We know there are many ways to generate B2B sales leads, but let's be honest, the same old methods have been used to death.
It's time to take an unconventional approach to lead generation, especially for B2B companies, because B2B is a different ballgame than B2C - and your strategies should reflect your audience.
As a reminder, here's how organizational goals differ in the B2C and B2B sectors:
Source : Venngage
Before we start detailing these B2B methods, it's important to keep in mind that lead generation is not a one-shot deal.
You need to be open to A/B testing of your strategies and content. Regularly track your content performance, metrics, conversions, and be ready to improve.
So, what are these unconventional methods for generating B2B sales leads? Read on to find out.
1. Tailor content to B2B prospects
B2B content is brand- and agency-focused, and you want to create materials that grab the attention of that audience.
Attracting eyeballs to your content doesn't mean much if they don't turn into customers - they're not the right B2B prospects for your business.
How can you adapt your content marketing to the right B2B audience?
Most companies create audience personas to help them reach their target market. In B2B, don't target a company, target the decision makers of that company.
Every target company has a few key people who decide what products and services they need. These are the decision makers your content should be tailored to and for whom you can create buyer personas, as in this example:
Source : Venngage
Determine who in the company will need your product or service the most, and build your buyer personas based on the following:
- Title of the position
- Level in the company
- Preferred content channels
- Desired objectives
- Sore spots
Create a organization chart with these details to make the content creation process easier. It also helps you decide which channels will bring you the most traction.
Once you know your audience, the next step in tailoring content to gain B2B leads is to determine their search intent, which can take many forms:
- Search for information
- Search to buy
- Research to learn
As a primarily B2B company, we do extensive research before creating content. We check for keywords related to our topic, but we also check Google, People Also Ask, AnswerThePublic, and conduct surveys with our marketing colleagues.
Choose keywords and terms that are relevant to your audience, not just based on search volume. Popular searches in your industry will appeal more to B2C consumers, while targeted keywords that have higher value but lower search volume generally fall under the B2B domain.
2. How to use B2B email marketing
B2B email marketing has a higher click/open ratio than B2C, and is a preferred channel for 59 % of B2B marketers.
It is a channel that can generate B2B leads consistently, if used well. You need to keep a few things in mind to make email marketing an effective lead generation channel.
Automate email marketing
Marketing teams know the benefits of process automation: smoother workflows, faster turnaround times, and time spent on creativity rather than repetitive tasks.
But automating your email marketing also helps generate B2B sales leads.
You can use themarketing automation to segment email lists, send targeted campaigns, respond to abandoned carts and convert customers, as this graphic explains:
Source : Venngage
Imagine this scenario: a customer gets to the last step of the purchase process, but leaves your site just before checking out. Whether that customer was distracted, lost the connection, or changed their mind, it's up to your business to encourage them to complete the process.
If cart abandonment is handled manually, that customer may fall through the cracks or receive a response long after they have decided on another brand.
Email automation can be programmed to respond to these customers as soon as they abandon their shopping cart, allowing you to gain a customer who would otherwise have been lost.
Email automation is one thing, but are your customers receiving your emails? You can create the best content in your industry, but it won't do much good if your newsletters end up in the spam folder.
Brands can improve the deliverability of their e-mails and attract more B2B prospects by following these practices:
- Emails sent with a company name instead of a person's name are more likely to end up in the spam folder or not be opened at all. Use a person's address to send emails and provide a reply option to that address.
- Don't change the frequency of your email campaigns too often. There will be certain times when you send more emails, but be as consistent as possible so that your subscribers know when to expect your emails.
- Check and clean your lists regularly to avoid sending emails to addresses that no longer exist and increase your bounce rates.
Keep these things in mind when creating your email content because, ultimately, your email content is what will get you the most B2B leads:
- Your content should be consistent with your brand. Send emails about products, services, events, industry news and the latest blog posts.
- Create a consistent design for your marketing newsletters, including brand elements like your logo, brand colors and fonts.
- Don't take the hard sell approach! If every email sells products to your list, people will unsubscribe.
- Make them want to click and open your emails by sharing news, updates and stories that will enrich your customers' lives.
3. Hybrid events
Conferences have always been a good place to make potential B2B sales because they are shared spaces for people with similar interests. But 2020 has changed all that.
Although the COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution, it will take some time before business returns to normal. We have seen a increase in virtual events in 2020, but
the future of networking lies in hybrid events, such as Apple's annual announcements.
By combining physical and virtual elements and attendees, hybrid events provide access to a wider range of industry experts and customers.
There are three ways to get B2B sales leads from hybrid events:
- Participate in the eventB2B marketers should consider attending more hybrid events in their industry to meet potential customers.
- Participate in eventsLooking for speaking engagements at conferences to position your company as a thought leader in the field and generate more organic leads.
- Organize eventsyour company can organize hybrid events to connect with experts in your field and partner with potential clients.
Events can be a lot of work, but the potential for getting leads, converting customers and increasing ROI is worth it.
4. Personalize content for B2B leads
Personalization is an essential part of content marketing - and it's crucial to finding B2B leads. In B2B, you need to build personal relationships, not just transactional ones.
In fact, each relationship is not only a customer gained, it is also a loyal customer, with the possibility of future references that will bring more sales.
Here are the three areas you should focus on for customization:
- Social Media
- Landing pages
You can start building relationships with clients early in the lead generation process by designing a presentation that includes your brand and your client's brand.
In the presentation meeting, talk about the topics that matter to your client - don't focus too much on what your company can do unless you talk about the solutions you can provide.
Don't be afraid to be more specific in your presentation by mentioning the key words of the buyer's intention related to your client and its sector.
Do your research to show them that you know their business well, but also that you see a future with them.
Go further by customizing your approach to social media. Long considered the domain of B2C lead generation, social media also has its advantages in the B2B domain.
I've already mentioned the importance of finding decision makers within target companies. Most of these decision makers will be on social channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Choose staff who can make personal connections with key decision makers on these channels. But don't treat all channels the same.
Work with your team to develop LinkedIn summaries that showcase your brand ethos - and not just on your company page, but also on your staff profiles, where you can show a little personality.
Twitter is another way to generate B2B sales leads, and it's a good way to understand your customers, as Twitter is where people tend to share personal stories.
There are scheduling and analysis tools you can use to research decision makers and discover their interests - this will help you create more meaningful relationships.
A good homepage grabs the customer's attention within seconds. The best way to achieve this is to customize your landing page to generate B2B sales leads.
What should a landing page contain? It should answer a specific question that your customers have.
What we've learned in creating our landing pages is that you don't want to put too much information on them - it can be overwhelming to a visitor.
Keep it short and sweet - focus on one outlet, not all. That's why we love Moz's landing page: it makes it clear what the brand can do for any customer who visits.
Can't fit all your selling points on one page? Create multiple landing pages, each optimized for specific keywords and buyer intent.
It sounds like more work, but designing multiple landing pages helps you retain B2B prospects by creating cohesion between your ad and your landing pages.
5. B2B referral marketing works
Referral marketing doesn't just exist in the B2C space - it's an effective tool for attracting B2B prospects. People in all industries trust recommendations from other customers.
For B2B brands - where sales can sometimes be in the millions of dollars - a friend's recommendation, backed by solid reviews, can drive a purchase much faster than paid incentives and advertising.
Referrals lead to more loyal customers and better retention rates. They also increase organic reach, as established customers become ambassadors for your company, as in the case of PioneerSystems.
How do I get referrals? Here are some steps:
- Offer rewards such as discounts, free training and event invitations
- Survey several clients
- Keep your surveys short and to the point so that customers are more likely to respond
- Send out surveys regularly and keep the interval between surveys short
- Include follow-up questions asking clients to explain their results
- Use the net promoter system to calculate the probability that customers will recommend you
- Request a review or written testimonial, or a testimonial video
- Suggest the creation of a case study
- Request a quote for a press release
- Offer content that customers can share with their friends
Referral marketing is a great way to generate leads, but you need to encourage the process to get customers involved.
6. Reuse content
At Venngage, we're big on content reuse - we even created an infographic explaining how to do it:
We know how difficult it is for marketers to create new content to attract more visitors and leads. That's why we've found ways to repurpose existing content.
Using old content in a new way takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, your marketing team can structure your strategy accordingly.
Here are some examples of how we leveraged a single piece of content to generate more B2B sales leads:
- Take the quotes and statistics from a blog post and create data visualizations for social media
- Turn a blog post into an infographic - check out these examples of infographics to inspire you
- Share infographics on social channels and in a newsletter
- Split an infographic into several smaller graphics to share on social media
- Turn listicles into carousels for social media
- Create email headers from social messages
- Turn a blog post into a podcast or webisode
- Combine several blog posts on a similar topic into a white paper or eBook
- Use an e-book as the basis for a webinar
- Break down a long webinar into short YouTube videos
- Create GIFs from videos to share on social media
These are the content reassignment methods we used, but the possibilities with this method are endless.
7. Various content channels
Conventional wisdom says to focus on the channels you know best, instead of being a jack-of-all-trades and using multiple channels at once. But you also need to know which channels your potential B2B prospects prefer. If you're not where your customers are, you're losing leads.
You may not have in-house writers, but the B2B blogs are still an important source of leadsIt is a channel that deserves to be invested in.
The content market is currently oversaturated - diversifying your content channels allows you to reach prospects who may not see your content on traditional platforms. Consider launching a podcast for your business. It takes a little time and investment, but podcasts are easier to manage and maintain today. Focus your podcast on thought leadership, industry news or sharing behind the scenes of your business.
Video marketing is another tool for attracting B2B prospects. It has been growing steadily, especially in recent years, as 87 % of companies use video as a marketing tool.
Creating a YouTube channel for testimonials, business information, how-to guides and troubleshooting videos will attract prospects who don't have time to read a blog post.
But creating videos takes time and effort: you needequipment and software for filming and editing videos. Also, you can't just create a video and leave it at that - a promotion plan will have to be executed.
Look for B2B leads on channels like Quora and Reddit. Customers use these platforms to ask questions and you can tailor content based on them.
But don't use these channels to pitch your business. Follow the same etiquette as responding to comments on a blog post. Share your own experience and use these channels for research.
There are a wide variety of channels to get qualified leads. Don't overdo it, as this will impact the quality of your content, but don't limit yourself either.
8. Create restricted content
E-books, white papers, and webinars are great reserved content. But why should customers sign up for them?
We have found success with our B2B content by doing the following:
- Address your customers' pain points from the start
- Solve their problems with your content
- Include calls to action for restricted content in relevant blog posts
- Use more visuals than text in booked content - don't make your clients work hard
- Reuse your content whenever you can
- Provide a preview of your content to whet customers' appetites
- Be informative, call to action, educate, be friendly, then promote
Your booked content should add value to anyone who accesses it. Therefore, longer content is best suited for this lead generation strategy.
Key Takeaway: Focus on the people behind the B2B prospects, not the company
The process of generating leads and nurturing them along the buyer's journey to become loyal customers who advocate for your company is difficult. It's important to remember that, even in B2B, you are ultimately talking to people.
To recap, here are eight unconventional ways to get B2B sales leads:
- Customized content
- Email marketing
- Hybrid events
- Referral marketing
- Reused content
- New content channels
- Mandatory content
You can adopt any or all of these lead gen methods, but don't forget to test target segments, CTAs, landing page design and social media captions.
Finally, while it's great to get as many leads as possible, make sure your automation software and sales team can handle it.
What B2B lead generation methods have worked for you? Let me know in the comments.