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How to generate inbound leads in B2B

Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
Michael Maximoff
Reviewed by
Michael Maximoff
Reading time:14 m

An avalanche of inbound leads is the dream of every executive-level B2B marketer. These leads are easier to qualify and have lower churn, faster deal cycles, and better win rate, plus they keep your account executives happy.

But let’s be honest — winning these leads requires a brilliant strategy and execution tactics. 

🧠What’s a brilliant strategy, though?
👌What are some sound tactics that’d resonate with your audience?
🧐Which challenges should executive-level marketers expect with inbound lead gen? 

These (and more) are what we’ll cover in this guide.

Let’s begin from the top.

Who is an “ideal” B2B inbound lead?

An ideal B2B inbound lead is a decision-maker with high odds of becoming your customer. 

These leads could be:

  • Marketing qualified: Leads who have engaged with your brand
  • Sales qualified: Leads who have asked about your product
  • Product qualified: Leads who have tested your product

The organic and nonintrusive acquisition of these leads is what inbound lead generation entails. 

What is inbound lead generation?

Inbound lead generation implies the creation of content that propels ideal leads to initiate contact with you. These leads can initiate contact through a gated content download, email opt-in, free trial sign-up, or scheduling a call with a sales rep.

The opposite of inbound lead generation is outbound lead generation when you reach out to your ideal leads.

Inbound and outbound lead generation have their pros and cons. However, inbound becomes incredibly difficult, especially when you’re marketing to an advanced audience. How about turning inbound leads to clients? Michael Maximoff explains the Belkins approach in this detailed 38-minute video: 👇

Challenges of B2B inbound lead generation strategies

Inbound leads are the best to get, but acquiring them is tough.

Before creating and executing your inbound strategy, it’s best if your higher-ups are in sync with these challenges and are ready to support you.

Here are 5 challenges to expect with inbound as an executive-level marketer:

1. Longer sales cycle

An inbound lead generation strategy requires you to build connections and nurture relationships. This process takes time and leads to longer sales cycles. However, their length depends on your company size, industry, and location.

See the benchmark report by Dreamdata.

Company size First-touch won deal
Small (<50) 147 days
Medium (51–250) 135 days
Large (>250) 242 days
Industry First-touch won deal
B2B commercial and professional services 105 days
B2B media 115 days
B2B SaaS 233 days
Location First-touch won deal
U.S. 117 days
Europe 199 days

These insights show that regardless of your size, industry, and location, you need at least 4 months to close a deal. That’s too long.

Try reducing this timeline by publishing content across multiple channels. This helps you nurture leads effectively and stay top of mind. If you have a sales team, aligning with them makes the process smoother. By joining you to publish content on multiple platforms and channels, sales can help you reach a wider audience and boost brand awareness. This collaboration gives you better odds of shortening your sales cycle.

Positive Data of B2B Organizations With Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams


2. Advanced audience

Marketing to an advanced B2B audience is difficult. These people are busy, and they know almost everything about their industry. If you share what they already know, they are unlikely to take you seriously and pay attention to you as a potential business partner.

To captivate your sophisticated B2B audience, move beyond beginner-level content and publish exceptional materials, such as:

  • Something that challenges industry norms
  • Informative podcast episodes
  • In-depth industry case studies
  • A detailed research report
  • A unique point of view
  • Benchmark report

Though difficult and expensive to create, they’ll get you significant results. A brilliant example is the 450 podcast episodes of Refine Labs, which has brought in $7.3 million in revenue.

3. Industry saturation

A few years ago, there were tens of B2B tools per category. Today, it’s hundreds.

This steep rise means customers now have a variety of vendors to choose from. Also, you’ll have to compete more for your leads’ attention. What’s worse? Competitors might even implement your customer acquisition tactics.

Your way out? Brand differentiation. When others zig, you should zag.

Marketers differentiate their brands in several ways. Some create a unique point of view and state their stance consistently. Others define the value proposition of their products and emphasize it in their marketing messages. A handful attempt to create new product categories, and few succeed. Most clearly state the customer they want to attract.

Brand differentiation in action

Company Differentiation tactic
Gong Pioneered the revenue intelligence category 
Basecamp Emphasis on being a tool for small businesses and team
Refine Labs Strong point of view on dark social and marketing attribution

Whichever differentiation tactic you choose, become vocal about it. Emphasizing it consistently is your ticket to winning your audience’s trust in a saturated industry.

4. Lean marketing budget

Executing an inbound lead generation strategy is not cheap. Some agencies charge up to $15,000 for content strategy and up to $10,000 per month for execution.

If you do this in-house, you need to budget for people, lead generation tools, content, link building, and many others that will put your inbound lead generation process in top gear. Often, your company will cut your budget during a downturn to keep CAC low or direct funds to other initiatives.

To win in this situation and always get the budget you need, focus on the top revenue opportunities for your company. Will a research report work right now? Will the bottom of the content work? How about a co-marketing campaign? Prioritize what works. This will help you maximize your budget, create the best outcomes, and get even more budget in your next quarter.

5. Time

Inbound lead generation needs time to deliver results.

When you create content, it doesn’t rank instantly on search engines. If you implement SEO, you need to give it time to drive results. To build a formidable brand on LinkedIn, you need to create content, engage with others, and build your following. How about podcasting and creating a YouTube channel? You need to find guests, generate content ideas, conduct interviews, publish, and attract listeners.

You get the idea. These inbound tactics take months to provide results.

If your higher-ups have problems with any of the above, expect pushback and incessant demands for reports on your results.

Now that you understand the challenges to expect, let’s discuss strategy and tactics to get your inbound engine rolling.

Creating your inbound lead generation strategy

According to Wpromote, only 38% of marketers describe their digital marketing strategy as “very successful.” This means up to 62% of marketers may be spending time and budget on strategies that do not attract buyers.

The worst part? Even sound tactics could fail (or provide short-lived results) when the strategy isn’t right. In our recent article about B2B lead generation strategy, Rand Fishkin, CEO of SparkToro, defines strategy like this:

"Strategy is how your beliefs (about your target audience, customers, strengths and weaknesses, competition, etc.) inform your approach to marketing. When you hypothesize, hopefully with data, about which channels are worthy of testing, which audiences to reach in which order, or why to structure your brand’s positioning and messaging in a particular fashion, that’s strategy."

Let’s take this definition apart using ScalePad, an IT asset management software, as an example. If I’m operating in the same industry as this company, the first step is to uncover my current customer base.

  • What’s their location?
  • What’s their company size?
  • Are they SMEs, startups, or enterprises?
  • Which sector do they operate in? Media production, healthcare, fintech, ads and marketing, hardware manufacturing
  • Who are the decision-makers involved in my product sale?
  • Who’s the economic buyer of my product?
  • What pain points did the decision-makers highlight during their call?
  • How does my product fix those pain points?

This information will help me create my ideal customer profile. Once I’m done, I’ll take some of this data and plug it into an audience research tool, such as SparkToro or Audiense (a lot more expensive).

These tools can provide info about who’s following my competitors, brands or individuals influencing my audience, and even the podcast my audience listens to. This useful insight lets you identify entities who can amplify your content when you reference or tag them.

We also want to do competitor research. A look at the ScalePad website shows their blog targets keywords with high cost per click. That means we’d save the Google Ads cost of targeting these terms. Sweet!

Keyword Search Volume CPC ($)
IT asset management 2400 42.27
Soc 2 readiness assessment 70 60.67
Data backup and recovery 720 20.02
Backup disaster recovery 480 30.93
Cyber liability insurance 880 74.88

How about their backlink profile? How many links do we need to snag the top positions for these keywords? Do we have the link-building budget? There’s also social media. What’s the competitor’s social strategy? Are they on LinkedIn, Reddit, or Medium?

Your company’s maturity and individual prowess of employees can also make you consider webinars, events, and video marketing.

Getting all of this information will help you create a strategy that aligns with your customers and business goals. As you research and think about these, also consider your marketing budget. A lean budget puts a cap on initiatives you can execute.

Inbound lead generation tactics for B2B

After strategizing, you need to execute. Below are some effective tactics to help you benefit from inbound as a lead generation channel.

SEO content marketing

Before you get turned off, know that I’m not talking about the overused TOFU and MOFU content playbook. Or worse, rewriting the top articles on Google.

These content tactics may generate traffic but may not deliver the number of leads, sales, demo requests, or trials you want. Executing them is also expensive (especially for new B2B brands) because of the link-building moat built by companies ranking on the SERP.

To get quality B2B leads from SEO content marketing, what you need is the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) and expert-led content. BOFU content is great because it lets you capture leads who may be ready to transact. Expert-led content is even better for 3 reasons:

  • Experts have years of experience they draw insights from.
  • Experts mentioned in your piece can give it more visibility by sharing it with their network.
  • Expert-led content helps you meet Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. Meaning, your content shows experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. The translation: you rank your content high in SERP.

Professionals in your field are the best candidates for creating this content. If they are unavailable, your next best bet is to find freelance writers who excel in interviewing, outlining, and writing the content. To do this, contact your network for referrals or hunt down these writers on LinkedIn. You can also check competitor websites to know who creates their content.

Side note: BOFU and expert-led content may not always drive lots of traffic. To track their effectiveness, it’s helpful to ask customers how they found you, including your brand assets they interacted with.

📚 Related post: How to create a successful content marketing strategy for B2B.

Sales enablement content

This content lets you share lots of insights with your ideal lead. They include comparison pages, comparison articles, research reports, e-books, and white papers.

And one you can’t do without? Case studies. Jordan Ross, owner of the 8 Figure Agency, twitted once:

"Have case studies and stats ready for your sales team. Send them at least one case study and story a week for 1 - social proof for THEIR confidence, 2 - ammo for the sales call."

August 23, 2022

Case studies let you tell powerful, transformational stories that can endear a lead to your brand. Modern consumers love good stories because it helps them visualize how they can become your next brand hero.

At Belkins, our 60+ case studies serve 2 purposes. First, we use them as B2B sales tools. When we have a conversation with potential clients from a certain industry, we show what results we achieved in a similar case. This often positively affects the decision to collaborate with us.

Second, we strategically include these case studies in our articles. This helps our leads to get the full picture of the problem, the solution, who can provide the solution (us), and the results they can expect.

Lead capture and email nurturing

At Belkins, we include useful downloadable resources in our content to capture not just regular leads but also the right ones.

How? We do a preliminary list segmentation at the point of lead capture by asking leads for their job titles. 

Lead form for lead capturing

What you ask may differ from us. But the goal? The same. You want to know if a lead fits your ideal customer profile and follow up or send qualified prospects to sales.

You can also generate more leads via email through further segmentation. Group the leads you collected based on their industry, location, source of acquisition, and other factors. You can then use this data to personalize your messages to each list segment and make your nurturing campaign even more relevant. Considering that the average ROI of email marketing is $32:$1, this will help you speed up the conversion and monetization of your efforts.

Social media marketing

As of January 2023, the most important social media platforms for B2B marketers were LinkedIn (48%), Facebook (28%), and Instagram (15%).

While these platforms have a combined user base of 6 billion people, the best place to find your ideal lead is undoubtedly on LinkedIn.

This video by Michael Maximoff explains how to use LinkedIn to get clients with zero budget and no time (works for both inbound and outbound): 👇

Done with the video? Great.

Now, to win leads for your B2B company, you can either do it solo or request the effort of your team by running a social selling program.

One brand that drives results through team effort on LinkedIn is Dreamdata. This is what they achieved in just 91 days:

Dreamdata Social Selling Data


Whether you’re doing social media marketing yourself or with your team, it’d be helpful to adopt these tips recommended by Michael Maximoff, co-founder of Belkins.

Opt for relevant platforms

Not all social media platforms meet the needs and objectives of B2B brands. However, there are a few that work well. First on the list is LinkedIn. As the biggest professional network, this platform is ideal for B2B inbound lead generation. We created a guide about this: LinkedIn for B2B lead generation: Best tactics & examples.

For me, Twitter and Facebook are next — these 2 platforms are more formal than TikTok or Instagram, yet a bit more casual than LinkedIn. The last platform you can try is less obvious: It’s Quora, and it’s a place where you can deliver value in exchange for new high-quality leads.

Share your best creations

The key to success in B2B social media marketing is to use a combination of social selling strategies and thoughtful content. While everything is pretty clear with selling, crafting compelling content for social media as a B2B business can be tricky since you need to balance professionalism and entertainment.

I recommend focusing on posts that resonate with your target audience and make their lives simpler:

B2B Social Media Post Ideas

For Belkins’ audience, this includes industry news, trends, how-to guides, tips, meeting the team, key takeaways from recent case studies, specific challenges in different industries and how Belkins overcomes them, polls, and best practices.

Support your content with visuals

Photos, videos, infographics, and other visuals are proven to drive attention and improve engagement. Therefore, when delivering well-written stories, support them with great visuals. Below you can see an example of our post on LinkedIn to celebrate Belkins’ wins in 2022.

Make a more personal connection

Leave out salesy content and use social media to humanize your brand instead. Share your personal story and thoughts, as well as insights that your business has gained throughout its history. Tell prospects about industry-related challenges you’ve faced. Show prospects the real people behind your B2B organization and you will win their attention.

📚 Related post: 12 lead generation ideas to inspire your next B2B campaign

Event marketing

Events can help you grow brand awareness, build credibility, and share your expertise with potential customers. The best part is that it gets you new high-quality leads.

I tapped Michael Maximoff to share insights from Belkins’ extensive experience with event marketing and below is his response.

"From Belkins’ experience, digital events offer broader opportunities than traditional trade shows or conferences. If you host an online event, you have more control over the process and receive better analytics. It also lets you automate a variety of routine tasks, thus saving plenty of time.

Besides these, you can record online events. Use these videos later to generate even more leads by providing them with access to the event materials in exchange for their information and subscription opt-in."

Just look at how many views Belkins’ online workshops generate months after:

Belkins Webinars: the Advantages of Online Formats

Here are my tips for organizing an event using the example of a webinar.

Start making the preparations at least the month before

Ideally, the time for organizing the webinar should depend on the number of attendees you expect to attract. The more registrants you need, the more time you’ll require to organize the event. For instance, to attract 200–300 registrations, the Belkins team requires a month of preparation and active promotion.

Create a dedicated landing page for promotion

The landing page should grab attention and communicate the benefits of your event. Include a brief list of topics your webinar will cover and mention the hosts and their achievements. Needless to say, the landing should contain a visible registration button that leads the user to the registration form.

Launch a multichannel promotional campaign

To advertise your event effectively, it’s better to combine free and paid channels. For instance, announce your upcoming webinar on your site so your regular visitors can see it by adding a banner at the top of the page. Launch an email sequence for existing clients or subscribers, preliminarily segmenting the audience. Finally, if your budget allows, enhance your promotional campaign with PPC ads.

Create sequences of email follow-ups

They remind potential visitors of the following occasion to minimize the rate of no-shows.
How do we do it at Belkins? We develop a 4-point reminder sequence: 2 weeks, 1 week, 1 day, and 1 hour before the occasion.

B2B Webinar Invitation Reminder Example

Always rehearse your speech and test interactive features

Rehearsals are a must, both for public-speaking newbies and experienced webinar hosts. Speakers need to check out the presentation, read their lines out loud, and prepare a list of answers to obvious questions the audience may ask. Finally, the moderator (yes, you will need one to monitor the chat during the event) should test all interactive functions, such as polls and live chat, in advance.

Make your events stand out from each other

The diversity of your content is the key to winning audience engagement and long-term loyalty. Create partner webinars with industry experts. Invite in-house specialists from your team as experts and think of various interactive activities for each new webinar.

YouTube marketing

The InterDigital and Futuresource Report predicted video traffic would account for 82% of all customer internet traffic by 2022. A Wyzowl report says 86% of businesses used videos in the same year and an astonishing 91% used videos for marketing in 2023.

These numbers suggest video is one of the most favorite content types for your leads. So if you have the resources or budget for videos ($100-$150 per hour), consider including them in your B2B lead generation strategy.

For video marketing, YouTube is the best platform thanks to its versatility and its 2.1 billion active users from all across the globe. To leverage YouTube marketing, we recommend you focus on educating your audience using multiple video formats.

According to Statista, some popular formats in 2023 were video live streams (27.6%), tutorials or how-to videos (26.4%), educational videos (26%), and product review videos (25%). The commonality? These video formats teach your leads how to execute a task, making them powerful for scaling lead generation and converting new customers.

Let’s illustrate with Belkins’ video strategy. For the maximum outcome, we prefer to combine different video formats. On our YouTube channel, you can see the following types of videos:

Webinars, podcasts, and other educational content

They help us build authority and brand awareness and educate prospects on what we do. We cover topics that are closely related to our industry and expertise. For example, one of our most viewed webinars was on how to close outbound leads effectively, and one of the most popular Belkins Growth Podcasts is how to pave your own lane in B2B SaaS sales.

An extra tip from our team: When engaging in YouTube marketing, focus on the usefulness and quality of the content first and then optimize your videos for search. Target the right relevant keywords and include them in everything around your video, not only in the title but also in the description and thumbnail. This will help ensure that your target audiences discover your videos when searching for relevant information on the web.

Video testimonials

On our channel, there are many short videos (3–6 minutes) with testimonials from our existing clients. Such content helps build trust and credibility for our brand. The short format of these reviews also makes them easy to share on our website (along with relevant case studies) and social media for maximum outreach.

Video Testimonials in B2B: Example of Belkins Clients' Reviews

How to improve inbound leads conversion rates

There are multiple ways to do this. First, invest in content distribution. Don’t create one piece of content without distribution in mind. How will you share the piece? Would you use LinkedIn, Twitter, industry communities, and more? Figuring this out will help you use a single content to support multiple channels.

The second thing you can do is create a call to action in your content. If you don’t tell your audience what they should do, they won’t act. Want them to subscribe to your email list? Tell them. Want them to read a case study? Show them the link.

Finally, it’s vital to emphasize segmenting leads at the point of capture. This is highly beneficial because you’ll instantly identify leads who are a fit for your product.

Measuring your inbound lead generation results

With outbound lead gen, it’s easy to track results from channels like Google, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Twitter ads. Unfortunately, the same level of granularity is not obtainable with inbound tactics.

To work around this, you need to ask customers how they found you and keep tabs on top-level metrics. How is your website traffic growing monthly? What is your social media analytics showing in terms of brand awareness? How many subscribers do you get MoM? What’s the number of free user sign-ups you get per month?

Measuring all this will give you a sense of what’s working or what requires improvement. But the ultimate barometer of inbound effectiveness? Sales.

In an article about hard-to-measure marketing channels, Rand Fishkin says,

"Either core numbers (sales, MRR, sign-ups, etc.) will rise…, or they won’t rise enough and you’ll have to modify your channels and tactics."

Put another way, even if your traffic is blowing up, social media views are increasing, and every other tactic appears to work, if the core numbers of your company aren’t rising, the strategy may be the problem and needs a revisit.

Growing through Belkins

If you’ve been in B2B for a while, you might think your lead generation is pretty well established at this point. But with scaling your efforts, you may find there are plenty of things you are missing out on.

Now that you’ve read this guide, I’m sure you have an idea of how to take your B2B inbound lead generation to the next level. But if you still require help, the Belkins team is only a contact away.

Since 2017, our team has helped hundreds of customers to scale their strategies and make their businesses thrive. Let our experts optimize your lead gen strategy too so you can get tangible results faster.

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Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe
B2B Content Strategist & Writer
Precious develops content marketing strategies and frequently blogs for the well-known B2B players. HubSpot, CoSchedule, EngageBay, and Foundation Inc. — this is only a small part of the MarTech brands Precious collaborated with.
Michael Maximoff
Michael Maximoff
Co-founder and Managing Partner at Belkins
Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.