Forget about lead generation; call it lead guiding to actually turn prospects to customers. So, in this article rather than give you a list of more lead generation tips that you’ve probably had come across in dozens of websites already, let’s organize these ideas into a structure that will guide someone, a prospect, who’s looking for a solution to a problem or improvement of a current situation, towards your product site and accept your free trial offer.
We created an hypothetical online B2B buyer behavior based on three major findings of the recent Google/Millward Brown Digital study.
- First, buyers are researching about you and by the time they contact you, 57% of their purchase decision has been made. This trend throws a monkey wrench in the cold-calling practice that B2B sales have been accustomed to.
- Second, B2B buyers don’t consist only of executives. Junior managers and millennials are part of the company’s decision body.
- Third, buyers are making generic searches, meaning, they’re looking for topical content and not your brand during the initial research.
With these three key findings in mind, let’s go over the process of how a typical B2B buyer gets to your product free trial page, and what you can do on each stage to keep that potential client with you.
Stage 1. Looking for a solution to a problem
Anna is a typical project manager who regularly handles teams for seasonal projects that require members from different departments. She knows these people are loyal to their respective managers, not to her, so she goes online to research how to foster collaboration and teamwork in ad hoc teams like hers. If you’re selling a collaboration app, Ana is what you’d call a raw lead. She can or can’t be a buyer; you don’t know yet.
Although she is doing a topical research, you as a B2B marketer can already capture leads as early as at this stage by creating value content. This is where your corporate blog can help you gain an early traction with prospects. Imagine if she lands on your blog, where she learns that your app can help solve her problem.
However, don’t just publish random topics. Content Marketing Institute recommends using competitive intelligence, the tactic of selecting topics to write and promote that engage prospects. They can be trending issues or evergreen content that attracts traffic for years. Use Google Keyword Tool or other SEO tool to know which relevant topics (long-tail keywords) people are looking for online. In our case, you can write about tips on how to foster collaboration or teamwork in the workplace to target more Anas.
Of course, you’ll need to get a first-page SERP rank for Ana to see your blog. That requires a long-term SEO strategy, which includes a regular stream of original content, link building, and keyword planning. While you’re building your SERP ranking, why not tap websites that already enjoy a high SERP? Media sites, for instance.
You can either pay for a publicity article, which usually costs a lot, or request to be a guest contributing writer for free. As someone who owns or promotes a collaboration app, you may be seen by editors to have credible insights about corporate teamwork dynamics. In short, you can project thought leadership about your product category, something that in-house journalists don’t have. Make sure to check the media site’s content style and policy so you can pitch stories that have value to its readers. For example, here’s one B2B related site that will accept your guest posts.
Stage 2. Searching to find what products are out there
In the course of her research about teamwork tips, Ana comes across case studies that explain the benefits of cloud collaboration apps. She’s interested and wants to know the best options available in the market today.
At this stage, Ana is transforming from a raw lead to a promising lead, someone who might become a customer. She’s also likely to research not just topical content, but specifically about your product category (in our example that’s collaboration apps).
Unless you’re a big brand that dominates its category, it’s likely that you won’t make it to SERP page one when Ana searches for, say, “best collaboration software user comments,” to see how other users are faring with these apps. Don’t worry, there’s a way around this predicament.
Searches about software categories are usually dominated by B2B review sites, for example a very popular SaaS review platform FinancesOnline. In fact, if you search for what Ana is searching, you’ll come across this SERP:
You can look at B2B review sites as organic search extensions and that’s where you can get Ana’s attention. Let’s say she clicks on the FinancesOnline link, she’ll land on their collaboration software category page:
Imagine if your software is appearing on this page, you increase the chances of capturing Ana as a promising lead. Especially if you’re listed as one of the suggested solutions. If you’re not in their listing yet you can easily request a review. To make sure you’re not missing on any leads from such sites you can check this list of top 10 B2B review directories and add your software to their listings.
Your software is probably already appearing some of these review directories, but so do your competitors who are also vying for Ana’s attention. You can, however, leverage your presence on these sites by using various marketing tools they offer to get the upperhand and get more leads.
For instance, on FinancesOnline, you can highlight your product as a suggested alternative when prospect are comparing your competitors’ services. There are many more similar features that will distinguish you from your competitors and use its reinforce your B2B lead generation by getting priority in listings. Likewise, you can apply to get the Verified Quality Seal, a trust mark you can display on the review site and your website, that tells customers your software is guaranteed to have quality features and reliable customer support. You can also get awards that will increase your B2B lead generation, and clearly show Ana and other customers your software’s key strengths.
B2B review sites are also useful to compare software, which Ana is likely to do based on the Google/Millward findings. According to the report, B2B buyers read reviews, note ratings, and compare products during their initial product discovery research. They’re usually doing all these activities on B2B review sites, because these sites rank high in SERPs.
Stage 3. Learning more about your product
Okay, so you get Ana’s attention and she clicks on your page using the B2B lead generation button that directly links the review site to your homepage and free trial page. When she lands on your website, will she get motivated to try your app or will she click away?
You can try these trust-building techniques for your website to keep here on your landing page and turn here into a lead. Likewise, you should also think like an adman or copywriter when crafting your website messages. Copywriters swear to neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) writing techniques, which mirror our body language and linguistic patterns to create rapport. Here are a few samples:
- Motivate with benefits – instead of simply stating the app features to Anna, highlight how she’ll benefit from them. For example, she can keep tab of all her team members’ conversations and activities for greater transparency using the app’s visibility tool.
- Highlight the consequences – the reverse is also true; show Ana the consequence if she ignores your app’s benefits. For instance, paint a picture how her team descends into chaos for lack of clear visibility of tasks and priorities.
- Reframe disadvantages with advantages – answer any objection to your product by repositioning it as a benefit. For example, if Ana finds your app expensive, explain that unlike freemiums, your app offers more reliable features and priority tech support.
- Paint a black and white picture – show her that she can risk chaos in her team by ignoring your app or guarantee teamwork by using it. A black-and-white scenario helps her to see the right choice with greater clarity.
- Make buyers commit – Ask leading questions that force Ana to answer yes. Here’s an example: Do you want to foster collaboration in your team? Would you invest in a product that helps you to accomplish that?
- Use competitive intelligence to develop topical content to capture raw leads early in the buyer’s product discovery journey
- Ask to be an authoritative guest writer in high-ranking media sites to appear on SERP page one
- Leverage B2B review sites by using their marketing tools to capture promising leads
- Use trust-building and copywriting techniques to motivate leads to try your product