The ultimate success of any business to business (B2B) marketing strategy or program revolves around lead generation. How many new qualified leads resulted from your marketing efforts? How much did it cost to generate each new qualified lead? Every B2B marketer continually looks for innovative, lead generation approaches. The challenge comes from finding the right combination of campaigns that produce the greatest number of qualified leads at the lowest cost.
Qualified means the prospect is genuinely interested in your business, wants more information on your solutions and expects to make a purchase soon.
In HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report, 65 percent of marketing teams ranked generating leads a top challenge. When asked about the source that provided the highest quality leads, 67% of study participants said inbound practices, 17 percent cited self-sourced leads from the sales team, and 16% indicated outbound practices.
Which Lead Generation Strategies Work Best?
In multiple studies, these inbound strategies consistently rank near the top regarding generating quality B2B leads:
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Search Marketing
- Social Marketing
Keep in mind that how you execute your campaign plays a bigger role than the channel you select. Email may be a great tool for generating highly qualified leads. But if you spam prospects, you can lose potential business and harm your brand.
Leverage these tips to make the most of your inbound marketing investment:
Email Marketing Tips
Although over two decades old, email marketing still tops the list of many B2B marketer’s most successful lead generation strategies. According to a Demand Metric Research Corporation survey, 78% of participants ranked email as one of the most commonly used B2B lead generation strategies. Properly structured emails help establish client relationships and generate highly qualified leads.
- Leverage Marketing Automation – A significant trend in email marketing, automation tools connect with your CRM so you can capture more user data and automatically send highly targeted emails.
- Personalize Your Emails – Prospects will likely pay better attention if they feel appreciated. Individualizing your communications begins the relationship-building process.
- Provide Value – All communication must have a purpose. When sending emails, be sure you help and inform.
- Time Your Emails – Some experts say to avoid Mondays and Fridays. However, the best time to send your emails depends on when your target audience will likely receive it.
- Practice Persistence – Email marketing requires patience. Generating leads often takes multiple emails that provide diverse content over time.
Content Marketing Tips
Content marketing provides an opportunity to improve visibility, build trust, improve search engine results, and create a solid lead foundation. Based on a Content Marketing Institute study, 83% of B2B marketers use content marketing for lead generation.
Here are some recommendations for building strong relationships through content marketing:
- Plan Your Content Strategy First – Establish a goal and use a spreadsheet to organize your content structure. Plan content to engage and educate your target audience.
- Create Content from the Target’s Point of View – Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What would they want to read and how will they want to read it?
- Avoid Self-Promotion – When you focus on providing information that helps your audience, you start to build trust. Tooting your own horn too much might turn off readers.
- Leverage Microsites – A proven tactic, microsites expand your message. Plus, the readers directed to your microsite will be highly relevant targets.
- Develop a Website Blog – A blog provides an opportunity to give advice and position your business as an industry expert.
- Incorporate Video – You can individualize your content with compelling, helpful videos.
- Experiment with Different Tactics – Should you do what others are doing or buck the trend? You must base your ultimate content plan on what works best for your business.
Search Marketing Tips
Getting to the first page on Google isn’t easy today. Successful search engine optimization (SEO) depends on other programs, including content marketing and social media. However, organic search can be a valuable long-term strategy for generating B2B leads. HubSpot statistics show 66% of marketers want to improve SEO and make growing their organic presence a top inbound marketing priority.
To produce results, keep these things in mind:
• Research Keywords – Plan around the keywords searched on Google Adwords.
• Highlight Keywords in Content – If you plan your topics around target audience needs, you can structure your content to accentuate keywords and make them more easily found.
• Supplement Organic Search with Paid Advertising – On its own, organic search usually will not produce enough lead quantity. Targeted advertising helps generate more leads.
Social Media Tips
Social media can play a role as part of an integrated marketing program. Tips include:
- Coordinate with Other Marketing Initiatives – As part of an integrated campaign, social media should support your content and search efforts. Providing company updates on social media help drive traffic.
- Select Your Platforms Carefully – Not all social media platforms will be appropriate for your business. Spend time on the ones that best match your prospect’s goals.
- Consider LinkedIn for B2B Leads — LinkedIn reported that 65% of B2B companies successfully generated leads on its platform. To produce the best results, create a clear and active presence by sharing relevant news, contributing articles, interacting with business leaders, and continually connecting with new people.
- Take a Long-Term Approach to Facebook – Your initial goal should be building brand awareness by using visual content and sharing. With calls-to-action and newsletter signups, you can create a foundation for lead generation.
- Use Proven Twitter Techniques – Ongoing self-promotion can get you unfollowed. Instead, share relevant information and ideas with your target audience. Use hashtags to increase impressions, engagements, and follows. Twitter offers a great tool for identifying prospects through phrase and hashtag searches.