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Updated 9/29/21

You don’t just want traffic – you want leads. And you don’t just want leads, you want leads that will convert. While traffic is nice, and leads are great –neither one pays the bills quite like a sale.

For B2B businesses, improving that lead generation process means two things: improving the quantity of incoming leads while at the same time improving the quality of those leads. There's no magic formula to follow, since every business will have a slightly different audience they are targeting, however, there are best practices and principles to consider when you’re trying to amp up your lead generation – and we’ve got a ton of them right here for you to consider and test.  

Starts with defining your audience.

Improving your lead generation is rooted in furthering your understanding of the audience you are trying to reach. If you’re finding that lead numbers are low or that the quality of incoming leads are poor, the underlying issues are likely that you:
  • Don’t really know who your customers are so you don’t know who to target
  • Haven’t identified the pain points your customers are tying to resolve
  • Don’t understand the questions your customers are asking and what they need to hear
  • Haven’t found a compelling way to provide an answer to their questions
  • Don’t know where your customers are looking for solutions
To improve your lead generation, you need to define your customer's persona. Take a look at some of the criterion you need to define below and how one company might put a more compelling persona together.  

Critical criteria to have a handle on:

  • Demographics - How are your clients dispersed by age?
  • Psychographics - What do they value? What do they care about?
    • These are important in two contexts: their business life, and personal life, as the two different areas reflect different content opportunities.
  • Triggers - What makes the client aware that they need your solution?
  • Pain points - What problems does the client face that your products or service can address?
  • Stumbling blocks & motivators - What gets in the way of the purchase? What might scare the client off?
    • Conversely, what might motivate them to purchase?
  • External authorities - Do they have superiors? What do those authorities expect from them, and the solutions they find?
Here’s an example of how a company might break this out. Let’s use SMART Tech as an example. They create interactive white boards that display video and images, and feature multi-touch capabilities for easy collaboration. We’ll imagine that they’re trying to move into the educational space.
  • Persona: School Principle Pete
  • Demographics: typically aged 35 – 45. Primary market is in the western United States.
  • Psychographics: Values the longevity of equipment equally to its usefulness; operates within budget constraints, values the team they manage & achieving consensus. Interested in but inexperienced with emerging technologies.
  • Triggers: SMART may be suggested by teachers at the classroom level; looking for new ways to engage students. Encounters the product online or at a teacher’s convention.
  • Pain points: Teachers within the school are suggesting use of the equipment as a means of teaching a new generation of learners. Older equipment is in need of replacing.
  • Stumbling blocks & motivators: Budget is the primary drawback – little to draw upon and must be very careful about where to invest. Buying this tech will likely mean cutting back somewhere else. Needs to see a clear advantage over traditional whiteboards; responds well to statistics surrounding educational improvements in students and lifespan of the product.
  Knowing this information is valuable, but where do you get it? Here are some methods that will help you with gathering this type of data:
  • Ask your sales team. They will have an intimate knowledge of pain points, needs, stumbling blocks, and common questions along the sales cycle that can help guide your content and how you execute your lead generation plan.
  • Customer surveys can be used to help gather some data. If your budget allows for it, then you can also consider focus groups (though it can get expensive)
  • Market research firms are an expensive but worthy alternative; keep in mind that this knowledge is going to help you improve sales numbers, so you will recoup the costs invested.
  • Social listening is an affordable means that can glean insights. Websites like Quora and Reddit can yield surprising insights, while industry forums are a great place to hunt for discussions.
Armed with improved knowledge of the customers you’re trying to reach, no it is time to build a game plan on attracting their attention!  

Three General Rules

First, let's look at some general precepts that can boost lead generation across almost every advertising and outreach medium.  

1. Keep links crystal clear

Whether you're linking to an offer in a marketing email, creating an intuitive navigation for your website, or promoting a free resource via Twitter, people like to know what they're about to click. Keeping all anchor text clear and accurate is essential, particularly for busy B2B customers who typically have little time to waste on misguided links. For example, startup whodoyou leaves no ambiguity as to where the links in their e-mails will go:
Clear anchor text
It can be tempting to try to intrigue or entertain in order to stand out from the crowd, but misleading or unclear links don't give potential customers any obvious reason to head down your path – what's in it for them? Focus on clarity and helpfulness to win traffic which wants what you have to offer.  

2. Offer opportunities for further learning

B2B clients typically do a lot of research on services and products before enquiring or purchasing. By the time they connect with your sales team, over 60% of their buying journey may already be complete. That means you’re going to need to give them content that answers their pain points, helps to create triggers, and alleviates their concerns. If you can make your brand known during the pivotal research stage, you may be able to build trust, boost your reputation and enhance brand recognition among B2B clients who will need your service further down the line. How can you deliver your content in a more compelling way? A few examples include:
  • Webinars are interactive content; it’s a chance to share your expertise on a subject pertinent to your market in an environment where they don’t feel pressured to buy.

For example, ICAEW Has hosted a ton of webinars on financial accounting, all of which inform customers and help them familiarize themselves with the expertise of the vendor.

Webinars for B2B
  • Consider writing a whitepaper that clients can research on their own time. One of the smart ways to get a lead into your funnel is to offer these in exchange for an e-mail, then follow up with a drip-campaign targeted to the customer’s stage in the buying cycle.

For example, SIGNiX is a platform for collecting signatures digitally. They created a whitepaper that is chock full of helpful information on digital signatures that leads can use to learn more about the process.

B2B whitepaper
  • If you have a lot of data that you would like to present, consider making an infographic. These are particularly useful in generating and converting leads by sharing stats favorable to outcomes your customers are looking for (for example, SMART might share statistics surrounding classroom engagement and how much it improves when an interactive whiteboard is used).
  • Comprehensive guides and eBooks work the same way whitepapers do, allowing you to provide an in-depth look at a question or subject your market is deeply passionate about in exchange for an e-mail address. With their email address, you now have the ability to remarket to the customer you know is researching solutions.

For example, the Kaplan Agency assembled an eBook on analyzing financial statements to help corporate clients who may need their services down the line. It answers a pain point while pulling the lead into the funnel.

B2B eBook
  • Blog posts are useful for timely and topical discussions, but be careful not to lean on them too heavy and hard. These are great for clients high in the funnel as they can talk about a wider breadth of topics and address those personal psychographics of your market. They can also be used to tie back into larger pieces like whitepapers and eBooks and further push people into the funnel.
  • Video is an amazing and completely underutilized medium. From explainer videos that describe your offering succinctly and in a storytelling format (perfect for high-funnel clients as well as those who don’t yet know they need your service) to demoing your offering live on film, video can be used to educate, entertain and inform leads almost anywhere in the funnel (except at the point of purchase – then get out of your own way).

Example: GoToMeeting uses video to educate curious onlookers and existing users alike.

  • Tutorials, both written and video, are great because they demonstrate your business’ competence. Again, you can couple these with more permanent resources like whitepapers and eBooks to turn passive customers into active leads.

3. Test, test, & test again

If you want your website to convert more and more visitors into leads, you need to be prepared for an ongoing process of tweaking, testing, tweaking, testing and doing the whole thing over again. The lead generation process never ends - there is always more you can do to boost traffic, minimize bounce rates, and maximize the leads you're getting. So remember – keep trying new things and keep testing. Whether you're using multivariate testing or split (A/B) testing, the important thing is that you're continually learning more about what works for you and what doesn't – and backing this knowledge up with cold hard facts.  

On-Site Lead Generation

We've shared 3 great, general tips, but what if you're already earning a great deal of traffic, but it just won't turn into the leads you want? Here are a few steps to consider:  

1. Keep your form above the fold

This is another tip which is all about making things as obvious and as easy as possible for your potential leads. Don't make visitors scroll to find an enquiry form, instead have it right up top above the fold so they know exactly what they need to do if they want to pursue your offer any further.
copywriting above the fold

2. Only ask for what you need

On the form itself, don't bombard enquirers by asking for excessive questions or trying to gather information you don’t actually need. As Joe covered in his piece, “8 Conversion Lessons from the Masters of Ecommerce”, demanding too much information is one of the key reasons people abandon shopping carts. In a study by the Baynard Institute, 61% of businesses asked for “unnecessary information” during the checkout process – and lost customers because of it! Instead, only ask exactly what you need to. This should prevent potential leads ditching the form at the very final / crucial moment.  

3. De-clutter landing pages

Keep it simple. Cut down on navigation and links on landing pages to help funnel visitors down the road to becoming a real lead. Don't cut out all access to the outside web (this could lead to visitors simply exiting), instead provide useful, essential links, without distracting visitors from their journey towards becoming a lead! A great resource for this “Anatomy of the Perfect Landing Page” by CRO pros KISSMetrics.  

4. Forget color, concentrate on contrast

When developing an eye-catching call to action, focus on contrast, not color. High-contrast palettes featuring no more than 3 key hues can be a very effective way to draw attention, helping visitors to take the next step by following a call to action. Warehouse's contrasting yellow sale circle is a good example which can also be applied to B2B websites.
B2B call to action (CTA)

5. Keep your call-to-action contextual

A big reason customers bounce is because the call to action isn’t compelling – or isn’t appropriate for their stage of the buying cycle. Someone watching a demo video may not be ready to “Buy Now!”, but may be ready to “Download our free resource”. When planning out your content, be mindful of what stage of the buying cycle a person on the page is in, and tailor your call-to-action to that stage. Deep in the funnel? Go for the sale. Still researching? Invite them to engage and learn.  

Email Marketing Lead Generation

Once your website is primed, it's time to focus on how best to attract visitors and start converting. There are a number of tools you can use to drive traffic, but we'll be focus on a few tips to squeeze the greatest number of leads from your email marketing campaign.  

1. Give readers options

It might sound simple, but you'd be surprised by how many B2Bs simply include an email address and a request to “get in touch”. This is a one-way ticket to being ignored. Instead, cater to as wide an audience as possible by providing numerous routes towards conversion. Email addresses, links to a landing page, links to free resources, telephone numbers – these all help to create leads. At the same time, setting up tracking will enable you to monitor those who choose to visit your website following an email marketing campaign – indispensable information!  

2. Hone that subject line

Finding the perfect subject line is trickier than writing a flawless haiku. But take time to capture imaginations and explain how opening the email will be beneficial to a busy team member within your target market. E-mail headlines need to be unique, create urgency and appeal to the reader immediately. Think effective – not clever. Your e-mails should provoke curiosity and inspire action; they need to stand out from the thousands of other e-mails your customers receive and raise an eyebrow enough for a click-through. . A helpful resource for this is Copyblogger’s “How to Write Magnetic Headlines” and “E-mail subject lines that won’t be ignored”  

3. Keep images to a minimum

Slow-loading emails, like those that come LOADED with images, have some of the highest bounce rates. Don't cram your email campaign with images which will take an age to load, particularly as many busy business people tend to open email on the move via mobile devices.  

Lead generation never stops.

These tips will get you started – but the fact is, there’s always more that can be done to improve lead quality and quantity. Never rest on your laurels, make your brand indispensable via insightful content marketing, be clear and helpful and you should start to see those leads picking up in no time.

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