Lead generation for B2B is not about chasing a â€œsecret methodâ€� that results in a ton of leads. Instead, building the best lead generation strategy for your business is more about understanding tried-and-tested channels, and finding the most effective combination of tactics for your unique goals.
This article will help you gain insights into each major channel for B2B lead generation, including social media, PPC, blogging, and email. Best of all, we’ll show you effective strategies and impressive real-world examples for each.
Social media is now a critical component of B2B marketing. It often doesnâ€™t cost much for paid ads compared to traditional advertising costs, but offers broad mileage. However, unlike B2C where social media is among the most effective digital marketing channels, itâ€™s more complicated in the B2B market.
While thereâ€™s no single answer for B2B social media conversion rates, there are some calculated assumptions you can use to gauge efficacy. A Marketo study pegged social media conversion at 1.95%, vs. inbound at 3.82%, after studying more than 4,000 user account’s data.
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 two main channels you should focus on:
Let’s dive into each of these primary B2B social media channels now.
Itâ€™s no surprise that LinkedIn, the go-to B2B social network, has above-the-board figures when it comes to B2B social media conversion. LinkedIn is the top social media platform for B2B marketers, so itâ€™s a viable channel to pursue.
Source: 2016 Content Marketing Institute.
However, investing your energy in a channel with high engagement rates doesn’t automatically guarantee success. The tactics you use on LinkedIn need to:
You can learn more about the nitty-gritty of LinkedIn Ad strategies from this LinkedIn-HubSpot 2-week free course.
You should also integrate Facebook Lead Ads into your social media strategy. A 2017 survey by research firm BCG showed 60% of B2B buyers used mobile in their recent purchases. Additionally, online business queries have been shifting rapidly towards mobile for the past few years.
Since Facebook Lead Ads are designed for lead generation inside the worldâ€™s largest social media channel, they’re especially potent. Facebook launched this service 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 because it allows B2B users to sign up for your offer in just two taps, without leaving the social network. Itâ€™s both targeted to your audience and highly customizable.
Facebook Lead Ad isnâ€™t designed to replace your landing pages. AdEspresso found their Landing Pages and Lead Ads had nearly identical cost-per-lead at around $0.94. While Facebook Lead Ad helps you capture leads inside Facebook, your landing pages are still necessary for capturing leads from organic search and PPC.
For more details, check out this step-by-step procedure on how to create Facebook Lead Ads.
Facebook Lead Ad lets your prospects sign up for your offer inside the social media mobile interface.
Case #1: Use of scarcity and exclusivity. EntreLeadership used scarcity (a limited-time offer) to increase the value of their offer. Their slogan — â€œSharing Dave Ramseyâ€™s business wisdomâ€� — rings exclusivity. It’s a chance to gain rarefied insight. Their visual is also engaging, with the use of light colors against a dark background, while the key messages and CTAs are clearly highlighted.
Case #2: Asking for only the data you need. FreeAgent understands asking only for an email address during the first encounter greatly reduces opt-in friction at the early stage. More customer data can be gathered later in the campaign as leads are qualified with more product-specific offers. In the beginning, the email address-only approach guarantees a wider initial lead base.
Case #3: Give before you get. Digital Marketer doesnâ€™t sell — it gives something valuable away for free. Thatâ€™s a compelling deal. Their image amplifies the message and the CTA is clear but subtle. Instead of selling anything, Digital Marketer simply hooks leads through the law of reciprocity, which makes users feel they should return the favor during a later engagement.
Pay-per-click (PPC) lead generation campaigns focus on a wide range of paid advertising platforms — the most popular being Google AdWords and Display Network. However, youâ€™ll find a wide range of PPC lead generation options outside of Google, including:
The general consensus for Adwords conversion rate is 2.70%, and Display conversion is averaged at 0.89%. But the rates vary depending on your industry. Itâ€™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. For instance, many high-value keyword searches have only PPC ads above the fold like this:
In other words, even if you have 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 isnâ€™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, the ones with deep pockets.
For instance, in SaaS, a highly competitive industry across verticals, AdWords bidding is highly competitive, so you need to target a lot of relevant keywords. Sometimes competitors even bid for keywords against your own brand — like this example, where Netsuite ranks higher for “Intuit Accounting”.
For many SaaS startups and SMBs, having another lead source like B2B review sites provides the option to meet and even surpass monthly lead quotas. Letâ€™s take a closer look at which popular marketing tools are used for lead generation by such sites. For example, hereâ€™s what FinancesOnline, one of the top software review platforms, offers:
1. Lead generation campaigns: The review site can link directly to a vendorâ€™s sign-up landing page, encouraging people who read your review to try out your free-trial next. These campaigns can generate as much as 24% conversion rate.
2. Premium placement: In an increasingly commodified SaaS category, like a CRM where features are more standardized than unique, being included in a premium placement can make or break your sales opportunity. You have a much higher chance of attracting new leads if youâ€™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.
3. Industry awards: When buyers are comparing your product to your closest competitorsâ€™, having your product stand out thanks to a featured quality award can have a critical impact on your sale. FinancesOnline, like many other review platforms, can give your product an edge with such awards.
Hereâ€™s how premium positioning on FinancesOnline looks like
Itâ€™s important you look for a third-party online marketplace in your industry, and get in touch with these middle-men to ensure your product is listed.
Blogging is at the core of content marketing, which is 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.
A lot has been said about the benefits of business blogging. Letâ€™s reiterate the major advantages that apply to the B2B market:
As part of content marketing, blogging has its advantages. Here are three essential ones you should know:
Blogging also establishes niche authority and places prospects within your sphere of influence. We donâ€™t need to go far — just search â€œinbound marketingâ€� or its derivatives and youâ€™ll come across HubSpot consistently.
How effective is blogging in the long run? At HubSpot, about 90% of the leads their marketing team generates each month come from blog posts that were published in many months or sometimes years ago.
The content types listed below are most effective when they align with your marketing goals. In short, the hard work is still on you — you have to develop topics that are lead magnets to your audience.
Case #1: Running your blog like a media pro. HubSpot is influential when it comes to inbound marketing. But it didnâ€™t happen by accident — HubSpot’s marketing team works hard to run their blog as a media site with a full editorial calendar and a team of writers and editors manning the front.
HubSpotâ€™s blog publishes tips, listicles, ideas, inspiration, insights, reports, ebooks, white papers, videos, etc. all relating to inbound across its niche segments in marketing, sales and service. The blog even outperforms entrenched business media like Forbes and CNN Money in SERPs about inbound marketing.
Case #2: Know who youâ€™re talking to. FreshBooks is clear about its target audience. In fact, the first step to having great content is to know your audience (your “Ideal Customer” personas). For FreshBooks, this means delivering â€œactionable insights into all aspects of running a small business.â€�
Case #3: Banner your thought leader. Have a resident thought leader and put his or her insights and opinions about your business and industry into your blog posts. Your thought leader should be writing regular posts to leverage SEO and brand association, both of which can result in more leads down the road. Even Seth Godin needs to write daily.
In a world of posts, likes, and shares, email doesnâ€™t look sexy, but it is 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 is the core of lead nurturing.
How does email marketing hold up today? Actually, it was the best B2B digital marketing channel in 2014, according to a Chief Marketer study. Two years later, in 2016, DemandWave released its State of B2B Digital Marketing Report, which showed email marketing is right at the top of digital channels driving leads and revenues for U.S. B2B marketers.
The advent of automated lead scoring, predictive analytics and AI algorithms only reinforce email marketing with laser-focused, personalized touches and real-time delivery. In short, email marketing is still one of your best tools to engage intent signals, distribute content and deliver pitches.
Youâ€™re looking at two variables when it comes to email marketing:
A GetResponse study puts the overall email open rate average at 82.20% and CTR at 21.69%. The report further divided the figures by location, with North America at 21.01% (open rate) and 3.50% (CTR). By industry, internet marketing has 18.05% open rate and 3.16% CTR.
Meanwhile, Marketing Insider Group puts email marketing conversion into another perspective: you earn $44 for every dollar spent on email marketing. The general consensus is, yes, email marketing has one of the highest conversion rates, corroborating the DemandWave findings above.
It takes creativity to brainstorm your content or offer, but with that aside, email marketing is more like a science. You can measure it, analyze it, and improve it. Here are the key factors that affect your email marketing conversion rates:
Case #1: Storytelling. At its core, email marketing is about your message, and hereâ€™s where your skill in storytelling can weave magic into a bland topic like a business workshop, captivating the prospectâ€™s interest. Perry Marshall, the best-selling author of Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, is a master of storytelling, able to hook seemingly unrelated subjects together, and all leading to his value offer.
Case #2: Use of humor. 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. he vendor also uses a funny tweet at the bottom to cap the offer with even more humor. Note that the use of humor is tricky and can backfire if executed poorly; but in this case, itâ€™s tightly woven into the offerâ€™s message.
Case #3: Housekeeping. Email marketing isnâ€™t all about the welcome — some goodbyes are in order, too. Cleaning up your list is one step towards qualifying leads for higher conversions down the funnel. Hire Value makes sure its list is updated by sorting out inactive subscribers.
Our brief case studies above didnâ€™t happen by accident, but rather as a result of their marketersâ€™ relentless pursuit of techniques that work efficiently. Weâ€™ve highlighted some of these above, but letâ€™s leave you with this checklist on the 10 best practices in lead generation:
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
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