On paper, you’re doing everything right. Your marketing team is working hard to drive traffic to your website; you invest in successful pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns; you run engaging social media campaigns; and you drive off-line contacts to the website.
Yet you’re still not getting the results you were hoping for (and even worse there are grumbles from sales about the amount and quality of what you’re generating). Sound familiar?
So what on earth is going on?
Digital marketing has been around a while now, but it’s still considered the new kid on the block as far as traditional marketers are concerned. For B2Bs, particularly those who have been around a long time, it can also sometimes be difficult to adapt to this new digital world and hit on the best mix of activities.
The good news is you’re driving a lot of traffic, and that can only be a good thing, right? Well, the answer is yes and no. A high volume of traffic should naturally mean you’re getting more leads overall, but what you need to consider is the quality of the traffic. This really is crucial as it will impact strongly on the quality of leads you get coming through. But hit on a strategy that targets the right audience, with the right message, at the right time and you’ll soon find you have a consistent stream of the leads you really want.
Here’s what you need to think about:
Who are you targeting?
The audience that makes up your most qualified leads will always be top of your list, but you could be missing a trick if you take too narrow an approach. Try to widen your net and include more people who may not have a direct influence on your sales, but who will definitely have an indirect impact. Such as:
- Current Clients
- Current Employees
- Former Clients
- Former Employees
Basically, it’s anyone who has ever had contact with you for any reason. It can be a big mistake to ignore someone just because you will never directly sell to them. That’s because these people will still be in a position to mention and recommend you to others. Word of mouth remains the most effective form of marketing there is and in today’s digital world making referrals has become even easier. Not only that but potential prospects will actively ask for and seek out recommendations, so the more fans you have the better.
For example, a person liking your Facebook page may never be in a position to consider buying your product or service, but one of their friends might. They may see your page thanks to the ‘like’ and then their own interest may grow. It can be as simple as that.
Attracting the right audience
If you have a lot of visitors to your website then clearly you’re doing something right. However, if you’re failing to convert that traffic into leads then something isn’t lining up. The first step you should take is to have a closer look at who your audience is.
If you do a lot of paid advertising then you’ll get a lot of traffic, but perhaps you’re fishing for the wrong audience, or within the wrong waters.
It could be that your ads are hitting the right tone and the imagery is grabbing lots of attention but in reality, your product or service is never going to be suitable for the people it’s attracting. So you may be driving people to your site in their masses, only to see them drop off as they discover that what you’re offering isn’t for them. The end result being high traffic but low conversion.
Having clearly defined buyer personas will help you here. The more clearly you can pinpoint your audience, the better chance you’ll have of attracting them.
Size matters…or does it?
Sales funnel theory is as old as the hills and says that the more you throw at the top, the more will come out at the bottom. According to this theory, it’s all just a numbers game. And it is – to a certain extent – but only if you have a way to distinguish what goes in at the top.
Today, Facebook holds an enormous amount of data about its users, their likes, dislikes and habits. This has opened the door to targeted advertising on a whole new level, never dreamt possible before.
Whether it’s PPC, native advertising, social ads or any other ad tool, you can now narrow your audience right down. What this means is that you don’t need to attract the masses to grab the few you want, you can focus your efforts (and money) on only getting in front of those you truly want.
Depending on the nature of the product or service you are selling, for many B2Bs the number of quality leads that need to be generated won’t be that big, as the number you need to convert will normally be quite small. A consulting company may, for example, be looking to work with no more than 20 clients a year.
Of course, if you’re a software company like ours with a product that has benefits for businesses across many sectors, then the numbers will be totally different. The key is to figure out what is going to be the required level for you – basically how many leads you need and how big your general audience needs to be to achieve that figure.
What happens on your website stays on your website
The next important question to answer is what happens when the audience visits your website. It may sound obvious, but many B2B websites drop the ball right here.
Make sure you start by getting the basics right – having a website that’s not user friendly and which isn’t responsive on a mobile device simply won’t cut it nowadays. The key thing here is to recognise that creating a website isn’t just a one-off job, it’s a dynamic marketing tool and an ongoing project.
So what happens when a lead lands on your website? Are you taking each visitor by the hand and leading them from one step to the next, or do you just let them loose and cross your fingers something will happen?
By putting yourself into the shoes of your visitors you will be better able to offer them what they’re looking for. That means that the right information is there and in an easy to digest format. Long gone are the days of having a website that’s purely a ‘this is us’ brochure. The present (and future) is about websites which turn this mentality on its head and instead look at the person visiting then build a website for them.
Consumer websites are generally great at doing this, whereas B2B websites can struggle. Take a good look at your website from a visitor’s point of view. They won’t care much about your accolades but what they do want to know right away is that you can help them solve their problems. By describing the problem, the person having it and the solution for it, you help the visitor identify (“they are talking about me”), feel understood (“they know the issue I’m having”) and trigger a response (“their solution looks interesting”).
Calls to action and landing pages
These are two major tools in the arsenal of an effective content marketer. The best strategy when starting out is to look at what others are doing successfully in a similar space, such as a website that has the same target personas as you, or is in the same industry. Read up on methods of best practice and start with your own assumptions, based on the needs of your individual company. From there analyse, evaluate and re-test.
If you can, A/B test your own assumptions. For example, create two (or more) versions of the same landing page. Include a call to action button on each that you can monitor. Over time you will get data that shows which version is proving more effective. Once you have that data you can stop testing and keep using the most successful one.
You can automate your A/B testing or use a manual process whereby you promote landing page ‘A’ for a period of time, then promote version ‘B’. It will be a bit slower but should give you a similar result and useful insights.
Lying at the heart of any online lead generation strategy will always be the conversion rate it achieves. Gathering in every bit of data you can will help you better understand and analyse what’s happening with your conversion rate and why. Think about:
- How many people visit your website?
- How many of those convert to a lead?
- Of those generic leads, how many continue engaging with your content?
- How many of those convert on further content offers?
- How many of those are then handed over to sales?
- Finally, how many of those go on to be converted into a sale?
What represents a good conversion rate will depend on your business model. We have given you some more ideas on how to measure conversions and influence the ROI of your marketing in our blog ‘The issue with proving content marketing ROI’.
Turning it around
The more important the role of online lead generation is within your overall marketing mix, the more important each of the individual points we’ve covered here will become. Even if you choose not to focus on online lead generation at all, you need to make sure your website encourages visitors to engage with you and makes it easy for them to get in touch.
And if it is a key focus then remember it’s about quality not quantity. A million visitors who are never going to convert aren’t worth your time or effort. Whereas a group of exactly the right type of person will be worth its weight in gold. Get it right and online lead generation could soon become your most effective and valuable tool.