What are the key ingredients of a future-proof B2B lead-generation strategy?

If you find B2B lead-generation a huge challenge, you’re not alone. You already know how difficult it can be to earn and retain the attention of your target audience in an age of constant distraction.

Many of the old, time-tested marketing strategies no longer work, especially in fast-changing sectors like business technology and services. Other tactics only work in niche environments. But there are some universal ingredients in any sustainable lead-generation strategy.

Here are my top five:

#1. Rigid targeting

A lead isn’t just a random potential customer. There’s far more to lead-generation than building up as large a mailing list as possible. It’s about finding the right potential customers, the high-quality leads who make a perfect fit for your business.

Customer personas are the foundations of any lead-generation strategy. They’re the people who can benefit from using your product or service. But, depending on various attributes, some may be more receptive to what you have to offer than others. You’ll need to customise your messaging for each persona and prioritise based on their readiness to buy from you. It’s not about the number of leads you have, but about the quality.

#2. Competitive analyses

Unless you have a new idea no one else has had before, it can sometimes seem impossible to establish yourself in today’s highly competitive and globalised market. Chances are, you already have direct competitors, but instead of seeing them as a threat, you should see them as an opportunity for differentiation.

There’s no better place to start than by looking at what your top competitors are doing. What does their social media strategy look like? Or their business blog? Or their sponsored ads? By thoroughly evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you’ll be better placed to find a gap in the market and customise your lead-generation strategy accordingly.

#3. Integrated tools

More than ever, marketing depends on technology. But while companies have moved into the digital space in droves, other non-digital forms of marketing have been left in the dust. There’s also a widespread lack of a human touch, despite the fact that modern marketing revolves around building meaningful relationships with your target audience.

Marketing is as much about people and process as it is about data and technology. However, selecting the right tools for the job can empower all those factors. CRM software, for example, can help you keep track of your leads and customers, giving you more information to help you personalise your message. Tools like Google Analytics and Power BI help you derive valuable business insights from data. Content can help fuel customer success with actionable advice. The list goes on.

#4. Privacy by design

Granted, regulatory compliance might not be the most glamorous thing in lead-generation, but it’s certainly one of the most important. In fact, it’s about more than legal obligation – it’s also an opportunity to enhance your reputation in a time when the trust deficit is at an all-time low. That’s why legislation like Europe’s GDPR and California’s CCPA shouldn’t be considered a hindrance to growth, but as an opportunity.

For too long have advertisers had the final word in how people’s personal data is used. GDPR reinforces privacy as a right rather than a nice-to-have. With permission-based marketing and privacy by design and default, marketers can establish trust with new leads right from the start.

#5. Customer success 

Lead-generation doesn’t start and end with adding new prospects to your mailing list, just as sales isn’t all about transactions. In the B2B world, these factors are even more important, not least because of the bigger contracts involved and the fact that your success depends on the success of your customers’ businesses.

The most effective lead-generation strategies are value-based and driven by the voice of the customer. They speak directly to a clearly identified need to create valuable relationships that are mutually beneficial beyond mere financial transactions alone. Empowering the success of your customer throughout every stage of that relationship, from lead-generation to post-sales support, also turns customers into loyal brand advocates.