If there’s one function without which any business can die, its sales.
Sales is perhaps the key area which determines the success of a business in the long run. It’s the reason why even bad products find a market, and survive. To ensure a regular supply of orders and sales, its important for any business to have a pipeline of leads. If your company is not generating B2B leads online, you’re missing out on a lot of potential business.
Digital is playing a leading role in generating leads for products and companies across many sectors and industries. Effective marketing and sales are the reason products such as Grey Goose Vodka and Snuggie managed to succeed in spite of being quite unremarkable in themselves. On the other hand, an innovative product such as the Tata Nano failed in India, even though it was launched with much fanfare.
With digital marketing, the art of lead generation and increasing sales, specifically in the B2B domain has gone on to the next level. Surprisingly, a lot of my clients and friends in various businesses are still quite stumped as to how they can generate leads. I thought it would be a good idea to share a 4-week plan on how one can start generating qualified, B2B (or even B2C) leads using paid digital marketing strategies.
How Digital Marketing Agencies generate leads online
The process of digital lead generation (also known as demand generation in some circles), is fairly straightforward. At least, till we adopt a fairly straightforward approach (agencies can adopt quite twisted ways too!). Here’s the simple process:
- Develop an effective website
- Target the traffic generation towards the right audience
- Generate qualified leads from this audience
- Convince, capture and convert
Let me explain this in detail.
Week 1: Re-design your basic web pages into an effective, lead-generation machine
Nearly all businesses have websites these days through which they maintain a basic digital presence. However, how effective is that presence really? How do you, as a business owner judge if this presence is effective? There’s a very simple and important metric which can quickly help you judge this – how many leads has the website helped generate in the last few weeks. Not surprisingly, the answer is usually, very few. Now there are 2 reasons for this – Not enough traffic or poor design of website.
An effective B2B lead generation campaign on digital media seeks to address this fact as the most important priority. If the website is poorly designed, no matter how much traffic you generate, it will not result in massive business. So what do digital marketers do? They either redesign the website (which is usually time consuming/expensive but cost effective in the long run) to make use of simple, one page “landing pages”. These landing pages have very few “exit” options in terms of links. Here are 4 ways to redesign your web pages:
- Better content – Spend more time thinking about the quality, structure, simplicity and messaging of your website content. It really is the most important aspect of a web page, particularly the landing page.
- Images/Video – Adding genuine, high quality and relevant media such as images helps visitors decide faster if they want to transact with you.
- Speed and size – Ensure that your web pages load as fast as possible. This can usually be done by reducing the file size. Faster pages = better experience = more leads!
- Responsive – 80-90% of your visitors will come from mobile phones. Ensuring that your web pages display beautifully on mobile devices can make a huge difference to the leads that are generated from your digital paid campaigns.
The result? Almost triple the amount of leads generated. We will discuss this in a separate post but after nearly 2 years of continuously running paid and organic digital marketing campaigns for lead generations for various B2B companies, I personally have mountains of data which confirms this fact.
Week 2: Use paid ads to target the right audience and increase website traffic
Once your website and relevant landing pages are optimized, get this page in front of the right target audience. Not surprisingly, many people make mistakes at this point also – they simply bombard their sites in all sorts of places, attracting generalized traffic.
Rather than doing that, a much more efficient way is to only reach out to relevant people. All digital strategies can be broken down into 2 ways: Organic and Inorganic (or paid ads).
Paid advertising channels work extremely well and extremely fast to generate traffic and leads, if done right. These days – 3 channels are the most popular – Google Adwords, Facebook and Linkedin. Google essentially works on the basis of keywords. Using Google Adwords, a paid digital ads campaign geared towards lead generation focuses on the best keywords i.e the terms and phrases most likely being used by people in their target markets and puts your website on the front page of Google. Depending on your advertising budget, you can start attract clicks (visitors) on your web pages. Facebook and Linkedin have developed their advanced audience targeting criteria on the basis of user profiles.
Apart from these channels, there are enough examples of brands using innovative, sometimes downright risky methods to generate their share of business. For instance, Eat24, a pizza delivery startup in America, advertised on porn websites, buying ads quite cheaply as compared to Google or other social media sites. Their logic was simple – people usually got hungry after the action was over. What better than ordering some pizza?
Week 3: Generating B2B leads online from this audience with A/B testing
Traffic generation is still the easy part – you just have to create a few ads, start a few switches and boom! You can quickly start sending visitors to your website. The tricky part is getting to bite and share their contact details or make an order on your website – i.e converting into a lead. The most important feature of a well-designed website is a form or call-to-action button which is prominently displayed, ideally above-the-fold (the first screen a website visitor sees). You would be surprised to know that many websites do not include this form, thereby losing on lots of potential leads.
Here too some cleverness can go a long way into ensuring that your website can maximize lead generation. Some digital marketers rely on “lead magnets” – free offers such as discounts, exclusive downloadable content, free video, an email series, or a free consultation to entice visitors.
Apart from this, popups and interstitials are also quite effective in ensuring that visitors are prompted to fill up a contact form. In any case, A/B testing your landing pages by creating variations of your original page to test which ones work best is the best strategy. For instance, your original page might not have a pop up and your variation B can have a pop-up. Send an equal amount of traffic to both pages and see if either variation gets you more leads. Even a conversion rate difference of 5% can mean significantly more leads.
Week 4: Convince, capture and convert
Generating basic leads is only half the battle won. The final step towards victory is to generate actual business from these leads and this is where the biggest challenge lies.
In B2B industries, which usually require selling complex or expensive products/services, most sales happen either on the phone or during in-person meetings. I highly doubt if B2B companies are still able to close deals purely via online systems. That’s why I encourage most of my clients to have an in-house sales team which can push the leads generated online further down the sales funnel by accurately understanding their requirements and guiding them towards the right product. In markets like the US, UK, India and Australia, this is usually the trend.
That said, employing advanced digital marketing tactics such as email marketing automation can increase the amount of business generated. By using tools such as Pardot, Salesforce or Leadsquared, one can actually setup automatic email campaigns which send out periodic emailers to the database of leads. These emailers can be quite magical in churning business from old leads which were previously not interested in buying from you.
B2C brands have devised various other methods to generate business from these leads. For instance, Amazon is brilliant at devising cross-selling, up-selling and down-selling their products to interested prospects or existing customers. Ever noticed this (insert screen shots)? These are all ways to ensure that more relevant inventory is displayed to the right prospects.
When it comes to paid advertising, remarketing is superbly effective. In fact, for most of our adwords campaigns, remarketing campaigns generate B2B leads online at usually 1/3rd the cost than regular search or display campaigns. One college that I worked with employed a brilliant tactic to sell their expensive MBA programs – they started short 1,2,3 day workshops for potentials students which were almost free, to expose them to the course curriculum. The fees for these workshops were usually quite low, thereby ensuring that students felt more comfortable in enrolling. Once enrolled, they would get a much better idea of what the course was like, thereby leading the admissions counsellors to easily convince them into signing up.
So there you have it – a basic 4 week plan for generating leads and eventually business online.
At Modifyed Digital, we had been facing a lean supply of leads for the past few weeks which required us to spend some time marketing our own agency, instead of spending all our time on client work. We have been following this plan on Modifyed Digital for about 2 months now for generating B2B leads online and we’ve managed to generate roughly 76 leads with an average Cost Per Lead of Rs. 450. We’re still a few days away from generating a sizeable sale from these leads but we’re confident of cracking it soon.
The best form of marketing is word-of-mouth because it doesn’t have you involve spending money on an agency, hiring digital marketing consultants or building an in-house digital marketing team for lead generation. However, referral business is only generated if you over-deliver on your promises. Are you really doing that?