For B2B companies, there is nothing more important than keeping your sales pipeline filled with high-quality B2B leads. Your ability to reach revenue targets is directly tied to your ability to find reliable organic lead generation techniques. Finding the right strategies for your company can be a challenge, but executing them effectively is even harder.
If you are specifically looking for tips relating to generating SEO leads, you might be interested in a recent piece that we published here. Although this article does contain some actionable SEO advice, it does focus on broader B2B lead generation techniques.
There are an unending number of strategies that can be harnessed to generate B2B leads. They vary in approaches and outcomes, and not every strategy is right for every business. But dedicating your efforts to learning, understanding, and executing specific strategies can provide you with a reliable source of B2B leads that help to grow your business for years to come.
Let’s take a look at the top 25 organic lead generation techniques for B2B companies:
Blogging is the foundation that digital content marketing operations are built on. High-value blog posts that speak to the biggest concerns of your audience can be shared on social media, gain traction in search engines, or be delivered to prospects during the sales process. According to a LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community study, blogging is the most-used content marketing tactic, likely because it provides the lowest barrier to entry for audiences.
Business blogging allows you to create diverse content that appeals to your target market and their unique concerns. A brand with high-value content positions themselves as an industry authority, enticing their readers to sign up for their mailing list or purchase their products.
Blogging can be used to answer questions and quell concerns that prospects have at all stages of the sales funnel. Any company making an investment in blogging should invest in content for each stage, helping to walk prospects toward the sale. By spending the time to craft detailed customer personas and crafting content just for them, you build relationships and create a long-term, targeted approach to organic lead generation that delivers ideal prospects.
To boil down effective blogging strategy, I like to turn to a quote from Brian Clark of CopyBlogger that is brilliantly succinct:
“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”
Email marketing is widely regarded as one of the most effective strategies in B2B marketing. In fact, 59 percent of B2B marketers say that it is their most effective channel for generating revenue. Beyond revenue, it is regarded as the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry thought leaders.
Email marketing allows companies to build stronger relationships with prospects, nurturing them through the sales funnel through the delivery of high-value content that is relevant to their interests. Additionally, email marketing as a platform is ideal for automation. Messaging can be scheduled weeks or months in advance, allowing companies to work ahead and create valuable content for each customer persona.
The effectiveness of email marketing couldn’t be more apparent than in the budgets of small and mid-sized businesses, where it holds the largest average share of marketing budgets.
Email marketing is an essential tactic for converting leads generated through search engines into paying customers. It’s your best bet for capturing their information and continuing to deliver marketing materials to them after they have left your site.
Email has the unique ability to combine personalized data with well-crafted marketing messaging at scale, and deliver in a way that feels uniquely personal compared to other channels.
“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches – at scale.” – David Newman
Inside sales is the strategy of identifying ideal prospects, nurturing them through the sales process, and turning them into leads remotely. Most inside sales transactions are handled by phone or email and have become particularly popular among B2B, SaaS, and high-ticket B2C companies.
Inside sales teams embrace technology, using customer relationship management (CRM) and sales intelligence tools to bolster their organic lead generation and sales efforts. According to LinkedIn’s 2016 Sales Report, nearly 25 percent of inside sales professionals spend more than 10 hours per week using CRM tools. In short, inside sales is all about relationship building. Sales associates seek out ideal prospects and build relationships with them, nurturing them through the sales process.
When it comes to sales, a lot of people think that the magic comes from slick talk and the ability to word things in a way that will resonate, but they miss the broader, more impactful point. Great inside sales doesn’t come from talking. It comes from listening and applying what you’ve learned.
Event marketing and networking can be a great way to generate organic leads for B2B companies. Executive events are especially ripe for networking because many of the attendees will be high-level decision-makers in their organizations.
Events provide a more relaxed and inviting atmosphere for discussing deals than a high-pressure sales meeting. In some ways interactions at events can completely replace a first sales call, and put you in a position to have more serious discussions at a later date. The relationships that you develop at these events can result in future collaboration and build a foundation for strong partnerships. These events allow you to make new connections, build strong relationships, and create a measurable impact on your business with minimal effort.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
B2B search engine optmization (SEO) is a long-term strategy that, with excellent planning and execution, can result in a consistent stream of high-value B2B leads. SEO lead generation techniques require foresight and planning, but provide a valuable stream of revenue. Studying how to generate SEO leads can put your business on the road to a reliable organic lead generation system that keeps your sales pipeline filled. Google receives over 63,000 searches per second. By creating quality content around specific search keywords and providing useful information to organic searchers, you not only answer their questions but you position your brand as an industry authority.
Figuring out how to generate SEO leads can be difficult, but by putting some processes in place and remaining consitent, it pays off over time. Securing a single #1 ranking for a high-traffic keyword could potentially result in hundreds of leads in a given month. SEO lead generation techniques slowly move you toward the top spot, but require a concerted effort for months to reach those rankings ofr competitive keywords. A handful of similar rankings could re-shape a company’s standing in their industry quickly. Additionally, targeting low-volume longtail keywords that are easier to rank for can result in ultra-targeted B2B leads that are reliable and consistent.
In inbound marketing, eBooks often play a critical role in organic lead generation for B2B companies. eBooks are a way to bundle long-form content in an easily digestible way. B2B eBooks can cover a variety of business topics in any given industry but are most effective when they cover topics that your audience has a high interest in.
In inbound marketing, eBooks are typically offered in exchange for lead information. By requiring your readers to sign up for your email list in order to receive the eBook, you generate a lead and have the ability to market to them on an ongoing basis. Additionally, longer or more in-depth eBooks can be self-published on Amazon Kindle or similar platforms, which can be a great way to improve your perceived authority and get your content in front of new audiences.
When you create eBooks or content in any format, measure your quality by your contribution. Great content isn’t only useful, it creates impact for your readers. When you can impact their business or their lives with your content, you win the hearts and minds of your customers.
Whitepapers are similar to eBooks in that they typically cover a singular topic in long-form format, but there are some key differences. Whitepapers are generally more serious in tone and cover more complex topics. A whitepaper is meant to be persuasive and convey authority in a subject. Typically, in B2B marketing, whitepapers are meant to provide a solution to a problem or draw a conclusion about an industry topic.
In inbound marketing, whitepapers are often used as lead magnets, enticing prospects to provide their email in exchange for access to the whitepaper. However, whitepapers also have a place in the sales process. They can be used to answer questions or nurture prospects through the sales funnel, helping them to better understand your product or industry as they inch toward the purchasing decision.
Content upgrades are a specific strategy used in conjunction with blogging to increase leads on a per-post basis. If you are familiar with inbound marketing, you likely know that eBooks and other lead magnets are often offered at the bottom of blog posts in exchange for signing up for a mailing list. However, companies often only have a limited number of eBooks or other lead magnets that they can offer and they are not always directly related to the subject at hand.
Content upgrades take lead magnets one step further. Content upgrades are lead magnets that are created specifically for a specific blog post. For instance, if your blog post was about techniques for managing sales teams, your content upgrade might include 5 additional tips that weren’t included in the blog post itself. On Backlinko, Brian Dean gave insight into his own experience with content upgrades, including one test that boosted his conversions by over 70%.
Content upgrades are particularly effective for generating leads because you know that readers are already interested in the topic at hand. They’ve already taken the time to seek out your content and spent some time reading the content. Additional content on the same subject is likely to interest them and typically results in higher conversion rates.
As you brainstorm content upgrade ideas for specific blog posts, remember that a content upgrade should be valuable in itself, outside of the context of the post itself. Ann Handley of MarketingProfs had a really insightful thought on creating valuable content when she appeared on the Intercom podcast:
“When we create something, we think, ‘Will our customers thank us for this?’ I think it’s important for all of us to be thinking about whatever marketing we’re creating; is it really useful to our customers? Will they thank us for it? I think if you think of things through that lens, it just clarifies what you’re doing in such a simple, elegant way.” – Ann Handley
Guest blogging refers to the process of appearing on industry blogs as a contributor. On highly trafficked industry blogs, this can result in a lot of exposure for each post that you publish. It’s an underused technique, as only 6 percent of bloggers publish a majority of their content as guest posts. In most cases, your company blog will receive only a small fraction of the traffic that a prominent industry blog or publication does, making a published post on those brands more impactful than publishing on your own site.
Guest posting also has SEO benefits as well. Most sites allow you to place at least one link in your bio back to your company website. This can be a great way to build legitimate links over time while improving your brand awareness within your industry. Many people underestimate how powerful guest posting actually is, as the benefits aren’t readily apparent right away.
When you begin putting together some topics and stories for your guest post, put extra thought into the stories that you want to tell. You’ll have limited bandwidth to dedicate toward putting together content for guest blog posts, and you have to make sure that you are maximizing your impact.
This quote for “The Martian” author Andy Weir is a great tidbit to keep in mind for crafting compelling stories:
“I think marketers are very message-focused. They know what they want people to hear. They have to work backwards from there to figure out how to make that happen. What they should do is to find the thing that’s unique or interesting that captures people’s attention. Figure out what that thing is; don’t worry about the message right now. Just find the interesting part, and then figure out how to link that to the message.” – Andy Weir
Interview Industry Authorities
If you publish content, one of the best types of content that you can publish is interviews with industries authorities. These make great choices for several reasons. An interview with a well known personality or brand will associate your company with an established brand in your industry. Influencers will share the article with their following, generating traffic to your website.
Interviewing authorities and influencers has a direct impact on your brand awareness. You’re instantly exposed to thousands of people that otherwise would never have heard of you. When you interview a well-known name, sites around the web are more likely to link to your content. These links will help your organic search rankings and improve your search footprint among your audience. The benefits are lasting, too. Your connection with their name can help you to attract attention and convey legitimacy to future prospects.
According to a 2015 study from Tomoson, companies earn $6.50 for every $1.00 spent on influencer marketing. Offering to interview those influencers can be a low cost way to secure many of the same benefits with a fraction (or no) cost to your business.
Microsites can be a great way to expand your reach in search and develop sub-brands that generate leads. Microsites are typically smaller websites, built around specific topics, services, or products that act as a separate hub from your main brand. Microsite development plays a key role in B2B search engine optimization for many companies, giving them the ability to build multiple websites that piggyback off of each other’s success.
There are a few benefits to developing microsites. First and perhaps foremost, you mitigate some of your risk in organic search. Every website is a single penalty away from losing a majority of their traffic. If you have several microsites developed and performing well in organic search, you always have something to fall back on if your main website suffers from a Google algorithm update. Additionally, microsites can be a great way to put more feelers out there and capture more leads. In time, those small websites could one day grow into their own subsidiary brands.
As old as the telephone directory itself, cold calling and telemarketing can be a great way to generate more leads. In Fortune 500 companies, more than 60 percent of executives say that telemarketing is a “very effective” strategy for lead generation. Although it may have a bad reputation, many companies see telemarketing as a cornerstone of their lead generation operations. As with all marketing, your outbound telemarketing efforts are only as good as the prospect list that your telemarketers have in their hand.
Webinars are an extremely useful tool for B2B organic lead generation. Webinars are essentially online seminars, where you present on a topic and then take questions from your audience. The average webinar is between 30 and 45 minutes along, although long question and answer sessions can take them over an hour.
Their effectiveness lies in the fact that most B2B audiences perceive them to be of higher value than other types of content. Giving your viewers the ability to ask questions can help you to build connections with prospects and establish the presenter (and your brand) as an authority on the subject.
Webinars are only effective if the subject that you discuss is highly relevant to your audience. It has to be something that will hold their attention. But if you can generate signups, the leads that you generate through the webinar are likely to be more engaged than your average lead. Additionally, you can use the recorded version of the webinar as a lead magnet after it has aired, giving you another valuable piece of content for organic lead generation.
Sponsorships are an organic lead generation technique as old as marketing itself. By sponsoring events or media brands, you can get your business directly in front of your target demographic. In recent years, we have seen podcast sponsorships become a popular way to get brand in front of B2B crowds as there are many popular business-focused podcasts.
By sponsoring popular media events, you will improve your brand awareness. This makes your audience more willing to interact with your brand, and potentially link to your website, which will help your standing in search.
In some ways, direct mail has come full circle. Before the internet became an everyday part of our lives, businesses were tearing their hair out at the amounts of direct mail advertising that they received. But, the droves of direct mail ads kept coming — because it was effective. Today, businesses still receive direct mail advertisements, but much less volume than they used to. That presents B2B businesses with an opportunity to get noticed. Sending a handwritten letter or thoughtful ad through direct mail can be a great way to stand out from the crowd. It allows you to develop real relationships with potential clients.
It’s important that you not only see direct mail as a channel through which advertisements are delivered. Direct mail can be a great way to establish new relationships and stand out from the crowd. This is particularly true for businesses that are going to be pitched most often through digital communication — email and social media.
When it comes to generating valuable B2B leads, there are few things more effective than giving a speech in front of your target audience. Displaying confidence and helping them to understand a difficult topic can be a great way to increase brand awareness while developing connections with the audience. Speaking engagements can result in both immediate leads as well as long-term benefits as people seek your brand out as needs that you address arise.
While it can be difficult to land speaking engagements, once you have a reputation for being a great speaker the invites can quickly snowball. Developing that reputation can be helpful and make speaking engagements a reliable source of organic lead generation for B2B companies.
Podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular entertainment medium, completely replacing radio for some listeners. Podcasting has grown rapidly in popularity over the last few years. Today 44 percent of the US population has listened to a podcast. 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, with an audience that tends to skew younger. Podcasts are especially intriguing because business and entrepreneurship is one of the most popular categories, giving B2B companies a wide range of different podcasts to potentially appear on.
Appearing on a podcast gets you in front of their entire audience, and usually doesn’t cost a thing other than your time. It’s important to work with the podcast host to determine what subjects that will resonate with their audience. You want to go into the podcast prepared and ready to address a subject that is important to their audience while establishing your own credibility. Like speaking engagements, once you appear on one podcast it can quickly snowball into several appearances.
Before appearing on a podcast, make sure to listen to some of their popular episodes to get a feel for the tone and pace of the podcast. Remember, many of their listeners tune in for every single episode. If your style doesn’t mesh well with the host or gives the podcast a different feel, you may not develop the connection you were hoping for.
PR & Media Mentions
One of the best ways to generate organic B2B leads is to secure mentions in prominent industry publications. By reaching out to journalists who cover your industry and pitching interesting and newsworthy stories, you can get your business mentioned in front of thousands of readers that otherwise would never have known you existed.
While it can take some persistence to secure these mentions, once you have your first mentions secured it becomes easier to secure others. Once a large publication has found your story newsworthy, others may pick up the story and report on it themselves without having to be asked. Additionally, having a larger publication cover your company provides credibility that makes journalists more willing to take your story on.
“PR is a mix of journalism, psychology, and lawyering – it’s an ever-changing and always interesting landscape.” – Ronn Torossian
Print advertising has seen significant losses in yearly spending, replaced by digital advertising in recent years. Just take a look at this graph from Statista, looking at global print advertising spending:
Despite these dips, print advertising is still an excellent way to get your company in front of your target audience. Print audiences tend to skew older as younger audiences opt for digital publications over print. However, this dip in popularity has reduced the costs associated with print advertising, which can make it an ideal medium for small and mid-sized company. Identify a publication whose readership closely aligns with your own customers, and experiment with ad placement to generate affordable B2B leads.
LinkedIn is the premiere professional social network and for some businesses can be a gold mine of organic B2B leads. There are more than 500 million LinkedIn users in total, with more than 140 million in the United States alone. By taking the time to establish a reputation on the platform can pay big dividends in the long term. LinkedIn’s premium features give you more control over your presence, including prospecting features that allow you to use LinkedIn specifically for the purpose of generating leads and sales.
Like LinkedIn, Twitter can be a useful platform for establishing B2B connections and generating sales. While the user base isn’t professionally focused, Twitter’s 330 million users make it a powerful platform. By seeking out your targeted prospects and becoming involved in industry conversations, you can grow your network and establish yourself as an industry authority.
Sometimes all you need to generate a new lead or make a new sale is to simply reach out and offer your services. Cold email has become a valued tool in the arsenal of many B2B sales teams because of its ability to scale and personal nature of the platform. Identifying ideal clients and reaching out to them through email to pitch services or establish connections can be a great way to generate high-value leads.
You can use cold email to find new prospects, or simply to secure other opportunities as well. Many companies use cold email to set up appearances on podcast, secure new backlinks, or simply establish beneficial relationships within their industry.
As you put together your cold email sequences, remember to focus on the value and results that your offering will bring to the table. No one wakes up in the morning and decides to buy the next consulting service or product that comes their way. No one bites on cold emails because you have an impressive product — it’s the results that your product could bring them that hooks them.
Video marketing is a channel that is becoming increasingly popular among businesses. According to HubSpot, 81 percent of businesses have engaged in video marketing in some form already. Perhaps more telling is that 99 percent of businesses that engage in video marketing intend to continue. Videos can be found through several search engines including
Video marketing is a cheap and effective way to generate B2B leads organically. By creating high-value videos that your audience will find interesting and distributing them on platforms like YouTube and other social networks, you can grow a following that generates a consistent stream of high-value B2B leads that are already engaged with your content, making the nurturing process easier. You can create videos for the different steps through the sales funnel, covering important topics and building a more personal connection with your audience along the way.
Great marketing videos have the ability to reach audiences larger than some of the biggest television networks in the world. A great video could expose your brand to more individuals than years of solid by-the-book marketing. But it’s impossible to reach those heights without having an intimate knowledge of your audience and what they will find valuable or interesting as it relates to your product.
For the same reasons that appearing on a podcast can be a great way for businesses to get their name out there, starting your own has its own merits. It can also be a great way to generate leads and get in front of your target audience, building your reputation within your industry over time.
Podcasting is becoming increasingly popular, and getting your foot in the door now can be a great way to build an audience and secure a future before bigger brands take over the space. Regular podcasting can generate a loyal following who not only become leads but promote your brand to others.
Former comedian and current host of the popular podcast “WTF,” Marc Maron, had some eloquent thoughts on podcasting as a medium during a recent interview:
“The medium of podcasting and the personal nature of it, the relationship you build with your listeners and the relationship they have with you – they could be just sitting there, chuckling and listening… there’s nothing like that.” – Marc Maron
Third Party Lead Providers
Organic B2B lead generation is difficult. It takes time, money, and a well-planned strategy to execute. If you’re finding it difficult to generate reliable B2B leads, you may want to consider working with a third-party lead generation company. Often, third-party providers are available at a cost much lower than building your own lead generation operation. They also often have the ability to scale as your company grows and you can handle more leads.
Organic Lead Generation for B2B Companies
Your company’s ability to generate a reliable stream of organic leads is perhaps the most important factor in your ongoing success. Without a reliable organic lead generation strategy, companies can scramble to generate revenue and reach their growth goals. However, honing in on some of the strategies in this list can be a great way for companies to begin building the B2B lead generation engine that positions their company for growth and reduces the stress associated with generating new business.