Lead Generation Best Practices

Part
01
of seven
Part
01

Lead Generation Content Best Practices, Part 1

Two best practices found for creating engaging, effective lead generation content for B2B organizations include creating useful content that informs and educates or answers and deals with questions and problems, as well as targeting keywords and utilizing SEO best practices in all posts and throughout the website.

Create Useful Content

  • Research from Cision found that compared to traditional advertisements, 70% of internet users learn through content before buying a product.
  • Another study by CSO Insights found that 70% of B2B buyers actually prefer self-education early on in the buyers process, again revealing how B2B buying decisions are less and less made through advertisements that inform consumers about products.
  • Creating content that answers questions and solves problems is considered a best practice when it comes to useful lead generation content, as internet users at the beginning or top of the search funnel are usually looking for content that helps them in some way. Educating users through articles that are informative, with social posts, blogs, and infographics about industry related topics, along with answering frequently asked questions and solving common problems, are all top priorities for lead generation content.
  • Marketinsider states that when creators publish valuable content that educates, informs, and entertains, user loyalty and trust is then gained, making it easier to convert leads.
  • Frequency of content publishing is also an important consideration, as consistent quality blog posts show commitment to providing users with valuable content that addresses their issues. A study by Hubspot found that companies who publish 16 or more blog posts per month generated leads up to 4.5 times more than those that post only 0-4 posts each month, and further found that 47% of B2B buyers rely on this content for making purchasing decisions.
  • Ensuring that each post is of high-quality content and addressing the challenges and pain points of customers are key to the retention and converting of website visitors into buyers. Also, posting frequently allows new relevant keywords to be used and targeted, driving more targeted traffic to a company site.

Targeting Keywords and SEO

  • Targeting keywords throughout the search funnel process is also a key best practice for lead generating content. Initially, navigational keywords are words used to find a specific website or piece of information, and thus the targeting of these key terms can help users find material about a company or their services and products. Informational keywords are words used in a search when one is trying to find information, advice, and answers to questions.
  • Companies like Alexa offer products such as a Keyword Difficulty Tool that helps users identify the best keywords that will likely bring the most targeted audience to a website. By simply entering a key term related to the product or service, the company tool will generate a list of other suggested keywords to use, with each keyword having a score for relevance, popularity, and competition, (to help identify terms that the competition uses) along with those that will most probably connect with an audience.
  • Tools such as Google Analytics are also used to discover hidden keywords by looking at the long-tail traffic coming to a website. Long-tail keywords are those that are 3 words or longer that are very specific and usually get very low search volumes, though they convert well because of the specific intent behind the keywords. (e.g. "Buy Organic Hemp Clothing")
  • Optimizing an entire website for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also considered a best practice for lead generation through content as it makes sure the website shows up when searches are placed for any related phrases and brand terms. An optimized SEO website will help the site appear ahead of competitor listings, thus drawing in much more traffic.
  • The company Alexa also offers an SEO Audit Tool for companies to see if they are in fact using the best SEO practices, by reviewing their site and giving a detailed report on SEO strategy, as well as recommending steps that can be taken to improve and fix issues.
  • The importance of utilizing SEO in order to be optimally placed on a search engine list is seen in the fact that on the first page of Google alone, the first five search results (not ads) account for 67.60% of all clicks.
Part
02
of seven
Part
02

Lead Generation Content Best Practices, Part 2

Two best practices found for creating engaging, effective lead generation content for B2B organizations include the use of social media and effective use of the smartphone. These practices are described in detail below.

Use of social media.

  • Lead generation can be achieved via social media, which boasts of 2.62 billion users in 2018. Social media users are expected to grow to 3.02 billion in another three years.
  • Social media has been a popular channel for B2B marketers, with around 87% of them using this platform by 2017.
  • The lead-to-close rate is 100% higher for social media as compared to outbound marketing, and social media platforms also have a 13% higher than average lead conversion rate.
  • Lead generation on social media is fast and economically feasible, as over 50% of marketers consider social media as a cost-effective alternative. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter seems to be the popular social media alternatives amongst marketers.
  • LinkedIn could be used effectively in B2B lead generation by targeting big spenders as LinkedIn enables the marketers to directly reach out and interact with key decision-makers and high ranking officials within an organization. The average conversion rate for LinkedIn advertising is 6.5%, but this seems to be an effective strategy in the long run, as about 45% marketers report of acquiring customers through LinkedIn.
  • Twitter is a platform that people use to get all the relevant information about things that are of interest and significance to them. Hence, this platform presents an excellent opportunity for marketers to promote their lead generation content. Data shows that brands that are on Twitter generate 2x as many leads than those who are not while 82% leads through social media are from Twitter.
  • Facebook dominates social advertising through its effective targeting options, which is also Facebook's key to success in B2B campaigns. Facebook's active engagement and lead generation facilities have been aptly used by the startup Storehub who achieved a 74% improvement in lead generation for its business.
  • LinkedIn is undoubtedly the most effective B2B social media platform, as confirmed by 63% marketers, and LinkedIn is also about 277% more efficient in lead generation as compared to Twitter and Facebook. However, lead generation from their Facebook page has been reported by 43% of B2B enterprises.

Effective use of the smartphone.

  • There is a growing trend of a shift in online B2B queries from the conventional desktops to smartphones, as around 50% on B2B queries were made on smartphones, and this number is expected to rise to 70% by 2020.
  • This shift towards smartphones is driven by a more tech-savvy B2B audience who are proficient in multitasking and tend to be active on mobile while commuting or while working from home. The increasing popularity of smartphones amongst older generations and the entry of millennial and gen Z employees in the B2B workspace may further accelerate the shift towards smartphones.
  • As per the research conducted by BCG, smartphones enable up to 20% quicker purchasing leading to higher revenues and lower costs, and thus B2B leaders are now witnessing a higher level of engagement via the smartphone and also a more significant share of smartphone-driven revenue which is about 42% on average.
  • The BCG research also indicated that mobile usage has been growing amongst B2B buyers, as 70% have already increased their mobile usage recently. In comparison, about 60% are convinced that they shall be more reliant on smartphones in the future. Smartphones are significantly influencing the B2B marketing landscape, as 60% of B2B buyers confirmed the significance of a smartphone in a recent purchase.
  • Optimizing the website for use on a smartphone would not only help buyers in making profitable business decisions but also assist them in keeping track of their B2B marketing goals. Thus keeping the target audience engaged through a smartphone becomes all the more crucial today.
Part
03
of seven
Part
03

Lead Generation Experiences

Sage and Dropbox are two B2B businesses that have developed effective, engaging lead generation experiences. A case study of each has been presented below:

Sage — The Big HR & Payroll Quiz

  • Company Description: Sage provides systems for accounting, payroll and payments. Their client base consists of businesses ranging from start-ups to enterprises.
  • Location: The company operates in 24 countries globally, spanning North America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and Asia.
  • Participation Action: Sage published 'The Big HR & Payroll Quiz,' targeted at decision-makers in HR, payroll and finance. The online quiz was a "highly engaging and responsive." The quiz and the user's results were made easily shareable.
  • Data Collection: The quiz was distributed via email, digital media (paid ads), social media and through public relations channels. Data was collected via the respondent's quiz answers, which included insight about their work style and key skills.
  • CTA/Incentive: As a result of completing the quiz, respondents received a "tailored self-improvement toolkit." The toolkit was "devised to attract and guide prospects into and through the marketing funnel with original, targeted content, directly relevant to their identified challenges." It contained "emotive campaign content and gated assets [that] engaged prospects and delivered them to the top of the marketing funnel."
  • Sales Team Follow Up: The Sage team used the quiz results to publish a bench marking report, which served as the campaign's nurture program, in addition to the toolkit. Depending on where a prospect entered the nurture program and what actions they took, they would receive tailored content via their preferred channel. "Assets at the top of the funnel consisted of light subject matter such as blogs and info graphics, while the mid-funnel offered papers, reports and webinars, and the bottom of the funnel directed prospects towards the most appropriate Sage HR and payroll products."
  • Effectiveness: As a result of the campaign, Sage increased their lead generation by 48% YoY, which was 23% higher than their intended goal.

Dropbox Business — Marketing Dynamix

  • Company Description: Dropbox is a cloud-based file-hosting company that serves over 500 million people globally.
  • Location: United States.
  • Participation Action: Dropbox developed an assessment tool called Marketing Dynamix aimed at marketers as a way to advertise Dropbox for Business to this target market. After using the assessment tool, users had the option to share their results, invite other people to take it, and gain access to personalized content. "Marketing teams that completed the test were provided with a customized Team Wheel, allowing each person to see how their traits compared with others. The Wheel provided a digital overview of the dominant traits of each member of the team, highlighting areas of diversity and condensing quite complex team dynamics into an easily digestible format." After taking the assessment, "recipients were then encouraged to plot their results on the Marketing Dynamix Team Wheel and, crucially, invite marketing colleagues to do that same."
  • Data Collection: The assessment tool collected psychometric data about the users, including information about their personalities, relationships, and team effectiveness.
  • CTA/Incentive: The incentive for marketers to use the assessment tool was a "20-page 'self-portrait' e-book. This gave detailed analysis and advice on recipients' personality strengths, preferred working style and potential areas of weakness."
  • Sales Team Follow Up: Upon completing the assessment, users were sent an email inviting them to share the test with others. Users who didn't engage with the email were "passed into an email nurture, with follow up emails continuing to promote the benefits of the assessment, and delivering additional digital content."
  • "Each person who completed the test received an automated email, encouraging them to share the test with others on their team. Those that didn’t click on the links within the email were passed into an email nurture, with follow up emails continuing to promote the benefits of the assessment, and delivering additional digital content." Additionally, "all prospects were retargeted with supporting content and nurtured further down the marketing funnel."
  • Effectiveness: The campaign generated 2,207 marketing qualified leads, which was 220% higher than their target.
Part
04
of seven
Part
04

Lead Generation: Customization and Standardization

Given that "74% of companies use web forms for lead generation, with 49.7% stating their online forms are their highest converting lead generation tool," businesses should consider the best form for their current goals. Businesses should look at the various pros and cons of customizable and standardized form types to determine which is best for their business, taking account lead goals, time needed to create and process leads and forms, and financial means available.

Customized Lead Generation Pros

  • The business can ask any question it wants to find out specific things from the potential customer by using customized lead generation forms when seeking out very specific business customers.
  • Customized questions can be added to qualify a lead, according to LinkedIn, thus saving time in processing potential leads and allowing the business to focus on the most promising leads.
  • By customizing forms, the business can create a hook and use the form to show the potential customer a specific value and solution the business has to offer, useful when seeking leads for a specific product or service.
  • Customized lead forms can be combined with specific ad campaigns to target specific audiences, as successfully used by the company Integrated Research through LinkedIn's Lead Gen Forms. This is helpful for a company offering a very specific targeted product or service, so they can focus on only the most relevant leads or test a specific campaign or service.
  • Customizing lead forms in-house can allow the business to try different form strategies to see which yields more and higher quality leads. This is possible through the service Unbounce.
  • Using customized and conversational lead forms, such as those offered by Leadformly, can help the business pre-qualify leads by asking questions that enable the business to understand customer needs and tailor the experience. "Using multi-step forms, conditional logic, and redirect rules you can create a conversational LeadForm that not only improves their experience, but gives you better data to segment, qualify and convert your leads into customers."
  • Customized lead generation forms can help increase conversions, due to the fact that the form does not look like a standard form. This unique customized approach changed BrokerNotes's lead generation conversion from 11% to 46% overnight.

Customized Lead Generation Cons

  • "Overly long or complex forms can lead to lower completion rate or even slow down form submissions." Avoid asking too many questions; a study by Hubspot indicates "the conversion rate increases by 50 percent when the number of form fields decreases from four to three."
  • Try to use multiple choice questions, rather than open-ended responses. Potential customers are 3-4% more likely to abandon the form due to even just one open-ended form question.
  • Creating and evaluating customized lead generation forms can be time-consuming.
  • Using data to generate more valuable customized lead generation forms can be expensive, and therefore likely not an option for smaller companies.
  • Setting up customized lead generation forms can be complex, requiring good customer service on the side of the provider if the business doesn't have the experience required to properly set up the customized forms for optimal output.

Standardized Lead Generation Pros

  • The most important lead generating information is typically standard information; "97% of B2B businesses believe that Email is the most important form field for gathering quality leads, followed by Name (92%), and Company (79%)."
  • Simple standardized lead generation forms optimize offering something (lead magnet) in return for basic information; this begins the process of a potential relationship with the business customer, which can be built from there once the form is submitted and the email contact is obtained.
  • Using standard forms asking only for a name and email, with a prominent submit button, can lead to higher submission rates, and thus more leads.
  • Standardized lead generators work best to obtain potential business customers' email addresses, which is a significant starting point for lead development.
  • A standard email-request form offering a coupon code for business subscription or service can help generate business from the potential business customer who has navigated to the company website; this is helpful when seeking immediate lead conversion for a business product or service.
  • Standard forms offering free trials can lead to conversions and serious leads with minimal information required, as used by Quick Base.
  • Using standardized form services from leading companies can ensure that forms are processed properly due to standardized code and embedded processes; this is especially helpful for businesses that do not have the time or skills to build their own forms.
  • Standardized lead forms are generally preferable when businesses are looking for larger quantities of more general information and leads; 50% of marketers say inbound marketing strategies, such as onsite forms, are their primary source of leads.

Standardized Lead Generation Cons

  • Asking for telephone numbers as part of a standardized form is the highest cause of form abandonment; if possible businesses should make this information optional.
  • Basic email-request popups often come up when a user first navigates to a site; this can deter potential business customers and cause them to leave the site immediately. Instead, popups should be reserved for later in the webpage viewing process when the customer is more informed and interested in receiving more information.
  • Standardized leads generally emphasize quantity over quality, meaning that leads may not be relevant or valuable to the organization.
  • Standardized lead generation forms, such as Zoho, are typically not designed for optimal conversion.
Part
05
of seven
Part
05

B2B Lead Generation: Tools and Forms, Part 1

Research identified email address finders, business messengers, and customer relationship managers to be the most widely used business-facing lead generation tools. Fold placement and calls-to-action were identified as the most effective lead generation forms.

EMAIL ADDRESS FINDERS

  • Email address finding tools can be some of the most useful lead generating tools. They make it easy to find direct contact information for leads whose emails may not be readily available by finding email addresses by a variety of different metrics.
  • Aside from finding email addresses, many tools of this type have other useful features such as verifying business email addresses, which allows businesses to ensure that a message is deliverable before it is sent.
  • Certain email address finders can be used to find addresses by searching by website domains and a lead's first or last name.
  • Email address finders have other uses as well, such as providing users the ability to conduct email campaigns directly from it.
  • Hunter is one of the most widely-used and well-respected tools for finding email addresses. It is a web-based tool that can be installed on most browsers. It can find the email addresses associated with any website domain fed into its interface. The tool can also be used to find email addresses by first or last names.

COMMUNICATION TOOLS

  • Business messengers are among some of the most widely used types of lead generation tools. As of 2020, the fourth most reviewed lead generation tool was a business messenger.
  • Talking with those who visit your website can increase conversions up to 38%, and this also applies to sales leads, making it easier for them to both take the next step and find out information.
  • Business messengers can be used to accomplish a variety of purposes, including narrowing down the lead's needs or interests and providing them with a chance to share any further useful information.
  • This communication can be done through both live-support and bots. Generally, bots are used to schedule future appointments or to narrow the lead's interest from a set amount of possibilities.
  • Lead communication tools can come in the form of web-based software, desktop applications, and mobile devices, with many business messengers capable of integrating across different platforms.
  • These tools can also be used to prioritize leads based on certain metrics such as location, years in business, or company size.
  • One of the most downloaded and well-regarded business messengers in Intercom. Intercom allows businesses to chat with leads through bots, integrate their data with different software across platforms, and streamline their sales force.

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM) TOOLS

  • CRM tools allow businesses to track, organize, and nurture leads in one place. This type of software stores sales, marketing, and service information in one place and therefore "automates interactions, provides business intelligence, and empowers sales reps to make the sales process smoother."
  • These tools analyze information and locate opportunities for a sales force and allows them to work more effectively and efficiently.
  • Business-facing activities take place in a variety of forms such as meetings, appointments, lead generation forms, and email campaigns. CRMs can simplify the overall strategy by storing and organizing several types of lead generating techniques into one place.
  • Hubspot is one of the most recommended CRM tools on the market. It helps businesses increase lead conversions in a variety of different ways: analyzing conversion data, providing pop-up contact and other types of information for individual leads, and searching out additional information about leads that they didn't necessarily provide for you.

ABOVE-THE-FOLD FORMS

  • Forms should be optimized to drive engagement. This means it's important to capture the lead's attention quickly.
  • Placing a form 'above the fold' means putting it at the top half of a web page, meaning it is the very first thing a user sees and, as a result, the thing they're most likely going to read and engage with.
  • Studies have shown that items and information placed above the fold on a web page generate the highest amount of engagement time.
  • A user's attention decreases as they move down the page. As a result, the further down a form's placement is, the more user engagement it's likely to lose.
  • One good example of above the fold form placement is Slack. The 'get started' link takes the user to a single box asking for their email. Placing the form here ensures that, even if the user fails to complete the form, the website has still gained a potential lead for future campaigns.

FORMS WITH AN EFFECTIVE CALL TO ACTION (CTA)

  • A form with an effective CTA can mean the difference between converting a potential customer or just increasing the bounce rate.
  • Strong CTAs encourage and excite the user to go the next step. They can mean the difference of constantly having to generate new leads and having a strong, reliable customer base.
  • CTAs often come in the form of the final button on which the customer clicks to finish completing the form.
  • Using a button with a CTA of 'finish' generally isn't as good as one that promises something and excites the user. CTAs that read 'submit', 'download', or 'improve your [blank]' ensure the customer that completing a form is worthwhile and a necessary and convenient step towards attaining what they want.
  • Bounce Exchange has an effective CTA that contrasts well with the page. The form is set up to generate leads by promising the user a demo of their software. Their CTA of 'submit' reminds them that their completion of the form gets the gears turning at Bounce Exchange, which results in them receiving they likely want for free.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

  • Since many lead generation tools are often sold as software from independent websites, there was no feasible way to assess the number of downloads for individual types of lead generation tool. Instead, the metric of recommendation popularity and number of reviews for individual lead generating software was used to determine the what the top types of lead generation tools were. By researching what the most popular individual tools were, the most useful/popular types of lead generation tools could be inferred from which category the most popular individual lead generating software belonged to.
Part
06
of seven
Part
06

B2B Lead Generation: Tools and Forms, Part 2

Email marketing tools, prospecting and outreach tools, and advertising tools are among the most widely used business to business lead generation tools. Conversational and personalized forms and forms with clickable elements are among the top lead generation forms.

Email Marketing Tools

  • According to Optinmonster, email marketing tools are among the best lead generation tools.
  • Email marketing has a "potential return on investment of up to 4400%". Apart from attracting new customers, email marketing can be used to retain customers.
  • According to the 2019 hidden metrics of email deliverability report, email reaches about 85% of the people it was sent to.
  • The email open rate is 22.86% across all industries. This is higher than that of social media's overall engagement rate which is 0.58%.
  • Content Marketing Institute study revealed that business to business marketers (91%) rated email marketing as important for their "content marketing distribution efforts".
  • Examples of email marketing tools include Constant Contact and Sendinblue.

Prospecting and Outreach Tools

  • Finding potential customers for business is the best way to increase the number of leads of a business.
  • Prospecting and outreach tools are some of the most useful lead generating tools. Prospecting is considered the starting point of the sales cycle.
  • Prospecting and outreach tools help in generating customer lists, "verifying contact details, prospects of generating outreach messages, navigating phone trees, and tracking prospect interactions".
  • Tools such as OutreachPlus helps businesses in creating and sending personalized emails. It also uses current and past campaigns to come up with prospects for future outreach.
  • Hoovers is also a good prospecting and outreach tool for business to business application. Hoovers boasts to be "the world’s largest commercial database" and can help in turning prospects into leads.
  • Other popular tools include Datanyze, Propeller CRM, Apollo.io, Emissary, Growbots, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Advertising Tools

  • Advertising tools are some of the most useful lead generating tools. The tools help in promoting the business by putting the ads in front of potential customers.
  • Advertising tools such as Google Ads puts the business' ad in front of potential customers when they search for related content. This increases the chance that a customer will visit the website. Google Ads also enables business to set up campaigns for free.
  • Advertising tools such as Adroll puts together emails, social ads, and display ads to promote a business.
  • Hootsuite’s AdEspresso helps in creating and optimizing Facebook, Instagram, and Google ads. Users can also test multiple ad variants to determine what is most effective.

Conversational and Personalized Forms

  • Conversational and personalized forms are among the best forms for lead generation.
  • These types of forms takes the "pain out of data submission" by making the process about the customers.
  • An example of a conversational and personalized form is like the one used by Lemonade, an insurance company.
  • The form enhances a conversational feel by including a face and a name to the form. This also makes the form to customer-centric by mentioning the customer's name.

Forms with Clickable Elements

  • According to Ventureharbour, most people are not excited about filling forms. It is, therefore, best to design forms that do not look like forms.
  • An example of such a form is that used by BrokerNotes. The form uses clickable elements to make the form fun and feel like using a tool.
  • According to Ventureharbour, clickable elements only require mouse clicks rather than users having to think and type.
  • The form had a conversion rate of 46%.

Research Strategy

To determine the top lead generation tools and forms, we determined the popularity and number of reviews for individual lead generating software used. We also looked for the most useful/popular types of lead generation tools/forms.


Part
07
of seven
Part
07

Lead Generation Form / Tool Development

Best practices for developing and optimizing B2B lead generation forms include tailoring the form to specific objectives as well as ensuring the form meets GDPR compliance.


Tailor the form to your objectives

  • Optimizing the length of your forms can help drive more leads. In general, fewer fields on the form have shown better results.
  • Expedia was able to generate an extra $1 million in sales per year by deleting an extra, optional field from their form. Marketo reduced their form fields from nine to five and were able to earn 34 percent more leads after this change.
  • Some case studies show that more form fields can increase lead quality. For example, a study by MarketingExperiments found that a form with 15 fields resulted in a 109 percent increase in conversions compared to an 87 percent increase with only 10 fields.
  • Interactive content such as quizzes, evaluations, or polls can help take forms to the next level for higher engagement. 53 percent of content marketers use interactive content in their lead generation tools.
  • Forms with interactive content can implement ungated sections so that visitors can access part of the content, but they have to provide their contact information in order to access the whole content. This email marketing ROI calculator provides an example of interactive content forms.
  • In line with more streamlined forms with fewer fields, progressive profiling can be utilized to make the process even easier for prospects. After filling out the initial lead gen form, the prospect will receive the content they subscribed for, which also contains links that segment out to other content based on their responses. 48 percent of consumers tend to spend more when content is personalized.

Ensure privacy and GDPR compliance

  • As of 2018, all lead gen forms must comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards. Although GDPR is an EU-wide law, its scope is also applied to sites in the US.
  • According to a HubSpot survey, 36 percent of business marketers have not heard about GDPR or implemented it. At the same time, 91 percent of consumers expect that businesses will be completely transparent about the way in which they use their data and information.
  • An example of ensuring that forms are GDPR compliant is to ask permission or create a different checkbox in the form that notifies the prospect about their consent when submitting. Other checkboxes can be added for customers to receive emails or express interest in other marketing materials.
  • Privacy policies should be explicitly stated in opt-in forms. Include a message about unsubscribing from the email list at any time and provide a link to the privacy policy page. Making sure that your lead gen forms are GDPR compliant can help build trust in your audience before they provide their information.
Sources
Sources

From Part 04
Quotes
  • "Overly long or complex forms can lead to lower completion rate or even slow down form submissions."
Quotes
  • "the conversion rate increases by 50 percent when the number of form fields decreases from four to three"
Quotes
  • "97% of B2B businesses believe that Email is the most important form field for gathering quality leads, followed by Name (92%), and Company (79%)."
  • "74% of companies use web forms for lead generation, with 49.7% stating their online forms are their highest converting lead generation tool."
From Part 05