From a B2B marketer’s perspective, there are only two kinds of people in the world: people that are interested in buying your company’s products and people that are have no interest in buying your company’s products. It’s the B2B marketer’s job to not only identify the former, but to move them towards a purchase, courting them with the information that helps them make that decision.
Lead generation is the process of identifying who is interested in your products and nurturing them.
Let’s take a closer look at the basics.
What is a Lead?
A lead is a person who has demonstrated that they are interested in your company’s products. Usually, a B2B lead is someone who has interacted with your company by exchanging their information for content: they’ve downloaded a whitepaper, watched a webinar, attended an event, etc. Once a person performs one of these tasks, he is no longer a stranger. However minimal the interaction, he’s shown that he might want to buy. He’s now a lead.
What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation has two parts. The first part is attraction. Let’s say there’s an accounting company out there that is unhappy with their current software and wants to make a change. They’ll usually start by researching online, Googling accounting software and scanning the results. If your company makes accounting software, you’ll want that researcher to come to your site, download content and leave his information with you. Now you’ve got him. He may not be ready to buy quite yet, but he is a lead.
The second part of B2B Lead Generation is nurturing. This is the process that takes a cold lead and warms them up. The simple act of downloading a whitepaper doesn’t mean that a lead is ready to buy.
It’s too early to turn him over to sales. In a savvy B2B marketing organization, the whitepaper download will put the lead into a nurture track that continues to provide the lead with the content that might bend them towards a purchase: videos, webinars, and infographics. Smart lead nurturing answers a lead’s questions before he even asks them.
When Does a Lead Become a Customer?
In B2B lead generation, you’ll hear a lot about the buyer’s journey. This is a way to sum up the process described above. A buyer moves from stranger, to awareness, to lead, and finally -after the lead is handed off to sales- to customer.
As we said above, it’s a marketer’s job to move a lead through his journey. But like any journey, it must begin with a single step.
B2B Lead Generation Tactics
For B2B marketers, content marketing is an essential lead generation tool. On most B2B sites, you’ll find a resources section offering loads of content for download, all gated with a form that requires a user to swap their information for the content. This process depends on search engine optimization (SEO). Users search, hopefully find relevant content, download a whitepaper, and enter the nurture track.
But search is seldom enough. Competition for keywords is fierce and ever-changing; your competitors are also producing top-notch content. You can’t depend on search.
Let’s look at two other possibilities:
SEO will only take you so far. It is not a short-term strategy. SEO is a continuous process that demands time that your sales team is willing to wait for leads. Moreover, search rankings are fragile, just because you’re on top today doesn’t mean you’re going to be there tomorrow.
The savviest marketers will find ways to compensate for SEO deficiencies with the combination of two tactics that constitute a powerful one-two punch for great lead generation:
- Targeted advertising is not a lead generation tactic per se, but most metrics show that getting your ads in front of the right prospect when they’re doing the research increases the advertisers site visits. Using an ad to show how your content will help a prospect conduct research, providing them with clear calls to action will get them to your site where they’re more likely to interact with your content.
- Content Syndication takes targeted ads to the next level. Content syndication puts your content in front of prospects where and when there are researching products like yours. Our researcher digging for information about accounting software would likely be overjoyed to find a whitepaper on exactly the topic he’s seeking.
Televerifcation is not cold calling. In televerification, marketers reach out to likely prospects who might be researching products and solutions like theirs. Using short, but specific, questions a prospect is verified and offered content that they might find useful. The questions can either qualify them as leads and move them into a nurturing track or remove them from the lead pool completely.
Televerification can be a powerful tool. A prospect that picks up the phone to download a whitepaper is far more likely to pick up the phone for a sales call.
As we have seen, for B2B marketers, lead generation is hard-baked into their practice. Larger B2B organizations divide marketing teams into two groups: 1) branding, and 2) demand generation.
But the best marketers combine both disciplines, understanding that smart branding can fuel powerful lead generation. In truth, even in organizations where different marketers are responsible for each discipline the two groups are closely aligned.
Leads are the fuel that drives the engine of business, the more a B2B marketer of any discipline stokes the flames, the better the results will be.
Check out how Madison Logic’s Activate ABM helped Offerpop exceed their lead generation expectations.