For every C-level executive of a B2B organization, there comes a time when they just have to stop and wonder if the funds they’re spending on marketing are worth it. They can’t help but ask themselves if their investments are bringing in good leads that can be turned into customers. Eventually, they’ll end up questioning (at least once) if they’ll ever see a positive ROI.
If you’re among those execs, don’t worry – it’s only natural. Generating B2B leads is challenging for the majority of organizations and marketers, mostly because B2B buyers usually go through a buyer’s journey that’s different and more nuanced than a B2C journey. In this article, we’ll show you a few tactics on generating scalable B2B leads.
The problem called volume
Many B2B marketers head straight out to Google AdWords and quickly set up campaigns with keywords that are directly targeting their solutions or services. They go for very specific, very precise keywords. Those keywords end up being extremely expensive (going up to two digits and higher) because they have low search volumes (a few thousand searches a month, worldwide) and have stiff competition (typical red ocean vs blue ocean scenario).
As an advertiser, you have absolutely no control over search volumes. Once you hit your peak, you’ll be looking at a glass ceiling. Scaling will be your biggest problem.
At that point, marketers often start employing display advertising and go for direct response campaigns on platforms like Facebook or YouTube. What they’re trying to do here is exercise sales messaging, hoping to grab the attention of relevant prospects. They believe these kinds of messages can help them turn prospects into leads.
The painful truth is that these kinds of campaigns are rarely effective. You’re hoping that the person clicking the ad actually needs the solution that’s being communicated, and that he needs it at the very moment it was advertised. The chances of that being the case are quite small.
So what did you achieve? You spent a bunch of money and gave your sales department a pile of low-quality, un-nurtured leads. Sales will end up spending a lot of time on leads that don’t even want to become customers. At the end of the day, both sales and marketing will blame each other, while goals remain out of reach.
B2B marketers will start slamming their heads against the wall as they try to figure out how to scale lead generation campaigns past basic search terms solutions, while CEOs will start considering giving up marketing altogether. Looking at the company’s bigger picture, well – it’s just not a pretty picture.
The solution is a step back
What if I told you that you could expand your display campaign to actually include folks who are actively looking for a solution, or are just about to start looking?
You’ll need to do a detailed buyer persona research, which will help you pinpoint your ideal customers’ individual interests, habits, challenges, and needs. You need to get a glimpse of their buyer’s journey. Do your current prospects express any symptoms of problems your business can solve?
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there is a company selling CRM solutions. So, their CMO sets up a small campaign with CRM solutions as the main keyword. Pretty narrow, right? Exactly.
On the other hand, a pro CMO would look for the symptoms their buyer persona expresses before actually deciding to buy a CRM solution. That could be anything from “company sales pipeline management tips” to “how to segment leads and opportunities using Microsoft Excel”.
Taking a step back, and trying to understand what goes through the head of a potential prospect before they decide to buy a product or a service helps you find new quality lead generation corridors.
There’s a huge potential in broadening your messages and touching on all of the stages of the buyer’s journey – not just the decision stage.
Making it work with search engines
Try and burrow your way into your prospect’s mind. Try to understand their buyer’s journey, and create quality content that will address the various stages of their journey which happen before they would actually actively seek out your product or service.
Enrich these inbound marketing posts with calls to action, guiding the readers to premium content (podcasts, video content, ebooks, etc.) that will be highly relevant to what they were reading at the moment.
Usually, organic traffic that comes from search engines has a higher conversion rate. Focus on improving your rank for long tail, awareness and consideration stage keywords. It will be easier than trying to rank better on narrow terms, because competition is usually lighter on long tail ones.
We’d advise staying away from PPC for blogging – it’s too expensive to drive traffic to a blog post, because conversion rates are usually low. Click-through rate on a blog CTA is around 5 percent, and around 50 percent of a content offer landing page. Putting things in perspective – you’d need around 40 clicks to get one conversion, which could cost between $80-100 for a single lead.
Instead, use PPC to drive traffic straight to your content offer landing page. Use keywords that are directly linked to your content offer. Look for a conversion rate of 15-20 percent. With average prices of $2-4 per click, you can expect anywhere between $10 and $25 per lead, which is solid. But keep in mind that these leads are still not ready to buy. You’ll still need to nurture them and guide them down their buyer’s journey before actually trying to get them to buy anything.
Using display advertising
Once you get a clearer picture of your buyer’s persona, try and target them on networks like Facebook or LinkedIn (LinkedIn is somewhat better for this purpose, but also more expensive). Promote the same top of the funnel content offers that you promote with blog posts and PPC. Use attention-grabbing creatives and witty copy to make sure users click. Click-through rates on these networks is a significant factor for the cost of the click, and ultimately – the CPL. This is particularly true when it comes to B2B.
You can also employ native ads like Outbrain or Taboola. Pulling in low-cost traffic (up to $1 per click) to your best-performing content can prove quite effective, especially if you’re looking to scale.
Display advertising is a great tool when you want to lead your users down the buyer’s journey. Companies with many contacts that are at different stages of the buyer’s journey could use display advertising to push them further, remarketing offers from the middle and the bottom of the funnel. By segmenting your contacts, you can understand in which phase each of them is – and that can save you some serious greens.
Generating B2B leads means you need to put your customer first and be very subtle about it. Once you genuinely grasp your buyer personas and get a grip on what they need, you can be the one providing the value they seek. That will help you position yourself as an authority and as a thought leader. Consequently, they will be the one asking you what you’re selling – you won’t need to force them into anything, especially when they’re not ready to buy.