There is plenty of "conventional wisdom" when it comes to B2B leads, like that leads come from email marketing, social media, and organic search. Indeed they do, but much of the time, you don't know exactly where your leads come from. If you look at this graphic Hubspot created from the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, you'll see that the tallest bar on the graph of where leads come from is "Other."
But knowing exactly where every lead comes from isn't absolutely essential. The many ingredients that go into your lead generation efforts - consistent marketing efforts, development of relationships with potential customers, social media strategies, and content marketing - are still as important as ever.
What that tall "Other" bar on the graph tells us is that rather than focusing on a single technique that's going to do all the heavy lifting, you need to work on strengthening processes that together can add up to more than the sum of their parts.
What Actually Works for B2B Lead Generation
Four pillars that can support an ambitious lead generation effort are:
• Using social media well
• Having a consistent content marketing plan
• Giving visitors something of value when they register on your landing page
• Using marketing automation where appropriate
With social media, simply having a presence on major platforms won't bring you leads. Neither will sending out a daily tweet. Leads are out there, but you have to interact and engage on social media, not just stop in when it's convenient thinking you can scoop up leads.
Social media interaction should be part of an overall content marketing plan. Content marketing is effective short, medium, and long term, and the longer you do it, the more effective it becomes. The free e-book visitors get for filling out your landing page form is the kindling and tinder that can ignite your relationship. The other content in your content marketing plan is the fuelwood, which keeps your relationships warm over the long term and helps you close those sales.
Giving away tools, e-books, white papers, and the like is a tested method for gaining leads. It may not be new or exciting, but it works. If you design your landing pages properly and have a plan for data collected there, you can develop a healthy stream of leads that you can act upon. Marketing automation can help you streamline labor-intensive tasks like gathering intelligence and guiding customer data through the marketing funnel. But marketing automation depends on high quality data. If you put dirty fuel in your car, it will sputter and stall. Likewise, if you put low quality data into your marketing "engine," you won't get far.
The Importance of Data in B2B Lead Generation
Data is only useful if it's accurate, complete, up-to-date, and non-redundant. Yet you don't want to overwhelm new visitors to your landing page with demands for extensive data about themselves. Many will click away, and others may be nervous about handing over that much information (which is why your landing pages should always have a clear privacy statement that you won't share visitor data).
Providers of data enrichment allow you to enrich data collected by your landing pages. Someone signs up for your free white paper with their name, email address, company name, and phone number. A data enrichment provider can then take this data and reconcile it among hundreds of millions of data records and automatically append additional data you can use in your lead nurturing program. It saves both visitors and you valuable time, and improves confidence in the quality of your leads.
Learn Where Your Resources Should Be Directed
Marketing automation, social media, content marketing, and well-designed landing pages all help you monitor lead sources and over time gain better understanding of where you can most effectively direct your resources. There's no accounting for where many leads come from, but keeping your bases covered and making the most of the lead data you acquire keeps you from wasting resources and leaves more time for actual marketing and selling. With marketing automation, your systems are only as good as the data they ingest, so you have to pay particular attention to data quality. Fewer, more accurate leads are more valuable than a large number of inaccurate, out of date, or redundant leads.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.
To learn more about how ReachForce can help you optimize demand generation and your impact on revenue, check out our real-time web form enrichment demo, or request a free marketing data diagnostic. Get the power to let data drive marketing and higher performance.