The buying process has undergone a significant shift over the last 20 years due to the rise in the use of online technologies and social media. The Internet has taken us from a world of information scarcity to one of information overload. On the surface, this seems like a boon for marketers, but there is a major drawback; it has given rise to a phenomenon known as “attention scarcity.” This term, coined by Social scientist Herbert Simon, simply means that the more information there is, the less attention people pay to it. This forces marketers to compete harder to reach potential customers.
Information abundance has also given consumers far more control over the buying process, enabling them to focus only on the information they want. With a solid lead generation strategy, you can get potential customers to find you through a series of integrated channels so you can build a relationship with them using the six principles of influence, and convert them into buyers.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation is the process marketers use to determine who their potential customers are and how likely they are to buy before ever contacting them. It’s a process that demands continuous testing and improvement in order to establish the most effective and efficient practices. The process with the lowest cost and highest conversion to sales rate is considered to be a successful B2B lead campaign. Lead generation is focused on quality over quantity and is the top priority of any business-to-business marketing department. How do we define a lead?
According to Ruth P. Stevens, author of “Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers,” a lead is simply “a prospect that has some level of potential of becoming a customer.” Business inquiries and “lead lists” don’t count. Just because someone expresses interest doesn’t mean they are ready, willing, or able to buy. This is not to say that inquiries are of no value. The opposite as inquiries can be nurtured and eventually converted to sales.
The Science of Lead Generation
While there’s no magic to lead generation, there is a bit of science behind it—the science of influence. Influence is what inspires people to take something seriously and act on it. Psychologist and author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” Robert Cialdini developed the theory of influence based on six key principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. Lead generation is about communicating with people in such a way that exploits these six patterns in order to influence their decisions.
Reciprocity – It’s easier to get someone to do something for you after you’ve given them something. This is why businesses offer incentives such articles and case studies like the ones offered on the Rousseau Metal web site that may encourage potential clients to explore the Bay Design tools, create their own workspaces, and submit them for quotes.
Consistency – People don’t like to appear inconsistent which is why it’s easier to keep customers than it is to attract new ones. Once people publicly commit to something, they will want to be seen as loyal, which increases the likelihood that they will continue subscribing.
Social Proof – When someone is unsure of a decision, they will tend to look to others to validate their actions, which is why messages like “95% of respondents have also done X” and the star rating (1 to 5) customer review systems often used on retail websites are effective influencers. Testimonials can have the same effect and Rousseau Metal has several powerful client testimonials available as well as a solid portfolio of completed projects.
Sympathy/Likeability – This basically means that people are more likely to buy from someone they like. And being the person who can solve their problems will tend to increase your likeability in their eyes. Since Rousseau specializes in solutions that are custom configured to clients’ individual circumstances, it’s easy for them to connect by demonstrating that they understand their clients’ needs.
Authority – This dictates that people are more likely to act on the advice of authority figures. An endorsement from an authority figure can provide a huge boost to sales. Business awards and certifications like the ones Rousseau Metal has earned over the years can also carry weight because they are granted by authorities within the industry.
Scarcity.- Limited time and limited availability offers are more attractive. They add value and customers are often willing to pay more for them.
Rarely are these six principles used independently so there’s no need to limit your campaign to just one. Marketers have been combining them for decades. Just don’t overuse them as it can damage your credibility.
Lead generation isn’t complicated, but you need to be thorough.
1. Define Your Objectives
You’ll need to determine how many leads you’re expecting, the timeframe for obtaining them, the cost per lead, the lead to sales conversion ratio, the revenue per lead, and the expense to revenue ratio. Stevens also recommends choosing one primary objective and no more than two secondary objectives, making sure they’re very specific.
2. Analyze and Select Campaign Targets
The more accurately you can select your target, the greater the response you’ll likely receive. Don’t forget current customers; they’re more responsive than cold contacts, and there are sometimes opportunities to be had within existing relationships.
3. Choose Your Campaign Media
If you’re targeting new prospects, it’s best to go with SEM, telemarketing, and direct mail for ongoing campaign work. You can also try trade shows, web-based lead generation, and referral marketing programs. If you’re targeting inquirers and current customers, telephone and email will be most productive, but keep in mind that the telephone is more intrusive and email is much less expensive.
4. Have a Message Platform
You’ll need one. It’s the key benefit that’s going to appeal to your target audience. A simple message that focuses only a single benefit will yield the best response. If you want your prospect to respond by showing interest in your product or service, you’ll need a strong campaign offer to motivate them to do so. This is non-negotiable. And keep in mind that copy is king in a lead generation campaign, so create strong communication pieces with the help of an experienced B2B direct response copywriter.
5. Send prospects to your landing page
Sending users to your homepage is a missed opportunity. Make sure your call to action (CTA) leads to a dedicated landing page containing your offer. You can even personalize your offer by using CTAs that can detect if a visitor is a first timer, a lead, or an actual customer. These “smart” CTAs convert 42% more than regular calls to action.
6. Keep Them Coming Back
Be sure to have attractive offers at all stages of the buying cycle and have CTAs for all of them—even for those who aren’t ready to buy. You always want to give them a reason to come back to your website.
7. Harness the Power of Social Media
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can all be used to attract visitors to your pages. Social media also allows you to learn more about your potential customers and engage with existing ones. LinkedIn even has lead-generation tools.
8. Have Your Fulfillment Materials Ready
The faster your prospects receive them, the more likely a lead is to be qualified. Hard copy fulfillment materials should be received within 24 hours of receiving the inquiry while landing pages and downloads, like this one from Rousseau Metal, should be accessible instantaneously.
When All Goes as Planned
Once a visitor finds you through your website, blog, or social media channel, they respond to your CTA, which leads them to your landing page. There, they fill out a form in exchange for content or an offer of some kind, and there’s your lead. Just be sure that whatever you are offering is valuable enough to motivate the visitor to want to provide their personal information in exchange for it.
A Note on Buying Leads
While it may be more expensive, buying leads can fill your sales funnel much faster and with far less effort than it takes to generate leads organically. But there’s a catch; when someone opts in on your website, they have chosen to allow you to contact them at a later date.
Purchased leads are prospects that opted in on someone else’s site so technically they have no idea who you are and there’s a good chance they don’t want to hear from you. If they flag your message as spam, their email provider will begin filtering out your messages. In time, you will end up on a “blacklist” that will be shared with other email providers. Once you are on that list, it is very difficult to have your company name removed from it and, it can also damage your IP reputation.
The Secret to Success
Generating leads for your business is crucial so it pays to be thorough. You’ll need an in-depth understanding of your target market, including their motivations and their buying process. Provide solid benefits to the consumer combined with a can’t-say-no offer and market them through established media channels in a comparatively narrow segment. Keep a close eye on your metrics; watch those responses and conversion to sales. And finally, keep testing and tweaking at every step until you find the process that yields the best results.
About Le Site
Le Site is the winner of the Best B2B site at Magento’s Imagine Excellence Awards 2017. Over the last 10 years, we have had the chance to work on helping many B2B manufacturers and distributors like Rousseau Metal, Dart Aerospace, Franklin Empire, Walter, Construction, Fasteners & Tools, Tilley, and Andrew Peller to name a few. Your business will benefit from our centralized service offering. We are a tight-knit team of talented, restless and curious individuals passionate about expanding the borders of digital performance. Our continuous learning philosophy and collaborative work ethic enable us to surpass our clients’ expectations. Our multi-faceted expertise has one common denominator: taking your results to new heights.