March 17, 2021

What are the best UK lead generation tactics in 2020?

Which lead generation tactics are driving the best results in the UK right now?

And how optimistic are business owners feeling about their marketing investment?

One of the advantages of having a nationwide network of part-time Marketing Directors is that we can survey them and ask these kinds of questions.

We recently surveyed our team to find what their clients were up to and how well it was working.

What did we learn?

  1. Email is the most popular lead generation tactic, followed by LinkedIn
  2. Businesses are spending more on marketing than they originally planned in their 2020 budget

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these and then share a few perspectives from our team.


Email and LinkedIn are the top lead generation tactics in the UK right now

Digital channels make up five out of six of the top lead generation tactics in our research. This isn’t exactly surprising. Almost all businesses have had to rely on digital more than they used to.

From online shopping to remote working to cashless payments, coronavirus has accelerated digital trends across the board.

What’s this data telling us?

This graph shows how important it is to have a large email subscriber base and to take care of the customer data in your CRM. Email marketing is a reliable source of income and the data in your CRM belongs to you, unlike social media followings which belong to the platform.

Ultimately, investing in your CRM and email marketing makes your business more resilient.

The data also highlights something that we’ve talked about a few times. All B2B businesses should be taking LinkedIn 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 generation channel. If you want to make better use of it, here are a few links that will help:

SMEs are feeling optimistic about their marketing investment

Some businesses put their marketing on hold when the coronavirus hit. Others carried on full-steam.

We’re now seeing that most businesses are investing in marketing again, with almost 90% spending the same amount or more than they’d originally planned for this quarter.


What’s this data telling us?

We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, but this data suggests that businesses are feeling optimistic about the second half of the year. They wouldn’t be investing in their marketing if they didn’t.

It also suggests that if you haven’t got back on the front foot with your marketing you may be losing ground to your competitors who have.

If you’re unsure about whether to invest, now might be a good time to do some competitor research and see what your competitors are up to.

Perspectives from our team

Alongside the surveys, we also spoke to members of our team from around the UK to see what they were seeing and hearing.

If you have any questions for them or want to learn more, drop them a line on LinkedIn. You can find links to their LinkedIn accounts in their bios.

Doubling down on webinars has worked for us

Pete Jakob – Marketing Director with The Marketing Centre

Pete works with businesses across the south of England. He’s also Marketing Director for The Marketing Centre in the UK. Connect on LinkedIn.


Alongside working with customers I manage The Marketing Centre’s marketing. Over the last few months we’ve hosted a series of sell-out webinars which have delivered great results for the business.

As a people-based company, webinars are a great way to showcase the calibre of the people on our team. We’ve seen that they’re able to create new opportunities and move stalled conversations forward.

There are a few things we’ve learned along the way.

Firstly, the importance of solving a real and specific problem. In our case, this was helping people to understand what they should do with their marketing after lockdown. You need to give people a clear reason for being there.

We also found that promoting the webinars too broadly on social media resulted in there being a lot of attendees who we were probably never going to work with. We then switched to a more targeted approach. This helped us reach more potential customers and start genuine sales conversations.

Updating our CRM proved to be the right decision

David Long – Marketing Director with The Marketing Centre

David is based in the South East and splits his time between B2B SaaS businesses and a DTC golf manufacturer. Connect on LinkedIn.

We didn’t stop marketing for a moment. In fact, we increased our output because we thought our competitors might slow down.

Working from home made our telemarketing impossible because we can’t reach people on their normal work numbers. So rather than calling someone who seemed interested, we’re now using emails and webinars to cover more of the funnel.

That’s been really interesting because our entry-level price is somewhere in the low £100,000s. I think people associate emails and webinars with lower price-points but we’ve ended up in a situation where we have more opportunities than sales can handle.

Two years ago we had a really poor CRM. We switched to Hubspot and now everybody totally sees the benefit of investing in our CRM and marketing automation and making sure they’re connected with the website. We’ve proved that doing this stuff works.

Things need to be more dynamic and tactical and ready to change now. Putting in a decent marketing automation and CRM system and making sure our data is correct has helped us stay agile.

Are you wondering if your CRM is right for your business? Here are a few links that will help:

Some salespeople have struggled to adapt

Robert Stead, Marketing Director with The Marketing Centre

Robert works with five B2B and technology businesses in the South East of England. Connect on LinkedIn.

Marketing has been transformed over the last few years, but this situation has highlighted that in many cases the sales transformation has hardly begun. A good example of this is salespeople’s reluctance to embrace LinkedIn.

I think there are salespeople who have historically been “stars in cars with big cigars” that have struggled to adapt and will continue to struggle in the future.

Sure, there will always be a need for face-to-face selling, but it will be much more targeted after this. The people who are waiting for their customers to return to the office so they can get back to pounding round the M25 are going to be disappointed when they realise their cheese has moved and it isn’t going back.

Sales are starting to take greater ownership of LinkedIn

Ged Leigh – Part-Time Marketing Director with The Marketing Centre

Ged is the Regional Director in the North of England and Scotland, he’s also a part-time marketing director in two B2B businesses. Connect on LinkedIn.

This has been a great opportunity to upskill salespeople, specifically around LinkedIn Sales Navigator and automation platforms. This stuff used to be marketing’s domain. But salespeople are starting to take more ownership of it.

I work with a client who has a sales team of three. Prior to COVID, marketing managed their LinkedIn profiles and activity. This was creating a lot of work for marketing and wasn’t ideal in terms of results.

Now the sales team have been upskilled to do it themselves and their output has massively increased. They’ve seen a real uplift in relevant connections and leads generated, although it’s too early to put proper numbers to this.

Traditionally, a lot of salespeople didn’t think much about digital. But now there’s a much deeper understanding of the technology, so they feel more comfortable – and they’re seeing the results.

Our sales teams are pushing marketing to create more content and run more LinkedIn campaigns. This used to be driven by marketing so that’s a real difference.

If you’d like to learn more, check out our Marketing Matters video on using LinkedIn to find and engage with new customers.

Which lead generation tactics are working for you right now?

Are you seeing lead generation success with email or LinkedIn right now? Or do you have another tactic that’s working wonders?

Feel free to drop me a line on LinkedIn if you have any questions or want to share your thoughts.

Look forward to hearing from you.

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.

See more content from The Marketing Centre here.

Newsletter Sign Up

Newsletter Sign Up

Get regular insights direct to your inbox.