B2B Lead Generation is not very straightforward
Only 39% of B2B companies have a formal marketing plan in place. Between lack of resources and funding, many B2B marketers are having challenges with developing a marketing plan that enables their business to meet its B2B lead generation goals. Not all marketing strategies are created equal and there isn’t a one size fits all methodology when it comes to B2B marketing. So, what really works for you is a product of research, strategizing, trial and error, and ultimately, a continuous process of fine-tuning your marketing framework (statista).
Quantity vs. Quality: A shift in mindset
There is a belief in the sales and marketing world that more leads = more sales. Can fewer leads = more sales? Absolutely. That is not to say that aiming for more leads is a bad thing or that you shouldn’t focus on that. In B2B marketing, lead quality is crucial to your sales effectiveness. So, your focus really should be on driving quality first. Many marketers are too focused on how many leads they get that they often lose sight of the tactics that get them the qualified leads that end up becoming customers.
At a very high level, your prospects essentially fall into two buckets, ready-to-buy and not-ready-to-buy. Your ready-to-buy prospects are finite at any given point. There is a certain amount of people who are actually ready to buy on the spot. And capturing them effectively is something you need to master. However, there is much more growth potential beyond that and your business won’t really tap into its growth potential if you don’t master the other category aka the not-ready-to-buy category.
The other belief that is quite common, is that focusing on quality will compromise quantity and vice versa. It really depends on your lead generation framework. In many cases, yes, that could be true. But in several cases, its far from the truth when you look at your qualified lead as a process, not an outcome. Just like it takes time to convert a prospect, it also takes time to convert someone into a qualified lead. So, generating 1,000 leads at a given month doesn’t mean they are all actually qualified. What you do with them from that point forward, is what determines how much more qualified leads you can tap into and the end result is that you will have a stream of qualified leads, part, from your monthly new lead generation activities and part, from your existing leads base that is going through your marketing funnel.
A great example of how a company nailed quality and quantity is Proposify when they launched their Agencies Drinking Beers podcast that was later turned into Proposify Biz Chat. The company initially gained high levels of engagement by focusing on their target audience’s interest and later reframing the podcast to link it to their product.
Create a full funnel frictionless customer experience
Capturing attention doesn’t cut it anymore. The game has shifted to how you keep your prospects’ attention and how to establish a truly engaging and compelling journey. What does it take to create a funnel experience that moves your audience seamlessly through it?
Focus on content consumption. People consuming more content in a single session, are 2.4 times (Source: pathfactory.com) more likely to be sales accepted. Email marketing works and is essential but, in a world, where click-through rates are dropping, and attention is decreasing, you need to focus on people consuming more content once you get their attention. Netflix is renowned for the content binging strategy they developed. Once you finish watching an episode or a movie, they offer you to watch the next one based on some smart algorithms that obviously work.
What you need to ask yourself is, are people consuming content of competitors after they engage with yours? Most likely they are. And so, keeping them engaged with you as long as possible especially on the first encounter will dramatically impact your conversions. If they leave quickly, they simply didn’t find what they were looking for. So, your customer journey should revolve around solving their problem and not selling to them. If you are solving your problem, you are undoubtedly much more likely to convert them.
Improve your Audience targeting
Viewing your business as a product or service vs. as a solution to people’s problems is a major perspective change that enables a lot of marketers to improve their audience targeting and can have a direct positive impact on your B2B lead generation efforts. For example, if you offer accounting tools, your primary audience is accountants. But is that it? Your tools are essentially solving a set of problems like productivity, transparency, collaboration, accuracy, etc. In that view, your audience is well beyond accountants. It will include business owners, auditors, financial controllers, project managers, etc.
SEO & SEM are obviously go-to channels because they play on people’s explicit intent but display targeting is a quite important piece of the puzzle. B2B buyers will more likely need to engage with you several times before they buy. Therefore, targeting your visitors according to their browsed pages on your websites and topics, with relevant ads and landing pages, will have more positive outcomes.
Develop laser sharp content marketing strategy
91% of B2B marketers have used content marketing in 2017 but only 53% said their content marketing strategy was successful (statista).
The best content marketers understand something most people don’t. They know why customers and prospects consume content and how to drive higher quality content consumption. More importantly, they know how to convert consumption to sales.
How much content is too much? And what drives your content quality?
The 3 stages of the Content journey
Your content is essentially categorized into 3 main stages.
This is the 1st touch point content that starts the user journey. This is typically non-gated content that is purely educational and value-focused. You are really educating people on the problem your product or service is solving.
This is the content that creates awareness and increases the engagement levels with your business as you continue to educate them about the topic. Many businesses use gated content at this stage to gather more information about their prospect as they take them through the funnel.
Your hot prospects might land on this type of content straight away and your other prospects might go through landing and nurture content first before they get to this point. Your conversion content is where you explicitly pitch your product or service as well as demos and free trials and try-before-you-buy type of pitches. Conversion content is essentially the last touch content that results in a conversion.
Content suggestion based on users’ preferences and interests is tactic companies like youtube have notoriously used to amplify engagement on their platforms. E-commerce platforms are also a great example of how to use personalised recommendations. A B2B business is no different in their need to engage their prospects through a personalized experience and in that case, more relevant content. If a prospect lands on your blog or a specific article, having a recommendation widget that suggests relevant content may not only increase engagement but also speed up the sales conversion cycles. Your recommendation engine can go from simply showing more articles in the same category to suggestions based on demographics, engagement metrics, location, and other information gathered that correlate with buyer personas.
Strategize based on your goals/KPIs
ROI, the one metric that matters, is not measured by half of B2B marketers or at least lacks structured and accurate measurement. How do you accurately attribute and measure the impact of content marketing? What other secondary metrics that you need to keep a close eye on?
ROI = Revenue Generated / (Production Cost + Distribution Cost)
Your production cost is pretty much your content and creative and your distribution cost is pretty much the cost of digital advertising. Your attribution should be directly factored in your ROI equation as well as you can’t attribute the revenue generated from a conversion to one single ad or piece of content.
Reporting: Monitor the numbers that matter
The far majority of B2B customer journeys are multi-touch. How do you measure and attribute the different touch points and channels to find out what is working and what is not?
The concept of paid credit is quite important, especially in the B2B marketing world. Paid credit refers to counting every single interaction the user had with a specific channel. This is different from assisted conversions which don’t factor the unique number of interactions. A customer who visited 2 times through Google search ads and 4 times through display, with a total of 6 touches will be given 67% paid credit for display ads. Extrapolating this on a campaign and channel level, your decision making can be dramatically changed as to where and how much to invest.
Case Study: Capterra’s road to 1 Million visits
Capterra has gone through a 5 years journey of fine-tuning its strategy to get it right and essentially get 1 million visits a month. You can check out the details of how they did it on Capterra’s blog (blog.capterra.com). One of the main factors they attribute to their success was to have a written content strategy that covered the following:
- Goals and how to measure them
- Types of content
- Content distribution
- Content promotion
What’s interesting about them is how they viewed their content’s impact on their audience and how they changed their content strategy from trying to cast a wider net through content that is useful, authoritative and entertaining to content that ‘understand their needs and pain points, even the ones your product doesn’t address directly’.