When it comes to B2B lead generation there are loads of strategies to choose from. The challenge lies in ensuring you’re focusing all of your energies (and precious budget) on the ones that will get results.
But how do you know which to go for and what’s going to be the best use of your time?
In 2016, the key focus for sales and marketing teams was to put the customer at the centre of everything. And that hasn’t changed, it’s as important today as ever. To get this type of business model right takes great care, preparation and planning. Plus, you need to dedicate enough time to it, to enable teams to make an effective transition into this new way of working and generating leads.
For businesses who are just starting out and building their sales and marketing teams, it’s just as important to get the right mix of people together from the beginning. But this can also be tricky, without any existing data to call on, or results to compare against.
With the myriad of options that B2B sales and marketing directors are faced with and high expectations over the leads they will generate and convert, it’s no surprise that stress levels often run high.
So, what should you be focusing on – which are the strategies that really work?
We’ve searched the web to see what some of the most successful organizations are doing. Together with our own experience of working with B2B teams, we’re going to share with you here, what we believe are some of the best practice strategies for 2017 and beyond.
Stop doing what doesn’t work!
The options for B2B marketers are broad and varied, so don’t worry if you feel a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do for the best. Always bear in mind that what works for one organization might not work for another.
When you’re first starting out, all you can do is make some educated guesses about what may work, then run campaigns around your assumptions.
Once you have the results back, you can then analyze them and start making more informed decisions. Just remember, some strategies will take a considerable amount of time to get established - content marketing, for example. Depending on how your campaigns are structured, what content you produce and what your conversion path is, you may not see any results coming through for quite some time.
In the long run, content marketing can work for almost any business. It’s just that in some cases, it will take longer to pinpoint the most effective way to use it.
To answer that question, you need to examine the trends. If your analytics show that web traffic coming from Google searches is on the increase, then that’s a good trend for you to work with. Consider committing more in this area, as if it’s working for you and you ramp it up, then your results could be even better.
In the same way, if you have a landing page and no matter how much you tweak and change, it just doesn’t produce better results, then you know it’s time to find a better tactic.
The entertainment industry has a saying “kill your darlings”, which basically means there comes a time when a director/author needs to let their favorite characters go.
This analogy works extremely well in a B2B marketing context, as we all have our ‘darlings’ – a favorite way of working, or tactic we prefer. But there may come a time when we too need to kill that particular ‘darling’, especially when the numbers show they aren’t working. That’s the time to take a step back and look at the overall picture.
‘How’ versus ‘what’
Every tool can be used in several different ways. The key question is, what’s going to be the most effective way to use it to achieve the outcome you desire? Again, this analogy works for B2B lead generation too. Is email better than SEO? Should social media come top of the list? What about content marketing versus inbound marketing?
Our clients at Lead Forensics use many different types of lead generation strategies and in all sorts of combinations. How successful they are, depends on how well the tactics are being used.
With email campaigns for example, you could develop extremely high converting nurturing campaigns. However, you could also end up spamming thousands of people, if you don’t get the balance right.
In the same, if you are focused on taking a customer centric approach then your campaigns will automatically be different to what they may otherwise have been. Your emails will be worded differently, as your entire strategy will follow a different style.
The best strategy of them all…
… will always be one that you can follow through, with the budget and time you have available.
If you simply don’t have the resources to carry out a full-blown content marketing plan and you end up posting just once or twice a month, then don’t bother. Find a different way to build your audience.
Perhaps start with a well composed LinkedIn Company Page, so you are better able to showcase your expertise. Combine it with sharing expert articles written by your top employees and you may well score big.
Always have at least one conversion offer on your website that your activity will lead back to, and throw in some retargeting too. You may end up never needing to worry about building a blog, or at least not in the beginning while things get going.
The B2B lead generation strategies that always work
There are six key strategies that have already proven their worth and which are standing the test of time, they are:
We now live in a content-driven world. Every business needs content – and lots of it! But not just any content, it needs to be high quality, interesting and relevant for the target audience. How much you produce and where you use it is up for discussion, but you won’t get far without it.
For B2Bs in particular, this tactic can be vital for your ongoing lead nurturing. You’re basically aiming to generate leads, to qualify them, nurture them and build up the relationship, so you’re top of mind when they finally reach the decision-making stage. Email is often central to this process.
For some organizations, big events are still effective. For others, smaller self-hosted in-person events will work better. Either way, in B2B sales nothing is more valuable than scoring some quality, face-to-face time with prospects and pursuing networking opportunities.
There has been some debate about whether webinars are still worth doing, but it is a tactic that’s far from dead. Sometimes in-person events are simply not feasible and the second best option will be to host a webinar. If it’s well executed and contains truly valuable information that makes participants’ feel their time has been well spent, then it could be worth its weight in gold.
In B2B, you’ll often find niche areas of the internet. A well thought through SEO campaign can be used to target specific keywords that may not be searched for often, but which are highly targeted. That will put you ahead of the game. Yes, some topics are overcrowded on the internet, but many niche B2B topics are not. And B2B purchasers do their research online just like the rest of us, so make sure you have great case studies ready on your website.
B2Bs often find it hard to get social media right. However, showing an approachable, ‘social’ side of the business can work wonders. People buy from people. The impression you create can have influence – plus, the targeting capabilities that social media offers means you’d be missing a huge trick not to at least try. Experiment with social ads if nothing else.
A lead is a lead - or is it?
When talking about B2B lead generation strategies for 2017 and beyond, one key element that needs to be addressed is the issue of lead quality.
The worst answer you can ever give to the question “who is your product for?” is “it’s for everyone”. Even if you are offering the best product in the world, it will never be something that every home and business needs.
Trying to generate leads by marketing to everyone is practically impossible. You need to take a targeted approach if you’re to get results. Even if your product is for a wide audience, you need to break that audience down into segments. Look at particular interest groups, or use different demographics such as geographical location. Anything that makes sense.
Contrast the appeal of these two statements:
1 - “We have all the cleaning solutions your business will ever need”
2 - “We specialize in heavy duty cleaning solutions designed for your manufacturing floor”
You get the idea. By making the campaigns more focused and more targeted, it makes it easier for prospects to identify with you and think “yes, I need this product”. That will lead to better qualified leads coming through.
Targeting the right type of leads is the first step, then qualifying them effectively is the next. Avoid these common lead scoring mistakes and keep analyzing your data to continually improve what you’re doing. Build a strong conversion path where every conversion point helps qualify a lead.
A united team wins
And don’t forget to look at how you’re working. If you can get your customer facing teams to start working together to outline and create your buyer journey, the results will astonish you. Word of mouth will increase, simply because people like to be treated with respect. Once, all your campaigns and sales strategies are aligned, it will shine through.
The same is true of your marketing mix. Yes, online lead generation is going to continue to be a big deal in 2017 and beyond, but don’t forget about your other activity. Consider both outbound and offline strategies, and how to get them working together. There’s an easy way to start - invite your online contacts to an offline event and connect with people you meet offline through the online world. Make it a two-way street.
Sales team bonus tip
Lead Forensics is a tool that can help your conversions skyrocket. With our software, your lead generation will increase dramatically. Just look at the success that our clients have had and you will see it is a win-win situation. Being able to contact a lead at the right time is key to sales success. Thanks to our software, you can do just that. It will help you identify all the businesses visiting your website, while offering you unique insights that allow you to tailor your pitch and make it the strongest it can be. Together, what this all means is that you have a clear advantage over the competition. See for yourself and request a free demo today.