The anatomy of a B2B marketing strategy is far different from consumer brands. Whereas most B2C brands will do business in volume to grow, we (B2B companies) rely on relationships, repeat business and loyalty to survive. Because this, it's crucial to know how to work each part of your sales funnel to build a long-lasting client roster.
Reviewing the Sales Funnel
While the labels vary, a typical B2B sales funnel looks like this:
In inbound marketing, we typically look at the sales funnel in four parts:
- Attract: Attracting the right visitors to your blog or website. These become potential leads once on your properties.
- Convert: Capturing the contact information and identity of your visitors by converting them into a lead, typically through a gated resource or form.
- Close: Nurturing leads with content through the sales cycle and eventually closing them into customers.
- Delight: Going above and beyond with your service and providing valuable information and communication outside of your services to turn customers into referrers.
However, the Attraction phase is typically the most important and often the most overlooked. We all know that "if you build it they will come" is utter nonsense, of course. That's why it's so important to understand how to push more of the right people into your funnel, so you can ultimately generate more leads.
Attracting More B2B Leads
Before we jump into the actual tactics, let's discuss the overall inbound marketing strategy for B2B companies. There are multiple pieces to understand:
The Destination: Your Content
We have talked a lot about content in the past and how smart marketers are using blogging to bring in more leads for their businesses. Content, overall, is a destination in your marketing mix. Content by itself does not bring in traffic, instead the different tactics help to push traffic to that content.
That content can live in several places on your online properties: Your blog, your landing pages or your website.
"Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less."
In the attract phase of inbound, everything you do should be in service of pushing people to your content. The goal here is that they will find value in your content (wherever it may be), come to trust your company as the expert and decide to become a lead by downloading an offer.
Your Content Strategy
Of course, a big part of building this destination is making sure that you are writing content that your potential leads find valuable. That means that your blogs are education, your web pages answer important questions about your business in a way that is easy to understand, and your landing pages provide enough information to prompt the visitor to act.
Your content strategy should facilitate the writing of such content. If you need a starting point, check out our guide to writing a quick content strategy.
Not Getting Leads: Diagnosing The Problem
We're almost to the good stuff, I swear. But before we go any further, it's important to know if your problem really is attracting, or if it lies somewhere else. Clear indicators that you need help attracting more people versus help with converting leads or closing business really boils down to this:
"My website or blog is not getting as much traffic as I'd like each month."Does that statement ring true for you? Great! You may now keep reading.
Top Ways to Driving More Traffic
Alright, now that we got all that out of the way, let's dive into the different tactics available to B2B businesses in the attraction stage for lead generation, which really comes down to driving more traffic to your website:
1. Social Media
There are two categories of content when it comes to social media for B2B lead generation:
- Content creation: Promoting links to your own content published on your blog or website. The goal here is to attract people to your website to convert.
- Content curation: Sending out links to others' content not hosted on your property. By doing this, you aren't going to be driving traffic to your website, but you may be capturing more followers who may view your content later on.
In a marketing strategy, we've seen better results when you use both of these together. Curating content helps you grow your social media audiences by using others' content to establish yourself as a subject matter expert. The larger your audience, the more likely your content will be seen and shared, therefore reaching more people. However, without sharing your own content, you aren't going to get people back to your site, where they can become a lead.
"People are more likely to visit a B2B tech company’s website after seeing a tweet from the company, getting them one step closer to becoming a lead."
Back in the day marketer's liked to talk about this mix as an "80/20" rule -- 80% curated content and 20% created content -- but I really believe that social media moves far faster today that you no longer need this huge of a mix. I prefer more like 50-50, especially when we're talking about Twitter or LinkedIn, where large amounts of content come and go quickly. Facebook and Instagram are different since it's more static. You could put more of your own content here and grow just as quickly. (Although, heads up marketers! Instagram will be filtering users' feeds using an algorithm, just like Facebook.)
There is definitely an art to promoting your content on social media. Here are two more valuable articles for you on this topic:
2. Networking, Referrals or Tradeshows
Yes, all of these typically happen offline -- but guess where most people go after receiving your business card? That's right! Your website. Because of this, it's important to make sure that you're referring people to your website or blog content when you meet with them. Here are some examples:
- Networking: You exchange business card during the introduction phase and learn more about this person's business and what they do. They seem like they may be a good lead, so you email them the next day with a link to a blog article they may find helpful. The person may have already been to your website, but now you are proactively driving them to learn more about your business offerings. Definitely make sure your website address is on your business card.
- Referrals: Most likely when you receive an email from someone introducing you to a prospective client, that lead has already looked you up. When you reach out, make sure to provide a link with additional information. You may even consider having a website or blog link (or both) in your website signature, too.
- Trade shows: Many traditional business-to-business industries rely on trade shows to meet potential clients. Do you have a digital strategy to accompany your trade booth? You should. Think about all the takeaways or signage that attendees interact with at your booth. Are they taking your URL with them? Did you give them an offer that will push them to your website for more information? These are really good ways to get a return from trade shows, more so than just a stack of business cards.
3. Organic Search
"60% of all organic clicks go to the organic top 3 search results."
One of the major benefits of publishing content regularly to your website is the long-term residual organic search that results from it. Leads that result from search are more qualified, too. Approximately 14.6% of leads from SEO close, compared to just 1.7% of outbound leads (from mailers or print advertising), according to Search Engine Journal.
There are two main tactics for boosting organic search:
- Search Engine Optimization: Content and search engine optimization really go hand in hand when it comes to driving organic traffic to your website or blog. For best results, write content that targets keywords and longtail search queries that your target client may be searching. The more you write good, quality content around those keywords, the more likely your website will rank for that search term. The higher you rank, the more organic traffic you get. Learn more about SEO from our recent article, "6 Key Elements that Influence Your Search Rankings"
- Link Building: Link building refers to the practice of receiving links back to your website from other websites. When marketers talk about "content marketing," they are typically referring to some combination of publishing content, promoting content and building links to that content. The strategy with link building is to target websites that rank for your target keywords in hopes that the association will attribute to your own search rankings in Google. It can be quite a lengthy process and requires a bit of outreach, but a good strategy can have exceptional returns.
4. Paid Media
If you need results fast, organic search isn't the best short-term strategy since it takes quite a while to build up that search equity; however, paid media can be used in conjunction with your content strategy to drive traffic to your website quicker. While we don't particularly recommend print, radio or TV advertisements because they are hard to track and don't seem to be very effective, there are some paid media methods we have seen to boost traffic immediately:
- Paid Search (PPC): If you own a business, you've likely been called about this by Google already. Paid search allows you to target groups of keywords so that your website link shows up at the top of the page for those queries. The cost for these ads can be anywhere from $1 per click on the low end, to $80 per click on the high end (where most lawyers would sit). Whether or not PPC is a good idea for you depends on your industry, paid search competition for keywords, your price point (the ROI) and your budget.
- Social Media Advertising: With more and more social media platforms going public, the opportunities for paid media on social are expanding almost daily. From our experience, Facebook tends to be the best bang for your buck, as you're able to get engagement for as little at $0.10 each and clicks for around $1. Twitter has also gotten better. If you're going to test out Twitter ads, choose a mix of interests and followers of other relevant groups. For both, I highly recommend limiting your reach to specific locations, otherwise your budget may get sucked up by locals outside of your sphere (India, for an example). LinkedIn is another option, but be prepared to pay $10 per click, if you get any results, that is. I have not heard anything good about LinkedIn ads.
- Display ads: The B2B marketing community has historically felt mix feelings about display ads, those side-bar ads that follow you around Google. While many have felt that they are only good for brand awareness, it is possible to get results -- but not immediately. Display ads really need to be complements of your overall marketing program, not as a stand-alone campaign.
- Retargeting: However, display ads and social media advertising can be fairly powerful when used in a retargeting campaign. When people visit your site, they get cookied and your ads can follow them around the web. Your strategy around retargeting for B2B needs to be solid to drive results. This article from HubSpot is a good overview of retargeting.
5. Public Relations
While many digital marketers today like to push public relations aside, it can be an effective tool for building awareness and driving traffic. Most public relations firms today are skilled at landing speaking opportunities, podcast guest spots, guests posts and mentions with hyperlinks in publications. When you do this, you're tapping into an existing audience with the goal of pulling a portion of those readers/listeners over to your website.
The right media hit can lead to a flood of traffic. For B2B, that means targeting very specific publications -- and online! It's very difficult to track the ROI of a print mention unless you look at the increase of direct traffic and can isolate it to the one hit. Digital hits are better for traffic and for the SEO implications of that link.
Then what happens?
Once you get traffic over to your site, that's when we use content, design and offers to get the right people to convert to leads, the second stage of inbound marketing.
If you focus on getting your website traffic up first, the likelihood of bringing in more B2B leads is greater. The more traffic, the more opportunities to convert to leads.