6 key principles for international B2B lead generation
This week, Oban hosted a webinar for B2B marketers. The topic? How to maximise international lead generation through digital channels. Here are the key takeaways:
#1: Covid has changed B2B buying behaviour – making digital more crucial than ever
- A 2021 report by McKinsey found that on average, digital interactions are now twice as important to B2B decision-makers post-Covid than they were before
- This was the average figure across 11 countries – in some countries (such as the UK and Spain), digital interactions are now three times as important
- As a result, according to Global Web Index, B2B marketers are shifting spend to online channels:
- Digital advertising – up 68% since the pandemic
- Paid search and SEO – up 66%
- The McKinsey survey also found that B2B buyers are now more comfortable completing sizeable transactions fully online:
- 70% of B2B decision-makers are willing to spend over $50,000 using remote or self service
- 27% are willing to spend over $500,000
Covid has changed the B2B buying journey – and digital is more crucial than ever.
#2: As a result, it’s time to re-evaluate your audience – how well do you know them?
- Covid has changed B2B buying behaviour – but even before the pandemic, changes were afoot as B2B decision-makers are getting younger
- A 2021 study by Global Web Index showed that 74% of millennials are now involved in decision-making at B2B companies
- These are digital natives who grew up online, are used to accessible, convenient apps, and are purpose-minded about the environment, gender equality and inclusivity
- Brand recognition is a key purchase driver for these digital natives:
- 59% of those aged between 21 and 40will only buy from a provider they’ve heard of before
- They consider more vendors more often, but only select those they know
- The rise of remote working means the boundaries between work and home are increasingly blurred – with people using personal devices for work and vice versa
- The proportion of B2B searches carried out on a mobile continues to rise
As audience behaviour evolves, and varies by country, it’s essential you understand who your buyers are, what challenges they face, how they search and how they buy.
For example, do you know your target buyers’ job roles and job titles? What content they need? How they consume media? Where they are located? Use existing customer and CRM data, analytics and online behaviour, LinkedIn audience data, keyword research and analysis to guide you.
For international marketers, it’s crucial to understand that how your audience searches for your product will vary by market and language. Never simply translate English keyword lists into other languages – use a Local In-Market Expert to understand how audiences in other markets conceptualise and search for your product.
#3: The marketing funnel remains a useful planning tool
The classic marketing funnel remains a relevant and useful tool for planning UX, content and media:
|Stage of funnel||What’s going on?||What does the audience need?|
|Top of funnel||At this stage, you want to attract as big a qualified audience as possible, to increase awareness||Prospects are looking for answers to their problem – but are you clear on what their problems are and how they search for solutions?|
|Middle of funnel||At this stage, it’s about introducing your offering to more engaged prospects – and encouraging brand interactions||Prospects are doing their research, so you need to make product information and competitor comparisons easy for them|
|Bottom of funnel||At this stage, it’s about highly interested prospects with potential to become a customer||Prospects are actively deciding, so need pricing information, specifications, online materials, demos, pitch materials etc|
Think about the role each channel plays at different stages of the funnel:
|Stage of funnel||Channel||Example tactics|
|Top of funnel||SEO||Blogs, organic listings|
|Social ads||Traffic campaigns|
|Organic social||Promoting posts|
|Middle of funnel||SEO||Consideration/ pricing/ feature/ USP keywords, blog content|
|Paid search||Consideration/ pricing/ feature/USP keywords|
|Social ads||Lead generation and remarketing|
|Organic social||Consideration/ pricing/ feature/ USP posts|
|Bottom of funnel||SEO||Commercial intent keywords|
|Paid search||Commercial intent keywords|
|Display||Remarketing to consideration users|
|Social ads||Remarketing to consideration users|
When planning your channel mix, an agnostic approach yields the best results:
- Look at CPCs and CPAs to inform your paid media approach. Remember – LinkedIn may not always be the most cost-effective way to reach your B2B audience
- When selecting paid media platforms, consider:
- Their B2B targeting capabilities
- How effective they are at driving leads in your target markets – given that platform preferences vary by country
- Their scope for story-telling
Take an agnostic approach to channel selection and consider the right channels and tactics at each stage of the marketing funnel. Don’t simply default to LinkedIn but consider whether other platforms allow you to reach the same audience more cost-effectively.
#4: High quality content matters more than ever
- Google’s MUM update means that E-A-T content principles are more important than ever
- E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness – characteristics that all online content needs to stand a chance of ranking
- Make sure your content conveys E-A-T by:
- Ensuring your website answers every possible question related to your site’s topic
- Building a good backlink profile naturally. Good content and solid influencer relationships gain links. The more links, the greater your authority
- Showcasing relevant certifications and memberships
- Locking down your security – for example, with up-to-date SSL certificates
- Proof reading your site – typos undermine brand trust and credibility
- Providing bios for blog authors and leadership team members
- Remember: the on-site experience goes well beyond copy – it also includes page layouts, logical user-journeys, clear CTAs, use of imagery, how forms are presented, trust signals and so on
- Good UX helps with data capture, conversion and SEO. You can read Oban’s tips for cross-cultural UX here
To return to the marketing funnel: users at different stages of their buying journey will need different content types. For example:
|Stage of funnel||Most relevant content types|
|Top of funnel||Video, social media posts, press releases, how to guides, blog posts, home page, landing pages|
|Middle of funnel||Product USPs, features pages, webinars, blog posts, videos, case studies, whitepapers, FAQs, social media posts|
|Bottom of funnel||Pricing information, product demos, competitor reviews, pitch materials, search ads, emails|
- Video explainers are a great way to simplify complex B2B products and make them relatable for a broader audience. YouTube can offer great return on ad spend for B2B marketers
- Ensure your content is appropriately tailored to each platform – bearing in mind that platform usage varies by market
- Voice search is relevant to B2B – which has implications for how you optimise your website
If you weren’t taking E-A-T seriously before Google’s MUM update, you definitely need to now. Make sure you have relevant content for each stage of the marketing funnel, tailored to each target market.
#5: You need to close the loop when evaluating leads
- Closing the loop is essential – in other words, making sure your sales team reports back to the marketing team about what happened with the leads they received, helping marketers to recognise their best lead sources and to modify or avoid marketing efforts through less effective channels
What information should Marketing share with Sales?
- Lead alerts– When a ‘hot’ lead revisits your website, responds to an important campaign, or takes another selected trigger action, a lead alert (such as an email message or other notification) should be sent to both teams and associated with the contact’s record
- Complete lead intelligence– This includes a thorough history of each lead’s activity on your website: form submissions, downloads, engagement with campaigns and emails, specific site page visits, social media shares, etc. Applying these details to each lead record assists sales reps with planning a follow-up strategy – and provides them with a seamless way to start a conversation
And what information should Sales share with Marketing?
- Contact touches– Sales should keep records of the number of emails and calls made to a contact, and how many of these touches resulted in a connection (as opposed to an attempt)
- Lead status updates– Updates on a lead’s status in the sales funnel (such as open, in progress, etc), as well as whether a lead is qualified or unqualified, give Marketing insights into what defines a sales-ready lead and how this process can be expedited or improved
- Revenue data – Information on closed deals and the revenue associated with each contract or purchase contributes to calculating ROI and the overall impact of a marketing programme
Ensuring Sales and Marketing are fully aligned in driving and nurturing leads will help you hit your revenue targets.
#6: Localisation is the key to international success
- Localisation – as opposed to translation – is the key to identifying the biggest international opportunities and avoiding the costliest mistakes
- What’s the difference between translation and localisation?
- Translation is the process of rendering text from one language to another to ensure its meaning is equivalent
- Localisation is a more comprehensive process which involves taking your existing content and ensuring it’s fit for purpose for your target audiences in different countries. This goes beyond translation because it considers cultural and non-textual elements as well as linguistic issues
- A non-localised website (or product, or service) can feel alien to prospects in target markets – whereas a localised website can feel trusted and familiar – helping you to drive leads and sales
- What should you localise first?
- Your homepage
- Conversion pages
- Core service and category pages
- Summaries of core products on e-commerce sites
- Payment options
- Important information to signal trust – such as lead generation forms or terms and conditions
Local nuance affects everything – from brand discovery, to purchase drivers, content needs, web design and UX expectations. It needs to be woven through your entire international digital strategy – and using Local In-Market Experts is the best way to get authentic, on-the-ground insights. You can read Oban’s ten tips for content localisation here.
- Digital is more important than ever for B2B marketing
- Post-Covid, redefine who your audiences are and how they differ across markets
- Use your objectives to select your channel mix
- Use the funnel as a guide to creating quality content with purpose
- Good UX is crucial to drive leads and also for SEO
- Use data and scoring to determine quality
- Localise for international and tailor your approach for local nuances
. . .
Oban has a proven track record of helping B2B brands achieve international growth. To find out how we can help your business, please get in touch.
Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.