Sixty-eight percent of B2B companies struggle with lead generation and delivering marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that are valuable to sales. A HubSpot study revealed that only 7% of salespeople said they receive “very high quality” leads from marketing. So how do you stop this endless cycle of friction between sales and marketing?
Here are five B2B marketing strategies that we’ve helped clients implement to fill the sales funnel with more MQLs:
1. Set the foundation with thought leadership.
Thought leadership content should position you as a subject matter expert and educate your customers to make informed buying decisions. Curating compelling thought leadership content lays the foundation for lead generation campaigns by gaining your prospects’ trust.
In an Edelman study, 37% of business decision-makers and 41% of C-suite executives say thought leadership content influenced them to ask a vendor to participate in the RFP process. 48% indicated it had a direct impact on closing the deal.
Thought leadership content is the cornerstone of our agency’s approach, and successful campaigns start with it. Create a core piece of content, turn it into multiple assets like ebooks, bylined articles, white papers and infographics, and then promote it across every channel. With lengthy B2B sales cycles, companies must gradually nurture and build trust with prospects using content relevant to every stage in their decision-making process.
2. Turn more passive visitors into active prospects with a lead-generation-focused website.
Every company should design and organize its website with the buyer journey in mind, incorporating features that deliver conversions. Powerful lead-generation websites combine user-friendly navigation; appealing brand aesthetics; device responsiveness; SEO optimization; easy-to-find, consumable content and essential conversion techniques.
Here are a few features every website should integrate:
Call-To-Action (CTA) Buttons: A great CTA uses action-packed words like “get in touch,” “download now” or “reserve your seat,” and gives the visitor a good reason to click. Taken a step further, personalized CTAs convert 202% better than standard one-size-fits-all buttons because they match content with each visitor’s characteristics and level of interest. If your website recognizes visitors as leads in your CRM, for example, you can use personalized CTAs to share industry-specific content that’s relevant to their stage in the sales cycle.
Testimonials Or Case Studies: Buyers read an average of 10 online reviews before trusting a company. Positive reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to purchase a product or service. Testimonials and case studies work in your favor because many prospects won’t be convinced without word of mouth or social proof first. When research reveals options, they first decide if they can trust your solution and your company. When they see that others have had positive experiences, the level of trust increases.
Testimonials should always relate to decision factors of your prospects. For instance, if speed and efficiency is most important, testimonials should mention that instead of other product features. Don’t forget to include ones about the sales process because prospects want to know they’ll be taken care of and that you will hit their deadlines.
Case studies can be incredibly powerful if they start with the problem, how it was resolved, and the impressive results. The best case studies tell a great story and most importantly, showcase why your solution is better or different than the competition. Assume competitors will have similar case studies and if theirs have better numbers, you may lose every time if you don’t show what else you bring to the table. Explaining your unique value proposition in the case study will make the case study stand out. Lastly, ensure the case study has a clear CTA. It is far too common to see great case studies not have any CTA encouraging readers to act. Since most case studies are downloadable, the CTA should be embedded in the file.
Landing pages: These are essential tools to help marketers achieve a specific goal such as driving website traffic, generating signups or selling products, without the distractions of navigating a full website. Publishing compelling landing pages is a targeted way to showcase your latest thought leadership, secure new opt-in contacts, boost SEO and automate lead generation. When setting up a landing page, ensure it features content that speaks directly to your target audience, has a clear CTA and a way to capture information. A simple, yet notable example of this is a landing page for an upcoming webinar. The main purpose of a landing page is to convert. Though this seems obvious, making this happen is often a challenge. Here are some tips that help.
Add more than one CTA Keep in mind that prospects on your landing page may need to be asked more than once, and at different stages of the page, before they decide to convert. We always recommend adding a CTA button or form above the fold, so users don’t have to scroll to find where to sign up. Add your CTA in the middle of the page, too, after the section that has the key benefits and value proposition. Finally, add a CTA at the very bottom of the page for those who read through and need more convincing.
Don’t forget to add the WIIFM proposition – “What’s In It For Me” propositions are often forgotten on most landing pages. We often find landing pages tend to be heavy on product benefits but don’t tell the reader what they get out of purchasing the product. For instance, instead of positioning that says, “The fastest software in the market,” it should say “Close your deals faster with this software.” The emphasis is on improving efficiency and closing deals faster.
Analytics is your secret weapon – The only way to improve conversions and performance is with analytics. One mistake we often find is not setting up analytics correctly. Ensure that each button, link and form is being tracked so you and your team know where, when and how readers are converting or not converting. This is powerful because you can make adjustments based on real behavior. Often, changing button locations, reducing required information on forms, rewording headlines or CTA’s and speed of the landing page are a few places to start when looking for ways to get more out of your landing page.
Friction test – Before launching, make sure to complete a “friction test.” This test ensures there is little to no friction for readers to convert. We recommend testing the speed of the landing page (one of the top reasons people leave) by using Google PageSpeed insights. Ensure CTA’s are clear and the reader knows what the next steps are. The sign-up form should be limited to only necessary info (e.g. if you don’t need an address, don’t ask for it). Make it as easy as possible. The easier it is, the more people will convert.
3. Sponsored content should be in every marketing plan.
Sponsored content is predicted to exceed $400 billion by 2025, and nearly 75% of communications professionals incorporate it into their sales and marketing strategy. We’ve successfully executed numerous sponsored content campaigns on behalf of our clients and found that the following strategies consistently deliver.
Gated Content Syndication: Our clients have seen enormous success through sponsored content campaigns that are simple and turnkey. Paying the right media company to publish content in a natural location — usually mixed with editorial content — to drive readers to download it in exchange for their contact information is a sure-fire way to get high-value MQLs. Companies see a 50% higher brand lift when publishing their content in the media versus self-publishing. And this lift translates to leads, too.
Webinars: Buyers are hungry to participate in informative webinars. In fact, 79% of buyers will share their contact information in exchange for attending a well-executed webinar. Make it turnkey by partnering with a credible industry news outlet that brings a solid source of attendees and the resources to organize and implement the event. All you have to bring is the spokesperson and the content. Just remember this is an opportunity to tell, not sell.
4. Leverage the hyper-targeting abilities of social media.
Increasingly, B2B companies are using social media and online review sites to research purchase decisions. According to the Demand Gen Report B2B Buyers Survey 65% of buyers rely more on peer recommendations and review sites. Publish gated thought leadership content on your website, promote it organically on social media and tag top prospects to entice them to download it.
We also continue to see success running paid ad campaigns on LinkedIn to expose brands to more decision-makers and drive new top-of-funnel relationships. LinkedIn reported an average 6.1% conversion rate among its sponsored content user base, compared to 2.58% for B2B Google Ads. Running lead generation or brand awareness ads that share thought leadership content is an easy and inexpensive way to generate leads and amplify your work.
5. Trade show marketing strategies can captivate attendees and drive new leads.
Innovative trade show activations, such as hiring an artist to live draw in your booth, can captivate attendees right where you want them — at your booth. We made this happen for a client who walked away with valuable video content and hundreds of new leads. Or, consider partnering with a media company to co-sponsor video interviews of executives from your top prospect companies. Your sales staff can leverage prescheduled media interviews with prospects to convert them to buyers, you land valuable video material that boosts website traffic, and your company drastically increases its share of voice by being included in media interviews.
With billions of dollars spent annually on sponsored content, trade show marketing and website content management, marketers are constantly hit with new tools and strategies to help them build out an effective demand generation program. Stick to these B2B marketing strategies to deliver MQLs that the sales team appreciates.