Lead generation is a key component of a B2B marketer’s toolkit. Sales teams rely on their marketing counterparts to find and nurture qualify leads through the funnel, which is no small task.
But according to Cience, lead generation is a key pain point for 60% of marketers. Often times, it’s hard to even know where to start.
With that in mind, here are the 5 essential elements of a lead generation strategy that will set any B2B marketing team up for success.
1) Paid Advertising
Paid advertising is a great way for businesses of all sizes to target key audiences in hopes of attracting the right leads. The first step to generating leads through paid channels is to identify the audience you’re trying to target. Many ad platforms allow you to target based on criteria such as geography or location, demographics, and interests.
The second step is to understand which digital platforms your customers are on — where do they spend most of their time and how do they consume information?
Once you’ve figured out who you’re going to target and where you’re going to reach them, the next step is is to make your advertising copy and creative engaging. Here are a few tips:
- Use keyword search terms in your ads. If your ad copy answers your audience’s questions or guides them in their research, the ad will be more effective.
- Get creative with your ad formats. Many popular ad platforms support display, video, text, and image carousels. This gives B2B marketers the opportunity to test the best designs and messaging that resonate with your audience.
- Don’t forget to include a call-to-action (CTA). You want to ensure that users understand what your ad wants them to do.
Lastly, make sure your paid ads drive your prospects to meaningful content. This brings us to element #2.
Content is the second component of your lead generation strategy. And not just any kind of content — for potential buyers to willingly give you their information, they have to trust your opinion and find value in what you’re offering.
According to the State of the Connected Customer survey,
Among millennial consumers, 58% will share personal data in exchange for product recommendations that meet their needs (as will 52% of Gen X consumers).
This first level of trust brings us back to the meaningful content tip we mentioned earlier. You can establish trust with your prospects in one of two ways:
- Make sure the paid ads you put out in marketing drive to meaningful content that provides value to the prospect who clicked.
- Establish your brand as a thought leader to grow your company’s influence. There are several ways to do this, including leveraging your company’s blog and social media channels to post about industry topics. These top-of-funnel content sources allow your potential prospects to learn from your company and engage with your brand.
Often times, these approaches to building trust with your audience are happening in tandem. While your marketing team puts paid ads out in market, they are also creating valuable top-of-funnel on your blog or social channels.
As potential prospects read through your paid ad or blog post, the goal is to provide value up front, but leave them wanting more. Enter: forms and landing pages.
3) Forms and Landing Pages
Forms and landing pages are where the lead gen magic happens. This is the step where your unknown web visitors become real people with names, email addresses, and phone numbers!
The key to having forms and landing pages that convert is to ensure that you’re landing pages are clear and your forms are concise.
In order for a landing page to be clear, it needs to be very obvious what the visitor is supposed to do. Similarly to paid ads, there should only be one CTA and the prospect should clearly understand what their next step should be. Here’s a great resource to learn more about landing page optimization.
Forms should be concise and limited only to the fields that are necessary for you to create a baseline segmentation strategy. As marketers, we can be tempted to want to collect ALL of a prospect’s information up front. But because this is an exchange — your valuable piece of content for their information — the terms of that exchange must be fair. Even the best ebooks are probably only worth 3-5 form fields.
Instead of getting ahead of yourself with lengthy forms that deter prospects, learn how to use progressive profiling to capture incremental information as your prospects continue to download your assets.
4) Nurture Programs
I know what you’re thinking — lead nurturing definitely takes place after the initial lead generation. But it’s still a vital step in the acquisition process. This is the part where you segment leads based on the criteria you already know and set them up with CTAs that will allow you to leverage that progressive profiling we talked about earlier. It’s also the phase where those newly acquired leads become warm, qualified potential buyers.
Even if you don’t know everything about a particular net new lead, you can still create targeted nurture programs that are personalized based on what you do know.
Here’s how we do this at Pardot:
- When a net new lead enters our database, we look at last piece of content they interacted with before they became a known prospect. This could be anything from an ebook, to an upcoming webinar registration form, to a recorded webinar video.
- Our next step is to look at the topic of that particular asset. Is it our “Lead Generation Field Guide?” If so, we set them up on a nurture program to send valuable content about how to generate more leads with marketing automation. Was it our “Pardot for Financial Services” recorded webinar? If so, the nurture program includes relevant content specifically tailored to marketers in the financial services industry.
- Each email we send includes CTAs that leverage progressive profiling to help us learn more about these prospects. And each time someone engages with us, we increase their score. This helps us separate the warm leads from those who might still need to be nurtured.
- Once a lead meets our scoring threshold, we send them over to an SDR to follow up.
Nurture programs are also imperative for leads and contacts that aren’t yet ready to buy. If a lead goes cold, sales reps can pass these prospects back to marketing to receive content that will keep your brand top-of-mind until that prospect is ready to engage again.
5) Reporting and Analytics
The final element of a successful lead generation strategy is reporting and analytics. This is where you figure out if your strategy was, in fact, successful.
When reporting on your lead generation efforts, keep these specific metrics in mind:
- Click-through-rate: This metric will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your keywords and CTAs. Click-through-rates are calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the total number of views.
- Conversion rate: Conversion rates are used to determine the rate at which people perform a desired action. In the case of lead generation, you want to figure out the rate that an unidentified visitor becomes a known prospect.
- Cost-per-lead: This is the cost you pay per individual lead acquired, and generally varies by channel. To calculate, divide the number of leads generated by the total spend per channel.
- Cost-per-Marketing Qualified lead (MQL): The same theory applies here, but this time, you’re looking at the amount of money spent to acquire leads that become marketing qualified. This cost will be higher than the overall cost-per-lead.
- MQL to Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): The MQL to SQL metric evaluates the rate at which MQLs are accepted by your sales team and qualified to begin the sales process. This is calculated by dividing the total number of SQLs by the total number of MQLs. In theory, the marketing and sales teams that are most aligned should have a 100% MQL to SQL rate, although it’s usually lower and can vary by industry or segment size.
- SQL to Opportunity: At this point in the funnel, leads are now in the hands of sales reps and this metric shows the rate at which SQLs become qualified opportunities. Teams often use a standard criteria for this evaluation called BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline).
- Opportunity Close Rate: This is the metric that measures the rate at which opportunities are closed and is calculated by dividing the number of closed opportunities by the total number of opportunities over a certain period of time (most likely monthly, quarterly, and yearly). These can be closed won opportunities or closed lost opportunities — both metrics will give you great insight into the areas of your marketing and sales funnel that could use some improvement.
A tool like B2B Marketing Analytics is essential when it comes to reporting on these metrics and understanding how your marketing and sales funnel is performing.
The fun thing about lead generation is that it’s both an art AND a science. Sometimes, the greatest rewards come by taking risks and trying new things. No matter where your lead generation strategy takes you, these 5 essential elements will help you keep your marketing funnel full and your sales team happy.
Interested in learning more about how to optimize your website for lead generation? Register for our upcoming webinar, New Year, New Leads: Transforming Your Website for More Leads in 2019.