A few days ago, I was watching a 2005 episode of Doctor Who with my nine-year-old. He saw a strange artifact in a character’s hand. “What’s that thing?” he asked.
“An iPod,” I responded. “It’s like a smartphone, but it could only play music and had a black-and-white screen. No, no touchscreen. It held a LOT of music, though! Like hundreds of CDs! Okay, so a CD is…”
The point being: You kids need to get off my lawn.
Okay, the actual point being: Technology has changed fast in the past decade, and what used to be mind-blowing is now laughably obsolete. That’s doubly true in B2B marketing. We have the tools and tech to do amazing, iPhone-XS-Max-quality B2B lead generation.
But a lot of us are getting iPod results instead.
Ready to evolve past the monochrome screen and the click wheel? Here’s how.
How to Refine Your Marketing for Better B2B Lead Generation
#1: Get a Better Audience Match
The ability to target ads is more granular and sophisticated than ever. You can segment your audience on everything from demographics to pop culture preferences to shopping history. It’s easy to choose who you’re going to target — but first you have to know who is most valuable and why. That knowledge is at the heart of better content, smarter amplification, and ultimately more leads.
If your lead gen efforts aren’t connecting, start by getting a more accurate picture of your buying audience. Use social listening. Ask them questions. Talk to sales and customer service to refine your personas.
Keep in mind, too, that determining who is your best audience means determining who isn’t. Pursuing an irrelevant audience won’t do either of you any good.
#2: Boost Content Relevance
The next step is to bring your content strategy in line with your newly-redefined audience’s wants and needs. Creating best-answer content begins with SEO research. You have to know what your audience is looking for, and how they’re looking for it, to make something worth finding.
Modern SEO research is less about pure search volume and more about topic clusters and searcher intent. For example, the phrase “financial management” can mean financial services like hedge fund management. Or it could mean the office of finance in a business, what accountants and CFOs do. If your business does the latter, it doesn’t help to pursue keywords for the former, regardless of search volume.
As you plan your calendar, pay close attention to the magic convergence of your industry knowledge, your unique insights, and your audience’s needs. Be hyper-relevant and hyper-valuable with your content, and you’re far more likely to bring more leads into your nurturing track.
#3: Earn Attention with Next-Gen Content
How can you get people to notice and engage with your hyper-relevant content? B2B marketers need to think beyond standard eBooks, blogs and white papers. What I call next-generation content includes:
- Strong visual interest
- Multimedia elements
Case in point: This AI in Finance asset from our client, Prophix. You could get the same information across in a static eBook, of course.
But we have found the interactive and multimedia elements have made people spend far more time with the asset. And they’ve been beating benchmarks for conversions, too. In fact, within the first 90 days after launch, we saw a 642% increase in asset engagement and a 10% conversion rate to the asset.
#4: Get in Front of Your Audience
All of the above will get you some stellar content. But, of course, smart promotion and amplification is what turns it into actual marketing. Target your most relevant audience with amplification and you’ll be more likely to get the folks who will convert into leads.
Part of amplification is organic — your social media feeds, your built-in SEO. Add in paid amplification to those highly targeted audience segments and you’ll make more of a splash. Our agency adds a third ingredient to the mix: Influencer marketing.
We co-create content with influencers to make something they’re proud to help us share. That brings value to their audience, and builds credibility and trust that can help improve lead capture. As our CEO Lee Odden often says:
If you want your content to be great, ask influencers to participate.
#5: Fill in Gaps in the Journey
Each piece of content should be the beginning of a journey that ends in a conversion. It’s important to have content at the ready for every stage of the funnel. Each piece should end with a next step that’s not only logical, but relevant.
For example, there’s no value in sending an email subscriber links to content they’ve already read, or a gated asset they’ve already downloaded. The old days of a single newsletter for your entire mailing list are gone. It’s important to segment your subscriber list, and to build more complex nurturing tracks that feel more personal.
#6: Optimize for Conversion
When you have people digging your excellent content, taking next steps, staying engaged, the final step is to remove every potential obstacle to conversion. Reduce friction whenever and wherever you can:
- Reduce the number of boxes on forms
- Eliminate multiple form fills (if they download one gated asset, store the info for the next one)
- Cut down copy on landing pages (replace with eye-catching visuals)
- Tighten up your CTAs and be specific: (Read this / Watch this / Register now)
- Add CTAs earlier in content
These are just a few ways to remove friction. A/B testing will yield further candidates for Conversion rate optimization. But it’s important to keep in mind that the actual conversion point is part of a much longer journey. You can make improvements here, and should. But the process of improving lead gen starts all the way back at defining your audience and continues throughout the journey.
Leads: The Next Generation
Lead generation isn’t really a separate discipline from the rest of what we do. It’s simply the culmination of all our marketing efforts. When you upgrade each component of the process, each improvement builds on the last.
Level up your buyer audience identification, content creation, amplification, and optimize for conversion. Soon, you’ll marvel at how iPod-like your old tactics look compared to your new results.
Looking for more insight on lead generation and lead nurturing? Check out these other helpful blog posts: