Experienced business often works with regular customers and gets the new ones through the word of mouth. A beginning business, first of all, must provide a flow of customers to itself, and organize the regular profit. Clients in the theory of the marketing funnel are the leads you have persuaded to make a purchase. Therefore, initially, it is necessary to build a stable flow of leads and incoming orders. This process is called lead generation.
In this material, we will analyze what is lead generation, what is lead, what are the advantages and disadvantages of lead generation, and where and how to apply it. Also, we will review the vital role of content marketing in lead generation and see top 17 content marketing ideas which lead to increasing your sales.
What is lead and lead generation in simple words
What is lead
Lead is a person who expressed a desire to make a purchase from you. This can be expressed in the following actions:
- The person signed up for your newsletter;
- The person has left his contacts in any form of lead generation on the site (application form, callback, consultant and so on);
- The person called you on the specified phone.
The word lead replaced the similar expression known as a potential buyer. In this case, the lead is not just interested. And they are not all potential buyers on the Earth from 18 to 70 years old. In general, a person becomes a lead after he left you to contact information or establish contact. For this, he, of course, first saw your advertisement or somehow found out the information about you. And it worked. He became interested in the offer and expressed a desire to make a purchase.
Not every lead becomes a buyer. A purchase is the next stage of the sales funnel. At the stage of purchase, the lead is processed by other tools. In this article, we discuss the ways of lead generation.
So, the one who bought is the client. The one who saw our advertising is not a lead. Anyone who called to know the price ordered a callback, a free consultation is a lead.
Classification of leads
- Cold leads — they once were interested and gave their contacts, but now they are not ready to buy, they do not have the money or the need is not obvious to them. For example, a person liked the presentation of your video course on sales, he subscribed to the newsletter, but now he is busy or resigned from sales.
- Warm leads — have a specified need, they have studied your advertising offer among others and come into contact with the seller. For example, he called or wrote to you in a messenger, asked questions about the course or left an application on the site.
- Hot leads are ready to buy, and only your product. The choice is made, the person leaves the application and has prepared money. Do not miss such a person!
Hot leads need to be processed competently, do not forget about them, otherwise, they will cool down. In other words, if the application remains unanswered, a person can go to another company. Cold leads need to be warmed up: let them read your newsletter, blog, subscribe to social networks. Over time, they will mature for purchase or at least an application.
What is lead generation?
Accordingly, lead generation is the process of attracting leads. The task of lead generation is the formation and constant building up of the lead database. Next on the base is a personalized offer (“you were looking for the X product” or “you were interested in the Y product”). It is the opportunity to get contacts, add a person to the base and make a personalized offer and good lead generation. Lead generation includes a huge amount of tools and advertising channels, the main of which we will discuss in the article.
Special advertising agencies are engaged in lending. They have to bring the client a certain number of leads. The agency can either collect contact data and transfer it to the customer, or immediately send a stream of leads to the site, or customer’s landing. The second option is preferable.
Advantages and disadvantages of lead generation
Of course, lead generation has more advantages than disadvantages. Disadvantages, in this case, are more errors than disadvantages. The main advantages of lead generation as a process of attracting customers are cost measurability and payback.
- Clear cost of one lead. Pay only for leads, not for impressions.
- Clear figures of the advertising budget: it is clear how much you need to spend to attract X leads.
- Fast investment return.
Disadvantages (they can also be called the mistakes made by beginners)
- You can quickly lose the entire budget if you do not conduct a preliminary analysis.
- You can lose your budget if the contractor turns out to be dishonest. For example, some dishonest companies practice fraud calls when the agency hires people to make fake calls to create an impression that you are receiving targeted applications.
Features of lead generation in B2B
In B2B, lead generation is an excellent tool to form a base for the sales funnel. Usually, business-to-business sales are multistage, decisions are made long and by a group of people. Lead heating here is inevitable, no one concludes major transactions through a landing page. Let’s review some typical B2B methods of lead generation.
Before the sale of the lead is led through personal negotiations. These include cold calls, meetings, conferences, seminars, exhibitions, etc. If mass sales calls bring cold leads and the most frequent answer, send a presentation, then the leads from conferences and seminars are the warmest ones. Personal contacts between the leads are a classic B2B method that has not lost its relevance, especially in countries, where it is important to have business connections.
The time of mass online lead generation has affected B2B. Generally, internet generation is done by the digital agencies. This includes the creation and promotion of the company’s website, the company’s blog, and social networks or first persons, evangelists, lead magnets: white paper, expert articles in exchange for subscription, market research, case studies. Lead generation tools as webinars for executives and partners (online analogs of conferences) are a great solution. Targeted display advertising is also very efficient.
Another classic B2B tool lead generation tool is direct marketing, that is, personalized mailings for potential customers. From paper letters to email, SMS and messengers mailings — the method does not lose relevance and even experiences another increase in popularity. After all, sending letters does not require a lot of expenses but is absolutely effective. The main thing is to choose the right theme, the offer, and the text so that the receivers could become a lead.
Types and methods (channels) to attract new leads
In practice, lead generation is a set of practical tools. We divide the methods of lead generation into three types:
- offline interaction with a potential client;
- Internet channels;
- targeted mailings.
Personal interaction with leads is typical for the B2B sector. The personal output for every lead and for the sale of exclusive goods like yachts, real estate, antiques is really vital. All the efforts are worth because one buy will bring a lot of profits. Let’s list the channels of personal interaction with the leads.
After the initial contact with the lead, you can meet face-to-face and tell him about the proposal. To set a meeting is an entire art. Usually, the meeting completes a series of contacts with the lead, but many managers prefer to immediately set a personal contact.
Usually, it’s cold calls which, respectively, bring cold leads. Already at the stage of an initial call, it is important to demonstrate a personalized approach. Set a contact, identify the needs and make the cold lead a warm one. That is, to confirm his interest, add him into the base of potential customers, then to make a personal offer. Naturally, calls are made to the target audience. And the goal is to warm up the contact or attract a new lead, but not sell a good.
Exhibitions, talks, conferences
When you are talking at a profile conference, you are surrounded by leads. Your task is not just to interest them, but also to gather contacts of potential customers. This is an exchange of business cards, phones, friendship on Facebook and many like that. Ideally, you make the contacts database, but it’s good if people write down your contacts. At the conference or during the talk, all the leads are, as a rule, warm — they are familiar with you, familiar with the product, and are interested. You just have to add them to the database and slightly warm up to buy.
Internet channels: Internet marketing
Digital channels are the most accessible and measurable channels for lead generation. Some require serious budgets, some are almost free. Today, for most companies, lead generation is identical to Internet channels.
Site or landing page
Your site is the classic lead generator. Wherever visitors come to you, they decide to submit an application and thus become the lead. In most cases, they do it on the site. The site presents you completely. Channels usually lead to a site or landing page: search promotion, contextual advertising, banners.
Callback widgets on the site
The callback order form on the site stimulates the user to leave their contacts for communication.
Chat and online consultant on the site
A fast and convenient way of communication, when a user can immediately ask a question on the site, and become warm from a cold lead.
To get a person to your site or landing page with a targeted request, the resource should be in a good position in the search engines.
Without advertising campaigns, it is difficult to recruit a lead database, especially at the start of a business. It is recommended to run campaigns immediately in Google AdWords in order to get the first leads.
In social networks, it is quite effective to launch targeted ads immediately after the launch of the site. Yes, you pay for every lead, and often it is expensive. But these are potential first clients.
Banner and teaser networks
Simple and effective: post ads and wait for leads.
Internet auctions and bulletin boards
Online platforms are often undeservedly ignored. At the first stage, they can also give cold leads.
The Lead Exchange is a special place where you can create an offer to buy leads in the segment you are interested in. You determine yourself for what and how much to pay. You can pay for a purchase, call, application, registration, etc. The performer can take your task and get a reward on the terms that you indicated.
The popularity of content marketing is steadily growing, gaining more recognition among the B2B marketers. The amount of investments is increasing, as is the number of channels for the content distribution. This is due to the fact that this marketing method is remarkably paying off investments and target audience really trusts it. According to a survey by Brightcove and the Content Marketing Institute, about 58% of marketers are planning to increase the budget for content marketing in the next 12 months.
Why content marketing is effective
In fact, content marketing is a marketing format that involves creating and distributing media content and journalism to attract customers. Information of this kind can be presented in a variety of ways and formats, including news, videos, e-books, infographics, research, travel guides, question-and-answer format, press publications, photographs, etc.
Over the past few years, these channels have added all kinds of sites, blogs, social networks, digital media, online seminars, podcasts and Internet conferences.
Goals and objectives of content marketing
The main purpose of content marketing is not sales, but the creation of a strong connection with real and potential customers. By providing up-to-date and reliable information without the compulsive urge to purchase goods and services, this marketing format helps build trust in the brand much faster and more efficiently than more direct methods. Actually, many people think that many of them seem annoying.
Customers, having access to valuable and interesting information, will trust the source more, as they are confident in its excellent awareness and, very importantly, impartiality (as there is no clear motivation to buy).
Useful statistics from the world of content marketing
The survey mentioned above indicates that content marketing is particularly effective as a tool for increasing network traffic and increasing sales. According to the results of the research, about 30% of the marketing budget in B2B sector is focused on content marketing. About 93% of business sector participants use this format, and 42% find it effective or very effective.
In general, B2B-marketers use 13 tactical channels of communication with the audience. About 87% use the media, 81% — articles, 80% — the newsletter. 76% of the content comes from blogs and the same proportion — from events, 73% — from case studies, and the same amount — from a video.
Obstacles to content marketing
To get the necessary effect of content marketing, you should know how to correctly handle the information. About 95% of marketers divide content into segments, 65% use the trends of a specific area, 59% — the profiles of responsible people, 55% — the company characteristics, 43% — the stages of the buying cycle.
In addition to segmentation, marketers also face obstacles, the most serious of which are lack of time (69%), insufficient content (55%), quality problems and content attractiveness (47%) and lack of a dedicated budget (39%).
How to improve the effectiveness of content marketing
To use this marketing tool with maximum impact, you should clearly define the purpose of the company. Most of the B2B marketers (about 93%) determine the lead generation as the ultimate goal of content marketing. This is also the main criteria for the format effectiveness along with performance indicators, brand recognition, and image, etc. To monitor the indicators, they use network traffic, the ratio of new sales and customers, and activity in social networks.
The largest part of marketers (84%) also notes the need to have a clearly defined strategy, because when there is no strategy, it leads to a sharp and significant decrease in performance indicators.
The importance of content marketing and its future in the B2B sector
According to experts, the share of social networks and media for the distribution of content, oriented to B2B-clients, will only grow in the future. Compared to last year, the number of widely used platforms has already grown by 16% (increased from 5 to 6).
The top media platforms that showed the greatest growth include a service called SlideShare, which allows users to share presentations and infographics, Google+, and all known Instagram. It is already obvious that these figures will only grow further, encouraging an increasing number of marketers to use this format.
Content Marketing Trends in 2018: 3 Key Steps
1. Create an audience that wants to interact with your content
80% of the B2B market participants are focused on creating an audience. Your subscribers are your audience. They are a key element of content marketing, and you can communicate with them on a regular basis with non-advertising information. As a result, the address database is part of your business assets.
But more importantly, tracking subscribers is the first step to evaluating the ROI of advertising marketing. Studying your base for subscriptions, refusals from mailings and the number of views provides statistics for understanding the welfare and activity of your business. Ultimately, you are trying to maximize the utility for each customer.
35% of business owners track the profitability of advertising marketing in comparison with 55% of the best B2B marketers. The fact that just a bit more than a half of the best content marketers measure the return on investment in advertising, proves that this is a complex process.
In addition, 50% of people who visit your site are not ready to buy (according to Gleanster). This is important for marketers in B2B because no one needs to clog the sales funnel with addresses of customers who are not yet ready for conversion.
Effective tips for content marketing
Send a welcome letter. Do not let your desire to quickly sell to stand in the way of developing relationships with new subscribers. Give readers time to get used to your newsletter.
Transform the welcome letter so that it will lay the foundation for your relationship with the subscriber. Ask new readers about their problems or segment them.
2. Regularly communicate with your audience to become part of their daily content ration
Your goal is to become a part of a circle of trust for your readers. Stay in view to create an audience that wants to hear you.
58% of B2B content marketers provide information consistently.
Depending on the type of information and audience needs, the frequency of mailing can vary from daily to monthly. If possible, give readers a choice how often they want to get your letters.
Let your readers get used to your newsletter as early as possible.
Effective tips for content marketing
Create a regular newsletter that you can offer for readers. Even small departments of one or two people are able to create high-quality content.
Include regular content in your editorial calendar. If you do not put content creation in priority, you will never do it. Moreover, a clear schedule will help you estimate your abilities, have time to pick up the material and not disappoint your readers.
3. Focus on the most productive content for best results
47% of B2B marketers stop doing things that do not provide more effective solutions.
Concentrate your efforts on promoting content that will bring maximum results. In order to focus efforts on content that works, you need to make friends with analytics. And regularly evaluate all the content that you generated for the bulletins, transitions, social reactions, lead generation. So, the content generation is a chain:
idea → content creation → analysis → improvement → repacking
Effective tips for marketing online
Focus on those things that are more important, such as headlines, conversion pages. To keep readers’ attention, link your articles (refer to previously published). Create interesting tips for reposting in social networks. Repacking the content is important. For example, from pieces of articles, you can create infographics, tips for your subscribers, interestingly designed quotes. Articles on one topic can be used to write large instructions and manuals (the so-called white books). Each content unit in your blog should contain some target action for the reader: subscribe to the newsletter, follow the link, download the material, ask a question, make an appointment for a consultation. Do not forget to remind me how you can be useful.
Best 17 ideas to attract new leads and increase sales through the content marketing
Content marketing for the B2B segment is somewhat different than just a way to exclusively write relevant posts with a lot of relevant links and audience-attractive offers. Let’s review the best 17 ideas for all who work with B2B-markets and at the same time strives to make your blog, website or online store/service the most effective and useful for partners and customers.
1. Lists and main pages for communities
Large volumes of guaranteed traffic bring the main pages of corporate sites and lists. If you work with B2B clients, consider several options for systematizing content, for example:
- Calendars — a well-designed interactive calendar will not only help you to tell about all the events that your company plans but also attract a constant stream of anyone interested in your conference or seminars.
- lists of agents of influence — all who writes, say, remove, shows or talks about important topics and technologies from your field of activity. An example is a list of developers on javais.cool.
- useful resources — lists of useful websites, newsletters, blogs or thematic online media for your customers, potential buyers or partners. An example is 42 newsletters for developers.
2. Games and puzzles
Do not underestimate gamification — it can become a powerful tool to attract the attention of potential users, even in the corporate segment. This is exactly what happened with the Game of Hacks, which is now played by more than 65 thousand IT security experts. Game polls, step-by-step puzzles or quizzes are boring because the largest corporations representatives and teams are also people and also like to be distracted and entertained.
3. Google Alerts for secondary traffic peaks
Reusing content, repackaging it and re-publishing it on social networks or on friendly platforms is one of the skills that you need to master. Google Alerts settings will help you track all the secondary traffic peaks (time, topics, occasions, for which there was a repeated increased activity of users on the site). Monitoring such events will help to fine-tune the search engine optimization and content policy on the site to make such peaks regular.
4. Transforming posts into presentations with uploading them to SlideShare
It has already been said about the repackaging of content — good materials on the site can always be turned into a presentation with a list of links that will lead readers from SlideShare to your website or to your online store. In addition, adding presentations to the original post will lead to an improving position in the Google rank.
5. Retargeting by page and post
If you rely heavily on content marketing on blogging, most readers of your blog are likely to leave the blog after reading a couple of materials, without knowing what you are actually selling. To retrieve them, use retargeting. For this purpose, use the features of Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads or other online advertising services. Retargeting depends on what platforms your target audience most often uses and how it reacts to your posts on various social networks. For example, if you are targeting customers who use Slack in their work, write a guide how to use this service — and draw the attention of the target segment to your product related to working with Slack.
6. SEO content marketing
One of the tasks of content marketing is to supplement and expand the possibilities of search engine optimization. In addition, you can specify a limited array of keywords, select headlines and descriptions for posts and pictures, taking into account the SEO practices and recommendations. Writing new search-targeted posts and the semantic core of the site will give you more traffic and targeted conversions to your site, blog or online store.
7. Testing and comparing products
Content marketing can be built on publications that analyze and compare competing products or tools that replace each other. Typically, such posts in the blog lead thousands of readers and a large amount of traffic from an already interested audience: those people know exactly what they are looking for and what results are expected — which means the number of leads among the conversions and the conversion percentage (if the article has links to purchase targeted products or services) will be higher.
- Lists of tools — lists of tools, useful sites and services work well. You can use this method to attract a high-quality audience interested in your product or services.
- Long and detailed practical guides — as a rule, this type of publication includes guidelines for beginners, as well as detailed step-by-step optimization algorithms, audience building, publication cycles, which should result in certain indicators or specific tasks that can change the client company’s work better.
- Newsletters from editors — newsletters are often criticized, but nevertheless, the relevant newsletter is still a quality channel for attracting readers and buyers.
- Sharing an audience — using an audience of companies that are not your competitors, for cross-themed mailings or for compiling lists that include the tools and capabilities of such companies, will help attract additional traffic.
- Using Wavelength — a great tool from the MailChimp mailing list service to find mailing lists that are relevant to your target audience.
- The launch of identical products — improved products or services customized based on the needs of a specific segment of the audience can be one of the most effective ways to activate additional sales using the related thematic content.
- Byproducts of the new products — the B2B market usually produces a line of dozens of products and solutions for each segment. Instead of describing all these products/service packages on the site as modifications of the same package, try creating descriptions, types of content and publications for each product/package as if it were a separate product. To compose descriptions and headings for such byproducts, it is recommended to use the header generators from Portent or HubSpot, as well as Moz’s Follower Wonk tool.
8. Active interaction with the audience
- Email funnel A/B-testing. Usually, split tests are used for sites and applications, but experts advise to try a similar approach for e-mails that your company sends out. Evaluation of headlines, letter topics and text structures based on A/B testing will allow you to identify which types of mailing and which letter template your audience responds best. To collect such statistics and analyze the data during the tests, you can use intercom.io.
- Distribution of “elephants” — encouraging managers and representatives of companies that buy your product by souvenir, T-shirts, bags with a logo or discount coupons. Creating landing pages, thematic mailings and even pages of your company’s mascot in social networks can also have a positive impact on the brand perception and the level of secondary sales. Often, you can launch a thematic line of accessories and souvenirs that do not even mention the name of your company directly — but it will mention a service or a persistent phrase that will be associated with your basic services for customers.
- Live chat in the early stages of product launching — chat support not only allows you to activate repeat sales and offer additional services, but also to provide relevant feedback and constant feedback from your customers and business partners; and also promptly provide all the necessary information to potential buyers who have not yet made the final choice in favor of your products or services.
- Increasing the number of activations from the same company — through additional information, repeated publications, branded applications, mailings, social networks.
- Letters segmentation — instead of a faceless universal audience with an average user, compose the texts of mailings and commercial proposals, focusing on the segment of your audience, specifically its needs and expectations. Users segmentation can be carried out by several criteria: by the level of involvement, by payments, by technologies or integration levels, which they use; by location, language profiles or social characteristics. For each user group, mailing texts and sentences should be separated. So you can significantly increase the conversion.
9. Using Optimizely for dynamic links between advertisement/SEM and landing page
A context-oriented landing page can serve a good service for a lead generation. It is recommended to use Optimizely for a comparative evaluation of how text, headlines, images, and links for the target audience work for each of the variants of the contextual landing page.
10 .Discounts for detailed product information
In exchange for a submitted form with additional data, you can sell additional services or transfer potential customers to the category of new ones, simply by offering a relevant discount. On the other hand, do not forget — the more fields in the form the user needs to fill, the higher the probability that he or she will not authorize on your site and make any purchase.
11. Monitoring the blogs
Among the main difficulties that companies face in the B2B segment is the low audience interest in the blogs (especially when compared to the more popular B2C segment). To prevent this situation, one should learn to sell your texts, ideas, and newsmakers. To do this, do not forget about tracking the way you work with the blogs in B2C and your more popular competitors. Finding similar products and how they write about these products is what you should focus on. For monitoring, you can use different services like press.customerdevlabs.com.
12. Creating your own community
Building a content strategy is much easier if you have a permanent audience. Instead of developing someone else’s audience, publishing materials on third-party sites, sending press releases to the media or giving comments to blogs, why do not you launch your own community? Not always this community can be directly monetized — but almost always it will help you in testing new products or in testing commercial hypotheses in real-life conditions. For those who are interested in developing an online community around their brand, we recommend reading the interview by Rand Fishkin from Moz.
13. Creating plugins
Plug-ins and online integration are additional leads, conversion increase and new sales (especially when it comes to online services). Creating a set of plug-ins will allow you to acquire additional marketing channels. Even the basic API for your online product can be an excellent base for creating dozens of integrated solutions for third-party platforms and projects, which ultimately will promote additional sales of your services and software products. And promoting plug-ins in communities, your blog or on friendly platforms will complement your content strategy.
14. Investigation of traffic sources for other companies
You should study not only your own traffic (where, from where, why and how the user comes) but also strategies for traffic generation of competitors and partners:
- Identify the products of other companies and platforms that use the same target audience to get traffic — while learning about referral sites, social networks, blogs and paid traffic channels based on open statistics. As a monitoring tool, you can use SimilarWeb.
- Study the banner effectiveness and online advertising sites for your competitors. For this purpose, you can use Moat.
- Analyze the effectiveness of email distribution in your industry. This task will help to solve emailinsights.com.
15. Authorization on the site with Google, Twitter, Facebook and GitHub
The authorization tool, very useful in the B2C segment, is also required in B2B.
16. Selecting the content that works best for your competitors
You do not always have to fight with competitors or envy them – sometimes you have to use wisely what they already succeed in. Look at what types of your competitor’s content are viral and try to do the same, only much better and faster. To research content in competitor blogs, we recommend paying attention to tools like Quicksprout, BuzzSumo.
17. Cross-platform promotion
This promotion is based on the same audience exchange with projects and companies that have the same target audience but they do not compete with you for the market. It is worth paying attention to companies of the same size with approximately the same market segment. The cross-platform promotion formats can be the following:
- Posts exchange in corporate blogs;
- Exchange banner advertising in such blogs;
- Conducting joint webinars with another company, which will help all participants to consolidate and increase the user base;
- Creation of joint newsletters.
Applying even the best methods of content marketing does not guarantee instant and huge profits. Content marketing is not a whirlwind or storm, but a long, mild snowfall. If it falls out in the right rate, be sure that everyone will see it.
All the above examples are an excellent demonstration that content marketing has become more practiced. Internet media find a new life, getting hundreds of interesting materials from the market and a new destination — to be a filter for the quality of content. If you use these methods properly, your sales will definitely grow.