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Proven Channels for Your Best B2B Leads in 2018

Digital marketing is always a numbers game. Reach enough people, qualify enough leads, have enough meetings, and close the right number of deals to keep the lights on and the team growing.

We’ve got some good news for you and those numbers: a new study breaks down the most successful channels for B2B operators like you, helping you maximize investment of both time and money.

A report from DemandWave gives us a great look at the U.S., especially in the software and business service verticals — two of the biggest client segments we have here at 7 Figure Automation.

Channels Marketers Use Best

The number of channels marketers were using in 2017 was up compared to 2016, with more groups adopting video and direct messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. Still, the most dominant channels people invested in where social media accounts, email, and organic search — 95%, 93%, and 91%, respectively.

Email was the clear winner when it came to generating leads, with organic hot on its tail. Social performed moderately, about as well as paid search, which may mean it’s time to narrow your focus on those efforts.

 

What we like most about this revelation is that it shows the power of email and hints at the reach of social. Those two methods cross when it comes to LinkedIn and, if you use a proven messaging tactic like we offer, you can put best practices for both to work for you to generate a considerable number of qualified leads.

The Best Content for Driving Leads

Like channels, top content types and efforts don’t always match with the most successful ones. White papers and webinars were the two types of leads that performed well for at least half of marketers, but blogs were the most used (published by 82% of marketers).

 

An important side note for this set is that items easy to promote as a benefit to the reader in a text-based environment are at the top. White papers tend to focus on best practices and establishing protocol, while webinars can be used to show lessons learned or what’s new. Both can be shared easily in email without needing images enabled on the customer’s side of things.

Why We’re Putting More Faith in LinkedIn

When it comes to social networks, the DemandWave research points to LinkedIn as the best option for generating B2B leads. It was the most used in general, reaching 89% of B2B marketers, while Twitter was a close second at 86%.

Now, look at the chart below to see the success rate of lead generation. The disparity between LinkedIn and Twitter is significant.

 

To us, this means that LinkedIn allows B2B marketers to make the best use of content and other lead practices for other channels. It’s the most like email and conversations that we know are at the heart of successful B2B marketing and customer acquisition.

Now, if you could combine that with the ability to see the LinkedIn company data of your  visitors, you’d have one of the smartest strategies for making the most of your leads across all efforts. There are more and more opportunities for us to collect and use data to reach the right people. We’ll keep sharing what we learn and invite you to let us know any tactics or tools that are working well for you.

Happy lead hunting.

Get Ready for LinkedIn Groups to Play a Larger Role in Your Leads

 

LinkedIn sent out a somewhat cryptic message earlier this month to the admins for groups on its platform, promising that the platform would finally integrate Groups “into the main LinkedIn experience.”

While there were no firm details about true integration, there are a couple big takeaways from the announcement and the focus that we think you should know for your leads and prospecting on the platform.

Were LinkedIn Groups Useful Before?

LinkedIn Groups are often pitched as an amazing place to meet and discuss and interact in an amazing set of ways. However, they often look like ghost towns with the same admins posting promotional items and not much discussion going on outside of that.

You can Google “are LinkedIn Groups dead?” and get results complaining of this starting back in the early 2010’s.

But that’s not the important part even if changes occur.

LinkedIn groups were amazing and still tend to be that way for prospecting. Why? Because the people who join them tend to be a little more active on the platform in general, in our experience. More use = being more responsive, and that means they likely have up-to-date profiles.

Lead targeting on the system needs people who have accurate information and are willing to interact with others. Groups point us in the right direction, so don’t discount them even as things change.

So, What Did LinkedIn Say?

The email we got from LinkedIn notes that “Groups is at the heart of what makes LinkedIn a trusted place for professionals” and that the company plans to make them more important and a bigger part of the normal interactions we have with the platform.

We expect the refocus to change the functionality of Groups, potentially make membership more useful for prospecting by allowing for greater interaction within Groups and between members.

Here are a few important details from LinkedIn:

  • Groups will be integrated into its main offerings, so they’ll have a more prominent place on the website and the apps.
  • The standalone app for Groups (which the company only mentions for iOS) is shutting down on February 15.
  • Existing memberships and Group contributions “will not be affected as part of that change.” This makes us think the move is going to shift some features to the broader LinkedIn experience and either make interactions more accessible or remove some the barriers that groups created to seeing and interacting with content.

From our perspective, everything bodes well for the future of Groups. They’ll play a bigger role in interactions and likely get more users to sign up for them. That means using Groups as your lead targeting pathway could become much more fruitful.

Changes Already Live

LinkedIn was a bit skimpy on the larger details, but it’s initial email was followed up quickly with another announcement that some features are ready and will be showing up in your feed anytime.

Now, you’ll start seeing notifications for social activities on your group posts, including likes, comments, and @mentions, and for membership activities, such as group invitations. Some real-time alerts will be available directly within the Notifications tab on the LinkedIn website and apps.

Those “@mentions” above include the ability to mention and tag someone by name in a variety of group activities, such as invites and posts or related comments. Again, this is to drive engagement and will ultimately make Groups a more valuable prospecting tool.

The next update we expect to go live will support more types of content in Groups, especially video posts, which are driving a ton of traffic to the site and interaction on it.

It’ll be a smart tactic if you pair prospecting with content marketing and thought leadership. Reach out to people based on group connections, and then tag those who either do or don’t accept. You’ve got a few different interactions that can get on their radar and lead to a more rewarding experience.

Cold Calling Is DEAD So Put Down The Phone And Do This Instead

 

Attention business owners and sales professionals, cold calling has moved from a “necessary evil” to just plain evil, and your business and reputation could be put at risk if you keep persisting on cold calls.

I’m sure that’s something you’ve heard before, so why should you pay attention now? Here are the important things to consider:

  • Cold call conversion rates average about 1% and only climb to about 2% for top brands.
  • More than 5 people are involved in today’s’ B2B purchase decision, so cold callers need to immediately understand who they’re speaking with, what part of the funnel they’re in, and overcome enough objections to get four more people involved in the process.
  • Large businesses and enterprises are now introducing gatekeepers so you can’t get to the right job title unless you’ve got their name (and typically an appointment).
  • More Americans are running their own businesses than ever before, which often means using their personal phones for business.
  • Some 200 million people have joined do-not-call lists, which means some businesses are on there too.

And all that is topped off by the fact that cold calls can be annoying.

Imagine your target is on a tight deadline to get some messages or sales calls out and their phone keeps ringing with people who aren’t on the call sheet. Every interruption is stressful and makes it harder to do their job, and now you’re the third call like that it a row.

You are instantly facing an uphill climb where all they want to do is get you off the phone, and what you need to do is stay on long enough to make your pitch.

Americans are busier than ever with more work and stress than they can handle, but all cold calling can do is add to this.

It’s time to end it.

It’s time to focus on leads and prospects that you can qualify (and learn the first name of); the ones who are going to be receptive to your call and not hate you for it. Here’s what I suggest you try instead to generate the leads your business needs.

1. Share Valuable Content

Introduce yourself and your brand by giving a potential lead a link that addresses their chief pain points. It positions you as a partner and has no ask, instead opts for building a relationship.

This creates an easy path to get to your services or products after a few interactions, giving you time to establish credibility and authority.

Focus on pain points you identify when building out a customer profile — and if you don’t have profiles or need help building them, reach out and I’ll share one of our tools.

2. Create Your Own Valuable Content

It’s good to give people something that helps; it’s even better to own the content that helps. Whether it’s an eBook, a blog, LinkedIn posts, or video tutorials, give your targets something they need with your logo splashed all over it.

Discuss pain points and offer resolutions while cementing yourself as an authority.

3. Expand With New Media

Blogs are an amazing tool, but they aren’t the only thing you should be considering. Today, the hottest growth area in B2B is turning out to be videos.

Videos that answer a question — especially if it discusses software — can rack up highly targeted views and create plenty of ways for people to learn about you and interact with your brand.

Common problems are high-value targets, and they give an easy connection option but letting viewers know you can create custom solutions too. If you offer a free consultation (more on that down below), then you’ve got a smart funnel designed specifically to provide aid.

4. Reach Out On LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and More

Social media is taking up more and more time in the B2B space because it’s how buyers conduct research and where professionals look for support in their positions, to find new research, or to read about latest best practices.

Target the networks that best fit your customer profile and look for relevant keywords, hashtags, groups, lists, and chats around the topic, industry, and specific customers.

5. Share Your Personal Knowledge

Don’t limit your prospecting to what you can do under just the company name. Engage your prospects personally in places like LinkedIn’s groups or during a Twitter chat to answer questions and provide support to targets. It creates a connection that makes it much easier to get your foot in the door when it comes to going for the sale.

6. Share On Your Personal Accounts

Building on our theme of attacking from all angles with all content, you can also share the same top quality content you’ve curated through your personal profile and feeds, plus in those LinkedIn groups you’ve joined.

Make it a mix of company-published materials with articles and infographics from other sources to maximize your chances of being seen as a leader instead of just a company suit.

7. Convert Content To Inbound Lead Emails

Use all the content you’re spending time gathering and creating in as many ways as possible. One avenue often overlooked is the ability to use content as part of an email campaign that provides information and support for inbound leads.

This way you can avoid jumping right into the sales process and give yourself more time to learn about your leads as they get insights into what your business can do for them. It’s a way for you to more actively participate in the research process that most B2B buyers perform — and it sets you up to have a conversation much sooner in that process than you otherwise would.

8. Capture Email Addresses With All Lead Tools

Long forms are a giant pain, especially when you want whatever content is on the other side. End that hassle.

This suggestion is a double-whammy because limiting what you capture to just a name and an email address gives you almost all the information you need anyway but also makes prospects visiting your site more likely to fill out the form and get your downloadable.

Bonus points if you have a CRM that can assist with collecting this information, tagging people who’ve downloaded your goods, and creating specific tasks or sending email reminders to help your sales team act on these new leads.

If you’re looking for a little help here, let me know. We specialize in creating this type of process for B2B brands.

9. Flesh Out Company Information

Whether through your CRM or some gumshoe work of your own, you can best understand site visitors and potential prospects when you know more about their company. Integrated platforms make it easy to generate this context, but you can also look it up yourself.

For manual work, don’t neglect looking at prospect social accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter.

10.Track Any Behavior You Can

If your website can track visitor behaviors, work hard to incorporate this with your CRM to determine the best channels to reach out, the right message to deliver, and the perfect time to send it.

Whenever possible track high-level and granular data, from company size and location to individual user visits, page views, and time spent on your site. Pairing this with company and individual data that you’ve already collected builds a more holistic view of the prospect and prevents any calls or emails from being cold.

11. Build Case Studies

If a prospect knows that you can solve the problems that they face, they’re more likely to engage with your client and staff, warming up your leads.

Case studies are an uncomplicated way to let companies know what you can do, plus similarities between your profiled client and the new lead will make it easier for them to know you’ve got the expertise they need.

Help your potential clients with their research and make their initial decisions that much easier by showcasing your big wins and highlighting how easy it is to work with you.

12. Ask For And Showcase Recommendations

These three R’s are you new best friends: Referrals, recommendations, and reviews.

Ask for each when you have a satisfied customer. The B2B space is a great place to seek referrals because most businesses work with a variety of similar service providers.

Consider if company A helps you solve the problem of its partner, company B, and you’re able to solve a problem for company B. You get credit for the resolution, and company B now knows that company A wants them as a partner instead of just a sale.

Referrals

This is a terrific way to build out a list of specific targets. It’s okay to ask your customers for a direct, narrow referral.

“Do you work with any SaaS providers that also struggle with getting Infusionsoft funnels off the ground?”

Recommendations

A recommendation is one step further than a referral because your client/contact is taking the step to introduce you and tell the prospect how great of a partner you’ve been. These are less common but have a high success rate, so it’s almost always worth asking your satisfied customers for referrals.

Reviews

The most trusted piece of online marketing or advertising is the customer review. In many cases, online reviews written by strangers are seen as at least as trustworthy as personal recommendations.

The caveat is that you need a depth of reviews and they need to look and feel real. Don’t pay some shady company to flood your site or industry review sites with fake content, or you risk losing any value from any honest glowing reviews you have.

13. Follow Up Every Time

No matter where a lead is at in your funnel, follow up after every touch point. Plus, follow up after you’ve made the sale too.

If you keep delivering relevant, useful content and showcase how your company adds value or makes their life easier, you keep increasing the likelihood of a sale and increasing the total customer lifetime value.

One thing to note is that you need properly segmented lists so you’re not hitting existing customers with new prospect language, even if you’re sharing the same content.

14. Give Your Time Freely

First mentioned way back up at the top, we always recommend providing leads with a free consultation. It allows you to make your case and discuss the needs of each person, without giving away the store.

Limiting it to about 30 minutes stays respectful of everyone’s time and means you can talk high-level concerns but not offer granular solutions.

Build trust and credibility, then follow-up with your pitch during the next conversation.

15. Blend Automation and Humanity

One overarching theme that needs to be present in all this work is that it must be personalize and feel like there’s a real human on the other end of each email, tweet, phone call, and interaction.

Automating the process is fine, but if rogue emails fly out addressing {First.Name} instead of their actual first name, the jig is up. They know that you’re just after a sale and that you’re not taking time to understand their business or problems.

Automating helpful messaging can make your life a lot easier, but never forget that you still need to do research and make an effort so every lead feels warm.