We know there are numerous ways to generate B2B sales leads, but let’s face it, the same old methods have been done 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 need to reflect your audience.
As a refresher, here’s how organization goals differ in the B2C versus the B2B sectors:
Before we begin detailing these B2B methods, it’s important to keep in mind that lead generation isn’t a one-and-done deal.
You have to be open to A/B testing your strategies and your content. Regularly track your content performance, metrics, conversions, and be ready to improve.
So, what are these unconventional methods to generate B2B sales leads? Read on to find out.
1. Tailor content for B2B sales leads
B2B content is brand and agency-focused, and you want to create materials that attract attention from that audience.
Getting eyeballs on your content won’t mean much if they aren’t converting into customers — those aren’t the right B2B sales leads for your company.
How can you tailor your content marketing to the right B2B audience?
Most businesses create audience personas to help them reach their target market. In the B2B arena, don’t aim for a company — look for the decision-makers within that company.
Every target company will have a few key people who decide which products and services benefit the business. These are the decision-makers your content needs to be tailored to, and for whom you can build buyer personas around, such as this example:
Determine who within a business will most need your product or service, and build your buyer personas based on the following:
- Job title
- Level in company
- Preferred content channels
- Desired goals
- Pain points
Create a flow chart with these details to facilitate the content creation process. This also helps you decide which channels will get you the most traction.
Once you know your audience, your next step in tailoring content to earn B2B sales leads is to determine their search intent, which can take numerous forms:
- Searching for information
- Searching to buy
- Searching to learn
As a largely B2B company, we do extensive research before creating a piece of content. We ascertain keywords related to our topic, but we also check Google, the “People Also Ask” section, AnswerThePublic, and conduct surveys among fellow marketers.
Choose keywords and terms that are relevant to your audience — not solely based on search volume. Popular searches in your industry will attract more B2C consumers, whereas focused keywords that have a higher value, but a lower search volume, usually fall in the B2B realm.
2. How to use B2B email marketing
B2B email marketing has a higher click-to-open ratio than B2C, and is a favored channel for 59% of B2B marketers.
This is a channel that can consistently bring in B2B sales leads — if done right. You have to keep a few things in mind to make email marketing a successful lead generation channel.
Automate email marketing
Marketing teams know the benefits of automating processes: smoother workflow, faster processing time, and time funneled into creativity instead of repetitive tasks.
But automating your email marketing also helps to generate B2B sales leads.
You can use marketing automation to segment email lists, send targeted campaigns, respond to abandoned carts, and convert customers, as this graphic explains:
Imagine this scenario: a customer gets to the final stage of purchasing, but leaves your site right before checkout. Whether that customer was distracted, lost connection, or changed their mind, it’s up to your company to encourage them to finish the process.
If cart abandonment is being handled manually, this customer could fall through the cracks, or get a response well after they’ve decided on another brand.
Email automation can be programmed to respond to them immediately upon cart abandonment — and you’ve earned a customer who would otherwise have been lost.
Automating emails is one thing, but are your customers receiving your emails? You can create the best content in your industry, but it will amount to little if your newsletters end up in the spam folder.
Brands can improve their email deliverability and draw more B2B leads 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 opened at all. Use an individual’s address to send emails, and include a reply-to option to that address.
- Don’t change the frequency of your email campaigns too often. There will be certain periods when you send more emails, but be as consistent as possible so your subscriber base knows when to expect your emails.
- Regularly check and clean your lists so you aren’t sending emails to addresses that no longer exist and increase your bounce rates.
Keep these things in mind when creating your email content as, at the end of the day, your email content is what will be most successful in earning you B2B sales leads:
- Your content should be consistent with your brand. Send emails about products, services, events, industry news, and your latest blog posts.
- Create a consistent design for your marketing newsletters, including branding elements like your logo, brand colors, and fonts.
- Don’t go for the hard-sell approach! If every email is selling products to your list, people will unsubscribe.
- Make it worth their while to click on 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, as they’re shared spaces for people with similar interests. But 2020 changed all that.
Though the COVID-19 vaccine is ready for distribution, it’s going to take a while to return to business as usual. We’ve seen an increase in virtual events in 2020, but the future of networking lies in hybrid events, like Apple’s annual announcements.
Combining physical and virtual elements and attendees, hybrid events allow access to a greater swathe of industry specialists and clients.
There are three ways to get B2B sales leads from hybrid events:
- Attend the event: B2B marketers should look at attending more hybrid events in their industry to meet potential clients.
- Participating in events: search for speaking engagements at conferences to place your business as a thought leader in the field and generate more organic leads.
- Hold events: your business can hold hybrid events to connect with experts in your field and establish partnerships with prospective customers.
Events can be a lot of hard work, but the potential for earning leads, converting customers, and boosting ROI make the process worth it.
4. Personalize B2B sales lead content
Personalization is a huge part of content marketing — and it’s crucial for finding B2B sales leads. In the B2B arena, you need to build personal relationships, not just transactional ones.
Because every relationship isn’t just a customer earned, it’s also a customer retained, with the possibility for future referrals that will bring in more sales.
Here are the three areas you want to focus on for personalization:
- Social media
- Landing pages
You can start building customer relationships early on in the lead generation process by designing a presentation that includes your branding and your customer’s.
In the pitch meeting, talk about subjects that matter to your customer — don’t focus too much on what your business can do, unless you’re talking about the solutions you can provide.
Don’t be afraid of getting granular in your pitch by mentioning buyer intent keywords related to your customer and their industry.
Do your research so you can show them how knowledgeable you are about their company, but also that you’re planning for a future with them.
Take it a step further by personalizing your social media outreach. Long believed to be the realm of B2C lead generation, social media has its advantages in the B2B field, too.
I’ve mentioned the importance of finding decision-makers within target companies. Most of these decision-makers will have a presence on social channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Choose personnel who can make personal connections with key decision-makers on these channels. But don’t treat every channel the same way.
Work with your team to craft LinkedIn summaries that showcase your brand’s ethos — and not just on your company page but also on staff profiles, where you can exhibit some personality.
Twitter is another place to generate B2B sales leads, and it’s a good one for understanding your customers, because Twitter is where people tend to share personal stories.
There are scheduling and analytics tools that you can use to research decision-makers and find out what their interests are — this will help create more meaningful relationships.
A great landing page grabs a customer’s attention within seconds. The best way to do that is to personalize your landing page to generate B2B sales leads.
What does a landing page need to include? It has to answer a specific question that your customers are asking.
What we’ve learned from making our landing pages is that you do not want to put too much information on there — that can be overwhelming for a visitor.
Keep it short and sweet — focus on one selling point, not all. That’s why we love the Moz landing page — it clearly states what the brand can do for any customer visiting it.
Can’t fit all your selling points onto one page? Create multiple landing pages, each one optimized to specific keywords and buyer intent.
It sounds like more work but designing more landing pages helps you retain B2B sales leads by creating cohesion between your advertising and landing pages.
5. B2B referral marketing works
Referral marketing doesn’t just exist within the B2C space — it’s an effective tool for drawing in B2B leads. People across the board trust referrals from fellow customers.
For B2B brands — where sales can sometimes involve millions of dollars — a referral from a friend, backed up by strong reviews, can lead to a purchase much more quickly than paid incentives and advertising.
Referrals lead to more loyal customers and better retention rates. They also act as a tool for boosting organic reach because established customers become your company’s ambassadors, like this PioneerSystems case study.
How do you get referrals? Here are a few steps:
- Offer rewards such as discounts, free training sessions, and event invitations
- Survey multiple customers
- Keep your surveys short and precise so customers will be more likely to respond
- Send surveys regularly and keep the window between surveys short
- Include follow-up questions asking customers to explain their scores
- Use the net promoter system to calculate how likely customers will be to recommend you
- Ask for a written review or testimonial, or to feature in a testimonial video
- Suggest creating a case study
- Ask for 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 do need to incentivize the process so customers participate.
6. Repurpose content
At Venngage, we are huge on repurposing content — we even created an infographic explaining how to do it:
We know how overwhelming it is for marketers to create fresh content to bring in more views and leads. This is why we’ve found ways to repurpose existing content.
Using old content in new ways takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, your marketing team can structure your strategy around it.
Here are a few ways we’ve stretched a single piece of content and generated more B2B sales leads:
- Take quotes and stats from a blog post and create data visualizations for social media
- Turn a blog post into an infographic — look at these infographic examples for inspiration
- Share infographics on social channels and as a newsletter
- Divide an infographic into multiple smaller graphics to share on social media
- Turn listicles into social media carousel posts
- Create email headers from social posts
- Turn a blog post into a podcast or webisode
- Combine multiple blog posts on a similar subject into a white paper or eBook
- Use an eBook as the basis for a webinar
- Divide a longer e-seminar into short YouTube videos
- Create GIFs out of videos to share on social media
These are the content repurposing methods we’ve used but the possibilities with this method are endless.
7. Varied content channels
Conventional wisdom has been to focus on the channels that you know best, instead of being a jack-of-all-trades and dabbling in multiple channels. But you also need to know what channels your potential B2B sales leads are favoring. If you’re not where your customers are, you are losing leads.
You may not have in-house writers, but with B2B blogs still being a huge source for leads, this is a channel that is worth investing in.
The content market is currently oversaturated — diversifying your content channels helps you reach leads who may not see your content on conventional platforms. Consider starting a podcast for your business. They take some time and investment, but podcasts are easier to run and maintain now. Focus your podcast on thought leadership, industry news, or on sharing behind the scenes tidbits about your business.
Video marketing is another tool to draw in B2B leads. It’s gone from strength to strength, especially in the last few years, with 87% of businesses using video as a marketing tool.
Creating a YouTube channel for testimonials, business insights, how-to guides, and troubleshooting videos will bring in leads who don’t have the time to read a blog post.
But videos do take time and effort to create — you need equipment and software to shoot and edit videos. Plus, you can’t create a video and leave it at that — a promotion plan will need to be executed.
Search for B2B leads on channels like Quora and Reddit. Customers use these platforms to ask questions and you can tailor content around these.
But don’t use these channels to pitch your company. Follow the same etiquette as responding to a blog post comment. Share your own experience and use these channels for research.
There are a variety of channels available to get qualified leads. Don’t stretch yourself too thin as that will impact the quality of your content but don’t restrict yourself either.
8. Create gated content
eBooks, white papers, and webinars make for great gated content. But why should customers sign up for them?
We’ve seen success with our gated B2B content by doing the following:
- Address your customers’ pain points early on
- Solve their problems with your content
- Include calls-to-action for gated content in relevant blog posts
- Use more visuals than text in gated content — don’t make customers work hard
- Repurpose your content whenever you can
- Provide a preview of your content to whet their appetite
- Be informative, inspire action, educate, be personable, and then promote
Your gated content should add value to anyone who accesses it, so longer-form content is the best for this lead generation strategy.
Key takeaways: Focus on the people behind B2B sales leads, not the business
The process of generating leads and encouraging them through the buyer journey to become a loyal customer who advocates for your business is a challenging one. It’s important to remember that even in the B2B field, you are engaging with people at the end of the day.
To recap, here are eight unconventional ways to get B2B sales leads:
- Tailored content
- Email marketing
- Hybrid events
- Referral marketing
- Repurposed content
- New content channels
- Gated content
You can adopt all or a few of these lead gen methods, but remember to test target segments, CTAs, landing page designs, and social media captions.
And finally, while it’s great to get as many leads as possible, ensure your automation software and sales team can handle it.
Which B2B lead generation methods have worked for you? Let me know in the comments.