The Best Ways for B2B Marketers to Generate Leads

October 3, 2014 Karen Axelton

generating leads

What tactics work best to help B2B companies generate leads? This year, the biggest growth was seen in use of content marketing, website registrations, social media and pay-per-click advertising, according to the Chief Marketer 2014 B2B Lead Generation Survey conducted in August.

More than two-thirds of B2B marketers are using content marketing to generate leads this year, up from slightly more than half last year, while 70 percent use online registrations, up from 58 percent in 2013.

Here’s what other tactics are popular (or not-so-popular):

  • Social networks: 68 percent
  • Trade shows and conferences: 67 percent
  • Email: 65 percent
  • Webinars: 44 percent
  • PPC/Display Ads: 43 percent
  • Direct Mail: 42 percent
  • Telemarketing: 37 percent
  • Online directories: 36 percent
  • Live events: 28 percent

But using a marketing tactic and getting results from it aren’t always the same thing. Here are the strategies that markers say generate the most qualified leads:

  • Referrals: 50 percent
  • Email: 48 percent
  • In-person sales calls: 46 percent
  • Direct marketing: 25 percent
  • White paper downloads: 20 percent
  • Search marketing: 19 percent

The difficulty of generating leads is particularly acute when it comes to social media. Marketers’ top frustrations with social media marketing include the content requirements, difficulty measuring ROI, problems qualifying social leads and prospects who don’t want to be marketed to on social media. On average, only 10 percent of social media efforts yielded qualified leads.

Since reaching out to customers directly via email marketing or in-person visits is still the most effective lead-generation method, what are companies offering prospects in return for their contact information or for opting in? The most popular incentives are:

  • Product discounts/samples: 33 percent
  • Enhanced services: 24 percent
  • Contest entry: 21 percent
  • Reduced/free shipping: 16 percent

Clearly, B2B customers are looking for cost savings or freebies—not “fun.” Entertainment content was used as an incentive only by 4 percent of companies.

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Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at


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