Driven by a host of emerging technologies and an influx of new insights, consumer behavior continues to evolve at breakneck speeds. Understandably, B2B marketers are hard-pressed to recalibrate their lead generation strategies in this ever-shifting landscape.
The explosion of content addressing consumer concerns at every step of the buyer’s journey has developed increasingly educated consumers. Additionally, advancing technology has heightened consumer expectations for customer experience. In fact, a study by customer intelligence firm, Walker Information, projects that customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020.
Those are only a handful of the developments expected to impact B2B marketing this year. Based on this, here are 10 B2B lead generation strategies that should help you navigate the shifting sands of lead generation in 2018:
1. Ramp Up Social Networking and Personalize Connections
With every other marketer reaching out on social media channels, merely connecting to prospective customers is not enough. To reinforce the “humans” behind your brand, be sure to send personalized connection requests and messages to cut through the noise of spam and irrelevant marketing.
Best results come from being an active member of your community. So, be sure to actively engage with others and above all, be “human”. Social media is about fostering one-to-one communications with individuals. Don’t treat it like just another one of your brand’s broadcasting channels.
2. Automate Social Media Sharing
Give your digital footprint a boost by promoting your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social platform used by your target market. However, most marketers have too much on their plates to prioritize social networking. Thankfully, there are numerous tools and apps for automating or scheduling posts, shares, likes, tweets, and any other social engagement you can think of.
Sprout Social and Buffer are highly recommended by marketers, as they not only automate sharing but also provide analytics to make sure that you’re sharing content optimally.
3. Create Quality Content More Frequently
The study further revealed that 47% of B2B buyers rely on content for research and making purchasing decisions. More significantly, B2B buyers consume at least three to five pieces of related content before contacting a sales person. Leverage this information by producing more content more frequently so you can cater to your audience’s information demands.
What good is a website if it doesn’t have good, diverse content? Make sure that the content you have on your site speaks to customers on every level, at every stage of the buying process. Some of the site visitors will have only begun dealing with you, and some may already have done business before.
Publishing quality blog posts more often shows your target audience your commitment to go to great lengths to provide them with valuable content that addresses their concerns. If done right, your efforts will be rewarded with consumer trust and loyalty to your brand.
4. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
This number is expected to reach 70% by 2020 as we take into account the entry of more B2B employees from the “digital generation” (Millennials and Gen Z), and the increasing use of smartphones by older generations.
Additionally, a recent BGC report on B2B buyers’ usage reveals that 60% B2B buyers admit that mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase. Specifically, mobile can accelerate time to purchase by 20% by increasing efficiency in decision making and enhancing team collaboration. BGC further reports that 42% of the average share of total revenues are contributed and influenced by mobile.
Optimizing your website for smartphones will not only prove to be beneficial to your B2B marketing goals but can also help your buyers make business decisions efficiently. Just remember that it goes beyond responsive design for your website. It involves factoring mobile into an omnichannel customer journey and finding new and improved ways to reach and engage your audience.
5. Consider Retargeting
Prospects usually browse several websites and comb through dozens of articles to guide their purchase decisions. Only 2% of buyers make a purchase on the first visit, and retargeting aims to reel back the 98% and give them a nudge towards your brand.
Retargeting is still underutilized by B2B marketers, but it is catching on. About 70% of marketers allocate 10% or more of their budgets to retargeting. So, if you haven’t already, start retargeting your website visitors now and increase the chances that they choose your brand over your competitors by 70%.
Whether you’re retargeting prospects on social media or using display ads, the average clickthrough rate of retargeting ads is about 10x higher than that of typical display ads. Let this ROI-related factor guide your decisions when you start allocating budgets to your PPC campaigns.
6. Maximize Marketing Automation Tools
Marketing automation tools are the marriage of email marketing tools and CRM. Marketing automation software connects with your CRM to automatically send highly targeted and personalized marketing emails to leads. This tactic ensures that you put relevant and timely content in front of the right prospects.
Thomson Reuters testifies that their revenue increased by 172% when they adopted a marketing automation solution. 62% of marketers attest that email is their most effective lead generation tactic. In itself, email marketing is already acing it, and it has been for quite some time.
Integrate the functionalities of CRM, and you’ll see why B2B marketers rank marketing automation as one of the best ways to generate better and more qualified leads.
7. Engage Prospects with Artificially Intelligent (AI) Chat Bots
Chatbots are artificially intelligent messaging-based bots that can autonomously engage your website visitors and automate business transactions. AI processes text or speech input by your prospect or customer and sends an appropriate response.
An instant chat box pop-up is very helpful, especially on product pages. If people have questions they’d like to be answered immediately, this makes it easy for them to get in touch with you. This particular strategy allows you to connect consistently with your customers, providing timely information based on their interaction with your brand and where they are in the buyer’s journey. You also save time during the lead management process because chatbots can help automate the lead qualification process.
Adopting chatbots sends a strong message to your prospects such that you want them to have a seamless interaction. Additionally, integrating AI into your lead generation strategy creates new avenues for process efficiency and optimization. Minimizing your dependency on human customer support and lead generation will also inherently reduce operational costs.
8. A/B Test Your Paid Campaigns
A/B testing with paid campaigns makes sure that you’re employing strategies and channeling money into what works. The beauty of A/B testing is its ability to quantify the value of each strategic tweak to your lead generation campaign, so you know exactly how well each experiment performs.
For instance, you may have variations on your call to action (CTA) copy to determine which one has the greatest impact with your audience—using those that resulted in an increase in conversions. Aside from the text, changing the image or button positioning can also lead to improved results that you can implement for future marketing efforts.
You don’t want to cast your net blindly, so keep testing new strategies and ideas to figure out which you need to stop, and more importantly, which you need to scale. Don’t forget about landing pages either. They’re the first thing people see when they go to your website. So it’s vital to pay attention to this page and make a good first impression.
9. Start Video Marketing
Video presents a promising opportunity to reach your target audience. More than 75% of Fortune 500 executives view video content regularly and around two-thirds of that number visit the vendor’s website. So, it’s safe to say that video is a highly-effective way to attract leads.
Indeed, video content has been known to be a major driver in purchasing behavior. 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social video content. What’s more, a video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more.
Considering those numbers, 48% of marketers are already planning to include YouTube in their content strategy in the coming years. Don’t lag behind the competition. Get your camera rolling!
10. Harness the Power of Micro-Influencers
Influencer marketing is as strong as ever, but in 2018, we’re seeing a shift towards brands making use of lesser-known influencers (people with authority in smaller niches). These guys might have fewer followers, but their relative level of influence remains the same.
The industry is getting saturated, and major influencers are getting bombarded with requests. Not only does this make popular influencers very expensive, it also makes them extremely picky about who they work with.
The best solution to this is for brands to leverage micro-influencers. These micro-influencers are relatively untapped despite their huge potential for reaching new audiences effectively. What’s more, they tend to cost less and aren’t sick and tired of unsolicited approaches from other brands.
No Shortage of Strategies
Recent developments in technology such as AI and automation, changing buying behavior, and emerging social media/content marketing trends present new challenges for B2B marketers this 2018. Indeed, the lead generation strategies that worked in the previous year may no longer deliver optimal results in the coming months.
The need to fine-tune your strategies is more pressing than ever. The tactics listed above factor in the changing market and have worked for several companies. However, it is by no means a cure for all, as the effectiveness of any given strategy varies across industries and even by brand.
Nonetheless, emerging trends can provide valuable insights. Take these observations and let them guide you in recalibrating your tactics so you can advance into 2018 armed with a more educated and change-responsive strategy.
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