According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, B2B marketers have nominated lead generation as their most important content marketing goal for the year. Yet, when asked to rate the effectiveness of their organisation’s use of content marketing to achieve this goal, only 30% gave the thumbs up.
The assurance of the report is that if you're struggling with lead generation, you're certainly not alone. While comforting, the communal strife encourages us not to fall into despondency, but to increase our efforts. To contribute to this goal, we’ve put together our most valued lead generation stats, tips, and tactics. We invite you to make use of the points you find helpful, and to contribute your own top tips in the comments below or on social media, #leadgeneration.
There's not a business on Earth that doesn't want to generate an increase in the demand for their products or services. An increase in demand means greater opportunities to earn revenue, taking your business to new levels.
But creating and generating demand, and bringing in better leads, can be a trickier endeavour than you might think. Fortunately, content marketing is a lead generation tool that offers the edge you need to start upping your demand generation and creating a hunger for your offerings. Check out this article by MobileMonkey for more Lead Gen tools.
Content marketing is all about building awareness and generating leads for your business. How? By executing a series of content marketing activities that align closely with your potential buyers' interests, subsequently attracting them to your brand, product and services. When you attract the right people, they arrive at your website already partially qualified, and more likely to convert into leads and customers.
This attraction process is facilitated by distributing content and offers that are highly relevant to your target audience. Putting high-value content out there helps you in creating awareness and interest in your business while illustrating to your target personas how you can help them solve their pain points.
It's not uncommon to find businesses confusing lead generation and demand generation with one another when they are two entirely separate concepts.
If we look at these two activities side by side, the difference between them is evident; lead generation sets its sights on gathering information while demand generation works to create interest in your product or service.
It's not unusual to see marketing campaigns and content strategies lumped with both these tasks, often to the disappointment of marketers expecting to see positive results on both accounts. For you to be effective in both demand and lead generation, it's vital to correctly differentiate between content that will help you increase leads, and that which will boost demand for your brand.
When creating content to increase lead generation, it's important to keep one critical factor in mind: Because lead generation-focused content is gated, you're asking people to surrender their information in exchange for something.
The information you're asking for is most definitely worth something to the prospect, and the fastest way to turn them off your business is by giving them content that doesn't fit their perceived value of their information.
This means prospects are going to expect a little more from gated content, and that you should aim for greater detail, clearer pain point addresses and long-form content.
Some examples of content that will fit this bill are:
Remember that you need to be tracking lead interactions with your content. This way you can ensure you are putting out content that meets expectations, and can remove or tweak content that doesn't perform as well or falls out of date.
While content for lead generation tends to be more detailed and long-form, content with the goal of generating increased demand tends to focus strongly on boosting awareness of your brand and help secure its positioning.
Great content for demand generation means easily consumable content in formats that are trendy, on-point topic-wise and well-received, not to mention easily socialised via your social media channels.
These can include:
Keep in mind that content working towards demand generation should never be gated, and it's also vital to utilise your SEO strategy when distributing this content. If your content and website are well-optimised, you'll likely place more favourably in Google searches. By ranking well you're making yourself more visible to searchers who are more liable to spot your brand.
Another great takeaway is to keep your ear to the ground regarding new content formats and distribution platforms on the rise. Maybe you have a great content idea that might work well when it comes to VR tech (virtual reality), or perhaps you can think of a killer way to use Snapchat in a new campaign. Either way, don't be afraid to experiment and get your business's name out there!
When it comes to either lead or demand generation, you don't need to feel pressured to pick one option over the other. Inbound marketing encompasses both these elements, which overlap as you build your campaigns and marketing activities out.
For example, leads you've gathered and placed in lead lists can be targeted with appropriate content to increase demand amongst them. And it's never a mistake to start putting excellent content out there, as this drives interest in your brand, products and services, and helps channel your target audience along their buyers' journeys.
How are you going to convert visitors into leads when they can’t find your site to begin with? These days, the majority of people turn to search engines in their quest to find information online. If you’re not optimising your site for good rankings, you’re leaving the door wide open for your competitors.
With more than 200 factors determining where and how Google will rank your website in search engine results pages, it’s near impossible to address them all. There are a few ‘must-do’s’, however, that you can apply as you go about creating content, which will aid overall SEO efforts.
Address prime on-page SEO elements by:
Above all, remember to create unique, engaging and interesting content. This will organically attract inbound links that boost SEO.
The 2015 B2B Web Usability Report (by Huff Industrial Marketing, KoMarketing and BuyerZone) provides clear direction when it comes to navigation. Their findings report that visitors are predominantly looking to access your products and services pages, find contact details, and company information.
Make their journey easy by using familiar and standard navigational elements that clearly lead them to the content they’re looking for.
Don’t forget to review your navigation – especially your menu – in mobile states to ensure the process is simple for your mobile visitors too.
Your choice of call-to-action has a direct impact on your lead generating potential. It's your opportunity to tell your viewer what action you want them to take after engaging with your content. Too many calls-to-action on a page and your viewer will be confused as to which action you want them to take next. No calls-to-action, and you've wasted an opportunity to engage with your viewer. It's all about striking the right balance. And don't forget about testing your CTAs! Everything about them, from their text to colouring can influence your viewers' interactions.
Create CTAs that convert by:
Remember to add CTAs to your A/B testing! The tiniest of tweaks can lead to great lifts in conversion when you find the ‘perfect’ blend of compelling copy, colour, format and placement.
Landing pages are arguably the most critical aspect of an lead-generating website, and where the real magic happens. Visitors become leads!
Landing pages are the mid-point in the conversion path, i.e. nestled between the CTA and thank-you page, but if you fail to overcome visitor friction, they won’t complete that journey.
The best converting landing pages have a few key elements in common:
Personalised content has become a key focus area for modern marketers. Conversion rates are substantially increased when you can show your visitors you have an in-depth understanding of their needs and challenges and can present them with content tailored to those specific needs.
Develop content for not only each of your different buyer personas, but also content that will satisfy each stage of the buyer journey too, and then strategically position that content for maximum relevance and impact.
By including or implementing the elements outlined above, you'll be well on your way to creating a website that's geared for lead generation, and therefore a valuable marketing asset as opposed to a dusty old space for 'window shoppers'.
Try an exercise in perspective-shifting and consider the world from your buyer persona's point of view. Making your content and marketing message stand out from the hordes of meaningless messaging bombarding your audience can be challenging. It means focusing on who they are, what they need and giving it to them in the most efficient and pithy manner possible.
We know that generating leads is critical as inbound marketers, but that doesn't mean we can neglect the quality of our audience engagement in the pursuit of those leads. Your content should never be focused on pure lead generation - it should be lovingly crafted to encourage maximum engagement with your target personas. Create content that entices your audience to want to share their details with you in exchange.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again - testing your landing pages is critical! Consistently test their layouts, headlines, text volume, images, call-to-actions, bullet points, buttons and form fields, not to mention how they appear on various devices. You should always have an A/B test running and keep your eyes peeled for page-boosting opportunities.
A common mantra in real estate marketing – and equally valid in terms of form placement! Ensure that your form is not hidden below the fold (meaning that your visitor would have to scroll to see it).
Another tip is to give your form a little ‘breathing room’, using white space effectively, to help it stand out from other page content.
Unbounce.com, conversion-rate optimisation experts, report that the upper right-hand corner of a web page is the conversion sweet spot for a form.
There are 3 areas to focus on here:
Use your headline to support your call-to-action. Replace dull, default ‘Complete This Form’ type headlines with more action-orientated text. Examples include:
Use clear field labels. Formisimo, a form field tracking application, claims that up to 67% of your potential leads who start filling out a form don’t complete it. Reduce abandonment by clearly labelling your form fields. Use terms that your reader will understand and be able to respond to easily.
In your labels indicate which fields are required - usually with an asterisk (*) - as opposed to optional. Determine which fields you absolutely have to have in in order to establish meaningful communication versus those that are a nice-to-have, or that can be collected at a later stage. (I’ll get to this in a bit.)
Swap out ‘submit’. If you think about the word’s meaning, it isn’t very pleasant, is it? Who would want to ‘submit’ to anything? It feels very forced. Opt for more enticing copy that specifically outlines the action the reader is about to take. You can include a shortened version of your newly revised call-to-action headline such as, ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Register’. Anything but ‘Submit’!
If you already have certain information about a lead it is possible – using HubSpot’s SMART fields – to show new fields to a known lead when re-converting.
This will allow you to build up a contact profile, collecting information and insight over time as opposed to asking for everything all at once, which may discourage an initial conversion.
No one likes spam. As a result people are wary of parting with their personal details online. They may question what you are going to do with their information. Are they going to receive 564 unsolicited emails now? Of course not! You’d never give anyone’s details away, right? So let them know that upfront.
While ‘shorter is better’ is the usual advice here, this isn’t necessarily valid for all of your forms. Long forms asking you everything from your name and address to what you ate for breakfast may deter any potential leads. Ask only for an email address and you may inadvertently be devaluing your offer in their mind. Your ideal form length will depend entirely on the type of offer in question.
People will consume different types of offers throughout their buying cycle (and beyond, as customers). For early research type offers such as checklists or infographics, you might only want to collect the person’s name and email address. For in-depth content offers relevant at later stages in the buying cycle, you can increase the amount of information requested.
The layout of form fields can also impact on the visual ‘length’ of the form. Labels placed alongside a field may help to ‘shorten’ the form while labels above the fields create a ‘longer’ looking form. This obviously doesn’t change the actual number of fields, however, it can impact the length perception in the mind of the reader.
Speaking of trust, here are some tips for improving your lead generation by building trust with visitors who are in two minds about submitting a form on your site.
Video is among the most consumed mediums today. Statistics show that video consumption on mobile devices is set to grow in 2016 by more than 34%, following statistics this year that noted that an astonishing 78% of people watch videos online every week, with 55% of them watching them every day!
In light of this, it's a great idea to look at your target audience's pain points, and see whether or not there are opportunities for you to create an awesome video to help them solve an issue or two. A great place to search for ideas is online forums, where you can use questions as a springboard for creating helpful videos. You can also use video to demo or outline your products, showcasing their benefits in a visual way.
On forums and Q&A sites like Quora, you'll find plenty of questions just calling out to be answered. It's up to you to engage and connect with your buyer personas by answering their queries and providing them with assistance based on your expertise. By doing so you'll establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, along with a reputable and trustworthy source of experience and advice.
Most websites have an "About Us" page - although this page is often vastly limited in its potential impact. Normally these pages contain the bare minimum of information, just a brief outline of a business's creed, staff members and goals.
However, this shouldn't be all that defines your "About Us" page - there's a whole lot more you can do with it to boost your lead generation. The key is to remember that although it may state "About Us" on the top, it's really not about you at all. It's about reaching out and establishing a relationship with your target audience, whether by utilising well-placed CTAs or value propositions or by showcasing some of your awards (which builds trust with your viewers). Use your page to help your buyer personas move further along the sales funnel.
Practising social listening on Twitter and Facebook is an excellent way to find out exactly what your target audience is interested in or struggling with in real-time - and afterwards you can step up your efforts to meet their needs. And it all starts with simply monitoring conversions happening on your social media.
Thought leaders are brilliant sources of endorsement for your product or service - so reach out to them and go on the hunt for their approval and input. Make your product available to them for reviews, or ask them to guest blog for you. And be willing to share their content socially and within your linking strategy. After all, building relationships with thought leaders and aligning yourself with them goes a long way towards gaining trust with your potential leads.
You may think your words have little effect on your lead generation efforts, but you couldn't be more wrong. Your choice of wording can influence whether or not your potential leads engage and click on your CTAs or complete your forms. It's critical that you continuously A/B test your content and site copy, to ensure your wording is hitting the right mark.
Lead generation is vital to a healthy, thriving business, so if you've noticed a lull in your company's lead stream, perhaps it's time to re-examine your efforts and try something new!
Wow, that’s a mouth full! In case you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of tips and tactics to add to your to-do list, here’s some statistical motivation to keep you going. (As these statistics show, optimising your online estate will be well worth the efforts!)
Are you generating the volume and quality of leads needed to achieve your business objectives? If not, grab a copy of our free eBook on getting to grips with sales and marketing in an era of digital transformation.