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How to take control of your lead generation campaigns in 8 easy steps

While it seems like demand generation is getting all the attention today, a solid lead generation sales process can deliver huge results for your business if managed well.

In this blog, we’re going to dive into how you can generate leads and maximize your lead gen strategy to boost your bottom line while investing a fraction of the effort, expense, and energy demand gen requires.

What is a B2B lead generation strategy?

Lead generation is already one of the most commonly used strategies in B2B sales.

Put simply, lead gen involves identifying potential leads who are already problem aware (and potentially already aware of your product or service) and converting them into actual, paying customers.

To generate leads, you can purchase them from a list or acquire them through other means (e.g. first- or third-party Intent data, content marketing, lead forms on a landing page, webinar signups, etc.). These leads are then typically ranked through a lead-scoring program. When they reach a high enough score and become qualified leads, they can then be passed to the sales team for outreach.

What’s the difference between lead gen and demand gen?

While lead gen and demand gen are both thrown around quite casually today, they’re completely different approaches and should be treated as such.

As we discussed, lead gen focuses on customers who are already at least part of the way down the sales funnel, whereas demand gen focuses on customers who may not even be problem aware — it’s a heavier content marketing play where you’re literally generating the actual demand for your product or service.

In fact, only 15% of buyers are in-market at a given time. This means that 85% of accounts showing activity aren’t significantly exceeding their baselines or in-market.

Because the prospects start off at such different stages of awareness in each of these programs, they require different strategies and touches along their journey towards conversion.

To make the biggest impact most quickly, we’re going to focus on a lead generation strategy where the potential customers are already showing momentum through the sales funnel.

Scale graphic showing percentage of in-market ABM accounts

How to kickstart an ABM-first lead generation system

1. Create a targeted list of key accounts.

A lead generation strategy doesn’t work without leads, so step 1 is to start assembling your list.

There are many places this list can come from, but if your potential customers are relatively defined (e.g. they fit into a certain demographic and firmographic profile), your target account list is a great place to start.

2. Segment your audience to increase personalized outreach.

Once you have your list of key accounts established, it’s time to break them into segments of significant characteristics or interests. These segments could be based on firmographic or demographic traits (e.g. business size), one of your products or services, topics of interest, or something else that’s relevant to you or your prospect.

These segments will allow you to make your outreach more personalized, so be sure to pick segments you can build a content strategy that resonates.

3. Qualify high-quality leads based on their engagement events.

The trap most marketers fall into when they pursue a lead generation strategy is treating each lead equally. Different prospects are at different levels of awareness, need, and interest, so treating them all the same can waste a lot of time for your sales and SDR teams — they don’t know which leads are just window shopping and which are qualified leads.

The solution to avoid getting caught in this trap is to set up a lead scoring model that includes first- and third-party data, so you can understand real-time engagement events and activity. This way, you won’t just know which leads should be interested in your solution, you’ll be able to identify which leads are actually showing interest.

Once a lead reaches a certain threshold based on key events, it can be promoted in your sales process from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead and be approached by the sales teams.

4. Run A/B tests to optimize underperforming segments.

Ok, after you’ve created your list of leads, segmented them, and then qualified them based on their demographic/firmographic information and activity, it’s time for the content marketing to begin!

Start creating content that appeals to each segment you created in step 2 and distribute this content onto social media channels, Google ads, and anywhere else your target audience may come across them.

If content for any particular segment is underperforming, try strategically changing key elements (like the imagery, messaging, or CTA) to see if you can influence greater clickthrough rates on these pieces of content.

[Need some fresh ideas? Check out our Guide to Improving B2B Display Advertising Performance!]

5. Leverage customer-first content like case studies and testimonials.

While there are many different content marketing lead generation strategies, customer reviews and testimonials are among the most powerful tools for lead generation at your disposal.

Simply put, 88% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, and they trust these reviews 12 times more than the product descriptions and sales copy. In fact, 95% of people say reviews (positive or negative) influence their purchasing decisions, and 70% of consumers say they trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.

Case studies and testimonials are so effective because they essentially act like your own curated reviews. They allow your potential leads to see a demonstration of how your product or service helped another organization accomplish its goals, and they also provide hard data to validate your product or service’s value.

When designing your case studies, be sure to include significant statistics that are relevant to your customers and place them in prominent locations so they’re easy to find. Also, don’t be afraid to write and submit testimonial copy to your customer for approval. This usually ensures you get a high-quality testimonial, and your customer will appreciate not having to write something from scratch.

Again, don’t forget to distribute these case studies and testimonials on social media platforms, Google ads, and elsewhere to generate leads. Have them redirect to a landing page with a lead form if possible.

Benefits of using Intent data

6. Use Intent data to improve your lead scoring model and learn more about who your target audience actually is.

We briefly touched on Intent data previously, but it can be used in a variety of ways to make your lead generation process more effective.

[What is Intent data? Find out here!]

Without Intent data, your SDRs will be staring at a list of equally weighted leads without good guidance of who to call first or what to say.

Intent data solves both of these issues by showing each account’s level of interest, activity, and specific topics of interest. By integrating Intent data into your lead generation process, your SDRs will have a prioritized list of sales leads, they’ll know which topics each lead is interested in, and they can adjust their outreach accordingly.

[See the Complete Beginner’s Guide to Intent data here for the full scoop!]

7. Personalize your brand’s communication based on your platform.

Each of the big social media platforms has its own look and feel, so it’s important to embrace some social media marketing principles when creating your ads and build for the platform on which your ad will appear.

Crafting an Instagram ad? Lead with imagery.

Posting on LinkedIn? Use a carousel ad!

Keeping the feel of the platform in mind while you create content will help you get more leads because your ads can play to the strengths of each platform and be in line with what your potential leads expect to see.

[Looking for tips on how to create ads for each of the social media platforms? Check out our how Bombora increased their advertising reach on LinkedIn without increasing budget!]

8. Evaluate, rinse and repeat.

Lead generation isn’t a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing process.

Your list of leads will be ever-changing, with accounts falling in and out of activity. This is a good thing — it means more opportunities to generate more leads for your sales and marketing teams and ultimately to convert more leads into customers.

This is why it’s important to continue to monitor your lists and results and keep your content marketing fresh.

You should always be generating new content, including case studies and testimonials, as you continue to convert customers through the funnel. This additional content will continue to make your overall content offering better.

So, is lead generation the right strategy for you?

If you’re looking to capture demand that’s already in the funnel, lead generation is most certainly a great strategy for your business.

Following the eight steps above, you can begin to efficiently convert your high-quality leads into customers and quickly see business value through your sales process.

So, grab your list of leads, start segmenting them, and reach out to Bombora so we can help add some Intent data to your lead scoring process!