In the world of B2B sales, chasing down qualified B2B leads can be the most frustrating part of any sales rep’s job, but it’s also one of the most important. You need those B2B leads to keep the pipeline full and achieve your sales goals. The truth is that B2B prospects aren’t really harder to find; they have just become more discriminating. Today’s customers are better informed and busier than ever, so you need to adopt more creative strategies to attract qualified B2B leads.
Lead generation is still the toughest marketing challenge, according to 65 percent of companies surveyed by HubSpot. The fact is that 93 percent of B2B customers start the buying process with an online search but 96 percent of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy yet. In fact, most B2B buyers will conduct between 8-12 online searches before they are ready to talk to a sales rep, and by then, they are 57 percent through the buying process. What these statistics tell you is that B2B prospects prefer to do their own research rather than being sold, and your best lead generation strategy is to provide the information they need to help them make a buying decision that favors your company.
Tools to Attract B2B Leads
Today’s B2B lead generation requires tools to attract and educate prospects, nurture those leads until they are ready to buy. B2B customers are largely self-selecting, having already ticked off a number of criteria on their checklist before they are ready to engage, so you want to keep them coming back for fresh information.
To educate and nurture these better-informed B2B leads, companies are adopting various strategies:
- Email continues to be the most popular tool, with 87 percent of marketers using email prospecting strategies. Marketing automation, in particular, has helped increase the effectiveness of email marketing, linking email prospecting to CRM software to automatically send customized messages to B2B targets. The key to effective email marketing is providing a personalized, informative message with a call to action that entices the recipient to learn more.
- Content marketing is another highly effective tool to attract B2B prospects who are hungry for information. Where email marketing reaches out to prospects, content marketing draws them in with valuable information. Content marketing requires you to develop high-quality, informative content that highlights your expertise and ability to address a specific problem. The trick is to place that content where it can be found by your most qualified leads, which means the content has to be search-friendly with target keywords and phrases. The content itself can be used to populate blogs, third-party websites, online media outlets, and other resources that B2B prospects use for research. Companies that are adept at content marketing see 7.8 times more web traffic, which means B2B prospects are coming to their websites looking for solutions.
- Social media continues to be a controversial B2B lead generation tool. Many companies claim social media marketing success, but a Marketo study shows social media conversion rates to be only 1.95 percent, as opposed to inbound strategies at 3.82 percent. Still, social media is an important tool for brand visibility as well as lead conversion. Social media advertising has been effective when the right message and the right media are used. For B2B prospecting, for example, 97 percent of companies find LinkedIn to be the most effective platform for lead generation, and 94 percent of B2B companies use LinkedIn ads as opposed to other social media channels.
- Search marketing also can be an effective tool, but is best used as part of the long game. Using search engine optimization (SEO) can be profitable, but it takes resources and dedicated time and attention to get your company or product to rank number one, or even in the top 10 on Google. Remember that 93 percent of online experiences begin with a web search, and Google has 76 percent of the search engine market.
- Pay per click (PPC) is a different strategy from search marketing and uses online advertising to yield faster results. Google AdWords is one of the most common PPC vehicles, delivering custom ads to search results that are triggered by specific keywords, although you have to be careful to choose the right keywords, or ad costs can become exorbitant. There also is the display network, which serves Google-generated ads to partner websites. These are less expensive but also less effective. Bear in mind, however, that many people use ad blockers, which make PPC less valuable.
Generating qualified B2B leads can be tricky and often frustrating, which is why many sales organizations outsource B2B lead generation. With the right sales support partner, you can create a highly effective lead generation program that includes content marketing, nurturing high-value prospects and creating a contact cadence that is sure to deliver results. B2B lead generation and qualification are two of MarketStar’s specialties, so please feel free to contact us to see how we can help you build your sales pipeline.