B2B Lead generation is tough (understatement of 2020)! However, it’s not impossible. The beginning of any marketing tactic starts with good research and b2b is no different. Knowing your target audience is the key to making any of the following tactics successful.
Target audience research informs your messaging, topics, content type, email frequency, SEO keywords, and more. It’s pivotal and will make or break your marketing and, more specifically, your lead generation.
I’ve broken it down to five top b2b lead generation activities. To be most effective you should be doing all five of them but if you’re starting out, choose one to start with and expand as you get the hang of each.
1. Content marketing
B2b content marketing isn’t a secret. In fact, it’s probably the most popular tactic of all mentioned here. I’ve seen a lot of b2bs do content marketing really well; however, I’ve seen even more b2bs do it horribly. This is not something you can ‘slap together’. It requires thought and planning – and of course, research. You need to have an excellent handle on what your prospects pain points are and how they talk about them. You should use their words so they feel understood.
What content should you create?
B2b content topics are as unique as finger prints. They should reflect your authority but also resonate with the target audience in a way that builds trust and encourages a deeper relationship with you.
When thinking about b2b topics:
Depending upon your content marketing strategy, you can create b2b content to help in organic traffic and page rank. Think about how the pain points your ideal clients have when they approach you. How do they talk about it? What do they think they need as a solution? IF this is a big topic then how can you segment it into smaller pieces or longer keywords (phrases)?
Then ask yourself:
- Does this content benefit my target audience?
- Does my target audience find this content useful?
Above all else b2b content needs to answer ‘yes’ to the above questions. Not sure if yours does? Test it out with a social media post and gauge the reaction.
Once you’ve got the copy (text) and know what you want to create, that’s when you answer the other questions:
- Can I diversify this content format?
- Does everything need to be published on the website? Or are there other places where your content could sit? (and engage with more people)
- Does your content sound like a person created it? Does it have a human element?
- Are you using images? Are you using more than one?
Regardless of the content type you begin with (podcast, blog post, video, eBook/report/whitepaper, case study, infographic) you will likely recycle pieces of it into different types to post more effectively on different channels and reach a wider audience. For example, a podcast or live video would be transcribed into a blog post. A whitepaper would be boiled down to an infographic. You get the idea.
Content marketing needs to be researched, targeted and implemented with technological prowess. There is a lot of incredible software to help in making sure your b2b customer experience is flawless. From submitting the form to receiving a follow-up email or phone call. Find one that fits your comfort level and always test everything before going LIVE. This means, landing pages, thank-you pages, form submissions, email automations, etc.
2. Social media & social shares
Yes, b2b social media works if there’s a strategy. By now, everyone knows to use LinkedIn but the rest is up to you and should really be based on your target audience. Ideally choose about 5 platforms to engage and make sure your profile uses target audience keywords and that your messaging and call-to-action is clear to anyone who visits your profile page.
Social media can seem difficult to track as with a b2b audience you likely won’t do a lot of selling through your posts. However, you can use your social media for different tasks:
- Gathering social proof
- Opt-in content sharing (growing your email list)
- Message/copy/idea testing
- Target audience research
- Social listening
- Brand awareness
- Brand loyalty
Those last two are the most difficult to track but have shown to contribute most to positive, long-term, brand relationships.
Social media can help with several pieces of your b2b marketing strategy. It can add more visuals to your brand (an encouraged tactic), it can help you come across as more human and personable, it can help you test out messaging or content.
Social ads can work depending upon your strategy behind it. And are often far less expensive than PPC.
What should I post?
Any good strategy will have a loose outline of what, where and when to post leaving room for some spontaneity and human response. Some effective post ideas for a B2B would be:
- Behind the scenes (event, office, zoom call, etc.)
- Show some staff love
- Share client testimonials
- Poll on interest in two different content pieces to unlock for free
- Spotlight on a popular feature or service you have
- Opt-in content
- Staff pets
- Industry tips
- Industry stats that support your solution/service
- Open ended questions that encourage comments
Make sure you use a lot of photography. And bonus points if you are using your own branded photos. If you are going to a stock photo site, just make sure that they look relaxed and real – no stuffy stock photos.
B2b ads are a popular addition to any b2b marketing strategy. They drive traffic, validate copy, and bring in leads. But PPC should be only part of your marketing strategy. If you ever stop running ads you don’t want your traffic to dry up. So it’s important to work on organic traffic simultaneously. PPC can generate immediate traffic into your funnels and are an effective way of testing those funnels out (if you can’t wait for organic traffic to do it for you.
With any ad you’ll want to drive your targeted traffic to focused landing pages that closely relate to the ad copy and focus. The PPC ad acts as the top of the funnel and several pieces must align for the ad to work correctly. It is well worth the money to look into having your ads run professionally as there can be many moving parts.
- Research the keywords specific to your ideal client and the problem that you solve.
- Consider using ad groups and running multiple ads to test out differing keywords.
- Long tail keywords (phrases of 3 or more words) often indicate a prospect closer to the buying stage (more specific). This will (should) impact your copy and opt-in offering.
- Ad copy is a huge topic so I’ll just say here that you may need to tweak a lot of it to find that sweet spot that brings in the clicks.
- Landing page copy must resonate with the target audience as well as the focus of the ad. The opt-in form should be easy to spot and the benefits of filling it in should be front and centre.
- Don’t ask for too many fields as you’ll risk the prospect abandoning the page altogether. Just because you want the information doesn’t mean that asking for it all at once is a good idea.
4. SEO, The Display Network & Remarketing
B2b search engine optimizing is a marketing strategy that is done for long-term lead generation. Keyword ranking can take time and is on-going. Give yourself about six months to start seeing the effect of organic SEO efforts.
Yes, you’ll get traffic spikes with content sharing and social media posts. Yes, you’ll get traffic with PPC ads. But SEO is to deliver on-going traffic to your website that is actively searching for what you provide (based on keyword use). And as long as you have the message that engages and the content to keep them engaged then you can easily add them to your leads or in some cases direct to client.
Ranking for long-tail keywords is always smart as they are closer to purchase (as I mentioned before). There is less competition for long tail keywords as well. It’s a win-win! Think of common phrases or questions you hear prospects say. Talk to your sales team and take their insights seriously as they are sitting on top of a crazy amount of customer insights. Be careful not to blindly follow a sales person word-for-word though. They often will adapt the message (knowingly or unknowingly) to fit their own voice and we don’t want this. They can, however, confirm messaging. So, start with that.
Once your keywords are researched and selected then you can start to implement them into your marketing starting with your website. You want to make sure that your landing pages resonate with the specific pain and pain killer that fits with that target audience.
Keywords should be monitored and tweaked as you go as many other competitors will also be working on their SEO. Stay on top of any keywords within the top 30 spaces. Obviously, first page ranking is desired but it takes less tweaking to move that 21st spot to a 3rd spot than that 87th spot to a 3rd spot.
Engaging a remarketing campaign can help with brand recognition and encourage opt-ins. This is where they leave your website then see an ad for what they just looked at that brings them back.
5. Email marketing
Being able to email leads and convince them to continue to engage with your content is a desired skill in any b2b and should be valued. B2b subscribers are a tough audience and you need to be on your toes to keep them engaged. The key is to know your audience and their tastes/preferences. Depending upon who you are targeting there will be preferences on the type of content. Do they want a newsletter with highlights? Personal and succinct email with a few links? Or an automated notification of a new blog post? That was a trick question as the last one shouldn’t really be on your list at all.
The kind of insights you send them should support their role in the buying process and make things easier for them. For example, should you be sending them a sell sheet and a link to book a call or a blog post on how to gain purchase buy-in?
And on top of all of this you still need to build on your personal relationship with the prospect. Now, I know this sounds funny because we’re talking about a batch-type email to a random prospect on your list. But email lets your prospect get to know you better every time they open it. And you can get to know your prospects by paying attention to what they’re engaging in. Tip: Video is always a win in content!
Part of what can make this a lot easier is to automate most of this with notifications around high interest and email engagement.
And even if your emails are automated, you can make it feel personal enough that you get replies. And replies should be encouraged! Ask for feedback, ask questions and ask them to hit reply and send you some!
So, there you have five b2b lead generation strategies that you should be implementing in your business. None of them are singled out for being “the best” as they really should be working all together to deliver those leads to you every day.