Studies have shown—and most marketers can confirm—that in the B2B world, producing qualified leads is a marketer’s biggest challenge. But it doesn’t have to be so daunting – there are a variety practices that you can follow to help you simplify the process and generate qualified B2B leads for your sales team to close without your stress levels going through the roof.
The Foundation of a Lead Generation Strategy
One of the most essential practices is understanding your target audience and using that knowledge to design buyer personas that guide your content every step of the way. You need to know your audience’s pain points, challenges, and goals in order to provide content that will convert leads. And marketing should always work hand-in-hand with sales in gaining and applying this knowledge.
Creating buyer personas is an important first step, so here are a few best practices:
- Use Your Customer Data: A great place to start when creating personas is to look at your current customer’s data. Identify any trends or patterns, such as demographics or job titles.
- Ditch Assumptions: Only create buyer personas based off actual data. Plenty of marketers will tell you that their initial assumptions about their audience were wrong.
- Use Forms to Capture Relevant Information: Make sure your forms are only asking for relevant information, such as job title, company size, and industry. Use this information to make important insights about your leads.
- Involve Your Sales Team: More than likely, your sales team has significant insights into the leads and customers they’ve interacted with. They can provide generalizations about the different types of customers they’ve served.
Before you can optimize your lead generation strategy, you also need to understand the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is a three-step process that buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service.
Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes that they have a problem or challenge, but may not be able to pinpoint it.
Consideration Stage: The buyer has clearly defined their problem and researches solutions. They evaluate the different approaches and methods to solving that problem.
Decision Stage: The buyer is ready to choose a solution that best meets their needs and goals. They compare different brand options before determining which one to go with.
What else can you do to help generate more qualified B2B leads and shorten the sales cycle? Besides avoiding common B2B lead generation mistakes, here are 6 tactics that will help draw in the leads your sales team wants to speak with.
1. Make Your Website Work For Your Business
Your website is one of the most powerful tools you have for generating qualified B2B leads. It is the home for content pieces your target audience will find of value. It offers a number of points for converting a site visitor into a lead. And it gives you a place to showcase your expertise and thought leadership.
Check out Gusto.com for an example of a company that’s doing their website right.
The Gusto homepage welcomes visitors with a short and straightforward explanation of what the company offers, and an even shorter form. And did you notice the calls to action? They’re bold and descriptive—noticeable and intriguing.
Here are some key website practices that will help your website generate qualified leads:
Be clear about your offering
You want visitors to immediately understand exactly what service or product you offer upon reaching your site. Using the right keywords will not only help visitors gain this understanding, it’ll also help improve your ranking in search engine results.
Guide your visitors along the buyer journey with effective calls to action
A good call to action describes an appealing offer that your target audience wants. Use CTAs to lead your site visitors to gated content (like an ebook, whitepaper, industry report, checklist, etc.) that they’ll need to fill out a form in order to access.
And on that note…
Keep your forms short and relevant
Shorter forms with approximately 3-5 fields have been shown to create more conversions than longer forms, depending on where the lead is in the buyer journey. When you’re designing your forms, also consider what information you should ask for. For example, if the lead is in the Awareness stage, then you should only ask for the most crucial information (name, email address, role, etc.) If the lead is in the Decision stage, then you can ask for additional information, like company name, budget, number of employees, etc.
Remember: you’ll only get leads if they fill out your forms. So give them a good reason and make it easy for them to do so.
2. Do Content Marketing Right
Nowadays, you need to do content marketing in order to attract relevant B2B leads. Everyone is consuming content—as shown by the vast amounts of content being uploaded to the web daily. Content from companies is how today’s buyer educates himself and begins to make his purchasing decisions. With so much content available to buyers, it’s important to have a strong content marketing strategy.
Your content gives you a great opportunity to convert leads. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to do content marketing right by following these guidelines:
Attract Your Audience With Relevant Content
Your content needs to be relevant to your target audience. This means it should educate them on a topic of interest or concern to them, or entertain them, or help them solve a problem. Your target audience and its needs and pain points should guide what content you create and offer. After all, if the content you’re offering isn’t of interest to your target audience, you won’t get the right people clicking through and providing their details in order to access it.
Experiment With Different Content Formats
Change it up. People tend to think of blogs when they hear the term “content,” but content can take many forms. Create a variety of content types, including videos, infographics, ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, industry reports, checklists, etc. You can design campaigns around these content pieces that include dedicated landing pages describing the content piece and housing a form for downloading it.
For example, we created a campaign around our free ebook “The 30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks & Ideas” (download it here!). Here’s a snapshot of the landing page we used, which includes a concise description and form, and an effective call to action:
Guide Your Audience
Use sequential content offers. A great way to increase qualified B2B leads is by guiding prospects along a path with content pieces that become increasingly more valuable. Consider this path a “pain point puzzle” where the pieces you’re providing include videos, quizzes, ebooks, infographics and more. Make sure that the content you create is not only specific to your buyer personas, but also to the different stages in the buyer’s journey. Make use of content creation tools like Canva, Animoto, and PlayBuzz to make content that’s more appealing and engaging.
3. Use Email Marketing To Guide Leads Through The Buyer Journey
Lead nurturing via email marketing will go an extremely long way towards maximizing the results of your lead generation strategy. By implementing an email marketing strategy, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to create a relationship with your leads through which you can continually provide valuable content and improve the chances of turning them into customers.
Nowadays, one of the best ways to approach email marketing is through marketing automation, which combines email marketing with your customer relationship management (CRM) system to give you an overall understanding of your leads’ behavior and of what marketing efforts work and what don’t. Depending on your company size, some marketing automation tools you could use are Marketo, Customer.io, and Eloqua.
HubSpot is one of the most powerful (and most popular) marketing automation platforms for lead nurturing. With marketing automation, you can use each lead's behavior to tailor emails, content, offers, and outreach at scale.
HubSpot users can easily create workflows that automate lead nurturing tasks based on a starting condition (such as when a contact fills out a form or registers for a webinar). You can then set up steps or actions that occur automatically based on your workflow settings, such as sending the contact a welcome email or notifying an internal team member to reach out.
4. Be SOCIAL On Social Media
If you’re currently using social media as a platform for publishing self-promotional announcements, it’s high time to change your ways. Social media can be a great lead generation tool if used the right way, with the key being to engage.
Not every social media channel will be appropriate for your company, but most B2B marketers find that LinkedIn is the most effective channel for generating B2B leads. But you can’t simply join LinkedIn (or any other platform) and sit back and expect results. You have to be active and social in order to get social media to work for you as a lead generation tool.
Join the groups that your prospects are in and make a presence for yourself there by asking and answering questions. Engage in conversations, offer your expertise and build relationships with people. As you become a more engaged member of the community, you’ll begin to attract interest from the people you want to reach.
As you focus on using social media marketing to generate leads, make sure you keep the effort going. It’ll hurt your efforts to make a push on social media and then disappear. Have a dedicated team member who can handle your social media community management and take care of regularly staying in conversation online.
5. Become A Guest Blogger To Get More Exposure For Your Brand
When it comes to blogging, you’ll want to do more than focus solely on your own company blog. Guest posting is an important lead generation tactic that will increase your exposure and help position you as a thought leader.
Writing guest posts that address common questions your prospects have can give you a chance to provide real value and gain points with readers who haven’t checked out your website yet (or even those who haven’t ever heard of you). You’ll also gain points with your prospects by being published on the sites they already visit and trust. Another benefit of guest blogging is that it creates links back to your website and helps drive traffic.
If you’re just getting started with guest blogging, check out our post, “6 Tips for Doing Guest Blogging Right” for more information and tips.
6. Have Your Inbound And Outbound Marketing Strategies Join Forces
B2B lead generation efforts should always focus largely on inbound strategies, like the ones we discussed here. But that doesn’t mean you should take the spotlight off of outbound marketing strategies altogether.
A winning approach to B2B lead generation is combining your inbound marketing strategies with outbound marketing. You can supplement your inbound marketing strategies with activities like attending industry trade shows and networking events. Other outbound marketing tactics include PPC campaigns and other paid channels that can help generate demand. By diversifying your techniques, you’ll maximize the results of your lead generation strategy.
Do you want more suggestions on how to successfully generate qualified B2B leads? Download our free ebook “The 30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks & Ideas”!