With so much business activity shifting from in person meetings to anonymous interactions in the digital world, companies selling in the Business to Business (B2B) marketplace must adopt new tactics to ensure that they have a steady stream of qualified leads. The simpler days of prospecting primarily at massive trade shows have been largely replaced by customers who actively seek information on the Internet 24/7, from everyone and everywhere.
A recent survey examined the sources of B2B leads and found that traditional methods of lead generation (direct mail, trade shows and telemarketing) were only part of the picture. Increasingly, leads were coming from social media, email marketing, blogs, SEO and PPC. Interestingly the biggest source of leads was “Other”, which further emphasizes the disbursed nature of our current pre-sales prospecting world.
How Businesses are Using Social Media to Generate Leads
Business to Business marketers typically use an average of 5 social media channels to share and distribute content. The top 5 social media channels are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Social media lead generation efforts work best when you include occasional “call to action” links back to your website. Newsletter signup forms on Facebook are also very helpful.
Popular wisdom indicates that social media activity on Twitter is very important. Twitter is the second largest social media sales channel in terms of content, but it is only the fourth most effective platform. Given these statistics companies may want to focus their efforts on social media channels that provide a better ROI.
LinkedIn is the most effective social media channel, according to studies conducted in the Business to Business marketing space. LinkedIn is viewed as mature and sophisticated, and offers access to a massive concentration of business professionals and decision makers. Businesses that have B2B connections are on LinkedIn, and users on the site also have the highest per capita income of all social media channels.
To ensure the best results on LinkedIn your company profile should be fully completed. As a marketer, be present and active on the site and join groups and conversations. With LinkedIn you can also choose to pay for leads, as it offers an integrated lead collection tool.
Content Marketing for B2B Companies
According to a recent study, 91% of B2B respondents are using content marketing to generate leads. Typically company websites optimized for b2b lead generation offer free digital downloads or other valuable information to prospects in return for the individual’s email address. Once the company has established communication with the prospect a variety of follow on offers can be made via a drip campaign and an interactive dialogue can be started.
One of the most popular items offered on B2B websites are eBooks. These digital downloads provide significant value for the business prospect and serve to pre-qualify interest and buying intent. Webinars, published research reports and videos can help the prospect with their buying decision and establish the company as a go to source for valuable information.
As we move into the future, trends suggest that more and more leads will come from digital avenues rather than traditional efforts such as direct mail and trade shows. B2B marketers will increasingly focus on these new channels to drive lead generation and convert sales prospects.