Lead Management with Inbound Marketing
The generation of new leads and the qualification of existing B2B contacts is one of the biggest challenges for every CMO. Through efficient lead management you avoid unnecessary acquisition negotiations and concentrate on potential buyers who are most likely to close a deal. The close cooperation between marketing and sales gives you more dynamics and you can celebrate sustainable successes faster. In this article I have summarized the most important aspects of lead generation in the B2B sector for you.
Find, reach and convert buyers with the right process
Every customer acquisition process begins with lead generation. Without this decisive step, it will be difficult to achieve your sales and growth targets. But what exactly is lead generation? Lead generation in inbound refers to all activities in which website visitors provide their contact information. These people volunteer because they receive rewards, such as quality content.
Potential B2B customers in the digital world
Purchasing behaviour has changed fundamentally with the Internet. Purchases are now almost decided before the customer contacts the supplier. Today's B2B managers obtain information from the Internet. And that's not all: According to the Sana report "The Digital Change in B2B Purchasing", 75 percent of B2B customers buy their products online .
Another study conducted by Adobe found that B2B shoppers expect the same customer experience as B2C shoppers. According to the report, the basic psychology behind purchasing decisions is very similar. B2B and B2C customers want marketers to know exactly who their target customers are and what they expect to see at the Customer Journey .
As a CMO, you must therefore offer business customers the same experience as private customers. In the B2B sector, the journey begins only from the point of view of those responsible and decision-makers. The challenge for marketing executives is to make lead generation a positive experience. Your potential buyers should inform themselves and then return.
A suitable way to generate sales leads is inbound marketing. In contrast to outgoing methods, incoming calls must first find the company and its products.
Inbound Marketing: Use your website to generate leads
Is your B2B marketing campaign only making slow progress? Then you are not alone, because many marketing managers feel this way today. But don't worry, the solution is obvious: simply use the company website to generate leads. Imagine the following scenario:
For every question a customer encounters during the Customer Journey, your website contains an answer. And this answer is better than that of our competitors. As a result, more and more potential buyers visit your website.
Let's assume that 10,000 visitors now visit the company website every month. Of course, you can not only answer questions with text and video, but also provide other formats. These are free of charge for the time being. In return, you ask visitors to leave their names and e-mail addresses. Or you have a chatbot with which you can clarify initial questions and then offer further information, for example in the form of an appointment.
According to this principle, your website is already a successful lead generation engine. On average, two percent of website visitors are willing to leave their name and e-mail address. The name, e-mail address and context information are by definition already simple leads in inbound marketing. In this example, you generate 200 new leads every month (i.e. 2 percent of 10,000 visitors). You see: High quality content on your website is like a magnet and attracts new potential buyers every month.
Of course these visitors do not want to buy yet. You are at the beginning of the Customer Journey. Therefore you should not force a purchase, but offer your visitors an extraordinary experience. The content you deliver can help your audience work more efficiently or understand problems better. After providing their name and e-mail address, they will then receive advanced content such as e-books and white papers for download.
This is how the company website becomes a lead generation machine
Your website is a potential engine for customer generation. And even if the website is new and looks good, this does not mean that it can generate leads yet. As a lead generation engine, the site must be able to do the following:
- You have to design the whole website in such a way that Google sends more and more visitors. Users must be able to see immediately what your site offers. The focus is not on the company, but on the visitor's problem.
With just a few clicks, users can find what they want. A call to action for lead generation must be present on every page. For this you need very good landing pages.
- Remember the Customer Journey and provide at least three phases: Attention, interest and desire.
The first step is to check whether potential buyers might encounter problems when visiting the site. To do this, control the organic traffic on your website. Organic traffic are all visitors that search engines send. This should account for the largest share of traffic sources and grow steadily.
Lead generation without marketing automation?
Marketing Automation is a software platform for the digitalization of marketing and sales processes. Marketing automation can help you attract the right buyers to your website, generate and qualify leads, and help salespeople close sales. In short, you need marketing automation to sell better in the digital world.
If you want to generate leads via your corporate website, you will quickly find that Excel lists are no longer sufficient. If you generate 100 new leads every month, you also need targeted lead management. This means that you serve potential buyers on the one hand and qualify them on the other. This is hardly possible with Excel lists.
5 practical ideas for lead generation in inbound marketing
High-quality content on your website leads to more and more potential buyers visiting the website. However, these visitors can only become contacts if they provide their data.
This extended content, which is available for download, is called lead magnet. The reason is obvious: the premium content attracts potential buyers. Here are some lead magnets that are perfect for lead generation:
Lead magnet #1: e-book or white paper
Very popular premium content that you can make available to your visitors are e-books or white papers. Here your audience can obtain comprehensive information on specific topics. Depending on the topic and company, e-books or white papers are more suitable.
Lead magnet #2: Checklists
Not everyone likes to read long white papers or detailed e-books. Many users like it short and to the point. It is therefore important to provide different formats for different requirements. After all, an offer is not defined by its length, but by its content. Checklists can be a great help for your potential buyers.
Lead magnet #3: Videos
Are there videos of your product or service that potential buyers can use to solve their problem? These are best made available for download. Videos are diverse and almost unlimited.
Do you already know the so-called 80-percent videos? These are FAQ videos that answer the most common questions of potential buyers. With these 80 percent videos, you proactively give your audience answers before they make a purchase.
Lead magnet #4: Newsletter registration
Give the visitors of your website the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter. This way, your audience gets the most important news directly into their inbox every month. You can embed the application into your website via a pop-up or call-to-action or insert it into the footer of the page.
With marketing automation, you can personalize your contacts without having to worry about everyone in your address book. You can collect user data and thus offer each reader a personalized newsletter experience.
Lead magnet #5: Surveys
A simple way to get the latest data and figures is to conduct surveys. This can bring you and your target group interesting insights. There are some free tools that allow you to create simple surveys. The results can then be downloaded from your website.
Find new customers with social media and Google ads
Search engines bring visitors to your website without you having to spend money on it. However, this process is no longer easy, as digital competition does not stop and advertising pressure increases. After all, it would be a shame if you spent a lot of time creating premium content and nobody used it. To increase leads, both social media networks and Google offer lead ads.
An investment in B2B offers numerous advantages:
- You do not need to wait until the content takes effect. If you answer customer questions on your website today, it will take at least 12 months before thousands of visitors are attracted by Google. Therefore, it may make sense to recruit your content during this transition period.
- There may be a gap in the number of visitors from time to time. You can permanently fill this visitor gap with paid content advertising campaigns.
- Do you want to reach very specific target customers? With targeted ads you can address small target groups.
- The production costs for content are high. No matter whether you hire an external agency or your employees spend a lot of time creating unique content. Behind high-quality production content should also be an advertising budget, so that many people can consume your content and cover the production costs.
Which channels are particularly suitable for customer acquisition in the B2B sector?
LinkedIn is the world's largest social media platform for professionals. Here you can narrow down your target group (specifically by keywords) and use advertising forms. For example, you can link individual lead ads via LinkedIn.
Practically everyone in the western world uses Google. With ads on the Google Search advertising network and the Google Display network, you can help your audience understand the keywords they use. You can also add lead extensions to Google's search ads.
In recent years, the world's largest social network has also gained in importance in a professional context. This is due to the fact that the alignment options on Facebook are very good, a separate ad format can be used to generate leads (Facebook Lead Ads) and the costs are usually lower than with LinkedIn.
Important key data for lead generation
Without Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you will remain in the dark when generating leads. The typical sales channels for B2B always contain the following five key data:
- Visits: You need a certain number of visitors to attract the required number of buyers at the end of the funnel. Since the benchmark for the conversion rate between visits and potential buyers is two percent, achieving two percent can be a major challenge.
- Leads: In inbound marketing, we refer to leads as users who have shown a certain interest in a topic and have downloaded a white paper or other advanced content on that topic. You have left your name and e-mail address. About one third of sales leads are qualified leads.
- Qualified leads: These leads have the potential to become buyers. This means it is the right contact person, the right industry, the right size of company, etc.
- Qualified sales leads: In addition to Qualified Leads, these Leads projects have a sufficient budget and hope to implement the project in the foreseeable future.
Before and in between there are hundreds of other indicators. However, if these five are not correctly calculated and recorded, all the others are worthless.
To create an effective B2B lead generation plan
With so many moving elements, it can be difficult to generate and manage leads.
This is where a solid lead generation plan comes in. Learn how to create a plan that covers the entire process from start to finish:
Step 1: Set goals and refine your target group
The process of lead generation starts with knowing what and whom you want to reach. Setting intelligent goals and targets for lead generation requires the completion of a thorough and systematic process:
- Determine both the quantity and the quality of the leads to be generated
- Ensure that your lead generation goals are aligned with the larger business goals
- Refine your ideal customer profile to objectively describe your target companies
- Develop Buyer Personas to represent your target decision makers
Step 2: Awaken interest and awareness
With the right plan it is easier to arouse interest and attention:
- Create the right content and messages to attract potential buyers
- Select which incoming and outgoing channels to use
- Set destinations for each channel
- Specify the role that each channel plays in controlling and attracting new customers
Step 3: Capture relevant prospect information
Once a visitor shows interest, the next step is to gather information. This typically involves the compilation of contact information as well as demographic, firmographic and other details.
- Identify what types of prospect data should be collected
- Specify the channel or activity from which a specific data element is to be retrieved
- Set up the appropriate information acquisition mechanism for each channel used
- Assign the data flow for potential buyers from capture to storage to retrieval
Step 4: Engaging and promoting leads
Not all leads become buyers immediately. Some need better qualification and care.
- Create a lead-nurturing concept that summarizes how you interact with leads from acquisition to conversion
- Develop a lead scoring model
- Describe how leads are classified and ranked
The best way to maximize your lead generation strategy is to develop a solid workflow that leverages multiple marketing channels.
Step 5: Test, track and optimize
Lead generation does not end when you have handed over a contact to the sale or turned a prospect into a buyer. Testing is also part of the process and is performed at every step of the process.
- Integrate your marketing automation and CRM tools
- Identify which channels and tactics need to be tested regularly
- Review your lead generation plan regularly with new results
To set up lead management processes
Many companies have learned that their own websites can play a good role as lead generation engines for new leads. Valuable downloads such as white papers, guides and checklists are provided and potential buyers download them based on personal information. The usual problem is that the lead management process is not installed at the beginning and good leads become buyers.
But what does the lead management process look like? Lead management refers to the generation and qualification of potential buyers in the B2B sector. In addition, lead management includes all steps you take to turn leads into buyers.
After we have explained the term, you may have realized that you need the lead management process from the beginning. The connection to existing customer relationship management is also important. Further steps are:
- Qualify leads: Not every potential customer becomes a buyer. You therefore need a lead identification process and a clear lead definition.
- Contact leads: What was the aim of the first contact?
- Develop leads: If potential buyers are not ready, how do you keep them in the market?
- Interface marketing and sales: How does advertising reach potential buyers, what does the interface look like and what customer relationship management do you use?
Tips and Best Practices
Read on now and learn how you can maximize the potential of your leads!
Tip #1: Define leads clearly
Your first step is to have a clear definition of what a contact is. If you work with a team, make sure that all employees understand this definition.
When does a sales prospectus become a contact? A large proportion of the leads sent to employees of many companies are not processed. There are two main reasons for this: First, leads may be forwarded to the wrong person. If it is not given to the right person or does not arrive quickly enough, it becomes a missed opportunity. Second, the leads may not be willing to talk to a seller immediately. The salesperson can make one or two contacts with a lead, find that he or she is not ready and focus more on easier leads.
To prevent these missed opportunities from occurring, you need to define exactly what counts as contact. And if something matches the definition of a lead, all parties involved know that they must take immediate action.
Tip #2: Use a solid CRM tool
With a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) you can maximize the effectiveness of the sales process. This gives you and your staff the right tools to store information about every interaction with buyers and prospects.
This may involve the integration of multiple sales channels, including online and offline channels. Whatever your business, make sure you manage these customer relationships.
Tip #3: Effective Lead Nurturing
In sales lead management, potential buyers must be supported from start to finish.
Depending on what you offer, most visitors do not make a purchase decision after the first contact. If you give your leads time and accompany them along the way, the probability that your efforts will bear fruit is much higher.
Create campaigns that contact potential buyers multiple times to help them go through the sales cycle. By tracking this process, you can determine exactly when they are ready to purchase.
Tip #4: Use tags
Tags are not only suitable for social media posts. You can also use tagging to store useful or interesting information about potential buyers.
For example, you can tag customer records with the names of competitors, customer objections, or product details. These details can be easily accessed if required. Once you've organized your information, you can better use it for the success of your business.
Most popular articles about Lead Management
Inbound marketing is the answer to our changing purchasing behaviour. Nowadays, buyers can decide for themselves if they want to make purchases on the Internet as soon as they got enough information. The generation of potential buyers must not undermine this buying experience. Instead, marketers must use content, marketing automation, and processes to generate leads that keep buyers coming back.
Thorough lead management requires care until your leads can really become SQL (Sales Qualified Leads). Only then is it possible to accompany many potential customers to the end of the sales funnel and turn them into buyers. Even if the contact has become a buyer, your lead management is not yet complete. After all, your goal should be to provide your buyers with valuable content.