How do you acquire good B2B leads?
First, let’s clear the air. “Good” is relative. To some, good leads are contacts that match their ideal customer profile (ICP). To others, it’s anyone that shows signs of purchase intent or has a higher likelihood to convert.
Whatever your definition of “good” is, there are some fundamental best practices for generating leads that are more likely to turn into customers—which, at the end of the day, is what we all want.
Lead generation is essential to any business, but it’s more complex than just sending an email. It requires a thorough understanding of your target audience’s behavior, which can be challenging to find when you’re not in their shoes.
This post will cover almost everything you need to know about good leads and how to generate them. With these 13 lead generations best practices, you’ll have what you need to up your lead gen game.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is B2B lead generation?
Simply put, lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers into prospects and prospects into customers. It includes a variety of inbound marketing tactics that target specific personas, or groups of people, to turn them into leads.
The lead generation process usually starts with creating awareness, interest, and desire for a product or service. Then, you nurture those leads until they’re converted into customers.
The main difference between B2B and B2C lead generation is that the B2B sales process is often longer and the buying journey is more complex. Most organizations follow a formal decision-making process, and it can stretch out the sales cycle.
What are the four steps of the lead generation process?
There are four main steps in the lead generation process. They include:
1. Define your ideal customer
Your lead generation process should start with identifying your target market. You need to know who you’re targeting before you can start generating leads.
And, you need to know more than just your ICP’s industry, geographical region and company size. Get crystal clear on who you’re targeting by including more meaningful details about your ideal customer—like their growth rate, their level of investment in customer care, whether or not they’re an early adopter.
Going beyond firmographics and surfacing the exegraphics behind your best customers is the best way to reveal the deeper signals that make your best customers “fit and ready” to purchase from you.
You can also use surveys, interviews and data analysis to gather attitudinal insights about your ideal customers.
Once you have a good understanding of who your ICP, you’ll be ready to kick off the next phases of the lead gen process.
2. Determine which channels to invest in
As you lock down the details of your ICP, you’ll also want to get a sense of where your target market hangs out. You need to know how to reach them with your marketing messages.
Getting clear on your channel strategy may take time and a bit of testing. Even if one channel gains a lot of preliminary traction, you’ll want to make sure the leads from that channel are actually closing. (Because, that’s the whole point, right?) And be sure to diversify your channel strategy. Having all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.
So, whether you decide to tap into SEO, social, content syndication, email, affiliate programs, influencers or some blend of them, make sure you’re tracking the right metrics to optimize your impact.
3. Create a content strategy and launch attractive offers
The next step is to create an attractive offer to your brand in front of your ICP. This is how you’ll create awareness for your brand and the solution you offer. It’s also how you’ll start to build the necessary trust that will ultimately move them through to closed-won.
An “offer” can be a free ebook, a webinar or anything else that, agnostic to your product, gives them insights to help them solve a problem they’re facing.
Your offer needs to be relevant, engaging and valuable enough that your ICP will exchange their contact information for it—and that’s where your content strategy comes into play.
Your content should be designed for each stage of the buyer’s journey. That means creating different content for each step, such as blog posts, quizzes, podcasts and case studies—all with the goal to move them to the next stage in the process and closer to a sale.
4. Promote your content
Content without promotion ends up on the shelf collecting dust. You don’t want that.
To get your content in front of your target market, you need to promote it. You’ve already determined which channels you’ll be using and the content you’ll be creating. Now it’s time to decide how you’ll promote the content across your channels.
The key is to get your content in front of as many people in your target market as possible, content that matches their stage in the funnel.
13 lead generation best practices
Now, on to the actionable tips you’ve been waiting for. We analyzed top B2B companies’ data to see the best lead generation practices. Here’s what stands out:
1. Have a state-of-the-flow website
The average B2B company has a website that’s about six years old. If your website is starting to feel a little dated, it might be time for an update.
A state-of-the-flow website is critical to lead generation. It should be fast, mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. It should also be designed with your buyer persona in mind. Every element on your website should be there for a reason, helping to move your buyer through their journey.
The first thing you need to do is have a clear, easy-to-navigate website. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile and search engine optimization (SEO). This will ensure that people can easily find what they’re looking for, which helps with lead generation.
For example, a blog optimized for SEO can help buyers find you. The valuable tips and insights they got from the post might encourage them to share the post with their colleagues—which then fuels word-of-mouth marketing. (That’s another great way to get leads, BTW.)
Regardless of how your buyer found your site or which page they land on first, you need to be ready to move them to the next phase. That’s why call-to-actions are so important. Your CTAs should be very prominent on your homepages, and all subsequent pages too.
2. Use data to drive your decisions
Data should be at the heart of everything you do in lead generation. It should be used to track the impact of your strategy—at the deepest level. Like we mentioned before, seeing how many leads come in through one channel and at what price point is good to know. But if those leads don’t convert, you need to know why.
Does the lead really match your ICP?
Is the content misaligned with the stage of the funnel?
Are leads getting too cold before an SDR reaches out?
Having detailed data at your fingertips will help you refine the process, and make bold bets on new approaches to test.
3. Personalize your approach
Personalization is critical in lead generation. It’s one thing you can do to stand out from all the other companies who are trying to reach your target market.
One way to do this is by personalizing your communications. Now, we’re not talking about “form fill” customization. That’s not personalized enough for today’s buyer. But, curating content specific to the challenges they’re facing—that’s what we’re talking about.
Personalization shows that you care about your lead and are willing to take the time to get to know them. This can go a long way in getting their attention, building trust and moving them through the buyer’s journey.
4. Be human
In a world of automation, it’s important to remember that your leads are people too. (Louder for the people in the back.)
You need to show that you and your team are approachable, friendly and relatable. Be a real person who cares about your customers and prospects—don’t just be another salesperson or marketer trying to make a buck off of them.
Make sure your communications are human and personable. This means avoiding generic messages and taking the time to understand each lead’s needs.
Don’t promise anything unless it’s possible for you (or has been approved by management). If certain things require approval from higher up, let them know in advance, so they don’t waste time waiting on something that isn’t going anywhere!
Your goal should be to build a relationship with your leads. The more you connect with them, the more likely they will do business with you.
5. Keep it short and sweet
Clarity and brevity matter—especially in lead gen. You want to ensure that your message is clear, so use a conversational tone when speaking with (or writing a message to) your potential customer.
If your message is long, your lead is likely going to skip over it. No one wants to read a long, drawn-out message from a company they’re unfamiliar with. However, this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality for brevity. You can still pack a lot of helpful information into a short message. Just make sure it’s easy to digest and doesn’t require much effort to read. (Tip: Use bullets. They’re very skimmable.)
6. Use numbers
People are more likely to pay attention to something if it’s quantifiable. Whenever possible, use numbers in your lead generation efforts.
For example, instead of saying, “We’re the best at what we do,” say, “We have a 98% success rate.” This lead generation best practice will help your leads understand your offering and why they should care.
7. Promote your content
The best content in the world won’t do you any good if no one sees it. Make sure you’re promoting your content to the right people.
You can promote your content on social media by
- Sharing your blog posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Promoting your new video series on YouTube or Vimeo.
- Posting an infographic about the topic you’re writing about in a blog post and reposting it on other platforms where people are more likely to see it if they follow you back (and if not, then at least make sure that it’s hyperlinked).
Also, practice email marketing to get your content in front of as many people in your target market as possible.
8. Make it easy to contact you
If someone wants to get in touch with you, make it easy for them. Include multiple ways to contact you on your website and in your communications. Make sure your phone number is prominent and your email address is easy to find. You should also have a “contact us” form on your website that’s easy to use.
The easier you make it for someone to get in touch, the more likely they will reach out.
9. Be responsive
When someone does reach out to you, make sure you’re responsive. The faster you respond, the better.
Try to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours. This shows that you’re serious about your business and that you care about your lead—and their time. Also prioritize a prompt response for someone who emails to ask for more information about your product or service. You don’t want to give the impression that they’re ignored! If they know that their concerns will be addressed promptly, then they’ll be more likely to become full-blown customers (and refer others).
10. Stay in touch
Leads are the most important part of any marketing strategy. Still, keeping them engaged and active over time can be difficult.
You need to ensure that you have a system for nurturing them from the beginning of their relationship until they become a paying customer or convert into an advocate for your business. (And even beyond too.)
Just because someone may not be ready to buy right now doesn’t mean they never will be. Stay in touch with your leads and keep them updated on what’s new with your business. You can do this by sending periodic emails, calling them from time to time or even sending them a postcard. The more you stay in touch, the more likely they will do business with you when they’re finally ready to buy.
11. Get creative
There are a lot of lead generation ideas out there. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new. Remember, not all lead generation tactics will work for all businesses. You need to find what works best for you and run with it. But, you’ll never know if you don’t create an environment that’s willing to get out of the comfort zone.
12. Be patient
Good things come to those who wait. Lead generation takes time, so don’t expect overnight results. Also, remember that leads are not sales. They require patience to convert, so keep going even if they aren’t converting quickly.
The more successful B2B companies we analyzed all had some form of a lead generation program in place. Still, they also had systems for nurturing their leads until they were ready for a sale or close.
Building up a sizable leads list can take months or even years. But if you’re patient and keep at it, you’ll eventually see the fruits of your labor pay off.
13. Get help
There’s no shame in admitting that you need help. If lead generation is proving to be more difficult than you thought, reach out to a professional for assistance.
Whether you need help to determine who to target, how to create the most impactful content, how to promote content in different channels—there’s expertise out there waiting to guide and help you. Speed up your learning curve by partnering with a freelancer or agency that has a proven track record.
That was a long list of best practices, and it goes to show that lead generation isn’t a set and forget effort. In fact, doing so will only create space for your competitors to take the lead. (Pun intended.)
If we can hit home any one point, it’s that getting your ICP right—that first step—matters more than most people give it credit. After all, if you engage with the wrong prospect, every step after is wasted.
At Rev, we can help you better understand your ICP and surface the deeper signals that separate the great leads from the rest. Contact us, and we’ll conduct a free ICP audit so you can see the exegraphic data behind your best customers.