Lead generation is one of the top priorities for marketing professionals in the current business environment. However, building a marketing strategy that effectively attracts qualified leads to sales teams is challenging for many marketers.
To fill that gap, organizations are increasingly investing in B2B lead generation services to optimize their marketing campaigns and maximize the ROI of their marketing spend.
The importance of prioritizing lead generation
The modern business environment is constantly in flux, and consumer expectations are changing on an ongoing basis. Moreover, the increasing sophistication of digital technologies means customers have access to a range of products, services and brands right at the touch of a finger. Put simply, it’s more important than ever for businesses to reach the right customers at the right time to stay competitive.
That’s where lead generation comes in. Lead generation refers to the strategies and techniques B2B marketers use to target individuals that are most likely to be interested in their products, turning them into high quality leads for their sales teams. The results you can expect from a great lead generation strategy include enhancing brand image, driving traffic to your website and ultimately creating stronger customer relationships that drive revenue.
The benefits of a great lead generation strategy
Roughly a third of marketers say generating more leads is their top marketing priority, according to research from Hubspot. A look at the potential outcomes of investing in your lead gen strategy makes it apparent why.
Here are some of the top benefits of crafting a great lead generation strategy:
- Save resources: While the amount of resources you devote to your campaigns will differ widely depending on your methods, in general, adopting any form of targeted lead generation strategy will help you identify the right target audience and drive traffic to your website more efficiently than traditional forms of marketing.
- Generate better leads: Certain lead generation techniques give you access to data that you can use to pinpoint potential clients with an incredibly high degree of accuracy. Crafting campaigns that respond to the unique needs and challenges of a carefully identified target audience maximizes the chances of attracting highly qualified leads.
- Enhance brand awareness: Content marketing works by providing valuable content to potential customers on a consistent basis, even when they’re not in the market to make a purchase. Doing so effectively establishes your expertise, boosting brand awareness and strengthening your reputation among potential buyers.
- Increase revenue: The ultimate objective of any lead generation strategy is to funnel high quality prospects to your sales team, close more deals and expand your customer base. Companies with a great lead generation strategy see 133% higher revenue than other companies, according to data from Adobe Marketo Engage.
Pros and cons of different types of lead generation
There are two main types of lead gen typically used by marketers today: outbound and inbound. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, both of which should be considered before you begin building your own strategy.
Outbound lead generation has gotten bad press in recent years for being overly aggressive, but it still has an important role to play in many marketing strategies. When marketers use outbound, they contact potential customers directly in the hopes of convincing them to take an interest in their offerings. Outbound marketing techniques include email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, account-based marketing and cold calling.
- More direct: Rather than simply placing your content in front of a stream of potential customers and waiting for them to come to you, you’re putting yourself in direct contact with those considered more likely to buy.
- Faster results: While marketing professionals often report mixed results when using outbound techniques, reaching out to the right person at the right team can generate a lead in a single email, call or click.
- Accurate targeting: Advanced marketing tools today enable you to identify target market segments with specificity and precision, helping you increase the effectiveness of outbound marketing techniques.
- More expensive: Compared to inbound marketing, outbound requires dedicated planning and sophisticated methods. Not only does that cost money, but you’ll likely also have to hire a team that’s qualified to put those strategies into action.
- Delivers mixed results: Devoting so much money to a lead generation campaign can have its downsides, especially if you’re targeting accounts that simply aren’t interested or ready to make a purchase.
- Time limited: For the most part, ads are time limited, and that means you’re only generating leads for as long as your ads are live (and you’re paying for them).
There has been a clear trend toward inbound marketing over the last few years. An inbound lead generation campaign involves strategically placing branded content inside the channels your customers are likely to congregate, generating organic traffic to your website. Inbound lead generation typically includes content marketing approaches like blogs, e-books, white papers and SEO-driven content.
- Cost efficient: The costs of acquiring customers using inbound lead generation are low compared to outbound. In fact, some inbound methods (like optimizing content for SEO) will only cost your team a little extra time.
- Long-term value: Inbound lead generation is a slow drip, and it works best if you’re consistently providing value to customers over a period of time. Done effectively, that process will create customer relationships that are stronger and longer lasting.
- Boosts brand credibility: Content marketing is effective because it goes far beyond simply convincing customers to buy your products. If you consistently create compelling pieces of content, you’ll establish your brand as a reputable authority and thought leader in your space.
- Competition is fierce: Successful inbound lead generation usually requires you to get to the first (or second) page of search engines, which can be extremely difficult, especially if you’re a newer company without the brand authority of more established organizations.
- Results take time: A successful content marketing strategy rests on your ability to build trust with potential customers. That takes dedication and consistency, which means it will take time to deliver results compared to some outbound strategies.
- Difficult to measure: It’s simply not that easy to judge whether qualified leads are coming from inbound techniques like SEO-optimized content. That can make it difficult to identify campaign strengths and weaknesses and make appropriate adjustments.
Best practices to optimize your lead generation strategy
Lead generation can feel like a moving target, especially when market demands are constantly changing. However, following the right best practices can help your campaigns drive the results you’re looking for.
Identify the right target audience
The first step of any effective lead generation strategy is defining the consumers that are most likely to be interested in your product offerings. Of course, this can be as easy as knowing the demographic that currently buys your product, but don’t just lean on experience and intuition. The right data techniques can help you identify market segments you didn’t even know existed, helping you generate new business while avoiding dumping resources in areas that are unlikely to deliver results.
Create content your target audience finds valuable
This one goes hand in hand with defining your target audience. Once you know who you’re targeting, it’s important to understand what information they’re looking for. Learn the problems they’re trying to solve, and craft compelling content that responds directly to those challenges and provides the right information they can use to solve them.
One of the keys to generating high quality leads is demonstrating to potential customers that you can create value for them even when they aren’t in the market to make a purchase. Great content creates trust and rapport between you and potential customers, increasing the likelihood that they will consider your brand when they are in the market.
Be strategic about gated content
When B2B marketers make access to certain content conditional on the consumer sharing personal information like their name, company and email, that’s what we call gated content. Gating content is one of the most effective ways to generate leads. However, it’s not as easy as gating all content and expecting email addresses to pour in. Gated content, by definition, puts up a wall between you and consumers, and that will inevitably keep some of them away.
For best results, top-of-funnel content like blogs and infographics should be ungated to help maximize traffic and drive brand awareness. It’s better to save gated content for assets lower down the funnel (like white papers and case studies) once you feel more confident your prospects are familiar with your brand and are more willing to share their personal information.
Don’t forget social media
An active presence across social media platforms is the hallmark of the modern, digitally savvy marketing strategy. Close to 70% of marketers consider social media their primary approach to marketing, according to research from Hubspot. A slick social media presence can help fuel brand awareness, customer engagement and loyalty. But don’t just post for the sake of posting. Share the content you actually want users to see, and couch it in engaging language that matches your brand’s tone of voice.
Of course, where you focus your social media efforts depends in large part on your target audience. If your ideal customers are middle-aged professionals, for example, investing in a robust TikTok strategy is probably not worth the time and money.
What’s included in B2B lead generation services
More than 37% of marketers said that generating qualified leads was their biggest challenge, according to a report from Ruler Analytics. That’s why companies are increasingly turning to third-party vendors that specialize in lead generation to help them optimize their campaigns and drive results.
Among the services lead generation companies provide include:
- Content syndication
- Lead nurturing
- Lead scoring
- Performance tracking
- SEO optimization
In addition, lead generation companies will work with you to understand your marketing goals and craft campaigns that best help you achieve those goals while staying with your budget.
Putting data at the heart of lead generation
More than ever, marketers are relying on data to inform their lead generation strategies. At CONTENTgine, we manage a content database consisting of hundreds of thousands of assets, including white papers, case studies, state of the industry reports and more. Our proprietary methodology enables us to capture and analyze data about the way users are engaging with that content, which B2B marketers can use to revamp their content marketing strategies for better results.
Get in touch to learn how CONTENTgine can help you transform your lead generation efforts.