Let’s be honest—we all know that content marketing is capable of driving results for B2B organizations. A recent study shows that 68% of marketers believe that content has helped their brand build trust and credibility with their audience. Another study shows that content marketing is helping organizations drive over three times as many leads as outbound marketing while costing 62% less.
But are these just vanity metrics and is content truly influencing revenue? With some teams investing as much as 27% of their entire marketing budgets into content creation but 47% of B2B marketers are still not accurately measuring ROI from their content, it's clear that many have yet to tie these efforts to bottom-line revenue impact.
The good news is that you can have high-performing content that is both driving demand and educating prospects. It starts by aligning buyer personas, customer pain points, and content form factors to deliver value for your customers—and increase your lead flow in the process.
Hand-picked Lead Generation Examples
Below I’ve included 27 innovative ways B2B-focused brands are using content to build brand awareness and generate leads and demand for their organizations.
1. Online courses
Educating potential customers with an online course can be an incredibly effective way to put your brand’s content into a valuable and consumable format. HubSpot has nailed this approach with the comprehensive HubSpot Academy and the quality of the course instructors makes this an example to be inspired by. Unbounce has taken this approach a step further with an entire micro-site for a landing page course. In both cases, content is broken down into easy-to-digest modules and the flow of the course builds on earlier concepts.
2. Email courses
Driving leads with courses can also be accomplished with long-form email content in a sequence focused on a specific topic for five to 10 days. This tactic typically involves creating exclusive content that is only available through the email course, creating a sense of exclusivity. Invision does this effectively with their course on the principles of UX design by using a simple landing page lead capture. One advantage to creating an email course: the content requirements compared to a full online course are much lower, so this can be a great place to get started.
3. Account-based personalized content
Want to close that strategic account? Building content specific for the pain points and solutions of your prospect can go a long way towards getting the organizational buy-in for the sale. Snowflake utilizes Uberflip to create customized experiences across their 500+ target accounts. Personalizing the experience for each account gives them the scale needed for a 149x increase in conversions for ads using the 1:1 account-specific tactic.
4. Free tools and web apps
Building a simple but customized web app can drive a ton of value for your potential customers. Shopify, an ecommerce software provider, has leaned into this strategy with an entire section on their website dedicated to free tools including a logo maker, business name generator, business card maker, loan calculator and more. These are commonly things that smaller online businesses need (and that’s the exact target customer for Shopify). In addition, these pages also rank extremely well organically, driving thousands of new visitors each month to their website.
5. Ebook kits
The PDF ebook is a staple for most B2B brands. But are you getting the most of your content by keeping it in a PDF? Instead, create a full ebook kit that can be downloaded and read across multiple devices in ePub, .mobi, and PDF file types. Simply taking your existing content and porting it over into ebook-reader-friendly formats can help you get more mileage from what you already have. The Data Driven Sales Ebook from Clearbit is a great example of putting this into practice. Your customers are already speeding through books on their e-readers, so taking the simple but effective extra step to publish your content into a few additional formats will help it get consumed.
6. Mid-video opt-ins
If you’re creating video content for your brand you’re already ahead of the competition, but are you successfully using it for lead generation? Marketing automation software provider Keap saw that a brand who implemented this tactic in one of their funnels increased their conversion rate by 800%. This strategy involves using a 15- to 30-second video clip that serves as the “trailer” for your longer video on a topic of interest either as a video ad or on the landing page itself. One key thing to note: the video content must have significant value as it serves as the offer.
7. Short videos
Video content is preferred by your customers more than ever. HubSpot released a study this year showing buyers prefer branded video three times more than blogs and ebooks. For B2B brands looking to buildawareness YouTube bumper ads are rising in popularity. This high-volume, high-impact format is typically used pre- or mid-roll and connected to a larger video-centric campaign. These ads are very inexpensive (typically under $0.05 per view) and can help your paid campaigns scale. This example from SurveyMonkey nails the delivery of their message in just six seconds and allows them to drive traffic back to their website offer.
8. Buyer checklists
For buyers who are actively in the research phase, short checklist-focused content can convert very well when it includes compelling information that can help them move forward on the buying process. New Breed Marketing, a demand-gen agency, does this effectively with their marketing automation RFP checklist that helps their potential customers get started on what can be a complicated process. In this case, focusing on your prospect’s path to purchase during the sales process can really resonate for those companies that are close to moving forward.
9. Case study “lookbooks”
Every industry focuses on case studies, customer examples and use cases to sell their product. After all, there’s no better way to showcase your work than customers who are already successful using your product. Creating a personalized web experience is one of the easiest ways to make your content more engaging and compelling and this is exactly what Stantec did when they used Uberflip to launch their knowledge-sharing platform, Ideas. The customized hub is a core part of their website, powering the content streams for over 100 different topics across their business.
If you’re selling software, there are often must-have components for your customers to be successful. By offering proposal templates for almost every industry and use case, Proposify does a great job of both meeting customer needs and capturing traffic from a high-intent search terms. Proposify has done this effectively by creating over 50 template variations using keyword-focused landing pages that help bring them highly qualified traffic already in need of their solution.
Sometimes you just need the right words. In fact, simple process-based scripts for your customers’ common real-world scenarios can help increase adoption of your own product at the same time. This example cold calling script from Pipedrive is a perfect example of something your customer is already looking for—and it’s going to help them use your product even more (more cold calls mean more activity in the Pipedrive CRM).
12. Content bundles
Do you have a lot of great content in a specific topic area that you want to get more mileage from? Increase the value of your offer by combining a hand-picked selection of your assets into a content bundle. The Startup Sales Resource bundle from Close is a great example of taking what could be nine separate ebooks, sales scripts, and email templates and combining them into a high-converting offer.
13. All-day digital conferences/summits
Webinars are great, but if you really want to host an impactful online event, focus on an all-day or half-day digital conference. HubSpot has perfected this concept over the last few years and its Digital Agency Day is a virtual summit that has 10,000+ registrants and also serves as a lead-gen piece long after the event is completed. A few quick tips from HubSpot’s event: have a host, invite industry leaders, and expect attendees to come and go throughout the day.
14. Online quizzes
Quizzes are extremely effective when used to assess and deliver a customized recommendation upon completion. BrightEdge delivers a comprehensive SEO Quiz that helps determine what level of expertise a company has for organic search. But be careful: if you’re not delivering value and your quiz starts to feel like a sales Q&A you may see a significant drop-off between quiz starts and completions.
Without a doubt, audiobooks have increased in popularity for publishers and, in turn, have become an emerging trend for lead gen. What’s more, audiobooks are perfect for those prospects who may be too busy to read a longer content piece like a whitepaper or ebook. The strategy here is actually quite simple: audiobooks can be a collection of your best content read aloud. In fact, it’s very inexpensive to create. This example from Marie Forleo includes a 30-minute mix of her best content in audio format.
16. Digital communities
Creating a community for practitioners in your industry is a great way to help professionals (who use your product) to grow their network and connect with others in their field. This can be accomplished by creating a site that requires registration or it can be as simple as a LinkedIn Group. A great example of a community built around a niche industry is FlipMyFunnel, which includes a LinkedIn Group, a podcast, and a conference—all focused on connecting account-based marketing practitioners and sharing best practices.
17. Presentation slides
You’re already creating slide decks for webinars and other external product presentations. Uberflip’s Flipbook product can take your static PDF presentations and turn them into interactive content experiences like this example from SAP. Plus, instead of just knowing that a prospect downloaded a piece of content, you’ll get insights into exactly what they were most interested in, helping to further customize and personalize your campaign targeting.
18. Conference cliff notes
Does your industry have a few specific conferences or trade shows that would be of high interest to your customers? If your team has a large presence at any event, you can divide and conquer session attendance to capture notes. While at the event, create a summary of presentations capturing the best insights from the entire event in a “Cliff Notes” format to use as a lead-gen piece afterwards. This example from Unbounce while at the Mozcon event is a great example of delivering value. Often even attendees to conferences aren’t able to catch every session, so this strategycan be used to capture leads at your booth as well.
19. Weekly industry recap newsletter
One simple way to engage your customers and prospects is through content curation for your industry. In fact, SmartBrief has built an entire business around this model. Collecting and sharing information not published by your company can keep your customers more informed and help build trust. This curated newsletter example by content agency Convince & Convert links to both industry news and their own content. This example from Mattermark highlights insight across the industry. Pro tip: Partner with content creators to cross-promote your newsletter to their audience as well.
20. Topical “best-of” guides
Specific topic areas can be of great interest to your prospects and customers. Marketo’s Definitive Guide series goes into detail on the topics their customers care about most, including account-based marketing, lead nurturing, and lead generation. ConvertKit, an email marketing tool for digital creators, uses an issue-based approach called Tradecraft to feature their how-to guides on customer-centric topics like self-publishing a book, ecommerce, and podcasting.
21. Online surveys for industry report data
Surveying your customers can be a great way to generate insights for your company and customers alike. What can be extremely effective is also providing that info back to survey participants as an incentive for taking the survey. What’s more, if you plan to generate an industry report from that data, you can feature customer quotes in the report, which typically increases interest even more. VentureHarbour covers a number of examples from companies like VWO who have used customer surveys to scale their lead-gen efforts.
22. Print on-demand direct mail
You have a multiple successful ebooks, killer creative, and the perfect idea for getting your prospect’s attention. Use automated direct mail as part of your account-based strategy by printing relevant content or sending an e-gift using partners like Sendoso and PFL to align your send precisely with the sales process. One example from Bulldog Solutions uses faux event posters hyper-personalized and customized for their top prospects. If a movie-style poster with their name on it doesn’t get your prospect’s attention, what will?
23. On-demand webinars
Webinars require a significant investment of time and effort, especially when delivered live. With more B2B brands focused on account-based marketing, there’s been a notable shift to on-demand webinars, which allow specific accounts to see highly targeted messages. This can be extremely effective, with Uberflip allowing you to share all of your on-demand webinars in one location—and use a lead capture tool. Uberflip handles this perfectly with the on-demand section for their conference, ConEx—using a lead capture on the Randy Frisch keynote and other speaker videos while keeping presenter slides readily available.
24. Product giveaways
Contests can be extremely effective when used correctly. And if you can combine your giveaway with a physical event or a larger campaign, it can accelerate the performance even further. Snappa, an online graphics editor for SMBs, worked with Wishpond to promote a product giveaway and was able to drive over 1,000 leads with the contest entry form on their landing page. One tip for product giveaways: incentivize non-winners with additional free content to leave a positive brand impression after the contest.
25. Prediction and trends lists
There’s no doubt that many marketers want to stay on the leading edge of the trends in their industry and this is no different for the prospects you are marketing to. Contently, a content marketing platform, leverages this approach in their annual trend prediction list with a focus on getting the input on what those trends will be from a number of experts in their field. Working with influencers in your space is a great way to publish quickly and promote your content to a larger audience.
Podcasting has risen in popularity for B2B brands, specifically for those that focus on thought leadership. Syndicating your podcast across iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts can help you reach new audiences quickly—and many that are likely to be in your target. Sujan Patel, co-founder of Mailshake and Quuu, goes into great detail on the different ways you can use podcasts to drive leads.
Making the Most of These Lead Generation Examples
With examples from the most innovative B2B brands, there’s no shortage of inspiration to pull from for your next campaign.
While doing the research for this piece, it was clear the B2B brands delivering exceptional content experiences were consistently using market data to identify opportunities, building content around customer needs and creating content in multiple formats to increase longevity and ROI.
As you get started on your next marketing initiative, success starts with using data to build strategies that focus on the customer. While content form factors, tactics, and trends change, delivering exceptional value to the person on the other end of your campaign is the most important aspect to consider.