Proven Channels for Your Best B2B Leads in 2018

Digital marketing is always a numbers game. Reach enough people, qualify enough leads, have enough meetings, and close the right number of deals to keep the lights on and the team growing.

We’ve got some good news for you and those numbers: a new study breaks down the most successful channels for B2B operators like you, helping you maximize investment of both time and money.

A report from DemandWave gives us a great look at the U.S., especially in the software and business service verticals — two of the biggest client segments we have here at 7 Figure Automation.

Channels Marketers Use Best

The number of channels marketers were using in 2017 was up compared to 2016, with more groups adopting video and direct messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. Still, the most dominant channels people invested in where social media accounts, email, and organic search — 95%, 93%, and 91%, respectively.

Email was the clear winner when it came to generating leads, with organic hot on its tail. Social performed moderately, about as well as paid search, which may mean it’s time to narrow your focus on those efforts.


What we like most about this revelation is that it shows the power of email and hints at the reach of social. Those two methods cross when it comes to LinkedIn and, if you use a proven messaging tactic like we offer, you can put best practices for both to work for you to generate a considerable number of qualified leads.

The Best Content for Driving Leads

Like channels, top content types and efforts don’t always match with the most successful ones. White papers and webinars were the two types of leads that performed well for at least half of marketers, but blogs were the most used (published by 82% of marketers).


An important side note for this set is that items easy to promote as a benefit to the reader in a text-based environment are at the top. White papers tend to focus on best practices and establishing protocol, while webinars can be used to show lessons learned or what’s new. Both can be shared easily in email without needing images enabled on the customer’s side of things.

Why We’re Putting More Faith in LinkedIn

When it comes to social networks, the DemandWave research points to LinkedIn as the best option for generating B2B leads. It was the most used in general, reaching 89% of B2B marketers, while Twitter was a close second at 86%.

Now, look at the chart below to see the success rate of lead generation. The disparity between LinkedIn and Twitter is significant.


To us, this means that LinkedIn allows B2B marketers to make the best use of content and other lead practices for other channels. It’s the most like email and conversations that we know are at the heart of successful B2B marketing and customer acquisition.

Now, if you could combine that with the ability to see the LinkedIn company data of your  visitors, you’d have one of the smartest strategies for making the most of your leads across all efforts. There are more and more opportunities for us to collect and use data to reach the right people. We’ll keep sharing what we learn and invite you to let us know any tactics or tools that are working well for you.

Happy lead hunting.

Get Ready for LinkedIn Groups to Play a Larger Role in Your Leads


LinkedIn sent out a somewhat cryptic message earlier this month to the admins for groups on its platform, promising that the platform would finally integrate Groups “into the main LinkedIn experience.”

While there were no firm details about true integration, there are a couple big takeaways from the announcement and the focus that we think you should know for your leads and prospecting on the platform.

Were LinkedIn Groups Useful Before?

LinkedIn Groups are often pitched as an amazing place to meet and discuss and interact in an amazing set of ways. However, they often look like ghost towns with the same admins posting promotional items and not much discussion going on outside of that.

You can Google “are LinkedIn Groups dead?” and get results complaining of this starting back in the early 2010’s.

But that’s not the important part even if changes occur.

LinkedIn groups were amazing and still tend to be that way for prospecting. Why? Because the people who join them tend to be a little more active on the platform in general, in our experience. More use = being more responsive, and that means they likely have up-to-date profiles.

Lead targeting on the system needs people who have accurate information and are willing to interact with others. Groups point us in the right direction, so don’t discount them even as things change.

So, What Did LinkedIn Say?

The email we got from LinkedIn notes that “Groups is at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals” and that the company plans to make them more important and a bigger part of the normal interactions we have with the platform.

We expect the refocus to change the functionality of Groups, potentially make membership more useful for prospecting by allowing for greater interaction within Groups and between members.

Here are a few important details from LinkedIn:

  • Groups will be integrated into its main offerings, so they’ll have a more prominent place on the website and the apps.
  • The standalone app for Groups (which the company only mentions for iOS) is shutting down on February 15.
  • Existing memberships and Group contributions “will not be affected as part of that change.” This makes us think the move is going to shift some features to the broader LinkedIn experience and either make interactions more accessible or remove some the barriers that groups created to seeing and interacting with content.

From our perspective, everything bodes well for the future of Groups. They’ll play a bigger role in interactions and likely get more users to sign up for them. That means using Groups as your lead targeting pathway could become much more fruitful.

Changes Already Live

LinkedIn was a bit skimpy on the larger details, but it’s initial email was followed up quickly with another announcement that some features are ready and will be showing up in your feed anytime.

Now, you’ll start seeing notifications for social activities on your group posts, including likes, comments, and @mentions, and for membership activities, such as group invitations. Some real-time alerts will be available directly within the Notifications tab on the LinkedIn website and apps.

Those “@mentions” above include the ability to mention and tag someone by name in a variety of group activities, such as invites and posts or related comments. Again, this is to drive engagement and will ultimately make Groups a more valuable prospecting tool.

The next update we expect to go live will support more types of content in Groups, especially video posts, which are driving a ton of traffic to the site and interaction on it.

It’ll be a smart tactic if you pair prospecting with content marketing and thought leadership. Reach out to people based on group connections, and then tag those who either do or don’t accept. You’ve got a few different interactions that can get on their radar and lead to a more rewarding experience.

Cold Calling Is DEAD So Put Down The Phone And Do This Instead


Attention business owners and sales professionals, cold calling has moved from a “necessary evil” to just plain evil, and your business and reputation could be put at risk if you keep persisting on cold calls.

I’m sure that’s something you’ve heard before, so why should you pay attention now? Here are the important things to consider:

  • Cold call conversion rates average about 1% and only climb to about 2% for top brands.
  • More than 5 people are involved in today’s’ B2B purchase decision, so cold callers need to immediately understand who they’re speaking with, what part of the funnel they’re in, and overcome enough objections to get four more people involved in the process.
  • Large businesses and enterprises are now introducing gatekeepers so you can’t get to the right job title unless you’ve got their name (and typically an appointment).
  • More Americans are running their own businesses than ever before, which often means using their personal phones for business.
  • Some 200 million people have joined do-not-call lists, which means some businesses are on there too.

And all that is topped off by the fact that cold calls can be annoying.

Imagine your target is on a tight deadline to get some messages or sales calls out and their phone keeps ringing with people who aren’t on the call sheet. Every interruption is stressful and makes it harder to do their job, and now you’re the third call like that it a row.

You are instantly facing an uphill climb where all they want to do is get you off the phone, and what you need to do is stay on long enough to make your pitch.

Americans are busier than ever with more work and stress than they can handle, but all cold calling can do is add to this.

It’s time to end it.

It’s time to focus on leads and prospects that you can qualify (and learn the first name of); the ones who are going to be receptive to your call and not hate you for it. Here’s what I suggest you try instead to generate the leads your business needs.

1. Share Valuable Content

Introduce yourself and your brand by giving a potential lead a link that addresses their chief pain points. It positions you as a partner and has no ask, instead opts for building a relationship.

This creates an easy path to get to your services or products after a few interactions, giving you time to establish credibility and authority.

Focus on pain points you identify when building out a customer profile — and if you don’t have profiles or need help building them, reach out and I’ll share one of our tools.

2. Create Your Own Valuable Content

It’s good to give people something that helps; it’s even better to own the content that helps. Whether it’s an eBook, a blog, LinkedIn posts, or video tutorials, give your targets something they need with your logo splashed all over it.

Discuss pain points and offer resolutions while cementing yourself as an authority.

3. Expand With New Media

Blogs are an amazing tool, but they aren’t the only thing you should be considering. Today, the hottest growth area in B2B is turning out to be videos.

Videos that answer a question — especially if it discusses software — can rack up highly targeted views and create plenty of ways for people to learn about you and interact with your brand.

Common problems are high-value targets, and they give an easy connection option but letting viewers know you can create custom solutions too. If you offer a free consultation (more on that down below), then you’ve got a smart funnel designed specifically to provide aid.

4. Reach Out On LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and More

Social media is taking up more and more time in the B2B space because it’s how buyers conduct research and where professionals look for support in their positions, to find new research, or to read about latest best practices.

Target the networks that best fit your customer profile and look for relevant keywords, hashtags, groups, lists, and chats around the topic, industry, and specific customers.

5. Share Your Personal Knowledge

Don’t limit your prospecting to what you can do under just the company name. Engage your prospects personally in places like LinkedIn’s groups or during a Twitter chat to answer questions and provide support to targets. It creates a connection that makes it much easier to get your foot in the door when it comes to going for the sale.

6. Share On Your Personal Accounts

Building on our theme of attacking from all angles with all content, you can also share the same top quality content you’ve curated through your personal profile and feeds, plus in those LinkedIn groups you’ve joined.

Make it a mix of company-published materials with articles and infographics from other sources to maximize your chances of being seen as a leader instead of just a company suit.

7. Convert Content To Inbound Lead Emails

Use all the content you’re spending time gathering and creating in as many ways as possible. One avenue often overlooked is the ability to use content as part of an email campaign that provides information and support for inbound leads.

This way you can avoid jumping right into the sales process and give yourself more time to learn about your leads as they get insights into what your business can do for them. It’s a way for you to more actively participate in the research process that most B2B buyers perform — and it sets you up to have a conversation much sooner in that process than you otherwise would.

8. Capture Email Addresses With All Lead Tools

Long forms are a giant pain, especially when you want whatever content is on the other side. End that hassle.

This suggestion is a double-whammy because limiting what you capture to just a name and an email address gives you almost all the information you need anyway but also makes prospects visiting your site more likely to fill out the form and get your downloadable.

Bonus points if you have a CRM that can assist with collecting this information, tagging people who’ve downloaded your goods, and creating specific tasks or sending email reminders to help your sales team act on these new leads.

If you’re looking for a little help here, let me know. We specialize in creating this type of process for B2B brands.

9. Flesh Out Company Information

Whether through your CRM or some gumshoe work of your own, you can best understand site visitors and potential prospects when you know more about their company. Integrated platforms make it easy to generate this context, but you can also look it up yourself.

For manual work, don’t neglect looking at prospect social accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter.

10.Track Any Behavior You Can

If your website can track visitor behaviors, work hard to incorporate this with your CRM to determine the best channels to reach out, the right message to deliver, and the perfect time to send it.

Whenever possible track high-level and granular data, from company size and location to individual user visits, page views, and time spent on your site. Pairing this with company and individual data that you’ve already collected builds a more holistic view of the prospect and prevents any calls or emails from being cold.

11. Build Case Studies

If a prospect knows that you can solve the problems that they face, they’re more likely to engage with your client and staff, warming up your leads.

Case studies are an uncomplicated way to let companies know what you can do, plus similarities between your profiled client and the new lead will make it easier for them to know you’ve got the expertise they need.

Help your potential clients with their research and make their initial decisions that much easier by showcasing your big wins and highlighting how easy it is to work with you.

12. Ask For And Showcase Recommendations

These three R’s are you new best friends: Referrals, recommendations, and reviews.

Ask for each when you have a satisfied customer. The B2B space is a great place to seek referrals because most businesses work with a variety of similar service providers.

Consider if company A helps you solve the problem of its partner, company B, and you’re able to solve a problem for company B. You get credit for the resolution, and company B now knows that company A wants them as a partner instead of just a sale.


This is a terrific way to build out a list of specific targets. It’s okay to ask your customers for a direct, narrow referral.

“Do you work with any SaaS providers that also struggle with getting Infusionsoft funnels off the ground?”


A recommendation is one step further than a referral because your client/contact is taking the step to introduce you and tell the prospect how great of a partner you’ve been. These are less common but have a high success rate, so it’s almost always worth asking your satisfied customers for referrals.


The most trusted piece of online marketing or advertising is the customer review. In many cases, online reviews written by strangers are seen as at least as trustworthy as personal recommendations.

The caveat is that you need a depth of reviews and they need to look and feel real. Don’t pay some shady company to flood your site or industry review sites with fake content, or you risk losing any value from any honest glowing reviews you have.

13. Follow Up Every Time

No matter where a lead is at in your funnel, follow up after every touch point. Plus, follow up after you’ve made the sale too.

If you keep delivering relevant, useful content and showcase how your company adds value or makes their life easier, you keep increasing the likelihood of a sale and increasing the total customer lifetime value.

One thing to note is that you need properly segmented lists so you’re not hitting existing customers with new prospect language, even if you’re sharing the same content.

14. Give Your Time Freely

First mentioned way back up at the top, we always recommend providing leads with a free consultation. It allows you to make your case and discuss the needs of each person, without giving away the store.

Limiting it to about 30 minutes stays respectful of everyone’s time and means you can talk high-level concerns but not offer granular solutions.

Build trust and credibility, then follow-up with your pitch during the next conversation.

15. Blend Automation and Humanity

One overarching theme that needs to be present in all this work is that it must be personalize and feel like there’s a real human on the other end of each email, tweet, phone call, and interaction.

Automating the process is fine, but if rogue emails fly out addressing {First.Name} instead of their actual first name, the jig is up. They know that you’re just after a sale and that you’re not taking time to understand their business or problems.

Automating helpful messaging can make your life a lot easier, but never forget that you still need to do research and make an effort so every lead feels warm.


3 Simple Tools To Find Anyone’s Email On LinkedIn

Nothing beats having a lead’s email for your sales team, which is probably why most people treat them as secrets that need more protection than gold.

And LinkedIn truly is the Fort Knox of that B2B contact information you want.

There are more than 467 million users on LinkedIn right now, ranging from top leaders in the c-suite and small business owners to procurement managers and entry-level developers.

It’s one of the best places for you to find the right lead on a platform where they engage and try to make themselves known — LinkedIn says that 40% of its users check in daily.

So, it makes perfect sense that your business (and ours) relies on LinkedIn for prospecting and generating qualified leads to keep the lights on.

The big downside here is that LinkedIn’s InMail isn’t always the best place to establish a connection or send a sales pitch.

Some people views this as more of a personal connection than a company one, so you can reach out but it needs to be a soft touch.

It’s the perfect place to identifying who would be receptive to a sales pitch at their work, but it’s often not easy to find their work email —directly asking for it can get a lot of doors closed in your face.

But don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of tools and techniques that can help you find the work email, phone, and other information on your top LinkedIn prospects, all with minimal fuss and effort.

Tool #1: Hunter Takes Aim and Mostly Hits Its Target

How It Runs

Few things are simpler and more effective than Hunter, a handy tool and Chrome extension that can help you find and verify email addresses from companies all around the web, with a special focus on LinkedIn.

By pairing an incredibly large database of company email domains and known addresses — from verified individual accounts to “info” and “help” addresses — Hunter applies pattern recognition to your lead’s information to build out the most likely email addresses and then verifies them for deliverability.

The best news of all is that you can start with a free account that lets you perform up to 150 free searches each month.

Using Hunter for LinkedIn Connections

So, to find your LinkedIn connections’ emails with Hunter you’ve got to take a few steps.

  1. Create an account and install the free Chrome extension.
  2. Navigate to the lead’s LinkedIn page.
  3. Click the bright orange “Hunter” button
  4. Review the results.
  5. With a paid account, you can also export your entire lead list through the “My leads” link.

You’ll get high confidence results but make sure you’re checking Hunter’s company selection.

And boom, you’re ready to contact your lead at an email address that tends to have a very high confidence rating.

The Hunter Caveat: Search Preferences

Hunter does show a preference for the companies you’ve already searched, so it’s an excellent idea to do a minute of research and find the domain of your prospect’s company. For example, when I searched myself, it initially provided my email address as [email protected][company1] because I had just used Hunter to find an email address of one of my prospects at [company1].

Now, I’m sure their Mark is a good guy — with a name like Mark you can’t go wrong — but he definitely isn’t me.

Hunter gives us a good teachable moment: always do your homework and take a second to double-check your answers.

Tool #2: Contactout Is Simple and Ever-present

How It Runs

Contactout is a simple and effective browser extension that tends to deliver multiple email addresses for contacts, providing a mix of professional and personal emails. You’ll be up and running in just a few moments, and there’s a painless way to save profiles and export them when you connect the service to your Google Sheets account.

The upside is that it is powerful and very successful in the tests we ran for this post. You also will get a large number of credits for free use when you first sign-up, so you may not need to make a purchase for your first round of prospecting.

The downside is that sometimes you get too much information for the purposes of prospecting. Bulk import functionality isn’t available, and the Google Sheets import includes a significant amount of profile data for your contacts, which can make it hard to dig through without additional work.

Understanding Connections with Contactout

So, to find your LinkedIn connections’ emails with Hunter you’ve got to take a few steps.

  1. Create an account and install the free Chrome extension.
  2. Navigate to the lead’s LinkedIn page.
  3. Click the white arrow on the black background that appears in the top-right corner of your browser.
  4. If the prospect already provides an email, it will appear. If not, click “Find emails.”
  5. Verify the contact’s name and the domain you want to search, then click “Find work email.”
  6. Review the results.
  7. Click “Save profile” to export this to a Google Sheets document.

Prospecting is simple and direct, though you’ll need to give Contactout a variety of permissions.

In just a few steps you’re ready to reach out to your prospect. Connecting your Google Drive account is definitely worth the effort because it makes building your prospect list that much quicker.

While the company’s slogan says you can find anyone’s email and phone number, it returns phone numbers for very few candidates.

The Contactout Caveat: Always On

One thing to note about Contactout is that it starts off as a Chrome extension, but then immediately switches to being a program that always runs in the background of your computer. Once added, you’ll see a notification that says the program initiates at startup and will continue to run in the background even when Chrome is closed.

The extension also asks for permission to read and change all data on the websites you visit. While the developer team is good about responding to bugs, they haven’t clarified what this means.

Nothing seems nefarious, but it may raise some privacy concerns for you or your IT team.


Tool #3: SellHack for Bigger Players

More Power, Fewer Freebies

Rounding out our list is SellHack, which makes the cut because of its ability to integrate with a variety of other systems. While we’re big fans of Infusionsoft, if you rely on Salesforce you can integrate your prospecting directly into your CRM to build a number of additional contact points and options.

SellHack offers a free trial that gives you up to 10 free emails each month using its Chrome plugin or the prospect list builder tool. If you want to jump up to 150 emails (roughly equivalent to the free Hunter level), it will run you $19 per month.

This doesn’t qualify for our caveat section, but it is worth noting right away if you’re going to be testing out multiple options to find what is best for your team.

Manual and Automatic Email Discovery with SellHack

Getting started with the free version of SellHack is easy, but there are more manual steps compared to the others on our list. However, paid accounts have a Prospecting Mode that automates a lot of the copying and pasting described below.

So, let’s dive in:

  1. Create an account and install the free Chrome extension (yes, there is quite a pattern here).
  2. Navigate to your lead’s LinkedIn page.
  3. Click the SellHack extension icon next to your navigation bar.
  4. Copy your lead’s name and paste it in the “Name” bar in the SellHack drop-down menu.
  5. Do the same thing for the company name and provide the company’s URL in the email domain you’re searching.
  6. Click “Run Search” and get your results.
  7. If you’re happy with what you see — and the company provides a confidence rating as well — you can choose among your prospect lists to add the information to with just one click.
  8. Lists can be managed within the service’s dashboard or through the other systems you have integrated with it.


The SellHack icon and the fields you must manually fill out in the free version.

Importing is direct and easy, allowing you to choose your lists right away, so there’s little editing as you go.



The SellHack Caveat: Scales Up Quickly

If you have a large team and a decent budget, SellHack can be a significantly strong tool. To make the most of it, you’ll probably want to move to a higher tier subscription so you can have the credits and prospect searches available when you need it.

As you spend more, you also gain more integration options and better plugins. The basic plugin is perfect if you want to add a single profile at a time, while the other options make it quicker to add a variety of targets and automatically add them to your lists.

You’ll get access to bulk email verification tools as well, which is good for those lead lists you’ve bought and are trying to verify. Email verification tools appear to perform well with incomplete data files, helping to fill in some gaps while also providing data accuracy and validation checks.

To make the most of it, you’ll need a decent sized team and need to be looking for a substantial number of prospects each day. If you’ve got a sales department with members who are solely devoted to finding prospects and passing along those they can qualify, you’ve found a good partner.

Ultimate Thoughts on Finding Who You Need with LinkedIn

Prospecting on LinkedIn is like working out at the gym. You’ll need to have the form down right and to do a lot of work yourself, but there are machines that can help based on your fitness level and what you’re trying to accomplish.

But, these machines won’t do you any good unless you’ve got a regimen you can stick to and are keeping up each day.

These are three of our favorite tools for getting the information you need to turn prospects into new deals and lucrative clients. They’re a top bet for figuring out how to reach people in a way they are receptive to — some research says you could see interaction rates of 40% to 60% higher compared to just reaching out via InMail.

So, make sure your daily workout plan is doable, grab the right equipment for your business fitness goals, and get to it!