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Is Your B2B Website Central to Online Lead Generation?  Answer These 3 Questions

My company website was a simple one I created myself back in 2012 to explain the B2B marketing consulting services I offer. It was looking a bit dated. In addition, I had a WordPress blog with a completely different look. So I bit the bullet and completely redesigned my company website and incorporated the blog. I hope you’ll take a look around while you’re here.

Naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about B2B websites in general. Too often B2B websites become nothing more than online brochures. Or sometimes, they fall short when it comes to moving prospects toward becoming qualified leads. Instead, a B2B website should be at the center of all your online lead generation.

To see whether your B2B website is functioning at the center of your online lead generation, answer these 3 questions.

 

  1. Do prospects find your website during online searches?

When your prospects have a problem or challenge they need to solve, the first thing they do is research online to find possible solutions. If your website doesn’t appear in their search results, then you’ve missed a lead generation opportunity right from the start!

Make sure your B2B website is search engine optimized (SEO) so that it is easy for Google and other search engines to crawl and that it ranks well. Your website needs to focus on improving the user experience and offer content that addresses each stage of your prospect’s buyer journey. For example, blogging can be a great way to provide educational and informative content and significantly improve SEO.

Google rarely states specifics about how it ranks websites, but did state that websites without security certificates will rank lower in search results.  You may have already noticed during your own internet searching that most browsers notify you whenever a site does not have a security certificate.

 

If you haven’t already done so, your B2B site needs to have a security certificate (URL starts with https://).

 

  1. How well does your online marketing drive website traffic?

Your social media posts, online ads and email campaigns should all be driving visitors to your website. It’s OK for some of your social posts to reference industry events or content on other sites. However, the majority of your posts should offer links to dedicated web landing pages designed to convert visitors. The same goes for online ads.

website online lead generation

Make sure your website uses responsive design so it renders properly on smartphones, tablets, and desktop computer browsers. This is especially important for social media posts because increasingly many of us view social media on tablets and smartphones, not our desktop computer. And if your website doesn’t render properly, you risk losing engagement with prospects and increasing page bounce rates. This will eventually result in lower search rankings.

For every online post, ad, or email campaign measure how much traffic each delivers to your website as well as web landing page bounce rates. This way you can learn what is most effective and efficient for driving engaged website traffic.

 

  1. How well is your website converting visitors to leads?

If your online marketing is driving traffic to your website, then make sure your web landing pages keep them engaged enough to get their email address. The best way to do this is to offer valuable educational content behind a form. These landing page forms are the best way to build your in-house list so you can further nurture prospects toward being a qualified lead. Don’t rely only on a “Contact Us” form.

Online lead generation Website funnelJust like your social media posts and online ads, make sure every email campaign has a call to action that takes the person to a landing page on your website. In addition to the information they expected from the email, offer them more content that helps them along their buyer journey.

Analyze how well your landing pages convert. Do visitors visit the page, but then quickly abandon the page? Maybe the content or offer is not valuable enough for the user to give up their contact information. Do they open the form, but don’t submit it? Maybe your form is asking for too much information given the offer. A/B testing and further analysis can help you improve conversion rates.

If your answers to these 3 questions weren’t as positive as you’d like, maybe it’s time to rethink your online lead generation and website strategy. Or maybe it’s simply time for a website update or redesign. Sometimes an outside perspective and dedicated resource is just what’s needed. Get in touch with me to discuss your needs.

 

 

 

Lead Tracking Leads B2B Marketers to Answers

,How many leads did your marketing team generate last year? This simple question can be hard to answer for many B2B marketers because tracking leads is a complicated process, especially if you don’t have automated systems in place. However, being able to confidently answer this and other questions around marketing’s contribution to lead generation and revenue will:

  • insure company growth
  • justify increasing budget dollars for your marketing efforts
  • improve marketing’s lead generation effectiveness

B2B marketers need to utilize a system for lead tracking to answer these questions.

Let’s discuss what lead tracking is and how to get started, even if you’re a marketing “team” of one or two, or lack an automated lead tracking system.

What is lead tracking?

One of the most important responsibilities for a B2B marketer or marketing team is to generate leads. In its simplest form a lead is an individual who is interested in your product or service. And a simple lead management process is one where marketing generates a lead, then passes it over to the sales team who “close” the lead as either a won or lost sale.

Lead tracking is the ability to track each lead from initial inquiry via a marketing channel (online or offline) or campaign (digital ad, email, direct mail etc.) response through to a closed sale (won or lost).

This simple lead tracking and management process can get complicated very quickly. For example, is the lead located in a geographic area your company sells into, which sales person gets which leads, how does marketing hand off the lead information, and how does sales notify marketing of closing the sale. These are just some of the lead tracking details you typically need to work through. Read more

Looming EU Data Privacy Regs: Boom or Bust for US B2B Marketers?

If you’re a B2B marketer in the US you’re probably aware of the general trend toward more stringent data privacy regulations. But are you and your organization ready for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which goes into effect in May 2018 and applies to both B2C and B2B?

The GDPR applies to any B2B marketer who collects, stores, or uses identifying data (name, phone number, email address, IP address, etc.) about individuals in the EU. So if, like most B2B marketers, you have a database with EU prospects or customers, or use web forms, track web visitor behavior, send email campaigns, use third party lists, or exhibit at trade shows, then read on to learn more about the GDPR and why it could be a bust or boom for your marketing efforts.

GDPR Basics

The GDPR became law in 2016 and requires compliance as of May 25, 2018. The law applies to any entity, not just those based in the EU, so US firms need to understand the law now while there’s time to take the necessary actions. Some particular concerns for B2B marketers include: Read more

Is It Back to the Future for B2B Marketing? (Finally!)

Have you noticed how disjointed some B2B marketing is? Over the last ten, and especially five, years this seemed to be a growing trend. Article after article talked about and many B2B marketers implemented digital, social media, inbound marketing, SEO, etc. as though each can stand alone. And sadly, in many cases, each has stood alone. Many marketers gave little thought to an overall integrated marketing strategy. As a result, these marketing efforts delivered less than stellar results. However, last week I attended a conference that gives me hope we may finally be seeing a return to strategic integrated marketing. Read on to learn more about this and other takeaways from the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit (MAM Summit). Read more

B2B Retention Marketing: The First Thing You Must Do

Stock: 123RF Copyright : Illia Uriadnikov Image ID : 47795804

Have you ever found yourself writing copy for your B2B marketing efforts with fingers crossed, hoping your company could actually deliver? You know the copy I’m talking about where you describe how great your product and the customer experience is – our product has the “lowest total cost of ownership”, we deliver “premium customer support”, “easy payments with detailed monthly reporting”, “quick spare parts delivery and expert troubleshooting”, “product/service reviews to ensure you get the most value”, etc.

As a marketer you should be confident making promises like these to prospective customers. After all, the messages marketing and sales communicate to the customer during the sales cycle sets customer expectations. However, if expectations don’t match reality, then you’ve likely got low customer retention rates. And what marketer wants to work hard acquiring new leads and working with sales to close the deal, only to learn your customers defect to the competition after a short time.

Retention data

Losing customers isn’t only frustrating for marketers, it’s really bad for sustaining business growth. Consider the following data:

  • From Bain & Company:
    • Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits 25 – 95%
    • The likelihood of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%, versus 5 – 20% to a new lead
  • It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one according to Lee Resource Inc., though I’ve seen numbers as high as 10 times depending on your product/service and industry.

Check out this infographic Customer Acquisition Vs.Retention Costs Statistics and Trends for even more data.

The point is, if your customer retention is low, don’t just assume that a retention marketing program will improve your numbers. Before you start a retention marketing program, Read more

Your B2B Content: Corporate Asset or Just Another Expense?

Way back in 2011, Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, posed the question, “Is content an asset or an expense?” While most B2B marketers know content is the fuel for their lead generation and nurture, it seems many have forgotten or failed to answer Joe’s important question. So let’s revisit this topic now.

“Why now?”, you ask. You’ve likely set your budget for 2017. But ask yourself how hard it was to get the budget needed for your content development including writing, design, and management. If you had trouble justifying the budget or didn’t get the budget you needed, then read on. Read more

5 Reasons You Should Resolve to Build a Strong In-House List

B2B marketers continue to rely heavily on email for effective lead generation and growing revenues. According to results from the B2B Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report, email is the number one content distribution channel used by 93% of marketers. This means you need a “strong” in-house marketing database or house list, one with complete and accurate contact information.

Do you rely on purchased lists? Haven’t been properly maintaining your in-house list? If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions you’re wasting time and money, and increasing the risk of missing your 2017 revenue growth goals.

Let’s discuss 5 reasons why investing in your in-house Email list should be a resolution you keep in 2017.

Read more

B2B Buyer Personas: 6 Easy Ways to Research & Develop

In my previous post I shared 7 reasons B2B marketers need buyer personas. A buyer persona describes your ideal customer so that your social posts, emails, website, blogs, and other marketing content attract, convert, and nurture the right people.

Now that you’re convinced you need buyer personas, these tips will help you get started. According to Cintell’s Understanding B2B Buyers: The 2016 Benchmarking Study high-performing companies use a variety of methods to compile insights about their buyers, while underperforming companies reported using fewer sources of data. So use as many of the tips below as you can to research and develop your buyer personas.

Here are 6 tips for researching and developing your buyer personas:

1. Create (steal) a persona template – The first thing you need to know is what information will describe and personify your ideal customer so that it’s meaningful to internal users in marketing and sales. Create a buyer persona template with sections for the types of information you want to collect.

Why start from scratch when you can get persona templates for free. Just do a quick Google search and you’ll find many more in addition to these – HubSpot Buyer Persona Guide, Content Marketing Institute Target Persona Template, Content4Demand Buyer Profile Playbook. The HubSpot and CMI templates are simple to use, but I like the Content4Demand templates which are downloadable from within their Playbook because they are more comprehensive, providing a richer description of the persona. As you review the templates, take what makes sense for your situation to create your own custom buyer persona template. With this in hand, the rest of your persona research will fill in the blanks.

2. Analyze customer and prospect data – According to the B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America 64% of marketers use a dedicated email platform while 51% use a marketing automation system. That’s a lot of contact data. Plus you’ve likely got a CRM system with even more customer and prospect data. Mine your contact data for things like contact titles, company types, gender, and vertical. Use this information to focus in on specific LinkedIn profiles (see #5 below), or segment and send a survey to your contacts to gather insights.

It is concerning to see that only 47% of B2B marketers use buyer personas according to the B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America even though more than half use a dedicated email platform or marketing automation system. Apparently these marketers aren’t convinced they need buyer personas.

3. Interview sales – Your frontline sales people know who they want as customers and who have made the best customers in the past. The same goes for Key Account or National Account sales people. So interview your sales team to learn who they see as your ideal customer. Be sure to pick sales people from the different geographies you sell into and with experience in the persona’s vertical. It may also be insightful to interview sales support or account managers, depending on your product/service and company structure, since these people probably know your existing customers better than anyone else.

Attending regional or national sales meetings is a great way to get in-person interviews with sales, but picking up the phone works too, especially if timing is an issue. Interviewing sales team members has the added bonus of helping align sales and marketing.

4. Interview your customers and prospects – There’s nothing better than hearing firsthand what your customers and prospects think, how they find information, and who they look to for advice. If you have time and access, conduct in-person or phone interviews with customers and prospects.

Trade shows can be a great place to do quick in-person interviews, as are sales ride-alongs. Or filter through your CRM database with guidance from sales to find suitable customers and prospects to interview over the phone. Be sure to keep the call less than 30 minutes, 15 minutes is better.

5. Use LinkedIn – Search LinkedIn to find real customers, prospects, and others similar to them using titles, companies, and verticals. Look at individual profiles to learn their education level, interests, “typical” background, certifications, associations, and years of experience. See what LinkedIn groups they belong to and who they follow. LinkedIn job postings for the titles/roles you are researching provide additional insight into education, background and experience, certifications, plus their responsibilities and goals. You may need a LinkedIn Premium account to see the information you want, but can drop back to a free Basic account afterwards.

6. Interview customer service – You may need to understand and describe those who actually use your product, a user persona, especially if your marketing efforts include customer retention goals. The user of your product or service often has direct influence on renewal/repurchase decisions. Your customer service reps know better than anyone in your company what describes your ideal user – their challenges, typical titles/role in the company, where they go to get information, and how their input factors into the buying decision.

You may only need one persona to improve your marketing results and can add others later. Developing buyer personas is a bit like exercising — it can be hard to get going and there’s many ways to go about it. But like the Nike slogan – Just Do It! Using these tips can make getting started on your highest priority persona easy.

What techniques have you found effective for researching and developing B2B buyer personas?

 

7 Reasons Every B2B Marketing Strategy Needs Buyer Personas

How confident are you that your B2B marketing efforts are targeting the right audience? Most B2B buyers today self-educate long before reaching out to sales.

You’ve seen the numbers — 57% of the purchase decision happens before sales gets involved according to CEB and 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally according to SiriusDecisions – so it’s more important than ever that your social posts, emails, website, blogs, and other marketing content attract, convert, and nurture the right people – your ideal customer or buyer persona.

Here are 7 reasons you need buyer personas for B2B marketing success:

  1. B2B buying is complicated – Most B2B buying decisions aren’t made by one person. Sure, there may be a single signature on the contract or PO, but usually a buying team has purchasing, technical and functional experts, as well as senior management weighting in on final B2B purchase decisions. In fact, CEB’s research shows that an average of 5.4 people are involved in B2B buying decisions. Personas help marketing reach and influence each person on the buying team.
  2. Helps you prioritize – Every marketing team has limited resources. The process of developing personas helps you and your marketing team (and sales for that matter) really home in on your ideal prospects for growth. In addition to the role of your ideal customer (see above), developing personas forces everyone to think about and prioritize verticals, geography, etc. that will drive growth for your organization.
  3. Improves sales and marketing alignment – Since marketing works closely with sales to develop personas, this naturally drives alignment between marketing and sales teams. Marketing will learn from sales, and marketing and sales will be aligned on reaching the priority prospects. The personas you develop can become part of sales on-boarding to help new sales reps ramp up more quickly and align them with marketing.
  4. Improves lead quality –Creating your marketing campaigns and content with your persona in mind will naturally attract people more likely to convert to leads. And those leads will be easier to segment for more targeted, personalized and engaging campaigns resulting in more effective nurturing. Marketing will be handing off higher quality leads to sales – sales will love you!
  5. Better focus channels – Assuming you’ve done your research right, you’ll know where your personas go to get information, educate themselves, and research new solutions. This means you can devote resources and promote your content to the channels where your personas are, not where you think they might be, saving both time and money.
  6. Improves content topic ideation – Without personas your team will be wasting time trying to guess what topics will be of interest, or even worse, developing content that never gets seen. Well-developed personas clearly spell out pain points and challenges, interests, common problems, goals, etc. which makes it much easier to develop topics that will resonate with and engage your ideal prospect.

During the persona development process you will invariably uncover internal resources for developing future topics and content.

7. Quicker and better content – Having a persona to share when making content development requests or assignments helps ensure it’s written with the right audience in mind, no matter if it’s written by a new marketing team member, guest blogger, outside writer, or internal subject matter expert. This saves time and improves your content.

According to Cintell’s Understanding B2B Buyers: The 2016 Benchmarking Study, companies that exceeded their lead and revenue goals were 2.2 times more likely to have and document buyer personas than companies that miss their goals. So what’s holding you back? Isn’t it time you made formalized buyer personas a priority for your B2B marketing success? In my next blog I’ll provide tips for how to go about developing buyer personas.