Landing a steady supply of new customers, while making sure you keep hold of your existing ones, is the foundation of any healthy business. And at the heart of it all – key to success and achieving sustained growth – is the leads you are generating.
So, how do you go about producing the stream of solid leads you need to build a strong client base?
Thanks to the internet and all the advances that have been made in technology, there are now countless different strategies that marketers can put into action. You don’t need to rely on cold calling and bought-in contact lists, working your way through hundreds of names to try and find the one who may be interested.
The journey B2B buyers now go on before making a purchasing decision has also changed beyond recognition. Modern buyers know their stuff. They will research and assess a problem and its solutions, long before ever speaking to a potential vendor.
The role of sales and marketing is no longer one of informing buyers and holding all the data. It’s about helping potential purchasers steer their way through all the information they’re faced with, to come to the right solution for their individual needs.
The most successful teams recognize all this and are embracing new ways of working that lead prospects to come to them, rather than the other way around. They aren’t being disruptive and forcing their way in front of the target market.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at some of the hottest lead generation strategies around and how to use them to achieve the maximum impact.
Online lead generation
The growth in digital marketing has been a game-changer when it comes to modern lead generation strategies. Online tactics are now firmly on the agenda for most businesses and can be a highly effective route to take.
The most important thing to bear in mind with online lead generation is that it isn’t necessarily a quick fix. There is a lot of trial and error involved which might take some time to get right. But in the long run, it can prove far cheaper and more fruitful.
- 9 step action plan for B2B lead generation on a small budget
- A quick start guide for online lead generation
Content marketing continues to cause waves in the marketing community. Put simply, it is about producing and promoting various forms of content (usually digital content) that are designed to help you fulfil your business goals.
The idea is to offer high-quality content that will be of interest and relevant to your potential buyers, at each stage of the buyer journey – awareness, consideration and decision making. It can also be helpful for the post-purchase stage and looking after existing customers.
The content should offer the answers and information that a buyer will be looking for at each one of these stages. Then help nurture them along until they’re finally ready to be handed over to sales.
With content marketing, the key to success is to recognize it’s about quality, not quantity. It takes a well-thought-through strategy, high-quality content and following a process of review and refine, to ensure any campaign achieves the maximum impact. The more activity you do and the better the content you produce, the quicker your results will be.
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Email marketing is still one of the most popular and effective tactics around. It is a way to generate brand awareness, start and maintain relationships, build loyalty and make the most of cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
However, buyers nowadays are savvy and there are lines that should never be crossed – the last thing you ever want to be thought of is spam! That means anything you send out needs to tick some important boxes. It needs to be interesting, relevant, high quality, visually attractive and tailored to the individual.
Companies like Amazon are masters at personalization and many lessons can be learned from them. The more tailored you can make any communications you send out, the more effective your campaigns will be.
You also need to consider things like email length, what call to action will be included and how often you will send out the emails. Plus, you always need to keep a close eye on the numbers (who reads it, who clicked through, who flagged you as spam), so you are constantly improving what you do.
Social media lead generation
Social media is a big deal in modern marketing circles, with billions of users around the world and more people signing up every day.
While sites such as Facebook may not appear at first glance to be the place for B2B lead generation, they actually deserve some serious consideration. The huge audience numbers they command and the tools they now offer mean that you can be highly targeted with any campaign you run. Something few, if any, other platforms can match.
The best advice for any business when it comes to using social media for B2B lead generation is to choose a few sites and focus on doing them really well. There is one golden rule that will affect your success and that’s making sure you dedicate enough time and resources to make it work. There’s no point having a company profile page if you’re not active and visible – interacting, sharing and posting regularly.
Just remember, it’s ‘social’ media. People aren’t going on there to buy and with their work head screwed on. They’re on there to interact, catch up, vent, share, gossip, learn, laugh and form connections. It’s just not the place to try and sell directly.
Your aim must be to engage with people. If you do nothing but talk about your business and your products, then you won’t have an audience for very long.
- How effective social media lead generation works
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No other marketing activity will ever be as effective as getting face-to-face with a potential prospect. After all, people buy from people. If you can make a great impression and forge a connection, then you won’t go far wrong in getting a working relationship started.
How well a prospect feels they will get on with you and what they believe it may be like to work with your company, will be just as important (if not more so) than the price tag.
So, it’s probably no surprise that in the past, exhibiting at trade shows formed a central part of many B2B’s marketing plans. However, it’s often substantial investment in terms of time, money and resources, and even if the event is very niche, it will be little different from cold calling names on a list.
But trade shows aren’t the only kind of event marketing you could look to do. There are all sorts of options, from hosting your own to tying up with a company in the same space or speaking at someone else’s event.
One of the most powerful scenarios you can aim for is to get prospects in a room together with your top sales reps and some of your current (and happy) clients. Nothing sells a company like a recommendation or hearing genuine feedback from a real client. This type of in-person event may take a lot of work and resources to pull off, but could ultimately be worth its weight in gold.
- Choosing the best event marketing strategy for your business
- Why in-person events remain so effective for B2B lead generation
- In-person B2B event hacks for small budgets
- Tips for planning a successful in-person marketing event
Account-based marketing (ABM)
This strategy is the ultimate in targeted marketing. It’s about aiming sales and marketing activity at specific, named accounts within a target market.
Key to its success is first finding out who the decision-makers are, before researching and pulling together as much information about them as possible, to enable the creation of a highly tailored approach.
From offering a custom-designed program to ensuring full personalization of marketing messages and all other communications, it’s a strategy that has proven to be highly effective for many B2Bs.
- Top tips for using account-based marketing to drive B2B sales
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The power of PR lies in the fact that it carries a kind of third-party endorsement. A journalist has deemed the information they’ve been sent by a company to be accurate and worthy of inclusion, which gives the content added weight.
Media nowadays is having to figure out its place in the new digital world and PR techniques have had to evolve alongside. But whether it’s online, print or broadcast media, journalists will always need news to write about. So, PR remains a core tactic for modern lead generation and raising brand awareness.
The key to successful PR is replicating the style of any media outlet you are aiming at. You need to make it quick and easy for a journalist to use your story and instantly see it will be a good fit for the publication. Make sure anything you send out is well written and newsworthy, finding a balance between news and the key company messages you’re trying to promote.
Native Content Advertising
Native ads are growing in popularity and can be seen popping up all over the place – especially on social media sites such as Facebook. The idea is to pay for content to be featured that fits exactly with the style and feel of the target publication.
Native advertising can come in many different shapes and sizes and includes promoted tweets on Twitter and suggested posts on Facebook.
Unlike advertorials, which have been around a long time and are more like infomercials in style, native ads should offer the reader something of value. They should be high quality, relevant and interesting, with no hard sales pitch. They may not even mention the product or company at all – a concept that can be difficult to grasp for some.
Any calls to action need to be incredibly subtle as you generally shouldn’t be aiming to directly sell, but to start conversations.
- Digital Ad Decisions – Native Content Advertising Vs Paid Social Media
- Your Go-To Guide To Getting Ahead With B2B Native Advertising
- Why native advertising needs to be on your marketing radar
- How B2B marketers can take advantage of social ads
And a quick summary of the best of the rest….
LinkedIn is a perfect example of a company that successfully uses this lead generation strategy. Here’s how it works – imagine you are aiming to land a large company as a customer for your service. To get in front of the company, you first target your product at the company’s employees. For example, by offering a free to use, entry-level version of your service. Once a number of employees have signed up and understand what it’s all about, you then have an opportunity to try and land the company as a customer for your ‘business’ level offering, which comes at a cost.
Online adverts and retargeting
The retargeting method can be a great way to enhance the effectiveness of online advertising. In simple terms, it means when somebody visits your website they will then see your advertising on other sites they then go to. It works particularly well with highly segmented audiences, which are usually exactly what you’re after in the B2B world, and can also be a great tool for cross-selling and up-selling campaigns.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is still one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate traffic for your website. It’s about targeting an audience based on the search terms they are using, by having an ad appear next to the search results that come up for selected ‘AdWords’. As the name suggests, it is basically advertising where you pay each time someone clicks on your ad.
Networking remains one of the most effective ways to make new contacts and drum up potential leads. There are now even more ways to do it than ever before, thanks to the internet and the appearance of things like online groups and forums. The trick is knowing how best to combine the offline with the online, to generate more leads and keep the conversations going.
Using a lead generation company
And of course, there is always the option of outsourcing part of the sales process to an external lead generation agency. While no one will ever understand and have a passion for your business that you do, this strategy can still work and has a place within the modern marketing mix.
The good news for marketers, and what all this shows, is that there are loads of options for you to choose from. Potential leads are out there, just waiting for you to hit them with the right approach, at the right time and in the right way.
Put a proper plan together and document it, making sure you take into account all the different stages of the sales process – with generating leads being just the start.
Don’t be afraid to try out lots of different things. Just make sure you are collecting and analyzing the data, so you’re not operating blind. As with any activity, it is always a case of trying out a strategy and assessing the results, to look for ways they may be improved upon.
All strategies take time to work, so don’t expect success overnight, but if you go for it 100% and have the wider business goals in mind, then you won’t go far wrong.
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