Which Digital B2B Lead Generation Strategies Work Best in 2020

Much like trying to cancel a cable contract, B2B lead generation can be a frustrating endeavour. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy guaranteed to bring in leads. What works for a B2B SaaS company probably won’t work for a company who sells office supplies.  

61% of marketers say that generating traffic and leads is their biggest challenge, and that makes sense. There is so much misinformation out there, and so many snake-oil salesmen selling so-called ‘silver bullets’.

The uncomfortable truth of the matter is, no one really knows the best source for B2B leads.  

lead source - b2b lead generation

In a recent study by HubSpot, companies were asked where their leads came from. Though there are some stand-outs – namely SEO (14%), email marketing, (13%), and social media (12%) – most B2B leads come from “Other”. Not very helpful for marketers looking to improve their marketing ROI.

Before we begin

One of the main problems with B2B lead generation is that marketers spend most of their time metaphorically pouring water into a leaky bucket. In other words, they spend more time pouring water (traffic) than they do making sure their bucket (marketing funnel) doesn’t leak.

As a result, they will face below-average results and highly inflated acquisition costs.

For instance, if you’re experiencing low conversion rates of only 1 or 2%, you’re attracting 1000 visitors per month, you’ll only be gaining 10 leads. By improving your optimization rate, you can easily double or triple your lead generation without increasing your costs. 

Before you begin with any new strategies, you should analyze exactly where potential leads are “falling out of bed”. More often than not, it is your landing pages and forms which are costing you conversions.

Once you’ve patched up any leaks in your marketing funnel, we can take a look at the B2B lead generation strategies that work in 2020. 

Email Marketing 

One of the few techniques that have stood the test of time, email marketing is still one of the most effective B2B lead generation strategies in 2020. According to HubSpot’s 2020 ‘Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics’, 79% of B2B marketers credit email as the most effective channel for demand generation.

Within email marketing, one of the biggest trends that has generated good results is marketing automation. Hybrid email marketing tools which are connected with your CRM to automatically send highly targeted emails to leads which are specifically tailored to them, marketing automation systems have many benefits. 

After upgrading to a marketing automation solution, Thomson Reuters increased their revenue by 172%. Similarly, another company say an 832% increase in their review within three years.

While traditional email marketing and newsletters have their place, marketing automation gives business better capabilities. It allows them to capture  data on their users and, with behavioural triggers, get smarter about how they send emails. 

Content Marketing 

What can we say about content marketing that hasn’t already been said?

According to 72% of marketers in 2018, having a good content strategy was a major key to their success. 43% of B2B marketers also said that blogging is their most important content type. 

To illustrate this, public accounting firm Crowe Horwath generated $250,000 in revenue as a result of content marketing. They created 48 infographics, Q&A blog posts and videos targeting C-level prospects of financial institutions. Similarly, Xerox generated $1.3 billion in pipeline revenue by creating a microsite offering tips to business owners. As a result, 70% of businesses they targeted went on to interact with the site, generating 20 000 new contacts and 1000+ appointments. 

Of course, content marketing is a broad topic. As such, it’s important to ask exactly what type of content will generate the most leads for B2B companies. One solution would be to look at the tactics most commonly used by other companies in their field. While there is wisdom in following trends, there’s also good reason to go against the grain. If you only do what other companies are doing, you run the risk of fading into the background. 

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

Whether you like to stick to what works for others, or you like to forge your own path, it’s important to embrace experimentation. A degree of diversity is needed to find the biggest growth opportunities for your company. Use whichever common or uncommon tactics you think may net you good results, and constantly refine your strategy. Many B2B companies have found success with everything from infographics and blogging microsites and research reports.

Search Marketing 

Possibly one of the most valuable long-term B2B lead generation strategies, organic search marketing can have a dramatic impact on your revenue. Though the benefits of SEO for lead generation should be an article on their own, a few reasons to include it in your 2020 lead generation strategy include:

  • 57% of B2B marketers claim that SEO has the largest impact on lead generation
  • Outbound marketing leads have a close rate of only 1.7%, compared to the 14.6% close rate for organic search leads
  • Big spenders are statistically more likely to trust organic search for information
  • 78% of U.S. internet users research services and products online, and there are more than 10.3 billion Google searches every month

Technically, the term “search marketing” now works as an umbrella term for both SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). While SEO definitely produces good results, it is time consuming, and there’s nothing wrong with trying SEM. One of the easiest ways to get results quickly – if you know what you’re doing – PPC ads can be super effective. Unfortunately, depending on your location and your industry, it can also be super expensive.

Social Media 

Including social media on a list of effective B2B lead generation strategies may be slightly controversial. While many studies report social media to be an effective tool, many others proclaim it practically useless.

b2b lead generation

In a nutshell, social media isn’t necessarily useless – most B2B companies just don’t use it correctly. They have ill-fitting strategies when they have strategies at all, and expect social media to be a magic lead magnet. Thousands of companies use their social media channels to broadcast “self-promotional drivel”, paying no mind to best practices. 

By contrast, some companies use their social media to nurture millions of dollars worth of leads.

A simple glance at the above infographic will show that certain platforms will perform better than others, especially in the B2B market. Though some articles will claim that Twitter is a good source of leads, there is very little proof of that. LinkedIn, on the other hand, has proven to be invaluable to many B2B marketers. For example, one commodity risk management company generated over $2 million in pipeline value by incorporating LinkedIn in their lead generation strategy.

Social media is also an integral part of content and search marketing, as it would be difficult to share your blogs or infographics without it. 

Experimentation is Key

The best B2B lead generation is one that integrates multiple tools, platforms and approaches. You must be willing to experiment with different tactics, and channels outside your comfort zone. Always be refining your procedures, and analyze your results to see what works for you and what doesn’t.

This is the only way to create a strategy that generates hot leads and high returns. 

While you you can’t copy and paste a strategy that works for someone else and hope that it works for you, you can take inspiration from what other businesses in your niche are doing.

According to a survey by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association and Rain Group, 42% of companies admitted to having difficulty in planning their lead generation strategy. We’ve given you a few good ideas, but without a strategy to tie them all together they may as well be so much white noise.

Planning Your Strategy

Luckily, planning your lead generation strategy is as easy as asking “what, who, where, when, and why.

What do potential customers want?

Assuming you know who your ideal audience is, the next step is figuring out what they need. Understand their goals and pain points and tailor your marketing messages accordingly. You should also ask what your business can deliver. Identify your unique selling proposition (USP) and figure out how you can communicate this value to your leads.

Who is your lead?

Understand exactly what your definition of a lead is, and make sure your team knows too. This can help to keep your sales and marketing teams aligned.

Where are you going to distribute your content?

How do you reach your leads? What channels do your leads use to communicate. Which websites do they visit. What strategies can you use to infiltrate these channels?

When do leads become prospects?

Understand what constitutes an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and what qualifies a SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). Using lead scoring and other metrics to determine when a lead is ready to be passed to sales can also help to keep your teams aligned.

How do you track your progress?

Are you using CRM software or another mean for tracking your leads and prospects? Without it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Good CRMs allow you to track the status and success of all leads in your pipeline, allowing you to accurately gauge the success of your lead generation strategy.

Which B2B lead generation strategies have worked for you? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.