Every successful brand in the world has been built on the strong foundation of a proven process, a formula that works. As B2B marketers, we are continuously challenged with finding new ways to win over the customer in a highly competitive landscape. Innovation becomes our responsibility—we owe it to our customers to give them something new and different and valuable. And yet, there are certain time-tested methods that we still need to use because we know they will work.
Take a brand that every American homemaker knows—Betty Crocker. It doesn’t matter which cake, dessert, brownie or cookie mix you choose from this General Mills brand—it is always going be one thing—EASY. Just add water or just add eggs or whip it up by hand in minutes or whatever else the recipe asks you to do, anyone can do it very easily. So much so, that many a boardroom discussion that’s going nowhere finally gets to a point where the executive controlling the discussion finally says, “Let’s get to the Betty Crocker recipe for this problem”, meaning let’s get back to the simple basics.
I just read this CNN news article about the new Mercedes S-Class—the closest thing yet to a self-driving car. Fascinating. Founded in 1886, well into its second century, the one thing this luxury car brand has always stood for is innovation and performance quality. Year after year we see new models come out and the industry gets a further boost in innovation as Mercedes pushes the frontiers of automotive technology. What does not change is the performance quality—always high-end, always pure luxury, always in a class of its own.
The important page we need to take from the success book of these brand leaders is that innovation is key, yes, but it has to remain customer-centric at all times. There’s no point in simply being radical and new if it makes no difference to your customers.
I have shared many different tips and techniques in these B2B marketing and demand generation pieces on my blog. Here is a quick list of the B2B lead generation tactics that are working today.
- Lead scoring using behavioural data. The right lead generation program will allow you to monitor lead behaviour online and track progression carefully. Measurement metrics should be logical too. For example, when a prospect signs up for a free trial, you should attach a higher score to that behaviour than when a new subscriber gets added to your email newsletter list.
- Progressive lead profiling. Rather than ask existing leads to fill out the same information in different campaigns, your forms need to be geared to discover new information. Social sign on today is a preferred method and most prospects will be happy if you let them sign in with their LinkedIn or Facebook login rather than have them fill out the same data fields over and over. Tailor at least one form field in new campaigns to ask a prospect for information you don’t already have on file. This way, you can see how they are progressing through your lead funnel.
- Social sharing. Valuable content will be read. Now you need to get those readers to share it. You can encourage social sharing in many ways. Start by rewarding those who regularly share your content, i.e., good influencers. Give them something of value in exchange for sharing your content. It does not have to be expensive; a simple e-book, USB flash drive, a 10-day free trial, are all good incentives. You can also offer them something really exclusive. For instance, the first 25 individuals that share your upcoming webinar registration link with their friends can be included in an “invitees only” webinar if the people they shared with resulted in at least 3 new registrations. One way to drive quality traffic to your blog might be by asking frequent commentators who give valuable feedback to write a guest post in exchange for sharing your blog posts with their social connections. Need a refresher on social media lingo? Here is the B2B executive’s essential social media dictionary in case you missed it earlier.
- Social retargeting. If you are spending time, effort and valuable resources on generating good content, you need to see the ROI. Depending on where your prospects are in the funnel, you need to deliver social content that will help bring them further down the conversion path. If a prospect is just about floating at the top of the funnel, gated content won’t work—you need to give away something valuable, easily, with no strings attached. Gated content will work for prospects that are already quite convinced that your company has the knowledge to educate them on specific problems they are challenged with. And then, as these leads get closer to converting, you need content that will do just that—convert!
- Channel optimization.Know which are the top social media platforms your ideal prospect spends time on. Identify which channels most influence this prospect. Be aware of the type of content this prospect is most likely to consume. It could be discussions onindustry forums, e-books, videos, webinars, group discussions on LinkedIn, or any other.Once you know for sure, you need to contribute valuable information and commentary onthesechannels. And remember, all content does not have to be created in-house. Refer to my earlier three-part series on Content Curation.
- Responsive strategy. It’s all about being customer-focused and customer-centric. Your website needs to be refreshed with responsive design. Editorial content must be optimized for mobile devices. Branded apps should begeared to collect in-app user data. Email newsletters need to become simpler to include full-text versions and encourage greater engagement from an audience that is on the go. Supply chains and channel partners need to be trained and equipped to become more agile, flexible and responsive in order to increase speed to market and reduce total cost. Overall, B2B organizations must realize what is clearly the need of the hour—aresponsive strategy that encompasses traditional and digital marketing tactics. And for that to happen, sales and marketing alignment is a given.
- Brand awareness and relationship building. This is perhaps the biggest and most easily proven ROI of social media marketing. B2B marketers that focus on thought leadership and value-based content generation are the ones that are seeing greater engagement. The brands that reach out and build an online community through active listening and proactive handling of customer feedback are the brands that cut through the clutter and stand out. Companies that are too busy trying to figure out complicated KPI measurement metrics lose sight of valuable business outcomes such as word of mouth marketing, reduced cost of customer support operations, enhanced brand visibility, greater, more palpable customer satisfaction.
What are some of the tactics that your B2B organization has found useful and effective in current lead generation activities? Feel free to add to the list above and do leave me a comment below.
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