Generating leads in the biggest challenge in B2B marketing these days. After all, without leads, you have no clients, no revenue and no business. Without leads, your business is sunk. The obvious question then is, “how do you go about generating B2B leads?”
If you’re ready to experience true existential horror, Google that question. You’ll be greeted with so much useless drivel, you won’t even know what to do with yourself.
- Tweet at least five times a day
- Engage your audience by posting motivational quotes and funny pictures
- “Aggressively seek to incrementally maximize your intentional trade show presence for the duration of 2014 in order to garner and nurture more qualified leads.”
There’s a reason that so many B2B marketers are prone to ulcers, possibly losing their hair and having bad dreams about AdWords. Generating B2B sales leads can be an absolute nightmare. Hopefully, we’ll be able to shed some light on the process and make it just a tiny bit easier.
Two Facts to Remember About B2B Marketing
Though most of the information out there is just rehashes of the same-old, trite and unhelpful garbage, there is some helpful data. Amidst the elaborate (but useless) business jargon and banal generalities, there were some cold, hard facts.
No one really knows where B2B leads come from.
We’ve spoken in a previous blog about this chart from HubSpot, which purports to tell us where most B2B sales leads come from.
You see all the things you’d usually expect – PPC, traditional advertising and social media – but there’s also a massive, mysterious spike called “other”. Supremely unhelpful. And it’s the highest bar on the entire graph. Which means, we have no clue where most leads are coming from.
Even the smart people, who’s whole job it is to research these things, have no idea.
A lot of B2B lead generation is just consistently creating good content, constantly cultivating industry relationships, and an organic mashup of all sorts of behaviours, interactions and activities. Do enough of that, and you’ll probably get some good leads.
So the takeaway here is to not focus on any one silver bullet. B2B lead generation is a mashup of truly unquantifiable activities and behaviours that just work.
The digital revolution has completely changed the B2B playing field.
With the advent of the digital age, there has been a flood of new marketing techniques, and a decline in the use of old techniques. While the goal remains the same – generating leads – the way we achieve that goal is now completely different. In future blogs, we will discuss some of the best methods we’ve found for generating B2B leads, but for now we’ll focus on just one. Social media.
Using Social Media Strategically for Generating B2B Leads
You may be thinking, “Yes, obviously we should use social media.” Unfortunately, there’s more to it than just tweeting five times a day or posting cat pictures with a link to your website. Before we get into it, though, there are two things we should mention.
- You can’t expect to start generating B2B leads just because you have a social presence. While it is important, it’s not inherently effective. There are some techniques for using social media as a lead generation method, but it’s not enough to just have an account on LinkedIn and post once a week.
- On the other side of the same coin, don’t dismiss social media out of a hand as a good source of leads. While some individuals have wrongly stated that social media is the holy grail of leads, that’s not the case either. There’s a fine balance. They say that social media is the world’s water cooler. Almost everyone is there, milling about and chatting idly. There definitely are leads for the taking.
First things first. Twitter is not effective.
Forbes in 2013 made the (unsupported) claim that “Twitter is the strongest social media channel for generating business-to-business (B2B) leads.” They gave no proof, and obliquely hinted to ‘a recent study’ which they didn’t include a link to.
According to data from InsideSales.com, social media is low in effectiveness, but widely used. This is because most people are not using social media correctly. As we’ve said, they start a Facebook page or a LinkedIn company page, and post sporadically about their sales or business news. Obviously, this produces mediocre results at best.
How Social Media Can Be Used for Generating B2B Leads
Being the water cooler of the world, social media is a perfectly good source of leads. Unfortunately, most B2B companies don’t fully harness the power of their social media platforms. They don’t see results, not because there aren’t leads there – but because they don’t take the ones that are.
Here are a few strategic ways to effectively make use of social media as a lead generation tool:
- Direct people from your social media channels to your website. Having followers on your Facebook page is nice, but they’re not leads you can work with, because you don’t have their email address or another way of contacting them. For this reason, make sure to direct as many people from your social platforms to your website as possible. Make it easy for them to visit your website. Offer multiple links. Ideally, direct them to a landing page that will draw them in, and make it easy for them to give you their details.
- Allow signups directly from your Facebook page. Another great way to generate leads from your social channels is to allow signups without them having to leave the platform. That way, you get their email address, and they don’t even have to leave the water cooler.
- Use effective CTAs. Though social media is more of a way of life than a marketing tool, it is still a form of marketing. Make sure to include calls to action where appropriate. Though you shouldn’t post nothing but hard-sell, don’t be afraid to promote yourself, link to landing pages or suggest the next step a visitor can take.
Just by implementing these three tips, you’ll probably see an increase in your overall lead generation. But unfortunately, it’ll probably just be a trickle. There is a way to turn the trickle into a flood, though.
LinkedIn has consistently ranked the highest among social media platforms for B2B lead generation value. One look at the visual representation by Mediabistro makes this obvious:
Research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs also shows that LinkedIn is used more than any other platform by B2B marketers.
Social media is the water cooler of the world, but that means that people from all walks of life are there. That means those who are unemployed, those who are retired, or those who aren’t old enough to be in the job market yet. Conversely, LinkedIn is a gathering of only professionals. As social media platforms go, it’s the biggest and beefiest in certain terms. LinkedIn has:
- The largest number of professionals
- The biggest percentage of decision-makers
- The highest per capita income per user.
More than that, LinkedIn is viewed as a sophisticated and mature social platform. Twitter is full of porn bots, Facebook can be a hive of conspiracies, and Instagram is the realm of the “influencer”. Essentially, the kind of businesses which have B2B relationships are more likely to have a presence on LinkedIn than any other platform.
Like all other social media platforms though, having a LinkedIn presence won’t spontaneously start generating leads. There are a few things you need to do to make your LinkedIn page work as a lead generation machine.
- Be present and active. Each social media platform will require that you have an account, and also make use of it. Rather than let the page sit there and gather dust, get online and get active. Connect with your peers and industry professionals. Comment on their content, and post some of your own.
- Make sure your page is robust. Fill out all the necessary details, and make sure you’re capitalising on all the available real estate.
- Join LinkedIn groups. The platform has a huge variety of groups available, and you can easily find one with members who could eventually become leads.
- Take part in conversations. There are millions of conversations taking place on LinkedIn. Be active and join in. Not only will you be seen as an active member of your industry, you’ll open the door to new connections and more leads.
- Look for help. Quid pro quo can go a long way towards building and solidifying professional relationships. Occasionally, asking for help is the best way to encourage a lead. You can use LinkedIn to find qualified people in your industry to help you with a project, point you in the right direction, or recommend solutions to a problem. These people can be useful leads in future.
- Use LinkedIn’s lead collection tool. This is going the direct route, but the integrated tool allows users who come across your page to request a contact. Obviously, these are warm leads. Before using the tool, be aware that you’ll first need to open an Advertising Account, which costs money. But who said that lead generation is free? When the leads come through, you’ll be able to contact them through email or via LinkedIn
Though social media has a lot of potential, it hasn’t proven particularly successful, and to see real ROI, you’ll need to have a process in place for converting these leads. You’ll also need to put in the work. Use CTAs, don’t be afraid of linking to your website, and put most of your effort in LinkedIn.
In later blog posts, we’ll discuss a few other methods for generating B2B leads.