9 November 2023

What are the top B2B lead generation tactics in the UK right now?

Lucy Hogarth
Written by Lucy Hogarth

Lucy Hogarth is the Co-Founder of The Marketing Centre and specialises in working with small and mid-size businesses. She has over 25 years’ experience working in clients and marketing agencies focussing on retail, telecoms, construction and financial services.

Which tactics are generating the most leads right now?

And how much are businesses investing in their marketing next year?

One of the advantages of having a nationwide network of part-time Marketing Directors is that we can ask these kinds of questions. And so every year we survey our team to hear what their clients are up to and how it’s working. 

What did we learn this time?

  • Email and LinkedIn are still the most popular lead generation tactics
  • Social ads and PPC have rocketed from near the bottom to the top five
  • Businesses are planning to spend more on marketing than they did last year

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these.

Email and LinkedIn outreach are the top lead-gen tactics right now

top lead gen tactics

Email is the most popular tactic by a long shot. It achieved more or less the same margin as last year, showing that for UK SMEs, email is still the channel of choice for generating new leads. Organic social came second followed by LinkedIn outreach campaigns.  

What’s this data telling us?

This graph shows that despite the occasional ‘email is dead’ thinkpiece you see online, email is very much alive. Cold outreach still works (when done right) and a well-segmented CRM database is a huge asset.

When email doesn’t work it’s rarely to do with email as a channel. It’s usually because you’re sending the wrong messages to the wrong people.

It also highlights something that we’ve talked about a few times. All B2B businesses should be taking LinkedIn very seriously.

There is a tendency to see LinkedIn as trivial and websites as important because websites are where leads used to come from. This is no longer the case.

LinkedIn is a proven lead-generating channel. If you want to make better use of it, here are a few articles that will help:

What’s changed since last year?

The most noticeable difference is the leap that PPC and social ads have made. In our previous survey, they were way down the rankings in eighth place. This year, they’re in fourth and fifth place with more than 30% of the vote each. 

This reflects the growing confidence of B2B SMEs with digital channels. The pandemic forced a lot of businesses to shift their efforts online and experiment with digital. These businesses are now investing in sophisticated paid campaigns that just a few years ago would have seemed totally out of reach.

Telemarketing meanwhile has dropped from fourth place all the way down to eighth. Digital channels now make up all of the top seven tactics.

That said, it’s worth remembering that channels in ‘decline’ can be a great opportunity. Press ads and direct mail campaigns may be cheaper and cut through much better now than they did a few years ago, simply because fewer people are investing in them.

As the saying goes: “When the world zigs, zag!”

SMEs are increasing their marketing investment

marketing spend

Over half of respondents are planning to increase their marketing spend next year and another 38% are planning to spend the same. Just 2% are planning to reduce spending.

What’s this data telling us?

This data reflects a general sense of optimism across our team of Marketing Directors and our customers. Inflation is slowing, the economy is growing and interest rates should soon begin to fall. 

The last few years have presented their fair share of challenges for UK SMEs. That said, the businesses that have made it through have emerged leaner, more focused and ready to take advantage of the ‘upswing’ that follows every recession.

Join in the discussion

What are your key takeaways from this new data? Join in the discussion on LinkedIn to let us know what your top lead gen tactics are right now - and whether our findings reflect your experience.


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So if you’re tired of switching from one thing to the next hoping one will stick, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.