In a business-to-business (B2B) setting, purchase decisions often default to four to 10 decision-makers rather than an individual customer, according to a Gartner survey of 982 B2B buyers . These buying groups also take more time than business-to-customer (B2C) buyers—103 hours on average —to assess if a purchase will drive revenue, lower costs, and improve operations.
As a newer B2B marketer, you need to be able to inspire confidence in these buying groups and create content that simplifies their decision-making process. By overlooking their varied needs, you risk wasting your marketing team’s time and effort as well as the loss of valuable customers.
The Gartner-research backed lead generation strategies below will put you on the right path.
A buyer persona is a powerful tool that helps business leaders understand what their target audience wants and how they will engage. It’s created through a process called segmentation, which categorizes potential leads by traits such as demographics, goals, and motivation factors. The image below shows an example of a buyer persona within a marketing automation platform.
As a B2B marketer, you’ll need to use a different segmentation approach than B2C marketers when developing personas. In fact, Gartner  goes so far as to claim that B2B marketers who treat buyers as individuals acting alone are wasting their time because they’re overlooking the context behind the purchase as well as the group dynamics of the decision-making process.
With that in mind, here are some Gartner-backed tips  for developing personas that acknowledge the varied needs and interests of B2B buying groups:
Identify your ideal target business. Then, investigate key decision-makers within that business. To do this, start with their website, and make note of any roles listed. You might also check social media for tags from accounts with large followings. Influencers may not be part of a brand’s buyer team, but they can sway purchase decisions.
Know your customers’ wants and needs. Understand what stakeholders might be trying to achieve in their organization, and how your product can impact their business and professional goals. This is different from B2C persona building, where marketers dig deeper into individual customers’ motivating factors like personal goals and frustrations.
Have back-up criteria for acceptable personas. Not every target business will fit your ideal persona perfectly, so it’s good to know where you can be flexible. For example, your ideal target business might not have the resources for a larger, in-house production team, but your acceptable persona may allow for a “one-person or small team.”
Once you have this information, you can create personas to help determine how you can meet your target business’s needs as well as the content you’ll create to connect with them—more on that in our next section. Do note, however, that personas change over time, as will your target segments. To get the most value from your lead generation strategy, revisit personas quarterly.
A solid brainstorm session with your marketing team and a whiteboard are a good start for creating personas, but here are a couple software options that can streamline and enhance the process through customer data. (Hint: we recommend adopting one that integrates with your business’s customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation platform.)
Buyer intent software allows businesses to gain insight on a customer's purchase intent through customer journey mapping tracking, predictive analytics, and competitor data.
Customer journey mapping tools give you a 360-degree view of the customer experience. They also offer interaction tracking and marketing automation so you can create campaigns that reflect where your customer is in their journey.
Once you’ve created your personas, it’s time to shift your attention to content that will attract inbound leads. B2B content marketing focuses on capturing your target audience’s attention by addressing the entire buying group’s needs . Its goal is to get your audience to trust your guidance, recognize the value of your product or service, and reward you with their business.
One way to reach this goal is to create content that aligns with buyers’ decision-making process. According to Gartner , B2B buyers tend to split purchase decisions into separate tasks rather than a single decision. The table below shows what some of these tasks can look like, and how you can create content that meets your audience at each stage.
|B2B buying task||Example of content that aligns with task|
|Identifying the problem(s)||A blog article discussing common issues that have led customers to your brand|
|Exploring potential solutions||A podcast where clients are invited to speak about the measures they’ve taken to solve their business problems|
|Creating a list of requirements||An eBook that helps buying groups assess which features are must-haves versus nice-to-haves|
|Choosing a supplier||An infographic that compares your product’s features to a competitor’s|
Some other content types that Gartner  recommends for B2B buyer engagement are videos, webinars, white papers, newsletters, quizzes and polls, and reports. Whichever type you choose, you’ll want to follow Gartner’s guidelines  to develop content that:
Connects with your target audience. To create and maintain loyal, trusting relationships, your content marketing efforts need to communicate with businesses on their own terms and appeal to their interests and needs.
Provides tangible value. Content marketing is most likely to succeed when it serves a specific need. This might look like providing a tool, solution or technique to make their jobs easier, or creating an instructional video to guide them through a process.
Remains consistent. Content should be produced on an ongoing basis, delivered on a reliable schedule and always aligned with the standards of quality, value and purpose your audience expects. Examples include keeping your content up to date, delivering content per plan and developing content based on defined templates.
Behavior tracking is a feature that’s available in many marketing automation platforms and gives a detailed picture of customer behavior. It lets you track leads’ paths through your website to help understand their interests and where they are in the decision-making process. This helps with lead scoring and prioritizing, and allows you to personalize marketing campaigns.
Content marketing takes time and effort, so you’ll want to ensure a potential lead can find your content by optimizing your website. However, Gartner  claims that B2B marketers often struggle to create website experiences that meet customer expectations and guide high-quality purchase decisions (i.e., not making a purchase decision solely based on price).
Even if your business doesn’t have a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, or your own SEO knowledge is limited, there are measures you can take to drive traffic and improve a website visitor’s experience:
Run A/B tests. A/B testing shows how features on your website perform compared to other features, such as certain text on call-to-action (CTA) buttons or image placement. Your marketing automation platform may already offer A/B testing as a capability, but if it doesn’t, Google Optimize is a free tool available through Google Analytics.
Optimize for long-tail keywords to get more qualified leads. Gartner  suggests that because long-tail keywords are more specific (e.g., “Minnesota banks offering low-interest car loans” versus “car loans”), they can connect you to businesses in your niche and in your area.
Align landing page CTAs with buying tasks. A well-crafted landing page compels buyers to provide their email in return for the CTA that attracted them there . As we discussed with content marketing, CTAs should be aligned with your audience and meet them where they are. See below for an example of what landing pages can look like.
We touched on A/B testing and landing page templates as two marketing automation software features that can help you optimize your website. But if you’re interested in trying something different, heatmap tools can help you assess performance by highlighting in different colors the areas where visitors’ eyes first land on your website. Click here for tools that offer a free trial.
If you’re not leveraging social media in your outbound lead generation strategy, you’re already behind. Gartner research  found that 34% of B2B buyers report using social media to educate themselves about a topic, with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram leading as the top four social media platforms used during a recent purchase decision by B2B consumers.
Gartner research  shows that social marketing is one of the best ways to achieve marketing goals across the customer journey, such as greater brand awareness. But for B2B lead generation in particular, we recommend taking two roads less traveled: LinkedIn and TikTok.
LinkedIn’s greatest strength, according to Gartner , is its engaged core audience of millennials and Gen Xers, two cohorts in the prime of their careers. Eighteen percent of users log in at least once a week, including the 8% of millennials and 6% of Gen X who check it daily.
To generate leads, Gartner  recommends leveraging the platform’s five types of advertising:
LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Designated by a label that says “Promoted,” these ads promote content in a user’s newsfeed, but they should provide value to target audiences, include a CTA, and not be overly self-promoting. See below for an example.
Text Ads. These are self-service, performance-based ads that include a small thumbnail image and a short snippet of content featured in desktop experiences. They appear in the right-hand rail of LinkedIn or on the top of the homepage.
Dynamic Ads. A more advanced version of Text Ads, Dynamic Ads pull a prospect’s company name, headshot or first name to personalize advertisements at scale. These ads include call to action buttons, appear in the right rail of a user’s desktop experience, and are designed for several uses, such as follower ads that promote brand awareness.
Sponsored Messaging. Spark a one-on-one dialogue with a prospect by placing messages directly into their inbox using Sponsored Messages. Just make sure you have some understanding of the prospect’s interests or needs first.
Lead Gen Forms, which are prefilled with users’ profile data. You may include up to three custom questions to capture more targeted data, but know that custom questions cannot be prefilled from LinkedIn and may introduce unnecessary barriers between your prospect and the offer promised in your ad. So, consider whether you really need them.
Gartner  claims that the most competitive brands get ahead by leveraging TikTok’s tools, editing features, ad formats and eCommerce capabilities to maximize reach and facilitate purchase. But, they warn that digital marketing leaders need to define a clear, strategic vision for TikTok instead of treating it merely as a “bright shiny thing.”
To generate leads on TikTok, Gartner  recommends that digital marketing leaders must:
Gauge TikTok’s alignment with marketing goals as well as the customer journey, and build out your brand’s presence accordingly. Start with a comprehensive profile page that encourages consumers to engage with or purchase from your brand.
Define your brand’s role as a content creator, influencer partner, advertiser, or some combination of the three. Create eye-catching content, partner with platform-native influencers, and repurpose high-performing content as in-feed ads.
Include audio and relevant hashtags in all organic content and consider boosting with ad spend to maximize reach. Evaluate if in-app shopping is right for the brand or, at minimum, include links to the brand’s eCommerce site in the bio.
Most marketing platforms include social media integrations. These integrations can help you create, launch, manage, and execute social media campaigns on platforms such as LinkedIn or TikTok. You can monitor social conversations to develop a marketing strategy and tweak it to target specific customer concerns. Click here for a list of tools that integrate with social media.
The four strategies we covered will help you appeal to the varied needs and interests of your target businesses’ buying groups. But to get the most value out of any of these strategies, you’ll need to identify the right combination of evaluation methods to assess their effectiveness.
To that end, Gartner  recommends measuring your marketing team’s:
Contribution to revenue: Conversion rates for each stage of the sales funnel
Quality-based tactical metrics: Alignment with business objectives
Quantity-based tactical metrics: Clicks, website visits, and form completion
Operational metrics: Average time a contact remains in a funnel stage
Your marketing automation software can help you track these metrics as can Google Analytics.
Note: The screenshots of applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.
A B2B Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, Gartner
LinkedIn Homepage, LinkedIn
Shopify Profile Page, TikTok
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