Generating quality leads has become a core marketing goal for many B2B organizations. As sales cycles and buyer journey’s lengthen, you have to make sure that you’re with them every step of the way. By getting potential customers and clients into your database early, you can prepare for regular touch points designed to ultimately improve your chances of closing the deal.
Of course, that’s often easier said than done. Lead generation is one of those topics that sounds great in theory, but requires serious thought on the backend. You have to know not just how to generate the leads, but what channels work, how content plays into the equation – and what happens after they enter your database. It’s a comprehensive effort. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide will help you optimize your digital lead gen.
Step 1: Understand Lead Generation
To start, make sure you understand both what lead generation actually is, and what your lead gen goals are. We won’t spend much time on the first; plenty of definitions essentially get at the same point. It’s the process of converting strangers, visitors to your website that are generally interested in your business, into contacts in your database ripe for further outreach.
The second piece of the puzzle is how you want to leverage the concept into success for your business. That’s essentially what the rest of this guide is about. Every step of the way is a piece of the puzzle that helps you build a comprehensive strategy to generate leads, manage those leads, and turning them into customers and clients over time.
Step 2: Define Your Website’ Role in Lead Generation
In many ways, lead gen begins and ends with your website. It’s where you’re most likely to capture potential customers just doing some initial research. It’s where you can host the content convincing them to give you their contact info. And it’s also where you can build out landing pages specifically designed to get sign ups.
That’s why this channel deserves special attention. If you truly embrace this strategy, you have to build a website specifically designed to generate digital leads. From your homepage on, and never more than 3 layers deep in your navigation, you should build landing pages and calls to action prompting your audience to get to sign-up pages where they can become leads.
Step 3: Start Building Content Designed to Generate Digital Leads
In the previous step, you’ve built the structure. Now, it’s time to start considering the reasons your audience would actually want to become leads. Lead generation, at its core, depends on the reciprocity principle: if you want to get their contact information, you have to offer something in return.
That ‘something’ is most likely valuable content your potential customers wouldn’t easily get elsewhere. In a B2B context, that might be a whitepaper on an industry trend, a how-to eBook, or a webinar with an expert opinion. If you’re embracing B2B content marketing, you already have a built-in pipeline. All you have to do, then, is put a sign-up page in front of it that prompts your visitors for their basic information in exchange for the content.
Step 4: Optimize Your PPC Campaigns For Digital Lead Gen
Done right, PPC is extremely effective in generating digital leads. Consider the context: you effectively bid on keywords that audiences who are just browsing within your industry tend to search for. With the right budget, and message, you appear on the top of their search results, just when they’re looking for content like yours.
Your potential clients likely use Google for some general message. Using PPC for lead gen means making sure that your message tends to be educational, rather than promotional. Ask them to learn more, rather than to sign up. Then, link to your landing page, ideally also optimized for the same keywords, where they can sign up and become leads.
Step 5: Build a Social Media Presence to Drive More Leads
Social media has become increasingly important for B2B marketers in recent years. In fact, according to one study, 84% of C-level executives and buyers are influenced by social media in their decision-making. Once you begin to embrace a strategy centered around generating leads, you can drive your social media efforts to new levels.
Through social media ads, you can achieve a similar result to PPC mentioned above. It doesn’t end there. Promote your gated content, and if it’s relevant enough, your followers will begin to share it. Sprinkle in visual, multimedia content like video, and your exposure will grow even further.
Step 6: Lead Nurturing: The Plan for What Happens Next
Through social media and PPC, you drive audiences to your website. Optimize it for gated content, and you generate leads. Now what? Research search that less than 50% of qualified leads are actually ready to buy. The rest need to some extra work on your end. That’s where lead nurturing enters the equation.
Build a communication plan designed for the exact moment your leads enter your database. That plan might include an initial welcome/thank you email that links to the gated content. After that, a regular set of messages follows up on industry trends, your company information, and more. You stay top of your audience’s mind so that when they’re ready to buy, they know where to turn to.
Step 7: Managing Your Leads for Sustainable Success
Finally, don’t underestimate the need to manage your leads. In addition to nurturing them, you have to manage them on the backend. This is the transition between marketing and sales. Lead scoring, for instance, is a great opportunity to determine which of your leads are ready for an actual sales pitch, and which might still need some more nurturing.
Lead management also has to include keeping your list clean. Unsubscribes need to be globally marked, as do hard bounces that indicate an email address gone bad. Finally, leverage lead management to build various nurturing flows, segmenting your audience and testing a variety of tactics and messages to settle one the ones that work best in customer conversion.
Are You Ready to Optimize Your Lead Generation Efforts?
Lead generation is no small feat. It’s a complex process that starts with your website and ends with active management of your lead database. Still, it’s possible to leverage successfully–if you know where to start. With the right expertise, you can grow your business sustainably through a steady flow of leads, qualified leads, and new customers.
It doesn’t have to be daunting. Instead, you can work with a partner who specializes in B2B lead generation. Contact us to learn about our capabilities, and how we can work together to build a well-oiled lead gen machine in your industry.