To say that technology has changed lead generation would be a massive understatement. Technology has revolutionised B2B lead generation - it has transformed the buyer’s way of thinking and made many traditional B2B lead generation tactics redundant or increasingly ineffective.
Keeping up with this technology and new buying behaviour is no longer optional; it is mandatory. Otherwise, you risk losing significant ground to your competitors. Its a fundamental business growth strategy. This blog outlines 5 ways you can keep up.
Before we start, lets first understand the changes underway in the market.
Going back to where it started…
Changes in technology have made B2B lead generation a different ball game altogether. The Internet has provided a foundation for a multitude of other platforms, applications, tools and services. Brand Driven’s infographic on lead generation history notes that the first web page was created in 1991. Soon after, the Internet had several search engines, email marketing and social networks, each impacting lead generation in their own way.
Transforming buyer behaviour…
The Internet soon became an information bank for buyers. With limitless search engine reach, buyers had the capability to learn about a specific product from another corner of the world without being in contact with a salesperson. Even better, they had the capability to review multiple products at once to compare them and form their own perceptions of each product, all without the help of a salesperson. HubSpot notes that because of this, salespeople are contacted much later in the buying process, perhaps invited to present or make a proposal, effectively losing control over the sales cycle and end up chasing the business to try and close the sale.
Related to this is mobile technology. With smart phones or tablets equipped with wireless internet connections, a buyer is no longer confined to a desk. Social Media Today notes that more and more of your target buyers are doing their work on the go, making it more challenging to reach them personally. Gone are the days where salespeople go knocking on doors or cold-calling a list. These days, buyers can be reached through email or social networks anywhere, any device and anytime.
Then, businesses realised the power of email marketing, and marketers have leveraged it to the point of failure. Of course there’s the odd successful case here and there, but we know it is bad practice to send uninvited emails to a cold list, its ineffective and expensive. Whether its B2C or B2B, businesses have overused this tactic, so much so that now buyers are becoming protective of their inbox and dismiss or immediately delete emails from unknown sources without even reading them.
Through social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, our buyers are kept up-to-date with information from people, groups or companies of interest. Now that most businesses have a social media presence, you can guarantee that your buyer’s social media feed is cluttered with tons of information. Aside from this, several businesses have jumped onto the social bandwagon without a coherent social media strategy and send out sporadic, often unhelpful information to their target buyers. But buyers are now experts at filtering, identifying and engaging with only those that are relevant to them.
Suffice to say, the buyer is the one in charge in today’s B2B transactions. The buyer goes through their own search and consideration process, filter the information they get and draw their own conclusions, all without engaging with a salesperson. Because of this, by the time the salesperson is brought in, their preference is well formed making life for salespeople very difficult.
So what can you do?
The key is to keep up with this new buying process and influence your buyers along their journey. There are 5 ways you can do this:
1. Implement Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Think about what your target buyers are searching for in relation to your services. Choose a few keywords that best describes the problem you solve for your buyers and optimise your website, blog and social media pages using these keywords. Keep in mind that you will need to put forward valuable content that is not repetitive to get high search engine ranking.
2. Optimise Your Site For Mobile Devices
Mobile optimisation is crucial! You need to do it to maintain your presence with today's buyer. Make sure your website uses the principles of responsive design for viewing on mobile devices such as smart-phones or tablets to support those searching on the go. More importantly, make sure the emails you send and the blog or landing pages linked through are optimised for viewing on smaller screens.
3. Build A Social Media Strategy
Think about your target buyers’ social media presence and develop a clear social media strategy based on it. Within this strategy, outline the networks, channels and types of content to leverage to best reach and engage your buyers. Think also about the influencers that your buyer's may be following. Famous thought leaders and authors, speakers at industry events, industry associations and trade publications. Look to engage with them. A retweet from a genuine influencer can put you in touch with buyers you never knew existed.
4. Develop Content Centric Marketing
The increasing power of the buyer means content as a means of influence is crucial. Develop a sound content marketing strategy to ensure you are reaching your target buyers with content that is most relevant to them. After all, the goal is to engage them throughout their buying process. This means making information available and easily accessible for them during their search and consideration stage, filtering stage, reviewing stage and having the right content to support salespeople in the final stages of the buying process.
5. Use The Power Of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation has the twin benefits of reducing the time and effort involved in running marketing progammes but also allows marketers to respond contextually to buyers at different stages of their buying journey. Marketing automation software by companies such as Hubspot recognises previous visitors to your site and can respond with content and information tailored to their buyer stage. Persoalising your response drives up conversion rates significantly.
Automation also allows marketers to design nurture campaigns, tailored to specific personas, drawing them along the buyer's journey until they are ready to speak with sales. Sometimes buyers just aren't ready to make a decision yet. Once again automation can keep vendors in touch with buyers as they pause or retreat from making a decision. When they are ready to re engage your firm is right there waiting to assist.
To learn more about keeping up with the changes in buyer behaviour, download our eBook below: