Business to business lead generation matters because without a steady flow of leads most businesses struggle to survive. But how can a business attract potential customers in today's noisy environment where people seem to have a short attention span and far too many "screens" fighting for their eye balls? Simple, by using content marketing.
I know you've probably heard about content marketing, and I recognise you might be sceptical but the statistics show it works. According to SEMRush 73% of companies who increased their spending from 10% to 70% of their total marketing budget to content marketing were very successful
Wot? No Content Strategy?
We recently completed a competitive tender. It was one of those tenders (which we should probably ignore) where you don't get to meet the client, you simply respond to the document they send you. The document made it clear their new website was to be at the vanguard of their marketing efforts. To quote them "The website is to be used as a marketing and sales tool....blah blah....to generate enquiries."
The only other mentions of content in the document were "The developer will optimise the site for search engines" and "The contractor will also advise on a links strategy whereby a number of incoming links to the company website from quality related sites will be created."
So in summary, there was nothing about helping them develop content, nothing about marketing automation and as such nothing that comes even close to a credible business to business lead generation strategy. OMG as the kids say!
Now it's possible this company are just being badly advised, nothing new there; the document was heavy on prescriptive geek speak such as "provide a secure and continuous site 7x24 - surely they meant 24/7 - that guarantees a minimum bandwidth", but it was light on emphasising the importance of fantastic, not just good, content.
By the way, the statement about optimising the site for search engines is meaningless. It would be more accurate if it said optimising the content so the search engines know what they are ignoring. I'll expand on that later.
Furthermore, their request for links from quality related sites is kinda meaningless as well. Why would a quality site link to anything other than something amazing? If you're a bit confused about SEO and links, our SEO explained and link building primer will probably ease your troubled mind.
Getting Those Leads
So, where was I? Oh yes, business to business lead generation.
Businesses have a few options when it comes to online lead gen but these guys distilled them down to:
- Email marketing
- Search marketing
- Social marketing
- Content marketing
The common denominator is content.
1. Email Marketing
You need compelling content to put in your emails and to link to on your site. The aim should be to create emails that people actually look forward to receiving because the content in them is so interesting and useful. You also need superb content to attract the search traffic (see below) in the first place to get email sign-ups. You can't benefit from email marketing without a top notch list, preferably permission based for maximum engagement.
2. Search Marketing
Search engines index most content but the content they show at the top of the results is content people link to and share. That's where SEO, or search engine optimisation comes in: maximising the chances of your page showing up in the first few search results so that it is visited. Without visits to your website you have nobody to convert into a lead, so it has to be the first step.
You can get round the pain of SEO by buying traffic with PPC (Google Ads and the like) but if you're doing that you still need compelling content for your PPC landing pages. You don't want to spend money on attracting people to click through to your website if what they see when they arrive is not relevant or useful.
3. Social Marketing
You could spend your time and get a following on social media by curating other people's content. However, if you want to drive traffic to your own site you're going to need your own great content to talk about. You need to be producing original, useful and tempting blog posts or articles or videos or something that makes people want to move from their favourite social platform to your website.
4. Content Marketing
Everything we have just mentioned could be called content marketing, but the official definition from the Content Marketing Institute is
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
The general idea is that you produce helpful articles and other pieces of information that address a problem that your ideal customers are having, they visit your website and from there you have the opportunity to convert these visitors into leads. Now social marketing and SEO help them find the content in the first place and email marketing can help with conversions, but the whole process revolves around the regular creation of relevant and helpful content to start the ball rolling.
By the way, if you're looking to kick-start your business to business lead generation but you're stuck, these ten content ideas might be exactly what you're looking for
It should be clear that most if not all b2b lead gen revolves around content, but it's still being ignored by many businesses not least of which the company who wrote the ITT referred to above. Their requirements - in brief - should have read something like this:
"We need a fantastic responsive website, we assume that's a given, but more importantly a killer content strategy that will make it a lead generating customer magnet."
Instead it rambled on about software licensing, year 2 hosting costs and a whole list of irrelevant requirements that are not going to generate this company enough revenue to pay for an open source software license - geek joke.
Where To Start With Content
So what would be a better approach to generate leads for your business online? Firstly you need to think about your buyer personas, their problems, how your products solve their problems and where they look for solutions to their problems (Google, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn etc).
Next you need to research the keyword phrases they use when searching the above-mentioned web properties but temper that with the phrases your site can rank for, which is my cue to elaborate on my earlier statement about optimising your content so Google knows what it's ignoring.
What I'm driving at here is making content search friendly doesn't mean you'll see a link to your content appear on page one of Google anytime soon. There's much more to it than that. Which is why you need to search for phrases used by your customers that your site might be able to rank for. This means spending a LOT of time on keyword research.
Clearly there's much work to do developing your content strategy but hopefully after reading this you're on your way. Our e-book offer below goes into detail and provides a fantastic starting point for planning your own business to business lead generation content strategy. It’s well worth grabbing.