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3rd October 2023

Are you researching B2B lead generation services? Then you need to know that B2B buying has changed. 

The number of decision-makers involved in B2B buying has grown massively in the last 10 years: up from six or seven people, to 14, 15 or more, according to Forbes

This means the role of B2B lead generation has also changed

Marketers now have to target numerous buyers from one account in order to effectively generate leads. 

And, according to Gartner, 77% of buyers think the purchasing process has become very difficult. 

So the best way you can reach them for the purposes of B2B leads generation is by making their life easier: presenting them with the tools and resources that will help them do their job, and making your brand more visible and attractive in the process. 

In this article, we'll help you discover: 

  • What is B2B lead generation?
  • The best B2B lead generation strategies 
  • How to choose a B2B lead generation agency 
Headley Media colleague on the phone

What Is B2B Lead Generation? 

B2B lead generation is the art of finding new businesses to sell your products and services to – and enticing those businesses into your marketing funnel. 

Typically, any marketing strategies designed to catch the attention of your target audience qualifies as lead generation: from search engine optimization (SEO) and social media use, to paid-for content syndication and hosting webinars, to cold calling and mass email marketing B2B lead generation. 

Marketing Qualified Leads vs. Sales Qualified Leads

There are two main types of B2B leads: Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs).

MQL comes first: these are the people who have engaged with your brand on a meaningful level, indicating that they will buy from you in the future. 

Examples of MQLs include:

  • Someone reading and downloading your content, hosted on a content syndication platform.
  • A prospect who has visited one or more of your web pages.
  • Someone engaging with your brand on LinkedIn, for example, following your business page or commenting on your posts.

Further down the marketing funnel, they become SQLs: these are leads who are ready to be passed to your sales team.

Examples of SQLs include:

  • Leads who have actively filled out a contact form on your website to hear from your sales team.
  • People who have requested a free trial or a demo.
  • Or, if you have a B2B lead scoring strategy set up to manage your leads, your MQLs may have reached the threshold you've set to qualify them as SQLs for your sales team to contact.

Not all leads become SQLs or even MQLs. The best B2B lead generation tactics – and the best B2B lead generation companies – are those that help you find the leads who are most likely to. 

How to Generate B2B Leads 

So the big question is: how to generate B2B leads?

Firstly, you may choose to work with a B2B lead generation specialist, like Headley Media, to generate high-quality B2B leads for you.

Alternatively, you may choose to focus your efforts on inbound lead generation strategies, or more commonly, a combination of the two.

Let's explore outbound vs. inbound lead generation strategies below.

B2B lead generation falls largely under two categories: inbound lead gen and outbound lead gen.

Outbound lead generation strategies are all the marketing tactics you employ to actively seek out new prospects, such as working with external B2B lead gen services and running LinkedIn ads.

Whereas inbound lead generation focuses more heavily on 'organic' channels, such as getting new inquiries directly through your website.

Outbound Lead Generation

Outbound marketing is the strategy people usually associate with lead generation. Outbound lead gen is when marketers reach out to new prospects directly, either in-house or through B2B lead generation outsourcing, to bring them into their marketing funnel.

Outbound lead generation examples include: 

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound marketing is a little different: it's about letting new prospects come to you.

In today's market, where buyers do most of their own research before making a purchase, inbound lead generation – also described as demand generation – is growing in popularity. Inbound leads grew last year by 6.7%, according to HubSpot

Inbound lead generation examples include:

Coming back to the question of how to generate B2B leads, the answer will depend on a few key factors, including your budget, your industries and the audiences you need to reach.

The technology sector is particularly blessed with different B2B lead generation ideas.

Most SaaS businesses we know are exceptionally good at creating content with which to tempt prospects, whether that takes the form of a whitepaper on a particular topic, an ungated blog from an industry thought leader or a case study with a client. 

Then there are other lures with which technology companies can attract new leads, such as a tantalizing free software download or demo. 

Technology companies can also use content syndication to make their content go further, and attract new audiences. We think content syndication is the best outbound lead generation service for B2B SaaS businesses, and the easiest to budget: many agencies offer their services on a cost-per-lead (CPL) basis, which makes B2B lead generation cost-effective. 

Business professionals in a meeting

The Best B2B Lead Generation Strategies 

There are lots of B2B lead generation ideas that might work for your business. Here’s a run-down of our favorites.  

1. Your Website and SEO 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is still critical in lead generation for B2B: Google is still where most potential leads' journey starts, and 88% of marketers who already do SEO are increasing or maintaining their investment in SEO this year, according to HubSpot's State of Marketing report.  

Use keyword research tools (like Semrush) and make sure your website pages are updated regularly to help rank on Google and other search engines. There's always Google Ads B2B lead generation if you're prepared to spend the money. 

2. B2B Email Lead Generation 

A whopping 74% of people prefer email for business communications, and it's fantastic for lead generation.

Once you have a new lead's email address, and you know a little about what they're looking for, you can start to target them with carefully chosen messaging and content that they will appreciate.  

Email lead generation in B2B is an art. Why not hit them with an interesting article, then follow up with a chance to attend a webinar? 

3. Content Syndication 

Our favorite B2B lead generation service is content syndication through a 3rd party: after all, we are one of those 3rd parties!

Our trusted and 100% digital content syndication platforms are transparent B2B lead generation websites for technology marketers needed to reach senior tech decision-makers.

B2B content syndication involves your content – such as whitepapers, eBooks, case studies, or research reports – being promoted to new audiences via 3rd party content libraries, usually owned by lead generation companies B2B, designed to help you reach a much bigger audience. 

At Headley Media, we own our content libraries in the IT, HR, marketing, finance, electronics, and cybersecurity sectors. We publish our technology client's content to our worldwide technology audiences in 60 countries and 32 languages.

Our content syndication websites are trusted by millions of readers as reliable research destinations, and because we put our audience first, they will happily give their contact details in return for downloading useful content from our clients. 

Those readers then become leads for our clients. It's a great B2B SaaS lead generation strategy, because each lead: 

  • is actively researching the client's solutions. 
  • has engaged with the client's content.
  • is therefore already familiar with the client's brand. 

4. Thought Leadership 

Use your senior leadership team! If any of them are particularly comfortable speaking to an audience, push them into the limelight.

Persuade them to host webinars and share their expertise at events. Encourage them to share their opinions and experiences on LinkedIn, create content with their name and face on it, and watch them become a respected industry voice.

5. Free Tools 

Free tools are a great way to generate relevant leads. You can use your existing products to create a tool that will keep prospects coming back to your website. 

It could be a part of your existing software package, with an adjacent link to trial the entire product, or get a live demo.

A common example is a free SEO benchmarking tool, which shows customers how their websites rank compared to their competitors. You can gate your free tool, ensuring that anyone who uses it becomes an engaged lead. 

6. Social Media Advertising 

So the article you spent two days writing got five likes on LinkedIn. Now what? 

You could try boosting it with advertising. Social media advertising has its flaws, but the audience targeting is hard to beat: you can be very precise in which markets and demographics you want to hit. It's budget-friendly, too, as it's usually on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis. You can set a budget for a PPC B2B lead generation campaign and not worry that you'll overspend. 

7. Chatbots and Live Chat 

Have you got either a chatbot or live chat function on your website? 

These handy pop-up boxes are a low-stakes way for leads to engage with you, which makes them generally well-utilized and welcomed by website users. 

You can set them up to appear at a certain part of your website, such as halfway down the homepage, or on a landing page, allowing you to capture your lead at the most effective time.  

There are lots of other lead generation strategies, here's a comprehensive list of B2B lead generation solutions to try.  

B2B Lead Generation Services 

Good B2B lead generation agencies will offer a range of lead gen services to help you generate relevant B2B leads.

Here's a whistle-stop tour of the most useful outsourced B2B lead generation services and enhancements. 

Single Touch and Double Touch Content Syndication 

Let's start with the most common forms of content syndication.

Let's say you're a SaaS business and you've produced a whitepaper about cloud security.

Firstly, Headley Media uploads your whitepaper to Cybersecurity Corporate.

An office manager in the US, Mark, who is researching new cloud storage software, downloads it, gives his contact details, and ticks the box consenting to hear from you.

A day later, Mark's name, email address, job title, company name, phone number, and company size will be delivered to you in a list of leads from Headley Media. 

That's a Single Touch campaign: each lead downloads one piece of your content.

To ensure your leads are already warmed up before being delivered to you, you may choose to explore a Double Touch campaign instead.

Let's imagine that as well as your whitepaper, you've also published an eBook with statistics about the number of cybersecurity attacks in the US on Cybersecurity Corporate. To qualify as a lead, Mark has downloaded both pieces of content 

Nurture Track and SoftBANT Lead Generation 

Contacting fresh leads and immediately trying to sell to them rarely works. To be effective, B2B lead generation requires a lead nurturing strategy

A lot of lead nurture is done in-house by brands. Email and social media campaigns are often geared towards warming up existing leads, but your 3rd party B2B lead generation supplier can also offer lead nurturing support, and help you set up lead scoring

With a Headley Media Nurture Track campaign, for example, each lead is guaranteed to have read at least two pieces of your content, populated two forms with their contact details, and consented to hear from you directly. 

You can take it even further with a SoftBANT campaign. This analyses your leads' buying signals, based on Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe, allowing you to prioritize leads that are more likely to buy from you. 

Account-Based Marketing Lead Generation

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a winning B2B lead generation strategy, and it's having its moment, thanks to the current trend of personalization and the fact that the buying committee is growing. 

With ABM, instead of aiming to gain as many leads as possible, you start with a list of accounts to target – your target account list (TAL). These are the businesses that would be most valuable to you as clients.

Your B2B lead generation company can help you grow your TAL with lookalike audiences. 

ABM works because it gives you the scope to research the individuals on the buying committee you need to target, and personalize your communications to them. You're more likely to be able to provide useful, relevant communications, so your leads are more inclined to reach out to you when they're ready to buy. 

Intent Data Targeting and Audience Intelligence 

Another healthy trend in marketing at the moment is intent data: the digital breadcrumbs your leads drop which allow you to assess their needs and target them more accurately. 

You perhaps already track your leads' use of your own website and social media. However, B2B lead generation agencies can help you read signals your leads are leaving elsewhere on the internet. 

At Headley Media, for example, we use our portfolio-wide intent data combined with 3rd party intent data from respected provider, Bombora.

Our B2B intent data gives our clients a 360-degree view of what each lead has been searching for, which indicates how close they are to making a purchase. 

Another, more straightforward way of gleaning extra information from your leads is to use audience intelligence questions, such as profiling or qualifying questions.

Audience intelligence strategies can be as simple as adding extra questions to your content download form – such as “what cloud storage solution are you currently using?” - which will help you assess your leads' needs. 

Display Advertising 

Advertising works! Combining display advertising with a content strategy that will ensure your brand is noticed by potential leads can really give your B2B lead generation meaning. 

At Headley Media we offer display advertising to support your B2B lead generation campaigns, helping you to create surround sound messaging that reinforces your brand and messages to your target audience.