The Best B2B Channels for Lead Generation in 2023

Marketing Sep 11, 2023 18 minutes read

Table of contents

    In today’s competitive business landscape, attracting high-quality leads and converting them into sales is the main source of your company’s success.

    It is important to keep in mind that B2B lead generation channels are constantly changing and updating, this means that it is impossible to use the same content and strategies year after year.

    If you do so, you will start to struggle and, in the end, won’t be able to keep up with the competition.

    So, how do you tackle the challenges of lead generation in 2023?

    Well, we have done some research, and according to industry experts, the best B2B channels for lead generation are:

    1. Organic Search 
    2. Paid Search 
    3. Content Marketing/Blogging 
    4. Email 
    5. Paid Social 
    6. Organic Social 
    7. Partnerships 
    8. Programmatic/Display 
    9. Online Events/Webinar 
    10. Sponsorships 
    11. In-Person Events 
    12. Affiliates 

    This article is a part of Databox’s broader research with Secret Sushi on “Which Marketing Channels and Offers Generate Leads for B2B Companies More Effectively in 2023?.” We’re still open to contributions and would love to hear your insights. Take the survey now to access preliminary results and have a chance to be featured in our final report. We also invite you to join Secret Sushi’s Digital Marketing Benchmark Group for SaaS Startups.

    1. Organic Search 

    Organic search, aka search engine optimization (SEO), is a marketing channel used by all of the B2B companies we surveyed, with more than 50% crediting it for generating a lot of leads.  

    Organic Search

    Simply put, SEO is about improving your website’s visibility to appear higher on Google. Most people turn to good old Google (or their preferred search engine) when looking for a new solution, so executing strategies to improve ranking is a wise choice. 

    Patrick Whatman from Spendesk agrees:

    “For B2B businesses (especially SaaS), search traffic (both paid and organic) is always going to be hard to beat. You’re here to help real companies solve real problems, and the first place people go for answers will be Google, Bing, or wherever. So great SEO and targeted paid search are essential. Then you simply need to show how your service or platform solves this problem, without seeming fraudulent or opportunistic.”

    Patrick Whatman

    Patrick Whatman

    Head of Content at Spendesk

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    But how can you use SEO to generate leads? 

    It’s important to think of organic search as a getaway for redirecting traffic to your website. Once you’ve managed to appear higher on the SERPs and grabbed attention with the meta title, your content (be it landing pages or blog articles) needs to be convincing enough for visitors to be converted as leads. Strategically placing calls to action is one through which you can push visitors down the buyer’s journey.

    For developing a successful SEO strategy, Devesh Chauhan from PixelCrayons recommends the following steps: 

    • “Keyword Research: Identify relevant keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz to find high-volume and low-competition keywords. 
    • On-Page Optimization: Optimize your website’s meta tags, headings, URLs, and content to include the identified keywords naturally. Ensure that your website is user-friendly, loads quickly, and is mobile-responsive. 
    • Content Creation: Develop high-quality, informative, and engaging content that addresses your target audience’s pain points and interests. Regularly publish blog posts, articles, and guides that provide value and establish your expertise. 
    • Link Building: Build a strong backlink profile by acquiring high-quality links from reputable websites in your industry. 
    • Guest posting, influencer outreach, and creating shareable content are effective strategies for acquiring backlinks.”

    Related: SEO for a New Website: Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Start Ranking

    2. Paid Search 

    While SEO is a proven strategy for generating leads, it takes time and requires consistent effort. 

    However, there’s a way for you to benefit from the positives of organic search without waiting for eons for results. Paid search or search engine marketing lets you bid for relevant keywords that you want to rank for. The best part about such ads is that Google ranks them higher than organic results, so your web page is the first thing searchers see. 

    Another plus point of paid search campaigns is that you only pay for the ads that get clicked, making it a cost-effective B2B channel if used strategically. 

    Oliver Farmiloe from Matchable shares the efficacy of this channel with respect to lead generation: 

    “For us, the most effective marketing channel has consistently been paid Google search campaigns. On this channel, we are getting in front of those who are already actively searching for what we offer at the moment that our ad shows up. They are lower-hanging fruit in that they are much further along the sales funnel.”

    Search ads have generated leads for more than 70% of the B2B companies we surveyed. Interestingly, 27.5% of our respondents don’t use this channel even though it has proven to be effective. This means that this platform is underutilized, which you can take advantage of. 

    How can you successfully get potential buyers from paid search? Oliver Goodwin from Synthesys AI Studio lays it out for us:

    “To develop a successful Google Ads campaign, this is what we did. First, we set clear marketing goals, such as increasing website traffic and generating leads. Next, we conducted extensive keyword research to identify relevant and high-volume search terms.” 

    Goodwin continues, “We created compelling ad copy that highlighted the unique value of our products or services. Additionally, we optimized our landing pages to enhance conversions and regularly tracked and analyzed campaign performance for continuous improvement. Through these efforts, Google Ads proved to be a valuable tool for driving lead generation from our website.”

    3. Content Marketing/Blogging 

    “Our blog is our biggest lead driver. We produce quality content regularly that’s strategic and well-thought-out. It’s something we’ve done for many years, and it has paid dividends for us,” says Chris Wilks from BrandExtract

    Does the above sound exciting to you? 

    Content marketing is one well-known strategy for generating leads. It involves the creation of different pieces, like blogs, case studies, infographics, ebooks, industry reports, etc. to inform and persuade your audience. 

    Don’t take this B2B channel lightly. Creating high-quality content positions your brand as a thought leader in your industry. Since B2B witnesses a longer sales cycle, authoritative content can help make the decision-making process easier and quicker. 

    Bridget Reed from The Word Counter reinforces the importance of this B2B channel: 

    “One marketing channel that works well for generating leads from your website is content marketing. By consistently creating valuable and relevant content, such as blog posts, e-books, or videos, you can attract and engage your target audience.” 

    Reed continues, “Content marketing works because it showcases your expertise, builds trust with your audience, and provides them with useful information. This, in turn, encourages visitors to convert into leads by subscribing to your newsletter, downloading gated content, or contacting your sales team. With content marketing, you can nurture leads and guide them through the buyer’s journey, ultimately driving conversions and revenue for your business.”

    Related: Content Marketing Goals: 5 Ways to Set, Track, & Measure Your Efforts

    4. Email

    In 2020, every US dollar invested in email marketing made back $36. That’s a staggering 3600% return rate. This is because it’s a type of permission-based marketing that doesn’t feel intrusive. This goes without saying that you only email those who provide their email addresses and do not buy (or rent) any email lists.

    You can use email marketing in a number of ways to generate potential buyers. Some of these include: 

    • Lead nurturing emails to push prospects down the buyer’s journey 
    • Monthly newsletters updating what’s happening in your company 
    • Product/feature announcements 
    • Company achievements, like G2 awards 

    Percy Grunwald from Compare Banks shares how to generate leads via emails, “Email marketing is a great way to nurture leads at different stages of the buyer’s journey. By segmenting your email list based on various criteria, such as interests, behaviors, or demographics, you can send targeted and personalized content that aligns with the recipient’s needs and interests. Nurturing leads through tailored content can help build trust, keep your B2B company top-of-mind, and move prospects further down the sales funnel.” 

    While emails are effective, they are also thoroughly used by marketers. So, it’s safe to say that your prospect’s inbox is already filled with tons of emails. To stand out, you need to send relevant emails, write clear copy, and avoid empty promises. 

    Jason Toy from 88stacks uses generative AI to create stellar emails. Toy says, “Through the integration of generative AI, we craft personalized email content to help with increasing engagement. This, combined with strategic incentives, has led to a notable 20% rise in lead acquisition. Our approach harnesses the power of generative AI to create a dynamic and effective lead-generation strategy.”

    5. Paid Social 

    The benefits of social media marketing go beyond B2C companies. If your marketing budget allows it, investing in paid social will help generate quality leads for your B2B company. 

    Take the example of LinkedIn. All the decision-makers of your dream clients are on the platform, all you need to do is to reach them strategically. Unlike Facebook or Instagram where people usually have personal profiles, LinkedIn is a professional network. So, any ads or sponsored messages are comparatively more welcomed. 

    You can trigger different ads for different purposes. Taking LinkedIn as an example again, you can leverage sponsored InMail messages to reach out to leads directly, sponsored content for increasing brand awareness, and lead gen forms for capturing the contacts of your prospects. 

    Nidhi Prakash from MoEngage has good things to say about this B2B lead generation channel. Prakash says, “Search ads and social ads have emerged as the most effective channels. These ads refer the visitors to our website cum landing page, where they get in-depth details about the services. These visitors later get converted into leads.”

    Related: Cost-Efficiency Showdown: Paid Search vs Paid Social for SMB Advertising

    6. Organic Social 

    If budget is a concern (or the top management is doubtful about social media), you can gather potential buyers solely by executing organic social campaigns and creating an active social profile. 

    Organic social campaigns increase brand awareness and position your brand as an active industry player. This helps you reach out to greater people, many of which can turn out to be your customers in the future. 

    But what do you post on your brand’s social profile? Oksana Sydorchuk from Right People Group shares the B2B channel marketing strategy in which 4 of the company’s free resource pages brought 900 new email signups, 40% more impressions, and 30% more clicks in a month.

    “As an IT consulting company, we leverage the power of sharing valuable resources on social media. Our goal is to showcase expertise, attract new followers, and nurture relationships. By offering free, high-quality resources like different templates or ebooks on professional topics, we provide tangible value. These resources address pain points, offering practical solutions. Visually appealing posts and compelling captions promote them. Users access resources through a dedicated landing page, exchanging their contact details.”

    Oksana Sydorchuk

    Oksana Sydorchuk

    Digital Marketing Manager at Right People Group

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    While LinkedIn is an effective channel for organic social media marketing, other platforms are no less. The key is to find where your target customers are most active (be it Instagram or YouTube), and then target them strategically. 

    For Bryan Clayton from GreenPal, posting on Facebook groups has yielded positive results. Clayton says, “Based on the results and in my experience, Facebook, and particularly Facebook Groups, has emerged as the most effective B2B sales channel for us. Most people don’t know this, but these groups have become a vibrant community for lawn care professionals to share tips, seek advice, and discuss best practices. By actively participating in these communities and offering genuine value, we’ve been able to introduce many lawn care services to the benefits of GreenPal.”

    Similarly, Instagram has successfully generated multiple leads for the marketing coach, Kurt Uhlir. Uhlir shares the exact strategies that helped him find potential customers from this social media platform. 

    “The most effective marketing channel for generating leads from my website is Instagram, leveraging compelling visual content and targeted advertisements. To develop this strategy, I conducted thorough market research to understand my audience’s preferences and pain points. I optimized Instagram posts and stories with appealing visuals, clear calls to action, and relevant hashtags.”

    Uhlir also leveraged Instagram’s advertising platform to generate leads and website engagement. This B2B omnichannel marketing strategy of combining paid and organic social campaigns can help maximize the chances of reaching your defined targets. 

    7. Partnerships 

    Through partnerships, you increase your business’s visibility to your partner company’s clients. Take the example of this article – Databox partnered with Secret Sushi to bring you exclusive insights. Due to this partnership, Databox’s customers and readers will be exposed to Secret Sushi and vice versa. 

    This will not only increase brand awareness but add instant credibility if your experience with one of the partnered companies is positive. 

    Here are some ways you can use partnerships to generate leads for your B2B company: 

    • Co-webinars and workshops 
    • Content collaboration, like industry reports 
    • Co-promotions 
    • Social media takeovers or contests 

    Related: A Detailed Guide to Partnership Marketing: Modern Way to Grow Your Business

    8. Programmatic/Display 

    While programmatic and display advertising are two different terms, they have one thing in common – displaying relevant ads to prospects in the form of banner ads, native ads, video ads, etc. 

    These ad types are successful in putting your brand in front of your prospects’ eyes. And with the help of retargeting, your leads will be reminded consistently of your brand’s presence. If your ads are compelling enough and if there’s a need for your product, your target audience will take the desired action you’re aiming for. 

    You don’t necessarily have to promote your business in these ads. Use them to advertise upcoming webinars, whitepapers/ebooks, and limited-time promotions. No matter what you promote, the key to running successful ads is targeting them to the right user segment – this shouldn’t be a concern with programmatic advertising. 

    9. Online Events/Webinars 

    Did you know that a great majority of marketers believe that webinars generate the best-qualified leads than any other channel? 

    This is because they share valuable content that your prospects may be interested in. And if you partner with an industry expert, you will instantly become credible in their eyes. Webinars also welcome engagement, which can be the starting point of your relationship with your potential customers. 

    Another benefit that webinars bring is that they are highly repurposable. Webinars can turn into blog posts, short videos for YouTube, and carousel posts on LinkedIn. Hence enabling you to create a B2B omnichannel marketing strategy for generating leads. 

    Related: Driving 3,500 Paid Accounts Through a Virtual Event

    10. Sponsorships 

    Sponsorships shouldn’t be confused with partnerships because, in this marketing channel, one company pays the other to promote its brand. In exchange for the money paid, the company receives exposure to a wider audience, increasing the chances of generating qualified leads. 

    Here’s how you can use sponsorships to attract a greater audience: 

    • Event sponsorships: industry events, webinars, and conferences  
    • Content sponsorships: research reports, ebooks, and podcasts
    • Community sponsorships: for example, EditorNinja supporting Superpath’s Slack community 
    • Influencer sponsorships: for instance, sponsored post uploaded by a LinkedIn influencer regarding your company  

    It goes without saying that this channel is only for B2B companies that have substantial money to burn. If you have such a budget then this lead-generation channel is worth it since it’s underutilized (more than 50% of the surveyed companies don’t take the sponsorship route). 

    11. In-Person Events 

    SaaStr, Web Summit, and LEAP are a few examples of in-person events that have generated impressive leads for the participating companies. While online events are effective and convenient, in-person events/conferences make for meaningful one-on-one conversations with prospects. In other words, you can really tailor your offering considering your lead’s unique context. 

    Some participating companies go the extra mile by offering an incentive in exchange for a person’s email address and permission to be communicated in the future. These can be product-centric, like extra monthly credits, or more generic offers, like an UberEats coupon code. Whatever the incentive, remember not to be pushy and prioritize valuable discussions over sales pitches.  

    12. Affiliates 

    Affiliate marketing is an old trick in the book when it comes to generating leads. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved – the affiliate gets the compensation and the companies benefit from greater reach and leads. 

    What makes this B2B channel so great is that it is highly scalable. You can easily choose the number of affiliates you’re working with and create the compensation plan according to what fits your budget. 

    Abhi Bavishi from Bant considers affiliate marketing as the most effective B2B channel for lead generation. 

    “Our most effective marketing channel is affiliate/referral marketing. It generates more qualified leads than any other channel. In terms of offer, we offer a 1:1 strategy consultation, where we dive into customer’s acquisition problems, and provide them with data-backed insights on how they can improve their conversion rate/traffic, etc.”

    Abhi Bavishi

    Abhi Bavishi

    Marketing Automation Specialist at Bant

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    You can partner with either influencers in your field or customers. The latter is more convincing as these are real individuals whose problems you’ve successfully solved. 

    Grow Your Leads and B2B Business With Databox

    If you want to generate greater leads for your B2B business, you’re better off using multiple platforms at once. This survey (which is still open for contributions) showed the most effective B2B marketing channels you can use to expand your clientele. 

    Choosing a platform(s) is just one small step in executing your B2B channel marketing strategy. To get more prospects, you need to monitor the impact of your efforts. How many impressions did your Google Ads generate? What was the engagement of your social media posts? Was the average CTR of your blog more or less than what you had anticipated? 

    This is where Databox Benchmarks Group can help you. 

    The Digital Marketing Group for SaaS Startups created by Secret Sushi shows your performance across different channels, like Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics 4. You can also compare your metrics against similar companies to gauge whether you are above or below the industry standards. 

    Such exclusive insights will help you optimize efforts, set realistic goals, and increase the possibility of generating maximum leads. 

    Join this Benchmark Group today to make data-driven decisions like never before.  

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