The number one challenge facing most B2B marketers is lead generation. If you don’t know who the visitors to your website are, it’s difficult to start a conversation with them and convert them into customers.
The first thing you need to do to generate leads online is to increase the visibility of your business. And that’s where inbound marketing comes in.
In this post, we’ll look at how lead generation forms part of an inbound marketing strategy and 11 sure-fire ways to generate leads for your business.
An inbound marketing strategy, the key to lead generation
A lead is a business contact with a potential customer who has shown an interest in your product or service. In a marketing automation tool, a lead usually takes the form of a contact record that has basic contact details enabling them to be identified. In B2B, this information often includes the lead’s first and last names, the name of the company they work for, email address, and telephone.
But most of these leads aren’t yet ready to be contacted by a salesperson. In marketing terms, they aren’t “hot”. That’s why marketing uses lead nurturing to help leads in their decision-making process and to move them forward in the buying cycle.
This approach, which helps you turns leads into customers, is called inbound marketing.
When implementing an inbound marketing strategy, there a few key steps you need to keep in mind. Doing so will let you start generating leads and seeing results quickly:
- Know who your buyer personas are;
- Start creating content;
- Optimize your website for inbound marketing;
- Use marketing automation software.
To learn more, check out our blog post on everything you need to know about an inbound marketing strategy.
Now, let’s look at 11 ways your business can start generating leads.
11 ways to generate leads
1. Add online forms to your website
An online form is the tool that will provide you with leads. It’s a simple equation: no form = no leads.
There are a number of different types of online form that you can use on your website. For example, a contact form, request for demo form, a form to download a sales brochure or a webinar replay. The more types of form you have on your website, the more leads these will let you generate.
But how can you encourage visitors to fill them out?
You probably already know what a call to action (CTA) is. These are buttons in your content that encourage website visitors to click on them to perform a desired action, e.g., request a product demo (“I’d like a demo”) or have someone call them (“Leave your details and we’ll call you back”).
These buttons typically direct visitors to a landing page which contains an online form. So, it goes without saying that the calls to action on your website must be clearly visible and make visitors want to click on them.
The form itself should have a simple, clean design. Don’t use forms that contain too many fields, and which are likely to prevent leads from filling them out. The idea is to not ask them for too much information at once. It’s better to improve your knowledge of leads by collecting information gradually. You can do this by using Plezi’s smart forms, for example.
If you’re just starting out with digital marketing and want to create your first online forms for free to generate leads, we’ve got good news! Plezi has launched Plezi One, that makes it easy to create and publish your first online forms for your website.
2. Add calls to action to blog posts
As we saw above, CTAs are key to converting website visitors into leads.
We recommend that you try to put a CTA in each one of your blog posts. But don’t panic, you can do this gradually. When we first started creating content at Plezi, we only had a few different calls to action on our website.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you get started:
- you can add a CTA enabling visitors to download a sales brochure or have someone contact them to all blog posts that talk about your product or service;
- you can also add a CTA to download a white paper or additional content to all posts that cover the same topic as the proposed download.
The more downloadable resources you have, the greater the number of different CTAs you can use. This will also let you offer visitors the appropriate resource in each post and enable you to generate leads more easily.
If you attract visitors to your blog but have no way to convert them, you won’t be able to generate leads from your website traffic. And that would just be a waste of traffic.
For example, in our blog post How to create a perfect B2B landing page, we include a call to action which offers visitors a checklist with 50 ways to create a landing page that converts.
3. Publish premium content in exchange for contact details
Premium content is content with high added value which is freely offered to visitors in exchange for their contact details as part of a demand generation strategy. There are a number of different types of premium content that you can use on your website to generate leads.
Some examples include:
- an in-depth white paper on a topic of interest to your potential customers;
- a sales brochure;
- a webinar replay;
- a kit / template (e.g., download our marketing reporting template);
- a customer case study that demonstrates your expertise;
- a checklist (e.g., the web copywriter’s checklist: how to write a good blog post);
Don’t have time to create content? Don’t worry, you probably already have some without being aware of it. We’ll prove it to you in our guide to start implementing a content strategy. There, you’ll also find tips on how to create new content and how to reuse existing content to generate leads.
4. Promote content on social media
Social media is an incredibly important channel on which to promote premium content and to generate leads. But if your business isn’t visible on social media, you won’t be generating many leads.
By growing your social media audience, you’ll reach leads that you couldn’t have converted elsewhere.
But which social network should you use? LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest? LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the two most commonly used social networks in B2B. But the most important thing is to be present where your leads are. To find out which social networks your target audience uses, keep an eye on what other companies in your sector are doing. You can also ask your leads and customers directly, for example when you create or update your buyer personas.
5. Optimize content for SEO
These days, when we look for the answer to a question, our first port of call is usually a search engine, most probably Google. The question we enter into the search engine is known as a search query. This might be a problem faced by your leads or a pain point. For example, “how to generate leads”.
If you want to attract traffic to your website, it’s vital that your content ranks well for the keywords that leads enter as part of their query. In the example above, the keywords would be “generate” and “leads”. If you create content that addresses this problem, you increase the potential traffic to your website and give yourself more chances to convert this traffic once it arrives.
The best way to check if your content is optimized for SEO is by using an SEO analysis tool.
6. Create and promote a newsletter
If you’ve already started to create content like blog posts and videos, you can create a newsletter to regularly send this content to your contacts.
You don’t have to send a newsletter every week though. You can start sending a monthly newsletter.
To increase the number of subscribers to your newsletter (and to generate leads) it needs to be visible. That’s why it’s a good idea to promote your newsletter sign-up form on your website, on social media, in calls to action, and on your blog.
This form is often quite short, and might ask for a contact’s first name, last name, and email address.
Because the form is quick to fill out, a good number of website visitors are likely to sign-up. But a lot of these will also probably be people who are just curious, students, or others of little real value to your business. It’s important to try and limit the number of these low-quality leads by specifying the content of your newsletter on the landing page. That way, potential leads know exactly what they are signing up for.
7. Use paid acquisition campaigns
One of the best-known marketing actions used to generate leads is to run a paid advertising campaign on platforms like Google Ads (SEA), LinkedIn Ads, or Facebook Ads. But if they aren’t set up correctly, these campaigns can prove costly without necessarily delivering the desired results.
Paul-Louis is in charge of acquisition campaigns at Plezi. His advice is that if you want to use these campaigns to generate leads, you need to carefully target the audience for your ads.
There are 2 main types of audience for paid advertising:
- A new audience (cold leads), defined using demographic and professional criteria, or by creating a target audience similar to your database of existing customers;
- A retargeting audience (hot leads), aimed at people who have already visited your website but who have not yet been converted.
There are also 2 different types of campaigns whose aims are:
- To offer premium content like a white paper, webinar, template, or case study;
- To promote your product or service by offering a free trial, encouraging your audience to ask for a quote, or demo.
The content of your ad campaigns needs to be adapted to how ready your target audience is to buy. Using Plezi, you can create target audiences in the Awareness, Consideration, or Purchase stage of the funnel and provide them with content that addresses their specific needs.
8. Organize or take part in physical events
Industry events are a great place to generate leads.
They typically bring together people who are interested in a particular topic and let participants learn more about your product or service.
No other marketing action provides you with such a good opportunity to present your company, its values, and what it does to a target audience. Events let you create a real face-to-face connection with potential customers.
Organizing business breakfasts or after-work events with leads, taking part in trade shows, or B2B events, are all ways to meet other people from your sector and therefore leads.
9. Organize webinars or other online events
Webinars have without a doubt been the most successful content format of the last couple of years. There are now a huge number of companies producing them. But webinars are still an excellent way to generate leads, and at Plezi, we continue to do them on a regular basis. By making webinar replays freely available on your website for visitors to download, you can keep using them to generate leads long after the actual event has taken place.
Plezi lets you greatly increase the visibility of your event ahead of time by promoting it using channels like email marketing, your newsletter, and social media. It also lets you manage the marketing actions that happen after the webinar has taken place. These can include sending emails to participants / those who weren’t present, lead nurturing, or adding points to a lead’s score.
We’ve written a series of blog posts about webinars to guide you through each step. These give you the benefit of our experience at Plezi and valuable tips. Here are a couple that are bound to be of use:
- How to create a webinar landing page that converts
- How to promote a webinar and use it to generate leads
10. Create a quiz or test
This is a novel idea that can take a little more time to realize. It invites visitors to test their industry knowledge and receive the results by email in exchange for providing a small amount of information in an online form. It’s original and fun for website visitors, and an easy way to generate leads for you.
Example: At Plezi, our leads are (like us) B2B marketers. We could create a quiz entitled “Marketers, how well do you know inbound marketing?”
This type of content usually works well because most people like taking quizzes and tests (right?). The other advantage of this type of content is that they are often readily shared on social media. When they do so, this increases the visibility of your content and business online. It’s a great example of a virtuous circle for content.
11. Offer training or design challenges
To enable visitors to increase their knowledge of their core business, you can let them register for a challenge or training on a specific subject. This typically takes the form of a series of emails.
For example, at Plezi, we could offer a course called something like “7 days to optimize your website conversion rate” or “Start using your marketing automation tool in just 10 days“.
We could then send one email every day for a week explaining one part of the process. This could outline the right way to do things and provide tips and examples.
Like a lot of the other techniques in this post, this training can be offered free to visitors in exchange for filling out an online form with some basic information. It can also again be promoted on your blog, website, and social media.