Back to the Basics: B2B Lead Generation
Lead Generation: Business to Business
What is the one thing all businesses need to survive? Paying clients. These could be partnerships with other businesses (B2B) or products and services purchased by customers (B2C). The former, B2B, usually involves some service that helps other companies generate more revenue or run more efficiently. For this to happen, however, businesses need to land those initial clients.
The premise is as follows: Marketing targets the potential leads and the sales team converts them. While the sales team’s job is important, they will be twiddling their thumbs without any leads generated. This is why it’s essential for B2B businesses to focus heavily on digital marketing.
Why Marketing Matters
Let’s think about the all-important sales funnel—AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action). Lead generation is essentially the first two steps. By getting your name, product, or service in front of the eyes of potential clients, you are creating both the awareness that you exist and the interest.
It’s even possible with targeted marketing to create the desire, making the sales team’s job significantly easier.
This all sounds like Business 101, right? In a way, it is. The fundamentals of business haven’t changed, just the way we go about them has. It’s still necessary to have a large base of potential clients and for a sales division to convert leads. But don’t expect every business who sees your product or service to come waving a handful of cash. They first must be shown why your company matters. This is marketing.
Different Strategies for Generating Leads
There are several different methods for driving leads. The four primary strategies include:
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Search Marketing
Each has its domain and its strengths within the B2B world. Using them to their full potential is key.
In order to spread awareness of your product or service, most companies rely on content marketing. This involves everything from informative articles and blogs to creating content for social media. Basically, it’s anything that gets the word out.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends report, upwards of 91% of B2B marketing uses some form of content marketing. This increase in content runs concordant with upgrades in Google’s search engine optimization algorithms—this is where search marketing comes into play (more on this below).
Having a constant stream of content flowing from a company allows a higher chance of appearing first on main searches. Not to mention, by controlling the flow of information, a company can protect its message and brand to a much larger degree. When all the information found is coming directly from the source, you can be sure it will be positive, informative and directed toward the sales funnel.
Email marketing consists of two primary methods to gain potential clients.
- Cold Email Outreach – Outreach email marketing, or outbound email marketing, is a cold marketing technique that has seen tremendous success for B2B clients. It consists of creating a list of potential clients, building an email template, and then adding enough personalization. Utilizing A/B testing, templates can be adjusted to first understand what gets people to open their email, then how to get them to respond.
- Email Lists– Companies can also generate email lists through website subscriptions where they can consistently push information on a weekly or monthly basis. This continual stream of information coming from your company to potential clients provides a natural bridge of trust between B2B clients.
Social Media Marketing
The rise of social media has allowed smaller companies to compete with larger companies in a unique marketing way. In the same way that any video or influencer can go viral, so can a company. By sharing content that relays an overall message of the company, other business will respond with genuine interest.
Think of social media marketing as the smiling face of a company. Or a company’s wardrobe choice. The way businesses craft social media pages with content speaks volumes of who the company is and what it stands for.
Being Social on Social Media
Posting content is only half of the term ‘social media’. Companies who reach out to other businesses via commenting, liking, and reposting relevant content can foster authentic partnerships. Think of it as a virtual social scene. The more genuine and open you are, the better the communication will be.
Intertwined with content marketing is the idea of search marketing. SM utilizes all the different aspects of search algorithms (Google, Bing, etc.) in order to make sure potential clients see your business first on their search. This could be through paid advertising, demographic targeting, or keyword targeting. Search marketers do whatever it takes to be the result of your searches.
Pay Per Click
Within a search marketer’s repertoire is PPC. Advertisers will often pay for ad words that target a given audience. Each click costs the advertisers a certain amount of money, and in return, their company is right in the face of potential clients. Certain words are more costly than others, some upwards of $40-$50 per click. Although most are reasonably cheap and can create substantial ROI for B2B businesses.
Bringing it all together
There’s no other way to put this: The best marketing strategy for generating B2B leads is to use some combination of all these different forms. The degree to which each one is used depends on both the type of audience your business attracts and the marketing budget. Having a healthy balance in all realms will provide a natural growth of leads for your business.
If this seems like too many different strategies to manage, try first breaking down your marketing plan into two distinct groups: outbound marketing and inbound marketing.
Outbound vs Inbound Marketing
Certain lead generating techniques are geared towards outreach to potential leads (outbound). While others focus on building a positive image surrounding your business (inbound). Let’s take a look at the comparison of outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing.
Considered the more “traditional” form of marketing, outbound marketing pulls from a broad base with the expectation of generating leads a small percentage of the time. These are the cold-callers, cold-emailers, print and tv advertisements we see and hear from on a day-to-day basis.
- Pros – You don’t have to wait around. Outbound marketing takes your business directly to potential clients. By automating large parts of your outbound marketing campaigns, you can reach wide, yet targeted audiences. That being said…
- Cons – Outbound campaigns are often resource-intensive. After generating a list of, say, two hundred potential clients to cold email, each one must be appropriately personalized. Also, because these leads are not coming to you for help, they require more effort to convert to clients.
Inbound marketing is just the opposite. This form of marketing doubles down on their ideal client base by providing content specifically about their business. Whether that’s in the form of social media, blogs, or informative articles, inbound marketing brings in leads that already express interest in the company.
- Pros – Potential clients generated from inbound marketing are those businesses who have searched out your service. In terms of the sales funnel, this means the desire to use your service is already there. This only leaves the final step, action. Sign the dotted line here!
- Cons – Inbound is slow and tedious. Building a brand that clients trust is like carefully constructing a bridge for them to cross. It can take time before inbound really starts generating results. Focusing solely on this side means missing out on potential clients who just so happen to not be in your circle of influence.
Connecting Sales and Marketing
Sales also has to play its role in the marketing game. The sales team can offer insight into what are the most significant struggles and concerns potential clients have when deciding to move forward. By integrating these concerns into the marketing strategy, they can be addressed at conception.
By doing so, the marketing strategy is optimized, which often yields better results. In fact, the dialogue between sales and marketing should be fluid, as both can work to sharpen and improve the other’s department. To be effective with your strategies, it’s important to understand how marketing can help your sales team and vice versa.
The purpose of digital marketing is to target a specific demographic and generate leads for a business. This can be done in any number of ways. Modern resources like social media, search engines, and blogs can be utilized to get your companies message out to the world. Email and other outreach campaigns can also generate leads by targeting companies in a variety of niches.
There’s no limit to how creative digital marketing can be. Every day there seems to be some new trend or fad that generates excitement in people’s hearts. To understand marketing is to understand how to tap into this.
Sujan Patel. How Sales & Marketing Can Work Together to Maximize Growth. Retrieved from:
Content Marketing Institute. 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America. Retrieved from:
LinkedIn. 7 Ways We All Benefit from Sales Marketing Alignment. Kylee Lessard. Jan, 2019.