For millions of B2B companies, success is contingent on lead generation. But if you’re new to the world of B2B lead generation, or if your lead generation strategy just doesn’t seem to be working, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure what to do next.
In this guide, I’ll recap the basics of B2B lead generation, discuss 75 B2B lead generation ideas you can use to improve your strategy, and help you follow up with those leads so you can close more sales.
What Is B2B Lead Generation?
B2B lead generation is the name for any number of strategies and tactics designed to increase traffic, qualify individuals, and otherwise present “leads” to a B2B company. Leads are people, or in this case, businesses, who are potentially interested in what you’re selling.
Because lead generation occurs throughout many phases of both marketing and sales, there are many ways it can be optimized. Similarly, there’s almost no limit to the number of strategies that could generate leads for you; even talking to strangers could be refined in a way that generates you more leads.
Assuming your product is sufficiently desirable and appropriately priced, and assuming you have the right sales team, lead generation is arguably the biggest variable for the success of your sales campaign; with more leads and better leads, you’ll close more deals.
B2B Lead Generation Ideas
Content- and traffic-based B2B lead generation ideas
One of the best strategies within the realm of B2B lead generation is content marketing. Creating content provides value to your audience and increases your visibility at the same time. With enough content, you’ll attract a stream of visitors to your website, showcase your brand’s authority, and even qualify leads based on the topics you write about.
As an added bonus, you can include a call-to-action (CTA) in each piece of content, encouraging readers to become leads by filling out a form.
Here are some of the best strategies for boosting and generating leads from your website’s traffic and content.
1. Maintain an amazing onsite blog.
One of the most straightforward and most effective approaches you can take is managing an onsite blog. Publish content regularly on topics that provide value to your target audience. In combination with SEO and other strategies, you can use your blog content to attract more traffic to your site, convert your readers into leads, and even improve your brand reputation at the same time.
2. Optimize for search engines (SEO).
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing your website’s page rankings in Google search results. Learn and optimize your SEO through content marketing and technical on-site tweaks using SEO software like SEO PowerSuite to boost your content’s visibility.
3. Offer premium blog posts.
Once people get hooked on your blog, they’ll visit your site regularly to read your latest content. You can generate more leads by offering “premium” blog posts—articles similar to what you publish on your blog, but longer and/or more detailed. Gate these posts via a download link in exchange for some basic contact information, such as an email address, and voila, you’ll have a new stream of leads.
4. Conduct, publish, and offer original research.
One of the most valuable forms of content is original research—raw data that your audience wants, but can’t find elsewhere. Package this information in the form of a whitepaper or research report, and offer it via email to anyone who provides you with their email address.
5. Sell or offer an eBook.
eBooks could feasibly work the same way. You could also charge for the eBook as well, establishing a separate stream of revenue and a lead generation channel simultaneously.
6. Host a webinar.
One popular method of collecting new contact information is by offering a webinar, or a digital presentation on a given topic. Teach people a new skill, or a topic in which you hold expertise. You can collect personal details (like names and email addresses) in advance of the meeting, and open the webinar up to a Q&A session when finished.
7. Take signups for an online course.
Similarly, you can offer online classes. Depending on how long and how intensive these courses are, you may also be able to charge for these.
8. Host a podcast.
You can think of podcasts as an audio version of a blog. You’ll need to publish new episodes on a regular basis and build an audience for the best results. Teach people something new, or discuss the latest topics pertinent to your target audience, then leave them with CTAs that point them to your site. I’ve got a podcast, (it’s called The Entrepreneur Cast) so be sure to come listen!
9. Create an instructional video.
Videos are an increasingly common medium for content marketers, due to their accessibility and convenience. Start a YouTube channel with instructional videos to generate more leads.
10. Interview an influencer.
Use podcasts, videos, blogs, or all three to publicize your interview with an influencer in your industry. You’ll be able to share credit, and capitalize on their existing audience as a source for new leads.
11. Collaborate on content.
Similarly, you can work together with an influencer or another content marketer to create a dynamic piece of content both your audiences can enjoy. If it’s something like a whitepaper or eBook, you can offer it in exchange for personal information.
12. Try an interactive quiz.
Quizzes are a form of interactive content that almost any business can use. Ask your visitors about their personal needs and experiences, and collect their personal information in the process.
13. Provide a calculator.
In a similar move, you can offer your visitors an interactive calculator to help them determine how much money they’re making or losing, or to figure out some other important metric to their business. For an example, see the time duration calculator we made!
14. Provide a free tool or resource.
Remember, many effective lead generation strategies rely on an exchange of value. Get more contact information by offering your visitors or prospects something for free, like a free tool or resource.
15. Host a giveaway.
You can host a kind of competition or raffle, giving away one of your products, or your services for free. If your visitors want to enter, they need to provide you with their contact information.
16. Offer free templates.
If your customers need templates for things like sales proposals, inventory trackers, invoices, or other business needs, consider providing some. Again, you can offer these in exchange for some contact information.
17. Offer a free trial.
This is a common technique, especially for companies in the realm of software as a service (SaaS), but consider offering a free trial of your main product or service, like we do here at EmailAnalytics. You can collect information on these leads and follow up with them later.
18. Schedule an email marketing automation sequence.
Once you start collecting email subscribers and other soft leads interested in your brand, you can start sending out some marketing emails. Give your subscribers exclusive content, attractive deals, and of course, CTAs that motivate them to take action. I use and recommend Intercom for scheduling drip email sequences.
19. Get featured on an external publication.
A branch of your content marketing strategy should be focused on getting your brand featured on external publication. One good way you can do this is through guest posting. This will improve your brand visibility and recognition, while giving you a chance to build links that generate traffic for your main site. I love using HARO to get featured on external publications — and it’s free!
20. Get interviewed.
Make yourself or your team members available for interviews. Podcasts, industry authorities, and news channels are constantly looking out for new experts to interview, so take advantage of the opportunity and drum up new interest in your products.
21. Give a speech or presentation.
You can also provide content in person by giving a speech or presentation, keynoting an event, speaking at an event, co-hosting a webinar, or even hosting a workshop. In any case, you’ll be meeting with people in person and providing them some measure of value based on your expertise. Take questions and answers afterward, and collect information on your attendees.
22. Pay for advertising.
Though not typically included in the realm of “content marketing,” you should also consider paying for advertising. The right ad can help you lead people to your best landing pages, where you can qualify your leads and collect their information at the same time. For B2B companies, your best bets are typically going to be Google ads, Linkedin Ads, and Twitter ads. You can also experiment with Facebook ads, Youtube ads, and Reddit ads, though those are typically better channels for B2C brands.
Conversion optimization for lead generation
Most lead generation strategies rely on forms, landing pages, and CTAs; these are opportunities to collect information on interested individuals so you can follow up with them later. You can optimize for conversions by mastering how you present these forms and opportunities.
23. Create targeted landing pages.
Landing pages are great for accepting traffic and motivating action, but they’re only going to work if they’re targeted to a specific audience. Make sure you’re tailoring separate landing pages for individuals based on their origin point and their potential interests. I use and recommend Unbounce for creating targeted landing pages that are easy to A/B test.
24. Optimize your lead gen forms.
The less data fields you have in your lead gen forms, the higher your conversion rate will be. I typically only ask customers for a first name and email address, but all you really need is an email address. Furthermore, your forms should be visible and easy to find on your landing pages, in your emails (if applicable) and throughout your website.
25. Include photos of people on your landing page.
Some studies show that the mere inclusion of a photo with a human face can increase your conversion rate. There’s something about the power of human connection that drives people to be more willing to fill out a form. Include photos of your customers or your team when possible, or opt for stock photography if you must.
26. Experiment with different colors.
There are some theories that certain colors can encourage more conversions, but the reality is it’s different for every business. It’s usually a good idea to offer high contrasting colors to make your CTA stand out; beyond that, you’ll have to experiment with different color combinations to see which ones work best for your customers.
27. Make the call-to-action (CTA) obvious.
The CTA is the final threshold your visitor will cross before becoming a lead. It could be a button, a link, or a phrase; in any case, you have to make it obvious. Make it leap off the page to maximize conversions.
28. Simplify your language.
Writing at a college level or above may make you sound smarter or more professional, but it’s usually better to write at a middle school level. Simpler language is easier to understand, and is more likely to motivate action.
29. Optimize your site for speed.
If your landing page or your conversion form takes too long to load, people are not going to stick around. Test your website and all your assets to make sure they’re loading as quickly as possible. You can usually increase speed with some coding optimizations and backend tweaks.
30. Use power words in your headlines.
Power words are concise words that motivate action. For example, the word “increase” in the phrase “increase your efficiency” is a direct verb, commanding the user to take action; it also has a positive association. Phrase your headlines in a way that both grabs a visitor’s attention and tells them what to do next.
31. List the benefits, not the features.
Instead of listing the features of your product or service, list the benefits. For example, instead of saying it can integrate with many other platforms, tell users they’ll save time by accessing their information from anywhere. While you’re at it, use numbers or bullet points to make your benefits stand out more.
32. Write for skimmers.
Be honest; how much time do you spend online deeply reading about a topic? If you’re like most people, you spend most of your time skimming content for highlights. Accordingly, your lead generation strategy should be optimized for scanners—not readers. Keep your phrasing concise and snappy, and turn your text into lists whenever possible.
33. Ask qualifying questions.
Do you wish you had more time in the day? Do you suffer from lower back pain? Qualifying questions like these allow your audience to self-filter; these will grab the attention of people who fit your target demographics, encouraging them to get one step further in the sales funnel.
34. Provide case studies.
People are more likely to be persuaded to try your product if you have case studies explaining how it’s worked in the past. Showcase a previous client’s higher results, or just show off how the product can be used.
35. Add testimonials.
Similarly, add some testimonials to your landing pages. Testimonials are a great way to show what past clients have loved about your work—and they can prove that previous leads have ended up with a good experience.
36. Associate with recognizable brands.
It’s also possible to build trust by showcasing the logos or names of recognizable brands you’ve worked with before. These don’t have to be past clients; they could be publications where your work has been featured, or partnerships you’ve formed. Just make sure you get permission to use these brands first.
37. Provide more information for those who want it.
Most of your lead generation strategy should be short, concise, and snappy, but it’s important to offer more information to those who want it as well. On your landing page and website, include links to sources of more information, like longer, more detailed posts on your work.
38. Imply urgency.
Some people internally procrastinate when they have an opportunity to buy or sign up for something. You can push back against this by implying urgency; add phrasing to imply this is a limited-time offer, or show a clock ticking down. You’ll be amazed how much it can influence your conversion rates.
39. Offer a guarantee.
Some visitors fail to become leads because they’re overly cautious. Encourage them to sign up with a guarantee; for example, you can offer a money-back guarantee, or promise you won’t use their contact information beyond necessary purposes.
40. Conduct lots of AB tests.
AB tests are controlled experiments where you can compare variables in your lead generation strategy; for example, you can test a version with a green CTA and a version with a red CTA against each other. Experiments like these are the best way to learn which variables and features can maximize your conversion rates.
Tapping into new B2B audiences
Here are some B2B lead generation ideas for tapping into new audiences:
41. Host a meetup.
Meetup and similar sites attempt to make it easy to gather with like-minded individuals. Host a meetup where you can educate people on a topic related to your product or service, and ask people about their needs when they attend.
42. Attend industry events.
Going to industry events, like tradeshows, can be a great way to increase the visibility of your brand while also introducing you to competitors and potential leads directly.
43. Search for your target audience on Twitter.
Twitter’s built-in search feature is great for finding people within your chosen demographics. Filter them by age, location, and interests, and create a lead pool for your outreach campaign.
44. Connect with people on Linkedin.
Linkedin is another common channel for lead generation, due to its use by professionals and its stellar reputation. Reach out to new people regularly, and add them to your network to learn more about them.
45. Answer questions on Quora.
Quora is a q&a platform where experts can answer questions posed by other users. Delve into your area of expertise and provide answers to people’s questions, with a link to your landing page or an invitation for a subsequent conversation.
46. Find subforums and online communities.
You can also generate leads on subforums like Reddit and other online communities. Create an account, make regular posts, and engage with other users until you’re seen as an expert. At that point, you’ll be having conversations with potential leads regularly, and you might even get referrals from other users.
47. Interact in relevant Facebook Groups.
There are a few ways you can use Facebook for lead generation, but one of the best approaches is to use Facebook Groups. With Groups, you’ll be able to find entire collections of like-minded individuals, either due to their shared interests, their specific location, or some other identifying characteristic.
Form a partnership with an influencer or another business, and cross-promote each other’s work. This could be an easy way to generate mutual traffic for lead generation, or you could use this as a way to trade referrals.
49. Network in person.
Don’t neglect the power of in-person networking. If you visit the right locations and make a concentrated effort to expand your reach, you can easily find new leads—and people who can send referrals your way in the future.
B2B Lead Generation Tips
Next, let’s look at some high-level B2B lead generation tips meant to help you direct your efforts, and modify or plan the ideas in the previous section.
50. Focus on quality, not quantity.
Many newcomers to B2B lead generation get obsessed with generating as many leads as possible, but in many ways, this is the wrong approach. Instead, it’s better to focus on lead quality. One properly qualified, truly interested lead is worth a dozen leads who aren’t really interested in your products. Accordingly, all your tactics and lead generation ideas should prioritize lead qualification and proper audience targeting, rather than sheer numbers (though, of course, numbers are important too).
51. Integrate sales and marketing.
Productive organizations realize that sales and marketing have enormous synergy, and both should play a role in how you generate leads. Your sales team can help you decide who to target and how to review prior leads, and your marketing team can focus on generating traffic and producing content and other collateral. The closer these teams work together, the more results you’ll see.
52. Create multiple streams of traffic.
It’s tempting to simplify your strategy by prioritizing a single, powerful stream of traffic, but it’s usually better to build multiple separate streams of traffic independently. Think of this as a way to diversify your portfolio; multiple streams of traffic will, by default, generate more incoming visitors, but it will also shield you from unexpected disruptions in specific sources of traffic.
53. Hire the right people.
Nowadays, many lead generation strategies rely on automation. However, you’ll still need people to oversee your efforts, analyze results, and play a role in developing new content. Accordingly, you’ll want to make sure you have the right people on your marketing, sales, and lead generation teams. Vet your candidates carefully, and make sure you’re passionate about this subject and industry.
54. Train your sales staff.
Even the best lead generation specialists are going to require training to perform well for your organization. They need to be intimately familiar with your products and services, as well as your past sales strategies and your target demographics. Your training is an investment, so make sure all your lead generation and lead generation-adjacent employees are given the knowledge they need to succeed.
55. Appeal to specific audiences.
In the interest of generating as many leads as possible, some marketers try to broaden their reach, targeting the biggest pool of individuals possible. However, it’s much better to appeal to specific, niche audiences. Choose specific demographics to target, and create content and other strategies meant for them exclusively. This will narrow your potential reach, but will greatly increase your relevance and lead quality.
56. Treat lead generation as an exchange.
In some ways, lead generation is a kind of exchange, much like sales overall. If you want someone to give you their contact information, you’ll need to give them something in return.
57. Give people something they want.
Many lead generation strategies rely on giving your prospects something they genuinely want in exchange for their contact information or other details. This thing they want could be a free product, a piece of premium content, or something else entirely—as long as it’s valuable, it could feasibly work.
58. Understand your sales funnel.
The “sales funnel” is a conceptual framework that explains how customers gradually come to realize their needs, discover your company, and eventually buy your products. The funnel looks a little different in different businesses, but usually follows some variation of awareness, interest, decision, and buying action. Work to understand your sales funnel, and set up your lead generation strategy to target various stages of the funnel, as appropriate.
Some lead generation strategies are objectively better than others, but there are no strategies that yield guaranteed results—especially with the diversity of businesses and industries that rely on lead generation for B2B sales. If you want to discover the tactics that work best for you, you’ll need to experiment with many different approaches. Keep an open mind, and expand your horizons.
60. Organize your leads.
If your salespeople are overwhelmed with emails in their inboxes and disorganized information on leads, they’re not going to make much progress. Part of your lead generation strategy should be seamlessly and conveniently organizing information you have on leads. Most B2B companies do this with the help of CRM software, and/or forms of automation to simplify the onboarding process.
61. Measure your results and improve.
How can you tell if your lead generation strategy is working? You may get a subjective “feel” for whether something is effective, but this isn’t consistent or reliable. Instead, you’ll need to objectively measure your results, studying lead quality, number of leads, and eventual close ratios to determine which lead generation strategies are best. Use this new information to make tweaks and improve your approach over time.
62. Gather feedback.
It’s also a great idea to gather subjective feedback from your leads. Ask them what they think about your content, or whichever other methods you used to attract them to your site. If they didn’t follow through with a sale, ask them what held them back. They may have suggestions or points of criticism you can use to improve your strategy in the future.
63. Use the right B2B lead gen tools.
There are hundreds of B2B lead generation tools that can save you time, bring you more leads, and improve your lead qualification, and all of them have strengths and weaknesses. Almost any tool has the potential to improve your strategy, so make sure you experiment with them and see what works. Be sure to see our list of the best B2B lead generation tools!
64. …but don’t overwhelm yourself with tools.
That said, it’s also possible to overwhelm yourself with tools. If you go on a downloading spree, you’ll end up with so many tools that your lead generation approach falls apart—and you’ll pay too much money along the way. Instead, focus on integrating one new lead generation tool at a time.
Finding a B2B lead generation vendor
If you decide to hire a vendor to help with your B2B lead generation efforts, be sure to follow these tips to ensure you find a quality vendor:
65. Identify your needs before choosing a lead gen vendor.
Don’t just pick a lead generation vendor arbitrarily. Instead, spend some time identifying your biggest needs and current challenges. Which aspects of lead generation are you struggling with? How do you foresee these getting better? You’ll want to find a partner who complements your current position.
66. Do your due diligence.
Before paying for a tool or subscribing to a service, do your due diligence. What kind of experience does this company have? What kind of results have they provided in the past? What are people saying about them in reviews?
67. Optimize for your industry.
In most cases, it’s best to work with a partner that’s optimized for your industry. Lead generation for SaaS companies isn’t the same as lead generation for law firms, so you’ll need to take a fundamentally different approach in these cases. A specialist partner will help you choose the right strategy for your industry.
68. Prepare a budget.
In general, you get what you pay for with lead generation; high-quality services tend to cost more. However, you don’t want to overextend yourself prematurely. Make sure you prepare a budget, and understand the potential return on investment (ROI) for your strategy before moving forward with a partner.
69. Create a hybrid approach.
The best lead generation strategies tend to be hybrid approaches, utilizing internal efforts, multiple external partners, and of course, a host of apps and tools to simplify the process. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
B2B sales tips: closing the deal
Once you start generating leads reliably, you can use these tips to close more deals.
70. Talk to a person on the phone.
Some companies try to follow a precise script, or rely on templates to close a deal, but it’s usually better to speak directly to an individual. Understand what motivates them, and mirror their tone and body language; you’ll make a much better connection, and will be more likely to close the deal.
71. Anticipate and address objections.
Even early on, you should have an idea of the possible objections a person may have to your business. Later, as you gather more data, you’ll have a more robust list. Understand the nature of these objections, and be prepared to address them.
72. Follow up.
Too many salespeople give up prematurely, following up only once—or not at all. It’s much more effective to follow up multiple times, at regularly spaced intervals and with different channels.
73. Utilize multiple communication mediums.
We love email around here, but it’s not a perfect medium, and it’s not everyone’s preferred choice. Make sure you’re using multiple different communication mediums to appeal to your different demographics.
74. Sweeten the pot.
If someone seems on the verge of buying in, consider sweetening the pot. Sometimes, a slightly bigger discount or an extra freebie is all it takes to push someone over the edge.
75. Learn from failures.
Pay attention to the sales you’ve lost, and ask your prospects what you could have done better. It’s important to be self-critical and willing to learn, so you can keep growing and seeing better results over time.
Obviously, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to B2B sales—I wanted to keep this guide focused on B2B lead generation ideas as much as possible.
If you liked these B2B lead generation ideas and you’re interested in visualizing and better understanding your B2B lead generation strategies, you’ll need a tool like EmailAnalytics. EmailAnalytics is a data visualization tool that integrates with Gmail and G Suite. With it, you can learn how often you send and receive emails, your top senders and recipients, and your average email response time.
The better you understand your email habits, the better you can perfect your lead generation and sales strategy, so sign up for a free trial today, and learn more about your B2B lead gen communications!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.