We need to talk about a startup. A company that had a strong opening year, was able to net nearly €4 million in revenue by the end of its second year of operations and becomes a holding firm at year three with at least 45 employees. The business remains on track in ensuring things move to the midsize level. However, everything in the company seemed to be going as per the plan until it hit a wall and things went south. The conversion rate and conversations continue to slow down and have trouble getting hold of new markets and in the generation of new leads. It is not an isolated problem because most businesses of the same size face it, accelerated growth followed by a plateau. If not addressed quickly, it’s an issue that can be devastating and we need to tackle it directly. This article provides lead generation tools and strategies and B2B growth hacking ideas that will carry your company over that dreaded plateau and on to the next level.
Common B2B Lead Generation and Growth Hacking Problems
The two sides while making a strategy for lead generation include what to do and what not to do. And before we look at tips, tricks and strategies, we need to examine the common actions leading to shortage and stagnation. Just like everything in life, failure to understand what causes an issue means it will be impossible to fix it.
- You’re not utilizing data
The three main steps with regard to data that all companies should follow in order to remain in business include:-
- Gathering data
- Analyzing data
- Acting upon the analysis
The tasks involved in growing a company usually get everyone busy and it’s not surprising when activities such as data collection and analysis get overlooked. If data is not reviewed quarterly and action is taken, the effects on a company could be adverse. Such data reviews and actions may not happen that fast but as technologies and markets change fast, there is a need to utilize the available data and make smart adjustments particularly on future adjustments.
- You’re targeting the wrong audience
The main question in lead generation is: do you know those you’re trying to convert into leads or customers? Businesses that try to appeal to all spend so much marketing funds that just go down the drain. The majority of potential clients get annoyed and overlook or delete marketing messages, more so when they consider them not relevant to their needs. For this reason, a campaign that targets the wrong people using the wrong message and at the wrong time becomes an issue. Businesses should always know and understand the target audience and their core demographic: interests, problems, and ways of solving them. Most communication from sales, marketing, and service standpoints should always work in serving the target audience. A tool like Rubedo can help you in getting the right audience.
- You’re not separating Marketing-Qualified Leads from Sales-Qualified Leads-or worse
We need to first look at what is worse.
Most companies are not separating contacts from leads. Providing an email address, subscribing to a blog, and following the company on social media does not make someone a lead. For this reason, leads should be qualified to avoid wastage of resources particularly on those contacts who do not have interest in the product. The marketing team has a duty of vetting contacts and verifying the marketing qualified lead (MQL). In essence, MQLs are the leads likely to be customers due to several factors including:
- Matching the target audience
- Have visited important pages on the site
- Have downloaded marketing content that you have uploaded such as eBooks whitepapers, or case studies.
Furthermore, once the marketing team has qualified a lead, it does not automatically become a sales lead. MQLs and sales-qualified leads (SQLs) are different. SQLs refer to primed leads and are ready for discussion with the sales team. The qualities of SQLs include:-
- Requiring the product or service being offered.
- Having funds ready to buy.
- Having the business infrastructure already set up to use the product or service, which means they will not ask to return the product or ask for a refund.
- The product or service will solve their problem.
There is a need to re-examine the strategy to lead processing if a company’s strategy is a ‘catch-all’ approach. Failure to sieve through means much time will be wasted on people who are just contacts. Rubedo can help one in separating segmenting leads based on their actions.
Issues Summary and Startup story
In summary, we need to revisit this startup from the introduction. The company plateaus in its 3rd year and falls into the above three lead generations and growth hack faux pas. And after an analysis of some lead generation practices, the realizations were:-
- Marketing data were gathered efficiently but they forgot to analyze most of it. Moreover, for the analyzed data, no actions were taken and when taken were ineffective.
- The target audience for the company was too broad and when the marketing and sales manager were asked to describe the target audience, they provided two different answers.
- All contacts were treated as sales-qualified leads with individuals who provided email addresses for the newsletter being added to the sales email marketing campaign and those responding being contacted by the sales team. Hence, few contacts qualified as SQLs from the acquired contacts.
Therefore, this startup has issues but they can always be fixed.
Lead Generation Strategies & B2B Growth Hacking Strategies
Content Marketing Lead Generation
One key issue with our startup company was taking no action with its marketing data or the actions taken were ineffective. The company had perhaps some content marketing approach in its marketing plan, but the plan was probably built for a B2B audience while itself is a B2B company. Today’s businesses respond to content marketing in a big way with some of the key B2B lead generation strategies through content marketing being:-
Webinars are straightforward in connecting with the target audience. They offer the audience free and useful information on important topics and sets the company up to be an expert in finding solutions. Hence, expertise will make businesses more willing to pay for a service. Webinars are also low-cost.
Blogs work and most people read them. Blogs are found using search engines and when correctly done, they become some of the most effective forms of B2B lead generations. They give clout, provide useful information to the potential customers, and opportunities of collecting contacts for qualifying by the marketing team.
- Case Studies/ Whitepapers
Case studies and whitepapers should be thought of as blogging on steroids. A business provides a platform for research, providing information and insights to potential clients on your expertise. As result, case studies are often longer, sourced and contain more details, and are not bound to keywords.
Videos aim at getting the cost question out of the head. A smartphone installed with free editing software can be effective. However, if a business cannot afford it because of other pressing issues other than content marketing, YouTube can serve the purpose. YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. It is a strong tool for sales leads generation, especially for B2B businesses. The use of video expands beyond the social media platforms considering they are a great visual tool for a site to showcase the completed projects, act as a guide for products and services and show company activities that are helpful to the community.
B2B Start-up Growth Hacks for Content Lead Generation
They target startup companies but could also work for other businesses.
They may be old-fashioned but are effective for a start-up company. When they are published on online publications such as TechCrunch, CNET, Engadget, or Wired, they validate a business to owners of other businesses. Hacking content marketing strategy can be done by creating a succinct, short press release to showcase the company story or even community activities then releasing it to the targeted list.
Create an FAQ and build in a Q&A Site
For any startup company, an FAQ site is a given. It would be a handicap when there is a lack of a central location where users could access information with regard to common questions on your software. A solid Q&A site would address the not-so-common questions to increase customer service capabilities and receive valuable feedback about your product. Besides, such questions could become topic ideas for content such as blogs and videos.
Referral Marketing Lead Generation
A referral from other trusted businesses validates a business greatly. The biggest lead generator for a B2B company ought to be referral marketing. One of the issues that came from our example of a startup company is getting SQLs. Typically, referrals would act to remove most of the unknowns when connecting with potential clients. Referrals emanate mostly from people you have done business with, hence they are looking for similar solutions and perhaps have set aside enough resources for implementation. For this reason, less time is spent in qualifying lead and promotion considering they have a genuine testimony coming from a trusted source. The job left is simple, nurturing the lead. There are three steps of generating leads through referral marketing:-
- Make it easy for your clients to refer you
Clients may organically refer your company to other businesses, a courtesy that should not be taken for granted. You must ensure convenient and easy paths for clients to refer. One of the most effective ways of accomplishing the same is by creating content to showcase products or services and provide a solution to a problem. Most clients appreciate free publicity and are likely to share on their content marketing platforms as well as other potential leads.
- Tactfully ask for referrals from clients
It is in order to ask for referrals from clients if they are not coming through. The most effective way is to create a clear after and before the case study by tactfully asking clients if they were willing to share with other customers. Most clients appreciate it if you wrote a referral via a case study.
- Offer clients reward for referrals
Most companies run a referral program but do not offer anything of real value. Essentially, a referral is a lead provided for free and saves a company a lot of money that could have gone to advertisement. For this reason, there is a need to give those who refer your company something worthwhile. Referral MQLs will most likely become SQLs and subsequently customers. As such, provide heavy discounts and free high valuable perks.
Social Media Marketing Lead Generation
If used strategically, social media marketing would play an effective role in B2B lead generation. Do not assume you are going to get quality leads because the company has a Facebook page. Social media may not be a primary source and neither would it be the barrel. The strategy to leveraging social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube is directing users to the landing pages or website. Again, implementing signup forms on the social media page for the newsletter content is effective. Thus, for B2B, these should be the focal points when using social media platforms.
Consequently, LinkedIn is different considering it’s designed for professionals. As such, other businesses and organizational decision-makers have their profiles on LinkedIn where valuable content could be sourced. This platform enables businesses to become fully engrossed in the social medial process just the same way B2C companies would be on Facebook. Facebook is not bad for B2B, however, LinkedIn is much better. Some LinkedIn B2B lead generation strategies include:
- Creating complete company profiles which have links to testimonials, case studies, and examples as well as being active with a LinkedIn account.
- Joining industry-related networks and groups of other professionals who would fit the target audience.
- Inserting oneself into conversations and commenting on issues and topics that are industry-appropriate.
- It provides lead generation tools at a lower cost.
Regarding our example of a startup, LinkedIn would be the solution that is more cost-effective where data could be collected to narrow down the target audience while creating a pipeline for qualified leads.
Automate your following
Companies survive through efficiency as they try to grow networks through LinkedIn. Finding a single user at a time is tedious and can be time-consuming. The most effective approach is adding an automation element to the company’s marketing practices on social media. Certain social media tools such as Phantombuster allow one to follow and unfollow accounts automatically based on various elements like people listings, sections, and hashtags in posts among others.
The screenshot below shows how one can automate with Rubedo. You can try it for free.
Our Start-up company had issues when first introduced. But by implementing these lead generation strategies into their content, referral, and social media marketing campaigns, they’re now able to:
- Collect solid data and act upon it effectively.
- Generate better data to create a clearly defined target audience and share that with their team.