Struggling to generate qualified b2b leads? Is your sales team getting frustrated by low-quality leads generated by your marketing team?
Don’t worry! I am going to show you a step by step procedure of generating the maximum B2B leads using the inbound methodology.
But before I proceed to the actual topic, let me answer common questions that bother most people when it comes to inbound marketing.
Of course, if you already know the benefits of inbound marketing and have made up your mind to get started, then you can fast forward to the section below.
Why not outbound?
Outbound marketing practices like cold calling, print ads, press releases, etc. are fast losing their charm in producing more leads. Not only are these practices becoming more expensive by the day but they also tend to result in a large number of low quality or unqualified leads.
In fact, according to a study by HubSpot, only 17% of the marketers feel that outbound practices produce high quality leads for sales.
Now, as an inbound marketer, I don’t want to sound too salesy.
Yes through outbound marketing you can reach a large number of audience.
But in an era of content explosion (and easy access to the internet), customers have access to an incredible amount of information.
And after decades of being hounded by spammy emails, they have now become resistant to any sales message that is remotely pushy.
Businesses are doing thorough research before they invest as much as a penny.
Even 31% of outbound marketers rank outbound marketing practices, such as paid advertising, as a top waste of time and resources.
Whether you are a B2B or a B2C organization, content is still the king. The more unique content you provide, the more audience you would attract and eventually would generate more leads.
If the content is everything, Why not content marketing?
This is a genuine doubt raised by many B2B marketers.
Content marketing with the correct strategy works great. I agree.
As a matter of fact, when asked if their respective organization uses content marketing, 88% of the respondents said YES!
Now that’s a huge number. But will a content marketing campaign truly help you in generating qualified leads?
Content marketing doesn’t include many critical marketing tactics like email marketing, website design, etc.
You can drive more people to your website for sure, but you may not convert them into leads without a bigger strategy.
A 2016 study by content marketing institute even states that only 30% of B2B marketers feel that their organization is effective at content marketing, down from 38% in 2015.
Content Marketing is a part of Inbound Marketing
That’s right! Inbound marketing is the bigger strategy in which content is just one part.
Simply put Inbound marketing = Content + Context
In inbound marketing, content is used at various stages as required. Depending upon the context, i.e attracting, retaining or delighting, content is distributed accordingly.
What about digital marketing?
Many companies over the past decade have happily created a digital marketing campaign with various tactics such as SEO, SEM, social media marketing, e-mail marketing, etc.
While these stand-alone tactics are successful to an extent, there are a lot of missed opportunities.
There are so many reasons why inbound methodology works better than traditional digital marketing for B2B companies.
For instance, you cannot get a detailed analysis report of the whole campaign using the isolated tactics of digital marketing.
Without proper segregation, the performance parameters of each tactic can’t be analyzed and corrected conveniently. This results in the spending of a huge amount of money as it is tough to determine which specific tactic works well for a particular type of campaign.
Finally why Inbound?
I love inbound marketing for many reasons. Inbound marketing has more of a persona based approach and results-oriented methodology.
Inbound marketing provides a clear cut strategy to generate qualified leads and enables excellent sales and marketing alignment.
HubSpot even says that Inbound organizations are 4 times as likely to rate their marketing strategy as effective.
Inbound marketing not only places the right content at the right stage but also gives you a detailed analysis of what’s going wrong or right at each part of the campaign.
Now that we have discussed the importance of Inbound marketing in lead generation, let me show you how exactly it’s done step by step.
But before you start this procedure, I would recommend you to come up with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between your sales and marketing teams.
The most impressive thing about Inbound marketing that sets it apart from the rest is that it provides effective marketing and sales alignment or Smarketing.
Now there are so many key essentials of Smarketing
But you can kick start with a simple Sales and Marketing agreement.
Here’s how you can do it
Say your revenue goal is 1 Million within 1 year.
|Average deal size||20000 (Assume)|
Now that, you are clear of how many customers you need, come up with the basic SLA
MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead): Leads which are found worth pursuable by the marketing team. It is advisable to take the conversion stage between each stage at 50%.
SQL (Sales Qualified Lead): Leads which are found worth pursuable by the Sales team.
There are many benefits of such an agreement. For instance, you can easily know how many sales reps you need and how much man-hours are required.
A good SLA not only increases collaboration between both teams but also helps them make better decisions at various stages of the marketing campaign i.e how much content should be generated and distributed? How much should be spent on PPC campaigns? To name a few.
Now that you have established an agreement between your sales and marketing team, It’s time to launch the campaign!
The first stage of Inbound marketing is to attract. But attract who? Who is your ideal customer? Who is most likely to buy your product/service?
1. Develop a Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional character of your ideal customer. Developing a buyer persona not only helps you in creating relevant content but also assists your sales team in segmenting leads for better follow-ups.
How you can do it?
One of the biggest challenges for organizations while developing a persona is that they simply can’t come up with all the questions needed for buyer persona research.
Use HubSpot’s MakeMyPersona tool to get started. Don’t worry! You can even use one of their insightful free downloadable persona templates.
Here is an example of a buyer persona:
Image Source: IndieGameGirl
Here are a few tips to develop an ideal buyer persona:
- Do basic market research
- Interview and survey existing customers
- List down demographics, background, goals, and challenges of the persona.
- Collect as many personas as your business requires!
See also: How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business
2. Create Unique Content
Now that you have developed your ideal buyer persona, it’s time to create suitable content relevant to the persona.
In an inbound methodology, content is developed for three stages based on a buyer’s journey.
- Awareness: At this stage, you create content to educate the visitor about the problem he/she is facing
Examples: Blog posts, ebooks, white papers, etc.
- Consideration: Content is created to provide a solution to his/her problems
Examples: Webinars, Case studies, etc.
- Decision: Content is produced to help your prospects take a final call or nurture their interest. This is the time where you actually start advertising your product/service.
Examples: Trial downloads, Product demos, etc.
How to generate AWESOME content?
In order to generate quality content, you need to understand your buyer persona’s real pain points.. Question yourself, what troubles and challenges might he/she be facing? How does your persona use google or any other search engine to search for his/her needs? How is the challenge relevant to my products/services?
Now there is no “ ideal ” method to find out what your prospects want to know. But you can always use your common sense to find out their real pain points.
Let’s take the example of TheSmarketers.
The ideal persona for this company would be someone who is searching for better lead generation methods or someone who wants to increase their website traffic.
Here are a few methods I usually follow.
Go to Quora.com
Since lead generation is a service that we offer, I would scour for topics such as:
Here there are about 3k questions regarding Lead generation with almost 65k followers!
Now I am not asking you to go through all the questions, but just check out the ones which are most followed and understand the real challenge the person asking the question is facing.
There are so many questions regarding the best ways of B2B lead generation.
That’s it! I have now found the topic for my next blog post! And it’s guaranteed to resonate with my readers and target audience because that is exactly what they are searching for on the web.
I also personally recommend checking out amazon.com and search for top-selling books on lead generation.
Take a look at the contents of the book and then jump straight to the comments section. Comments offer invaluable insights into what your prospects really want to learn more about.
Learn what people are talking about. Understand what types of content they like better and what topics they really want to learn more about.
If you take a look at the first comment in the screenshot above, you can see the buyer is really interested in learning different examples of lead generation strategies.
In addition to these methods, I also keep an eye on all various discussions that happen on social media.
Important do’s of content creation:
- Create quality content. (More is more only if the quality of your content is consistently amazing!))
- Keep it educational
- Do not force self-promotion
3. Distribute your content
Now that you know what content to create, the next critical part is to find the right place, time, and context to distribute your content.
There are a lot of ways you can structure your content on the various stages of the buying cycle (i.e awareness, consideration, decision)
What content type should you choose for your organization at different stages? Through which formats can your content reach more customers?
The answer is – it varies from one industry to another.
A whitepaper might work for a b2b tech-based company during the consideration stage, but for a health care industry, a webinar might be more effective.
It really depends!
Since there are so many content types, I would talk about the single most important type of content which is relevant to all b2b companies.
Blogging is one of the most critical types of content for any b2b organization.
In fact, HubSpot says that 60% of marketers feel blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority
By creating quality blogs consistently, you not only increase your rankings in Google but also emerge as a thought leader in your industry.
In addition to the tips, I mentioned earlier in creating unique content, use tools like buzzsumo to find out which content is getting the most engagement and choose the right topic accordingly.
Here are a few tips you could use when writing a blog.
In addition to this, I would recommend you to
- write lengthy articles (above 2000 words)
- Include lots of images, internal and external links
- Use a lot of white space to enhance the reading experience of your blog
- Use your primary keyword and its synonyms naturally throughout the blog
You can always write blogs in the shortest time possible. A bit of practice and motivation is all it takes!
Struggling to come up with new topics for your blog? Use HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator
Not good at writing? Check out this article: How to Create Amazing Articles Even If You Suck at Writing
Note: Blogs are just one part of your content strategy. To truly leverage your lead generation strategy you will be needing various types of content according to your industry needs.
Feel free to get in touch to know which content plan you must be using.
4. Promote your Content
You finally created all of your content, but what is the use if it doesn’t reach the correct audience?
You can have the best piece of content and make the best point ever. But if no one looks at it, the article is a waste.
Here are a few ways you can promote your content effectively
Social media campaigns
Social media is used in almost every stage of inbound marketing. Whether your goal is to drive more web traffic, create brand awareness or generate more leads, the social media campaign is highly critical.
93% of B2B marketers say social media is their number one tactic for marketing their content.
Now, there are so many social media platforms out there. Which one should you choose?
This is where the buyer persona comes to play.
From the data you develop in the buyer persona, learn what could be the demographics, job roles, possible interests, hobbies etc.
Understand what channels these buyer personas spend their most time on.
Suppose your prospects or consumers tell you that they spend 30% of their online time on Facebook and 10% on Twitter, you know which secondary and primary social networks you should focus on.
Here are a few platforms that are most effective for a B2B company.
Linkedin is still the best channel for generating leads for B2B companies.
In fact, about 79% of content marketers feel that Linkedin is effective at generating B2B leads.
Linkedin helps you reach your target audience through various avenues such as Linkedin groups, InMail, or even by posting relevant content to Pulse.
Twitter & Facebook
In terms of monthly active users, twitter and facebook lead by a large margin. By promoting your content via these channels, updates from your organization can reach a large section of your ideal audience.
A study by HubSpot reveals that 73% of people use Facebook for professional purposes. For a B2B marketer, this is great news!
A quick tip: Create a blog promotion campaign to target all your website visitors on these platforms. You can even start a campaign to target all your prospects directing them to download that new e-book or white paper you created!
No, I am not kidding here!
Even though Instagram has over 600 million users, most B2B marketers overlook its importance in promoting their content.
While it is true that the appeal of Instagram is very informal, unlike Twitter and Linkedin where people are more open to having serious conversations around a business interest, Instagram allows you the incredible opportunity to reach out to key industry influencers and clients when they are off-work!
To truly become a lead generation machine in the long run, you need to increase and maintain the awareness of your brand across all relevant social media channels.
See also: 5 tips to use Instagram For B2B marketing
Here are few tips to get started with your social media strategy
- Set goals: Understand what you are using social media for and time your target accordingly
- Create a content plan: Depending on the social media platform, choose the right format of content.
Download a free social media content calendar to track all your posts.
- Measure and Analyze: Keep a track on all of your social media analytics and always measure the outcomes.
Check this article to know the different tools you can use for social media analytics. A lot of them are FREE! A List of the Top 25 Social Media Analytics Tools
See also: The what, why and how of social media strategy
Need a professional touch for your social media marketing? Get a free marketing review from us!
Optimize your website
You created the required content and started a social media marketing campaign. What next?
Without optimizing your website in an effective manner, you can never reach your prospects who are looking for your product/service on Google!
Infact, Google says that 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search
You definitely want your page to be on the first page.
Infact, page 1 results garners 92 percent of all traffic from an average search.
To get started with optimizing your webpages, follow these steps:
- Use Google’s keyword planner and do complete research of all the relevant keywords.
- Use these keywords throughout your website and web URL, but in a way that is still natural, contextual and user-centric.
- Use SEMRush tool to get a thorough analysis of your main competitors’ strategies
- Create a customized 404 page with a search box and social buttons.
- Optimize your website for mobile devices (51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphone.
- Mimic your buyer persona’s language for all your content headings (Phrases like How to, Why, Tips, Free get the highest CRO)
Now, All these are few basic tips. To truly leverage your website for a better SEO, I suggest you to get a free website audit from professionals.
When I say the words “PPC Ads”, it’s natural for you to think “Wait isn’t that an outbound practice? “
If you logically look at it, yes, the concept of PPC ads does come under interruptive advertising.
However, if you creatively craft the ad, you can make it an inbound-ish one. Hubspot confirmed that 53% of its customers integrate PPC ads into their inbound marketing campaign
What is an inbound PPC Ad?
Unlike an outbound one, an inbound PPC ad is educative and helpful rather than promotional.
Take a look at the ad below:
Rather than pushing their offerings on the prospect, BlogStarter’s ad offered a free step by step guide to help the buyer start a blog.
Here are few more examples of an inbound PPC ad.
A smart inbound-ish ad is always more inviting to click than a promotional paid search ad.
How to integrate PPC ads in your inbound marketing campaign?
- Choose the right channels to place your ads. I recommend LinkedIn and Google for any B2B organization
- Keep the ad language educational (remember you want to help the visitor)
- Use the correct landing page that is relevant to the ad content instead of using your home page
- Track, measure and analyze your ad campaign
Here’s one way you can track and measure your campaigns
UTM Codes are a great way to know from where your visitors are coming from, what keywords they are using, which device they are using, etc.
UTM code is just a simple code that is attached to the custom URL to track the medium, source and the campaign name.
Take a look at this example
By using these snippet codes you can know from where you are generating the highest number of leads and which campaigns you must focus on.
Use the Campaign URL Builder tool in Google Analytics to add your UTM codes hasslefree.
Use at least the first four parameters in your URL.
Further Reading: 9 Strategies for Improving Lead Quality From B2B PPC Campaigns
Remember – PPC ads are just a small part of inbound marketing. Your main objective is to cut down the paid advertising budget as the campaign progresses.
Convert is the second part of the inbound marketing methodology.
You attracted a whole lot of visitors, now is the time to finally convert them to leads!
The conversion process has three stages.
- Call to action
- Landing Page
- Thank you page
5. Convert visitors to leads with a CALL TO ACTION
If you ask me, this stage is the most important one in the entire campaign.
This is the stage when you finally get your leads.
A call to action can be a line, button or image that encourages visitors to take an action.
This action can be anything, i.e newsletter subscription, starting a free trial, ebook download etc.
Here are a few examples:
Where to place your CTAs?
There are no definite places to place your CTA. As long as it doesn’t look artificial and fits into the content and context suitably, you can place them anywhere.
Here are a few suggestions and best practices:
- You can place CTAs at the end of your blog post to prompt the visitor to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter
- Place a CTA at the end of the newsletter asking the subscriber to start their free trial
- Use bright colors and clear fonts for CTA buttons
- Always experiment with CTA positioning and formats.
See also: Call-to-Action examples you can’t help but click
Want to create your own CTA? Download these customizable CTA templates
6. Landing Page & Thank You page
All your lead generation efforts finally come down to this!
Once the prospect has decided to download that ebook/whitepaper or register for that webinar and clicks on the CTA button, he/she should be navigated to a landing page.
The main purpose of a landing page is to obtain the prospect’s details (email address) by asking him/her to fill a form in return for the content you provide.
It’s the stage where your prospect goes from being a silent visitor to an active lead.
Here is an example:
Quick tips for creating an effective Landing page:
- Remove all navigation buttons and links (You don’t want your visitor to get away without filling the form)
- Explain what content he/she can expect from the offering in a clear manner!
- Do not ask for too many details (You might lose the user’s trust!)
Don’t have enough time to create a landing page from scratch? Use these free templates from Ucraft to create customized landing pages.
See also: 16 Examples of Great Landing Page Design
Thank you page
After successfully obtaining your lead’s information, you need to encourage them to move further in the buyer’s journey by directing them to thank you page.
Here’s what you should do:
- Thank the new lead (showing gratitude builds trust )
- Provide additional content
- Deploy another CTA to redirect them to another blog post or other offerings.
- Include social buttons (so you can build your social following)
After successfully generating new leads, it’s time to nurture them and finally convert them into customers.
What’s the use of generating so many leads without converting them to customers?
MarketingSherpa identifies lack of lead nurturing as the primary reason for 79% of leads not converting to sales.
So how can you close?
This brings us to the email marketing stage of the inbound methodology.
7. Convert your leads to customers!
In inbound marketing, the role of a sales rep is of an educator rather than a hardcore seller. The goal is to educate the lead as much as possible before promoting your product.
What you should do
- Segment your leads according to the buyer persona developed
- Segregate your content database according to your lead’s
- Company type
- Role and seniority in the organization
- Integrate Smarketing into your company and draw up an SLA (as discussed earlier). Get a professional sales consultation to evaluate your current sales team efforts.
- According to the SLA, report estimate how many follow-up emails are required per lead and how many targets a sales rep must produce.
- Write attractive subject headlines to boost the email open rates
- Add CTAs whenever required
Check out this infographic to know the best time to send an email for various countries
- Use automation tools like HubSpot CRM, SalesForce CRM, LeadSquared etc.
Further Reading: 5 Easy And Effective Email Hacks For Better Lead Generation
8. Become a lead generation machine by serving your customers
Unlike any other marketing campaign, the inbound strategy doesn’t end after acquiring customers.
A satisfied customer can be a hero in advertising your product.
Delighting your customer not only gains their trust but also helps you in generating more qualified leads in the future.
Surveying and analyzing your existing customers provides powerful insights regarding your ideal buyer persona and helps in improving your lead quality in the future.
Basics of customer delight
- Be a strong problem solver
- Be an educator instead of a promoter
- Provide your own recommendations and solutions for a problem.
While implementing inbound methodology may take time to start showing results, it’s one of the most effective marketing strategies right now.
Create remarkable and unique content which fits your buyer’s needs and you are already halfway there!
By properly implementing all the 8 steps I mentioned, you too can easily see a spike in your website traffic, conversion rate, lead generation, etc. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any doubts and for more personalized guidance.
Leave a comment below and tell us your experience with lead generation!