“I don’t need more leads.” Said no one ever.
When customers have millions of options, generating new leads can sometimes feel like climbing up Everest without equipment.
But what’s marketing without challenges?
Generating leads is an art and a science, and if you want to succeed, you need a better lead generation strategy with better tactics and a sprinkle of unique ideas.
B2B lead generation in 2022: what’s changing?
Your business needs sales to thrive. At the same time, online users in 2022 are naturally more wary of all the options available on the market.
Gen-X and baby boomers were a large part of the B2B decision-making process in previous years. In 2021, the tables have turned — 73% of millennials are a part of the B2B buying process.
- 74% of B2B buyers research purchases online for their work.
- 9 out of 10 buyers reveal that online content has a moderate to a significant impact on buying decisions
- B2B sales process is at least 22% longer (if not more) than it was 5 years ago
No longer can you expect to launch a simple one-size-fits-all sales funnel and get your leads flowing. Most B2B buyers today aren’t keen on listening to sales pitches, booking demos, or moving forward without thorough research.
They keep searching online for options until they are confident in their decision. This complex B2B customer journey will keep you on your toes.
You can’t expect your sales team to get results by just “staying in touch” with your prospects. You need to evolve with the change of the customer journey.
What’s the key?
An attitude of adding value and being an authoritative source should drive your lead generation efforts in 2022.
Want to get heard? Become an authority within the community.
Want to get more demo calls? Become an active part of the dark social channels.
Want to close more deals? Deliver more value.
Millennial decision-makers despise “fluff” and would not give you their business unless they see the value. With B2B buyers getting smarter, building a digital authority should drive your lead gen efforts.
Lead generation hacks for the future
In her book More Sales, Less Time, Jill Konrath reveals that top B2B sellers spend at least six hours per week researching prospects, staying active in industry groups, and publishing relevant content online.
If you want to attract more leads, you need to start building a thought leadership attitude, too.
Here are some ways you can get a headstart and pump up your lead generation efforts:
1. Start a community
Let’s all agree to something.
We all need each other in real life. The online world is the same.
Creating an online community is your best shot at being close to your ideal audience.
Many social terms circulate and drive the concept of community building — #BuildInPublic, Audience Building, Sharing Your Learnings, DAOs, etc. The future of digital would be in niche online communities.
In his book Embedded Entrepreneur, Arvid Kahl also points out the importance of being active in the community. According to his book, you get invaluable ideas and insights and attract warm leads when you’re a part of the community.
Creating a Facebook Group, Subreddit, Slack, or Telegram channel is a great start to building an online community. The community allows you to stay connected with existing customers and attract new ones with similar problems that your product solves.
Take the example of our Facebook Group – Marketing Automation Insider.
We keep it active by asking for feedback, suggestions and providing sneak peeks into the new features. This way, startup entrepreneurs, agency owners, and marketing automation enthusiasts stay engaged.
When a business owner is stuck with a marketing automation problem, community members add them to the group, onboarding them into the Encharge ecosystem. Also, the discussions around marketing automation within the community attract leads who are way more qualified to try the product.
When a community member comes searching for a solution (similar to yours), someone points them automatically to you, giving you a direct warm lead, ready to hear you out.
2. Utilize social listening tools
Social listening is a great way to be proactive in your lead gen efforts. But don’t worry, it’s not like we’re snooping in on social media users.
Social listening helps you monitor social media platforms for specific keywords/problems. For example, say, someone is looking for a media agency and posts LinkedIn. You will get a notification prompt because the post has the keyword “media agency,” you will get a notification prompt.
Josh Richards from The Odyssey shares how he has been using social listening on LinkedIn to get a foot in the door with new clients right away. They search for relevant search terms like “looking for web agency” on LinkedIn.
For every post in the results, they connect to the original poster, reach out to them, send a proposal, and at times, get a positive response (and closed deals, too 🎉). He highlights that the timing is the essence — the sooner you respond, the higher the chances of a positive response.
What Josh did with LinkedIn manually can be automated via a social listening tool like Mention. All you need to start this lead generation engine is to follow these steps:
- Sign up for a social listening tool.
- Create alerts for monitoring industry keywords (or the pain points you’re solving).
- Monitor the latest mentions or discussions that you get via alerts.
- Answer their questions, solve problems, share your ideas, and reach out without being pushy.
If you can solve their problems with a comment, they’re more likely to reach out to you for a detailed solution. It’s like getting a qualified lead into your lap.
The best part — this little hack won’t eat up too much of your time or money. Also, you get highly qualified leads, ready to make a decision.
You can use a similar listening approach for Slack channels, too. Monitor the mentions of specific keywords in Slack groups, subreddits, Facebook groups, etc.
Quora is also an excellent platform for answering relevant questions and getting referral traffic and leads. Keep an eye on problems your product can solve and hop in the discussion with your ideas (or a soft pitch).
3. Release a free industry tool
Let’s admit one thing: We are all crazy for freebies.
You can use this fundamental human psychology to your advantage by launching a free tool in your industry. Tools are the most linkable (and most attractive) form of content assets.
Launching free tools is a great way to be visible, appear approachable, and generate qualified leads.
A free tool can be anything your ideal customer uses every day in their professional (or personal) life. Tools should be useful, help people do something useful, or make their lives simple.
Free tool ideas for Your B2B brand
- Email signature generator
- SaaS metrics calculator
- Blog idea generator
- Keyword research tool
- Plagiarism checker
- Email subject line generator
Patrick Icasas, Content Marketing Manager at the Catalyst, shares how they launched CSMemes.io as a free library for customer success memes. After adopting this approach, it became easy for their BDRs to initiate a conversation as most prospects recognize their company.
Another example is our free AI subject line generator. It’s currently the only GPT-3 powered free subject line generator out there. Why do we give it away for free? Because we know that people will find value and share it with their marketing friends and link back to it.
The goal of launching free tools is two-fold:
- You’d generate a lot of referral traffic (and backlinks) for your website
- People would discover you online, use your solution first, and progress towards buying a paid plan
Either way, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. As more people come to your website, you can soft pitch (via a non-intrusive popup or strip) your main product or solution.
4. Start a public newsletter
Email newsletters persisted as a hot and buzzing trend throughout the pandemic. Everyone seemed to be trying to build a close community with the help of a newsletter.
You don’t need to be tutored on the benefits of a large (and engaged) email list, but most marketers often overlook how you can use a public newsletter to get hot leads.
He runs a newsletter that shares how he would grow a startup if he was a founder/marketer — a pretty cool idea.
Imagine how a newsletter with your insights, case studies, and more can flare up your B2B lead gen efforts.
Content ideas for lead generation newsletters
- Share case studdies or success stories.
- Create how-to guides.
- Send insider hacks and tips.
- Send marketing ideas.
- Share campaign teardown videos.
- Put together industry reports, news, and updates.
This is also an opportunity to build an automated funnel with your newsletter leads. Not only will people respect you for sharing insider tips, but you’d see how your inbox is always full of warm leads looking for solutions to problems you’ve solved before.
5. Create a thematic YouTube playlist
Who knew humanity would once become video-driven in the 90s?
Even Jawed Karim wouldn’t have anticipated the mainstream popularity of YouTube when he posted Me at the Zoo. But here we are in 2022, with one billion hours of video played every minute. Naturally, you can’t ignore YouTube (or videos) anymore.
In a video-driven world, working on your YouTube seems like a natural extension for your lead gen (and sales) teams. There are two reasons why you should focus on building informational playlists:
- YouTube is the second largest search engine (only after Google)
- 53% of B2B decision-makers feel videos to be the most useful form of content.
Why would you leave that opportunity at the table, then?
Creating random youtube videos and tutorials is fine.
But do you know what’s better? Curating (or even creating!) thematic YouTube playlists around a specific problem or pain point.
A YouTube playlist allows you to control the narrative and share a sequence of information that you can align with your buyer’s journey.
Building a playlist gives you an added edge, too. Your videos get indexed twice, attracting more viewers. These viewers stay longer as they get a step-by-step solution to their problems and are most likely to convert into a lead or at least visit your website.
YouTube playlists help you nurture leads on YouTube and show how your product, brand, or company has a strong authority on the subject.
Ron Stefanski from OneHourProfessor has been using YouTube playlists to generate qualified leads for his consulting and online business.
Ron creates thematic playlists around building and growing online businesses and ties them to relevant CTAs as cards, which take the viewer to the website and ask for their email.
As the viewer is convinced of Ron’s authority, they move ahead in the buyer’s journey and can be nurtured further via a marketing automation workflow.
According to Ron, using YouTube playlists in addition to relevant YouTube cards supercharges any existing lead generation funnel.
6. Add AI chatbots on your landing pages
I know, I know… This is not exactly a “hack” but you should add chatbots to your lead gen strategy anyway.
COVID-19 has changed the way B2B is willing to spend on products or solutions. More business owners prefer digital self-service (or remote interactions) than ever before. Also, their willingness to spend on digital self-service (or chatbot-powered sales process) has increased, too.
When you’re dealing with B2B, timing matters, buyers check out multiple options (and put in demo requests). And usually, the first one to respond gets the icing.
Chatbots can help you respond to queries on your landing page and demonstrate that you care. Think of chatbots as an extension of your marketing automation strategy. This will help you stay active and relevant for your target audience.
A well-programmed AI chatbot keeps the lead hooked and engaged. A chatbot will collect information about the needs, preferences of web visitors and can be a great tool for user segmentation. Also, If you link your chatbot to an automation flow, you’d never lose a potential lead.
You can even train an AI chatbot to guide your leads through the demo process and build automated flows and funnels based on various attributes like time spent on the page, demo sign-ups, page behavior, etc.
7. Start a B2B referral & affiliate program
A solid referral program could do wonders for your lead generation efforts. Humans listen to the people they trust. B2B referral programs motivate your existing customers to recommend you to their friends, peers, and social media followers.
Fun fact. Did you know that 91% of the customers say they’re willing to give a referral, but only 11% of products (or salespeople) ask for referrals.
B2B referral programs are a powerful lead gen channel for any SaaS product or service agency.
According to a report by Useful Social Media:
- 91% of B2B buying decisions are influenced by word-of-mouth marketing.
- 84% of B2B buyers start their buying journey only after a referral.
- Also, referred leads have higher conversion affinity and close faster. They’re four times more likely to make a purchase compared to a direct lead.
Here are some ideas to make a stellar B2B referral program for your business:
- Your product should be social media shareable — a no-brainer offer with easy-to-share options.
- Referral links should be a standard part of the package for all your customers.
- The referral landing page should answer all FAQs and deal with apprehensions.
- The incentive should be tangible and motivate your customers to share your referral link.
- Your referral program should be automated with real-time tracking of all links and conversions.
Notion’s referral program is a great example of B2B referrals done right. Every user gets a referral link to share on social media, and if someone signs up for the free plan with that link, the user gets $5 credit and $10 for a paid plan.
Considering Notion’s starter plan costs $5 a month, it’s like giving 1-month free access to all of Notion’s premium features for each successful referral. There are other rewards and incentives, too — users get credits for using mobile apps, importing notes from Evernote, and more.
Easy wins, along with the product’s utility, won Notion many referrals from the startup community over the years. Notion’s Twitter community is a lively example of that.
Notion got a lot of free publicity on Twitter, along with great referral traffic (and sign-ups). Win-win, isn’t it?
Trello also did achieve some great results with the Trello Gold referral program that rewarded Gold membership for each successful referral.
Need help with lead gen automation? Check out these 4 steps to automating lead gen with marketing automation.
You got your leads. What next?
Bringing in more leads is a great reason to celebrate as a marketer. Cheer up!
But with more leads comes added responsibility, too. Now that you have those leads, you need a process — to turn those leads into paying customers.
In short, you need to nurture incoming leads. This is where marketing automation comes into the picture.
With the right flows and marketing automation tools in place, you’d save a lot of time and enjoy several benefits — savings in time, higher conversions, among others.
Want to see how you can move up your lead nurturing efforts up a notch? Make sure to check our guide to nurturing leads with marketing automation.
Generating leads won’t get easier with time. Building a strategic mindset with a focus on adding value would help you stand out. Start thinking about reinventing your strategy with these ideas, master the craft, and put your automation engine to work for better results.