Many people do not consider enterprises to be consumers, but the truth of the matter is that anyone that a business sells to is one, whether that is an individual or an enterprise. Before generating a sale, the business has to capture the interest of its consumers, turn them into leads, and then lead them down a path that leads to a completed purchase or a signed contract in the case of an enterprise. Lead generation is, therefore, crucial for B2B businesses as it is for B2C businesses. Producing quality leads is crucial for the success of any B2B marketing strategy. In this article, we will look at what B2B is, how it is different from B2C lead generation, and some strategies and ideas you can use to ensure its success in your business.
Understanding B2B Lead Generation
Broadly, B2B lead generation is a process through which businesses identify the ideal customers for the goods and services, capture their attention, and then attract them to complete a purchase. Some businesses see it as getting actionable data from different sources and then using this data to create a list of potential customers.
Once this potential list of customers is complete, the sales and marketing teams can formulate strategies to turn these leads into paying customers. Lead generation is typically at the top of a business’s sales funnel and the start of the buyer journey. Without active lead generation, businesses would have few to no customers to sell to.
To entice B2B sales, businesses have to place their products and services in an advantageous position, demonstrating the benefits and qualities that would make other businesses consider them instead of those from the business’ competitors.
Businesses will also try to show that their products and services are the best options for solving a client’s problem.
Demand and lead generation are related, but their definitions can confuse some people. Successful lead generation campaigns focus on the quality of leads instead of their quantity. Quality leads provide better marketing outcomes as they are already more likely to complete a purchase.
Where does demand generation factor into all this? Demand generation focuses on getting the business’ products and services in front of as many people as possible. By doing so, it boosts brand exposure and recognition and tries to reach as many people as possible.
Lead generation then takes over, focusing on the people who have expressed some interest in the products and services so marketed. The business can then offer additional information or contact information so the leads can get in touch.
The additional information can be in the form of a website, social media posts, videos, or other content that tries to convince the lead to convert.
While demand generation gets you in front of as many people as possible, lead generation helps you sift through all these people to get to those the business can start a conversation with.
The Difference Between B2B and B2C Lead Generation
Understanding all the above, it is easy to see that there are overlaps between B2B and B2C lead generation. These overlaps exist because both aim to do the same thing, but only target different types of customers. There are also some differences between the two. Let’s look at them.
Length of Sales Cycles
Businesses have to invest a lot of time and resources in B2B sales because the items they purchase are usually direct investments into the business. This means a sale can take anywhere from a few days to years depending on the type and cost of the products or products they are buying.
B2C sales, on the other hand, complete faster. Consumers can do enough research in a day to a week and because the product or services they are purchasing might be only a few hundred dollars up to a couple of thousand, they complete purchases faster.
Businesses targeting B2B sales must invest a lot more into their lead generation efforts for this reason.
B2B transactions are often compared to those done by a fussy customer at the store. B2B customers are more thorough and knowledgeable because they do a lot of research before deciding on the goods and services to buy.
When doing B2B lead generation, businesses must create more unique content to keep leads interested and engaged. This type of content can include infographics, case studies white papers, and other unique and valuable content that nudges them towards a purchase.
For B2C customers, businesses must concentrate on the buying phase. Many people will make purchase decisions when they are right on the edge of buying something. This means businesses have to target them when they are just about to make the purchase or when they are actively in the process of making one.
Putting the information they need in front of them at these moments is crucial. Think about the last time you bought a laptop. You likely looked at some reviews online, clicked a link, and went straight to the website where it was being sold. For those looking for student laptops, for example, that link might have led you to Lenovo.com where information about the product is displayed to show you why it is right for you.
With B2B lead generation, that might have been fed to you over time, which is typically the length of the sales cycle.
The goal of B2C is to catch the attention of customers in a saturated market. With B2B marketing, the goal is to build a business and personal relationship with prospects. Such relationships build trust so that your business is the one that comes to mind when they finally decide to make a purchase.
In B2B lead generation, businesses deal with people who make purchase decisions. These people might have questions or concerns that the business has to address as quickly as possible. This means everyone working on a B2B pipeline has to be highly knowledgeable in the product or services and provide proofs of concept wherever they are required.
B2B Lead Generation Ideas
Now that we understand some differences between B2B and B2C lead generation, what are some of the ideas you can use to make the former successful?
Use Data to Make Your Outreach More Personal
Finding and reaching more than a few leads and potential new customers can be exhaustive and lead to wastage of resources. Additionally, some tools you would use to do this in the past have limits now. For example, LinkedIn now only allows 20 invites a day.
These limits mean that you must be very selective about who you reach out to. To ensure success, you have to make your outreach program personal with the data you have collected about your users and customers.
Metrics such as buyer intent can be incredibly useful here. Buyer intent can tell you where different customers are in the buying cycle. To know this, you can look at the information, websites, and products they are looking at. Once you know this, you can adjust your campaigns accordingly to get them wherever they may be on their buyer journey.
Doing this has the secondary benefit of leaving your potential customers feeling the experience was customized for them.
Put More Emphasis on Content Marketing
Every business and marketer should take content marketing seriously. Content marketing is king in B2B lead generation because your potential customers are looking for a lot of information as they think about which business to buy from.
Remember that B2B customers are very knowledgeable and continually seek information on products and services because of the resources expended when they finally make a purchase decision.
Understanding what type of content to create as well as where to place it will be crucial for the success of your B2B lead generation efforts. Everything from the videos, blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more should cater to the needs of your potential customers and different buyer personas.
To ensure your content marketing efforts are successful, start by researching your competition. Find out what types of content they are using and where they are posting it. Also, do regular backlink and keyword research to keep up with their SEO efforts.
Lastly, do regular audits to see which content is converting highly for each step of the buyers’ journeys. Then, personalize your website with this content. Personalization has been shown to increase lead generation results by up to 20%.
Invest in Social Selling
Although social selling has traditionally been defined as using a business’ social media channels and platforms to reach leads and prospects, that definition has expanded to include other online and virtual channels. One social selling strategy that emerged in the last three years is selling on virtual events.
B2B organizations have seen a lot of success with social selling, with over 90% of businesses saying social platforms could be credited with much of their success. Taking advantage of webinars, presentations, and virtual business meetings to get leads increases the success of social selling.
Businesses can further this success by using social media marketing tactics and live streaming. Apart from lead generation, this strategy can increase your brand’s visibility and exposure, creating discourse and helping a business collect additional data to use in future lead generation and marketing strategies.
Voice Search Marketing
Search and voice marketing both fall under the umbrella of letting people know about your business and its products and services, so they think of you when they eventually make a purchase.
Voice search has become very popular, especially due to improvements in smart speakers and virtual assistants. With these improvements, we can do any search we want using voice commands as we would on a computer or phone by typing.
Voice search has streamlined the flow of information, making it accessible to more people than ever. To take advantage of voice search, businesses must streamline their marketing efforts to make voice search one of its integral parts.
Long-tail keywords that mimic how people use phrases in face-to-face conversations are the key to success here. When optimizing your keywords, keep long-tail keywords in mind and ensure your content marketing strategy adapts to these types of keywords as well.
Start a Podcast
While they have been around in some since the 1980s, podcasts exploded in popularity in 2020. They continue to be a useful marketing tool for savvy B2B marketers. Why should you start a podcast or partner in one?
More than 12 million Canadians making up over 38% of people aged 18 and over have listened to a podcast in the past year. The numbers are similar in other countries, which is an interesting fact for global businesses.
A major advantage of podcasts, apart from their reach, is that they are always available online so people can listen to them wherever they want and can even replay them. A podcast is not only a great place to promote your own B2B organization, but to also invite other businesses to do the same.
You can create a relationship with the businesses you invite over or get access to a new audience since people who are interested in those businesses will be listening too.
Use podcasts at the top of your sales funnel, as an opportunity to showcase your products and services, and as a way to show you they solve customer problems and meet their needs.
Invest in Video Marketing
Video is the preferred medium of content consumption for many people. This is why platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels have become so popular. For businesses that know how to leverage video marketing, it can be a potent lead generation channel.
The best thing about video content is that you can post it anywhere. Start a YouTube channel, post videos on your blog or social media platforms, or even go live. Remember the goal is collecting leads, and this should be what you do every time one of your videos goes live.
B2B lead generation is very similar to B2C lead generation but with some differences. Businesses that understand the former and can leverage it can grow their customer numbers while also growing business relationships that will pay dividends in the future.