The phrase “the more, the merrier” may ring true for a birthday party celebration, but not for B2B leads. Having too many unqualified, incomplete or unrelated leads clutters your sales prospecting and wastes time. You don’t want businesses knocking on your door with thousands of pointed questions, an air of skepticism and a trunkload of objections. You want prospects that have heard great things about your company, read up on all the benefits of what you’re offering and have cash in hand, eager to purchase. Thankfully, a variety of proven strategies and the latest technology makes finding the latter easier than ever.
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Check out these eight quality B2B lead generation ideas:
1. Switch your strategy to inbound marketing with better blog content.
As the Salesforce blog points out, 23 percent of total internet usage time is devoted to blog reading and social networking these days. Furthermore, outbound marketing methods like TV commercials, print ads, cold calling, email lists and banner ads cost 61 percent more, yet haul in less qualified B2B leads. While these methods still produce results, the majority of your focus should be on inbound marketing tactics like cultivating an in-depth blog that solves your constituents’ biggest problems. “When prospects feel as though your company is an expert in the industry, or has something worthwhile to offer, they see you as someone who wants to help, rather than a salesman that just wants to make a sale,” writes blogger Stuart Leung. This is especially true when you’re dealing with other businesses who want to affiliate themselves with “the best of the best.”
Lead scoring ranks a prospect’s interest level and sales readiness based on a methodology that varies from company to company. Marketing Sherpa reports that “On average, organizations that use lead scoring experience a 77 percent lift in lead generation ROI, over organizations that do not use lead scoring.” However, they also found that 79 percent of marketers surveyed had not yet implemented lead scoring. If you’re one of those companies, check out the 10 step approach offered by CRM Searchto get started.
Effective B2B lead generation isn’t just about that first point of contact. If you’re not already on the lead nurturing train, it’s time to get aboard. Marketo points out that companies who are excellent at lead nurturing are able to generate 50 percent more sales at a 33 percent lower cost than other competitors with less effective systems in place. The company’s lead nurturing software makes it easy to build relationships with B2B prospects through email, advertising and mobile engagement. You’ll be able to track analytics data regarding prospect behavior and score leads by not only demographics, but also by recent actions taken online and periods of inactivity to know the best times for intervention to deliver more information or clinch that sale.
4. Assess your lead capture forms with A/B testing.
A/B testing is not just for landing pages or ads. Your business to business lead generation form could be part of the issue as well. The Optimizely Blogtells the story of Iron Mountain, a B2B software and management company, that was able to increase lead quality by 140 percent by running an A/B test on their lead capture form. Issues identified included: accuracy (lots of false phone numbers or emails listed through the “contact us today” form), improper intent (lots of leads were actually people looking for support or inquiring about job opportunities), and incompleteness (many fields were missing). Test variations included changing “contact us today” to “request a quote” and adding validation functionality to each field so incomplete forms or incorrect data could not make it through the pipeline. The tests confirmed their hypotheses and resulted in much higher quality leads.
5. Use email drip campaigns to promote your content.
A common mistake many marketers make is believing that content is like “the field of dreams” — where “if you build it, they will come,” says B2B marketing expert Mike Templeman. Instead, each piece of content needs to be actively promoted through as many channels as you can — “social media, native ads, display, SEO, syndication,” to name a few of Mike’s specific recommendations. Once you get a fish on your hook, you need to reach out and touch that person at least a dozen times through an email drip campaign. Deliver whitepapers, eBooks, guides, surveys, coupons, infographics, videos and blog posts to each B2B prospect’s inbox — personalized and appropriately timed, as to not bombard the recipient, of course. We like to use software by aWeber for creating and scheduling regular email newsletters. For a list of tools for initiating email drip campaigns, see Zapier’s 25 Best Email Marketing Apps to Send Drip Campaigns.
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6. Use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, LinkedIn is still the top dog in online lead generation among B2B companies. They know this all too well and have developed tools to help you get the most out of your experience on the networking site. LinkedIn Sales Navigator uses a sophisticated algorithm to deliver lead recommendations tailored to you. From there, you can easily save and follow up on the suggested leads. You’ll be able to access profiles outside your network, see who has viewed your profile, and receive real-time sales updates to help you time your correspondence just right. After the free trial expires, the tool costs $79.99/month or $779.88/year. Another option if you’re looking to get more bang for your buck is to work with a marketing company like Mod Girl Marketing, which has already paid for access to these tools and learned the system. That way, you reap all the benefits without the learning curve or another monthly expense to track.
7. Add a customer referral program to your list of B2B lead generation strategies.
There’s nothing better than getting a sales lead from a happy customer. Referrals are often the most qualified leads you can get because individuals tend to know a great deal about the needs and personalities of their friends, which saves you a lot of leg work and research. A 2015 study conducted by Capterra found that 76 percent of software buyers have asked as friend or colleague for recommendations before buying. “This likely could be applied to other B2B products,” they conceded.
8. Monitor brand mentions and specified keywords on Twitter.
With so many social listening tools on the market, there’s no reason why you can’t have one ear to the ground to see if anyone is talking about your brand — or about problems your brand can solve. Often times, you can get real-time alerts to let you know the moment a post has been made that relates to your business. BrandWatchused this example: ” Paul Dunay of Avaya closed a $250,000 sale by responding to a tweet that said ‘Time for a new phone system very soon.’ Analyzing buyer keywords such as ‘new phone system’ resulted in a huge opportunity for them.” Other benefits of social listening include: improved responsiveness; easier competitive research; more targeted conversations; identification of industry influencers and thought leaders; instant crisis management; and access to product/service feedback.