There are plenty of ways to acquire inbound leads online, and content marketing for SEO lead generation is one of them. The good news is that SEO theoretically could work for anyone. Then again, everyone wants free, automated leads – there’s a lot of noise and fierce competition. Since few people can run their business solely on inbound organic leads, what are some other options?
If you don’t have the SEO skills – and most people don’t – or you lack the time to write long-form content, your best opportunity is to run landing pages with paid campaigns.
In this post, I’ll take you through 5 practical lead generation examples to implement immediately to capture more leads for your and your team.
The No. 1 Rule
Unlike in B2C, where prospects might fall in love with your product in one or two steps, B2B lead generation is a longer process. Top B2B lead generation companies know there have to be several ‘touch points’ before a company buys anything from you.
Let’s break down the process of customer acquisition into three basic steps (this is an oversimplification, but it’ll do for now):
Awareness › Consideration › Decision
These are the bare minimum steps to build your campaigns, so don’t aim to generate leads in one single step. Read my lips:
It just won’t work.
(And if it does – as it may for certain low-value B2B goods and services – those leads are going to be cold as ice simply because those businesses will have an incomplete buying experience. Yes, the buying experience matters in B2B too – at least if you want to grow your business!)
Important things to know
You can skip this part if you’re already well aware of how B2B online marketing works in general.
The main purpose of B2B marketing
The basic point of B2B marketing is to generate hot leads who are ready to purchase so that the sales team basically just needs to close them. According to recent studies, two thirds of the entire sales process is online, which means that prospects don’t want salespeople popping up until they’re ready. That’s why inbound marketing has more and more potential.
KPIs to follow
CPM, CTR, and CPC are all important performance indicators, but I’d encourage you to keep your focus on the CPA (cost-per-acquisition). For a given period, this is the ratio of all the money you spend pulling in new customers to the number of new customers that you actually acquire. CPA highlights the effectiveness of your marketing efforts as a whole and helps you figure out how to proceed strategically.
Your ROAS (return on ad spending) is the amount you make as profit, spending X on lead generation. Don’t make the mistake of counting the entire sum of the revenue – keep your eyes on the profit instead (that is, ROAS will depend on your profit margin as well).
Also, don’t forget to count LTV (customer lifetime value 💰), which should be much more than just the first-time revenue from your customers – if they’re likely to spend additional money later on, make a reasonable estimate of the long-term profit that you can expect on average.
Lead quality-based feedback
When we generate leads at 7Digits, we take measurement very seriously, and you should too: always measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. You can’t optimize what you don’t measure.
We always match leads of different quality with the ads that brought them in. That way, we can terminate underperforming campaigns and double down on the ones that convert. 📈
Lead generation examples
Let’s see 4 marketing channel methods and 1 cross-channel solution where we implement this 3-step approach.
Many people say that Facebook doesn’t work for B2B marketing because people visit the pages of the ‘blue giant’ to relax and see what’s going on with their friends – ads only annoy them. And yes, if the ads are irrelevant and poorly targeted, that’s right. But with laser-targeted and properly-served ads, it works like a charm.
To clarify: The people scrolling on Facebook are the same people who search in Google and check their colleague’s status update on Linkedin. The audience is similar on these channels.
Here’s a recipe for generating leads on Facebook.
1) If you start with direct targeting, you are in the awareness stage. At this stage, you need to communicate only the value proposition and benefit of your service or product. Do not try to convert here – it won’t work. This stage is about your brand’s awareness and building a base of good impressions for the next step.
You can choose among several Facebook ad formats, like the image ad, carousel ad, video ad or slideshow.
As a campaign objective, I would use ‘brand awareness’ or ‘reach.’
2) In the next step, you should focus on engagement, ensuring that people understand your value proposition and piquing their curiosity further in order to move them into the consideration stage.
For this, I would highly suggest using the canvas ad, which is basically a mini landing page inside Facebook after they click on a normal ad in the feed. Its only purpose is to soften your audience before you convert them to your site.
As a campaign objective, I recommend ‘traffic.‘
3) In the third step, you can try to convert your target audience. But focus on those who interacted with your ads or those who spent the most time on your website. (You can build various custom audiences as well.)
PRO tip: One of our favorite moves in this stage is engagement-based retargeting. You can create a remarketing custom audience list in Facebook to select those who either engaged with your ads or clicked through to your canvas.
The ad format will be the lead generation card, and the objective is lead generation. At this decision stage, you can ask for an email address, mobile number or company name (and other info based on your sales team’s needs).
When we talk about Google search, users are typically already in the consideration stage because they have an intent – a problem they want to solve.
What does this mean for you?
If you react with relevant copy (in search) and also have an appropriate landing page, you can easily skip a step, so you’ll only need one more stage to convert them. (Highly skilled marketers using various elements of influence psychology might even be able to convert in one step – but this is about as rare as free rent in Silicon Valley.)
More often, you’ll target cold traffic on Google. Here is the path to make it work for you:
1) Depending on your budget, you can start your lead generation campaign either with a ‘bumper video ad‘ format on Youtube (needs more money & time to produce) or a banner set (definitely a more budget-friendly option) in GDN (Google Display Network).
2) After you generate traffic to your site, you can use the so-called RLSA remarketing campaign, which will enable you to bid higher for those users who have already visited your site previously and are searching for terms related to your business.
Let’s bring this traffic to a web page that gets traffic only from this source. That way, in the third stage, you’ll be able to remarket to users who went through this specific step of the sales funnel – even through a different ad platform. That means you can start the funnel with a search ad through Google and remarket through Facebook – or basically any other channel.
3) After you set up your web page-specific remarketing list, you can start your GDN and/or Youtube campaign again, based on your financial capabilities. Bring your traffic to a ‘convert page’ and generate leads from them.
Linkedin is probably the best channel in B2B marketing, though without a doubt the most expensive. With its job role, industry, company profile and company size targeting options, it won’t be an issue finding the right people. But finding the right audience is just the beginning.
1) In the awareness phase on Linkedin, you start with a little hack. It’s called profile auto-visiting. We have a little tool for it that will be your secret weapon on Linkedin.
If you auto-visit either your connections or a specifically targeted group on Linkedin, they’ll get a notification that you viewed their profiles. So you can get your first valuable impression for free with this trick. Pretty cool, huh? 😉
2) In the consideration stage, target the profiles you visited with sponsored content. You can convert the traffic to an informative landing page, where you list the benefits of your product/service. Always use micro-conversions to engage them.
Expect $5-8 CPC (cost-per-click) and, at first glance, poor CTR (0.1-0.3%). Yeah, it’s sometimes 10x more expensive than Facebook. However, the laser-focused targeting will compensate your higher ad spend.
3) Sponsored inMail is the last part. It has to be short and sweet. I would say that the open rate of your letter will be around 80-90%, but it doesn’t mean that the prospects will write back. It all depends on your copy and your profile. (Some people will check it before writing back.)
🚨Important. Before you create this campaign, read about the magic of writing outstanding inMails, because it’s a different ballgame than email or ad copy.
I think Instagram has mainly been used for branding. But this doesn’t stop you from acquiring leads from the platform.
After all, Instagram is growing rapidly, it opens new opportunities continuously (IGTV is the latest), and its user base just hit 1 billion in June 2018. 👏
So if you want to collect leads on Instagram, here’s a feasible strategy:
1) Either you’ll need to have a solid user base already in place or run ads with Instagram placement. Then, select users from your target audience who have interacted with your post, ad or profile.
Choose the ‘Instagram business profile’ engagement-based remarketing option and target the active users back.
2) The ad format for the consideration stage should be an Instagram story ad, which is a vertical ad (video or image) that appears in your audience’s story. Since it’s the newest ad format, the CTR will be much higher than normal (meaning that you can keep the costs low).
For a landing page, you need to have valuable content or a case study page. This will give you credibility and a great foundation for the final part of your campaign.
3) In order to convert your warm prospects, you should target those who expressed interest towards your content. You’re looking for users who did not bounce but rather stayed on your page and/or interacted with it.
Use a simple Instagram image ad format and bring the traffic to a ‘convert page’ that has only 1 goal – to convert these users into hot leads.
PRO tip: Use testimonials, social proof and other trust factors to establish your credibility once again.
As you can see, you have plenty of options to bring your prospects through different online marketing funnels and, at the end, convert them into leads. You can implement these lead generation examples right away in your marketing mix.
When we talk about cross-channel campaigns, you should always keep in mind for each stage to use the appropriate message and ad format, and don’t try to convert too early or soften up your prospects for too long. (Yes, this can also be a reason for poor conversion.)
1) In the last lead gen example, we’ll use Google Ads (search) in the awareness phase.
It’s a strong start because we already know that answering a specific search is usually stronger than targeting cold traffic.
2) After bringing users to our landing page from several relevant searches, we start to run a remarketing campaign on Facebook based on website visits. Here, in the consideration stage, you can use several of the ad formats mentioned before, but the main goal is to engage those users who are already in the funnel.
3) In the last stage, use the same remarketing options, but now on Linkedin. Run a lead gen card in order to acquire those users who went through the first two steps of the funnel.
B2B lead generation has several key touch points that are essential to implement in your funnel – that’s the key takeaway. Be sure to use the appropriate ad formats and remarketing options at each stage, and don’t try to convert too early! Also, many people make the mistake of adding lower quality leads at the top of the funnel when they experience poor results – that’s a Shut-up-Google-and-take-my-money kind of bad idea. Find your prospects, even if takes more time and don’t dilute your traffic!
These lead generation examples are just a few of all the options at your disposal. Use them as-is or add in your own twist. It’s up to you.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with us, or just hit the share button if you liked the tactics above. I have a loooong list of B2B marketing content to unleash and every share encourages me to write more posts like this one. 😉