29 B2B SaaS Lead Generation Tips & Ideas
Generating leads—especially leads that are high in quantity and quality—is a marketer’s most important objective. A successful lead generation engine is what keeps the funnel full of sales prospects while you sleep. Surprisingly, only 1 in 10 marketers feel their lead generation campaigns are effective. What gives?
There are a lot of moving parts in any lead generation campaign and oftentimes it’s difficult to know which parts need fine-tuning. We’re sharing the top 29 techniques marketers should utilize to increase leads and revenue.
So what goes into a best-in-class lead generation engine? First, let’s take a look at the mechanics of high-performing lead generation campaigns.
From a tactical perspective, a marketer needs four crucial elements to make inbound lead generation happen. These include:
- Offer: An offer is a piece of content that is perceived to be high in value. Offers include ebooks, whitepapers, free consultations, coupons and product demonstrations.
- Call-to-action: A call-to-action (CTA) is either text, an image or a button that links directly to a landing page so people can find and download your offer.
- Landing page: A landing page, unlike normal website pages, is a specialized page that contains information about one particular offer, and may include a form to download that offer.
- Form: If your offer is incredibly high-value and begins to "give away your secrets to success" you'll want to leverage forms. You can’t capture leads without them. Forms will collect contact information from a visitor in exchange for an offer.
The tips in this blog cover each of these elements so that each component is fully optimized to help you generate the most leads for your business.
Creating irresistible offers
“Yes.” It’s one of the most powerful words in the human language. If you think about all the things we do as marketers, our goal is ultimately to get people to say “yes” to our offers.
When an offer is exclusive, scarce or in high demand, it becomes more desirable. Whether the offer is a whitepaper, free trial, membership, sales promotion or download, these irresistible elements can overcome a potential lead’s doubt or concerns.
These elements work because they trigger a physiological reaction that makes an offer more valuable. People need to perceive the value of the offer as greater than what you’re asking for in return. The higher the perception of value, the more irresistible the offer. Here’s how to create irresistible offers.
1. Use the element of scarcity
If you look at the principle of supply and demand, you’ll notice that when supply is limited, demand goes up. Scarcity has a psychological influence on us, making us want something even more if there isn’t enough to go around. Scarcity works because it creates a fear of shortage, and thus a sense of urgency.
Limited time offers
Limited time offers are among the most popular resources in the scarcity category. Just think about your average car dealership. Practically every commercial that airs shows a limited-time deal. “Get 0% financing before it’s gone!”
Limited quantity offers
When there is a limited quantity of something, it suddenly becomes more unique or exclusive. In some studies, limited quantity or limited supply offers have outperformed limited-time offers. Why? It’s hard to tell when an offer of limited quantity will suddenly become unavailable, while a time-based offer has a known end time. Limited quantity offers are great for not only getting people to say “yes” to your offer but also to avoid procrastination completely.
Limited time and limited quantity
Groupon is the perfect example of using both tactics together. All Groupon deals end within a certain time frame, and they limit the number of people who can buy a Groupon. That’s a powerful combination. The site also packages these scarcity tactics with discounting, which is another great value-add, especially for ecommerce businesses.
Another good example of limited time and quantity scarcity is on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Shoppers know that deals will only go on for a specific amount of time and that a limited number of units are available (especially big-ticket items).
2. The bandwagon effect
Humans naturally copy one another, usually without realizing it—we like to be a part of groups and social communities. When we notice our social circle is doing one thing, we tend to follow closely behind. One great way to make an offer more valuable is to show that other people are participating in that offer.
Proof in numbers
A great way to indicate how awesome your offer is is by mentioning the number of people who have purchased, downloaded, signed up or donated.
3. Leverage newsjacking
When something is buzzworthy, it creates high demand. In situations like this, you can align offers with what’s trending. Companies will often leverage “newsjacking” and it works very well for offers, too. Newsjacking is the process of injecting your brand into the day’s news, creating a twist that grabs eyes when they are open widest.
As an example, at a time when there was a lot of talk about Pinterest, Hubspot capitalized on this craze by creating the first Pinterest ebook for business owners and marketers called “How to Use Pinterest for Business.” It quickly became one of HubSpot’s most successful ebooks in part because it was the first and only ebook about Pinterest available, and resources on how to use Pinterest for marketing were in high demand. This made the offer more unique and thus more irresistible—talk about the power of leveraging both timing and popularity!
4. Focus on creating an amazing title
The title of your offer sets the tone for the ebook. If you have a terrible title, even if it’s on an amazing offer, no one will download it. Similar to an email subject line, if you want people to read what you have to say, you have to make sure you create a strong title.
People judge books by their covers. Whether you’re creating content such as a whitepaper, ebook, presentation or blog post, put effort into creating an amazing title. You’ll thank yourself later when people actually download it!
Do you write a lot of ebooks? So do we! Here are some quick tips for titling an ebook.
5. Create offers for different buying stages
A lot of websites have a “Contact Us” page It is important that your prospects talk to sales, but not before they’re ready. As you know, buyers are more likely to do their own research before even engaging with a sales rep. Every prospect is at a different stage of exploration. Some may need more education than others. That's why it’s better and more versatile to develop different offers at different buying stages.
Someone at the top of the buying funnel—beginning their buyer’s journey—may be more interested in an informational piece like a guide or ebook, whereas someone more committed at the bottom of the funnel might be more interested in a free trial or demo. There’s no need to pick and choose; just create offers for each phase, and include a primary and secondary call-to-action to these offers on various pages throughout your site.
6. Avoid corporate gobbledygook
Creating a professional image for your brand is necessary, but you still want to avoid the dreaded corporate gobbledygook.
Gobbledygook is jargon terms and phrases that have been over-used and abused, rendering them meaningless. You’ll find them mostly in the tech industry, but everyone is an offender at some point. These words are meant to add emphasis, but instead, they make your eyes roll.
Avoid these words when describing your offers:
7. Use high-value offer formats
Not all offers are created equal. Some offer formats perform better than others when it comes to converting leads. Consider what’s more valuable: a whitepaper or an ebook?
Below are the types of offers that generate the most amount of leads, in order from high to low performance.
- Ebooks or guides
- Templates or presentations
- Research and reports
- Kits (multiple offers packaged together)
- Live webinars
- On-demand videos
- Blog webpage (including offers in the navigation or sidebar)
- Blog posts (if there is a CTA in the post)
- Middle-of-the-funnel offers such as demo requests, contact sales, RFPs, etc. (i.e. more sales-ready offers)
You may think this is accurate, or you may disagree. Every business is different, so test different types of offers with your audience to determine what works for you. While ebooks generally score higher, you may find that reports, videos or other formats perform better with your audience.
Calls-to-action that rock
Calls-to-action (CTAs) are important because they are what drives people to your offers. If your CTAs aren’t effective at capturing people’s attention and persuading them to click, then the offer is useless.
CTAs can be used on product pages (non-landing pages), in display ads, email, social media, direct mail and pretty much anywhere else that you market your offer.
Not all CTAs are created equal. In a world where every brand is fighting for consumer attention, it’s vital that prospects choose your offer over your competitor’s. Let’s explore tips for creating CTAs that rock.
8. Place your CTA where the eye can see
Calls-to-action perform best “above the fold”—the space of your web page that is viewable to the user without having to scroll down. According to heat map analyses, anything “below the fold” will only be viewed by 50% of people who visit your page. Doubling impressions on your CTAs can significantly increase your lead count, so keep all calls-to-action above the fold!
9. Clarity trumps persuasion
Oftentimes marketers will put more focus on being clever than clear. It’s essential that you are crystal clear about what offer you’re promoting in your CTA. Be specific. If you’re giving away a free guide, say “Download our FREE guide to X.” If you’re hosting a free webinar, say “Register for our FREE webinar on X.” X should clearly convey a compelling benefit of receiving the offer.
This strategy is much more effective than “Download Now” or “Get the Free Article.” These aren’t specific enough and the clicks that they receive may not convert into leads at all because the CTAs are misleading.
10. Use contrast to make CTAs stand out
A call-to-action is meant to stand out, so if your CTA blends in too much with your site design, no one will notice it. You want as many eyeballs to land on that call-to-action as possible, so use contrasting colors to make the CTA stand out. More importantly, use design to make it clear that it is a clickable call-to-action.
11. Link your CTA to a dedicated landing page
This tip might seem minor, but it’s incredible how often businesses miss this opportunity. Calls-to-action are meant to send visitors to a dedicated landing page where they receive a specific offer. Do not use CTAs to drive people to your homepage. Even if your CTA is about your brand or product (and perhaps not a downloadable offer), still send them to a targeted landing page that is relevant to what they are looking for. If you have the opportunity to use a CTA, send your users to a page that is more likely to convert them into a lead.
Here’s an example (and shameless plug): the CTAs on our blogs link directly to the landing page of the offer they talk about. See for yourself by exploring our blogs.
12. Promote offers on product pages
Calls-to-action shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. If your company offers various products or services, you may want to consider creating a different offer for each one. Then, you can place CTAs linking to each offer on the website pages that are most relevant to that offer.
13. Thank you pages are great CTA real estate
Even if someone completes a form on your website (thereby converting them to a lead), don’t stop there. Increasing engagement should also be a top priority for marketers so that prospects turn into loyal fans.
Once someone reaches a thank you page—the page that a visitor arrives on after submitting a form—use that space as an opportunity to promote related offers and content. For example, if a visitor is on an email marketing company’s website and downloads a guide on email marketing, the company should provide the lead with information on another offer on their thank you page, like receiving a demo of their email marketing platform.
Landing pages that convert
Landing pages are one of the most important elements of lead generation. According to MarketingSherpa’s research, landing pages are effective for 94% of B2B and B2C companies. Using landing pages enables marketers to direct website visitors to targeted pages and turn those visits into leads at a much higher rate.
Landing pages are great because they direct your visitors to one particular offer without the distractions of everything else on your website. Visitors are on a landing page for one purpose, and one purpose only: to complete the lead capture form.
14. Elements of an effective landing page
Landing pages, sometimes called a “lead capture page,” are used to convert visitors into leads by completing a transaction or by collecting contact information from them. Landing pages consist of:
- A headline and (optional) subheading
- A brief description of the offer
- At least one supporting image
- (Optional) supporting elements such as testimonials or relevant badges
- And most importantly, a form to capture information
To see an example of a landing page with these elements, click here.
15. Remove the main navigation
Once a visitor arrives on a landing page, it should be your goal to keep them there. If there are links on the page to move about your website, It will distract the visitor and decrease the chance of them converting on the page.
One of the best ways to increase your landing page conversion rates is to simply remove the main navigation from the page. That’s it!
16. Match the headline of the landing page to the corresponding CTA
Consistency is key here: keep your messaging consistent on both your CTA and the headline of the landing page. If people click on a link for a free offer and then find out there’s a catch on the landing page, you’ll instantly lose their trust and lose that potential lead. Similarly, if the headline reads differently than the CTA, it might lead to confusion, and the visitor might wonder if the CTA is linked to the wrong page.
Here’s an example of how to match headlines and CTAs:
You have a CTA at the end of a blog that reads “Grab your free social media guide.” When the visitor clicks on that CTA, they are taken to a landing page with a headline that says “Download your free social media guide now.” The page clearly describes the social media guide and confirms that it is free with no strings attached.
17. Less is more
I’m sure you’re aware of the rule “keep it simple, stupid.” The same applies to landing pages. A cluttered page means a distracted visitor. Be brief and to the point; the actual offer is where you will give more information. In addition to your headline, include a brief paragraph explaining what the offer is, followed by a few bullet points outlining the benefits of the offer.
18. Emphasize the benefits of the offer
Make it clear in your brief paragraph and/or bullet points what the benefits of the offer are. It’s more than just listing what’s in the offer; it takes a bit of spin. Instead of writing, “Includes specifications of product XYZ,” say something like “Find out how XYZ can increase productivity by 50%.” In other words, convey the value of your offer clearly and effectively.
19. Encourage social sharing
On your landing page, don’t forget to include buttons that allow prospects to share your content and offers. Include multiple social media channels as well as email, since people have different sharing preferences. When your offer is shared more, more people land on your page, and therefore more people fill out your form and you will have more leads!
20. More landing pages equal more leads
According to HubSpot, companies see a 55% increase in leads by increasing landing pages from 10 to 15. This means that the more content, offers and landing pages you create, the more opportunities you have to generate more leads for your business.
Here’s a tip: Don’t feel like you need to make 15 pages a week. Don’t sacrifice the quality of your content just so you can get pages up, but do review content (especially blogs) you’ve already written and see if you can repurpose what you have and expedite the process.
Forms are the most important part of a landing page. Without them, there is no way to convert a visitor into a lead. Forms come in handy when it’s time for people to sign-up, subscribe to your site or download an offer.
The following tips will show you how to build great landing page forms.
21. The right form length
You may be wondering how much (or how little) information you should require with a form. There is no magic answer when it comes to how many fields your form should contain, but the best balance would be to only collect the information that you absolutely need.
The fewer fields you have in a form, the more likely you are to increase your conversions. This is due to the fact that each new field you add to a form creates friction (i.e. more work for the visitor) and fewer conversions. A longer form looks like more work, which could deter the visitor. But on the other hand, the more fields you require, the better quality those leads might be because they’re committed to obtaining your resource. The best way to determine what works best is to test it for yourself.
Best practice: Evaluate the value and benefit of the offer. If you believe the offer is high in value and think visitors will also perceive high value, you should be able to add more form fields. The reverse is true as well: less value means fewer form fields (or maybe no form at all).
22. To submit or not to submit?
That is the question most of your visitors are asking themselves. One of the best ways to increase form conversion rates is to simply NOT use this default word on your button: “SUBMIT.”
If you think about it, no one wants to “submit” to anything. Instead, turn the statement into a benefit that relates to what they are getting in return.
For example, if the form is to download a brochure kit, the submit button could say, “Get Your Brochure Kit.” Other examples include “Download whitepaper,” “Get your free ebook” or “Join our Newsletter.”
Another helpful tip is to make the button big, bold and colorful. This is another time when the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” principle comes into play. Make sure the button actually looks like a button (e.g. designed to appear beveled and clickable).
23. Reduce anxiety with proof-elements
People are more resistant to give up their information these days, especially because of the increase in spam. There are a few different elements you can add to the form or landing page to help reduce a visitor’s anxiety to complete your form:
- If your form requires sensitive information, include security seals, a BBB rating or certifications so that visitors know their information is safe and secure.
- Adding testimonials or customer logos is another great way to indicate social proof. For example, if your offer was for a free trial, you may want to include a few customer testimonials about your product or service.
24. Make the form appear shorter
There will be times when people won’t fill out a form just because it “looks” long and time-consuming. If your form requires a lot of fields, try making the form look shorter by adjusting the styling.
For example, reduce the spacing in between fields or align the titles to the left of each field instead of above it so that the form appears shorter. You might also try placing form fields side by side. For example, first and last name fields can be next to each other and not stacked. If the form covers less space on the page, it may seem as if you’re asking for less.
Multi-channel lead generation
Your website isn’t a silo. Marketers must utilize many other channels in order to maximize their lead generation efforts. A channel might be a retail store, a website, a social media platform, an email or a text message. The objective is to make it easy for buyers to research, evaluate and purchase products in any way that is most appropriate for them. It’s all about having the right marketing mix.
Here are a few channels that help businesses generate the most amount of leads.
25. Blogging brings in the leads
According to HubSpot’s recent Benchmarks report, companies that blog 6-8 times per month double their lead volume. This proves that blogging is a highly effective channel for generating leads.
In every blog post, include hyperlinks to landing pages within the copy of the post, as well as a prominent CTA.
HERE’S A TIP!
When including a hyperlink in the copy or text of a post, link text that you’d like to rank for. This could be a linked keyword phrase or a common question your prospects or customers may have (or both). This will help with SEO, so long as the anchor text you are linking is relevant to the linked content as well.
26. Email marketing
Many businesses may think that email marketing should only be used when communicating with existing prospects and customers, but that’s not true. Email can be an awesome way to generate new leads. Here are some ways you can use email to generate new prospects:
- Focus on an opt-in strategy. If you’re buying email lists and spamming your prospects, no one will want to share your email with others and your unsubscribe rates will go through the roof. The first step to email lead generation is making sure you have happy subscribers who enjoy receiving emails from you.
- Send people valuable offers. Whether it’s downloads, discounts or educational content, people will more likely share your emails with their friends or colleagues if the emails are really interesting or include valuable offers.
- Give people the ability to share your emails and content. Don’t forget to add a “Forward to a Friend” link or social media sharing buttons within each email so people are encouraged to pass it on.
27. Social media
Social media is an important tool in B2B marketing, and its presence and relevance will only continue to grow as time goes on. Here are some great tips for generating leads on social networks.
- Build a loyal following. Building relationships with potential customers is an essential first step. Social media is about fostering people-to-people connections, not company-to-individual. Get to know your audience online, communicate and share information. In order to generate leads, you have to be more than a company; you need to have human interaction with others. As we say at Accelity, people do business with people, so be personal to be relatable.
- Use social media for dialogues, not monologues. Companies that only use social media to blast out messages about themselves aren’t using social channels effectively. They’re just screaming into the wilderness. The goal should always be to interact with others and be helpful. When you share content on social media, don’t always post something that relates to your company. Share links to other interesting things you’ve found online. People will be very thankful you are noticing their work, too!
- Influence connections for content sharing. Publishing and sharing content that directs traffic to targeted landing pages is the single most effective way to increase lead generation through social media. Share your new content offers by posting links to landing pages plus any blog posts, discounts or other great resources.
28. Organic search
While promoting your offers across many channels is crucial if you’re looking for leads, it’s also equally important to make it easy for people to find your landing pages through search engines. To do this, you need to apply search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to your landing pages. Consider the following:
- Pick a primary keyword for each landing page and focus on optimizing that page for that word. If you oversaturate a page with too many keywords, the page will lose its importance and authority because search engines won’t have a clear idea of what the page is about.
HERE’S A TIP!
Know the keyword you want to rank for before creating the page. This will help you stay cognizant of the keyword and the intention of the page as you create copy.
- Place your primary keyword in your headline and subheading. These areas of content have greater weight in search engines.
- Include the keywords in the body content but don’t use them out of context. Make sure they are relevant to the rest of your content.
- Include keywords in the filename of images (e.g. mykeyword.jpg) or use them in the ALT tag.
- Include the keywords in the page URL.
29. A/B testing
While this isn’t a channel, it is a great way to increase leads across all channels and strategies. A/B testing can be used in calls-to-action, landing pages, email marketing, advertising and more. According to HubSpot research, A/B testing your landing pages and other assets can help you generate up to 40% more leads for your business. When done correctly, A/B testing can provide a huge competitive advantage for your company.
Examples of different items to A/B test include:
- The color of a CTA button
- Using sentence case vs. capitalizing the first letter of each word vs. using all caps for headings and subheadings
- Changing copy from a statement to a question
There are endless possibilities when it comes to A/B testing, but when you A/B test, make sure to change only one element of the content so that you can clearly see what is most effective. Changing more than one piece will give you inconclusive data.
THAT’S A WRAP
Generating leads online has the power to transform your marketing strategy. Using great offers, calls-to-action, landing pages and forms—while promoting them in multi-channel environments—can reduce your cost-per-lead while delivering higher quality prospects to your sales team.
This blog contains many best practices for every aspect of lead generation to boost your conversion rates, but these tactics are only the beginning. Continue to tweak and test each step of your inbound lead generation process in an effort to improve lead quality and increase revenue.
Now take your marketing plan to the next level and watch those inbound leads roll in.