEO content for link building is an unmissable part of your lead generation strategy.
12. Run Retargeting Ads on Google and Social Media
Run retargeting campaigns for people who have interacted with your brand - All is not lost if prospects don’t convert during their first interaction with your brand. Retargeting is an opportunity to reconnect with audiences who have engaged with your brand but failed to take the next step of becoming leads. Retargeting shows your ads (Google display or social media ads) to people who engaged on your website or social pages.
If you are a new player competing against an established brand, it could take many interactions before a prospect converts into a customer. Retargeting, as a part of B2B lead generation on social media using ads with diverse lead generation content formats (video ads, blog posts, reports, ebooks, or whitepapers) will guide the customer down the purchase funnel.
This is an example of a Facebook retargeting ad by HubSpot.
As you can see, HubSpot used the headline to address the common objection by small business owners. The image and copy reassure the reader that small business software saves time in the long run.
B2B Lead Generation is Challenging but not Impossible
There is no single copy and paste strategy for generating B2B sales. The key to an effective lead generation strategy is to find a form of content that works for you. Even in 2021, it will boil down to knowing your audience and how they interact with your business.
Thank you so much for reading B2B Lead Generation for 2021: 12 Proven Strategies. We really appreciate it! If you have any questions about our article, or can suggest any other topics you think we should explore, feel free to let us know.
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Priyanka Desai is the founder of iScribblers, a content marketing and link building agency that specializes in creating content for SaaS, technology and B2B companies. She is a regular contributor to websites such as Keap CRM, G2Crowd, TechWyse and Noupe among many others.
You can reach out to her on LinkedIn.