Recently, I was a guest on the Mavens of Marketing podcast with Rachel Durken and…
How to generate better sales leads. This is the second part in a three-part series on B2B digital marketing best practices.
I’ve spent more than 30 years thinking about, testing, developing, and becoming a true expert in B2B lead generation. I’m a computer scientist by training and I’ve always looked to leverage technology to bring down the cost of generating leads.
I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned over the past two years about the rapidly changing world of digital marketing and what that means for your business.
We are at a strategic inflection point. The tools available today to generate better leads and fill a sales pipeline are amazing. We can do things today that were just impossible 12 months ago.
Digital Marketing Best Practices Part 2 – Generating better sales leads
To generate better sales leads, we must target our ideal clients and connect with them when they are actively looking to solve the very problem that we solve.
Let’s start with a definition of a “sales ready lead”. A sales ready lead is someone who is qualified and they are actively considering buying from you. When we say, better sales leads, we really mean, we need more sales ready leads. From a best practice standpoint, we want to cast as wide a net as possible. Then use various marketing automation tools to nurture leads and identify the sales ready leads.
As my friend and nationally recognized sales trainer Gil Cargill has says “sales people should sell, and everyone else should do everything else”. When we dramatically open the top of the funnel, this philosophy really generates big returns. The advertising attracts lots of interested leads, the lead nurturing educates leads and creates the opportunity for sales ready leads to raise their hand and speak to a sales representative when they are ready to buy.
The result is you need far fewer sales reps to generate more business as they are focused on serving prospects who are ready to buy.
Where are the best opportunities?
My favorite saying is you must narrow your focus to grow your business. This is because prospects want information that is specific to their situation. You can’t be generic with your marketing. It just doesn’t work. To be specific means you must narrow your focus. And since we all want to work with the industry leader, you must be the number 1 or 2 provider in your niche. Otherwise you are competing with everyone else for the scraps. That’s a very tough way to make a living.
Said another way, live the 80/20 lifestyle. If you study any business, you will see that 80% of the profits come from 20% of the clients (or more). By narrowing your focus on those areas you dominate, you attract more great clients and your profits grow.
Your great prospects are on-line. They are researching their problems. Seeing how they can solve their problems, who can solve their problems. This is what we call the buyer’s journey and your prospects are online researching these things. They are doing this on their own, certainly before they want to talk to a sales representative. This is why cold calling is dead. No one wants to talk to a sales rep until they are ready to talk about their specific situation.
This is the problem we solve. You can’t see who is actively in the market right now for your services (actively in the buyers journey) but we can.
Good advertising is critical (see “what to say” below), but so is putting that message in front of the prospects that are actively in the market for what you sell. Today, with all digital marketing tools, we have the ability to define the audience and put messages right into their feed and web browsing. When the right message is put to an audience that is interested, then you get very high click through rates and low cost per click.
Here’s an example of the cost impact of better targeting. This is from a client that sells services to law firms. The same advertisement but through various channels:
- Google PPC = $27 per click
- Facebook Advertising using custom InMarket audience = $4.05 per click
- AdRoll native advertisement using custom InMarket Audiences $0.65 per click
Google PPC obviously means you can put your message to someone who is searching right that minute, but the competition is high. You are potentially paying to advertise to competitors and window shoppers. When we use custom InMarket audiences through Facebook, the cost goes down 85%, but the cost is still high because the competition to get into the target’s feed is high. When we use static native ads, we can put our message in front of our target audience all over the internet. Wherever they go. With more opportunities to show them ads, the competition goes down and so does the cost. 98% less expensive than Google PPC.
How does this impact your marketing budget? If you are spending $5,000 per month on Google PPC then you are generating about 200 clicks and probably 2 to 10 leads. If you use our targeting data with the same advertising budget on FB campaigns, then you would be generating about 1,250 clicks and 20 to 30 leads. Using a display ad campaign with our targeting data generates over 7,000 clicks and about 100 leads.
That’s a big difference. 5 leads to 100 leads for the same ad spend
How to reach them?
Since your prospects are on-line, doing research and considering options, you need to meet them where they are. Online.
Meeting a prospect online is no different than meeting them in person. You have to build know, like and trust. You wouldn’t meet someone at a networking event and say “hi, I do marketing. Call me”. No, you would ask them questions about their business, understand their problems, educate them on why you are different, the results you deliver. Only when they know who you are and are ready to talk about their specific situation, is it appropriate have a personal conversation.
Think conversations and not campaigns. By using identity resolution, you can start thinking about having conversations with your prospects digitally. You will know what they are thinking, what they are researching, what they are looking at on your website, and you can continue to educate them in a highly relevant manner.
Reaching them online means being where they are. Best practice is to be on multiple platforms. Just because you meet someone on Facebook, doesn’t mean you want to only converse with them on Facebook. You want to be talking to them wherever they are. Online and offline. Using email. Picking up the phone and calling them. Showing them videos when they are on YouTube. Sending them direct mail. On and on.
It takes at least seven touches to generate top of mind awareness. How many do you use. The average salesperson gives up after just 3 touches. With digital conversations across platforms, we can educate our prospects for as long as it takes. After 10 touches I guarantee you will be the only person still talking to the prospect. When they want to buy, who are they going to call?
What to say?
What you say is just as important as were you say it. People buy for only two reasons. They have a problem they want to solve and think you can help them. Or they want a result they don’t have and want your help getting it.
The strategy of what you say is more important than where you say it. We can tell you when your ideal target prospects are looking to hear from you, but you still have to have advertising that resonates. That attracts and engages (happy to help with that too). I follow a very specific conversion equation with all advertising and marketing.
The first step is to interrupt the prospect. They are going about their business and you want them to pay attention to you. I’ve found that an interrupt based on a top of mind problem gets the best responses. We are all very sensitive to our problems. If you were tossing and turning all night thinking about how you are going to get the revenue growth your business needs and you see an email or advertisement from me that says “Struggling to grow your business?” you will pay attention. The interrupt is the first thing you say. The headline. The subject line in an email. Make it about the problem you solve and the people suffering from that problem will sit up and pay attention.
Then, once you have their attention, we want to engage them with the promise of a solution. “Three steps to doubling your sales ready leads”. The engage is the sub-headline, the second thing you say, or the first line of your email. It brings the prospect in and tells them what they will learn when they consume your advertisement.
Now it is time to educate them. Tell them what you do, why you are different, the results you deliver. Here is where your copyrighting is important. Do not use any jargon. Jargon kills marketing because it is not specific. It doesn’t say why you are different. If you can’t tell me why you are different, then my only basis for comparison is price. And as we all know, competing on price is not the best way to build a thriving business.
Make an offer that is a low risk way to take the next step in the sales process. “Call me” is not a low risk next step. Fill out a form is not a low risk next step. Both guarantee you will be entering a sales funnel. Nothing wrong with that if you are interested in buying. But today, no one wants to do that until they are ready. As a marketer, you have to give your audience a way to learn more on their own. Do this over time so when they are ready, they remember to call you.
Tools that make it easy.
The number one tool is behavioral intent data. What we call InMarket targeting data. This tells you everyone in your market who is actively looking for what you sell. Today, there is no reason to run campaigns that are targeted to everyone. By definition these broad campaigns are either ineffective because they are too generic or too expensive because they are specific but irrelevant to most of the people you are paying to see it. With InMarket targeting data, you can put a very specific message directly front of everyone who want to see it.
All the major digital platforms can now work with your custom audience. Our InMarket targeting data is a custom audience. We tell you everyone who is looking, you load them as a custom audience in your favorite digital ad platform, and then they will show your ad to your ideal audience. Do this on multiple networks and you are guaranteed to get your message to your ideal audience.
Don’t forget email marketing. It’s not quite as sexy as the new digital tools, but it works very well. A good subject line and a well written email will be a very effective way to interrupt and engage your target audience.
Remember to follow Metcalfe’s Law
Coined by Robert Metcalfe, the power of any network is equal to the square of the number of nodes. For us, that means the power of any campaign is equal to the square of the number of channels. If you are using Google PPC and email, then the power of that campaign is 4 (2X2). If we are doing a campaign using email, display adverting, Facebook advertising, Google PPC and direct mail, then the power of that campaign is equal to 25 (5X5) or 625% more powerful than a campaign that just uses two channels.
Next week, in part 3, I will cover lead nurturing. The mission critical process of educating a lead so they raise their hand and become a sales ready prospect.
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This is not a sales call. Rather a discovery call is our opportunity to learn a little more about your business and share with you some of the strategies, tools and tactics we are using to generate quality B2B and B2C sales leads.