Ask any B2B marketer what their biggest daily goal is, and you’ll get a unanimous reply—lead generation. Leads are the raw material that paying customers are made of, so it goes without saying that generating as many leads as possible is the key focus of every B2B marketing team.
Now, simply collecting a bunch of email addresses is not lead generation. That’s just building a mailing list. What truly matters if you’re serious about turning a profit is building a funnel that brings in high quality leads. Leads that have the potential to turn into real business are the ones that keep the B2B engine chugging along smoothly.
The data above proves exactly this point. While the sheer number of leads generated is important, what tops the list of B2B marketers’ priorities is the quality of leads that they gather.
What could possibly prevent marketers from getting the kind of leads that set the cash register ringing? Here are a few missteps that are all too common.
Poor Segmentation and Targeting
While it’s true that “the more, the merrier” is a good thing, when it comes to generating leads for your business, the way to push up your lead volumes is not by carpet bombing the world. All that an exercise in mass marketing achieves is a ton of wasted marketing dollars and a big swathe of livid consumers.
What you really need to do before you embark on your lead generation program is to sit down and truly understand who your customer is. Dig deep and discover details like what drives them, what are their pain points, what would make their life easier, what is a good time to reach out to them and more. Your existing set of customers is another rich source of information that can guide your process of understanding more about whom to target and how.
The information you gather in this process will help you define clear Customer Personas – a definition of your ideal customer types and what they look like. Definitive customer personas help you pick the right messaging, the right channels, the right price points and eventually, help you convert better.
“We realized that reaching out to everyone under the sun was a waste of our resources. Targeting a very specific type of customer helped us refine our communication to suit their needs and helped us convert exponentially better than a one-size-fits-all strategy,” said Ruffino. “The proof is in our results!”
Lots of Content, But Not Relevant to Users
Many marketers think that the hallmark of good content marketing means churning out content by the truckloads. I’m not going to argue the relative merits and problems of creating a lot of content to promote your business. There are probably more effective ways of deploying your resources than simply turning your brand into a content mill.
Invariably, when the focus is solely on quantity, the quality of your content will suffer. Which means you’re left with an enormous amount of content that is not really relevant to what your users want or care about. Which also means your organic rankings and conversions are likely going to suffer.
The first step towards building a thriving and effective content marketing program is to root your content strategy in sound keyword research. Intent-focused keyword research will tell you exactly what areas to focus on and you can then choose keyword variants, keyword phrases, long tail keywords or contextually similar keywords to create your content around. A tool like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer helps you do all of that.
Don’t rest on your keywords once you’ve got your go-to list. A good B2B marketer
- keeps their keyword lists refreshed and active by testing new combinations.
- analyzes user response rates to current keywords.
- checks what ranks well for competition.
- is always on the lookout for fresh content ideas.
No Lead Nurture Campaign
If the content you created actually brings in leads, don’t be in a rush rush to convert them.
Leads who make an initial contact with your brand could still be exploring options. They’re probably learning more about the whats and hows of your product. Asking them to commit at this point will scare them off for good.
Treat each stage of the sales cycle as an opportunity to prime your prospects. Take them from cold first-time visitors to happy, paying customers. As leads move from one level to the next, assign scores based on the actions they take. These depend on specific things that show their potential or intent to convert. Marketing and Sales departments should agree on these lead scores beforehand.
The type of content, the frequency of contact, and the channels of communication are all distinctly different at each stage of the B2B sales cycle.
For instance, a blog post may work brilliantly as an initial lure to get a user on to your website. This is a lead.
Offer them a case study that matches their line of business to get them interested in the brand. This helps them visualize a similar success story that you can create for them. Leads that respond positively at this stage become MQLs or Marketing Qualified Leads.
Get these MQLs to actively engage with your brands via an interactive medium such as a live webinar. This way, you can educate as well as encourage interaction from them, eventually getting them to convert. An MQL that has successfully completed this stage is now a SAL or Sales Accepted Lead. This where Sales enters the buyer’s journey. Let your reps reach out to leads personally with supporting content. (Demo videos or reviews by real customers count will do the job here.) Success at this stage turns the SAL into an “Opportunity” that can then be converted into a customer.
While lead nurturing may seem tedious at the start, the end does justify the means. According to a Strategic IC report, businesses that invest in lead nurturing enjoy 50% higher sales at 33% lower CPA.
Bear in mind that your sales funnel is a living, breathing creature with a life of its own. Instead of adopting a formulaic approach for all leads, build in some flexibility into your process. Mix up your messaging to respond to your leads’ needs and conversions will flow in. Good luck!