Top B2B lead gen strategies

If you find it challenging to generate B2B leads, you're not alone. Even though more than two-thirds of B2B marketers told SPI Greatsands that lead generation is their top priority, 80% of marketers reported to Lead Generation Institute that their lead gen efforts are less effective than they would like.

Fortunately, although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for fully qualified leads, there are a variety of strategies that can improve B2B lead generation outcomes. Some of them are tried-and-true classics, like email marketing campaigns and paid advertisements. Others, such as exploring alternative social media channels to find leads, are more creative.

We’ve collected 23 lead generation strategies that will help B2B marketers produce qualified leads efficiently and quickly.

1. Run A/B tests

A major factor in lead generation is to ensure you can tell the difference between what's converting and what's not. A/B testing provides this clarity.

A/B tests can validate whether any change — from the color of a CTA link to an email subject line — improves or hinders your engagement. Evaluating the impact of small changes is critical, given that lead generation success often hinges on the details. According to a Litmus study, for example, brands that A/B test their emails consistently earn an email marketing ROI 37% higher than those that don’t A/B test their emails.

Use LinkedIn for B2B lead generation

Given the expansive nature of LinkedIn, as well as the platform's focus on business communities, it's chock-full of opportunities for B2B marketers and demand gen leaders. Knowing which tools LinkedIn offers for lead generation, and how to take advantage of them, is critical in any B2B context.

2. Target big leads with LinkedIn ads

With an average cost of over $5 per click, according to WebFX, LinkedIn advertising can be relatively pricey. (For comparison, the average cost per click for Facebook ads, according to Buffer, is under $0.40.) But the ad spend can be a smart investment if it allows you to target major leads.

This also makes LinkedIn ads a good investment for account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns. Targeting those big leads is a key step in the ABM process.

3. Build your network on LinkedIn

You can market for free on LinkedIn by building your professional network. Create an organic, engaged network of LinkedIn connections by sharing original content and commenting on posts produced by others.

You can also expand your LinkedIn network by clicking the "Get Introduced" button on profile pages of people you'd like to connect with. The feature identifies second-degree connections that you have in common with that person, so that you can reach out to them asking for an introduction to your newest connection.

4. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator

If you plan to invest in extensive, ongoing LinkedIn marketing efforts, consider using LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The service provides features to help marketers identify decision-makers at organizations they want to sell to, map their networks to understand which connections they share in common with potential leads, learn about the interests of prospects, and much more.

With costs that begin at around $1,200 per user per year, LinkedIn Sales Navigator certainly comes at a cost. But it can yield excellent ROI if it helps you generate qualified leads who make high-value purchases.

Using content and SEO for B2B lead generation

Website content that is optimized to rank highly on search engines is another great way to generate B2B leads. In fact, in a recent Markletic study, 56% of B2B marketers cited SEO as the best source of continuous leads. That means excellent SEO content pays dividends indefinitely by continuously driving prospective buyers to your site. It also helps you to establish strong brand messaging and nurture leads down the sales funnel following initial engagement with your business.

5. Start a modern SEO campaign

Marketers have been trying to optimize their content for search engines for decades, but as search engines have become smarter in recent years, SEO has changed. Today, good SEO campaigns hinge on practices such as careful keyword intent research and the development of high-quality content.

Keyword intent categories from Google

The earlier you begin an SEO campaign, the better. It typically takes several months for SEO efforts to begin bearing fruit. Now's the time to begin studying up on modern SEO and hiring an experienced SEO marketer or agency to partner with if you lack in-house SEO expertise.

6. Optimize existing content

You don't have to rewrite your website from scratch to take advantage of SEO for lead generation. Sometimes, simple updates to existing content can provide a strong boost in organic search.

To identify good content for updating, determine which content currently brings in some non-branded traffic, but that isn't performing as well as competitors' pages. Then, make a plan for updating that content by looking at how winning competitor content is engaging your target audience. Be sure to direct users to a form or other CTA so you can capture leads.

7. Invest in long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are generally four or more words and represent specific phrases that buyers search for when they are nearing the end of the sales funnel. These keywords are often overlooked, because they tend to be lower in volume — but they make up for low volume with much higher intent.

For example, a buyer searching for an application that stores login credentials and runs in the cloud might search for a long-tail keyword like, "SaaS password storage app." This is a more focused search term than something like "password app."

By investing in content structured around long-tail keywords, you drive more qualified leads to your site. You can use tools like Google Suggest to identify long-tail keywords. You can also perform original research on forums or Q&A sites to see which kinds of questions people ask before making purchases.

8. Get a third-party site audit

You don't know what you don't know, which is why it's valuable to hire an outside firm to audit your site and make suggestions about improving SEO and content marketing results.

External auditors can help you pinpoint and improve underperforming pages, restructure your site's layout, identify new types of content to create, and so on. They can also keep you abreast of the latest developments in content marketing and SEO to ensure that your content remains as relevant as possible, even as buyer behavioral trends change.

9. Create a lead magnet

A lead magnet is a resource — like an eBook or on-demand webinar — that you offer website visitors in exchange for their contact details. According to GetResponse, video lead magnets convert best, followed closely by text-based content.

To create a strong lead magnet, starting by identifying information that is organically interesting to your prospective buyers. Then, develop content that focuses on that information — such as an educational video on a technical topic relevant to their market, or a webinar where experts in the field discuss a pressing challenge. Place that content on your website in “gated” form, meaning viewers have to sign up with contact information to access it. Don't forget to also promote the content on your social channels to gain maximum visibility.

10. Work more case studies

Case studies, which detail how customers have successfully used your product or service and which value it created for them, are an excellent way to boost credibility and confidence. They are also, according to G2, the second most popular content format for lead gen.

The best case studies do more than just summarize how someone implemented your product or service. They should be engaging and interesting to read. They should also include quantifiable data about how much value your offering brought to the customer, and which specific problems it solved.

11. Publish original research

Conducting research about an issue that your buyers care about and publishing the results is another great way to bring leads to your website. It's also easy to do. It can be as simple as carrying out a survey of your customers or community, or you can hire an outside research agency to collect data for you.

In addition to focusing attention on your company, research reports like Adobe's Digital Trends findings help establish your brand as a serious thought leader in your industry. They can also help to build high-quality backlinks to your site, which improves your SEO authority.

Using social media for B2B lead gen

Social media may not seem relevant for B2B marketing, given that most social media platforms focus on the personal lives of consumers, rather than B2B relationships. But B2B buyers are people too, which means social media can be an excellent lead generation tool in the B2B context as well.

12. Invest in organic social media

Organic social media is becoming an increasingly important focus for B2B brands. For example, Content Marketing Institute reports that 91% of B2B marketers use organic social media as part of their strategies.

It's easy enough to understand why — buyers are already active on social media, and their guard is down when they are there. By posting on social media channels, participating in conversations, and creating groups centered on topics of interest to potential leads, you can send a strong brand message to B2B prospects.

In addition, social media can form the foundation for B2B influencer marketing, another great way to reach leads. And make no mistake — influencers don't have to be celebrities. Simply encouraging happy customers to share testimonials on social media, or running referral programs on social channels, count as forms of influencer marketing.

13. Use social media ads

Placing ads on social media can be an effective way of reaching buyers, especially because social media ads can be highly targeted. You can serve ads to users based on variables like their location, where they work, and which topics interest them. The ads come with a cost, of course, but it's relatively low on most social media platforms.

14. Don't be afraid of alternative social media

Social media isn't limited to big-name platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Your social media marketing efforts shouldn’t be either. Make sure not to overlook alternative or niche social media platforms, especially those that cater to the audience or industry you are selling to.

Being among the first to engage with an emerging or off-the-radar social media audience can help you gain a strong advantage over competitors who are not investing in building a brand presence there yet.

Using off-site content for B2B lead generation

Content marketing shouldn't be limited to content on your own site. You can also place strategic content on third-party sites and channels to increase both your reach and your credibility.

15. Address new audiences by guest posting

Partner with a non-competing brand or a media site to produce a guest post on their blog. A guest post, which appears under the byline of someone at your organization, allows you to share your brand's voice about a topic relevant to your market, with readers who might not otherwise know about your business or visit your site.

To create strong guest posts, start by making sure you choose an engaging, relevant topic that is central to both your brand and the brand hosting your content. Avoid content that is explicitly promotional, and focus on content that is educational and organically interesting. As you develop the content, pay careful attention to the style and formatting guidelines of the site where you want to guest-post.

16. Answer questions on Q&A sites

Q&A sites like Quora are places where people interested in your industry or niche may go to post questions. By answering those questions, you can share your business's perspective and build brand awareness.

As with guest posts, make sure that your answers provide relevant, actionable information, rather than merely pitching your product. By establishing your business as a fair, authoritative voice within discussions that interest your buyers, you encourage them to seek out more information and connect further with your brand.

17. Host a webinar

Webinars — live discussions where representatives of your business (and sometimes outside experts) discuss a question or topic — can help to both generate leads and build brand awareness and credibility. The typical webinar generates up to 1,000 leads, according to Zippia, and attendance rates have increased following the pandemic.

You can host webinars on your own site, on a third-party media site, or through a partnership that lets you use both channels at once. To get the most bang for your buck, optimize registration and engagement during the event. Then, post webinar recordings on your site after the live event is complete and consider repurposing webinar content as the basis for blogs, eBooks, or other assets.

Using email to generation new B2B leads

Email may be an old technology, but it's not dead. Digital marketers can put email to work in a variety of ways to generate and nurture leads.

18. Personalize cold emails

Seventy-five percent of marketing emails are never opened, and lack of personalization is a leading reason. Personalizing emails makes sure they stand out in crowded inboxes and increases conversion rates by as much as 600%, according to CampaignMonitor.

To generate personalized emails efficiently, choose an email marketing platform that helps you customize messages for large numbers of recipients. Use the tool to personalize emails as extensively as possible. Don't settle for personalized recipient names. Where possible, personalize the content of the message as well — for example, by referring to recent purchases that the reader has made or mentioning an anniversary.

Be sure to triple-check your templates and configurations so that your emails aren't the next ones that get sent out to FIRST-NAME-HERE, and that the right content reaches the right recipients.

19. Update your email signature

Your email signature should do more than spell out your name. Buyers will look at your email signature to determine how to learn more about your brand or contact you, so it's crucial to create signatures that make relevant information as accessible as possible.

While it's important to keep your signature short enough that readers can skim it easily, you should also use your signature to include promotions, links to lead magnets, or a link to book time on your calendar.

20. Start an email newsletter

Email newsletters are different from cold emails because they only go to readers who have opted in. That way, you get recipients who are more likely to be qualified leads from the get-go, with less conversion effort required on your part.

Great email newsletters — like Ann Handley's bi-weekly “Total Annarchy” — contain content that is deep enough to be substantive and meaningful, but not so lengthy that few people will read it. The tone is often informal, and they contain original content as well as links to relevant information from third parties. They should also focus on up-to-date events, although a little “evergreen” content is fine, too.

21. Automate email campaigns

Email automation is key to managing email campaigns at scale, which is probably why a MarketingCharts survey revealed that 64% of B2B marketers rely on email automation.

With email automation tools, you can send targeted emails to a large number of recipients while personalizing messages for each reader. You can also schedule emails ahead of time to execute drip campaigns or nurture leads over time. And you can do all of this without having to be a programmer; modern email automation tools make it easy to automate complex email operations without writing any code.

Other B2B lead generation strategies

There are still more opportunities to generate new leads beyond the most common communication channels.

22. Set up a live chat or chatbot

Live chats on your website allow buyers to engage with your brand in real time by connecting with a brand representative who can answer questions about your product or services. Alternatively, if you can't afford to staff a live chat channel 24/7, you can use chatbots to automate the conversation with your buyers.

Chats and chatbots are especially valuable because they ensure that prospective buyers can get information from your business instantly and with minimal effort. Some buyers may be reluctant to make a phone call or set up a meeting, but typing a few lines into a chat box that is available on your website by default is a low barrier to engagement.

23. Establish a referral program

Referral programs reward brand advocates and fans. They not only help to bring more leads to your company at a low cost, but they also increase your brand's credibility through third-party testimonials to your success.

To make the most of referral programs, make sure to set referral incentives that are strong enough to inspire action on the part of your customers. It's also critical to ask for referrals at a strategic time. For example, rather than asking for a referral immediately after closing a deal, consider offering a referral incentive when it comes time to renew a contract.

Start generating more leads today

Knowing where to start when it comes to B2B lead generation can be tough. Even more challenging is determining which lead generation strategies are the best for your business, given the many options out there — from social media marketing, to content creation, to email campaigns, and beyond — for identifying and connecting with leads.

Adobe Marketo Engage can help. This industry-leading platform guides you in identifying qualified leads and determining how to nurture them. The result is better leads and higher conversion rates, with less time and effort spent chasing low-quality leads. Learn more by taking a free product tour or registering for a personalized demo.