What is B2B lead generation?
It's actually a threefold question. What is B2B, what is a lead, and what does it mean to generate them? B2B in short, is trade between businesses, as opposed to when a business sells to individuals. You can read more in the article B2B sales.
A lead is a person (or in this case, a company) who has shown an interest in your product or service. In other words, it is a potential customer or client. But for a lead to become a customer, a sale must be closed first. Therefore, you should differentiate between acquiring new leads and to get more customers. These are two different things, or at least two different steps in the process. Lead generation comes first.
Examples of leads could be when someone downloads a white paper or an on-demand webinar. A smart tactic here is to offer a free welcome gift at sign-up. You can think of it as a taste test. Something that gives the potential future customer free value right now.
The goal of the taste test (or lead magnet) is to capture those who are interested in what you have to say in your e-book. Think of a supermarket that gives free tasters of red wine. They can assume with a fair degree of certainty that all the people tasting the wine are people who like red wine and are considering buying a bottle to take home. So how does this example translate into B2B lead generation? How do you give digital tasters?
Let's say your company develops security systems for other companies' computer networks. In that case, you could create a quick PDF guide called "5 tips to secure your IT system". It could also be done via a form where you have to provide some information to get the result emailed to you. In that case, you might call it "How secure is your system? Take the test here". Common to both approaches is that you get an email address.
In this way, digital lead generation works better than what happens in the supermarket. Because unlike them, you now have the opportunity to follow up with your lead afterwards and try to make a sale. So you've generated a lead.
How to do good B2B lead generation?
It goes without saying that, all things being equal, the more leads you generate, the more of these will be converted into buying customers. But the maths is not so straightforward. If it was just a question of quantity, you could quickly collect piles of leads. You could simply send out sensors to every CVR number in the register. In the old days - and sadly, in some cases, still - we talked about cold marketing. That's the scattergun approach. Nowadays, most companies understand that warm leads are the ones to collect.
As with commerce and marketing in general, the same is true for lead generation: relevance is key. Along with targeting. In other words, you should only target businesses that could genuinely have an interest in your product or service. And targeting your efforts means being sharp about the best channels to reach them. After all, there are many to choose from.
So even if your immediate funnel is narrowed by focusing your B2B lead generation on relevance, the subsequent conversion rate will be much higher. And since the vast majority of B2B lead generation either costs money or time (which is also money), the math will pay off better in the long run.
How to generate B2B leads
Here are a few concrete suggestions on how to generate B2B leads:
- Exclusive content. You can also offer a free treat in exchange for an email, for example a discount code, an exclusive e-book or other content. You can actually avoid using "sign up" or "newsletter" in your text, as these two words can be a bit off-putting. Instead, be creative and try, for example, "Enter your email to see your discount code" or "Where should we send your free e-book?" Be careful not to break GDPR laws, though. Therefore, make sure you have a visible link to your terms when signing up.
- Facebook Lead Ads. Facebook has different kinds of ads, divided by objective. It can be for example Conversion, Traffic or Leads. The latter has exactly the purpose of generating leads. In short, Facebook Ads work in the way that they have a huge knowledge base about their users. Therefore, they know which users often click on links (traffic), make a purchase (conversion) or sign up for something (leads). So it's clearly worth testing whether Facebook Lead Ads work for your B2B business.
We typically work with a combination of marketing channels when helping B2B companies generate leads. Read more about our framework here.
Next step after lead generation B2B
Once you've got your leads in house, the next step is to warm them up. Technically, a lead you've gotten via one of the above methods is only lukewarm. It can get hotter still.
Make sure you have a friendly and inviting welcome sequence of emails that welcomes your leads. The first email and right upfront should be the treat you've promised them (if you've used that method). There's nothing worse than being stalled, so make sure you keep your promise right away. This also means that first email should be triggered immediately after sign-up.
After that, you're free to contact your lead how often and with what content. However, make sure that the person is the focus, and not so much your company. Yes, of course your leads are interested in hearing a bit more about what you have to offer, but make sure you give them value with every email - that is, don't just talk about yourself, put yourself in their shoes and offer something they can use.
This way, you'll get off to a good start with lead generation in the B2B segment and be ready to take it to the next level.