17 Jul 2020 By: Dan Kenitz
For the inexperienced B2B business, getting new leads is a simple proposition. It’s practically a law of physics:
The more lead generation services you use, the more leads you get.
After all, who doesn’t want more leads? If you can maximize your incoming leads by employing as many lead generation services as possible, that’s the right choice?
There’s a problem with this mentality. If you accept the logic of that “equation,” then the only strategy that makes sense is carpet-bombing the web with lead generation tactics.
It may not even feel like a “strategy.” It’s just what you learned as an entrepreneur: the harder you work, the better your results tend to be.
But it is a strategy. And it’s not always the most effective one. It ignores one side of the equation entirely.
The quality of your B2B leads.
Why “Carpet-Bombing” Your B2B Lead Generation Services Is a Waste of Time
First things first: when you’re initially learning what strategies best work for your business, it’s not a bad idea to try new things. You may not have a sense of how your potential audience responds to lead generation strategies. And you won’t learn it until you try a few different avenues for exploring leads.
The only problem is when you don’t use your data to learn what works best for you, and what doesn’t.
However, if you ignore your feedback and don’t keep track of your data, what you’re doing is definitely the wrong way to go about it. Here are the problems with it:
- It’s expensive. Let’s say you’re paying for five different B2B Lead Generation Services, but you receive 90% of your leads from one of the services. Would you spend your money on five different janitorial services if one of them did 90% of the cleaning? This doesn’t even mention the ancillary services you might need to purchase just to keep up with the various “cold leads” coming in, even if those leads aren’t high-quality to begin with.
- It spreads you too thin. Have you ever tried following up with every potential lead? It not only eats into your day, but it can steal away from the energy that you could otherwise devote to the most effective lead generation practices. If you aren’t using some sort of analytics to check the quality of the incoming leads, you also don’t know where to spend your time and energy as you cultivate leads into clients.
- The wrong strategy with the wrong leads can rub people the wrong way. Let’s say you’re a small company utilizing a LinkedIn outreach strategy. You outsource the lead generation to
Which B2B Lead Generation Strategies Work For You?
Let’s start with the central question: whether you should try inbound or outbound marketing, or both. The difference is easy enough to understand: outbound means that you reach out to potential leads, while inbound refers to marketing that naturally attracts customers by creating valuable content or resources to draw them in.
The decision you make may depend on what tends to work in your industry. For example, in real estate, lead generation is often focused on inbound marketing with light elements of outreach. A real estate agency might employ a mortgage calculator for people who are looking for mortgages. They may then have the customers sign up to an email form to receive the results of their calculations–
Content Marketing. Statistics suggest that content marketing was responsible for some $300 billion in revenue in 2019. Content marketing is especially well-suited to B2B companies because it’s a great way for businesses to demonstrate their expertise in a specific area. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of the most successful B2B companies were highly committed to content marketing. But content should be at least tangentially relevant to what you’re advertising, according to Tony Mastri, a marketing manager. “For example, if you’re a child support lawyer in Dallas, Texas, all of your long-form blog content should be about child support issues in Texas or Dallas specifically,” says Mastri. It can be a delicate balance to strike.
PPC. PPC is a style of outreach marketing where the primary advantage is in the specificity with which you can target potential B2B clients. These days, PPC may refer to more than sponsored search on sites like Google and Bing, but that’s still where the primary focus is.
SMM. Social media marketing includes sponsored Tweets, Facebook ads, and more. Because of the amount of data collected on Facebook, it’s easy to target an outbound message to specific types of people, which can make for higher conversion rates.
Email Marketing. Email marketing may feel like a type of outbound marketing, but it’s often inbound: you’re creating content that people want to sign up for, and in doing so, you capture their emails.
Cold emails. This is the purest form of outbound marketing because there’s often nothing else connected to it from an inbound perspective. You’re simply taking someone’s email address, writing up a proposal, and sending it off. The good news is that it can work. The bad news is that when it doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work. It’s also hard to make genuine connections when your cold emails don’t strike the recipient as particularly authentic. And if you copy-and-paste cold emails, the recipient will notice. If you don’t, cold emails can be very costly in terms of time and energy. If there’s any strategy you don’t want to “carpet-bomb” with, this is the one.
Traditional marketing. Many B2B companies find themselves in the position of dealing with companies who still primarily work offline. If this is the case, there are plenty of traditional marketing media that will work: newspapers, magazines, billboards. The problem here is that you’ll find it harder to handle analytics and test the efficiency of your campaigns. And even when you do, the usual modus operandi is to redirect your traditional marketing to a landing page where you can track results.
How to Identify Which B2B Lead Generation Service Works for You
Depending on your industry, you’ll find that one type of marketing tends to outperform another. Why? What explains why SMM might work for an apparel supply company while content marketing works much better for someone in commercial real estate?
It all relates to your target demographics. Knowing your audience and understanding where you can find them. If you can identify the right social context for your business, you’ll never have to “carpet-bomb” the web for your leads. You can simply select the right tools and put them to use. Here’s how to do it.
- Create a customer profile. You need to know who your ideal customer is, even if you’re a B2B business. You can do this by looking at statistics in your industry, studying the competition, or even observing those businesses that already reach out to you and measuring where they most frequently discover you. Get specific here. Where are the business owners and decision makers who might be interested in what you have to offer? What are their needs?
- Analytics, analytics, analytics. There’s an old saying in business: “what gets measured, gets managed.” A substantial web presence is an inherent advantage, because it means that you can scour your own analytics to find where businesses are spotting your services. You can also get a demographic profile on them. Where are they from? Do they use mobile or desktop? What key terms do they use when searching for a company like yours?
- Get a large enough sample size. We know—it sounds like carpet-bombing. But if you don’t take a large enough sample size with any of the efforts above (say, at least four months with content marketing), then you’re doing yourself a disservice. You need a large enough sample size to gauge click-through rates, conversions, and how many businesses will genuinely reach out to you.
Which Lead Generation Services Shouldn’t You Use?
Given what we know from the above, what should you surmise?
What we don’t want is to suffer from paralysis-by-analysis. That only leads to…
At some point, you’re going to have to make a move and try a lead generation service in earnest. But you’ll have more confidence if you know what to avoid:
- Avoid lead generation that’s overly salesy in a highly professional niche. You wouldn’t create a 2,000-word sales page—full of bold guarantees—when you’re advertising to legal firms, for example. Know your audience and don’t engage in lead generation designed for the wrong audience.
- Avoid “spam” on LinkedIn and other social media. These days, it’s tempting to go on LinkedIn and spam the heck out of it in the hopes that someone with the exact need for your services will respond. But if you pay no attention to any particular potential lead, you may find yourself with a conversion rate of 0%–and a damaged reputation.
- Avoid lead generation services that don’t talk about your demographic. Sure, it’s nice if a newspaper advertisement will reach a large subscriber base. But so what? If all of those subscribers are individual customers looking to buy a tractor rather than engage your financial advisory firm, you haven’t accomplished much.
B2B lead generation can feel like a science, but as time goes on, you’ll discover that it’s closer to an art form. But if you know what not to do, you’ll have a far better idea of what will work.