How to Grow Your Business With Lead Generation and Marketing Automation

How to Use Lead Generation and Marketing Automation for B2B

Lead generation and marketing automation go together like bacon and eggs. 

Or unicorns and glitter.

Or rock and roll.

That last one rings particularly true because lead generation and marketing automation are most powerful when applied together as part of an inbound marketing strategy. These two marketing practices are critical to growing your business, and what marketing director, CEO or small business owner doesn’t want to grow?

Here, we’ll tackle common questions about lead gen and discuss our favorite marketing automation platform (hint: OBI Creative is a Hubspot certified agency) so you can learn from our experience and apply it to your unique situation.

What is Lead Generation?

We’re glad you asked. The answer to that question starts by answering another one — “what is a lead?” 

A lead is someone who shows interest in your products or services in some way. A lead is not a visitor. A lead is not a customer. A lead is a person somewhere in your sales cycle.

As Hubspot explains, not all leads are created equal.

Types of Leads

Examples of leads include:

  • Someone who sees a post on Facebook and clicks through to visit your landing page 
  • Someone who sees an ad on Instagram and clicks to visit your landing page and fills out a form to receive a special coupon or other offers from your company, brand or organization
  • Someone who fills out a form asking a question about one of your products or services, inviting a sales associate to respond with information
  • Someone who tries a product or service for free and then shows interest in becoming a paying customer

These are all different types of leads at various points in the buyer’s journey. How you engage with them differs, but all engagement efforts would be considered lead generation.

Lead generation is a process.

It involves attracting strangers to your brand. Piquing their interest with content that addresses their needs, curiosities and pain points comes next in the lead gen process. Lead generation ends when a lead becomes a paying customer. 

Content you use to attract, or generate, leads may include:

  • Blog posts
  • White papers
  • eBooks
  • Job applications
  • Coupons
  • Events

These pieces (and the dozens more you could create) are most effective as part of an inbound marketing strategy. We’ve written at length about inbound marketing elsewhere (Check out our eBook on the secret to creating content that converts to see how to apply inbound marketing at your business.)

Lead generation is more powerful as part of an inbound marketing strategy.

We believe in inbound marketing for ourselves and our clients. 


Because inbound marketing puts the customer at the heart of all your marketing efforts. That’s the essential element that makes it so profitable.

Inbound marketing and the content you create within your inbound marketing strategy starts with your customer, not your brand. It does so by addressing the needs, wants, interests, fears and pain points of your customers. 

There’s an infinite amount of content on the Internet.

You can try to capture lightning in a bottle with content that starts trending, or you can get to know your customers really, really well and create content that’s not only relevant, but attractive, to them

That’s the secret sauce of inbound marketing. It attracts leads and moves them through the buyer journey, keeping them engaged up to (and beyond) the point at which they become paying customers.

What is Marketing Automation and How Does it Fit in With Lead Generation?

Marketing automation is a combination of software and strategy that helps you convert leads into paying customers. It puts your lead generation efforts on steroids, ramping them up to achieve better results than you could manually.

Let’s consider a drip marketing campaign as an example of how marketing automation aids lead gen efforts.

After developing customer personas and hammering out an inbound marketing strategy to deliver relevant content to them, let’s say you decide to create a series of 18 emails delivered over 6 months to each lead based on his or her persona group. 

You write all the content and get it ready to go with additional resources that immerse your leads deeper and more fully into your brand until they are ready to become paying customers.

At this point, you can open Gmail, schedule the emails, and track replies, but that would quickly turn into a nightmare. 

Marketing automation software, including Hubspot, which we use at OBI Creative to implement campaigns and monitor their success, automates the sending of the emails and the tracking of responses to them.

Why Marketing Automation Platforms Rock

Robust marketing automation platforms like Hubspot let you load your content and contacts (leads and customers) in and gather valuable insight into who they are, their needs and how you can intersect them with your products and services. 

One of the things we love about Hubspot is the insight its marketing automation platform provides into the contacts who engage with our inbound marketing campaigns. We can see:

  • how someone found us,
  • what pages they visited,
  • what they engaged with on our landing pages,
  • what forms they filled out 
  • and much, much more.

We can also see a chronological record of their interactions with us. When coupled with a complete view of their job titles, companies and more, we are able to gain a 360 degree view of every lead and customer, which helps us address their needs and market to them successfully.

How NOT to Think of Marketing Automation

If you are experiencing a downturn in sales or profits, it’s easy to think a marketing automation platform will solve your problems and magically create bottom-line results. 

It won’t.

Marketing automation platforms aren’t like magic beans that lead to castles of gold in the sky.

Don’t think of marketing automation as a funnel to facilitate more efficient flow of prospects. While it helps with that, marketing automation is a flywheel, not a funnel.

Your leads are at the center and all your inbound marketing activities revolve around them. As you use marketing automation to reduce points of friction, a smooth experience helps paying customers roll in. 

There’s a lot more that could be said about lead generation and marketing automation. If you’re ready to learn more about these topics or inbound marketing more holistically, check out our eBook on how to create content that converts. We packed it with useful tools, tips and information to help you create profitable marketing campaigns. 

Feeling overwhelmed? OBI Creative is here to help. Start a conversation with us today about how we can help you achieve your marketing and business goals.



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Kevin Hutchison

Vice President of Client Relations and Business Development



Ann Pedersen

Director of Strategic Communications and Public Relations