We realised recently, that not everyone understands the different dynamics, budgets and expectations of a typical lead generation channel. It isn’t all about chasing a “secret method” that results in tonnes of leads, or about throwing your all into every social media channel, spending hours of your time posting to people who just don’t care.
It’s about building the best lead generation strategy for your business and understanding tried and tested channels and finding the most effective combination of tactics for your unique goals.
Hopefully, this article should help you gain insights into each major channel for B2B lead generation. We’ll be looking into social media, PPC, blogging and email. And we’ll even chuck in some effective strategies for good measure!
Not just for mums to keep an eye on what you’re up to (yes mum, I can see that you viewed my Instagram stories) or just for B2C. Social media has become a critical component of B2B marketing. It often doesn’t cost much for paid ads, especially compared to traditional advertising costs. It does, however, offer a broader reach. Unlike B2C, where social media is among the most effective digital marketing channels, it’s a little more complicated with B2B.
A Marketo study found that social media conversion is at 1.95% versus inbound at 3.82% after studying more than 4,000 user accounts data. And although there is no single answer for B2B social media conversion rates, just like the ones that Marketo reported on, there are calculated assumptions you can use to gauge efficacy.
Anecdotal stories, like the case of SaleCycle, suggest social media falls short in conversion rates compared to other B2B digital channels, despite its wide reach.
Quantity over quality seems to be the norm when it comes to B2B social media lead generation. This makes it an ideal channel for top-of-the-funnel awareness — for instance, you might promote a downloadable eBook to capture quality leads with an initial offer.
There are 2 main channels you should focus on:
- LinkedIn Ads
- Facebook Lead Ad
So, let’s have a little look at these primary B2B social media channels…
Facebook should also be a part of your social media strategy. In 2017, a survey by BCG (a research firm) showed 60% of B2B buyers used mobile in their recent purchases. And it turns out that whilst mobile purchasing is becoming more popular, as is online business queries too.
Since Facebook Lead Ads are specifically designed for lead generation, you would be daft not to utilise the tools in the worlds largest social media site. Facebook launched this service back in 2015 after their analytics showed users found it difficult to signal to businesses their intent on Facebook mobile. Facebook Lead Ad solves this problem as it allows B2B users to sign up for your offer in as little as two taps. All without actually leaving the social network.
It’s both targeted to your audience and highly customisable.
However, it isn’t designed to replace your landing pages. While Facebook Lead Ad helps you capture leads inside Facebook, your landing pages are still necessary for capturing leads from organic search and PPC. Plus, it lets your prospects sign up for your offer inside the social media interface, very handy.
For more information on how to create a Facebook Lead Ad, click here.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) lead generation campaigns focus on a wide range of paid advertising platforms, the most popular being Google AdWords. However, look and you shall find! There is a wide range of PPC lead generation options outside of Google including:
- B2B review directories or comparison sites
- Trade media display ads
- Social media advertising
- Affiliate Marketing
What’s the conversion rate?
The general consensus for the AdWords conversion rate is 2.70%, and Display conversion is averaged at 0.89%. But the rates vary depending on your industry. It’s important to know your industry benchmarks.
A good starting point is to ask the PPC vendor of their average conversion ratio across the board. This lets you evaluate your campaign results better.
Should PPC replace organic marketing? No. They complement each other.
In other words, even if you have a good organic ranking, it may be buried under PPC ads. Google researchers ran statistical models on their SERPs to find out if paid search eats up organic traffic. The result showed 89% of traffic generated by paid ads isn’t replaced by organic.
Among the PPC platforms mentioned above, B2B review directories and comparison sites can provide a uniquely fresh lead source. In a crowded industry, other PPC channels are most likely already saturated by big players in your space.
For example, SaaS (Software as a Service) is a highly competitive industry across verticals, AdWords bidding is highly competitive, so you need to target a lot of relevant keywords. Sometimes, competitors will bid for keywords against your own brand!
Many SaaS start-ups and SMBs have other lead sources like B2B review sites, which provide the option to meet and even surpass monthly lead quotas. They can offer tools such as lead generation campaigns, which allows the review site to link directly to the vendors sign-up landing page, which can encourage people who read your review to try out your free-trial. This kind of campaigns can generate as much as 24% conversion rate.
Some offer ‘premium placement’, which in an increasingly commodified SaaS category, like a CRM where features are more standardised than unique, being included in premium placement, can make or break your sales opportunities. You have a much bigger chance of attracting new leads if you’re listed among the most popular solutions, as prospects will usually only try out a few products. Make sure you get on such a list because your competitors are probably already there.
Blogging is at the core of content marketing. It’s a strategy that focuses on creating content that is interesting or valuable to your defined audience with the goal of attracting and sustaining online engagement for leads down the road.
Some of the major advantages of blogging that apply to B2B are:
- It drives traffic to your website. With the right SEO planning and editorial calendar, your blog gives your search presence, linking you to keywords being searched for by your prospects. Every blog post you write is one additional indexed page to get your content on Google.
- Convert traffic to leads. A well-placed CTA in a compelling blog post can direct prospects to your landing page for leads.
- Repeat business. A blog can delight existing customers with fresh content for repeat business or referrals.
Content is most effective when aligned with your marketing goals and strategy. For maximum lead generation, consider creating the following:
- Authoritative posts: you’re an expert in your field, right? Then prove it.
- Solid opinion pieces: but make sure they’re back by data for full effect.
- Original research: Commissioned for industry consumption.
- How-tos: tips, tutorials, videos, however, you want to do it, we don’t mind, as long as you’re addressing your prospects’ problems.
- Trending content: get on and News jack that news! Just make sure it’s relevant to your business.
- Infographics: turn all your useful information into a visually appealing, bite-size reading, information stuffed infographic.
Videos: it turns out, people much prefer to watch videos than read, 72% more to be exact.
HubSpot is kinda an inbound know-it-all. But it wasn’t always the case. Apparently, their team had to work really hard to run their blog as a media site with a full editorial calendar and a team of writers and editors manning the front.
They publish everything from tips, listicles, ideas, inspiration, insights, reports, eBooks, white-papers and videos! Phew! (I’m sure I’ve missed something there…). All of them relate to inbound across its niche segments in marketing, sales and service. Their blog is so popular, that it outperforms the majors such as Forbes when it comes to inbound marketing.
To be this successful you need to channel HubSpot in the sense that you need to run your blog like a media pro. They’re good because even at the start, they put their all into running it. Secondly, you need to know who you’re talking to. You have to have a clear target audience; that means getting that ‘ideal customer’ persona and all your buyer persona’s up to scratch. And lastly, banner your thought leader! Think Game of Thrones and their ‘banner men’ – you need one of those. Someone who you and your company consider to be the resident thought leader. Allow them to put their insights and opinions about your business and industry into your blog posts. They should write regular posts to leverage SEO and brand association, both of which will result in more leads down the road.
In a world of posts, likes and shares, email doesn’t look sexy. But it is still as relevant today as it was years ago. In fact, email is often the bridge between marketing automation and CRM, two cloud solutions most widely used by marketers today. The email opt-in is still the starting point of lead generation and email marketing in the core lead nurturing.
Think of email like a pair of old jeans. You love them, you know how great they are and every time they break a little, you sew them up… embellish them even. The advent of automated lead scoring, predictive analytics and AI algorithms (all fancy embellishments) only reinforce email marketing with laser-focused, personalised touches and real-time delivery. Just like those old jeans, email is still trustworthy and familiar. It’s one of your best tools to engage intent signals, distribute content and deliver pitches.
Well for starters, you need to consider that there are two variables when it comes to email marketing:
- Open rate
- Click-through rate (CTR)
The overall average email open rate is around 82.20% and the click-through rate is about 21.69%. different locations, of course, give a different percentage. As does industry, with marketing showing an open rate of 18% and a CTR rate of 3.16%.
But there’s a more positive way to look at this: Marketing Insider Group reports that you earn £44 for every pound spent on email marketing. So, the general consensus is, yes, email marketing is a bit of a gem and has the highest conversion rate.
However, it’s all good and well knowing the click-through rates, but the point is to convert these people into paying customers. And to do that, you need spectacular content and a dab of science. With your email, you need to measure it, analyse it, and improve it. Ask yourself;
- Are you offering value? You need to have a lead magnet to attract email sign-ups, whether it’s value content, freebies, deals, or anything that is interesting to your audience.
- Do you have a great landing page? It should be optimised by having a clear lead magnet, compelling CTA, permission and obviously, an appealing visual.
- Are you email subject lines, short, crisp and compelling with a clear benefit to the recipient?
- Have you tried segmentation? You should split your lists into sublists for more targeted messages, as it will allow you to increase your open and click-through rates.
- Do you use analytics? Because you should be. Run analytics to do regular clean-up of your lists and update it as necessary based on past recipients’ actions.
At its core, email marketing is about your message and your storytelling. Within that message and storytelling, add a sprinkle of humour. For example, the visual allusion to the iconic film character used by Grammarly, the Godfather (and the cat!), is witty and helps engage readers for those few critical seconds. The vendor also uses a funny tweet at the bottom to cap the offer with even more humour. However, please be careful because not everyone thinks you’re as funny as you think you are. And, don’t forget that email marketing isn’t just about the ‘welcomes’, sometimes you have to say goodbye. Cleaning up your email list is a sure-fire way to qualifying leads for higher conversions down the funnel.
Good lead generation, unfortunately, doesn’t happen by accident, but instead, it’s the result of their marketers’ relentless pursuit of techniques that work efficiently. It’s like planting the seeds to a forest, nothing will happen for a little while, but once it starts growing, it grows.
- Target the right audience. Know your buyer personas and your target audience like the back of your hand. In B2B your audience could be different people in different departments. Often you might not have an audience, but micro-audiences with varying interests and pain points.
- Create lead magnets. Channel Magneto and get attracting! Develop content or offers that pique the interest of your target audience. The best lead magnets use NLP techniques in marketing, such as, clear, tangible benefit, urgency, exclusivity, social proof, authority and immediate gratification.
- Explore new lead channels. Search, social and top media sites are over saturated as expected, with high-value sponsorships etc. but you can discover unique PPC channels. Look for sites that cater to your customers as they tend to have a higher conversion rate and dominate high value general organic search keywords.
- Capture the right information. The rule of thumb is to get only the most basic customer data at the initial stage (e.g. name and email address) and, as you work the lead down the pipeline, ask for a little bit more data each time.
- Score, sort and segment leads. Not all leads are valuable. But not all leads have the same value! Based on your metrics, use a lead scoring tool to sort leads into proper segments, which will let you target your micro-audiences with personalised messages and offers.
- “Everybody blog, blog, blog, blog, blog” (sing in the tune of Rihanna’s “werk”). Regularly posting content improves your SEO, authority, brand awareness, industry stickiness and your general web presence.
- Integrate organic and PPC. These two are besties and complement each other perfectly. When executed together, they can fill in the gaps. For example, you can run a paid search for any organic keywords for which you’re not ranking highly.
- Benchmark your conversion rates. Don’t be content just seeing your rates improve month on month. Get competitive! Ignite a spark and chase your competition. If they’re doing better than you, what are you going to do about it?
- The best marketing automation will put your lead generation in auto-mode, by capturing leads from your campaign, scoring them, nurturing them throughout the lead pipeline and qualifying and handing them over to sales.
- And last, but by no means, least, go mobile. Mobile marketing is the next battlefield for B2B leads. More business buyers are using their smartphones in the purchase journey. Make sure your forms, emails, websites, and ads are optimised for mobile.
There you have it, those are some of the best B2B lead generation campaigns and techniques at your fingertips. Apply or reapply these time-tested techniques and share with us how much they improve your lead volume.
Alternatively, if you’ve got to the end of this article and you’re daunted by everything you’ve got to do, give us a call so we can talk you through our retainer-based packages and how we can help you with your lead generation.