The general rule in a B2B market is that the company with the best leads wins. Successful companies invest a lot of time and effort on finding the best people to sell to. So, it is natural for companies to crave for quality leads. How successful a company is in generating them, however, depends on the methods applied in the pursuit of lead attainment. Though there is no one size fits all method, there are a few things that you would want to consider in your lead generation efforts.
Target the Right Audience (Customize your content to suit their needs and provide solutions)
One of the most important things to consider when starting a lead generation campaign is to identify and understand the target audience. Failure to do so will lead to undesirable results. You should always try to understand the “buying intent” of your prospects amongst other things. Here is a flowchart for identifying the target audience.
Have Access to Latest and Accurate Data
To be able to come up with a concrete strategy, it is quintessential to have access to latest and accurate data. Without knowledge, lead generation efforts are like shooting in the dark. There are a lot of companies that offer statistical reports, using such reports can lead to the understanding of the latest industry trends. A few companies whose reports are worth checking out are:
- Mckinsey & Company
- Nielson Global
- Marketing Sherpa
- CSO Insights
- Gartner Research
- Harvard Business Review
Analyze Your Competitor’s Clientele and Methods (but Don’t Be a Copycat)
When your competitors are doing well (better than you) it means they have something that you don’t; they know something that you haven’t figured out yet. Maybe it’s their marketing techniques. Maybe it’s their research process. Maybe it’s the companies they associate with. Maybe it’s the tools they use. Whatever the case may be, it is wise to always keep track of your competitors’ progress and what methods they are using to attain a higher sales growth. Also, keep track of their clientele. Learn their methods and apply them to best suit your needs, but don’t be a copycat. See to it that you only choose methods that are feasible.
Also, snoop around in your competitors’ social networks and study their content. Analyze what kind of posts are generating traffic and what kind of posts are not doing so great for them. Also, look for patterns and methods that are getting positive results. For instance, check what days the posts are being made on, what kind of people are responding to the content, what group of people are being targeted. After all it’s better to learn from your competitors’ mistakes than to make your own.
Once you have identified your target audience, grasp their attention by creating and sharing customized content. If you cannot decide what kind of content will resonate with your target audience, refer to this comprehensive report on advertising by Nielson Global called Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report . Here is one interesting piece of information from that report.
Get Noticed (Use SEO and Social Media Marketing/ Offer Tutorials/ Podcast/ Blog/ Guest Blogging)
The best thing you could do for your business from a marketing perspective is to use inbound marketing to get yourself noticed on the internet. In a world where 3.3 billion people use internet and nearly 2.1 billion have social media accounts, 1.7 billion of whom are active users, you cannot afford to be the invisible man.
If you don’t have a social media campaign and want to start one, consider the following tips.
- Have a social media strategy before you begin.
- Create quality content.
- Analyze your competitors’ strategy.
- Schedule your posts.
- Engage your followers.
- Share interesting posts made by industry experts.
- Use visual content.
- Post regularly.
- Link your social media accounts. For instance, tie your Facebook account in with your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. This can be done with the use of social media tools like Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social.
- Use social media metrics to know where you stand.
- Hire professionals if you must.
According to comScore, 18.9 billion explicit core searches were conducted in March, with Google Sites ranking first with 12.1 billion (up 11 percent). Microsoft Sites ranked second with 3.8 billion searches (up 12 percent), followed by Yahoo Sites with 2.4 billion (up 10 percent), Ask Network with 332 million (up 10 percent) and AOL, Inc. with 203 million (up 10 percent). That is just one month worth of searches. Imagine how much business is out there just waiting for you to grasp. But you have to play by the rules. Here are a few SEO facts that will point you to the right SEO direction.
- 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
- The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each web page has.
- Between 70% and 80% ignored the paid ads on the right side of the page.
- According to Moz.com, for Google, 18% of organic clicks go to the #1 position, 10% of organic clicks go to the #2 position, and 7% of organic clicks go to the #3 position.
- In that same study, tests for Bing show the following: 9.7% of organic clicks go to #1, 5.5% of organic clicks go to #2, and 2.7% of organic clicks go to #3.
It is also a good idea to start a YouTube channel to offer tutorials in your area of expertise. Product reviews, industry news and analysis are very popular. It is a smart way to earn credibility and boost your reputation. Furthermore, once you have enough subscribers, you are sure to have a higher conversion rate and also a loyal customer base. Other effective inbound marketing efforts include podcasts and blogging. A well written blog has the power to attract a big following on the internet. If you do not have a blog, start today. Here are a few blog writing tips to get you going:
- Write about what you know.
- Post regularly.
- Do not plagiarize.
- Support your claims with statistics.
- Cite credible sources.
- Use visual tools and graphics to make your blog interactive.
- Write about your own experiences to make your blog personal.
- Focus on quality over quantity even though long posts (generally over 2000 words) perform better on search engines and social media.
- Know your audience.
- Time your posts. (For instance, posts made on Mondays and Tuesdays receive the most shares.)
- Feature posts by guest bloggers on your blogs. This will help the both of you to reach out to each other’s audiences.
Liaise with and Feature Industry Experts/ Leaders, Competitors and Contemporaries
As mentioned in previous tip, it is imperative to get noticed, not just in the virtual world but also in the physical public sphere. Conduct and get involved in PR events like seminars and conferences or gathering of industry experts and people with influences. After all, you are known by the company you keep. But the objective of such programs is much more than that. They not only help you mingle with the big shots of the industry, but also allow dialogue with your competitors and contemporaries. Consider events as opportunities to discuss your ideas and learn from the experiences of others. Exhibit your abilities and listen to advices to explore new possibilities in the industry because such events will give you a chance to get recognized.
Entice and Encourage Information Exchange with Prospects (Use Free Trials/Launch Programs)
One way of information exchange is offering free trials which will allow people to get a taste of your products and judge the quality of your services. Being able to try something out before committing to anything is sure to leave a good impression on whoever happens to chance across your website. When people sign up for a free trial, you get valuable information about the person, using which you can groom the prospect over time to convert him/her into a loyal customer.
Another is inviting people to launch programs during which you can collect information about your guests while at the same time educate them about your product (or service). Activities like these will encourage a two way conversation between you and your potential customers. Always be open to creating possibilities of engaging your customers. The more engagement you create, the more the chances of conversion and information exchange.
Participate in and Contribute to Online Forums
Forums are the go to places for meeting and connecting with people with knowledge about your business and industry. Being an active participator and contributor in any forum gives you instant access to great education that may introduce you to new developments and opportunities in your industry and also to an interested audience. Among the other benefits of online forums are networking, referrals and the possibility of attracting people to your website through piqued interest and improved SEO.
Yes, participating in and contributing to forum discussions improves your SEO. One of the most effective ways of improving your SEO rankings is creating quality backlinks by posting answers in forums with signatures. But in many forums, you have to earn a certain level of reputation before you can do that.
Before posting on forums however, you should know what to post and what not to post. The following is a list of a few basic guidelines for making the most out of your forum interactions.
- Post contents and links relevant to the ongoing thread.
- Contribute to problem solving.
- Participate regularly.
- Use relevant keywords in your post. However, repetition is not the best practice.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts from one Ubuntu forums, you might want to consider while posting in forums.
Ask for Referrals Shamelessly (Because It Works)
One of the most effective and proven lead generation techniques is referrals. Here are a few statistics that prove how effective they are.
- 82% of North American respondents said they completely or somewhat trusted referrals over TV commercials and branded websites that received 63% and 61% approval.
- 72% of respondents say reading positive customer reviews increase their trust in a business; it takes, on average, 2-6 reviews to get 56% of them to this point.
- 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decision.
- According to a report by Radius Global, millennial customers put social media referrals as the number one influencer in their purchasing decisions on apparels and electronic goods.
- 56% of B2B purchasers look to offline word-of-mouth as a source of information and advice, and this number jumps to 88% when online word-of-mouth sources are included.
You may think it’s awkward to just ask someone for referrals. But, people are kinder than you think. According to Texas Tech, 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience. So, those companies that do not have a referral strategy miss out on a big chunk of potential customers. In fact, only 39% of marketers use referral marketing regularly. But 43% of those who do use it, acquire more than 35% of their new customers with it. If you do not know how to form a proper referral strategy for your business, our previous blog 5 referral strategies to consider for your business will be good starting point. And if you are a B2C, check The need for referral marketing out.
Use Professional Lead Generation Tools (Talk About Both Outbound Lead Gen and Inbound Lead Gen)
There are plenty of good lead generation tools, both inbound and outbound, in the market that will help you find the right prospects. Using software like Sales Navigator, SAM, Sales Loft, Hubspot and Marketo will give you instant access to thousands of decision makers. Not only are these tools helpful in generating lists of potential clients, but also in figuring out the who’s who of the industry.
Before purchasing one tool or the other, you should have proper knowledge of what tools best suit your lead generation needs. If you are running an inbound campaign, meaning a long term continuous process using web, email, social media & search engines, use tools like:
For a short term direct investment in outbound campaign, consider the following tools.
- LinkedIn (Sales Navigator)
- Sales loft
Follow up on Visitors (or Anyone Who Shows Interest) as Quickly as Possible
Always make sure that you follow up on people that show interest in your product. Have someone constantly track and monitor activities in your social media accounts so as never to miss out on opportunities to connect with your prospects. According to conviceandconvert.com, 24% of American internet users expect a reply within 30 minutes. Another interesting study on Lead Response Management shows that sales reps that attempted to contact prospects within sixty minutes of receiving an inquiry were almost seven times as likely to qualify that lead as sales reps that attempted contact an hour later. Response time and response rates are two of the most important factors of conversion once leads are acquired.