This post was originally published in 2018, but has been updated for relevance.
According to HubSpot, 63% of marketers see lead generation as their most pressing challenge, especially when it's in a highly competitive market like B2B technology where you need to stand out from the crowd. However, when done right, you can be reaping the rewards of B2B lead generation by implementing these eight strategies. However, before you get started, make sure you've taken into account the following.
First things first
Analyse your efforts
First, take a good hard look at what you’ve been doing over the past year. Delve into your data, talk to your teams and evaluate your lead generation strategies carefully. You should know your visitor, lead, MQL and sales opportunities to a T. If you find that your organic traffic is growing, ramp up your SEO strategy, but if there are other strategies that aren’t giving you any ROI, tweak or abandon them.
Know your audience
There’s no such thing as a perfect buyer persona - you’ll need to constantly update and refine them as you gather more information. But we’re not all perfect, and with many things to do on a daily basis, you can easily find that you’ve lost sight of who your audience is. Try to set some time aside to review your personas quarterly to ensure that you’re targeting the right people in your lead generation strategy.
There’s no point dipping in and out of various strategies, as you’ll never gain enough momentum to see results. Instead, choose specific ones that will work well for your business, concentrate your efforts and execute them with full force.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what you need to do generate more leads for your B2B technology business in 2020:
1. Take advantage of user search intent
Getting on the first page of a search engine is still a highly coveted achievement for many B2B technology brands, as it means your keyword and underlying SEO strategy has paid off and you can start bringing in more organic traffic and leads. However, Google's BERT update has changed the way search results are processed and delivered. Google's machine-learning technology is used to intelligently sort through billions of results and display the most relevant ones for a user's search query, and is becoming more advanced than ever in 2020.
So what does this mean?
Essentially, it's not about ranking for keywords anymore, but ranking for a user's search intent.
However, there are still many other signalling factors that Google looks at to help rank web pages, not just by answering a user's question. You still need to ensure that the content you write is of great quality, uses authoritative links, is mobile-friendly and so on in order to generate the kind of leads that you need.
So how do you utilise this?
It's important to keep in mind that the way people search has changed. Search engine queries have become more long-form, complicated questions. Google quickly works to decipher the questions users ask in order to provide relevant and useful answers to a question. This means that Google offers less of the not-so-relevant results which have only displayed due to some SEO marketing using the right keywords.
Back in the day, a B2B marketer would try to emulate what someone might type into a search engine - but using very fragmented language. However, as search is becoming more speech-based, marketers need to change their strategy to work with this in the form of "topic clusters".
Topic clusters are a fairly recent technique that some B2B technology companies are beginning to employ in their lead generation strategies. By focusing on the pains and challenges of your prospects in the B2B technology market, you'll be able to start targeting user search intent much better by providing the best answers and solutions to those pains and challenges at every stage of the buyer's journey.
Topic clusters then work by helping you to link single topics that share relevancy, together - all pointing back to a pillar page. In this way, search engines like Google will begin to see your brand as the authority on those topics and start pushing you up in the rankings as a result.
2. Cast your net cleverly
Every single person that visits your website needs to be treated like gold dust. This means you have to create a digital experience that is compelling, engaging and ultimately offers so much potential benefit to them that they’ll want to part with their contact details.
When a prospect clicks on your landing page, this is your opportunity to convert them into a lead. A mistake that many B2B technology marketers make is in their lead capture forms - they’re either too long or are asking the wrong questions. As a result, your prospects may drop out before they've become a
A careful balance needs to be struck with forms; you don’t want to assume too much, but equally, you want to create enough
Tips for perfect lead capture forms:
- Solution-focused - remember that the prospect is on your website because they have a problem and you need to convey that you want to genuinely solve it for them. The sooner you do this, the more likely they are to become a
- Use logical conditioning - for example, you could ask “what is your experience level” and only have a follow-up question if they're the experience level you're targeting, such as "senior".
- Be smart - don’t ask for their phone number if all you’re offering them is an infographic. The details that you ask for has to be proportional to the value of what you’re providing.
When it comes to landing pages, keep them simple, concise and clear. Remember that your copy is trying to achieve two things: entice your prospects but also filter through the people that aren’t quite the right fit for your business.
3. Publish more often
Content marketing should undeniably and unequivocally be one of your lead generation strategies if you want to improve your B2B lead generation. However, in a study by CMI, 52% of B2B marketers stated that they didn't have enough time to devote towards their content marketing. Though, according to research by HubSpot, companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month generate 4.5 times as many leads as those who publish only 0-4 monthly posts. So it's worth making the time for it.
B2B buyers will continue to search for solutions to their problem and high-value content is the thing that will not only get them to your website but also keep them there. In the Demand Gen Report, it stated that 96% of buyers look for content from industry thought leaders. Therefore, use this a great opportunity to show off your knowledge and establish your organisation as trusted thought leaders in your industry by publishing quality content on a regular basis.
One of the most impactful posts you can create are compounding posts. These bring in more and more traffic day by day:
Compounding posts are powerful because they generate more attraction over time, as opposed to other posts that generally peak when they’re first published, and then begin to decay. Over its lifetime, a single compounding post generates as much traffic as six decaying posts and they account for 38% of overall traffic.
It’s not always clear whether a post is going to start generating more traffic over time and it often depends on the industry and audience you’re writing to. However, there are a set of characteristics that a lot of compounding posts share:
- Cover a broad topic, rather than a narrow focus
- Not based on topical or upcoming events
- Easy to scan and not overly complex
- Titled with common search phrases, that often start with “how”, “what”, or “why”
- Provide a definitive answer to a problem or help the reader accomplish something specific
Overall, content marketing must not be overlooked. If you find that you need to carry out some restructuring within your B2B technology business to give your staff the resources and time to spend on creating quality and high-quality content, you shouldn’t think twice about doing it.
4. Use paid search for re-marketing
One of the best ways to generate leads and move people further down the buying funnel is through paid search. Almost 65% of people who are looking to buy online click on an ad on Google, according to Wordstream.
If someone visits your website for the first time, it’s very rare that they’ll become a viable lead immediately. In fact, they’ll return 7-8 times before they might be ready to fill in a form on your website or speak to a salesperson, as stated by Salesforce.
This is why re-marketing for B2B buyers is so important, as it puts your brand in front of them again and again and keeps your tech brand at the forefront of their minds. For example, if a prospect reads one of your blog posts and a few hours later sees an ad on Facebook that reminds them of your product or service, they’re much more likely to convert.
5. Raise your social media game
Traditionally thought of as a B2C channel, many B2B tech organisations overlook social media for lead generation because of connotations that it’s not corporate enough, or that prospects won’t be on there. The truth is, your prospects are human, and they want to be engaged and entertained just as much as any other B2C consumer.
Social sharing enhances reputation and increases brand authenticity because it’s such a personal way of communicating with your audience. If you get it right, you could see a significant improvement in lead generation. According to the Social Media Examiner, 66% of marketers who spent as little as six hours per week on social media see lead generation benefits.
Social media will work in tandem with your entire B2B lead generation strategy. It will allow you to enhance your understanding of your buyer personas, as you’ll be able to gauge the kind of things they’re most interested in through their online activities; in turn, allowing you to create content that speaks to them directly.
One of the best social platforms for B2B lead generation is LinkedIn and provides the highest social value for B2B companies as massive 85% of B2B buyers use this platform to discuss and share relevant content. There are thousands of B2B technology-specific groups on there that will be filled with the exact people that you want to sell to. You can begin using it within an hour; set up your company page, join relevant groups and start sharing.
6. Automate your emails
In 2020, email marketing might not be new or sexy, but it is highly effective and is the number one channel for sharing business content and communication.
If you’re looking for a sure way to rank up your email marketing efforts and increase your B2B technology leads in 2020, look to marketing automation. B2B marketers have ranked marketing automation as the top way to generate better and more quality leads, according to Pepper Global.
With marketing automation software, you can use your CRM to send targeted emails to the right people, at exactly the right time. Not only will this reduce admin and wasted staff resources, but it’ll put your content in front of your prospects at key moments.
You can, for example, set up rules whereby if a prospect carries out a set of actions on your site such as filling in a form or clicking on your contact page, they’ll be sent a personalised email with additional and useful information.
7. Step outside your office
Everything is so digital that we forget one of the most effective ways to engage with a prospect is actually in person. Whether you go all out and set up your own stand or you just pop in to network for an hour, offline events can be the perfect place to meet potential prospects, keep up with the latest news in the technology market and be proactive thought leaders by holding exclusive speaker events or presentations.
But don't just leave it there. Further expand your brand's authority by creating pre and post-event blogs, film your speeches and presentations and share these on social media and promote your B2B technology brand. You can even turn your presentations into downloadable resources that you can use to attract visitors and turn them into leads using forms to capture their details.
8. Talk to your salespeople
Finally, don’t forget to communicate with the sales team. After all, these are the people who are going to be following up and talking to the leads you pass to them. You'll want to make sure that your efforts are not being wasted and that your strategies are actually attracting the right kind of prospects. Therefore, it's vital to gain feedback from your sales team on the quality of those leads so you can use this information to improve your strategy as you go.
In general, it’s good practice to make sure that your marketing and sales teams have the same goals in terms of revenue. This will give everyone clarity on what to work towards and will create much more alignment between your teams going forward.
Get started with better B2B lead generation today
All eight of these recommendations are important elements in aligning your marketing to the way B2B prospects now buy and at the heart of this is your website. For this reason, we have put together a handy checklist which will ensure that your website makes use of the right techniques and help you to get found by more relevant potential buyers and convert them into sales-ready leads for your B2B technology business. Download our B2B lead generation website checklist to get started.
This blog was first published in 2017 and has been updated in 2018 to ensure correctness and quality.