B2B lead generation: the ultimate guide to shine

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Lead generation, or LeadGen, refers to all the actions taken by the company to collect contact information from more or less qualified prospects, or “leads”. These marketing-generated contacts are then fed into the sales teams’ database for prospecting purposes.

Lead generation is mainly for B2B, although it can also be relevant for B2C industries with a relatively long sales cycle such as automotive, real estate, higher education, etc.

Because LeadGen is a major lever in B2B, LeadIn offers you a complete file to boost your strategy and your sales performance. The program of this practical guide :

  • What is a lead? What is a qualified lead? What is lead generation?
  • Some figures on the impact of LeadGen on sales performance;
  • Who can/should do B2B lead generation?
  • What are the main B2B lead generation levers?
  • What is the cost of B2B lead generation?
  • What editorial strategy to generate qualified B2B leads?
  • What are the key points to watch out for in B2B lead generation?
  • 3 tips for a successful B2B lead generation strategy.

The glossary: lead, qualified lead, lead generation?

Before we get down to business, let’s lay down the basics with a little lexicon:

  • Lead: this is a consumer (B2C), buyer or influencer of the purchase decision (B2B) who has shown a more or less explicit interest in the company’s offer (sharing contact details, repeated visits to your website, engagement on social networks, message on Live Chat, etc.);
  • Qualified lead: according to Gartner, a qualified lead is a lead generated by the marketing team, evaluated by Sales and in line with the ideal customer profile with a purchase intention. The “degree of qualification” of a lead is quantified by the Lead Scoring ;
  • Lead generation: this is the set of actions deployed by the marketing team to collect contact information from more or less qualified prospects who will then be “worked on” by the sales team.

Some figures on the impact of LeadGen on sales performance

Lead generation is part of what is known as Pipeline Marketing, which is modeled with the funnel. Insofar as it contrasts with the intrusive side of direct or “cold” prospecting, lead generation leaves the ball in the court of the target who voluntarily chooses to be recontacted… and it works, as the figures show:

  • Lead generation is the top priority for 91% of B2B marketers surveyed by Ruler Analytics ;
  • 53% of marketers spend at least half of their budget on lead generation according to BrighTalk ;
  • Quality content generates three times more leads than outbound techniques. Even better: Content Marketing costs half as much as Outbound Marketing (Demand Metric).

B2C is spoilt for choice when it comes to channels, which can make it difficult to make decisions. B2B does not have this problem: according to Oktopost, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. And according to APSIS, 80% of B2B marketers believe that automation helps generate more leads. Finally, Fearless Competitor explains that outsourced LeadGen is 43% more efficient than in-house or “in house” LeadGen. In short, the winning strategy is to entrust your automated prospecting campaigns on LinkedIn to an expert.

That’s what LeadIn is all about! Our 100% unlimited LinkedIn and email automation software allows you to multiply personalized touch points with your prospects to generate qualified leads on autopilot. Thanks to the hyper-personalization features specially designed for B2B professionals, you can triple your engagement rate and reach with peace of mind. Focus on your core business. LeadIn fills your calendar with business opportunities!

Who can/should do B2B lead generation?

Lead generation is mainly practiced by B2B companies, regardless of their size, from small businesses to large corporations. Indeed, the B2B sales cycle can last several weeks, months or even years. Also, the average basket is much higher than in B2C. The buying process goes through several phases and the decision must be well thought out:

  • Consumption of numerous contents to understand and refine its need, then decide on a list of suppliers considered ;
  • Collegial decision making that involves multiple influencers and decision makers.

To attract these prospects, “nurture” them and then convert them, the company deploys, among other things, an inbound marketing strategy with a baiting logic. It will be a matter of creating quality content around themes that interest the target. The prospect will leave his contact information in exchange for a white paper, an infographic, a study, participation in a webinar, etc.

Lead generation is also practiced by B2C companies whose offer has similar characteristics to B2B, with a high average shopping basket and a purchase decision that is spread over a more or less long period of time: automotive industry, real estate, private higher education, plastic surgery, etc.

What are the main B2B lead generation levers?

To generate qualified leads, the company can activate a number of complementary levers. Of course, the approach must be multi-channel in order to “reach out” and maximize results:

  • LinkedIn, through Sponsored Ads, Message Ads, Text Ads, Dynamic Ads but also through a Thought Leadership strategy which consists in posting regularly sharp content to demonstrate your expertise in your niche and generate exchanges;
  • Natural referencing or SEO to position yourself on strategic keywords, attract qualified traffic and thus generate leads. Note: half of all B2B purchases begin with a search engine query (according to Think With Google);
  • Paid search or SEA to generate short-term leads. Note: 70% of clicks on Google SERPs come from organic results, and 30% from sponsored links. So make your trade-offs accordingly;
  • The webinar is a real lead magnet, especially after the pandemic. This interactive lever checks all the right boxes. It allows you to demonstrate your expertise, educate, humanize your brand, sort prospects based on intent signals, animate a community and therefore generate qualified leads. The podcast agrees;
  • The blog and white papers are the basis of any Inbound Marketing strategy. In addition to providing your target audience with quality content, blog posts will allow you to work on the natural referencing of your website, whether through keyword occurrences, improving the “text / html” ratio, regularly updating your site, reducing the bounce rate, internal links, etc. ;
  • B2B events. Fairs, exhibitions and conferences, both face-to-face and remote, can generate qualified leads. However, be careful to evaluate the cost per lead, which brings us to the following topic…

How much does lead generation cost?

To answer the central question of the cost of LeadGen, we must distinguish between two essential elements:

  • Cost per lead or CPL: this is an indicator that is calculated by dividing the total cost of a marketing campaign by the number of leads generated. The CPL provides information on the cost of acquiring a prospect in the context of a web advertising campaign. Typically, the advertiser only pays the agency each time a user becomes a lead (e.g. newsletter subscription);
  • The cost of the lead generation strategy in the broadest sense. This is the cumulative cost of the LeadGen, including for example the cost of the tools used, the remuneration of the professionals and/or the price of an external service, the cost of content creation and SEO efforts, etc.

You will have understood that it is impossible to give a price range, because there are as many LeadGen strategies as there are companies, and still… the cost price will also vary over time for the same company.

What editorial strategy to generate qualified B2B leads?

To generate qualified B2B leads en masse, you’ll need to gather a number of key skills:

  • Work well on the “customer knowledge” brick to identify the interests, expectations and concerns of your target. To do this, you’ll need to collect, analyze and interpret data on your audience’s content consumption habits. Also make sure to include your sales people in the editorial loop, as they are in direct contact with your prospects;
  • B2B buyers are inundated with content. According to a study by Seismic, the amount of content consumed by professionals doubled during the pandemic. To stand out, you will have to find an original editorial line to contrast with the somewhat dull and austere side of B2B content;
  • Vary the formats and favor fun and interactive content. In addition to blog posts and white papers, rely on visual content such as infographics and videos. Namely: many tools are now available that allow the uninitiated to create professional quality motion design videos.

In B2B, interactive and educational formats are very popular, as they allow buyers to move faster through the buying process and help them make an informed choice. Therefore, rely on webinars and live events to generate qualified leads. Final tip: A study by The Marketing Practice and B2B Decision Labs explains that the best marketing and sales pitch combines the following three characteristics:

  • It is driven by emotions and storytelling elements;
  • It is supported by figures (customer cases in particular, but also comparisons with the competition, etc.);
  • It is qualified by the limits and risks of failure of the product or service marketed.

According to a LinkedIn study, more than half of the content consumed by B2B decision makers on the social network is “useless.” The cause: the language of wood, recycled insights, a weak or non-existent background. LinkedIn recommends publishing bold content with fresh perspectives, consistently citing sources, and favoring posts driven by people over brands.

What are the key points to watch out for in B2B lead generation?

Depending on your goals, your B2B lead generation strategy can be relatively expensive, time-consuming and energy-consuming. Indeed, it mobilizes several marketing disciplines with 360° skills: writing talents, web design, community management, web development (or integration at least), growth hacking, SEO and SEA, etc.

If companies can allow themselves an initial Test & Learn phase to identify the most promising formats and platforms, they will then have to define the operating mode to preserve the ROI. LeadGen all over the place is not a good idea, even for large groups. Limit yourself to two or three channels, identify the best practices according to the KPIs generated and generalize them to all your teams.

Another point to watch out for: the results of a LeadGen strategy based on Inbound Marketing can be judged after about a year, compared to about three months for Outbound. By using a B2B LeadGen solution with advanced automation features like LeadIn, you can generate your first qualified leads within the first month! Click here to explode your results with multi-channel prospecting .

3 tips for a successful B2B lead generation strategy

To conclude, we offer you 3 pro tips to maximize the chances of success of your qualified B2B lead generation strategy.

#1 Snacking on content

Snacking content consists of creating and distributing short and easily consumable content. It can be a small visual with a single piece of important information, a video of a few seconds, a definition, a review of tweets or even a small infographic. These easily digestible contents are usually extracted from a more complete content. For example, you can extract several micro-contents from a blog post or a white paper to make it more profitable. Content snacking is therefore both a way to attract attention with short content and a technique to reduce the cost of content marketing.

#2 Set up a Live Chat or a Chatbot on your website

It’s a fact: the sales cycle in B2B is long, even very long. Also, B2B buyers complete an average of 57% of their journey before contacting a company representative (Accenture study), which excludes the salesperson from a large part of the decision-making path.

The implementation of a Live Chat or a Chatbot will allow you to provoke the expression of the need very early in the purchasing process. By offering an instant and immediate means of communication (as opposed to a contact form), you put your target in their comfort zone, as they probably use instant messaging on a daily basis. Just look at the popularity of messaging applications (more than two billion users for WhatsApp).

Note: the chatbot, or conversational robot, will allow you to have a 24/7 customer service at a lower cost. It is also an interesting option for companies that operate in markets with different time zones.

#3 Beware of vintage SEO

Don’t make the mistake of favoring keyword hits over the quality of the content you deliver. Of course, your content must be SEO-friendly, with a text also thought for the search engines… but you will have to find the right balance to avoid scaring away Internet users (and increasing the bounce rate which will negatively impact your positioning).

The reader should not have the impression that your content was generated by a robot. Several techniques can be used to incorporate “difficult” keywords without detracting from the reading experience. For example, you can use the “Alt” tags of images, create a glossary, propose a FAQ, etc.

To conclude…

Lead generation is not the only lever of sales performance, but it remains a pillar. By finding the right recipe for your market, your target and your budget, you will be able to feed your pipeline over time and provide your sales people with qualified leads that will then be converted into actual customers.

As we’ve seen, using a B2B prospecting expert can save you time, and using automation on LinkedIn wisely brings a multiplier to your LeadGen strategy!

If you want to accelerate your results today, try the best B2B prospecting tool on the market now for free for 14 days.