It doesn’t matter if you’re selling space-age nano-widgets to NASA or high-end consulting services to big ol’ banks, your business needs sales. Cash. Moolah. And those sales come from leads. And those leads come from finely-tuned marketing strategies and tactics that engage your customer base and, assuming you have a rock-solid plan, leave them salivating for your product or service.
But those rock-solid plans don’t just fall out of the sky. They require a well-informed approach, one where you identify your target audience, your sales goals, and develop a strategy to get you from point A to point B. And that’s exactly what I wanted to talk about today – six specific B2B lead strategies and tactics that will keep your sales team busier than they ever thought possible. So let’s jump right into it, shall we?
1. LinkedIn Ads
I know what you’re thinking – is this dude really going to talk about LinkedIn again? I get it. This isn’t the first time my cohorts or I have discussed LinkedIn. But guess what? It’s not the last time, either. And that’s for a very particular reason – LinkedIn is fantastic when used appropriately. Sure, it’s not magic, can be a wee bit expensive, and can’t always boast the same conversion rates as other social media platforms.
However, when you leverage LinkedIn ads the right way, it can be atomic fuel for your B2B lead generation and overall marketing campaign. The problem is, many B2B marketers try to use LinkedIn as a straight-up sales tool, like it's a billboard for a casino just three off-ramps ahead. I've found that you have a much better chance of converting people and improving your cost per lead by creating content that addresses a need or challenge someone is experiencing in their industry.
That's where a handsome, well-designed content offer – be it an e-book, white paper, guide, infographic, case study, or downloadable template – can be so valuable. That piece of content addresses those specific problems, provides value for the reader. In fact, it provides so much value, they're more than willing to give you their contact information in exchange for your relevant and insightful content.
Granted, you can use ads to market your content darn near everywhere these days, but LinkedIn separates itself from the rest with their robust targeting tools, allowing you to hone in on your target buyer personas. Of course, none of that is possible if you don't have those personas ready to go in the first place. Fortunately for you, I just happen to know of a place where you can download a buyer persona template to make your LinkedIn lead generation dreams come true. But I digress.
When using LinkedIn for new lead generation, just remember that it's always best to provide the audience with education and insight rather than your typical bottom-of-the-funnel sales pitch. Sure, that might take a bit of lead nurturing to progress the customer closer to conversion, but that's okay. Also, ask for the customer's business email rather than their personal email address when collecting their contact information. Using this approach produces high-quality leads that will make your sales reps want to buy you the kind of booze the supermarket keeps behind lock and key.
Absolute Precision: Upload Your Target Contacts to LinkedIn
Before moving on, I wanted to briefly zoom in on the LinkedIn targeting I mentioned. One of the unique benefits that LinkedIn provides to marketers is the ability to upload your customer contacts directly to the platform. This eliminates any guessing games and allows you to engage the specific people and companies you want to target.
If you happen to be in a very isolated industry, for instance, with just a few participants and significant barriers to entry, neither your customer base or competition isn’t going to change much from year to year. Engaging that audience well and often is critical to ensure your brand is consistently at the top of their mind and not your competition. In this case, uploading customer information into LinkedIn lets you continuously message that static audience with absolute precision and efficiency, where brand awareness plays a vital role alongside lead generation.
2. Conversion Paths & Gated Content
Let’s go back in time a decade or two to the days when you didn’t have a GPS unit sitting in your pocket at all times. Driving through a new city, especially a big and busy one, would’ve been intimidating without a series of road signs telling you where to go. That path had to be easy and somewhat intuitive, warning you when your highway exit was coming up, and showing you which way to turn to get to the stadium, mall, or wherever else you might’ve been heading. People still went to the mall ten years ago, right?
Anyway, look at your conversion paths in the same way. You need to provide the reader with a clear sense of direction as they proceed through your amazing content library. It needs to be deliberate and well-organized, where your content follows a logical path, getting more detailed and specific with each one.
Needless to say, blogging is the ideal type of content to use for this purpose. Not only does an SEO-strategy in your blogs help attract the audience in the first place, but a cohesive and intuitive progression from one blog to the next also creates a wide, smooth, and well-paved conversion path. This strategy seamlessly moves the reader through both your marketing funnel and their own buying process with clear CTAs and valuable insights that compel them to continue down the quality content road.
No, creating this web of content doesn’t happen overnight and requires some time and effort but, as discussed before, blogging is your content marketing awesome sauce. There’s a reason why marketers that prioritize blogging realize 13x greater ROI than those who don’t. Because blogging works.
After you’ve sufficiently whetted the reader’s appetite with your blog-driven content strategy, that path ends at a piece of gated content – the lead gen promised land. Actually, it doesn’t necessarily have to be content, just something that offers enough value for the reader to provide you with their contact information. Maybe a sales demo or webinar would be more appropriate. Whatever fits the topic and circumstances best, you can put it behind a gate to generate more qualified leads.
3. Automated Email Drip Campaigns
Many business development teams still send out their lead nurturing emails manually, leaving too much to chance. Naturally, I understand the benefits of personalizing these email messages because, as we all know, customers thrive on a personalized experience. However, between going through your email list of customers and potential clients, writing each email, setting a reminder to follow up, and then repeating the process over again, an awful lot can slip through the cracks.
Automating this process streamlines your email marketing, not only making sure that nothing slips through, but also allowing you to engage at scale. Sure, you still might want to write emails to your top-tier contacts manually, but you simply don't have enough time in the day to write to every potential customer. That's precisely where automated drip campaigns come into play, allowing you to trickle out an email to these customers on a consistent basis, maybe once a week, maybe once a month, depending on the customer and the relationship.
Whether automated or manual, however, I suggest adding value to every email rather than just boilerplate language that sounds like it rolled off a manufacturing line. Instead, provide a link or an attachment for a piece of existing content – a blog, guide, or whatever else – that addresses a pain point and provides value. A marketing automation tool like HubSpot still allows you to personalize these emails, but just in an incredibly efficient way. You can segment the audience by any number of attributes and include content that you specifically created for any given stage of the buying process.
4. Customize Your Landing Pages
If your B2B company offers multiple products or services, then sending your customers to a uniform landing page is a great way to see your lead generation plummet. For instance, let's say you're well-diversified product line includes everything from toasters to fuel pumps. Do you want your toaster customers to wind up on a landing that could just as well be for your line of high-end fuel pumps? I'm not an expert on such matters, but I wouldn’t think there's a lot of crossover between toaster customers and the fuel pump crowd.
When it comes to landing pages, there's a steep price to pay for using quick, easy, and generic solutions for multiple product lines or catalysts. If your customer searches for toasters on Google, sees your link, reads a bit of your copy on your fabulous toasters, then your landing page should follow suit. Customers want consistency across your messaging, and a generic landing page slams the breaks on any momentum you might have created, whether from an organic link, paid search, or a conversion path stretching across a handful of blogs. The good news is that landing pages don’t have to be terribly complex to be effective. In other words, it won’t take a ton of time and effort to create one for each of your offerings.
5. Chatbots and Conversational Marketing
Chatbots excel in sparking engagement with your customers. Typically speaking, they're not much of a nuisance and just sit idle in the corner of the screen until a customer wants particular information they don't see on your website. No matter where a visitor is on your site, chatbots provide the opportunity to start a conversation and potentially become a lead, whether they're staring at a blog, product page, or anything else.
Also, chatbots can be an easy addition to your website and can allow you to provide specific information that, if otherwise crammed within a webpage, would make your site look like a Russian novel. And no one wants that. In fact, chatbots – at least conceptually – are similar to landing pages in that they provide a more precise and curated experience for a website visitor, just in a more proactive manner.
6. Paid Search
Paid search is a bit like a marketing Swiss Army knife for B2B businesses. It fills in gaps in your SEO strategy, let's you target virtually any keyword you can think of while (just watch your PPC costs!), and allows you to focus on search terms and topics that speak to your audience's needs. For a lead generation campaign, paid search can put your gated content offer in the search engine sweet spot, ensuring that the user sees your brand, content, and expertise, all of which address a particular problem that they just happen to be facing at that moment. That's what we industry insiders call super awesome.
As you can see, lead generation doesn't have to be rocket science. It's really just a matter of being smart and organized about it, identifying the best routes to take, and then pursuing them like your hair's on fire. Or something like that. The point is, choose the combination of lead generation tactics that suit your needs best. And if you need some help getting started, whether with lead gen, inbound, or any other facet of B2B marketing, your favorite Dallas marketing gurus are ready to take the baton and run with it.