All, Lead Generation

5 Steps to Improve B2B Lead Generation Program Results

Eric Wittlake is a digital and B2B marketer with a background in analytics and online media. Based in Portland, Oregon, he runs the media group at Babcock & Jenkins. To read his original post on email list guides, click here. 

From content to process to branding, here are five steps you can take to improve the results from your publisher lead generation programs.


The content you should use depends on how the lead generation program is structured. Here are three of the most common structures and guidelines for each one.

Content For Fixed Promotional Package
If you are buying a program with a fixed set of promotions (i.e. 3 email blasts, 6 newsletter ads, calendar listing and 2 weeks of on-site promotions), choose content that will maximize your response and conversion rates. This normally means turning to early stage content offers with broad appeal to your audience.

However, be wary of chasing hot topics though unless they are particularly relevant to your audience. They often appear to have strong appeal because they appeal to a broader audience. The program should deliver early stage contacts at a relatively low cost per contact, not contacts who aren’t actually interested in what you do.

Content For Cost Per Contact Program
In cost per contact programs, your content is a key filter. The content you choose, and the way it is presented, needs to uniquely appeal to your target audience.

Content that guides prospects looking to create a short list of solutions can be particularly effective in these programs.

3. Sponsored Content Guidance
Content publishers provide is generally early stage. It is critical that the content is closely aligned to the topics you are focused on, not merely important topics to your target audience.


People that register for access to your content are not leads. But they aren’t just cold contacts either. They shouldn’t be subjected to your general outbound email campaign. (Actually, no one should be, but that’s a topic for another article).

Instead create a nurture stream, which at its simplest is just a series of relevant emails with additional content or information sent over the following days or weeks. More robust platforms (including nearly any marketing automation program) will let you include conditional and branching logic and integrate with your sales or telemarketing systems.


When you run publisher lead generation programs, the promotions will focus on your content. Your name may be in small type, or even just in a logo that won’t even be seen in most email clients. Combine this with the click-to-lead process more publishers are starting to use (where someone clicks directly to the content, not to a branded form) and the non-branded or analyst content you may use and your new contacts will have no idea that you had a hand in providing them access to that report from Gartner.

When promotions and content aren’t branded, it shouldn’t be a surprise that your followup phone calls or emails are ignored. You become another cold call or email blast.

To address this, test your own branded content in publisher lead generation programs and consider reserving analyst and third-party content for programs where you have full control over the promotion and landing page branding.


Following up quickly doesn’t mean getting a file of contacts weekly, getting the data processed and into your system and then rushing the first email out a day later. At this point some of your new contacts may have gone nine or ten days without hearing from you!

Look for publishers that can push contacts directly into your system in near real-time. This will put your first email in their inbox within an hour of when they respond. This one change alone will make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your followup emails.

According to a study referenced in Harvard Business Review, companies were 60 times more likely to get a qualified lead when they followed up within an hour versus waiting more than 24 hours. Imagine what happens when you wait more than a week? (source) Although this study focused on time to place an outbound call, I’ve regularly seen email response rates double or more when even a few days are cut from the response time.


What if someone is done with content? What if they are already well into the sales process, this just happens to be the first piece of content they downloaded from you?

The whole point of nurturing and lead scoring is getting someone to the point where they are ready to talk to sales and recognizing when they have reached that point. If someone is ready to talk to you, make it easy for them to reach out to you or to self-identify as someone looking to connect with sales.

Today I received an email from a B2B marketer that is “nurturing” me. The email didn’t have a phone number. The landing page didn’t have a phone number. To find a contact form I had to search through tiny footer links. Then it was another click to find a phone number! If I wasn’t writing this article, I wouldn’t have bothered.


B2B marketers are spending big budgets to run lead generation programs through publishers. This series of articles looks at how B2B marketers can improve the return on this investment. Additional articles: