Oh, sure. We all remember the kinds of things that Mom told us growing up. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t cry over spilled milk. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
There’s a reason for that (aside from the fact that the Internet most likely didn’t exist when you were a kid): She couldn’t. Because online marketing isn’t really something that can be taught.
Like so many other things in life, it’s something that you have to figure out for yourself as you go, through successes and failures and, hopefully, with the help of some experienced colleagues by your side.
Take lead generation, for example.
MarketingProfs research shows 71% of B2B marketers use content marketing to generate leads. But the obvious question is: How do you know which content resonates best with prospective buyers and make sure you’re getting that content in front of them?
There is no one answer.
Tactics and strategies will vary depending on the client or project you’re working on – there is no broad-brush approach that will work best for everyone. What’s important is to spend some time digging into the data and metrics so you can maximize the conversion potential of your content efforts.
Let’s take a look at a couple different strategies for how to find B2B customers through your content initiatives:
Leverage (the Right) CTAs
If you’re involved in online marketing, calls-to-action (CTAs) shouldn’t be anything new to you. It’s not enough for people to come to your blog, read a post, and then move on – you want them to actually do something, right?
Whatever your call-to-action may be (downloading a whitepaper, filling out a form submission, requesting a demo, watching a product video, etc.), you need for it to align with the subject matter of your blog post to have the best chance at conversion. It wouldn’t make any sense to ask readers to register for a webinar when they were reading a post about the importance of traditional marketing events (tradeshows, conferences), would it?
You also need to consider the stage of the sales cycle visitors are in when they come to your blog. In other words, are they visiting for the first time (which would mean they are new to your business and probably don’t know much about it) or have they been there before (meaning they’re likely familiar with your business and may be more ready to buy)? To do this, make sure you have an idea of the percentage of new vs. returning visitors in Analytics and cater content/corresponding CTAs accordingly.
One of our clients in the call center industry recently starting including CTAs in their blog posts and has seen 31 qualified leads (directly attributed to blog posts) over the course of just a few months. Another client in the healthcare space has a list of more than 30 blog CTAs they use to drive leads and conversions.
Dig into Search Queries
According to WebDAM, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t. It goes beyond producing content for the sake of producing content, however – you’ve got to produce content you know prospective buyers are looking for in order to capture their interest and get them to convert.
One approach we regularly use across several of our clients (including our own website) is to dig into Google Search Console on a monthly basis to uncover the search queries website visitors are using. It isn’t just about tracking website performance (clicks, impressions, CTR, average search position), it’s also about being as relevant as possible in our content so we can build off what we already know readers are interested in.
For one of our clients in the material handling industry, we’ve started putting together keyword-based content recommendations every month based on Search Console data. But the keyword targets are just one piece of the puzzle – to align our content efforts with actual sales and drive more leads, we’re cross-linking to the highest converting pages of our client’s product catalogue.
But, Wait: What About Other Lead Gen Tactics?
The above isn’t, by any means, meant to imply that content marketing is the best or only form of lead generation. Clearly not. The same MarketingProfs research referenced earlier shows the following to be the most effective B2B lead generation tactics: inside sales, executive events, tradeshows and conferences, and email or electronic newsletters.
KoMarketing’s 2015 Web Usability Report, in fact, shows, while blogs (and social media) have some impact across all stages of the buying cycle, this impact is not as significant as you may have assumed. The key takeaway is this: If you are relying on a blog to drive traffic and leads, you are missing a wider range of opportunities for how to find B2B customers.
When it comes to content marketing, MarketingProfs data shows customer testimonials (89%) and case studies (88%) are the most effective lead generation tactics.
But, really, connecting with customers across the sales cycle shouldn’t begin and end with content. Search Engine Land recommends exploring “hidden gems” such as Quora, HARO, LinkedIn Groups, podcasts, and more to find new B2B customers.
Mom may have taught you table manners and how to write a good college application essay but she certainly didn’t teach you anything about customer acquisition in online marketing. That’s on you.
What have been your most successful lead generation efforts – content marketing or otherwise? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.