Optimize B2B Lead Generation in 4 Steps

Lead Generation Tips Inspired by the 2018 Marketing Nation Summit

This past May, thousands of B2B marketers descended on the city of San Francisco for the annual Marketing Nation Summit, hosted by Marketo. With “The Fearless Marketer” as the theme of this year’s conference, conversations centered around bold ways to become more insights-, customer-, and data-driven to better engage prospects and increase B2B leads. This year’s speakers offered attendees promising advice to guide their B2B efforts throughout the year – from the importance of building a strong data foundation for better understanding of customer needs to aligning with sales for driving account-based marketing programs.

For B2B marketers to truly be fearless, they need better ways to drive qualified lead generation. After all, quality leads increase the chance of seeing higher conversions.

However, there are still some underlying fears that none of this will be possible without being able to drive qualified lead generation. B2B lead generation continues to be a challenge for marketers because it’s become increasingly difficult to attract today’s buyers. 


“Last year, we introduced the ‘engagement economy,’ this notion that we’re in a hyper-connected world that is controlled, influenced, and defined by our customers,” said Steve Lucas, CEO of Marketo, during his opening keynote. “The brand is now defined by the customer.”

Thanks to the proliferation of information through new technology, B2B prospects have become more educated and are also inundated by hundreds of marketing messages – which has made them more brand-discerning. It’s imperative marketers curate an experience for customers, so customers can make their purchase decision on their own terms. “Marketers are now curating the buyer’s experience years before anyone in sales knows they exist,” explained Lucas. This sentiment was echoed throughout the event. “It’s our responsibility as marketers to meet buyers on their journey,” he said.

Still, according to the “Lead Generation Strategy Research Summary Report” by Ascend2, two-thirds of marketing professionals currently view their lead generation strategy as only “somewhat successful.” And about 21 percent said that they thought their strategy was “not successful” at all. Those are some frightening stats. For B2B marketers to truly be fearless, they need better ways to drive qualified lead generation. After all, when marketing can provide sales with quality leads, it increases the chance of higher conversion rates while reducing the amount of time and resources allocated to chasing down individuals who can’t be converted. The question is, How can marketers cultivate a strategy that will garner an improvement in the quality of their leads?

Drawing on findings from the research, we’ve broken down a few best practices for optimizing your approach to B2B lead generation.

Embrace Sales Analytics

Analytics was a popular topic during the event. Lucas highlighted research conducted by Deloitte and Duke University, which said marketers plan to increase spend on analytics by roughly 200 percent over the next three years. No surprise there. Having accurate customer data drives more impactful customer experiences. For instance, using analytics to ascertain common traits shared between the leads you’ve converted in the past is likely to help you cultivate a better way to target and increase new leads in the future.

Content Marketing Attracts Leads

Content came up in just about everyone’s presentation during Marketing Nation Summit. That’s because when done right, it’s highly effective. Forty-four percent of our survey respondents noted that content marketing was the most effective online tactic for lead-generation purposes. Since customers are driving what happens in the purchase process, it’s important to deliver compelling content that speaks directly to their needs and challenges. Tell – don’t sell. 

Consistent Brand Messaging

Brand storytelling should be consistent across all of your marketing channels. Nurturing email copy, for example, should be consistent with the messaging on your landing pages and with what’s being said on your social platforms. Aligning interdepartmental teams on messaging throughout all channels can be a catalyst to seeing increased B2B leads. If there are holes or inconsistences in your message, then consumers will be confused and immediately turned off.

Avoid Aggressive Sales Tactics

According to the 2017 “State of Sales Acceleration” report, a whopping 80 percent of buyers claim aggressive sales people not only turn them off but have stopped them from making a purchase. Whether by your sellers or your content, it’s important your prospects not feel bombarded. Content, like your sales team, shouldn’t be intimidating. Rather, it should be used to gently nurture and guide prospects down the funnel. The last thing you want to do is come off as pushy or desperate.

B2B lead generation has never been easy, but fear not: Employing some of the aforementioned tactics can go a long way in delivering qualified leads. Check out our “Data-Inspired Guide to Lead Generation” to learn how quality data can optimize key demand generation activities and potentially shorten the modern sales cycle.