Lead Generation 101: B2B, Strategy & Marketing Examples

Begin your journey through the inbound experience, where a new strategy begins to unfold...

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    Lead Generation Strategy & B2B

    We dig into some lead generation strategy examples for B2B & more, discussing which marketing strategies can be the most effective for your audience.

    In our second part of this lead generation guide we will give you the insights, techniques and strategy to attract the right people and engage with them in the right way.

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    SECTION 2: LEAD GENERATION STRATEGIES

    Inbound lead generation

    You may have heard of the inbound methodology: a process that uses online content and experiences to help strangers find you, then trust you, choose you and, ultimately, love you.

    inbound-leadgen

    From the diagram, you can see that lead generation efforts are focused on the "attract" and "convert" stages of the inbound methodology, where a potential customer moves from stranger to visitor, and then from visitor to lead.

    However, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the recent change in the way inbound marketers look at the sales process. The diagram above looks a lot like a traditional sales funnel: linear and tidy with discreet stages that people move through in a predictable sequence. But thanks to a quiet revolution being led by our friends at HubSpot, we're talking less about the funnel and more about the flywheel-a circular, customer-centric model where every department of a business is responsible for attracting, engaging and delighting customers. In this model, customers aren't an outcome. They provide the momentum that drives company growth.

    HC-flywheel

    Seen in the context of the flywheel, "lead generation" is not so much a specific "top of the funnel" marketing task as it is a part of an overall customer experience that can be influenced by every person in your company. Your current customers can help strangers find you as much as-and maybe better than-your blog posts or ad campaign.

    Inbound lead generation, regardless of whether you subscribe to the flywheel or funnel model, is a person-first approach. Inbound lead generation strategies are:

    • Educational
    • Empowering
    • Helpful
    • Relationship-focused
    • Context-dependent
    • On-demand

    Lead generation and the buyer's journey

    The buyer's journey is a start-to-finish map of a customer's experience as they seek to solve a problem that's related to your company's product or service. Our version of the buyer's journey covers the full experience from pre-awareness ("I don't even know I have a problem yet") to advocacy ("I'm telling everyone how awesome your company is").

    buyers journey 3

    The buyer's journey is an important part of all lead generation strategies because it examines the buying process from the customer perspective, allowing you to see the opportunities and challenges your customers may experience at each stage. You can generate a lead at any stage from pre-awareness to decision-making. You can also engage those in the purchase, repurchase and advocacy stages as influencers in the lead generation process.

    The insights you gain about your customer and their pain points can be translated into specific lead generation strategies, such as ad campaigns, articles, offers, calls-to-action, and emails, so you can feel confident you're delivering the right experience at the right time. A thoughtful buyer's journey will also tell you what strategies to avoid, and where you may be introducing frustrating delays or unnecessary detours into their journey.

    Online lead generation

    Before the internet came of age and social media became the new way to develop and maintain relationships, marketing and sales looked very different. Businesses were expected to interrupt audiences with ads. The companies with the biggest budgets were the loudest. Potential customers only knew what they were told. And direct personal contact was required to close a sale.

    Today we've said goodbye (and some say good riddance) to such top-down, heavily controlled and invasive business approaches. These days, information is everywhere and everyone is a reviewer. Customers don't want to be interrupted by ads. They don't want to receive an unsolicited email. And they don't want to talk to a sales guy (unless they ask to). Power has shifted to the people, who now expect to research, try and buy whenever, wherever and however they want.

    Businesses need to focus on online lead generation, because their leads are online. And they need to invest in this type of lead generation because the people they want to engage have high expectations of an easy, convenient, personalized, customer-focused online experience. 

    But the advantages of online lead generation go beyond customer experience. The performance of online lead gen efforts can be easily measured, so it's easy to test and tweak elements of your lead generation strategy to improve results. Changes can be made to everything from calls-to-action and email subject lines to landing page content and form length. (We've put together 5 quick ways to increase your leads if you're ready to get started.) With the right tracking and reporting, you can adjust (or abandon) underperforming efforts, promote top performing offers and even justify your marketing spend to the boss.

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    B2B lead generation

    Business-to-business lead generation has its unique challenges, with one of the toughest being the widely held view that "B2B is different from B2C." This mindset makes marketing and sales teams reluctant to wholly embrace online, inbound lead generation strategies. Instead, they reluctantly dabble in digital marketing while investing most of their budgets in traditional lead gen methods such as events, direct mail, traditional advertising, cold calling/emails, third-party lead generation services and purchased email lists.

    But B2B isn't as different from B2C as you might think. In fact, for a time we actually replaced the terms B2B and B2C in our internal discussions with the term P2P-"person-to-person." Regardless of whether you're selling swimming pools or industrial filters, your buyer will always be a real human being-someone who has experienced the best in online customer experience from big B2C websites such as Amazon, Uber and Apple, and will come to your website expecting a similar experience from you.

    Common challenges with B2B lead generation efforts are:

    • a complex buyer's journey 

    • multiple influencers and decision-makers in every sale

    • a lack of standardized sales approaches and programs because "every customer is unique"

    • niche products and services that don't generate many organic searches

    • a longer sales cycle

    • little subject matter expertise outside the company to develop appropriate content

    • an outdated and neglected online presence, including website and social media

    To Be Continued...

    Chances are you still have some questions about lead generation. And probably some ideas about how your business could do a better job of it.

    Why not learn a little more?

    Continue to section three of our guide.

    Maybe you want to take a closer look under the hood. We can take you on a quick inbound journey and explain things as we go. Sound good? Choose your path below.

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    I want the cat path

    I want the unicorn path