Business-to-business (B2B) companies are constantly hunting for new ways to identify potential client prospects and generate qualified sales leads. In fact, recent studies from MarketingProfs and eMarketer both revealed that B2B marketers’ biggest challenge is generating more leads.
B2B purchases are often large in terms of dollar value, multiple stakeholders are involved in the purchase decision and leads typically conduct a significant amount of research and deliberation before a sale is complete. With all of these factors considered, there are a number of reasons why inbound marketing is the perfect fit for B2B organizations looking to generate more leads and shorten the sales cycle.
Inbound marketing, which encompasses a number of marketing tactics including content creation, social media, blogging, PPC and email automation to name a few, is a methodology designed to attract targeted traffic to your website, convert visitors into leads and nurture them towards becoming customers.
In this post we will be focusing on four tactics that help fill the top-of-funnel with highly targeted inbound leads, shorten the sales cycle and lower your customer acquisition costs.
1. Conversion Focused Content Marketing
In the past most B2B websites simply acted as a brochure, offering basic information about a product or service. Marketers thought of websites as a way to “increase awareness” or “build brand equity”. But the trouble is, without a logical next step, visitors simply scanned your website content and moved on. Unless the visitor filled out your “Contact Us” form you never figured out who was on your website, let alone what they were interested in.
Conversion focused content marketing aims to turn your anonymous website visitors into leads by offering access to exclusive content in exchange for the viewer’s contact information. This exclusive content can be delivered in a variety of forms – whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, how-to guides, infographics, the list goes on.
Once a website visitor has give your their contact information you can then begin to market to them in a much more personalized and continuous manner. Proactively sending emails that answer your leads most common questions will encourage them to move through the sales funnel at an accelerated pace.
2. Targeted Social Media Marketing
With over 645 million users on Twitter alone, it can be a real challenge to filter through the noise and identify the conversations that matter the most to your business. Despite an endless selection of social media monitoring and engagement platforms, many B2B companies still struggle to identify and connect with their target audience on social media.
One of the simplest ways to focus your social media efforts is to integrate “Twitter User Name” into your landing page forms. When a visitor signs up to download your exclusive content simply ask them what their Twitter username is. These leads can be added to a private Twitter list which you can monitor closely as you continue to nurture them towards becoming a customer. Frequent interactions with your leads helps to keep your brand top of mind and improves the chances the a lead will pay attention to your new content.
Being a bit more proactive, you can use social media monitoring tools like Hootsuite or HubSpot’s Social Inbox to monitor for mentions of relevant keywords or industry specific hashtags. This will help you identify users who are actively engaging in conversations about your industry. People who are already engaged in the types of conversations that interest your organization can be brand advocates to reach out to and can even become great sales leads. Follow them, send them a reply or let them know how you can be of assistance.
In a recent study of over 5,000 businesses, HubSpot found that LinkedIn is the most effective social media channel for B2B lead generation. In fact, LinkedIn converted three times as many customers as Facebook or Twitter. As you are likely well aware, LinkedIn is a network where people go to showcase their professional expertise and network with other business contacts. Naturally, this makes LinkedIn a fruitful network for starting new business relationships and generating high quality leads.
3. Keyword Driven Blogging
Keyword focused blogging continues to be one of the most effective ways to attract new visitors to your website. As highlighted in the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing, 82% of marketers who blog on a daily basis have acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly – which, by itself, is still an impressive result.
Many B2B companies that have tried blogging in the past quit due to “lack of measurable results”, however the real problem lies in their strategy. When executed properly keyword driven blogging can attract highly relevant traffic to your website and generate a significant volume of leads.
By now you have noticed a trend – convert website visitors into leads. In the infamous Glengarry Glen Ross speech, Alec Baldwin says “Always Be Closing”, but as a marketer you might favor a slight iteration of the ABCs – “Always Be Converting.”
Within each blog post you should have a relevant call-to-action that points the viewer to a landing page where they can exchange their contact information for your exclusive content.
4. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
When executed properly, PPC marketing can be a key driver of sales ready leads. Unlike organic search engine optimization which can take quite a while to come to fruition, PPC can be throttled up relatively quickly to drive quality leads into your sales funnel.
Interestingly, when we compare the lead-to-customer conversion rates for leads generate by PPC versus those who were generated by organic search, PPC tends to convert at a much higher rate. Based on our learnings we believe that this is due to the fact that people are in a more sales ready state of mind when they consciously click on an advertisement.
As we cover in much greater detail in our Introductory Guide to PPC, PPC is the inbound marketer’s swiss army knife when it comes to making the transition from outbound to inbound dominated marketing.