Winning new customers, growing your revenue, and meeting sales targets are all tied to the success of your lead generation strategy.
It’s easy to see why lead generation is a top priority for marketers. But 61% of them consider it their biggest challenge. To get the best results from your lead gen efforts, you need to ensure that your strategy aligns with current lead generation best practices.
Get advice from lead gen experts on the best practices to follow in 2023 and tips you can apply to get quality leads and improve the ROI of your marketing budget below.
8 lead generation best practices you need to follow
Lead generation best practices help you get better ROI from your marketing efforts. They create the foundation for your strategy and help you to determine which tactics to use to get the highest quality leads.
To save you time and help you get the most out of your lead generation strategy, we asked nine experts to share the best practices to apply in lead gen. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Strike a balance between inbound and outbound marketing
Lead generation is about attracting prospects and converting them into customers. Because of this, many salespeople mistakenly believe it can be achieved through inbound marketing alone.
“As a B2B lead generation expert with over a decade of experience, my first lead generation tip for 2023 would be to strike a balance between inbound and outbound marketing,” says Vito Vishnepolsky, Founder and Director of Martal Group.
“I see a lot of companies go all in on one or the other, but if you want a healthy pipeline, you need both. Inbound marketing is a great long-term lead generation tactic, while outbound is perfect for speeding up your sales cycle and filling up your funnel with sales-qualified leads.”
Vishnepolsky advises using automated, multichannel marketing with at least 22 touchpoints to generate leads with outbound marketing.
“Decision-makers are so busy these days that messages can easily slip through the crack, he explains. “By ensuring you are sequencing outreach through various channels over several weeks, you can drastically increase the chances of connecting and converting leads.”
He continues, “Our agency uses three main channels to prospect for our clients: email, LinkedIn, and phones. I know there is controversy around whether or not cold calls and emails are dead, but I can tell you that based on our client’s results, both channels are very much alive.”
2. Diversify your acquisition channels
If you’re seeing results from one channel, it’s tempting to focus all your resources there. However, this increases the risk of having an empty pipeline if something happens to that channel.
“Reduce the risk [of an empty pipeline] by having multiple channels to drive leads,” shares Alexandre Boudier, Director of Growth at Solink.
“This is easier said than done. However, you do not want to rely only on only one or two channels, as there will be bumps in the road in any channel, guaranteed. Predictability is a luxury we're looking for as marketers, but even when we find it, it doesn’t last long.”
However, the goal is not just to create multiple channels but also to have a strategy to make each one successful.
“It’s best to have a layered approach to lead generation, where each layer is a channel/strategy combination,” Boudier explains. “You also want each layer to be as stable as possible and to keep growing. This can only be achieved by diversifying your sources of leads and being creative.”
He adds that this doesn’t mean you have to be on every channel.
“Not all channels will be suited to your ICPs. Counterintuitively, that's a strength because you can focus on fewer channels and figure out the tactics others haven't tried yet.”
Boudier also recommends investing in channels where you know you can scale without seeing too much of an increase in cost per acquisition.
“Coming back to the layered approach, this gives you the confidence that you can accelerate fairly easily with a small team, leaving resources available to experiment in other layers,” he explains.
3. Ensure your lead gen strategy is data-driven
One of the benefits of running a digital lead gen campaign is that you can track so much data. The insight you get ensures that most of your decisions are backed by numbers.
“Lead generation experts should take advantage of data-driven marketing strategies,” says Ben Lack, Founder & CEO of Interrupt Media. “With technology and data to analyze customer behavior, lead gen experts can create highly targeted campaigns that reach the right prospects at the right times.”
Lack explains that with a data-driven strategy, lead gen experts will “capture more qualified leads and increase their conversion rate. Additionally, it is important to use A/B testing tactics in order to determine which campaigns are most effective so they can optimize their efforts.”
Alexander of Solink agrees.
“Keep experimenting and collect, organize, and utilize your data. Build a team that consists not only of marketers but engineers and developers. You’ll get more ideas from these varied perspectives and have the skills in-house to do and build things that no one else is doing as well.”
Boudier also advises going the extra mile in your lead gen efforts.
“Do the hard work nobody else is doing. There aren’t many quick wins out there. Of course, you should go after the low-hanging fruits first, but also use tactics that are really hard to implement if you have good data showing they might work.”
4. Sales and marketing alignment is crucial
When teams work in silos, it becomes harder to tap into insight on producing better results. That’s why it’s key for sales and marketing teams to align on lead generation strategies.
“Once you have a well-oiled machine, follow up quickly and efficiently with your leads,” shares Boudier. “The marketing team is responsible for bringing leads to the sales team, which is then accountable for responding to them quickly.”
He adds, “Follow up with your sales team to make sure they are activating the leads you’ve worked hard to find. After all, sales and marketing/growth/demand generation have the same objective: growing the company's revenue.”
5. Create valuable content
Content is key to attracting leads to your business. But not just any type of content — it must speak to the needs of your target audience to be valuable.
“I only create relevant content for the specific audience I want to work with,” says Luciano Viterale.
He shares, “All of my leads have been inbound and have been qualified. The content I produce, coupled with questions required in my forms, means I only hear from people I’d want to work with. The only downside is that this took a solid year of blogging before I saw any meaningful traffic to the site.”
A combination of paid and organic content marketing strategies can help you get quick wins. Sharing your content on social media in short, easily digestible formats such as videos, infographics, and even memes is one of the best ways to attract quality leads.
6. Explore personalization
“Personalization and relationship building improves the ROI of your lead generation efforts,” says Ben Lack, Founder, and CEO of Interrupt Media.
He explains, “This means creating content that speaks directly to the customer’s unique needs and interests. It also involves leveraging relationships with customers, partners, and other stakeholders in order to develop a comprehensive strategy for lead generation.”
Roy Harmon, CMO at LeadPost, agrees, “We believe that understanding our target market and identifying their pain points is key. From there, we create solutions that speak directly to those needs and effectively communicate the value we can provide.”
Harmon continues, “In terms of lead generation, this means creating targeted campaigns and utilizing a variety of tactics such as webinars, case studies, and targeted content to attract and nurture qualified leads.”
7. Don't overlook dark social
Dark social refers to marketing activities and results that even analytics tools can’t track. For example, a B2B buyer might share your content with a closed community (like a private Slack group), leading to a sales conversion months later when someone in that community needs your product or service.
“Marketing's #1 job should be to create demand. Not generate leads. And the best (only?) way to do that is through dark social,” says Arthur Castillo, Head of Dark Social and Evangelism at Chili Piper.
“After implementing a free text form fill on our website, we found that more than 75% of our high-intent prospects come from dark social channels, like social media or word of mouth.”
Though the hype on dark social has increased, it’s still overlooked because it’s challenging to track. One way to get insight on dark social that helps you attribute your lead gen to specific channels is by adding a text field to your demo request, pricing, or contact forms that ask leads where they heard about you.
You can also find out from the customer by making it standard procedure for sales reps to ask where they heard about you during sales conversations.
8. Do more with less
It has become increasingly crucial to find resourceful ways to increase the ROI of lead gen efforts amidst layoffs, budget cuts, and higher targets.
“Sales teams need to focus on efficiency. 2023 will be the year of doing more with less,” says Derek Wang, Sales Manager at UserGems.
“This means focusing on:
- Leads that have the highest chance of converting into future meetings and revenue.
- High-intent leads and good account-fit based on trigger events like job changes, and relationship data, like if you have a past relationship or mutual connections.
- Leads that already have familiarity with your brand because they have a high conversion rate.”
Stephen Desch, Senior ADR at UserGems, echoes Wang’s thought on the increased focus on doing more with less. “From what I've seen, this has come in the form of headcount and tech stack reduction.”
“However, what every organization has, and isn't reducing, is a CRM/database of contacts,” says Desch. “In most scenarios, when contacts change jobs, the record becomes outdated and therefore no longer valuable. But with UserGems, you can resurrect your outdated contacts providing your teams with warm pathways into new accounts.”
Desch adds, “Something I've been reminding myself and my customers of is this quote from Ernest Hemingway, ‘Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.’ Be sure that you are making the most of what you have.”
5 lead generation tips from experts
Now that you’ve learned which best practices to follow to ensure your lead generation strategy is set up for success, what’s next?
While these best practices are long-term and should guide how you approach lead generation, we also asked the experts for tips you can apply ASAP to generate quality leads and improve your results.
Tip 1: Use references
Stephen Desch at UserGems points to references as a formidable method of finding quality leads.
“LinkedIn is a powerful community that also provided the pathway to my job here at UserGems,” says Stephen. “It has connected me with past colleagues who are interested in taking a meeting. And it is a great way to get a foot in the door.
“Be sure to look and see if you share connections with any of your prospects. And, if you do, ask for references. Your prospects are much more likely to trust the word of a trusted friend than they are a complete stranger.”
Stephen adds that it’s important to make it easy for the contact when asking for an introduction. He explains, “Make it as easy as possible. Send an example intro email for them to copy and paste if they'd like to. Removing as much resistance as possible will increase your chances of success.”
Tip 2: Use relationship-based selling
Finding high-quality leads might not be the easiest thing, but there are several opportunities revenue teams overlook. You can start with the warm leads in your customer database.
Here are 3 tips from Derek Wang to generate a pipeline of high-intent leads from your database:
- Find good company matches for your product, i.e., competitors of your best customers.
- Find people who have had a prior relationship with your company, i.e., past customers, users, and prospects.
- Use trigger events like new job changes, promotions, hiring trends, etc. as signals that someone may be more ready to evaluate new products and in a buying mindset.
Experienced marketers and sales professionals know there’s an opportunity to generate warm leads by tracking job changes. Many don’t bother to do it because the manual process is time-consuming and overwhelming. But with UserGems, everything is automated — you can track past customers and prospects and have them surface in your CRM as warm leads.
“UserGems is just a technology that makes sense for any business that creates loyal customers/users,” says Derek Kelliher, Sr. Director of Strategic Sales at SmartBear. “The automation capabilities to not only track job changes but then enroll in personalized outreach is truly differentiated.”
Tip 3: Build and promote new case studies
If you’re wondering what type of valuable content to create, try case studies. They show what you do and what customers can expect from using your product or service.
“Not only are case studies a great form of social proof on your website, but they’re also an efficient way to eliminate sales friction and nurture leads down the funnel,” says Vito Vishnepolsky, founder and director of Martal Group.
That's why Vishnepolsky notes that “your main aim should be to create more original, high-quality content that educates potential buyers and gains their trust.”
He continues, “Be sure to focus on quality over quantity. After all, ChatGPT can help you with outlining and research, but it’s still far from doing a good job of writing experience-based content that resonates with human readers.”
Tip 4: Cut through the noise
“Our best results have come from cutting through the noise,” shares Kyle Porter, Founder, and Lead Strategist at Guidepost Marketing.
He explains, “People get plenty of cold outreach that tries to hide what’s really going on. We start all our cold calls with, ‘This is a cold call, but I think we can really help [company]. Do you want to hang up now or give me a shot for 30 seconds?’
“In our emails, we talk about how we aren’t going to try to get you on a ’strategy session’ because we both know it’s code for a ’sales call.’ I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten a response like “this is so refreshing.”
Kyle says this method has been effective for his team. “It’s worked great to get us in the door with decision-makers who open every email with their guard up.”
Tip 5: Use chatbots to engage leads
“Customer engagement and brand interaction have been transformed by chatbots,” says Mocca Bajao, Demand Generation/Digital PR Specialist at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency.
“In B2B lead generation, bots are widely used to automate sales processes. When your sales agents are unavailable, you can configure chatbots to qualify leads,” she adds. “To generate leads with chatbots, you need to identify your audience, prequalify leads, and nurture your leads.”
Making the most out of your lead gen strategy
A successful lead generation campaign guarantees you a steady stream of qualified leads. This means you’ll have a healthy pipeline that converts into new customers and increases revenue for your business.
Having a healthy mix of inbound and outbound marketing strategies, diversifying your acquisition channels, following the data, and maximizing your budget for the best outcomes by generating high-intent leads are a few best practices that guarantee better ROI for your lead generation campaigns.
UserGems is a pipeline generation software that helps revenue teams generate and protect revenue efficiently. With UserGems, companies can track and automate outreach when their champions change their jobs, and capture the buying groups to find the warmest path into every account.
Companies like Mimecast, Greenhouse, Medallia use UserGems to reach their revenue goals, quickly and efficiently.