B2B Lead Generation: What Works, What Doesn’t

Ask most B2B sales and marketing professionals and business owners and they’ll tell you that B2B lead generation is much harder today than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Why? It’s not because prospects have stopped buying. It’s because the way that they buy has changed. And many B2B sales and marketing professionals who still use the same tactics that worked well 5 or 10 years ago are struggling because the tactics no longer work.

What Changed?

B2B buyers’ habits have changed. These changes trace back to two major shifts: the rise of caller ID; and the rise of the internet.

Habit #1: Answering the phone (or more accurately, NOT answering the phone).

Do you answer the phone without checking to see who it is first? And if you do, what are you thinking? “I hope it’s not a telemarketer.” This happens at home and at work. Telemarketing used to be effective. But after years of increasing use (over-use, misuse, abuse), everyone started to avoid answering the phone – unless they recognize who is calling them AND they want to talk with them at that moment. Most business users have caller ID on their land lines and also on their cell phones. If they don’t know you, they rarely take your call.

Habit #2: Using the internet as the go-to resource when researching new products and services.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re picking a restaurant for dinner or selecting a new CRM system, the internet has become the go-to resource for researching new products and services. More than 75% of all US adults are online. And 78% of internet users conduct product research online. Thinking about making an important purchase? Odds are you’ll do research online.

B2B buying habits have changed. Your B2B lead generation approach needs to change

So, if B2B buyers aren’t picking up the phone unless they know you, but they are spending increasing amounts of time online each day (one third of US consumers spend over three hours per day online), it’s clear that your business needs to be online. But there are over 250 million websites on the internet. You need strategies to ensure that buyers find you.

Three strategies that work

The top three strategies for ensuring that B2B buyers find you are search engine optimization (SEO), blogging and social media. Each of these strategies offers significant benefits. However, when used in combination, they deliver amazing results.

1. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique to improve the ranking of a website in search engine results so that buyers will be more likely to find you. SEO is no longer an option – it’s a must have strategy for B2B lead generation. Without an SEO strategy, buyers are unlikely to find you on the internet when they’re conducting their research.

2. Blogging

Companies that blog have 55% more visitors than  those who do not.1 And B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads each month than those who do not.2 Blogging with an SEO strategy and using social media to promote your blog articles is a very effective way to attract relevant traffic to your website.

3. Social Media

Buyers may not be answering the phone, but they’re online over three hours per day. Many B2B buyers hit social media sites during their research to see what their peers have to say about products and services. Linkedin has discussion groups on just about every business topic imaginable. Every industry has industry websites where forums and discussion groups are exchanging ideas and opinions on what works and what doesn’t. You need a strategy for monitoring discussions that are relevant to your business, and engaging in conversations that can result in relationships and eventually lead to sales.

These three strategies – SEO, blogging and social media – will bring an increase in relevant traffic to your website. In my next blog article, I’ll discuss how to convert this website traffic into leads. Stay tuned.

Are you interest in these techniques, but not sure how to get started? Learn more about our B2B lead generation services. Espresso offers a 30 minute consultation on inbound marketing. Sign-up here.

1 Source: HubSpot, 2010.
2 Source: HubSpot, State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Report, 2010.
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