B2B Marketing Basics: How to Generate New Leads
Table of Contents
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting potential customers to one’s business, acquiring their contact information. In this context, a “lead” is any person that has indicated interest in your services, whose personal information (like their name and email) you managed to collect.
After you gather sufficient leads, you can nurture your relationship and further their interest by sharing free content, inviting them to seminars, and sending them email newsletters. This step is called “lead nurturing” and is key to turning your cold leads into hot leads who are ready to buy.
Lastly, you need to also qualify each lead, and determine if they are a valid potential customer and whether the timing is right to approach. Leads are qualified based on whether they fit into your target (as in target industry, size of company, region, demographic, etc). and based on their past actions (like how actively they engage with your brand online).
This whole 3-step marketing process that includes lead generation, nurturing, and qualification is also called demand generation.
What is Demand Generation? Breaking Down the 3-Step Process
Why is lead generation important?
Lead generation is the first step in the marketing-sales funnel and is a critical factor in whether you reach your sales goals. You need a decent-size list in order to make sufficient sales to grow your business.
We always recommend our clients calculate backwards to see how many leads they need. For example, if you have 100 leads, and you have an average appointment rate is 15%, then from there you have a close rate of 30%, then you’re making about 5 sales for every 100 leads. If you then calculate backwards, you can see that you need 500 leads if you want to ensure you make 25 sales in one month.
However, if you’re a smaller business or just getting started, it may be difficult to gather a large number of leads upfront. In this case, you should put extra effort into nurturing your cold leads so that none of your lead information goes to waste. Afterall, on average, 75% of your newly acquired leads will NOT be ready to make a purchase.
Also, you can improve your appointment rate and close rate by gathering better quality leads. We’ll discuss methods to attract quality leads in a later section.
Lead generation strategies
Meeting new customers in person at a big event like a trade show is the classic, traditional way to gather leads. You would have to register for a booth, and then exhibit all your services while interested participants come up to learn more. You can give out pamphlets, whitepapers, free samples, and then exchange business cards so that you can contact them later on. In a single day, over a hundred leads can be gathered by each team member if they work hard. Though, you should note that many of these leads will be cold and unqualified leads, so you’ll have to nurture them for a while after the event before making a sales pitch.
Free seminars or training sessions are another great way to gather leads in exchange for something of value - your expertise. Seminars can of course be held online via Zoom or another webinar tool, but in person events allow for more casual communication with your guests and relationship-building.
At our company Cloud CIRCUS, we sometimes co-host seminars or conferences with similar companies in the IT industry so that the events have more reach. This allows both us and our collaborating partners to access each other’s current list, and use the combined reputations of our brands to attract more leads.
Also, you should invite all your current leads and existing clients by email, but to attract new people, we really recommend you advertise online. You could run an ad on Facebook or Google, or maybe post your event on an online media site.
A “conversion” is an action completed by a customer, be it an online purchase or subscribing to your email newsletter. Specifically, it refers to when they fill out a form on your website, like an inquiry form, and provide you with their contact information.
First, to utilize your website more in lead generation, you need to increase the web traffic to your site via SEO (search engine optimization) and online ads. By optimizing your content for certain keywords and targeting your ads to the right demographic, you can attract more quality leads - that you can actually sell to.
Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term investment, and while it can be very effective if you continue it for a few years, it cannot bring you a huge boost in visitors right away. This is why, at least in the beginning stages of your website, you should work on SEO while also using online ads to increase traffic in the short-term. You can also share content on social media and over email to consistently bring more visitors to your website.
Next, you need to have a variety of conversion points on your site - not just an inquiry form. You could offer free resources like whitepapers and product catalogs, create sign-up forms for seminars, add an email subscribe form, a request a quote form, and so on to increase your conversions. The best lead magnets are those that offer truly useful content, like original research in your field or a selection of case studies, and that are 100% free for the customer to download and peruse.
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In our post-pandemic world, there are a lot of exhibitions that have moved online, making them much more accessible and cheaper to participate in. Typically, your company will have your own sort of break-out room like in Zoom, and then visitors can come and listen to your product demonstration and ask questions.
One of the benefits of online exhibitions is that there is zero travel involved, meaning you could gather leads in an entirely different continent if you wanted to access a new market. And while there is less one-to-one interaction with potential customers, you can still gather a fair amount of leads, by letting them download materials from your site and schedule consultations with you as well.
How to improve the quality of your leads
Try account-based marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy in which you define your target, and then attract and focus on high-value clients, using a hyper-personalized approach to sales.
In the case of ABM, you would narrow down your target into 3 main tiers. Tier-1 is your core target, and represents your ideal customer profile (ICP). The target industry, size of company, geographic region, and other details are all specified, and then the leads that fall into this category receive the utmost care and attention, as they are expected to bring the largest return. To determine what your main target should be, consider what kinds of clients have the highest lifetime value (LTV) and have brought in the largest profit to your company in the past.
What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)? Definition, Examples, and Tools
Tailor the customer experience to your core target
This goes hand-in-hand with the ABM strategy, but if you want to attract the right kind of leads, then you should tailor every step of the customer journey to them. For example, if you want to attract more construction companies, then create content that is just for them on your site (such as construction case studies, a whitepaper on digital transformation in the construction industry, a list of construction companies you’ve worked with in the past). Your email newsletter should also be segmented so that you’re sending personalized content to each person, so that they always receive info that is relevant to their situation.
Reevaluate your targeting
If you’re doing online ads at the moment, look into whether your campaigns are reaching the right people. It’s possible you need to further narrow down the target to a single country, or to a specific role, so that your leads are more likely to lead to a quicker purchase. Also, by refining your ad target, you can also personalize the ad copy and visuals further and increase the conversion rate.
Lead generation is an essential step in making sales, and every business should develop a strategy and set of methods for consistently bringing in new leads. These days, there are a lot of companies struggling to find new leads because they haven’t made the transition to online marketing. It is necessary to adapt with the times and incorporate your website and other online channels into your strategy in order to stay competitive going forward.
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