According to HubSpot, almost two thirds of marketeers say that generating traffic and leads is their top challenge. Which makes sense, because without leads there are no sales, and without sales, no business. Developing an effective lead generation strategy is therefore essential for any company, and although it can seem a little overwhelming, our step-by-step guide will show you how to set up a B2B lead generation strategy.
The entire process of lead generation can be summed up in five simple steps:
- Identify your target audience and set goals
- Create engaging content for each stage of the lead generation funnel
- Attract the right audience
- Capture their information
- Qualify your leads
Below we take a look at each step in more detail.
1. Identify your Target Audience and Set Your Goals
The foundation of your marketing strategy is understanding your target decision makers, and for the rest of your marketing efforts to pay off, this level needs to be as complete as possible.
To do this, create personas that identify the values, motivations, needs, wishes, frustrations, and dreams of the ideal customers you’re trying to attract, and help you understand how they make decisions.
Once you’ve built your personas, you should better understand the key challenges your target audience is facing, and know how to position your product or service to solve those challenges.
Now, determine both the quantity and quality of leads you want to generate, making sure to align these goals with your overall business goals.
2. Create Engaging Content for Each Stage of the Lead Generation Funnel
Content is one of the most widely used lead generation tactics, because as well as building trust and relationships, it can give customers the information they need to make an informed decision about purchasing your product or service. It’s also free!
But to provide the right kind of information at the right point in the journey – i.e. to turn a visitor to a lead, a lead to a prospect, and a prospect to a customer – you need to segment your content for the different stages of the lead generation/sales funnel and nurture them accordingly as the graph from Weidert indicates.
Top Of The Funnel (TOFU) – the ATTRACT / AWARENESS stage
At this first stage of your lead generation funnel, your focus should be on attracting a wide audience, and building awareness about both your brand and the problem you solve.
Content that works well as this stage includes:
- social media
Remember that your content should provide value and rather than actively trying to convince a customer to purchase. This way, you can start to develop a trust-based relationship.
Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU) – the ENGAGE / CONSIDERATION stage
This stage is where a proportion of your visitors will hopefully turn into leads. After the personal connection you established with your TOFU content, you can build on that trust to start developing a business relationship.
In order to turn your visitors into leads, you can offer them something even more valuable than your public content, in return for their personal details. This kind of ‘gated content’, or ‘lead magnet’ should respond to a real need or pain point – here, your personas will have helped you understand your target audience and their pain points – and be interesting enough that they will want to access it.
Content that works well as this stage includes:
Remember that the goal of this content is not yet to push your own product or service as the solution to their problems. Here you are simply educating them about solutions to their problem and how to find those solutions. And it’s fine to mention that your product or service just happens to offer a solution that meets their needs.
As you continue to engage with your leads, some will become prospects, and will move to the next stage, where they are ready to take a purchase decision.
Bottom Of The Funnel (BOFU) – the CONVERT / DECISION stage
Note that while each company divides the lead generation and sales processes differently, marketing teams are typically in charge of TOFU and MOFU, while sales teams usually take over once a prospect enters the BOFU stage. It goes without saying that alignment between marketing and sales is key to ensure that each team has the same expectations and that the handover is smooth.
At this stage, your lead already knows your product, understands how it solves their problem, and now needs reassurance that your product is the right one.
Content that works well as this stage includes:
- case studies
Creating the right kind of content for each stage of the journey is key to offering what feels like a personalised service.
3. Attract the Right Audience
If your content is going to have the desired effect, then it needs to be found, and ideally by those who are looking for a product or service just like yours.
One of the main ways to increase the quantity and quality of visitors to your website (often the first step to generating leads) is through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Developing an excellent SEO strategy can be a time-consuming and wide-reaching process, but once implemented successfully, it can greatly improve not only your site’s visibility, but also the user experience thanks to valuable and engaging content, user-friendly navigation, and fast loading speeds, among other benefits.
In order of importance, to optimise your site and help it rank higher, you need to provide:
- crawl accessibility: making sure your whole site can be ‘crawled’ and indexed by search engines
- compelling content: content that actually responds to the searcher’s query
- keyword optimisation:ensure good use of keywords in your content to attract both searchers and search engines
- a great user experience:this includes fast loading speed, easy navigation and a smooth overall user experience;
- share-worthy content: this will earn you backlinks (from other sites that link to your content)
- appropriate meta title, URL and meta description: the more appealing these are, the more visitors will click them
- snippet/schema mark-up: this helps your entry to stand out on the results page.
Once visitors have discovered your site and social media channels, invitations to access gated content can be through Calls-to-Action (CTAs) on your web pages, in your blog articles, in your email signature, or via social media, and should typically bring the user to a dedicated landing page where you capture their information.
Using paid lead generation like Google Ads is another way to help people find your site faster. To do this successfully, your landing page needs to meet Google’s stricter-than-ever rules, such as providing a useful page with genuine content, being transparent about what you will do with gathered personal details, and having a fast-loading page that’s easy to navigate. Read more about how using SEO and SEA (Search Engine Advertising) together can be a powerful technique to make sure your website is as visible as possible.
For B2B, LinkedIn is considered as the holy grail for lead generation, with sources suggesting that 80% of B2B leads generated through social media coming from LinkedIn. When creating LinkedIn ads, LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager lets you define an objective such as ‘website visits’ or ‘lead generation’.
4. Capture Your Leads’ Details
Creating the content that people want and need is one part of the challenge. Actually getting them to complete the process of handing over their details is another.
Here are a few strategies that can make the process smoother and more likely to result in you actually capturing a lead.
- Make sure the lead magnet is related to the content they are reading – If you want to avoid interrupting your visitor’s experience, and actually increase the trust they have in your brand, offer relevant gated content that will enhance their current experience.
- Only ask for the information you need – to limit the interruption to what your visitor was reading, and avoid them leaving the page or even your site, keep your form short and to the point. Depending on where the user is in your lead generation funnel, you might only need to ask for their name and email address.Later on in the journey, you may need to ask for more details, but by then, hopefully more trust has already been built up and there will be less resistance to providing more information.
- Use pop-ups wisely – while marketers may love pop-ups, internet users are generally less keen. But used wisely, they can be effective. For example, showing a pop-up before a user leaves your site, and offering them some relevant content; or triggering a pop-up to appear when the reader has scrolled X% down the page.
5. Qualify your Leads
Not all leads are equal, and with finite resources, it’s important that your marketing and sales efforts are directed at those leads who are most likely to turn into customers. But how do you know which leads are more worthwhile than others?
Scoring leads according to an agreed set of criteria lets you determine how suitable a match they are for your product or service, how likely they are to become a customer, and how best to help them make a purchase decision.
One way to figure out who your ideal lead is – and thereby set the standard – is by looking at historical data about which leads became customers to see what they have in common. By analysing this information, alongside the attributes of those who didn’t become customers, you’ll know which attributes are important indicators of how good a fit a lead is for your product or service.
The final value will help both your marketing and sales teams know where to focus their efforts, provided you align on how to interpret the results:
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are those leads who still in the top of the lead generation funnel and who have engaged by e.g. filling in a form for a piece of gated content. These leads need more nurturing to educate them and give them more information to help them make a choice, but there is no overt selling yet.
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) on the other hand are leads who are close to becoming customers, and just need a nudge from your sales team to help them come to that final purchase decision.
This way, you can pass on the very best leads to your sales team.
Lead generation is key to any business, and with a well-crafted strategy in place, and good alignment between your marketing and sales teams, you’ll be able to focus on driving traffic, capturing lead information and passing on the very best SQLs to your sales team.
Like with any marketing process, lead generation requires constant measurement and improvement to evolve with both your (potential) customers and the competitive landscape.
For more about B2B lead generation, take a look at our B2B Lead Generation Guide.