The majority of small businesses today still struggle with lead generation. In fact, many would argue that lead generation has only gotten harder as the tools and platforms you can use to market your products and services have expanded greatly in the last decade.
Many of the business owners I work with report feeling spread too thin to be effective in their marketing. They feel they’re taking a wild stab in the dark when it comes to their lead generation efforts.
If you are like many of these businesses, you can’t afford to take a stab in the dark or waste your limited time or resources on unproven or ineffective lead generation strategies or tools.
The graph below, released by Finances Online, shows the seven top lead generation priorities of businesses. These priorities are also critical building blocks for continued lead generation success.
In this article, I take the guesswork out of your lead generation efforts. I break down each lead gen priority for you and show you how to optimize your results in each area so you can increase the number and quality of your leads.
Top Lead Generation Priorities Broken Down
1. Focus on lead quality over quantity
In the early days, my company, Top Dog Social Media, helped businesses with ALL their social media across ANY platform: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.
And the No.1 thing I heard from almost every new client was, “Can you please help me get 10,000 likes/followers as quickly as possible?” My response was always, “How do you think 10,000 followers will help your business?”
Because it’s never about the quantity of followers, but the quality of them. Ask yourself this…
Would I rather have 1,000 followers who love my business, know, like, and trust me, and want to buy from me? Or do I want 10,000 followers, most of whom don’t need what I offer?
Well, it’s exactly the same with lead generation. Many tools, bots and gimmicks promise to bring in crazy numbers, like 1,000 leads a month, but I guarantee the quality of those leads will be TERRIBLE.
Plus, think of all the time and money you lose chasing dead-end leads who don’t want to buy from you.
Don’t get seduced by the big numbers.
In my experience, most small B2B businesses can do very well with 30-50 quality leads per month.
- A quality lead is a lead that has the potential to convert into an actual buyer of your product or service, thus generating revenue.
- Large quantities of poor quality leads will cost you more time and money to obtain and qualify than the sales they will generate.
- A good way to define what a quality lead looks like for you is to create a description of your ideal customer. It is important to understand what key problem(s) they have and how your product or service solves this problem for them.
2. Increase lead volume and improve conversion rates
Lead generation is the lifeblood of any business.
Without a fully-functioning, free-flowing pipeline of high-quality leads, your business will die.
I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the raw truth.
And if you’re stuck in the monthly feast-or-famine cycle, this means your lead generation efforts are inconsistent and unreliable, failing to generate stable profits.
What does a malfunctioning B2B lead generation strategy look like?
- Wasting thousands of dollars on Facebook or Google PPC advertising. For B2B, this generally results in unqualified leads and high acquisition costs.
- Taking the “spray and pray” route, blasting out hundreds of cold emails or messages. This is time consuming and spammy, and it rarely gets traction.
- Commissioning a third party or agency to “automate” your lead gen… Again, this is impersonal, costly and always perceived as spam.
All of these options are the “norm” in B2B lead gen and marketing, but that doesn’t make them effective. Not when to generate more leads that convert, all you have to do is put effort into a direct outreach to people and businesses who actually need your services, building relationships with them.
The best place to find and connect with your ideal prospects is LinkedIn.
That’s because LinkedIn is the only social media platform in the world where people go to do business and are actively looking to solve their problems. And that’s why 80% of all B2B leads on social media come from LinkedIn.
Increasing your lead volume and conversions is actually quite simple…
Market in the right places (LinkedIn), in the right way, to the right people and companies, at the right time.
When you do this correctly, you can guarantee the leads will be qualified, relevant and, if not yet ready to buy, will certainly remember you for the future.
It’s important to remember to put the relationship with your prospect first when using LinkedIn for lead generation. Lead with value and offer help, laser-focusing your outreach on targeted prospects.
Additional Reading: 5 Crucial Steps to Mastering LinkedIn Lead Generation
Improve ability to measure and analyze marketing impact
Although your bottom line is the ULTIMATE metric your business lives and dies by, money is either hiding or being wasted inside your marketing budget.
It literally pays to keep a forensic eye on the effectiveness of your marketing and lead generation strategy, noting what works and what doesn’t.
Here are some key metrics to keep in mind when assessing your marketing outcomes:
Return on investment (ROI): This is the most important KPI (key performance indicator). It measures (1) the effectiveness of every marketing dollar spent versus the money it brought in and (2) the quality of leads generated.
Cost per lead: This metric measures the cost-effectiveness of your campaigns and focuses entirely on the leads generated by the campaign. Since it factors out the sales process, it doesn’t measure the quality of leads. It’s important to determine how much a lead costs you. This is particularly easy to determine if you are running ads. For example, if you had an ad budget of $1,000 and it generated 10 leads for you, your cost per lead would be $100. Then you determine your cost of customer acquisition. If five of those ten leads bought your product or service, the cost to acquire a new customer would be $200.
- The most effective lead generation strategy for B2B businesses is to focus on direct outreach to the people and businesses who actually need your services and then taking the time to build relationships with them.
- LinkedIn is an effective marketing and lead generation platform for B2B businesses because it is the only social media platform where people go to do business and are actively looking to solve their problems.
- It is vital for businesses to track, measure and analyze the impact of their marketing. A business will fail if its cost per lead is eating up its revenue or if it’s sinking resources into marketing that is not producing a positive ROI.
3. Improve sales and marketing alignment
It’s the age-old complaint of the sales people: “Marketing isn’t sending us good (or enough) leads!” Now, this may not be relevant if you are a small business owner without a sales team, but there are likely a lot of holes to fill in your leaky bucket of sales and marketing. One of the biggest fixes you can apply is to improve your sales and marketing alignment.
This can dramatically improve your sales and increase customer retention. In fact, organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates.
Whether you are a one-person show or you have a team, it is essential to align your sales and marketing activities. You can do it in two ways.
The first way is through creating a clear buyer persona. These personas depict an image of your ideal customer – whether that’s a company or an individual.
To identify whether a company is a good fit, look at its size, annual revenue, industry, etc.
To assess an individual, consider their role or position in their company, years of experience, etc.
By establishing these criteria, you will be more focused on finding higher quality leads matching your target market. You’ll save time and money by avoiding chasing poor-fitting leads that slip into the funnel.
Next, it’s important to have a follow-up process and well thought-out sales process so that you are able to track a prospect’s status at any given time.
Setting up best practices for sales and marketing will increase the effectiveness of your B2B lead generation and will ultimately increase conversions.
- A business’s sales and marketing activities must be aligned, regardless of the size of the business. One of the best ways to do this is to create a buyer persona, reflecting the business’s ideal customer, and use it to guide both marketing and sales decisions.
- Successful businesses create a well structured sales and follow-up process that naturally follows their ideal customer’s buying journey. This includes relevant and impactful marketing materials made to support the sales and follow-up process.
- The sales and marketing best practices of a successful business need to address topics such as:
- an agreed upon ideal customer’s buyer persona and buyer’s journey map
- the overall content strategy
- the lead handoff process
- a feedback and optimization process
4. Expand content library to drive marketing campaigns
Microsoft founder Bill Gates first said “content is king” back in 1996, and it remains true to this day.
There is nothing like high-quality content to engage, entertain and persuade your prospects to do business with you while growing your authority and strengthening your reputation.
When you build a vault of high-quality content, you showcase your expertise in a number of ways. And you use your content to impress, help and connect with your ideal prospects.
The great thing is content creation can take many forms, including:
- Blog posts
Find what’s most comfortable and enjoyable for you to produce – as well as what your market responds to the most – and start creating.
When creating content, keep in mind that your readers will always ask themselves “What’s in it for me?” Answer this question, and you will have an engaged audience. Otherwise, they’ll skip over your content in favor of something more relevant or interesting to them.
For me, the solution is to always lead with value and my best tips and insights – and you should do the same. Focus on helping to fix your target market’s problems before they’ve even had a chance to speak with you.
By helping potential buyers with the information they need to make an educated decision, you have not only established yourself as an authority but also built up the kind of trust that makes you a natural choice when they are ready to buy.
- Modern consumers expect to be educated before they buy. Today, education-based marketing is non-negotiable for businesses of all sizes and in all industries.
- Solving the challenges of your ideal customers through high-quality content will increase your authority, building a sense of trust. This is vital as people buy from people they know, like and trust.
- Creating and sharing strategic, high-value content will generate quality organic leads for a business.
5. Improve the depth and accuracy of your database
The use of strong data to make key decisions, win more clients and close more deals isn’t the sole domain of big hitters such as Amazon.
Your business needs to be focused on data too. Whom are you speaking to (title, gender, location, size of their company, etc.)? What do they need? What are they struggling with? Where are they in the buyer’s journey?
These are just some of the questions that need answering before you can start landing more clients more often. If you haven’t been comprehensively collecting information on your prospects, now’s the time to start. You’ll be amazed at how much easier the sales process becomes when you make data-driven decisions.
Data and analytics are being used by companies to improve their chances of making better decisions – not only at a “big picture” level but at the granular, person-to-person sales level.
As a first step, look at your historical data – past leads, opportunities and sales transactions – and input them into a CRM software.
Now that all your data is in one place, you can analyze which strategies worked best for each customer or product segment and spot trends. This information is extremely valuable as it allows you to double down on your strengths and eliminate any waste.
- Businesses will benefit from using CRM software, which can help them analyze customer or product segments and spot trends they can use to improve their business.
- Data-driven decision-making is the practice where data is collected and analyzed and decisions are made based on the insights drawn from collected information rather than observation.
- Benefits of data-driven decision-making include:
- improved transparency and accountability
- consistent improvement in marketing initiatives
- the formulation of new products and services
- the increased ease of decisions made throughout the business
Amplifying your B2B lead generation strategy
You can see now that when broken down to its core elements, lead generation isn’t as impossible as trying to capture a unicorn.
Regardless of your industry or the size of your business, all you need to succeed with your lead generation strategy is clear goals, processes and the data to drive smart decisions.