How To Build a Sucessful B2B Lead Generation Strategy
Lead generation is a major concern for every B2B business owner. No leads = no profit and no business growth. Lead generation is crucial and needs a carefully planned strategy to succeed. In this blog, we discuss two key lead generation strategies to help you ramp up marketing effectiveness.
The Big Lead Generation Problem
Firstly, there is no universal lead generation formula that will work for all companies. Marketers are often caught dipping their toes in several different tactics or strategies without committing to any, giving those tactics no real opportunity to deliver qualified leads. If it generates very few leads, it is usually discarded, regardless of whether the tactic has been properly executed. In the end, it is the business that loses out.
Ultimately, it comes down to having a clearly defined lead generation strategy, which consist of tactics, channels and policies. This strategy must be informed by your business growth goals, target market, buyers problems and needs, buying influences and competition.
Lead generation strategies can be broadly broken down into two areas: Outbound and Inbound.
Outbound Lead Generation
Outbound lead generation is a traditional approach in marketing, one where businesses push their communication to the outside world. Outbound lead generation tactics include list acquisition, direct mail, advertising, telemarketing and trade shows.
In recent times, traditional marketing has seen a significant decline in effectiveness. HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Statistics Report notes that traditional methods to source leads and customers generate just 22% of all leads in 2013, with trade shows and direct mail each providing 8% of leads and traditional marketing contributing 6%.
A potential reason for this is that prospects are tired of being bombarded with information that seems to only preach about the greatness of a company or product. People are now so skeptical about sales pitches that they will simply throw out or delete any mail or email that comes from unknown sources. These tactics have been so overused, and quite poorly as well, that they now only come across in a negative way.
Having said that, outbound marketing can yield results, if leveraged properly. For instance, instead of sending a typical company or product brochure to a cold list, try acknowledging your prospects’ potential problem or need and communicate something useful to them first. For example you could notify them of a peer-discussion event centered around solving their number one problem. By giving out useful information, you avoid being considered as SPAM as well as portraying your business in a far more positive light. However, the only way this approach will be a success is if these tactics are derived from a well grounded strategy. Needless to say, sporadic pieces of communication won’t yield the best results.
The main drawback to outbound lead generation techniques is cost. HubSpot finds that outbound marketing incurs over 2.5 times the cost per lead of inbound marketing. Therefore it is crucial for outbound marketing tactics to be supported by lead nurturing tactics to ensure its effectiveness, to ultimately outweigh the costs incurred.
Inbound Lead Generation
Inbound lead generation takes a more modern approach, keeping up with changes in marketing technology and buyer trends, it is focused on pulling leads using valuable content rather than pushing self promotional content to cold lists. Inbound lead generation in most cases in centered around online marketing and involves tactics such as blogging, social networking and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Email can also be considered an inbound marketing tactic, if leveraged correctly.
Inbound marketing is gaining popularity amongst marketers everywhere, and it can be attributed to its proven effectiveness. HubSpot’s report finds that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than outbound leads, and that 34% of the leads generated by marketers in 2013 come from inbound tactics.
In addition, the cost per lead for inbound tactics is much lower than outbound, due to the low cost of online channels. In fact, HubSpot’s 2012 research found that organisations that predominantly leverage inbound marketing experience a 61% lower cost per lead than outbound-dominated organisations. Despite requiring different SEO, blogging and marketing automation tools, inbound lead generation cost efficiencies and marketing effectiveness are enough to make the change.
It is important to note that the success of inbound marketing is highly dependent on content. More and more B2B marketers are beginning to understand the benefits of good content, and are prioritising it. It is therefore crucial to have a clear content marketing strategy. The key to effective inbound lead generation is to provide valuable information on the pre-determined channels to attract the targeted leads and pull them toward your company.
Recommendations for effective lead generation:
- Marketing should be accountable to revenue. A marketer’s role doesn’t stop at lead generation, they need to generate qualified leads and continue to use different types of tactics to nurture leads until they transition to being customers.
- Leverage the right content marketing strategy to support your lead generation. Content is key to both inbound and outbound lead generation strategies and it takes time and effort to create. Don’t underestimate the time it takes, and the importance it has.
- Lead generation should be inbound and outbound, rather than inbound vs outbound. Both strategies have their advantages and should be leveraged hand in hand. Of course, it is necessary to strike the right balance to deliver maximum effectiveness.
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