Lead Generation is Not One Size Fits All
All B2B marketers have a dual objective when it comes to lead generation. They want to fill the top of funnel (TOFU) to build the sales pipeline. A healthy sales pipeline produces viable sales opportunities over the long term. But, marketers also have pressure to produce leads that are sales ready now. These leads move to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) quickly.
When planning inbound marketing lead generation strategies, it’s important to make the distinction between TOFU and BOFU leads. Consider these approaches to both.
TOFU Lead Generation
Engaging prospective buyers early in their evaluation process is less about sales, and more about building awareness for your offering and establishing trust. Great content that gets shared is the most effective way to build awareness and trust.
Create a steady stream of content that offers your prospects choices to engage with you. You’re familiar with the content choices: webinars, white papers, e-books, newsletters, videos, podcasts, live events such as seminars, conference speeches, etc. Focus on the three Es of content marketing: education, enlightenment and entertainment. When you deliver content that is valuable and different, with a call-to-action, you can generate quality TOFU leads. One key to effective TOFU lead generation using this content strategy is social sharing. Unfortunately, this is where many B2B marketers fail. Ask the employees at your company to share your content through their individual LinkedIn and Twitter status updates. Companies whose employees share content through their social channels greatly increase the social sharing and hence SEO value of that content. The marketing team should share content through your LinkedIn company page, Facebook company page and Google+ company page. And, as people engage with your content in these social channels, don’t ignore them. Engage them to explore opportunities to start offline conversations.
BOFU Lead generation
Catching prospective buyers in a ready-to-buy mode isn’t easy, but it’s very possible. You have to meet the buyer where they are. And, yes sometimes you have to interrupt them (oh, shutter the thought)…
SEO and PPC
The first place ready-to-buy prospects turn is a search engine. Develop landing pages with long tail keywords that address your buyer’s pain points. Ensure these landing pages use SEO best practices. Keep the landing pages short and to the point. The sales ready buyer is in a hurry. They don’t want fluff. They want to know if your product/service is a fit now. Don’t hesitate to use pay-per-click advertising (PPC, also called SEM) to capture sales-ready prospective buyers, but focus on long tail keywords to minimize your costs. Consider advertising on your competitor’s names to capture click troughs on your ads.
Many B2B marketers are unwilling to even discuss this topic. Be open minded about it. While it may not be practical to offer a price quote in some cases, you can capture sales-ready buyers by offering a price estimate. There is a big difference especially if you make the process painless and void of contact with a salesperson. By allowing a visitor to request a self-service price estimate, you allow serious sales-ready buyers to engage with you online. You will answer one of the most common questions a B2B buyer has about your offering: “Is it in my budget range?” Even though the final price is usually configured or negotiated, the estimate you provide serves one purpose – to open up a sales conversation. Be open minded about this approach. In many cases, it works. But, it’s not for all B2B marketers.
To summarize, avoid a one size fits all lead generation strategy. Create your lead generation strategies differently for pipeline building versus sales-ready conversations. Consider learning more about price estimate lead generation strategies.