For many B2B companies finding the best tactic for generating enough leads to keep their pipeline healthy is often considered somewhat of a dark art.
This is clouded even more for businesses who have a much longer period between the initial enquiry to signing off a deal, where months or even years can pass before seeing that first entry on your balance sheet.
However, lead generation for B2B doesn’t have to be shrouded in secrecy and with more professionals making business decisions online than ever before, there are huge opportunities you can tap into to keep your sales team busy.
By building out a careful approach which utilises modern digital marketing strategies, you no longer have to rely on old school techniques like cold calling, seat drops or knocking on doors to keep your enquiries rolling in.
Justifying the cost of content marketing
We’re often approached by businesses who are starting out online for the first time, looking to tap into the potential an online presence can provide to their business, so here are some key questions we ask to try and get an idea of what would work best.
- What does a good lead look like to your sales team?
- Are you focused more towards quantity or quality?
- What barriers do your customers face?
Knowing this information can help us focus our efforts in places where we’re more likely to see a decent return and set metrics to track activity to give us more insight than just the number of enquiries coming through.
There’s not a one size fits all approach, and what may work for some businesses might not work on others, but whether it’s PPC, social media, blogging, email or even video – there are options out there for you to help drive activity through to your website.
If you’re struggling to get sign off on a new marketing campaign from key stakeholders, speak to your sales team and find out more about their pain points or common queries they’re faced with from prospects.
It could be that the same questions come up time and time again, they struggle to pinpoint your company’s USPs or that more supporting material is required to convince a prospect that your company is the best option on the market.
All of this can be rectified by a comprehensive content marketing plan that will help attract new leads, convert existing leads and even identify new opportunities for customers already on your books.
Content Marketing for B2B
The cornerstone of any good B2B lead gen campaign is content and the old adage that ‘Content Is King’ still rings true. In this arena, ‘content’ can be just about any material or medium that can help your prospects filter further down the sales funnel.
Whilst most businesses will have their own version, the B2B sales funnel tends to look a little something like this:
Many marketers are quite adept at creating content to cater for the awareness side, driving traffic and visits to the website, but it starts to get more complicated further down the funnel.
Finding the right content to use
Your first port of call when planning your content is to think about your audience and their objectives. What’s keeping them from making an informed purchase decision and what materials would help them move towards pulling the trigger on this decision?
Sales and marketing can be notoriously fickle when collaborating, but it’s crucial that you speak to your sales team, find out what issues prospects face and how your product or service can solve this.
Tip: Consider how much of their sales pitch could be streamlined by an infographic or a video clip explaining your company’s offer in more detail.
Time is money and spending the first half of a meeting explaining your proposition from a standing start could be wasting valuable time, but going in with a warmer lead can help conversation and conversions flow.
Your customer service team can also be a valuable asset here, as you can cover commonly asked questions in a detailed section on your website or a series of informative blogs to help reduce the time they are spending reacting to enquiries.
Set clear goals
It’s not uncommon for businesses to have revenue targets to hit and for sales team to have their own pipeline of leads to convert in order to help reach those targets but simply monitoring the number of leads generated might not give you a clear enough picture of how well your content is performing.
By monitoring social shares by utilising a tool such as BuzzSumo you can get an idea of what types of topics are driving engagement within your audience.
On-site metrics are also useful to keep track of, especially sessions and bounce rate. If you find that your sessions are higher than usual but the number of enquiries are down then look at methods of optimising your landing pages or providing other methods of lead capture.
Rather than relying on a phone or email link, including a streamlined contact form or a responsive Live Chat can help you capture that all important contact data for a quick follow up.
When you’ve had sign off and can start to build out your content, it can be hard to juggle creating all of this material whilst managing your day to day responsibilities.
Creating a content calendar can help you to plan what needs creating and when, giving you and your team visibility on when they can expect materials to be completed by. This is ideal for planning ahead if you have peak sales periods or if you need to meet a specific deadline.
You should also look for opportunities to re-purpose the same topic into multiple types of content. If you’ve created a blog post for instance, could the main points be conveyed in an infographic or a series or social media posts or can a video interview be transcribed to create an accompanying article.
It’s also incredibly important to delegate the creative side of things to the creative minds in the business. If your sales team are bringing in important revenue, are they more valuable speaking to prospects or writing a blog?
If you need a sales spin on it then get your sales team to sit with marketing, ask questions and record the dialogue – you can shape this up into content or find new topics to cover quickly and easily without keeping them tied up for too long.
Above all, with any marketing plan the aim is to create compelling material that benefits your audience, rather than just publishing content for content’s sake.