Making sales is hard work, no matter what type of business you’re in, but it all starts with generating leads. If you run a business that serves other businesses (B2B), you should be aware of the right—and wrong—ways to capture leads. When it comes to B2B marketing, you should not be trying to chase anyone and everyone to purchase your products or services—which may be the right approach with campaigns marketing to the general consumer (B2C). Instead, you should recognize that B2B sales are specialized, and it is not necessarily about the number of leads you have, but the quality of each in terms of how much revenue they may generate for your business and how long they might be locked in to a contract. After all, the purchase cycle of B2B clients is generally much longer than that of individuals in the B2C marketplace, so one B2B lead can be a high-value pursuit. Since you won’t want to waste limited resources in your marketing budget, we’ll take a look at the strategies you need to generate B2B leads the right way.
How to Generate B2B Leads:
You might be overwhelmed when you consider the many ways to reach out to potential B2B leads. There is no single approach to B2B marketing that will work for every business, and, in fact, it may be most beneficial to use multiple strategies to see quality leads that are likely to convert to sales. However, there are some aspects that all successful B2B lead generation strategies have in common. In order to see new quality leads, you have to know your audience and know it well. Whether you are relying on a conventional inbound marketing approach, account-based marketing, or a combination of the two, market research will be the foundation upon which your sales are built.
- Intensive Target Audience Research – With B2C marketing, you might build hypothetical buyer personas, which represent the average consumer you would like to target with your advertising. In B2B marketing, you should get more specific and identify key companies and individuals within them that you would like to target. Now you may be thinking that you are not likely to get anywhere using such a narrow scope from the start of your marketing campaign, but you should recognize that a handful of carefully chosen leads can be much more powerful than a large pool of leads brought in by more generic marketing materials. With this highly specialized approach, you might use ABM, inbound marketing, or a mix of the two.
- ABM – Account-based marketing, or ABM, has become a popular method for bringing in B2B leads, and it works through a top-down approach. Begin by identifying the accounts you would like to (and feasibly can) bring in, and then design a customized marketing experience for those accounts. With this methodology, it is clear to see the need for intensive initial research focusing on the targets of the campaign to guide the theme, mediums, and channels you utilize.
- Inbound Marketing – If you are not ready to commit to ABM because you are more comfortable with an inbound approach, you can still effectively capture B2B leads through inbound marketing, but you will not want to lose sight of the prospects you are aiming for. Since it is intended to bring the leads to you, inbound marketing is not as direct in its execution. However, you will still need to know who your audience is and what they want to see in the content you publish—as well as where they might be most likely to encounter that content.
- A/B Testing – Great marketing is not often a first-time effort. Flexibility and adaptability are necessary because even the smallest changes in your marketing materials could drive better results. That’s why it is useful to actively implement A/B testing with landing pages and form submissions, allowing you to drive more action at key turning points within the buyer’s journey. If you are not consistently testing and analyzing your strategy—from a broad and detailed perspective—you will not be maximizing your B2B lead potential. Think about what motivates you to select certain vendors and test these strategies in your own materials to see what works. With consistent A/B testing, you can set your sights on conversion optimization, which can substantially drive up your business. Think about this: You have a landing page that gets a 2% conversion rate for email signups. That means every 100 page views gets 2 people signing up for your emails. Let’s say for every 100 of these signups, you see 5 clients with a lifetime value of $300k. If you are able to get your initial conversion rate up to just 4% through A/B testing, you can essentially double your business. In some cases, it is possible to drive conversion rates up by much more–somewhere in the neighborhood of 20%. Imagine what that can do for your business.
- Gated Content –Before you become impatient waiting to see conversions from B2B leads, remember that the nurturing process is a lengthy and delicate one. To cater to this, you should have multiple touch-points throughout your campaign, which may include emails, calls, and other forms of follow-up after initial contact. Gated content can be a helpful means of drawing in interested leads because it showcases value-added content and provides a data mining opportunity that can yield useful insight into your marketing approach. For example, you may have an eBook that caters to companies fitting into your ideal client persona. You can offer this eBook in exchange for completing a short survey and opting in for email marketing. Now you have more information about your potential leads to further shape future contact, and you have an opportunity to provide consistent communication with an email newsletter—or even a more personalized communication. Just remember that while a high-value lead may be constantly on your mind, you will have to provide consistent communication to stay in theirs.
- Personalized Messaging – A B2B marketing agency approach includes plenty of initial research into potential clients, Yyou should have a good idea of what companies want to see when vendors reach out to them. This provides the opportunity to cater custom messages with a human touch that will let your company stand out. Remember—if you have selected a potential lead because they can bring in a substantial new revenue stream for your business, you may not be the only one chasing this client. Your pitch has to stand out, and a personalized approach can make the messaging stick.
- Appropriate Channel Selection – Distribution is as important as content creation and brand messaging because your marketing materials will never be seen if they are not put on the right channels. That’s why you need to consider where the decision makers for your potential clients are spending their time. Are you more likely to reach them through Facebook or LinkedIn? Fortunately, there are resources that provide a demographic breakdown of where people are spending their time on social media. The need to target your distribution strategy to fit your leads’ online behavior makes it that much more important to know exactly who you are addressing throughout the lead nurturing process.
Why You Need to Focus on the Right Leads
If all this research sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. But it is worth the resources. Why? First, consider that no business gets by without advertising at all, so no matter what, you will be investing some time and energy into a marketing campaign to get leads. Second, think about the potential ROI that a more refined B2B marketing approach has to offer. If you are chasing leads from the start who have a higher chance of converting, you are more likely to see those leads pay off.
Consider this: Many companies that provide B2B services are specialized, so they only serve a specific kind of client. If you are not focused on the most fitting leads from the start of your campaign—and trying to go for a mass-appeal approach with conventional B2C marketing tactics—you could waste time (and money) on leads that are genuinely not qualified for your products and services. Front-ending the specificity of your awareness campaign can save you from the costly cycle of funneling non-qualified leads through the initial phases of the buyer’s journey when they have little to no chance of converting down the line.
Why Account-Based Marketing Is a Winning Approach
We’ve touched on the subject of account-based marketing, and it should not be overlooked when you are talking about B2B lead generation—this probably isn’t even the first time you’ve heard of it. However, it does not always get a clear explanation in everyday conversation, so here is what you need to know:
- How does ABM work? ABM is not a new strategy in B2B marketing, but it has become more popular in recent years, as well as more practical and affordable. With account-based marketing, a campaign is tailored to an individual account—or a small set of similar accounts in some cases. These accounts may be prospective or existing, and they will have a high revenue potential for your business as well as a strong likelihood of converting. With an ABM strategy, you will cater communications to your target companies and key players within them, but you still need to remember the principles of inbound marketing while doing so. Your approach will be more direct, but you do not want to make target B2B leads feel as if they are being sold to. Your goal should be to address concerns you know these clients have, offering something of value rather than simply pushing products. You will also want to emphasize building a professional relationship through marketing communications, rather than constantly trying to close a sale.
- How is it different? Inbound marketing and ABM are both methodical processes that require research, planning, and adjustment for optimal success. ABM is different because it puts potential leads in the spotlight throughout the campaign. The end goal is clearer, and there is closer alignment between marketing and sales, which is something that businesses may crave after utilizing a strictly inbound approach.
- How do you get it off the ground? If you consider the original question we posed in this blog—“How do you generate quality B2B leads?”—you might be thinking that the short answer is ABM marketing. Of course, knowing the principles of ABM and putting them into practice are two separate goals. Here is a look at the actual steps required in launching an ABM campaign:
- Identify accounts and key players.
- Define your content strategy.
- Distribute content.
- Analyze and optimize.
Why Inbound Marketing Is Still Beneficial, Too
As great as ABM is, it does have the drawback of leaving potential leads on the table, which is why you might break up your B2B marketing with an inbound campaign to catch those clients that ABM could leave behind. Inbound can supplement ABM by capturing leads from smaller accounts and converting those that may be on the edge as qualified leads. The key is striking a balance and understanding the right approach for your industry.
Now that you know a little more about generating leads, keep the discussion going. Add your comments and questions here, and let us know what you thought. Nuanced Media is a premium Phoenix marketing agency, and our experts are always willing to answer your B2B and B2C marketing questions. If you enjoyed the read, tell the world and share on Facebook/Twitter/etc.
Ryan Flannagan is the Founder & CEO of Nuanced Media, an international eCommerce marketing agency specializing in Amazon. Nuanced has sold $100s of Millions online and Ryan has built a client base representing a total revenue of over 1.5 billion dollars. Ryan is a published author and has been quoted by a number of media sources such as BuzzFeed, CNBC, and Modern Retail.