An introduction to B2B Lead generation
1. Build your prospect universe
You probably have a pretty good idea who your target audience is, the size and type of company, decision maker etc. However, how complete is your prospect universe, which companies and contacts are missing and what processes do you have in place to ensure it is kept up to date and being fed with new prospects? It's important to define, create and grow a prospect universe that strives to contain all of the companies and contacts that you would like to do business with. This universe needs to be built from a combination of your online and offline data and then segmented so that you can talk to the right people at the right time with the right message. The key elements to consider when doing this is 1. Where are the prospects in the buying journey and 2. How can you segment your prospects into meaningful groups. A good way to achieve this is by creating buyer personas but that's a whole subject in itself that we can discuss another time.
2. Feed the funnel
Your prospect universe will need constant feeding with new prospects and leads. In todays digital world, one of the the most effective ways is to create ongoing demand though digital channels. Paid search and SEO will drive visitors to your site but you will need an inbound optimised website to capture and convert those visitors. Your website provides the opportunity to turn anonymous visitors into known prospects and then into quality leads. You should spend a lot of time making your website more effective at generating leads, whether its optimising your current website with clearer calls to action, creating offers with landing landing pages or even a complete redesign from the ground up with lead generation in mind.
3. Content is still king
Today’s customers are savvy. They spend a lot of time researching their issues and potential solutions online so you need to shine brightly and make sure that when they search for answers, they find your content. A key point to reinforce at this stage is that when they find your content, make it a useful experience. Don't try to sell, try to help and educate, you will have plenty of opportunities to sell when the time is right. This approach not only starts to build trust with prospects, it’s also aligned to how search engines work so if you want to be found, you need to create content that people REALLY want to consume. And we mean lots of it. Consider it an investment, every piece of content that you publish is helping your SEO ranking ‘juice’, it’s helping you get found and it’s establishing you and your company as an industry thought leader.
One of the best ways to convert prospects into customers is to nurture them over time with regular communications and useful content. Rome wasn’t built in a day and prospects will buy when they are ready. If you are providing timely, relevant and useful content, you will start to build a relationship with your prospects and over time you will have the opportunity to guide them along the buying journey. In our view, email marketing is still the most effective way to talk to prospects and gone are the days of blasting mass emails out to cold prospects. Today's email solutions allow you to get more personal and relevant through the use of dynamic content. If you have defined your key segments in terms of buying journey stages and personas, you can use these to drive your email campaigns and content. This will not only deliver more relevant communications, prospects will start to qualify themselves through their interactions, allowing you to focus on the warmest opportunities.
5. Closing the loop
This is the point where marketing and sales converge. The marketing department have created successful campaigns, delivering lots of juicy leads and the sales department is hungry to follow them up. This process can easily fall apart with either the leads not being qualified enough or sales not following up them up effectively. It's crucial that both departments agree the rules of engagement so that marketing know exactly what makes a qualified lead (agreed by the sales department) and the sales team have the pipeline tools to track the sales from lead to conversion. This will clearly define the rules from both sides and enable sales and marketing to work as one coherent lead generation and conversion team. If the ROI can be measured from campaign to closure, everyone will be happy.