To remain profitable, B2B companies must maintain a steady stream of new customers. And when it comes to facilitating new business and greater sales, there are few strategies more effective than B2B lead generation.
However, while many e-commerce sellers are familiar with the concept, the challenge is often finding effective tactics. For instance, the Content Marketing Institute reports that 85% of B2B marketers rank lead generation as a top priority. Yet, only 44% feel their efforts achieve the desired results.1
If you feel there’s room for improvement in your lead generation efforts, we’re here to help. Here are 15 strategies you can implement to generate more (and better quality) leads.
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B2B lead generation involves identifying and attracting new customers for your business. It includes strategies uniquely designed to pull B2B leads into your sales process and hopefully make loyal clients out of them.
B2B leads may be qualified or unqualified. Qualified leads are those who fit your expectations of an ideal customer. For example, they are customers who are likely to purchase your products or have expressed a strong interest in your company. On the other hand, unqualified or “cold” leads may not fit your ideal customer profile. As a result, lead gen efforts focus more on qualified prospects.
Lead generation involves various inbound marketing tactics to build visibility, awareness, and interest in your products or services from qualified leads. These tactics include content marketing, social media posts, and email marketing.
Quality B2B lead generation is fundamental to sustainable business. No business can survive without the constant influx of new customers that effective lead generation provides, and growth would be impossible without a corresponding expansion in your customer base.
Additionally, B2B lead generation provides the following benefits:
Although they have the same core goal: to attract willing buyers, B2B lead generation is fundamentally different from its B2C counterpart.
For instance, while B2C lead generation uses techniques that aid direct-to-consumer selling, B2B selling uses other methods. B2C marketers typically find their best leads through traditional advertising, email, and social media says Hubspot.2 Comparably, B2B lead gen sources the best-qualified leads through search engine optimization (SEO), social media platforms, and email marketing.
But it’s not just about where the leads come from. There are other fundamental differences between B2B and B2C lead generation strategies.
While it sounds like B2B lead generation should be a job for the marketing team, sales are also heavily involved in this process. That’s because lead generation occupies the first stage in your sales funnel. When sales and marketing are aligned on lead generation, your tactics work more effectively and are more likely to deliver a consistent buyer journey.
That said, let’s look more closely at how the B2B lead generation process works.
The first stage of B2B lead generation is finding leads. That generally includes collecting contact information, like email addresses, from prospects who have expressed an interest in your goods or seem like they’d be a good fit. Companies have many ways that they go about this, but some of the most common are through:
Next up, your sales and marketing teams will design an approach for contacting leads. It’s worth noting that first impressions matter, so plan to make the best impression possible.
There are two general ways to contact leads. First, you could conduct targeted outreach in the form of cold outreach (calls and emails), contact at industry events, or set up a meeting with prospects. Requests for Quotes (RFQ) are also a way to contact prospects.
Companies also employ non-targeted outreach in email marketing, LinkedIn newsletters, social media posts, etc.
At this stage, you already know the prospective buyers you’re working with, and you likely understand their pain points. Therefore, you’re focused next on showing them how you solve their problems.
This stage includes segmentation (where you separate prospects based on factors like their readiness to buy), nurturing, and qualifying. Nurturing aims to take buyers from the stage of awareness, where they first learn about your products, to consideration, where they weigh your company’s promises, and finally, decision, where they hopefully make a purchase.
Prospects who reach the point where they’re seriously considering a purchase are qualified leads. Consequently, your marketing team will pass these leads on to sales, who will do the work of closing a purchase.
When you carry out this process with a long view, it makes things easier for sales. A prospect with a fair view of your company’s ability to solve their problems will convert quicker after marketing’s hand-off to sales.
With the preliminaries sorted, let’s turn next to strategies you can implement to supercharge your B2B lead gen process.
Before we begin, it’s critical to recognize that not all lead generation strategies will work for your firm. As a result, you should carefully consider each strategy to determine if it fits your business model, target audience, and corporate goals.
You’re more likely to succeed when lead gen efforts align with your overall sales and marketing goals. With that settled, here are 15 strategies to generate more and higher-quality leads.
The vast majority of your lead gen efforts will require creating content in whatever form. As such, there’s simply no compromising the quality of your content if you want high-quality leads. There are three core areas you must focus on in crafting attractive content: research, production, and presentation.
Whether you’re writing a blog post, email drip campaign, or making a cold call, you simply must know your audience. That includes finding out what they want to know and how best to present it. You can use platforms like Quora, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and LinkedIn to identify your prospects' questions.
Production covers the process of writing, documenting, or recording your content. The rule of thumb is to be concise, engaging, and helpful. Finally, present your content using a medium that is easy to read or engage with.
Apart from creating great content, A/B testing is another way to help your lead gen efforts excel. Also called split testing, A/B testing lets you test two versions of something to determine which one performs better.3
For instance, you can use split testing to determine which landing page version performs best. Under the test, you’ll publish two different page versions at different times and then measure their comparative performance.
Employing A/B testing can add greater accuracy to your lead gen efforts. It lets you generate more leads and even refine your message to attract leads that are more likely to buy.
Customers love freebies, and B2B leads are no different. That’s why lead magnets are amongst the most effective lead generation strategies.
According to statistics, 50% of marketers who use lead magnets report higher conversion rates.4 With lead magnets, you can rapidly build email lists with prospects that have a keen interest in your products.
The Content Marketing Institute found that webinars and ebooks are among the best performing lead magnet types,5 so it’s a good idea to consider starting with these. Whitepapers and original research/surveys are also popular lead magnets.6
If you’re looking to generate rapid results for your lead gen campaign, keyword advertising (KWA) can be a valuable tool. Also called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, KWA marries the effectiveness of keyword research with the convenience of paid ads.
With KWA, you tie your ads to specific high-value keywords so that when potential clients search for those keywords, they also see your products. Consequently, KWA typically works best on platforms that provide search advertising.
As one of the world’s largest repositories of B2B buyers, Alibaba.com offers KWA to help sellers attract high-potential clients. By exploiting the value of KWA, you can potentially improve product visibility and marketing accuracy and generate leads faster.
Since its inception, social media has grown as a powerful business tool, and that potential only increases daily. Apart from the well-known marketing value of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, other platforms like TikTok have become B2B marketing powerhouses.
How big can social media become for your marketing efforts? The answer is pretty big. As HubSpot reports, for every new social media platform you add to your marketing efforts, ROI can potentially grow ROI by 35%.7
LinkedIn will arguably provide your biggest opportunity for B2B leads. Reports from Oberlo indicate that 25% of all LinkedIn users are the senior-level staff – basically, the people who decide if you get a new B2B client or not.8
Requests for quotation (RFQs) are a core lead generation tool on B2B marketplaces like Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com’s RFQ marketplace is even more valuable since it gives sellers access to warm (and potentially hot) leads looking to make a purchase shortly.
But being able to respond to RFQs is only half the work. You also need to respond adequately with helpful information showing potential clients that you understand their needs and can provide satisfactory solutions.
If you have responded adequately, there’s great potential for the RFQ to generate a purchase for your business. And when it doesn’t immediately result in an order, it can be the start of discussions that ultimately end in a successful purchase.
With the rise of streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, video is also gaining a reputation as a highly effective marketing tool. As Animoto reports, 93% of marketers say they have gained a new customer after a video marketing campaign.9
One of the reasons for video’s effectiveness is its ease of consumption. Compared to whitepapers and ebooks, which can take some reading, video can deliver big insights in just a few minutes and with far more engagement.
Video content can set you apart and fire up your lead generation on B2B marketplaces, where potential clients are watching out for genuine businesses to patronize.
As we mentioned above, B2B buyers love information. Research shows that B2B buyers consume up to 13 pieces of content before purchase.10 They typically have specific problems, and they want to know their preferred vendor has the knowledge and expertise to provide great solutions.
Consequently, they are more likely to deal with companies known as leaders in their industry or who display deep industry/product knowledge. You can use this hunger for data as a lead generation strategy by becoming an authority on industry trends, product details, and other data.
Some ways you can establish authority include publishing guest posts on leading websites, conducting and sharing original research, and generating strong SEO backlinks. You get backlinks when other websites link to your web pages as a source for information they have cited.
Again, as we’ve mentioned, B2B leads are deliberate buyers. They want to take their time to make an informed decision that benefits them over the long term. As a result, any steps you take to help them make that decision will resonate with B2B buyers.
Providing a peek into your product in the form of demos or free samples can be that step. With a demo, you gain a unique opportunity to demonstrate how your service or product fulfills the prospect's needs and why they should transact with you.
Everyone loves free stuff. But in the case of B2B buyers, a free taster can not only endear you to prospects, but it can also be the start of a long and beneficial relationship.
Notice your competitors seem to be generating more leads and closing higher sales? It’s possible to take a peek at what they’re doing and incorporate their best practices into your process. This is also a great tactic for when you just want to keep tabs on the competition.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs to crawl a competitor’s website, identify their best-performing keywords, and even generate content ideas you can use on your website. You can similarly crawl your website and see how you’re doing in comparison before implementing any measures.
Another way you can use the competition is by creating content that piggy-backs off your competitors’ success. For example, you can write an article that lists the best sources for the products you provide, including your high-performing competitors, then point out why you’re a better option.
Social proof is one of the most powerful tools you can employ in your lead generation efforts, especially in the case of B2B buyers. As statistics indicate, 82% of buyers start their buying process by seeking recommendations from others.12
In fact, 70% will trust a recommendation even from someone they don’t know personally.13 Social proof is about building trust and showing that others have tried your products and enjoyed demonstrable benefits.
Therefore, you create a compelling case for your company when you can show testimonials or case studies that document how real customers used your products and benefitted.
As you’ve seen, lead generation can involve substantial effort, and accomplishing your goals can take a lot of time and resources. One way to simplify and potentially boost your lead gen efforts is to bake automation into your process.
According to reports, 80% of marketers say automation generates better leads, and 77% say they experience higher conversion rates as a result.13 That’s unsurprising since automation replicates your efforts without manual input and produces results even while you sleep.
Tools like Salesforce, Prospect.io, and HubSpot are effective at helping you automate your processes.
Set your lead gen tactics apart by going off the beaten path. While B2B buyers tend to be conservative, you can think of creative ways to engage their interests and procure patronage.
For instance, leveraging quizzes can provide an effective means to generate more and better-qualified leads. A quiz essentially asks the lead questions that engage their curiosity, answer their questions about your product, or simply make them laugh.
And this can be very effective, according to research which shows that, on average, quizzes have a 31.6% capture rate.14
You’ve done all the work to implement innovative lead generation strategies, but don’t let it end there. The hallmark of successful marketers is they keep testing, measuring, and implementing changes where necessary.
Often, you’ll find a campaign that’s not producing the results you need. Or, even more often, you’ll discover there’s a minor tweak you can make to accelerate your results and deliver better leads for your business.
You can employ research tools like Google Keywords Planner and Google Trends for this purpose. Likewise, the substantive lead generation tools you use, such as Salesforce and HubSpot, include analytics elements that give you a birds-eye view of your lead gen efforts.
Finally, keep in mind that certain leads will drop out during your lead generation process. Often, you’d have done some work to nurture these leads, or they simply may not convert after all your efforts. There’s no need to let them go just yet.
You can unlock value from these leads by employing retargeting and remarketing tactics. When you retarget a lead, you direct new ads to them based on their last position in your sales process.
Since these leads are already warm and have contacted your business, it makes sense to keep them in your pipeline for potential future conversion. Data also support the effectiveness of this tactic – prospects who see retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert.15
B2B lead generation is one of the best ways to achieve sustainable success for your e-commerce business. With the strategies discussed in this article, you have all you need to begin planning and executing a lead gen plan that meets your sales and marketing goals.
And if you’re looking for a way to generate high-quality leads and convert them seamlessly, Alibaba.com has all the tools you need. With the Alibaba.com seller dashboard, you get cutting-edge digital features that help you manage the whole B2B buyer process, from awareness to purchase and delivery.
Would you like to see what’s possible with an Alibaba.com seller dashboard? Open a seller account today.