How big a part did physical events play in your lead generation strategy (before they kicked the COVID-19 bucket)?
Like most B2B tech brands they probably constituted a pretty big slice of your lead gen pie. And without them I bet your sales pipeline (as well as your top of funnel brand awareness) is starting to feel the pinch.
So, what can you do about it?
“DIGITAL EVENTS! WEBINARS!! ZOOM CALLS UNTIL YOUR EYEBALLS BLEED!!!!”
Is what most will say. And also seems to be what most are doing. Webinars have their place but if you do what everyone else is doing, you’re just another voice in a crowded LinkedIn feed. A mess of invitations and “shouting the loudest” where (in some cases) people are now being induced to attend online events they don’t really want to with the promise of freebies – Deliveroo lunch vouchers, anyone?
(It was a delicious free pizza, though).
1. Sort out your SEO strategy
OK, SEO isn’t going to replace your physical event leads right here and now but it’s a crucial piece of your lead gen strategy to figure out
for the longer term.
You need to ensure you’ve got a steady stream of high quality, relevant visitors to your website landing on relevant pages, who you can then convert into leads. And having a proper SEO strategy in place is how you do that.
There’s a great guide on SEO for Lead Generation from JotForm, which gives you the low down on how to build your SEO strategy keeping lead gen front and centre of mind.
2. Kill it with content
“Content is king” as Bill Gates told us in 1996. And despite many challengers to the throne that sentiment still holds true more than two decades later.
You’ve got to give your prospects a decent reason to give you the time of day and great content is more often than not the key. But churning out a blog a week on whatever tickles your fancy probably isn’t going to do the trick.
You’ve got to think about where your ideal leads’ head is at and how you map the content you produce, in a variety of formats across the entire decision-making journey they’re going to take.
The Demand Gen Report 2020 content preferences study (snappy title, ain’t it?) gives you the latest thoughts from B2B Executives on this, and will help you shape your own content strategy to generate leads.
3. Get social (mainly on LinkedIn)
If we’re talking generating B2B leads, then LinkedIn is your playground for social.
Engagement has been nose-diving on twitter for ages. Facebook is pay-to-play for businesses (as organic reach heads toward 0%). Snapchat lacks a real B2B angle. And although Gary V is getting all frothy about Tik-Tok I struggle to see how getting your CTO to bust out some “flashdance fused with MC Hammer sh!t” to some tweens is going to help shift enterprise storage or your latest SaaS solution.
Of course, you need to build a presence with a company page and ensure you’re regularly posting and engaging with people. But InMails are where the party’s at for some hyper-targeted lead gen.
Invest in a premium account, do your research, get your best copywriter lined up and then get to work.
4. Learn to love email again
Email marketing isn’t dead. Anyone that tells you it is probably just isn’t that good at it.
But people’s inboxes have become saturated with the constant bombardment, so you’ve got to work hard to get email right. Headlines have got be killer, opening sentences have got to be even better and you’ve got to make it clear what’s going on without being too direct (or waffling too much).
We could write a whole other blog about getting email marketing right. So, until we do, this article from Digital Doughnut will help you get things going.
5. Get pumped about PPC (for B2B)
There’s often a thought that PPC is a realm of marketing reserved for consumer/B2C brands. That thought is an incorrect one.
Although B2C brands have the luxury of much larger audiences to work with given the right effort and strategy PPC can prove really powerful for us B2B lot.
You also don’t need mega-budgets to make it work. Given the right tactics (like use of Custom Intent and/or RLSA’s for example) you can generate highly targeted leads without having to rinse your budget.
Those clever eggs at the B2B Marketing Lab have compiled this thorough PPC for B2B guide for you get your head around.
6. Ramp up your referrals
It seems like it’s quite easy to forget about referrals. In most businesses it’s the prodigal tactic for lead gen.
Which is odd as referrals tend to be the most qualified, highest converting leads that a business gets. People trust recommendations they get from people they know, but when was the last time you asked an existing customer for a referral? Have you ever?
Ramping up your referrals is really about keeping the lines of communication open with your customers, asking for referrals (without bribing or paying people to give them – they should do it because the service/product is so awesome), and making it easy as pie to refer you.
For more detail on kicking off some killer referral activity take a look at Lead Forensic’s guide to the secrets of referral marketing success.
7. Pick up the phone
For some reason telemarketing gets a bad rep. Actually we all know the reason it get’s a bad rep… poorly trained cold-callers hammering contact lists and annoying people with spammy approaches. We’ve all been on the receiving end of it, haven’t we?
But when it’s done properly – with a clear set of messages, an understanding of who’s being called, and well trained, effective callers on the phones – it can be a wonderful tactic that generates cracking results. And right now is peak time for telemarketing to have a significant impact.
With people much more likely to be working from home they’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable (probably, depending on how many kids they’re having to home school right now) and will have additional gaps in their day (where they’re not having to dash between meetings) that will mean they’re more likely to talk and more likely to open up too.
If you want to skinny on how to nail your telemarketing you should check out Benjamin Dennehy (the self-styled “most hated sales trainer in the UK) as he truly knows his stuff.
8. Fire up your directory listings
It may seem like a drag to spend the time putting the same info about your business across t’internet over and over again, but if it generates your business leads then it’s time well spent, no?
Directory listings help add an additional “shop window” for your brand with an interested audience. And properly curated profiles that make use of client reviews or testimonials can really help to make you distinct from competitors.
Plus it helps build the link profile for your website, which all helps beef up your SEO.
9. Howdy partner
Two heads are better than one, right? So why not team up with a partner organisation (in a separate but complimentary market), share some data, work out a joint approach to market and hammer it side-by-side?
You’ll each be expanding your reach into new markets acting as a sponsor for each other and referring new business to each other (did we mention referrals are awesome?). And if you can move at pace you’ll hoover up opportunities across the board that others who are going it alone might not be able to.
If it’s something you can make a go of Hubspot have got your back with this comprehensive guide on co-marketing
10. Be their guest
There are ample opportunities out there to get in on what other people have got going on – and drive leads off the back off it too.
Podcasts, guest blogs, sponsored content pieces, industry surveys, interview series’…there are a plethora of ways you can get access to other people’s audiences, which people will willingly do if you’ve got a great story to tell.
No handy link for this one though. You’ll have to do the research off you own back to find out who’s got the ear of the audience you want to get in front of and what you can say/do that’s going to pique their interest.
11. Buy some leads. But don’t…
Now, we left this one to last as we went back and forth on whether to include it or not. Yes, it is a tactic to generate leads but to us buying leads off a third party just feels a bit like cheating.
We’re not talking about buying contact data (that’s a whole other discussion), we’re talking about buying “pre-qualified leads that all you need to do is close”. It’s up to you but in our experience, these have proven a waste of time and budget.
There’s a lack of transparency about how leads were generated, with potential trust and GDPR implications. Quality is often poor, which has a knock-on effect for your conversion rates and ROI. There’s no meaningful engagement with you or your brand to build a relationship on. And the lead could have already been sold to others, which you have no way of knowing.
Basically, you’ll be putting crap in your sales pipeline which means you’ll get crap out the other end. With a load of crap in the middle too. It’ll be craptacular.
Food for thought?
If you’re really looking to get a grip on your B2B tech lead generation and ensure things don’t grind to a halt in the wake of the Corona-Palaver then what we’re talked about and linked to above should give you substantial food for thought.
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to lead gen though (unfortunately). It’s a case of experimenting with different tactics and working out what does the trick for you and your business, based on the strategy work that sits in the background.