The top priority of B2B marketing executives in 2018 is to improve lead quality over quantity.
According to DemandGen Report’s 2018 Benchmark Survey Report, improving the percentage of leads considered ‘qualified’ ranked as the top organizational focus, followed by improving conversion rates and campaign results, then generating increased lead volume.
image credit: DemandGen Report
Marketing executives from B2B organizations in North America, EMEA and APAC who responded to DemandGen Report’s survey face challenging success measures in the months to come. For example, 33% reported that their primary KPIs are marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads, while 30% indicate total percentage of revenue pipeline influenced by marketing activities. Not surprisingly, only 14% of B2B organizations are sticking with total leads or inquiries as their primary success metric.
The success of demand generation programs is no longer measured in just lead volume, but in how many of those leads are qualified and nurtured through the buying process.
How to Generate More Qualified Leads
B2B and B2C campaigns have one thing in common: they’re both aimed at people.
People and relationships are at the core of both B2B and B2C campaigns. In both, the customer must pass through the awareness, consideration and decision stages of the buyer’s journey.
With that said, there’s a lot more riding on the decisions of the B2B buyer. B2B buyers aren’t spending their own money, and they're not the primary risk-taker. Making purchases for a company comes with a lot of pressure to do the right thing. If the B2B buyer makes the wrong decision, they may face embarrassment at the organization at the least, and, in some cases, their professional reputation and career could be at stake.
This is why B2B buyers are generally very specific in what they’re looking for and highly risk-averse.
The pressure is different.
The aversion to risk is different.
The process of making the buying decision is different.
But it's still the people you must target, not faceless organizations. You must remember that people come with hopes, ambitions and plenty of frustrations. And, when dealing with these people, it’s essential to understand their wants, needs and fears.
Attracting Your Target Audiences
Before you can attract targeted leads, you need to understand your potential customers, which means creating profiles of your buyer personas.
Your demand marketing team can waste all day wondering what your ideal customers' average income is and whether they’re cat or dog people, but that’s not always the most productive exercise. The most important thing is to understand their need profile holistically, which generally requires mapping their characteristics from end-to-end. To attract your leads, the most critical piece of information you need to know is their problems and pain points.
How do your ideal customer's problems relate to your product or service? Their pain point doesn’t need to be an exact match to your company’s solution, but it does need to be relevant.
Pain Points Aren’t Just Labels
Pain points also have three distinct levels of consequence.
Level 1: The Surface-Level Problem
Perhaps your company is in the business of selling bookkeeping software, and your target audience is accountants at nonprofits. On the surface, your prospects may start looking for alternatives, such as your product, based on surface-level problems: like a current software which is tedious, hard-to-use or difficult in ways which make their rate of errors high.
Level 2: The Deeper Problem
What are the more profound problems behind a tedious software that isn’t user-friendly? In the case of the ideal lead in this example, maybe the accountants have to work faster to deal with the obnoxious user interface of their current solutions due to slowdowns.
Level 3: The Higher-Level Repercussions
Continuing the accounting software example, the accountants who are struggling with the poor user interface are making unnecessary mistakes, which causes client dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied clients may switch to different accountants.
Understanding Yields Opportunity
You can’t just understand your buyer persona’s pain points at the surface level. Driving through all three levels of consequence to understand the deeper problem and potential repercussions can reveal all kinds of opportunities to drive customer attention.
If you map your ideal customers' pain points extensively, you’ll develop better customer understanding and the opportunity to create higher-value content at the top of the funnel. Creating lead generation offers that address these deep pain points can increase conversion rates, helping you drive more qualified leads.
When your top-of-the-funnel lead generation offers are mapped to your buyer persona’s real pain points, rather than just demographic or firmographic characteristics (though firmographic data is greatly important as well), they’re more likely to attract the right leads.
For granular insight into how Integrate maps our content to our B2B buyer personas, read into Template for Developing a B2B Content Marketing Strategy.
Converting Targeted Leads
Once you’ve identified your buyer personas and solved their pain points meaningfully, there are three campaign components required for converting targeted B2B leads.
Component #1: The Lead Magnet
The lead magnet is demand generation lexicon for a piece of high-value content which speaks to your ideal customer’s pain point. B2B lead conversion content can include, but isn’t limited to:
- Case Studies
- Product trials
- Research Reports
Component #2: The Conversion Funnel
To convert target audiences into qualified leads and prospects, you generally need a way to gate the content behind a form on your website. Some social media targeting campaigns support targeted promotion of content to the right audiences, complete with integrated forms. However, the creation of an on-site landing page form is generally at the core of a B2B demand generation campaign.
In addition to promoting your lead magnets through the above inbound marketing tactics, you should invest in 3rd-party demand gen campaigns to reach target audiences that otherwise won't come across your lead magnets on your landing pages and social media profiles. These external lead sources will allow you to scale to hit your lead and pipelien goals much more quickly.
Lastly, it's important to create a well-defined lead nurturing workflow to follow up with your newly converted leads and convert prospects through the sales funnel.
To learn more, read into How to Manage an Integrated Marketing Campaign Like a Boss.
Component #3: The Targeted Audience
Reaching the right people at the right accounts is key.
Without quality leads, you can’t scale your demand generation program or meet challenging revenue-based program targets. The comprehensive buyer persona profiles you completed are at the core of your targeting activities, whether these include content syndication partnerships, programmatic or display advertising, social ads, events or more.
Successful B2B Demand Generation Campaigns
The key to attracting highly qualified prospects is developing the kind of deep understanding of your ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and their pain points that generally comes with comprehensive buyer persona mapping.
When you’ve developed full customer understanding, you can begin to develop relevant lead magnets and high-quality demand generation campaigns that are targeted to the right people. With a quality mindset, you can focus the top of your funnel on attracting the right leads.
How does your demand generation program compare to the most highly effective B2B marketing organizations? Assess your strategy with the "B2B Demand Marketing Assessment Guide & Orchestration Workbook.”