Thursday, August 4, 2022

The B2B Lead Generation Playbook

Our 5-step framework for generating quality B2B leads using paid ads.

We use the following playbook for our clients. We treat this as a living and breathing framework that gets updated over time based on where we’re seeing the best results.

The playbook can be broken down into the five following steps.

  1. Audit
  2. Prescribe
  3. Test
  4. Optimize
  5. Scale

Step 1: Audit

When you’re at your doctor’s office for your annual checkup, your doctor doesn’t barge in the room and start prescribing your treatment. You first get a checkup where your vitals are taken, blood is drawn, and a baseline is established to see how you’re doing.

This principle applies to marketing as well. Without a clear understanding of where you’re currently at, it’s difficult to provide a plan of action, and virtually impossible to understand how successful the plan is.

For our clients, we thoroughly audit their existing campaigns to understand what was working, what wasn’t working, and why. We also benchmark a baseline around spend, conversions, cost per conversion, and conversion rates so that we can evaluate our new campaign efforts.

Here’s what this looks like:

Note: Q1 2022 serves as the baseline in this example.

Once we have established a baseline, and have an understanding of the past campaign performance, we’ll create a plan based on the client’s KPIs. Depending on the client’s goals, our plan can vary. For example, the goal of lowering cost per lead vs driving more conversions can change our recommendations.

Step 2: Prescribe

The next step is to “prescribe” a plan to achieve the established goals. This plan can further be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Project Brief – Who is our ideal customer? Where do they spend time online? What pains are they experiencing and how does our product/service relieve that pain? How will they be better off after using our product/service?
  2. OKRs – What are the objectives we’re aiming for, and how can we measure if we’re on track?
  3. Scorecard – How are the new campaigns measuring against our target KPIs?
  4. Ad Briefs – What do the ads look like that we’ll be testing? What messaging will resonate the best? What images or videos will stop the scroll? Where will we send this traffic to post-click?
  5. CRO Improvements – How can we improve the conversion rate of the right prospects?

Here’s an example of a project brief we use with our clients. It’s a simple Google doc that we share amongst the team.

Step 3: Test

Testing is at the heart of everything we do here. Every client is unique, and campaigns will perform differently depending on the product/service, brand equity, offer, audience, and about a hundred other factors.

When we start a new ad campaign we’ll test different variations of each component of our ads to optimize for our KPIs. The main areas we test are:

  1. Audiences
  2. Messaging
  3. Creative

Test 1: Audiences

You can sell the best cheeseburgers in town, but your sales are going to come up short if your audience is a group of vegetarians.

With this in mind, the first thing we test in our campaigns are audiences. There are a variety of audiences we can test, the most common ones being:

  1. Uploaded lists of contacts or target accounts
  2. Lookalike audiences of your best customers, leads, or website traffic
  3. People who use a specific piece of software
  4. People who follow specific publications
  5. Ideal prospects based on their job function, seniority, and skillset

We’ll select 3-4 audiences to test our campaigns against and measure the results. From there we’ll take the winning audience(s) and move to the next step, message testing.

Test 2: Messaging

With messaging, it’s critical to know what stage of awareness your audience is at or else your offer isn’t going to hit.

Problem Aware? Speak to pain points and how your product/service alleviates that pain.

Solution Aware? Speak to your unique value props. How is your product/service better than what’s out there?

Product Aware? Highlight case studies, testimonials, and 3rd party reviews, and social proof.

Based on the awareness stage of our ideal customer, we’ll create 3-5 different variations of copy to test alongside our best audience(s).

After selecting our winning audiences along with our winning messages, we’ll move to our 3rd phase of testing – creative.

Test 3: Creative

In creative testing, we’re looking to stop the user’s scroll with an eye-catching creative and intriguing copy.

In the thousands of ads we’ve run, we’re often surprised which ad creative wins. Certain times a highly designed illustration wins, other times it’s a stock photo with a call to action.

We’ll take our winning audiences and messaging and create custom images that represent our messaging.

We’ll usually test 3 variations to start:

  1. Illustrative
  2. Photo
  3. Product 

Here are some of the ads we’ve run recently that really crushed the other variations.

After we have the winning ads out of the 30-40 variations we’ve tested, we’ll move on to the optimization step.

Step 4: Optimize

In a perfect world, we could turn our winning ads on and just let them run. But alas, it’s not so simple.

We need to continuously monitor and optimize our campaigns, ads, audiences, and conversions to ensure the machine is running smoothly.

Typical optimizations we make weekly are:

  1. Adjusting CPCs to drive more clicks for the budget
  2. A/B testing landing pages to improve conversion rates
  3. Reviewing quality metrics from the CRM to understand which campaigns are producing qualified leads
  4. Iterating on a new audience, messaging, and creatives
  5. Pausing underperforming ads
  6. Re-allocating budget to the best-performing ads

We run comprehensive reviews typically each week for all campaigns and make optimizations as needed. For new campaigns or those with large budgets, we’ll usually be reviewing daily until they are stable, then move over to reviewing weekly to ensure there has been enough activity to make decisions.

Step 5: Scale

Scaling happens when we’ve collected enough data to determine that a specific campaign type, channel, or offer is outperforming the rest.

We will then look at adjusting strategy to reduce or completely eliminate specific marketing channels, and re-allocate budget & resources to the campaigns bringing in the most revenue, opportunities, or leads.

The Scale step is where we see compounding results as we start to hyper-focus on the 20% of the campaigns bringing in 80% of the results.

We’ll typically review campaigns & strategies every 3 months depending on the project size to compare our strategy against the results we’ve seen,  then work with our clients on the next 90-day strategy plan.


If you’re looking for help building & scaling your paid ads strategy, you can schedule a free session to build out a marketing plan for you. 


Brandyn Morelli

B2B / SaaS Growth Marketer specializing in the technology space. I have an unhealthy obsession with data & analytics.