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11th May 2023

B2B lead generation companies come in a few different shapes and sizes. Lead gen suppliers can be variable in not just what they offer but in their level of quality, too.

It can be difficult to choose the right B2B lead generation company for your business, so we've put together this handy guide to help you find the right one for you.

In this guide, we'll cover the following:

  • Why is B2B lead generation important?
  • How B2B lead generation has changed in recent years.
  • What do the best B2B lead generation companies have in common?
  • Best practices to look for in B2B lead generation companies.
  • B2B lead generation strategies you should be using in 2023.

Why Is B2B Lead Generation Important?

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Lead generation is how businesses grow.

However, the general understanding of what lead generation is is perhaps misleading. Far from being an unfocused and annoying method of reaching new customers, lead generation is an outbound marketing technique that encompasses many ways of finding new audiences, from visiting trade shows to syndicating content.

Without lead generation, B2B marketers would struggle to grow their businesses. Waiting for new customers to come to you organically has its place, and should certainly feature in your demand generation strategy, but being proactive, putting yourself in front of audiences who are already researching solutions like yours, is easier than ever, and gets results.

The best B2B lead generation companies are now data specialists, using sophisticated techniques and clever insights to ensure lead generation campaigns are targeted at the right people. When you work with the right supplier, B2B lead generation can help you find large new audiences that you can't reach organically, and at the time when they need you.

Let's dig into the changes in the lead generation industry over recent years.

Professionals in a meeting

How Is The B2B Lead Generation Industry Changing?

B2B lead generation is changing for the better. 

The best B2B lead generation is now much more focused on quality over quantity. That means getting to the source of your leads and understanding the journey each person has taken to become a lead – showing they have clearly taken an interest in your business.

Tied in with a focus on quality is greater personalization: lead generation works much better if your campaigns are targeted to your audience, addressing their specific business needs and providing solutions.

"A lot of the clients I work with are keen to understand where their leads are coming from and to establish more direct relationships with publishers and lead gen suppliers. 

If you're working with a publisher, make sure they're doing the work. If you're working with a lead gen specialist, make sure they're doing the work to avoid that 'mystery box' that can happen."

Photo of Kevin Flint

Kevin Flint, Principal Consultant at Tenx4.

Check out the full video conversation Headley Media's Global Sales Director, Freya Ward, recently had with Kevin. Freya and Kevin dive into all the reasons B2B lead generation is changing, and what B2B marketers should be focusing on in 2023.

Professionals sitting in a row

Next up, let's explore some of the biggest trends we're seeing within the B2B lead generation industry in 2023:

Quality Over Quantity

There's less focus on high-volume, top-of-funnel leads. Cold calls and mass emails are out; Account-Based Marketing (ABM), Intent Data Targeting, and lead nurturing are in.

Low Cost-Per-Lead = False Economy

Many lead generation companies in B2B charge on a cost-per-lead (CPL) basis. It can be tempting to go for the lowest CPL you can find, but be warned, this is a false economy. Low-quality B2B lead generation companies often buy in lists of leads from 3rd parties, and don't validate them, meaning they can re-sell the leads for a much lower CPL. 

ROI Over Volume

There's also more of a focus on showing the ROI of the leads generated than the number of leads generated. Again, quality leads, such as through a targeted content syndication campaign, have more value.

Team Involvement

More decision-makers are involved for marketers to get sign-off on campaigns. For example, the finance department wants to understand the value of any lead generation activity, and the sales team wants more alignment and two-way communication with you on what makes their leads tick, and what messaging to deliver to them. 

Generating Demand

Demand generation is on the rise – and it goes hand-in-hand with lead generation. It's a longer-term strategy that focuses on brand building, customer engagement, and organic, inbound marketing, a.k.a. letting your customers come to you. Combined with lead generation, demand generation strategies help you to nurture leads through the funnel more effectively.

What Do the Best B2B Lead Generation Companies Have in Common?

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Top lead gen companies all have similar hallmarks that you can use as a guide to picking a good one. These are the things to look out for:

1. Trusted - They're a known name in the lead generation industry, with good customer feedback.

2. Transparent - They freely and happily tell you where your leads come from. They can show you the entire lead generation process, from the lead's point of view.

3. Own Their Audiences - They favor content syndication, and use their own content syndication platforms to generate 1st party data.

4. Don’t Outsource Your Campaigns - They use their own lead generation platforms to generate all leads in-house. They do not outsource any of your lead generation.

5. Take Consent Seriously- They follow GDPR and similar privacy laws in every country they operate in. They require each lead to physically check a box consenting to hear from you.

6. Validate Each Lead- They use reputable 3rd party organizations, government departments, and other sources such as LinkedIn to check the data accuracy of every single lead.

7. Provide Great Service- They're experts in lead generation, quick and responsive, and they'll work with you to create a lead generation campaign that's right for you. 

Choosing a B2B Lead Generation Company

This is our checklist for ensuring you choose a good B2B lead generation company:

  • They generate your leads via their own websites and channels.
  • They can show you an end-to-end reader journey.
  • They can still show you the full reader journey if they outsource your lead generation to 3rd parties.
  • They can target your desired audience and guarantee content downloads.
  • They're able to target audiences in different countries, regions, and industries.
  • They can guarantee and demonstrate compliance with data protection regulations.
  • They offer a measurable, predictable ROI.
  • They care about your brand equity and reputation.
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Top B2B Lead Generation Strategies

When choosing a B2B lead generation company, it's good to have an idea of the strategies you're looking to employ.

The type of lead generation campaign you choose will depend on your objectives, your budget, the audiences you need to reach, and the level of nurturing you want to do.

These are our favorite B2B lead generation strategies.

1. Content Syndication Lead Generation

B2B content syndication is when a lead generation specialist publishes your content – such as an eBook, white paper, case study, or research report – on their own content libraries, for professionals to download, in exchange for their business contact details.

The top lead generation companies have content libraries specifically geared to the sector you are targeting.

For example at Headley Media, we own content libraries in multiple countries under six technology brands IT Corporate, Cybersecurity Corporate, HRTech Corporate, MarTech Corporate, FinTech Corporate, and Electronic Pro.

Our approach ensures our clients' leads are coming from the right markets, and makes your content more attractive to professionals in those markets.

The more useful and relevant your content is, the more likely it will generate strong leads that will convert. A good lead generation supplier will be able to guide you in what content to use.

 2. ABM Lead Generation

Account-based marketing (ABM) is the art of personalizing and targeting your lead generation to a list of pre-selected companies, chosen as the best fit for your business.

You create a list, called a Target Account List (TAL), made up of those businesses that would make the most lucrative clients. A good lead generation B2B company can help you expand this list, using lookalike audiences. The ideal number of accounts on a TAL is at least 400-500 target companies.

You then gear all your lead generation specifically to the targets on your TAL, using data to deliver content and messaging that will resonate with them.

 3. B2B Lead Generation With Intent Data

Related to ABM, intent data helps you make sure you're staying relevant to your leads' business needs.

It's all the digital information that builds up a picture of your target audience's buying intentions: who they are, what they need and when they'll be ready to buy from you.

Using intent data helps you identify the most promising leads, and predict when they'll be ready to hear from your sales team.

In a content syndication lead generation campaign, for example, your B2B lead generation agency would track what content each lead has looked at across their content libraries, giving you an idea of how intensively they are researching a particular solution.

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4. Lead Generation and Demand Generation Combined

Demand generation is all about brand awareness. It's the gentle, long-term pull of prospects into your marketing funnel, rather than the more proactive, short-term, outbound marketing methods of lead generation.

While syndicated, gated content is used for lead generation, your own blogs and social media are better for demand generation.

The two actually go hand in hand. A short-term lead generation strategy can boost a long-term demand generation strategy, while the content you put out for demand generation – blogs, videos, posts on social media – acts as nurturing for new leads.

Your lead generation syndicated content also works for demand generation. Not everyone who sees your content on a content library will become a lead, but the fact that they've seen it acts as demand generation, as it increases their awareness of your brand.

The same is true for display advertising used in a lead gen campaign. Display ads act as 'surround sound' messaging in this context, making it more likely prospects will remember your business when they're looking for solutions.

5. The Importance of Lead Nurturing

It’s important to choose a B2B lead generation company that is also an expert in lead nurturing.

Whether you need support creating a full lead nurturing strategy, or just some guidance with what to do with your leads after receiving them, a reputable B2B lead generation company will be able to help.

What is lead nurturing? It's the practice of guiding marketing qualified leads (MQLs) through the marketing funnel, warming them up toward a purchase.

That means exposing them more to your brand and positioning your product or service as the answer to their business needs.

Typically lead nurturing takes the form of an email campaign, carefully feeding your messaging and business expertise to your leads at the appropriate times.

However, it also encompasses a more sophisticated means of nurturing your leads. For example, you might choose to run a lead generation campaign with the aim of generating leads who are already warmed up.

Headley Media's content syndication Nurture Track strategy is a great example of a lead nurture campaign designed to deliver leads who have downloaded multiple pieces of your content, and populated at least two content download forms before you receive them.

It's important because without lead nurturing, fewer leads convert into sales. The much-quoted stat, attributed to Forrester Research, states that companies with a strong lead nurturing game generate 50% more sales-ready leads, at a 33% lower CPL. Backed up even further by Marketing Sherpa, lead nurturing also delivers a 45% lift in lead generation ROI.

Remember: attempting to sell to a prospect who is at the top of your marketing funnel; barely aware of your business, and not in need of your product, is more likely to feel annoyed and alienated by your persistent sales messaging than to warm them up. Educate first, sell later.

Headley Media colleague talking on the phone

Frequently Asked Questions About B2B Lead Generation Companies

How Do B2B Lead Generation Companies Work?

B2B sales lead generation companies usually use content syndication to generate leads for their clients.

It's a simple concept: a lead generation company like Headley Media will publish your content such as an eBook, research report, webinar, or case study across their content libraries. For example, Headley Media's brands are aimed at specific technology markets – including IT, Cybersecurity, HR, Finance, Marketing, and Electronics.

Each content library has a large readership of professionals and decision-makers in those markets. At Headley, our content libraries are published in 32 languages, in 60 countries, so the potential market is huge.

So how does content syndication generate B2B leads, we hear you ask?! Well, the professionals engaging with your brand are looking for useful content, either as research for their business solutions or to stay clued up in their industry. The idea is that your content provides something useful to them.

Each piece of content is gated: the reader has to fill out a content download form to access it. A good B2B lead generation company will also ask their readers to check a box consenting to hear from your business directly. That means all your leads are expecting to hear from you, and your lead generation is compliant with all data privacy laws (we don't recommend working with suppliers that don't advocate consent). 

Typically your chosen B2B lead generation company will agree on a CPL with you, so it's easy to budget. A reputable supplier will also authenticate all contact details before delivering your leads to you - take a look at our reader journey for an example of the full lead generation process.

At Headley, Single Touch lead generation is the simplest form of content syndication: it means each lead downloads one piece of your content before we deliver them to you as a lead.

How Do I Choose a Lead Generation Company?

The best B2B lead generation companies host their own content libraries where they syndicate your content and authenticate each lead with various external sources, such as LinkedIn and regional business datasets.

Ask the lead generation company about their Reader Journey – this will tell you what their process is from the lead's perspective. They should be able to show you the content library your content will be hosted on, too. Choose a supplier that's transparent and trustworthy – use the checklist above to make sure all points are covered.

How Much do B2B Lead Generation Companies Charge?

The price of lead generation for B2B companies varies, depending on your supplier and what type of lead generation campaign you want to go for.

A basic Single Touch campaign can be enhanced to Double Touch, Nurture Track or SoftBANT, and enhancements added: ABM, intent targeting, audience intelligence, or display advertising, which will affect how much you should pay for lead generation.

A good lead generation company in B2B will talk to you about your needs and quote you a Cost Per Lead (CPL), which makes your lead generation easier to budget and guarantees a decent ROI. Be prepared to spend at least $100 [check accuracy] per lead for top B2B lead generation companies in the USA.

Beware of too-good-to-be-true price quotes from lead generation suppliers – it might be that they buy their leads from a 3rd party, and don't authenticate them, so the leads could turn out to be worthless, or may breach data protection laws.

 Are you ready to learn more about what makes a great B2B lead generation company? Read our ungated Complete Guide to Technology Lead Generation, or download our FREE 2023 lead generation planning toolkit today!