Lead generation is a vital part of B2B marketing. It’s what most B2B marketing teams spend most of their time doing – finding and nurturing potential leads to the point where they’re ready to be handed over to sales teams – and it’s also the thing they find most challenging.
Whilst outbound marketing can, and still does, deliver new leads into the business, many organisations and marketing teams have turned to inbound marketing as their tactic and ongoing activity of choice.
But lead generation needs both. You cannot build something and hope people will come. You must shout out and let people know who you are, what you offer them, and where you are. Indeed, events come out top as the channel that delivers the most qualified leads at the top of the funnel.
61% of marketers consider generating traffic and leads to be their biggest challenge. HubSpot
It’s therefore imperative that you spend time focusing on, tweaking, and adapting the key elements that, when someone has found your website, will make the difference between someone becoming intrigued, entertained, engaged, feeling a sense of trust, and eventually contacting you on their road to becoming a customer.
Here are four essential things for marketing teams to focus on in 2021 for lead generation success.
1. Make sure your content is targeted
Can you answer the question - “What’s the purpose of this piece of content and who is it for?”
When creating content for your website, it is vital that the content has a target in mind, and a purpose.
It doesn’t really matter what the purpose is, as long as it ties back to your marketing and business goals. If you’re writing a blog article that talks about market trends in financial services, for the purpose of raising awareness within your target market of financial services that you know a lot about their industry, and to drive an increase in organic traffic to your website from that market by means of SEO, in an effort to persuade people to covert, then great!
80% of B2B marketers consider lead generation to be the top goal of their content marketing efforts. Content Marketing Institute
For potential customers to provide you with their contact details, they need to trust your content, your thoughts and opinions, and find value in what you’re saying. Your content needs to speak to them and their particular situation. Only then might they consider getting in touch or signing up to your newsletter to find out more about you and what you have to say.
2. Use the power of landing pages and forms
A landing page with a form is the magic place where an unknown website visitor can turn into a real person, around whom you can start building a plethora of information and inferences about their intent, based on where they’ve come from and what they look at on your site.
68% of businesses use landing pages to get leads to take action. Marketo
Landing pages need to be laser-focused on one thing. Each page should have a single CTA (call-to-action) and it should be plainly obvious what the page is all about, and what the visitor needs to do, whether this be a landing page to download a guide, an e-book, to sign up to a webinar or an event, or to get in touch with your organisation for more information.
Forms should be short enough to capture only the information you need at that time to start to segment your data at a basic level – 3-5 fields at most.
If you use a marketing automation tool such as Pardot, you can use progressive profiling in forms to acquire more information from known users over time.
For example, for the first form they fill in, you only collect name, email address, and company. For the next form, you ask for a phone number. For the next form they fill in, you ask for industry. In this way, you gradually start to build up a complete profile of the person, without putting them off at their very first form interaction with you by asking for too much personal information up-front.
3. Build nurture programmes
Getting people to your website is one thing. Persuading them to part with their personal data so that you can communicate with them is another. And that’s not the end. Now is when the hard work begins.
One mistake many sales and marketing teams make is that they assume that, just because someone has filled in a form and downloaded something from their website, they’re ready to be approached for the ‘big sell’. Nothing could be further from the truth!
A study from Marketing Sherpa discovered that close to three-quarters – 73% – of B2B leads are not sales-ready.
73% of leads are not sales-ready. Marketing Sherpa
Marketing teams need to use the initial data they have on each lead to start to engage with them and move them through the sales funnel. They need to be nurtured.
Put yourself in the shoes of one of your potential leads. You need to spend time thinking about the kinds of content they would want to receive once they’ve parted with their valuable data. They’ve taken that important first step and they’ve spotted something in you or your content that has sparked their interest. Keep them interested!
Devise content that addresses the challenges your lead faces on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and show how your organisation and your products or services could benefit them. Produce content that shows off your knowledge of their industry. Create content that proves your expertise and pushes the boundaries of their current thinking to make them consider something different. Make the content personalised.
A marketing automation tool such as our favourite, Pardot, allows you to plan, set up, monitor, and automate your nurture programmes.
Let’s say someone downloads a guide from your website, all about how your IT service can fix some major problems faced by companies within the manufacturing industry. Well, you can assume that someone who downloads it is probably from that industry – you can always check their company name and email address to see if this is true and they’re not a competitor!
Your nurture programme would include relevant content tailored to people who work in the manufacturing industry. After they’ve filled in the form and downloaded your guide, maybe they’re sent an email inviting them to your next manufacturing-focused webinar. Perhaps you send them a blog article closely related to the guide they downloaded that showcases a solution to one of their industry challenges.
Lead scoring is a vital component in measuring the success of your lead generation efforts. Each time the person engages with your email and your content, they get points or a score.
The more times they engage with your content, the higher their lead score becomes. The higher their lead score, the more qualified they become. This may take place over a short period of time, but it’s likely to be much longer.
As a B2B marketer, it’s not just your job to get people to your website and get them to convert by providing their data, it’s also to nurture them and engage them in such a way that their lead score improves over time and they become closer to becoming a potential customer.
Lead generation, lead management, and lead nurturing are vital activities that B2B marketing teams need to focus on in 2021 and beyond. It requires time, thought, effort, a team of people, and the right tools to allow you measure performance and success.
4. Make sure you can measure
If you’re spending money, time, and effort in driving people to your website, making changes to your website to encourage more visitors, creating landing pages and form to help visitors convert and provide their data, and building long-term nurture programmes to keep prospects engaged and interested in your company to drive them close to becoming a customer, then you need to make sure you’re able to measure everything and determine what works, what doesn’t, and whether your activities and efforts have been a success.
As a minimum, the tools you have should be able to measure and report on:
- Lead data: You need to know who your prospect is; their name, email address, where they have come from, and other information that you deem relevant to your business. You need a system that can store this together with the other elements below.
- Lead score: How are prospects engaging with your content over time? Are they? What kinds of content resonate better than others? Knowing this will help you produce better content over time and get better results from your marketing engagement and nurturing activity.
- Click-through rate: You need to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your paid advertising and your email marketing efforts in getting people to take action and visit your website.
- Conversion rate: Do you know how many people filled in a form and gave you their data? Do you know which landing page and form is performing better than others?
- Cost per lead: You should be able to ascertain how much money you paid per individual lead acquired, by channel. This will give you an indication of which channels work better in driving leads into your business and which ones are the most cost-effective.
- MQL to SQL: Your systems should be able to tell you how many MQLs (Marketing-Qualified Leads) become a SQL (Sales-Qualified Lead). You can use this data to tell you whether to increase lead generation efforts, improve qualification methods, and what criteria and content is most valuable in helping to convert leads up the funnel.
- SQL to Opportunity: Whilst marketing teams have no power over whether a SQL becomes an opportunity for your organisation, it is vital to know this information as it can help inform changes in content type, content topic, industry focus, and lead generation techniques. For example, if your business gets more leads that become customers from holding and going to events, rather than pay-per-click advertising, then you should be doing more of that marketing activity.
How we can help
We have years of experience helping B2B organisations within numerous industry sectors transform their websites and technology stacks to improve their website, dramatically improve their lead generation, and drive better marketing and business results.
If your organisation needs a new website, a website refresh, or needs to implement a marketing automation tool like Pardot along with Salesforce CRM, then we’d be delighted to hear from you.
Our experts are ready and waiting to keep your marketing funnel full and your sales team happy. Just get in touch.