Lead Generation Guide Part II: Techniques, Tools and Tips

October 8, 2020
Lake One
Lake One
lead generation tips

Introduction

In part one of our series, we talked about some of the pros and cons associated with lead generation and some tools to help combat the challenges. (Click here if you missed it.) Now we’re going to share with you some techniques to actually generate those elusive leads we all covet so much. Let’s start by thinking of your lead gen strategies and program as a toolbox. These tactics are all just tools in there to use at your disposal. Some you’ll use, some you won’t. You might have a favorite that gets the job done every time and another that you only pull out to tackle special projects. There’s a mix of old school and new school lead gen tactics. Take a look and find the ones that will help you build a successful lead gen strategy.  

Lead Generation

Lead Generation Techniques

Website

Your website is the hub where your buyers come to learn who you are as a company, find what services you offer, and ultimately the goal is to get them to take some sort of action, to convert. Or at least it should be. This should be the place where you encourage visitors to:

  • Sign up for your blog or newsletter 
  • Download a valuable resource like a guide, ebook or infographic 
  • Read some great content that you’ve created that aligns with their needs
  • Fill out a form to have you contact them or schedule a consult 

So it’s important that your website is optimized for capturing information and converting those visitors into actual leads. Do you have clear CTAs? Does your site have the necessary elements in place for visitors to engage with you and your content in a meaningful way? Find out if your website is ready for lead generation here. 

 

Related Reading: How to Master B2B Website Strategy and Drive Growth 

 

Trade Shows and Conferences 

In a survey conducted by IDG, they reported that conferences and tradeshows are listed as second, behind companies websites, on effective B2B lead generation tactics. Now, we aren’t saying to run out and attend every trade show you come across. You need to be strategic with where you’re spending your time and money. But that’s one of the beauties of trade shows- they’re usually very targeted by market or niche. They allow for face-to-face interaction and they have tremendous lead generation potential.  

If trade shows and conferences aren’t an option, we have a few recommendations to keep your sales pipeline active: 

  1. Host a virtual event 
  2. Try Account-Based Marketing (ABM) 
  3. Conduct a webinar 
  4. Create or expand your digital marketing strategy 
  5. Guest posting and speaking 

You can learn more about these lead gen strategies here

 

B2B Lead Gen Tactics
Source: Marketo

 

Blogging 

You might be thinking that writing content for your blog won’t generate a ton of direct leads, which may be true, but it will generate traffic and help build trust with potential leads. And without trust, who is going to buy from you? Beyond that, it can position you as a thought leader in your industry and lend to your credibility if you’re providing valuable, insightful content. As far as lead gen strategies, blogging is only as good as the content you create and the consistency in which you create it. Blogging once every six months likely won’t let you the results you desire.

Guest Blogging

Speaking of blogging, another way to get your content out in front of other audiences is through guest blogging. While this might not always be the easiest approach, it can still drive qualified leads. But be strategic about this: 

  • Find credible publications that are a good fit for you and your business   
  • Be intentional about your outreach and pitching. Basically, do your research before reaching out to someone for a guest blog: 
    • Do they currently blog about topics you would write about and that? 
    • Do they have a strong Domain Authority
    • Have they recently written about one of the topics you’re proposing? If so, it’s best to pitch a different idea.
    • Is there a resources page on their site that has guest post writing submission guidelines? Also, look to see if they explicitly state if they don’t accept guest posts.
  • If you get a guest blog, share it! Distribute it on your social channels, emails, etc. 

 

guest blogging for lead gen
Image Source: HubSpot.com

Public Relations 

Ah, PR. Wondering why this made the list? Isn’t PR for publicity, generating awareness and reputation management? While those things are true, public relations is and should be much more than that. PR is a great lead gen tool that sometimes gets overlooked, but it is certainly something that sales and marketing should have in their toolbox. A few ways PR can help generate leads:

  1. Earned media:
    When you earn a media placement or are a guest on a blog (see guest blogging above), go beyond just placing it on the news section of your site. Be sure to share it on social, link back to the media outlet and tag them on your social post. You can expand your outreach even further by capitalizing on their fans and followers.
  2. Press releases:
    An oldie, but goodie, press releases aren’t just for driving media exposure anymore. They’re a tool that can be used to generate leads directly from a target audience. Maybe you’re releasing a new product or service or opening a new office. It’s an opportunity to get that message out there plus link back to your site where consumers can visit and potentially buy your product, download one of your resources, or reach out to you for a service consultation.
  3. Events:
    Sponsoring, hosting, and attending events such as trade shows or conferences are a great opportunity to promote your attendance and your business. Let prospective leads know you’re attending and where to find you. If you’re sponsoring something, it can help with brand awareness and exposure. If trade shows and in-person events aren’t a viable option, there’s always the opportunity to be a guest speaker on a podcast or host/co-host a virtual event. There are lots of ways of getting in front of people. Just make sure you’re promoting it accordingly. 

 

SEO {Search Engine Optimization}

SEO gives you the tools to match qualified customers with your online content. But it’s also considered a long-game. While you won’t see the benefits of it immediately, it’s a must. The goal here is to obviously increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through those organic search results. By optimizing your content for SEO, you increase your chances of getting your content in front of the people you want as your customers. Be sure once it’s in front of them, it’s worth their time. A great read doesn’t always equal higher ranking, but it does make for a happier reader. Plus, they’re more likely to share content they enjoy and find useful. We can’t stress enough the importance of creating good content. 

 

Related Reading: B2B SEO Do’s and Don’ts

 

PPC {Pay Per Click} Advertising 

If SEO is the long-game, PPC would be considered the short game. If you’re looking for a proven, quick way to get on your prospects’ radars, PPC is it. It gives you greater control over the keywords you want to be associated with, results are easy to measure and track, it works well with other marketing channels and provides useful data. 

 

Successful PPC
Image Source: Bluecorona.com

Infographics, eBooks, White Papers and Other Resources 

Creating great content to read is one thing, but creating valuable resources that users want to download and use is its own subset. Things like checklists, assessments, infographics, ebooks, and guides are all great resource ideas to create, provided what’s inside is valuable and something people actually want. These can serve as lead magnets. You provide these resources for free, out of the goodness of your heart and users give you their contact information in return to obtain it. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

 

 

Grab your Inbound Marketing Checklist here.

 

 

E-Newsletter

We love a good newsletter… if done properly. Curated content, upcoming or past events, and exciting news. An e-newsletter is a great way to share your content and show some personality. Who is your company? Let that shine here. If you’re sending out high-quality and educational content, people are going to want to sign up for that and you may just generate some new leads once they see the great work you’re doing. We use our e-newsletter, called Field Notes to showcase our clients, updated content, new hires, and much more. 

 

 

lake one newsletter

Marketing Videos

Lights, camera, action! Video is a hot tactic these days. Everywhere you look from social media to websites to emails, marketing and sales professionals are using video. And rightfully so. According to HubSpot, in 2019, video was the #1 form of media used in content strategy, with 54% of people saying they want to see more video content from marketers. The people are speaking. Listen. Give the people what they want and create video. 

A cautionary note. though. Like with most things, don’t create just to create. Be intentional with what you’re putting out there. Especially if you offer video as a service, you’ll probably want to avoid creating grainy cell phone videos and posting to your site. Put out the quality your potential customers expect to receive. 

 



 

Webinars

Webinars are a great way to gather a large group of people from all different locations to one central place. If you plan to host a webinar, we suggest keeping it free but require registration. You can use that registration information later to connect with the attendees. 

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that your webinar should be that, a webinar. What it shouldn’t be is a two-hour sales pitch disguised as a virtual event. Make sure your topic is relevant and that the content you provide will be valuable to your audience. 

 

Social Media 

Social media is a great, free tool to use for lead generation. From LinkedIn to Facebook to Pinterest and more, you can use these channels to disseminate your content and drive traffic to your website. This doesn’t just have to be your company’s social pages either. For sales and marketing teams, using your personal accounts to share this content can be a great way to get your materials out to your networks and broaden your reach. In fact, according to HubSpot, employees who share company-generated content receive over eight times the engagement than the business account itself. Not only are these great platforms to share content, but it’s a space to position yourself as a thought leader and engage with potential customers, which leads to our next technique. 

 

b2b Social media
Image Source: SproutSocial.com

Online Networking 

Online networking. Right now, the only type of networking people are doing is online, so we recommend being prepared and staying engaged. While we mentioned social media already, this isn’t just about posting to your channels. It’s about putting in the time and effort to engage with others in your industry, provide comments and feedback when they’re soliciting it, and “attending” webinars and/or virtual meetups that partners, potential clients, and even competitors are hosting. 

Like with regular networking, you can expect to get out of it what you put in. Please note, the type of engagement and interaction you have will vary depending on the platform you choose. How you communicate on Twitter might be very different than how you communicate on LinkedIn. Know your audience and most importantly, be authentic. People will know if you’re being too “sales-y”.

Account Based Marketing (ABM) 

One of the “newer” lead gen strategies, ABM can help get the job done. ABM is the strategy of directing marketing resources to engage and target a specific company or set of accounts. With this approach, you’re not casting a wide net in an effort to generate leads. 

 

ABM for lead gen

 

Account based marketing is much more targeted. You’re identifying key prospects and then you craft your message specifically for them. Maybe you know exactly what company you want to work with, with ABM, that’s the company you market to. 84% of businesses who used ABM saw a higher ROI when compared to using other marketing campaigns. 

Want to know more about ABM? Here are some articles you may find helpful.

 

 

Lead Generation Tools and Software

We previously covered what lead generation tools/software can be used for. Now we’re going to cover what makes a good lead gen tool and a few of our favorites we think you should consider in your lead gen strategies. 

What should you look for when searching for the right software? 

Pricing 

When it comes to pricing for lead gen software or any software for that matter, it’s important to understand what you’re getting out of it in return. Make sure the software you choose has the features you’re looking for at a price that you can afford. While there are options out there, lead gen software doesn’t usually come at a set price. Often times providers will limit features or usage at different price points. For example, it might cost more to have eight team members than five. Understand how pricing works and keep that in mind as your business grows. You might also find there are discounts on pricing if you pay annually vs. monthly. These are all things to consider when pricing out your lead gen software. 

 

MarTech Assessment

Ease of Integration 

Assuming you’ll want this software to play nicely with your other tools, make sure it easily integrates with your existing software. You may need to share data between your lead gen software and Google Analytics, for example. Before you decide to move forward, understand the setup that’s required from you. Is there coding involved on your end? That requires time and resources, which equals more money.

A big integration consideration is your existing CRM. Where are your leads being stored and/or how are they being passed to you? If you’re using a tool like Unbounce or Facebook Lead Ads that collect lead information, make sure that data is getting into the hands of your sales and marketing teams to be used for nurturing and follow up.

Ease of Use

The pricing looks good, the integration appears seamless, so you sign up and… no one uses it. Why? Did you demo the product first? Did you check out the free trial? Did you have other team members try it out to ensure it had all the features everyone needed? If the software isn’t user-friendly, easy to navigate, or is missing key features your team needs, you might find it difficult to get people to actually use it. Make sure you try before you buy and get buy-in from the folks who are actually going to use it. 

 

Related Reading: Insider Tips on Building a Marketing Tech Stack You’ll Actually Use

 

Achieve Your Goals 

Software for the sake of software isn’t going to move the lead generation needle. Above all, this lead gen tool needs to help you achieve the goals that you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise, or at least it should help you achieve them faster and more efficiently. These tools are meant to help you work smarter and harder. 

Now that you know what to look for in lead generation tools you might be wondering what benefits you can expect to get out of some of them: Do you need lead gen software? Here are just a few benefits of using lead gen software:

  1. Help Identify New Prospects
    Lead gen software can help you capture information on things like landing pages, ebooks, or email opens. Based on whatever action the lead takes, they are then scored and the next action is defined. In order to create a 1:1 buyers journey, this information is a must. This also helps the sales team know who to focus on and who can be nurtured with marketing automation.
  2. Lead Source Tracking
    Want to easily track sources of leads? Lead gen software can help. This will allow you to identify which marketing campaigns are working and which aren’t so that you can adjust accordingly.
  3. Automate Lead Nurturing
    Sales should be focused on the most qualified leads, right? Right. But what about the rest of the leads. Not all leads are sales-ready, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t benefit from a little TLC aka lead nurturing. You can avoid slowing down or clogging up the sales pipeline by automating your lead nurturing. Keep reading here five ways automation can help lead volume.

    lead nurting tactics
    Source: Demand Gen Report
  4. Pinpoint Successful Efforts
    What’s another great benefit of using lead gen software? Using lead scoring to pinpoint where you should focus your efforts. Lead scoring allows sales to know which leads are more qualified and which leads are more casual and could benefit from the TLC we mentioned earlier. When you automate sales activities, it helps both score leads and automates the sales process. A win-win.lead scoring

 

If you’re unsure of where to start and need a little inspiration, here are our top picks of lead generation tools for 2020: 

UnbounceCreate custom landing pages
HubSpot: Marketing, sales and service software
LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Version of LinkedIn specifically for sales professionals
Calendly: Free, online appointment scheduling software
Vidyard: Online video tool for sales professionals
Meetup: Join a local group or start your own
Feedly: News aggregator application 

Related Reading: Find out why these are our favorite lead gen tools for 2020

Lead Generation Tips

Whether you’re new to lead gen or you have a lot of experience in developing lead gen strategies, these tips are for everyone. We compiled some of our favorite tips and tricks and added a few of our own: 

Create Buyer Personas 

In order to have a successful lead gen program or business for that matter, you need to know who your buyers are and what they need. Creating buyer personas helps identify who those customers are and what type of content you should be serving them. But this isn’t one of those set it and forget it types of things. Make sure you keep a pulse on your personas and adjust as needed. 

Lead Generation

buyer persona
Image Source: HubSpot’s Make My Persona

Create Targeted Content 

Once you know who your buyers are, you can create content that speaks to those particular audiences. More importantly, you can create great content that’s valuable to them. Creating content is one thing, but creating content that people actually want to read and better yet share, that’s an entirely different beast. Don’t just create a mass library of content. Instead, look to create content that identifies and solves your persona’s problems, speaks to their specific interests, and informs thoughtfully. Make sure you have a variety of content not only for the different buyers you serve but for the different stages of their buyer’s journey. 

Quality vs. Quantity 

10 really great leads are far better than 100 bad ones. Focus on the quality of your leads and less on the quantity. You don’t want your sales team wasting time on bad leads. This also applies to the aforementioned content you’re creating. A really great piece of content will serve you better than 5 okay pieces.

Lead Quality vs quantity
Image Source: WTWHMedia.com

Gate your Content… Sometimes. 

If you’re going to gate your content, it has to be worth it. This goes back to the importance of creating content that’s valuable to your readers. For some content, it makes sense to gate, but remember to balance that out with plenty of free content. Don’t prevent your leads from engaging with your brand this way. 

Landing Page Optimizations

When you’re creating a landing page, try to avoid making them too text-heavy and ensure your call-to-action (CTA) is clear and concise. Use images to preview what the offer is and break up the text, but make sure the page doesn’t look too busy. The easier it is for a lead to see how the content will serve them, the more likely they’ll be to take the action you want. 

Be Intentional with CTAs

We’ve mentioned CTAs a few times now and you’ll keep seeing us mention them because they’re important. If you want a lead to click on them:

  1. Direct your user to take a clear and specific action
  2. Make your CTA stand out: You can use things like buttons or clickable images instead of hyperlinked text
  3. Be sure to strategically place CTAs: Make them easy to find. As a bonus tip: You can also place them within your email signature if you have a big event coming up or a valuable new ebook you’re excited about and want to share

 

 

importance of CTAs

Brand Consistency 

Once you’ve made sure your landing pages are clean and your CTAs clear, be sure that it matches the feel of the rest of your pages and brand. Put your logo on the page to make it clear that it’s yours. That way leads won’t be confused as to whose site they’re on. 

Make Your Website Work for You

Your website can work as much more than just your digital storefront. Put it to work as a lead machine. If you want to get leads from your website, you’ll need visitors and you’ll need to ensure your CTAs are as clear as possible. Your landing pages should be compelling so that it increases the odds of conversion. 

 

Master your B2B website strategy. Grab the guide here.

Limit the Length of Your Forms

If your forms are too long, people won’t want to fill them out. Or if you ask them too many personal questions, you might scare them off. Try to limit your questions to the information you actually need. This information should be determined as part of your sales and marketing Service Level Agreement. Make sure your sales and marketing teams both agree to the information collected on the forms and that it serves both teams well. Additionally, have a plan in place to utilize the information as part of your lead qualification process, nurturing, and persona insights.

Collect Different Information on Different Forms 

We recommend asking for different information on different forms, depending on if it’s early or late-stage content. This is a good way to build contact profiles and learn more bout your leads.

Nurture Your Leads 

Once you get those leads to take the action you wanted them to, you have to follow up. Lead generation doesn’t just stop once they fill out your form. Email is a great way to nurture leads and turn them into prospective customers. Just don’t do these email nurturing mistakes.  With lead nurturing, the goal is to take your prospects through the buyer’s journey. From the awareness stage, all the way through to the decision stage.

 

 

buyer's journey
Image source: HubSpot.com

Use Automation

We noted how important it is to nurture your leads, but if you’re seeing a lot of leads come in you might find you don’t have the time or resources to personalize your email communications or send out full email nurture sequences. There’s a solution for that- marketing automation software! Using software allows you to scale your nurturing efforts all while still being able to personalize your messages. 

 

Related Reading: How Marketing Automation Helps Boost Lead Volume 

 

Measure and Track Your Marketing

By this point, if you or your company have implemented all or some of these steps, a lot of work has been done. And you probably want to ensure your efforts are paying off, right? Make sure you understand how your efforts are performing. Have an understanding of what content is pushing more leads toward qualification and set SMART goals. Review things like ROI, cost per win, cost per lead, and conversion rates. Tools like HubSpot can help a lot and also allow you attribute leads accordingly.

Multichannel Marketing 

No two leads are the same. At the end of the day, leads are people and people will find you through different channels. One lead might come to you via your e-newsletter, another from your social posts, and another from your blog. You need to meet your buyers where they stand. Having coverage across multiple channels and providing content in different formats allows for that. However, before you sign up for all of the latest social media networks, don’t forget to consider your persona. Go where they are and don’t spend your time where they are not.

 

Multichannel Marketing
Image Source: Medium.com

A/B Test Often 

Once you’ve created the perfect content, landing page or ebook, you are done. You can walk away and never touch it again… Ah, if only. You. Have. To. Evolve. Trends shift, things change, and the digital landscape doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. 

You need to adapt with it. But don’t change without reason. What’s the data telling you? What’s performing or not performing?  Test it. Test your emails, test your content, test your landing pages. Find out if you’re on the right track. A/B testing is a great way to start. Run a second version of what you want to test with slight changes. Things like a different headline while everything else remains constant, changing only a CTA color, or changing form length on only one of the variations are all ways to find out what small things can impact your lead generation in big ways.

Get Social 

This is twofold. Not only should you have a social presence (on the platforms your potential buyers are on), but you should also be engaging with others and responding to comments posted to your site or under your posts. Use social media to share the amazing content you’re creating. Showcase your expertise in your industry and position yourself as a thought leader. You should also be sharing curated content, or content generated by others and collected by you, that your personas will find engaging. Give credit where credit is due, and link back to the content owner’s social media page when possible.

 

 

Social Marketing Goals

Monitor Industry Trends 

The saying goes, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Make sure you’re continuing to grow by staying ahead of, or at least on par, with industry trends and technology. That includes monitoring your competitors. Are they launching new products and/or services or new websites? If they’re keeping up with industry trends and you’re not, you won’t be their competition for long. 

 

From techniques to tools to tips, there’s a lot to know when it comes to your lead generation strategy and doing it properly. It’s important to remember how all the moving pieces work together and ensure that your efforts are consistent and aligned with each other if you want to see success. Most importantly, if you don’t have any sort of strategy in place, start! Whether you implement a few of the ideas above to get started or you partner with a firm to help get you off the ground, the best time to start is now. 

In the third and final part of our lead gen series, we sit down with other professionals and subject matter experts who have been in the lead gen trenches and have lived to tell their tales. They share with us their favorite lead gen strategies, tips, tricks, and secrets every sales and marketing professional will want to know.