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The B2B Lead Gen Trends Set to Dominate in 2024

Published Date: Thursday, Jan 04, 2024
Last Updated on: Thursday, Jan 18, 2024
Marketing professional leading trends to dominate 2024.

Demand teams are traversing uncharted waters today.

Economic upheaval, coupled with rapid technology change and evolving buyer behaviors has aggressively shaken the market snowglobe – and effectively navigating these changes isn’t easy.

63% of marketers rank lead generation as their number one challenge – specifically, improving lead quality and conversion rates (54%) and generating more volume (41%). 

With the door wide open for creative lead generation strategy, today’s B2B marketing landscape calls for innovation – especially as 2024 brings its own set of market challenges. In this article, we’ll explore six trends to be aware of in 2024 and beyond.

Trend #1: Early signs of the MQL phase-out

Traditional lead gen approaches like marketing qualified leads (MQL), sales qualified leads (SQL) and BANT (budget, authority, need, timing) have been central to measuring success. Yet, as buyers have changed – both in the number of purchasing decision-makers and journey complexity – these processes have not evolved to match the current B2B landscape.

Our understanding of the modern demand funnel is changing. Individuals identified as “MQLs” are not buying alone, but as part of a broader demand unit representing multiple departments, roles and personas. According to Forrester, more than half of B2B buyers participated in consensus or committee purchasing scenarios in 2022. Yet, many organizations still adopt revenue processes that focus exclusively on single leads, signals or MQLs.

Key takeaway: Now, it’s no longer a question of if businesses leave MQLs behind but when and how. While most businesses are steadily switching mentality from cautious to highly curious, some opportunistic firms are reacting early – uniting marketers and sales reps under this new “buying group mentality.”
marketing team discussing marketing trends for 2024.

Trend #2: Content saturation and digital fatigue

Digital saturation reached a peak in 2023 as businesses continue to compete for their audience’s scarcest commodity: attention. In fact, 81% of U.S. CMOs believe their customers are suffering from digital fatigue and require more focused strategy to drive engagement, according LXAHub’s State of B2B Digital Experience 2023 report.

Despite its otherworldly advantages, generative AI hasn’t helped either. Marketing’s early AI experiments have led to mass-produced content, poorly personalized offers, or translations free from local dialect – further frustrating B2B buyers that are already overwhelmed by digital saturation and irrelevant content.

Key takeaway: As the use of ungated generative AI continues to accelerate, sales and marketing teams are likely to see further attrition to their digital efforts – and growing scepticism around AI-produced content. B2B marketers must look to engineer context-aware, brand-specific LLMs, fine-tuning AI output with target audience insights that guide personalization and add value at scale.

Trend #3: Millennial B2B buyers and expert demonstrations

Buyers aged 25 to 44 will make up 75% of business buying teams in 2024, according to Forrester’s Exploration Generates Progress report. This research suggests a continued shift from digital buying behaviors toward more personal connections – with product expert interactions more meaningful than all other in-person activities.

As millennial buyers increasingly shift to chief decision-making roles, generational differences will continue to alter B2B buying preferences. Successful sellers will need to bring product or service experts into the sales process earlier to build authority and drive lead engagement in the initial stages of the buying journey.

Key takeaway: 2024’s decision-makers will expect a smarter, more seamless sales process, built on expert demonstration and reduced reliance on the SDR. Leading sellers will need to take a backseat, forge effective partnerships with in-house and partner experts, and coordinate person-to-person buyer engagement as part of the lead gen process.
Marketing team working out how to use marketing trends for clients.

Trend #4: B2B and B2C tactics will continue to blur

B2B lead gen tactics have traditionally been geared toward dry, no-nonsense, educative consumption patterns. Marketers have relied on relationship-centric approaches, building trust and credibility through personalized consultations, thought-leadership content and focused demonstrations tailored to a potential customer’s specific pain points. 

With the democratization of AI and growing threat of content saturation, B2B buyers are showing signs of disconnect from these traditional approaches. Now the paradigm is shifting toward more emotional and evocative connections between business and decision-maker, similar to those seen in B2C. Inspirational brand factors – values, culture and vision – continue to outweigh table stakes like meeting specifications or acceptable pricing in B2B purchasing decisions.

Key takeaway: B2B buyers are actively making purchasing decisions based on brand, storytelling and cultural alignment. B2B marketers will turn toward emotional storytelling to build authentic relationships with ideal customers, using personal narratives to resonate, engage and inspire action.

Trend #5: Generative AI and hyperpersonalization

Generative AI has already rewritten the rulebook for content creation. Models like ChatGPT and DALL-E took center stage in 2023 as B2B marketers have looked to streamline content creation, enhance creativity and deliver more personalized outcomes for target accounts. In fact, 58% of marketers whose companies use generative AI for content creation said increased performance is the top benefit.

In 2024, businesses are expected to lean more heavily toward LLM-led output as they grapple with limited resources, time constraints and the need for hyperpersonalization at scale. Traditional “spray-and-pray” tactics are already seeing more meaningful performance returns, as businesses are automating content personalization based on individual traits and preferences – rather than broad customer segmentation or targeting parameters.

Key takeaway: With generative AI, marketers will streamline content creation and reduce the reliance on slow, manual creative output. There will be a continued reliance on tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E to create 1:1 personalized content for personas at every stage of the funnel – fueled by predictive analytics and lead progression.
Marketing team discussing AI as a marketing trend.

Trend #6: Changing privacy regulations

Data privacy will again stir up digital advertising tactics in 2024 as four new U.S. state laws are introduced, the EU undertakes a review of GDPR enforcement and Google phases out third-party cookies as part of its new Privacy Sandbox regime. To traverse these new market dynamics – and avoid legal tripwires – CMOs are already assigning a portion of 2024’s marketing budget to fund dedicated privacy resources and upskill existing team members. 

Despite a four-year warning (and consecutive delays), most B2B marketers are underprepared for the reality of cookie depreciation. Many are transitioning toward in-house first-party data to bridge the gap, though it remains to be seen whether they will have sufficient volume and depth to replicate pre-ban performance. It’s not just the regulatory landscape that’s tightening. As consumers become stricter around personal data privacy, it’s likely brands will shift from covert data capture policies to more honest, transparent and customer-controlled procedures. We expect a continued move toward zero-party data – information willingly provided by consumers, reflecting their preferences, interests and intent.

Key takeaway: 2024 will be a turbulent year on the data privacy front. Businesses will invest significantly in navigating new, uncharted waters with increased privacy headcount and test-and-learn approaches on the strategy side. Many will look to get more from their mountains of customer data by investing in new data cleanliness or enrichment initiatives.

Final thoughts

2024 promises a landscape ripe with opportunities for those willing to adapt and innovate. By keeping a finger on the pulse of these emerging trends and leveraging them strategically, businesses can not only navigate tomorrow’s challenges but also emerge as leaders in the dynamic and competitive B2B space. 

As we step into the future, the ability to predict and embrace change will be the cornerstone of success, ensuring that businesses not only survive but thrive in the era of tomorrow’s B2B lead generation.

Looking to hone your B2B lead generation strategy in 2024? Harte Hanks can help, Our global, full-service marketing and digital sales teams work at the intersection of analytics, technology and creativity to tackle your most difficult lead gen challenges. From breakthrough landing pages and social media strategy to high-impact ABM, our cutting-edge resource can help you unlock global market opportunities and your next best lead generation ROI.

Contact us today.