Five ways to supercharge B2B lead generation
Oban recently attended the Festival of Marketing, where we listened to insightful talks from a diverse range of thought leaders. One talk that stood out was Rupert Bedell’s presentation on optimising B2B leads, drawing on his experience as VP of Marketing at American Express.
Effective lead generation is the cornerstone of every B2B sales funnel, since high quality leads are what sales teams need to grow their pipelines and therefore increase sales. How to generate those leads is a much-discussed topic, but Rupert’s talk was especially useful and broken down into easy-to-digest and actionable insights.
Here, we share some of Rupert’s points and highlight how to use this knowledge and make it work from an international perspective:
#1: Make sure forms are fully optimised
Forms can be an overlooked aspect of lead generation, receiving less attention than advertising, content and the landing page. This is a mistake, since forms are the primary way to capture leads on a website – and in Oban’s experience, the right tweaks to forms can increase their conversion rate by as much as 30%.
Less than 5% of visitors to your website will convert to leads, which makes it essential to analyse the lead journey and understand where the drop offs occur in your funnel. If your data capture form is too complicated, visitors will not give you their details. The fewer fields people need to fill in, the more likely they are to complete the form – so take the time to consider if you really need all the information you currently ask for.
Trial different form formats until you find one that works optimally. Elements to test include: pre-populating key information (if you know enough about the prospect), removing certain fields (for example, people are often reluctant to share their phone number), the call to action on the submit button, the location and design of the form on the web page, and what incentive you are offering users to submit their data (for example, a particular content type or an offer).
For paid advertising, a particularly relevant ad extension for B2B marketers to consider is the lead form ad extension which allows users to provide their contact information on the ad itself – without leaving the SERP. This is effective for prospecting as it makes it easier for users to register their interest in your product or service. If the searcher is signed into their Google account when they click on the extension, the form will be pre-populated with their information. This means that they can effectively convert with just one click.
#2: Understand audience intent in each market
As with B2C, B2B consumer and search behaviours vary by market, so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. To generate B2B leads in a new market, carry out research so you understand the cultural and linguistic factors which shape audience intent. Key questions to ask include:
- How do users in my target market search for my product or service? Remember, it is a mistake simply to take your English keyword list and translate it, as you may miss linguistic differences and nuances in how your product is understood and searched for – and therefore miss valuable opportunities.
- B2B differs from B2C in the number of decision-makers involved and the length of the path to purchase – how do these vary by market?
- What are the key digital platforms and media consumption patterns in your target markets, and how does this shape your channel mix?
The greater your cultural and linguistic understanding of your target customers, the easier it will be to generate leads from your international target markets.
#3: Use paid targeting techniques to generate leads
Pre Covid, face-to-face events were a critical B2B touchpoint. Post Covid, B2B marketers must look to digital channels to recreate the event experience virtually. Creating webinars, livecasts and podcasts are ways to connect with audiences and build brand trust and familiarity.
Amplifying these assets using paid social targeting is an effective means of generating leads. Paid media gives you the ability to focus tightly on the specific type of leads you are looking for – for example, by targeting users based on job title, company size, industry and interest groups. On LinkedIn, you can use matched audience lookalikes to find new prospects who are similar to your current customers. If it suits your business objectives, you can use LinkedIn’s Lead Gen ad form to generate qualified B2B sales leads.
Remember, social media platforms and how they are used can vary by market. So it’s worth consulting a Local In-Market Expert for on-the-ground insight into your target markets.
The speed of getting marketing qualified leads to the sales team can have a big impact on conversion rates. In most industries, the sooner a lead is passed onto sales, the greater the chance of converting them. Find the optimal lead time for your business and work hard to achieve it.
#4: Use content to nudge prospects down the funnel
Nurture prospects using content – take them through the awareness, interest and decision phases before finally nudging them to take action. Host all your content in one place and offer visitors to your content hub a good user experience. Consider how a salesperson might use content to push people to act and take them over the line to becoming customers.
Content should be based on what your audience needs and wants to read – bearing in mind that this will vary by market – and should showcase your business expertise in your sector. Some techniques to generate international content ideas include:
- Look at what your competitors are doing using tools like SEMrush or ahrefs which allow you to identify competitor content gaps.
- Review search performance reports in Google Search Console to see what users are searching for and what is driving clicks to your site.
- Do the same with Google Ads search query reports.
- Look within Google Trends or Exploding Topics to see how user interest in specific topics or keywords is evolving.
- Talk to your sales and customer service teams – who are often on the front line of user experience – to find out common questions and concerns from prospects. You can use these insights to create FAQs – useful for capturing longer tail search queries.
- Consult your team on the ground or Local In-Market Experts for market-specific insights in your target markets.
Developing a confident, human tone of voice is one way your B2B brand can stand out from the crowd. Although B2B products tend to be rational rather than emotional in their appeal, you are still talking to human beings – and an engaging tone is important to keep users interested.
#5: Equip your front line with the right tools
Without the right tools, your teams will struggle. So provide them with everything they need to find the right types of leads in the right industries, and then be able to convert those leads into customers.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great tool to carry out a deep exploration of the optimal types of leads for your business. The tool provides access to a deep well of data about your target audience. Its insights pinpoint which people you need to target. Finding, contacting, and engaging prospects, referrals, and customers is straightforward. You are notified of people who visit your company profile so you can engage with them. Its InMail System makes it easy to reach out to them.
You can use its search engine to filter through LinkedIn’s database to find the most viable prospects for your lead generation, save them, and monitor them for changes. When you have a healthy list of prospects, you can start reaching out to them.
The tool offers live updates on leads and companies, such as job changes so you can time your communications for optimal impact.
Oban can help you succeed
If you are looking for an award-winning digital marketing agency to help promote your B2B brand to an international audience, Oban can help. We have extensive B2B experience, having worked with brands including Appian, AXA, Cisco, Dell, Kaspersky, Lloyd’s Register, and Microban. To find out how we can help you, please get in touch.
Sarah Jennings | CEO
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.