A Bolder Approach to Generating B2B Leads
B2B lead generation is not for the faint of heart. In fact, according to B2B marketers, the most successful B2B lead generation strategies depend on taking a bold approach. Marketers must become more insights-, customer-, and data-driven to better engage prospects and increase B2B leads. To improve B2B efforts throughout the year, they need to build a strong data foundation for better understanding of customer needs. And, they need to align with sales for driving account-based marketing (ABM) programs.
For B2B marketers to truly be fearless, they need fine-tuned lead generation strategies that drive qualified leads. After all, quality leads increase the chance of seeing higher conversions.
However, there are still some underlying fears that about driving qualified lead generation. B2B lead generation continues to be a challenge for marketers because it’s become increasingly difficult to attract today’s buyers.
Steve Lucas, CEO of Marketo, during his opening keynote at their Annual Marketing Nation Summit, talked about the ‘engagement economy.’ "We're in a hyper-connected world that is controlled, influenced, and defined by our customers,” he said. “The brand is now defined by the customer.”
Thanks to the proliferation of information through new technology, B2B prospects have become more educated and are also inundated by hundreds of marketing messages — which has made them more brand-discerning. It’s imperative marketers curate an experience for customers, so customers can make their purchase decision on their own terms. “Marketers are now curating the buyer’s experience years before anyone in sales knows they exist,” explained Lucas. “It’s our responsibility as marketers to meet buyers on their journey,” he said.
Still, according to the “Lead Generation Strategy Research Summary Report” by Ascend2, two-thirds of B2B marketing professionals currently view their lead generation strategies as only “somewhat successful.” And about 21 percent said that they thought their strategies were “not successful” at all. Those are some frightening stats. For marketers to truly be fearless, they need better ways to drive qualified B2B lead generation. After all, when marketing can provide sales with quality leads, it increases the chance of higher conversion rates while reducing the amount of time and resources allocated to chasing down individuals who can’t be converted. The question is: How can marketers cultivate a strategy that will garner an improvement in the quality of their leads?
Drawing on findings from the research, we’ve broken down a few best practices for optimizing your approach to B2B lead generation.
Step 1. Embrace Sales Analytics
Analytics remains a popular topic. Research conducted by Deloitte and Duke University states that marketers plan to increase spend on analytics by roughly 200 percent over the next three years. No surprise there. Having accurate customer data drives more impactful customer experiences. For instance, using analytics to ascertain common traits shared between the leads you’ve converted in the past is likely to help you cultivate a better way to target and increase new leads in the future.
As more and more B2B marketers embrace ABM and customer experience (CX), analytics become even more critical to success. Insight into the entire customer journey, shared across both sales and marketing, will enable companies to pursue the right leads and deliver a consistent and superior experience.
Step 2. Content Marketing Attracts Leads
When content marketing is done right, it’s highly effective. Forty-four percent of our survey respondents noted that content marketing was the most effective online tactic for lead-generation purposes. Since customers are driving what happens in the purchase process, it’s important to deliver compelling content that speaks directly to their needs and challenges. Tell, don’t sell.
A robust content marketing program will keep your brand top of mind even if prospective customers aren't actively looking for your services. It will also boost your organic search rankings when it matters most. Content that is of genuine value and has been search engine optimized with the keywords your prospects are using themselves, is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic — and B2B leads — to your website.
Step 3. Consistent Brand Messaging
In a study by Lucidpress, in partnership with Demand Metric, ninety percent of the companies surveyed agree that it is important to present their brands consistently in all the places people might encounter them. But, less than ten percent reported that their brand presentation is very consistent. Clearly there's room for improvement.
Brand storytelling should be consistent across all of your B2B marketing channels. Nurturing email copy, for example, should be consistent with the messaging on your landing pages and with what’s being said on your social platforms. And any offline marketing, whether that's advertising or a live event, should also be in synch with your online presence. Aligning interdepartmental teams on messaging throughout all channels can be a catalyst to seeing increased B2B leads. If there are holes or inconsistences in your message, then consumers will be confused and immediately turned off.
Step 4. Avoid Aggressive Sales Tactics
There's a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. B2B buyers appreciate brands that provide valuable information and education, rather than a hard sell. According to a “State of Sales Acceleration” report, a whopping 80 percent of buyers claim aggressive sales people not only turn them off, but have stopped them from making a purchase.
Whether by your sellers or your content, it’s important your B2B leads not feel bombarded. Content, like your sales team, shouldn’t be intimidating. Rather, it should be used to gently nurture and guide prospects down the funnel. The last thing you want to do is come off as pushy or desperate.
B2B marketing lead generation has never been easy, but fear not. Employing some of the above strategies can go a long way in delivering qualified leads. Check out our “Data-Inspired Guide to Lead Generation” to learn how quality data can optimize key demand generation activities and potentially shorten the modern sales cycle.