Want to use marketing to get leads for your B2B tech business? There’s a simple process you can follow, but it takes decisive and intelligent action. Like jumping out of a plane, it’s best to know the process if you want the outcome to be good.
Here are the five steps you need to take.
1. Build a good business.
This first step is actually a little controversial – not because anyone thinks you don’t need a good business, obviously, but because a lot of people think that marketing will help you build a good business.
In other words, plenty of people think a good business should be the end goal of marketing, not the first step.
That’s fair. I’m not accounting for subtlety, and I’ll admit that I’ve generalized this point a bit for effect. A more granular version of this premise is that, if your offering (your product or service) isn’t appealing – if it doesn’t solve a legitimate need effectively – it won’t matter what you say about it or who you tell.
But, still, on a broader level, if your business itself sucks, no amount of marketing will encourage people to buy from you. If you don’t treat people well, if you don’t build operations intelligently, and if you don’t have the structures in place to support lead generation, lead generation won’t work.
Here are things that will sabotage your chances of getting leads:
- Offering a product or service that doesn’t meet a need.
- Offering a product or service that doesn’t compare well to competition.
- Providing a low-quality product or service. This will damage your reputation; when potential buyers research you and find tons of negative reviews, they’ll move on.
- Not responding efficiently to contacts that do come in. If your sales team (or you) are too busy to respond to new contacts, your firm is probably too busy to be doing marketing. Get things in order first, or at least prioritize lead responses.
Good marketing requires having something good to market – a good offering from a good business. On the other end of the spectrum is the Fyre Festival.
2. Identify your buyers.
The second step to getting leads is to identify who you want to sell to and (more importantly) who will buy from you.
There are two main things you’ll need to identify about this cross-section before you can generate leads.
What does this person want?
This is the most basic question you can ask as you begin to solidify your target market. It’s also the most important. If you can identify what your ideal buyer wants from your offering, you can position your offering to satisfy your buyer’s needs.
We use the StoryBrand framework to home in on this; we’ll conduct interviews with customers and sales reps to gather data around buyer pain points and desires, then compile the data to identify major drivers of action.
What is this person like?
Here, we’re talking demographics and psychographics: Age, education level, job title, ethnicity, interests, dislikes, family life. This data is used to craft a buyer persona, and it’ll be used to shape message construction (what) and message placement (where).
How many of this person are there (how big is the market)?
One of the biggest causes of failure in marketing is to use big-market tactics in small-market contexts. If you’re selling to manufacturing managers in Topeka, for example, are there enough of those people to justify running search ads, or would you be better off doing direct, ABM-type work?
Where (and how) does this person buy?
This is the final point of clarification as you identify your buyer. If you know where they buy, you can target your marketing toward those places. You won’t run a Pinterest campaign if your buyer is a 55-year-old man, for example.
But it gets a bit more complex than that. Your buyer will be more likely to buy on some channels than they will be on others. They may be on Facebook but only use it recreationally, while they make most business purchases via email.
The key to determining all of this buyer identify information is simple: mass-scale cellphone monitoring tied into US public infrastructure systems.
Just kidding. But it does take market research and talking to real people. If you make assumptions, you’ll increase your risk of failure.
3. Create effective messaging.
Once you know who you’ll be speaking to, you can figure out how to describe your offering. An effective message:
Speaks to your buyer’s paint points and desires.
This is the biggest key. If you effectively address pain points and desires, you’ve done 80% of the work. Too many marketing messages focus on the speaker (the company) more than the audience (the buyer).
Communicates the stakes.
Your messaging should lay out the good outcomes that a buyer will get from working with you and the bad outcomes that they’ll experience if they don’t.
Is easy to understand.
You should be able to explain your core messaging in less than a minute. You should also be able to explain it to a fifth grader. Crafting an easy-to-understand message is not easy (especially in B2B tech marketing). You can be catchy, but if it’s a choice, go for clarity over cleverness.
Your message should be consistent across all aspects of your marketing campaign and, when leads come in, throughout the sales process.
At a tactical level, you should develop these messaging documents:
- 3-4 of your offering’s unique value propositions
- 3-6 of your buyer’s biggest pain points
- A paragraph outlining the stakes the buyer faces in making the purchase
- Empathy and authority statements positioning your firm as the best solution
- A one-sentence tagline
Spend time on these things, but don’t rely on your opinion to determine what message is best. Adjust your messaging as you see it resonate or fail to resonate in the market.
4. Get your messaging in front of your buyers.
We’ve reached the fourth step in the lead generation process: message dispersion. It’s the step that most people think of when they think of lead generation – and it’s the step that many businesses want to skip right to when they start marketing.
As a B2B tech marketing agency, we often get businesses coming to us asking for lead generation – and when they say that, they’re imagining message promotion. But without a good business, an accurate buyer persona, and an effective message, message promotion is worthless and lead generation won’t work.
You’ve got to build the foundation first. You’ve just got to. You will completely and UTTERLY FAIL WITHOUT IT.
Okay, I’m climbing back down from that soapbox. All of that said, here are a few keys in thinking about message promotion.
To get leads, your message has to reach enough people.
In digital marketing, this is called traffic generation. We’ve found that, most often, you need to be reaching 1,000 people with your message each month in order to consistently generate leads.
The most straightforward way to measure whether or not you’re doing this: look at users on your website. Were there 1,000 users on your website last month? If not, you likely need to drive more traffic.
This varies depending on your conversion rate, of course, which we’ll talk about shortly. But it’s a good general benchmark to keep in mind. At a 2% conversion rate (which is roughly average), with 1,000 users, you’ll convert 20 contacts each month. Most businesses that have a lead problem simply aren’t getting their message in front of enough people.
There are four basic ways to drive traffic:
This is the practice of getting your site to rank in search engines. For instance, at New North, we’re the second result on Google’s first page for the search, “b2b tech marketing agencies.” When people search that term, they find our marketing messages.
There are three levers to increase your rankings: site construction, backlink building, and content creation. Out of these three activities, content creation is (arguably) the one to focus on. These days, solid site construction is table stakes, and backlinks will arise naturally if you create good content (although focused effort can be very valuable).
This is not an article about how to do SEO – see articles like this one, this one, and this one for more technical details. For now, just note that SEO takes time and effort, but, over the long run, it can be cost-efficient and drive sustainable traffic and leads.
If SEO is leaving a line in the water, ABM is spear fishing. Instead of waiting for ideal clients to find you, you go out, find them, and deliver your message. It overlaps some with paid ads (which are usually part of ABM campaigns), but it’s more targeted. You might buy a list of people with a certain job title in a certain geographic area, then engage them with emails, ads, and contact points across a variety of platforms.
This approach is a great small-market tactic. In fact, if there are less than 1,000 people who might buy from you, it’s probably the most efficient way to reach them.
Paid ads allow you to skip the SEO queue and deliver your message quickly. For the majority of B2B tech marketing purposes, I recommend a simple approach to your campaign: Set up a search ad campaign that drives traffic to a landing page. Use display ads to remarket to anyone who hits the page but doesn’t convert. That’s it. (More details on this approach here.)
Social ads have their functions, but they’re usually more niche; the best use cases are for events or lower-cost products. These do well on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
We’re talking PR or affiliates. Via PR, you can drive traffic by capitalizing on other people’s existing audiences; for example, you might contribute to be listed as a sponsor at an event, or you could speak at one, or do podcast appearances. There are plenty of options. The key point, of course, is to make sure that for any PR you do, the audience you reach includes your ideal buyer.
The other form of collaboration is via the development of an affiliate program. Affiliates are incentivized to drive traffic for you because they get a percentage of your sales. Depending on your business model (I’m thinking B2B SaaS, but there are plenty of others that can work), this can be a pretty effective means of generating leads.
5. Make the next step obvious.
Okay, now we’re talking about conversion rate. This is the final step in the process of lead generation, and it’s obvious: there has to be a next step when people find your website and your message so that they can convert.
If you drive traffic to a page where there’s no option to move forward – no contact form, no phone number to call, no button to push – well, what the heck are you doing, you fool?
(If that’s you, I’m sorry. Maybe you have your reasons. I don’t know.)
Most businesses, of course, don’t neglect to have a next step altogether. But it’s not uncommon for the next step to be kind of confusing, or at least to be presented in a way that’s kind of confusing.
Here’s what you should do to increase your conversion rate:
Designate a primary next step on any page you send traffic to. This is your call-to-action (CTA). It can be a button linking to your contact page, a phone number, or a form, but it should be as clearly delineated as possible and displayed multiple times. Then, make sure that your messaging makes clear what will happen when users take the step. Will they receive a follow-up email? Who will answer the phone? You get the idea.
Include a secondary next step on your 10 most-viewed pages. This is an action that users can take if they’re not ready to buy but want a bit more information. This typically takes the form of a lead magnet, meaning an ebook, a whitepaper, a video demo, etc. that users can access in exchange for submitting an email address. I prefer to have the secondary CTA appear as a popup when users get ready to exit the page; this approach typically has a high conversion rate.
And that’s what you need for lead generation.
If you’re struggling to generate leads with your B2B tech marketing efforts, go back and look at each of these steps to see what isn’t working.
- Do you have a good business (and offering)?
- Have you identified the right market and buyer?
- Is your messaging effective?
- Are you driving enough traffic?
- Are people converting when they get to you?
If you’re working through B2B tech lead gen and want help evaluating your current efforts, let’s talk. We help businesses like yours unclog the lead funnel so that consistent growth can happen.