Attracting the right leads and closing sales - that's what your business is all about. So which lead generation tactics will bring you the most leads in 2023? Here are the 8 most effective lead generation strategies of 2023.
Lead generation is about engaging your target audience to the point where they want to give you their contact information.
However, this engagement and maintenance process is not something you set up once and then forget. Instead, it is an ongoing strategy that needs to be refined. Why? Because popular culture and the rules of engagement change every year in parallel with the evolution of technology. After all, consumer:in preferences also change from year to year. Therefore, your lead generation strategies need to be regularly adapted accordingly.
According to surveys, B2B salespeople consider lead generation to be the biggest challenge in the entire sales process. In a survey conducted by CRM provider HubSpot 42 percent of the sales managers surveyed stated that the acquisition of leads - i.e. information about potential customers - was one of the most important tasks for them.
For this reason, in this article we will go into more detail about how B2B lead generation works and show you 8 unbeatable methods for your marketing. But first we want to define a few important terms or at least remind you of their meaning.
What is a B2B lead?
The term "lead" is derived from the English word "to lead" and refers to a new contact generated by any kind of marketing activity. Speaking of "B2B lead": It is important to note that this lead is not a private person, but is acting on behalf of a company.
The contact details that make up a B2B lead depend on the company's individual definition. For example, a B2B lead can consist of a name, a business email address, the company name and/or a phone number.
Besides this data, the lead must have the potential to become a new customer. The best indicator of being a promising lead is when someone aka a company shows interest in your product and content. Let's say a:e visitor:in downloads a whitepaper from your website or asks for prices - this is a clear sign that a business has a demand or need that the person interacting with you wants to solve with your product.
What are MQL and SQL?
A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead who has shown interest in your offer as a result of your marketing campaigns or is highly likely to become a customer for other reasons. A good example of an MQL would be a lead who downloaded a whitepaper on your website.
An MQL is usually a very promising lead. This is because such a lead is more likely to be ready for a sales conversation than a lead who has not voluntarily shared his or her data with you through a download. With this type of lead, you can therefore be fairly sure that he or she is interested in your offer.
By submitting data, MQL has taken the first step towards becoming a customer. Behind this, however, is not yet a clear purchase intention. Before MQLs are passed on to sales, they must first accept the status as SQL, Sales Qualified Lead.
A SQL is a lead that is ready to be contacted by sales representatives. The lead becomes an SQL either through lead nurturing or a direct purchase intent (e.g. by requesting a demo). Sales Qualified Leads save your sales force valuable time because a SQL is considered a truly relevant lead.
How does B2B lead generation work?
Now that you know what a B2B lead is and why lead generation is essential for efficient sales, let's get straight to the point: what exactly is B2B lead generation and how does it work?
B2B lead generation describes the process of acquiring prospective customers for a product or service. B2B leads are usually acquired through various marketing measures. Marketing measures include, for example, content marketing or advertising. You can include checklists and trial versions in your free content so that leads are generated directly before readers even click on your product page.
The trick is that your readers don't get these "extras" for free. If they want to download the checklist or test your product, they have to fill out a so-called lead form before they receive anything. This lead form is your gateway to data that is essential for a B2B lead. When creating a lead form, however, you must be careful not to overwhelm your potential lead!
You should always ask yourself the following questions:
- What data do you absolutely need?
- Which data can you subsequently enrich with external data?
- How much data is a person willing to give away in return for a white paper or a test account?
As a rule of thumb, the less data you ask for in your lead form, the higher the conversion.
Only when a person has voluntarily provided their data do they get access to the "extras" - and you have generated a B2B lead with the contact data provided. There are many different ways in which you can generate B2B leads. We have summarised 8 different types of lead generation for you here. Are you ready?
"93 % of B2B buying processes start with an online search." As a communication discipline, content marketing is therefore at the heart of digital lead generation. Producing content tailored to target groups and distributing it via suitable communication channels has proven to be the most effective and thus most popular lead source in recent years.
In content marketing, a company's own website is of particular importance. Individual pages, so-called landing pages, provide interested parties with valuable content and give them the desired information about a company and its product. Therefore, you should pay special attention to optimising your landing pages.
On the one hand, landing pages must meet the highest usability standards, on the other hand, they should be SEO-optimised. If potential customers need a solution to their problem and your article or landing page could help them, it is best if your landing page ranks well. The better the findability of a content offer and the easier the access, the higher the probability of reaching your target customers.
All formats have basic characteristics in common: they contain comprehensive, specialised information that offers consumers a recognisable benefit and added value.
In B2B, spontaneous purchasing decisions are rare. Instead, interested parties first obtain comprehensive information before they even consider a product.
That's why whitepapers are a proven method for generating B2B leads. With whitepapers you can support the research process and show professional expertise. Give your target customers relevant information that justifies receiving a business email address in return.
You should include some kind of reference to your product in your offered content, as this is the first and basic step of lead qualification: An interested reader will automatically come into contact with your product, even though it is not the focus of your white paper.
In B2B, products or services usually require more advice than in B2C. Prospective customers like to compare several providers and products before buying. They want to get a feeling for whether they are investing in the right tool or not.
If you as a supplier use a webinar for lead generation, you can present your product to several people at the same time, show advantages and areas of application and answer questions. This is your chance to showcase the best aspects of your product and all the benefits customers can expect - don't waste it!
Participation in a webinar is usually not as time-consuming and registration is easier than with an online demo - including higher conversion rates! The lead generation takes place with the registration of the interested parties, who in return can participate in the webinar free of charge.
A blog is a great way to generate B2B leads. Try not to focus too much on marketing your product or service there, but support your target group with relevant content. Position yourself as an expert on your topic and build trust with potential customers. When it comes to a purchase decision, they already know your product and are more receptive to a purchase.
It is important that you provide content that your target group also searches for on Google or other search engines. Optimising your articles based on key terms or search queries is the key here if you want to prevent your competitors from taking the lead. Improve your rankings on Google and you will achieve more visibility with your target group, get more views and - you guessed it - more leads.
In the articles themselves, you can offer checklists, blueprints or anything else for download and generate B2B leads via these so-called lead magnets.
5. identification of web visitors
If you have the contact details of someone who has shown interest by asking for your product or service, they are considered a B2B lead.
Every day visitors come to your website - unfortunately not every one of them downloads your white paper, asks for prices or books a demo. This person is still interested in you! They have already shown interest in your product - they just haven't responded yet. The next step is to figure out how to interact with them.
The question is: How do you find out who has visited your website? The solution is called visitor identification! There are tools that reveal the IP addresses of your website visitors and tell you which companies are potentially interested in your product. This gives you B2B leads that you might otherwise have missed.
In addition, these tools often show other relevant company data such as employees and contact details. Especially exciting: IP recognition and visitor tracking tell you exactly which of your pages were visited and how often. This way, you can easily prioritise the next steps and the sales approach with the respective visitors.
6. social selling
Especially in B2B, LinkedIn proves to be an absolute must-have. Here you will not only find a lot of useful content, but you can also become active yourself.
On the one hand, you can build a network by providing relevant content and seeking exchange with your target group. With a little diligence, you can position yourself as an expert on your specific topic. The goal is that prospects will approach you or someone will recommend you because you have already achieved a certain visibility on a specific topic.
On the other hand, you can still post about other relevant content such as webinars, more exciting insights on your blog or topics on your company website. This increases the perception of your company - and you gain more leads!
Social media is becoming increasingly relevant for B2B lead generation - don't miss out on this development!
7. advertising / traffic generation
Effective lead generation with the help of content marketing follows clear steps. First, you need to capture the attention of your target customers: A detailed and carefully planned analysis of your target group provides you with the necessary information.
Then see which media are suitable for which target group. You should find out which channels appeal best to certain groups: Touchpoints include social media and search engines. If you know which touchpoints are most important to your prospects, you can place ads and drive traffic to them.
As a supplement to the general search engine optimisation of your own content, the strategic use of Google Ads has proven its worth. When your target customers search for certain topics or problems, they automatically find ads for your content, which in turn generate leads. In search engine marketing, a link always leads to your landing page.
Here the content - for example a white paper - is described in more detail. In the next step, you have to "seduce" the prospect to get to the closed content (e.g. a checklist) or a lead form (e.g. price lists).
As already mentioned, in most cases a business email address is sufficient for a lead form. Of course, it is always helpful to have as much information as possible from a lead. However, the danger remains that your target customers will be put off by a lead form that asks for too much information and will then cancel the registration.
B2B lead generation via social media is different. LinkedIn in particular is of great importance in B2B, even though Facebook and Instagram offer comparable opportunities that can be considered in B2C. You can direct your target customers to an external landing page via a link in social media. These platforms save you time and money and thus significantly increase the efficiency of your marketing measures.
On LinkedIn there are so-called Lead Gen Forms with which you can create ads, sponsored content or sponsored InMails with a call-to-action. With one click, the user's profile data, name, contact details, company, position, job title and location are transferred to a form and, for example, a linked e-book is released for download. The most important information for lead qualification is the name of the company. Regardless of the person filling out the registration form, this provides the basis for further research.
The data collected via Lead Gen Forms can be downloaded directly from your LinkedIn account and even transferred directly into your preferred CRM system.
Advertising has received rather negative attention in recent years, especially in B2B. Even the largest advertising budgets no longer achieve the response that advertisers were used to. Quite a few experts even predict the end of classic advertising. At the same time, trust in independent content is growing. Editorially prepared information on companies, products and services is given the attention that is often denied to advertising today.
Native advertising, for example the offer of the US company Taboola, combines the goals of advertising with the basic principles and possibilities of editorial reporting.
Today, advertisements can be found as native ads targeted on blogs, in newsletters or on news sites and in social media. Of course, they have been adapted visually and stylistically to editorial formats. As teasers, they consist only of excerpts and link to landing pages of the clients.
With ads you can create trust, which can be used on the landing page through clever design. Attractively designed advertorials attract attention and help you generate new leads.
8. b2b lookalikes: generating leads from existing customers
Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you no longer had to wait for leads? If you could simply approach companies that are similar to your existing customers?
We have news for you: it's possible! With the help of artificial intelligence, you can upload a list of customers and the AI will spit out a list of similar companies. These companies are also called B2B lookalikes. Lookalikes have certain or the same characteristics as the companies you entered as a basis.
You can use B2B lookalikes for cold calling or even for advertising. Often you already have suitable sales stories or use cases that make it easy for you to convince prospects of your product.
For more information, benefits and best practices of B2B lookalikes, see our article "Find similar companies: How to generate relevant leads with Lookalikes".
Conclusion: How to excel in B2B lead generation
Leads are the basis for any business success in B2B. Without reliable information about potential customers, you are in the dark and leave the results largely to chance. With strategic planning, it is possible to gather information about potential prospects and generate leads.
Define your target audience, analyse their customer journey and determine touchpoints - then you will understand when to capture the attention of prospects and how to convert them into leads with clever advertising and strategic content marketing.
Your goal should be to use existing aids and tools in such a way that lead generation delivers optimal results in terms of quality and quantity. In addition to the continuous generation of new leads, you should also include the enrichment and qualification of leads in your lead process.