By Takeshi Young
Leads are the lifeblood of any B2B company, but coming up with new ideas for how to increase leads can be a challenge.
To help you generate new lead gen ideas, we went out and interviewed some of the top experts in B2B lead generation from companies like Moz, Marketo, and DemandBase to get their best ideas and strategies for generating more leads.
We hope this post gets your head buzzing with ideas for things to A/B test on your own site. Let us know in the comments if you have any suggestions that we missed!
Director of Content Marketing at EverString
Follow @dayroth on Twitter
- Create diversity in your content. Your buyers have unique consumption wants and needs, so make sure your content comes in multiple formats. Your buyers are also at varying stages in the buyer journey—make sure you have content that speaks to each stage, so you can accelerate your buyers to close.
- Instead of focusing on a wide top-of-funnel, think more strategically about targeting the right leads and accounts. By using predictive marketing tools and strategies like Account Based Marketing, you can have a more targeted approach to lead generation by honing in on your ideal customer profile.
- Make sure you have a diverse program mix in your demand gen plans. You should be engaging in both organic and paid campaigns to drive traffic to your website to generate leads. Think about audience building and lead generation on social media, and consider engaging in paid programs like paid email sends, content syndication, paid webinars, and more to drive leads into your funnel.
Growth Hacker at Twitter Counter
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Usually the most sensitive point for lead generation on a website is the length of the form.
Oftentimes, companies are tempted to ask for way too much information in the lead generation form, either to better filter and address the leads or to know as much as possible about them before replying. However, they forget that this can hurt yourconversion rates A LOT and you might be missing out good leads. Most of the time, information such as number of employees, industry, revenue, website address, etc., can be added to the lead with a quick Google or LinkedIn search.
If the volume of leads is too high to do this manually, there are plenty of tools that can do it for you through an API. Some examples are FullContact, Clearbit, and Stacklead. By using these resources, you can reduce significantly the number of fields in your lead generation form, and therefore, increase your conversion rates.
So in sum, my advice is:
- Ask yourself what type of information is absolutely needed to kick off your sales process.
- Check what information you can get from sources other than the form, so you can reduce the number of fields.
- Test, test, and test Test the number of fields, the type of fields (select box vs. radio button vs. button styles), single vs. multiple steps, field labels above vs. next to vs. inside of the element, and color and copy of the submit button are just a few ideas you can play with.
VP of Demand Generation at Marketo
Follow @Heidibullock on Twitter
At Opticon 2015, Heidi joined our panel on Building the SaaS Growth Engine. She’s also been profiled here on the blog before. At Opticon, she shared these demand generation tips for scaling a B2B business:
- Look for a point of diminishing returns. Where are your campaign investments providing value? At Marketo, inbound strategies like content marketing are the strongest channels, and should be maximized to a point; but beyond that, inbound tactics need to be supplemented with outbound, paid channels in order to create sustainable demand and generate new leads from your website.
- Engage in active conversations with your sales team. Make sure you’re aligned on process and are actively getting feedback from the teams qualifying your leads and converting them into deals.
- Make leadscoring dynamic and behavioral. Consider what makes a lead qualified, and work on enhancing a lead score with information that you have about your leads beyond demographics. Focus on how they came to your website and other actions they’ve taken as you calculate your scores.
Digital Marketing Expert at Hop Online
Follow @ngerdzhikov on Twitter
Here is a list of best practices we recommend to our B2B customers:
- Have clearly defined target personas. There is nothing worse than having an optimized site for the wrong persona. Is your site geared toward the decision maker, or someone who is helping them to evaluate your solution? Why not both?
- Use all available qualitative and quantitative data available to analyze the pitfalls in the buyer’s journey. Dig into your analytics software and run live tests of your site. Make sure you fully understand how your users interact with you site and what their goal is on each stage of their journey.
- Create useful content that benefits your target personas and gate it for lead generation.Add value and people will reward you with their trust.
- Craft beautiful forms and optimize them constantly. We often use tools like Wufoo.
- There is no final frontier with CRO. There is no such thing as a perfectly optimized website. Hire great CRO experts and provide them with the tools and authority to constantly test, test, test. Thankfully, with tools like Optimizely, it is easier to run tests without bothering your IT team.
- Most importantly, have faith in the scientific method. Base your optimization and redesign decisions on data, not on qualitatively-informed opinions from authority figures in your organization.
Director of Field and Partner Marketing at Demandbase
Follow @jfewless on Twitter
What if we changed the conversation about what a “lead” actually means? Most B2B marketers are focused on that all-important “contact,” but is that really what you need? What if you knew the accounts you actually want to engage with, so that when you get a signal from them regarding interest in your solutions, you consider THAT a lead?
With Account-Based Marketing (ABM), you have a short list of target accounts, so you can actually be proactive in your approach, and not wait around for a person (and often not an influencer or buyer) to fill out a form on your website. The lead comes when the company responds to your messaging and campaigns, and visits your website.
“But what about that individual??? Don’t I need their email address to market to them?” Once you’ve identified a company’s interest, then it’s up to your sales team to take that information, that signal, and reach out to the individuals THEY want to talk to. That is when your sales team truly takes control of the buying cycle!
David T. Scott
CMO at Livefyre
Follow @scottonmktg on Twitter
Website leads are often driven by earned media and other intangible marketing that is being executed. Often times, there is a halo effect that lifts website leads even from the most direct of lead generation channels.
A good-performing website converts between 7-14% of visitors and is optimized toward this goal. A lot of people think that beautiful websites are better, but studies show that even ugly, but functional websites can be just as successful, if not more successful at converting leads. My basic strategy for optimizing website conversions for lead generation is to:
- Limit the amount of options a person has to explore through your website. The more overwhelming it is, the greater chance that they will get bored and leave.
- Place calls to actions after every section. Get customers to drive to web forms and gated content.
- Make the forms simple and easy to complete. Ask for less information and offer a social login as an option.
Manager of Analytics & Optimization at Access Intelligence
Follow @accessintel on Twitter
Something that I recommend leveraging for lead generation online is website personalization.
Here’s a tactic we’ve seen good success with:
- Creating micro-audiences through our Lytics integration for targeted companies
- Offering those companies discounted subscription rates through banner ads on the brand sites
This strategy helps cut the clutter for users who already subscribe to or who fall outside our target audience, and allows us to target high-value customers who are more likely to convert.
In the event an audience does not respond, it is a valuable teaching moment for the type of communication that they’re respond to best. Internally, I’ve positioned this as a change from fishing with a net to fishing with a pole: you can customize a fishing pole with a lure and bait to attract the right people.
You may not see as much website activity, but remain confident that you’re getting the right activity when it happens.
VP, Online Marketing & Operations at New Relic
Follow @tbdenney on Twitter
Engage early with your sales teams and continuously seek their qualitative feedback, combining it with your own quantitative analysis to determine how you should adjust your investments and targeting to generate the most productive mix of demand to fuel sales.
Director of Customer Marketing at Optimizely
Follow @Heather_Watkins on Twitter
At Optimizely, we’ve seen our partner co-marketing channel bring a tremendous amount of value for effectively driving net new qualified leads from our website and in other venues. These in-person and online events have driven us thousands of leads at a low cost and also have added benefits of expanding our brand to new markets and strengthening our overall partnership strategy.
CEO at BeSmartee
Follow @timnguyenbsm on Twitter
A very easy technique for generating B2B leads from your website is to use “exit detection”. When you suspect a visitor is about to exit your website, you give them a call-to-action (CTA). The CTA can be anything of value to your target market. For example, let’s say you are an e-commerce website. You can offer a coupon code that expires in 24 hours. Or perhaps you sell business consulting. You may offer a free 1 hour introductory session, but your visitor has to sign up right now.
Using this technique we’ve been able to increase our private launch conversion by 200%. The code is readily available and can be implemented by a web programmer in hours. Be careful about being overly aggressive, meaning don’t show the CTA each time the visitor visits your website. This can become annoying. Most available exit detection plugins are smart enough to track whether it’s the same user within the same session and adjust accordingly.
Vice President at The Alternative Board
Follow @TAB_Boards on Twitter
Survey findings from The Alternative Board (TAB) on B2B sales revealed that 64% of business owners prefer personal trial and error when making a purchase. B2B companies can increase the leads coming from their website by offering a demo or trial version of their service. The best way to set this up is with several calls to action (CTAs) throughout the site that lead to a landing page offering the free demo/trial.
TAB franchise owners often advertise free taster sessions on their sites, so local business owners (or anyone who stumbles on their site) can get a sense of how the TAB community can help them grow their business. We’ve found this to be an effective way of overcoming the hurdle of skepticism and to show the power of our service rather than explain it. With only 6% of business owners considering themselves “very trusting” of B2B vendors, the best way to market to them is by educating, not selling.
Acquisition Marketer at Visual Net Design
Follow @vndx on Twitter
To get more B2B leads, companies need to use better, more relevant calls to action on their website. “Learn more” doesn’t really prompt a professional to give you their information; “Let’s start your project” is more action-oriented and cuts through the clutter while getting to the point. A/B test your CTAs to determine which is more effective at converting leads on your website.
Companies also need to map out the customer’s journey across their website. It’s almost like leaving breadcrumbs for your customer—after they look at your services, where do you want them to go? Leave “breadcrumbs” like a downloadable piece of collateral or invite them to sign up for a newsletter. Once you figure out the ideal customer journey, you can measure where users drop off and improve your site accordingly.
Marketing Manager at Netrepid
Follow @jonathanbentz on Twitter
The biggest thing I have learned from A/B testing is the effectiveness of a pricing page in the lead generation process. Many B2B companies oppose pricing pages because they want visitors to request further information, and fear they will lose opportunities. In my lead gen efforts, I can confirm that total inquiries may go down a little bit, but public pricing pages have eliminated many leads that shop only with price as a decision factor.
For new visitors, click-through rates from a service page to a pricing page are extremely high. The conversion rate of requests for quotes (RFQs) from the pricing page are higher than conversions from a service page. Instead of “package pricing” like most SaaS providers, our pricing pages include “Starting At” pricing. We list a “Starting At” monthly price, document everything included, list all available options, and then request leads “Submit An RFQ”.
Because of the success we have seen for our colocation and hosted exchange services with this strategy, we are publishing “Starting At” pricing pages for all services. These URLs are a critical piece in our efforts to generate qualified leads across our entire line, as opposed to leads that are trying to get more information.
Founder at Beymour Consulting
Follow @beymour on Twitter
One tactic that I’ve found to be highly effective for generating leads is guest blogging on industry-relevant sites. In addition to helping small businesses build up their SEO through link-building, guest blogging can be an excellent lead-gen source.
I’ve written a variety of articles for several industry-leading sites and many of them have sent me some great referral clients. You can even get creative and structure the content in a way that pre-qualifies your leads.
For instance, I wrote an article on multi-location SEO—most businesses with multiple locations (such as chains and franchises) have more money to spend than smaller single-location businesses. As a result, several of my most valuable clients found me from this one article that I wrote for Search Engine Journal almost a year ago now.
In fact, this particular article generated over $40,000 in revenue through direct referrals. In a nutshell, the more credibility you can establish on websites that your potential customers or clients trust, the more likely they’ll be to do business with you.
Director of Growth Marketing at Moz
Follow @theandynelson on Twitter
Focus on providing potential customers real value in the form of free tools or content before you ever ask them for anything.
Moz invests a ton of time and resources into our free content to help people do better marketing. When we ask customers what drew them to Moz, we often hear stories about how they learned the industry through our content and community and trust our expertise.
The value we provide to potential customers increases their awareness of Moz and earns us consideration when it’s time to look for a tool. If our first interaction with someone was asking them to buy our product, it’s far more likely that we’d be treated like a commodity and judged solely based on our feature set and pricing.
It’s amazing how far generosity can get you.
Co-founder and President at Geeks Chicago
Follow @geekschicago on Twitter
We have discovered two methods that will generate more leads from our site.
- Targeted landing pages, with an impressive call to action on the page. A landing page that has been tested and optimized can generate many more leads than a standard web page.
- Live chat on important product pages. We use Olark for our site, and it works wonderfully. Having a chat system in place to engage people on your site after a set amount of time can convert some of those potential drop-offs into clients. It’s like having a real-time sales person available whenever you need them.
Lead Generation Manager at 9Lenses
Follow @charblacklock on Twitter
There are numerous things marketers can do to increase website leads, but the most fundamental of these is to ensure there is one consistent message across all marketing channels—content, email campaigns, paid advertising, social media, and every page of your website.
Unless you hit prospects with the same message over and over again, your value proposition will not stick, and chances are higer that visitors to your website will simply depart in a state of confusion.
Clarity of message and value proposition are therefore critical, and these need to correspond with the challenges and desires of your target markets. Creating one concise message can become tricky if you have multiple and diverse target markets, so while there can be different pitches to each buyer persona, the message needs to be the consistent at its core.
If your website has enough monthly visitors, A/B/n testing your message can help determine how to phrase it the most effectively. Asking friends, family, and customers about the clarity of the message can also help ensure it clearly describes your company’s value proposition.
Marketing Strategy and Operations at AdRoll
Follow @norland on Twitter
Almost as important as generating the lead is what you do after people give you their information. Think about lifecycle marketing, and how you can help leads move to the next stage in the funnel.
For example, if a lead has expressed interest in your product, what other content can you send to them that they also might find helpful? Marketing automation can help you share your best content with the right person at the time they are interested in your business.
Director of Digital Branding at Apperian
Follow @tiffanyearly on Twitter
Optimize your website for lead generation by combining bold, sweeping changes with iterative A/B testing.
When the time came to redesign Apperian’s website, we knew we needed to better speak to our target customer. Defining that customer’s language and ideal value proposition was one of our first steps. A new design and brand were informed by both qualitative target customer feedback, and by quantitative website analytics data.
After re-launching our website, we saw bounce rate decrease and conversions increase; but we continued to iterate through homepage variations, optimizing calls to action and messaging even further to narrow to our target customer. Now, the website is the top generator of leads for our sales team, and has drastically reduced our marketing costs to acquire a customer.
Digital Marketing Lead at Fair Point GmbH
Follow @fairpointint on Twitter
Always iterate. Always! The digital space is moving at a very fast pace and if your company is not ready to test and experiment with new visual design or creative content, you will be left behind.
Even companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft advocate that segmenting and A/B testing your audience is one of the must-do things in order to keep relevancy online.
I can give an example with our own growth online. We made over 60 changes to the layout on our website, created new 3 new types of pages with unique and helpful content, have over 60 different sets of AdWords copy and over 20 landing page variants.
That may seem like a lot of work, but the results are worth it. We saw more than a 300% increase in organic visits and over 160% increase in leads generated via organic and paid search, year to year. The click through rate (CTR) on our ads is steadily above 8%, and our dynamic remarketing campaign has increased retention rates by 17%.
This is not bragging. This is how the digital space operates in 2015 and things will get even more hectic moving forward. So my Shakespearean advise is: Iterate, iterate, iterate!
Founder at Planning Pod
Follow @planpod on Twitter
- Display a toll-free phone number prominently. We have found that customers are more likely to contact us by email or by phone if they know they can talk to someone either now or down the road if they need assistance with our product, and putting your phone number on your website provides peace-of-mind for your prospects moving forward.
- Test color on all action buttons. Several Web usability studies have shown that red is the best color to prompt someone to take an action (with green being the second best color), and when we made our free trial buttons red it increased the number of trials by 8% alone. Test your to determine what works best.
- Write blog posts that address the biggest pain points your customers experience and most pressing questions your customers ask on search engines. By ranking for these pain points and questions and providing useful content on them, your customers are more likely to reach out to you for answers.
Web Strategist at Citrix
Follow @jsscacollier on Twitter
Provide your visitors with a personalized experience, test, and measure how new content affects your key website metrics.
When Citrix ran a website personalization pilot program, we tested how industry-specific content would affect the following website KPIs:
- Bounce rate
- Pages per session
- Average session duration
Personalizing content by industry increased these metrics across the board. Remember, your website is the most influential channel in influencing your buyer’s decision in 70% of cases. Don’t forget to be relevant and personal wherever possible. Measure and demonstrate the impact of your optimization.
Director at Digital Rhinos
Follow @digitalrhinos on Twitter
Some lead gen techniques to increase the quantity AND quality of leads on B2B websites include:
- Know your audience. Build out robust buyer personas.
- Create incredibly useful, helpful content that addresses the pain points of those personas.
- Map the content to the stages of their buying cycle. Early stage content should address “what is my problem”, mid-stage content should address “how do I solve my problem?”, late stage content should address “who can help me solve my problem?”
- Promote the content where your buyer personas go to consume information. LinkedIn is great for B2B, as are industry related blogs/forums/publications.
- Capture the contact information of leads (either through subscribe forms, gated content). the content you provide MUST be so useful that they want to give you their details rather than feeling forced to.
- Know the value in dollar terms of each lead. This will allow you to calculate the ROI of each channel and shift spend towards the most efficient acquisition channel.
- Progressively profile your leads as you nurture them. This will help you get more in-depth demographic and behavioral information about them in order to score and prioritize them.
- Measure and regularly report on conversion rates at each stage of the marketing and sales lifecycle against a benchmark. For instance, this could be from raw lead to marketing qualified lead, overall and by channel.
- Implement a feedback loop with your sales team. Ensure ongoing optimization of your lead generation and lead nurturing efforts.
Communications Manager at Lookeen
Follow @ em_ebert on Twitter
As a company, we developed software that solves the problems of search in Windows and Outlook for large enterprises. Native Windows search is not very good, and when there is a problem, many people vent about it on social media or blog about it on their own blogs. To help us generate leads and to find the people that would benefit from our product, we actively monitor social media for several different “pain points”.
We don’t just look every day for people with problems, but we get notifications when these problems pop up. We set up a Google notification to alert us when certain keywords are used, such as “Windows search”, “Alternatives to Windows search”, “problems with” etc. We receive several notifications from Google and other social channels letting us know who is having these problems and we can then reach out to them with a targeted email. It’s really quite simple. If your company solves a specific problem, the best way to generate leads is to contact people with the problem that you solve at the time of the problem. We’ve had several large acquisitions using this method and the costs of running it are virtually none.
Director of Digital Marketing at Sparxoo
Follow @joeybaird on Twitter
To improve lead generation, B2B companies can use exit popups, which are modal light box that appear when visitors try to navigate away from your page. These popups provide a last chance effort to capture a lead’s email before they exit. Although a somewhat controversial topic,
these popups have been extremely effective on popular blogs or content page–lifting conversion rates as much as 600%.
A less obtrusive method, yet similar in idea, is a lead generation form box triggered by a scrolling action. These can be useful, as they slide into view when a user reaches the bottom of a page. If a page visitor reads to the bottom of your webpage page, they have most likely enjoyed your content. Placing a timed call to action on the bottom of the page can capitalize on a visitor’s interest – meaning the visitor will want to sign up for more similar content.
Additionally, on high traffic websites, these methods can be tested against each other quickly with conversion rates being the deciding metric.
Web Strategist at Citrix
When looking to optimize your website to start generating more leads, remember to start with goals, clearly defining them while establishing buy-in for those goals with your executive team.
For Citrix, we planned a website personalization pilot with the goals of increasing engagement and conversions of anonymous to known visitors, and accelerating the buyer’s journey from awareness to sale.
CMO at idio
Follow @andjdavies on Twitter
For over a decade, B2B marketers have used gated content (anything behind a lead capture form that requires the user to trade information for access) to generate leads from their websites. Gated content such as ebooks, videos, webinars, etc. are common assets that can be used as a value-exchange to anonymous visitors on your site who have yet to hand over their contact details.
However, although gated content is a time-honored strategy, it is also fundamentally passive and a game of chance; relying on web visitors to find the gated content you’ve placed before them to be relevant to their current needs at the moment they land on a particular page.
Therefore, if companies want to get more leads from their websites they need to look at ways to personalize which piece of gated content is served to individual users as they browse the website. This personalization could be user-driven—asking them to explicitly choose what sort of gated content they are interested in—or it could be powered by content marketing software which tracks their browsing patterns and behavioral data to show the right piece of gated content.
Marketing Director at AdNgin
Follow @eyalk100 on Twitter
One of the biggest challenges of the B2B sales funnel is establishing trust and a unique selling point in a short period of time. These two factors are crucial to the B2B conversion.
One of the most effective tactics is to create a lead magnet to pick up contact details. This is such an effective tactic because it allows the marketer to plug leaky points in the sales funnel by delivering content and facilitating communication with the lead transferring them from cold to hot.
Account Director at Strafe Creative
Follow @ross_davies on Twitter
We have 3 tips we provide all our clients who work in the B2B sector, and these are all based around simple tweaks to their websites to quickly improve the number of leads their sites are generating.
- Testimonials. These should be short, to-the-point, and feature the name, the company and a photo of the person. Having all these elements makes the testimonial more credible and in turn makes your site more trustworthy.
- Instant Chat. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve conversions. Installing it is easy and you can talk directly to potential customers once they land on your website.
- Split testing. Never underestimate how small tweaks to your site can affect if someone buys or gets in contact through your website. We tested changing the CTA button in 5 different colours, and green provided a 4% increase compared to the old button.
CEO/Founder at UsersThink
Follow @usabilityguypgh on Twitter
Use your website to offer a free, drip email based incentive in exchange for their contact information.
The drip based incentive should do three things:
- Provide them real value. Even if you had nothing to sell or offer, this incentive should provide someone who joins real value. An easy test is if you removed all mentioned of your company/service/product from this incentive, would someone still find it useful?
- Help them in the same area/field/problem as what you’re working on. The real value you provide should be directly related to the problem you work to solve, so the value you provide will also prove how much you could help them, should they go with you.
- Persuade them (lightly) on how you can help them. This should be a light touch, and often at the end of the incentive, on why and how you can help them, and why they should go with them. You could end the course with an open ended email, asking them how they liked it, or you can set up simple conditions to send the leads contact info to your own sales people if they reach the end of the incentive but still haven’t reached out to you.
Director of Performance Marketing at Sellpoints
Follow @spencerpadway on Twitter
B2B sales can be long and complicated, and the B2B buyers differ from B2C buyers in that B2B customers take a very methodical approach to making buying decisions.
It’s very common practice in B2B lead generation to offer prospects a white paper in exchange for an email. This is fundamentally a value-exchange. You’re telling your prospect: you give me your email (and a means to keep nurturing you), and I’ll give you a white paper to help you decide if my solution is right for you.
The problem with this set up is that, your prospect, has not gotten any value from you yet. They have to give value (their email) first to get value (information about your solution).
A better approach, or better said, an approach worth testing is offering the white paper for no commitment, allow the prospect to download it immediately without providing an email address. In the white paper, link back to resources on your site. By driving the prospect back to your site you can add them to a remarketing list for more qualified prospects, and you can request their email then (once they’ve gotten some value from you).
Product Manager at Vistaprint
Follow @amitch5903 on Twitter
Help your prospects recognize a problem in their business and let them discover that you are the solution. Specific examples of how we’ve done this on Pagemodo.com include:
- We’ve highlighted the importance of posting regularly and its correlation with successful social media engagement.
- We show customers how much time we save with our platform vs. trying to manage their social media accounts manually.