Are you spending money on the right lead generation strategy? You might be burning resources without a solid plan for an easily scalable, predictable “backbone tactic” and without it, the future of your company might turn out lead-less.
What’s a “backbone tactic”? The most important part of your overall lead generation strategy. The company-specific tactic that generates new clients even when everything else fails. I know many companies that rely mostly on one inbound, or one outbound tactic – simply because it works.
What’s the right backbone tactic for your company? It depends. If you’re among the 68% of companies that report struggling with lead generation*, this article will help you pick a tactic to find your own Glengarry leads (without Alec Baldwin screaming at you). Read on!
The best way to generate leads is finding: who needs you the most, and what’s the easiest way to reach those people.
It’s a game of numbers, and those numbers add up in well-planned strategies – low success rates are standard, you win by the margins. The first tactics you pick should be the ones that require the least additional resources (expenses). Your main aim is quality, and “quality” here means that you’re generating pre-qualified leads that you can approach with personalised, industry-specific messaging.
You can’t generally label any strategy the “best lead generation strategy” or the “worst”. For each one, you can find companies that get enough clients doing just that (be it email marketing, SEO, or content marketing). B2B marketers say that the biggest obstacles to lead generation success are the lack of resources in staffing, budgeting, or time.*
To me, that means they’re not fully thinking their tactics (and whole strategy) through. Why don’t companies look for backbone strategies first?
What should I pick then?
When you explore different tactics, you definitely think about ROI. But ROI won’t be positive for a while if you don’t have tactic know-how and resources, which should be your first concern when considering tactics.
I’ll do a breakdown of 6 of the most popular lead generation tactics. Hopefully, this will help you avoid the common pitfalls and inherent risks. The chart below outlines the effectiveness of online tactics – and it will be interesting for you to see that “effective” can be a misleading term in the case of best lead generation tactics.
1. Content marketing
- increases online footprint
- you can become an influencer in your market, which will serve you long-term
- low-cost, potentially incredible ROI (if you’re the best educator in a given domain or your content is viral)
- there isn’t enough high-quality content online – and you can be the first one to provide it within your market
- your expertise is your main selling point – if you have a lot to share this can easily become your main way of attracting leads
- is an additional argument for buyers – even if it’s not the main thing that convinces them, good content can be the last “push” towards buying
- you have to be very patient
- hard to reach your audience with content
- content has to be high quality – meaning you have to provide huge value
- if your competitors are doing a good job – you’re going to need a lot of creativity to out-do them
- it’s very popular, which means your competitors might already have a huge fanbase, making it even harder to acquire your audience
Verdict: If you have interesting things to share, then go ahead and start writing. And encourage your employees to write and post the best stuff on your company blog. You’ll be building your online footprint and allowing people a closer view of your company – which is priceless, good content will support your brand image and prove your expertise. But for this to become your backbone tactic, you need to fully research your target group – learn their pains, language, what content they enjoy, when they enjoy it, who do they listen to and who do they ignore. And then create awesome content, narrowly targeted at their needs. In other words, it will require a lot of patience (or mind-blowing content) to start generating the amount of leads you need to sustain your business.
2. Search Engine Optimisation
- nothing has more users than google – unlimited potential to tap into
- being the 1st result for your businesses crucial keywords gives you the most targeted traffic of all tactics
- long-tail keywords that are easier to position yourself on, and can generate small, but highly targeted (=highly converting) traffic
- year by year SEO is getting harder and more complicated
- you can’t fully control anything – google dictates the rules
- you have to consider traffic potential and “link juice” when positioning outside links
- now if you try too hard to get noticed, google-bots will see it and your site might get filtered out of search results
Verdict: This is another tactic that takes a lot of time and resources, and is best done by an experienced specialist. If you don’t have those things, well – basic SEO is a must. It’s an incredibly powerful tactic- but also very risky and expensive. But if you have cash lying around, advanced SEO could become your most successful tactic. Plus, if there’s no huge keyword competition, then the costs will be lower and you’ll have fewer problems to deal with. But that’s highly unlikely.
3. Cold outreach
- generate best customer insight
- 1-on-1 connection – most personal tactic
- the quickest way to get attention and qualify the lead
- multiple channels (cold-emailing, -messaging on social media, -calling)
- cold-emailing is easily scalable (other cold outreach tactics, unfortunately, aren’t)
- you can get instant feedback (on your company, solution, or your approach to clients)
- small success rates (cold outreach is dealing with a lot of “no’s”) make scaling necessary
- challenging to get up-to-date contact data (anybody prospecting on Linkedin would agree)
- you’re approaching people that don’t know you at all, so you never know how they might react
- some business people do not openly share their contact data, contacting them puts you in a tricky position of being accused from the start
- tricky to begin (how will you find target companies, the right decision makers and contact data? What software will you use to automate outreach? What KPIs should you focus on?)
Verdict: Recognisable brand and a precise Unique Value Proposition are good boosts for this tactic. That’s because the tricky part of it is enclosing huge value in the smallest number of simple words as possible (tough to sell complicated solutions using this tactic). Many say cold-calling is dead – it’s still very effective under the right circumstances. It’s hard to scale though, so I’d say it’s best for companies that don’t aim for fast growth. Email and social media are better if you plan on scaling and penetrating different markets. Out of all the tactics here, this one requires the most sales know-how and experience.
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End of plug! Let’s carry on.
- shows results quickly
- contextual PPC can work magic
- highly effective if you know what your target audience wants
- specialists that focus only on PPC have a huge advantage
- in most cases, it’s much too expensive, and prices are only going up
- more and more people use AdBlock and often don’t even get to see banners, videos and other clickable ads on websites
- optimising your website for conversion is a must – otherwise, you’re paying for clicks, but visitors don’t stay on your website
Verdict: Might work if you find a way to out-do others creatively, and have huge experience doing it (or have someone like that on your team). Not a good one for early stage start-ups, unless you already have the proper branding and messaging to attract your target group. In general, better for medium and big companies with cash to spend and a recognisable name, looking for additional tactics to increase their online footprint.
5. Email marketing
- huge possibilities of personalising messages
- you’re building a subscriber list, which is an amazing asset
- a way to stay on top of people’s minds and build trust over time
- easy to automate, segment workflows and measure performance
- questions from recipients allow you to instantly start building a business relationship
- theoretically easy to set-up (for instance call-to-action banners on your site collecting e-mails in exchange for a newsletter course)
- requires great copywriting, design skills and a lot of customer insight
- might take a while to find something your audience will exchange for their email addresses
- details matter to attend to – for instance, a bad subject line can destroy your performance, even if your messages are awesome
- long-term – the best results come from offering big value and occasionally incentivizing, it’s not a way to quickly generate leads
Verdict: This can become your backbone tactic for your lead generation strategy if you know your target audiences’ needs and can offer awesome resources in exchange for visitor e-mails. Creating a separate landing page just for getting your resources will allow you to promote it effectively on social media. Emailing lists are the most valuable assets in marketing today – they can be used for lead qualification, nurturing and direct sales outreach later on.
6. Website optimisation and landing pages – must have
Verdict: There are no pros and cons – you have to create a well-designed website that will attract visitors and hold their attention for longer. No questions asked. If you think it doesn’t matter what your website looks like (do such people still exist?), then you’re extremely wrong. Poor design = poor conversion from visitors to paying customers.
This is actually the first thing you should really focus on, and try to make it the best possible. It’s your piece of the internet – make it attractive. If you’re already spending your resources on generating traffic to your website, then you also have to find the time to make sure your website is optimised for conversion.
Remember – less is better. For B2B tech companies in general – it rarely happens that people want to read about all the features that you promise. They want to know how you can help them. Where the value is. And they won’t read long essays about it, you have to make it short. Leave small incentives on your website (like call-to-action pop-ups and banners) and synchronise your messaging – if your PPC banners say one thing, your website has to state the same thing. Otherwise, it’s a badly converting mindf*ck.
Picking the top lead generation strategy
Every company is looking for the highest potential ROI, right? But hold up – 49% of B2B marketers confess to not measuring ROI.* In this case, it would be better to work with outside lead generation companies, because those marketers are spending resources without worrying about actually generating leads.
Or, if you can’t measure ROI effectively, answer these questions too:
- Do I (my team) have the skillset and expertise to squeeze the most out of this tactic, or would it require additional resources (educational, staff, time)?
- Is it the easiest way to reach my customers? (do they constantly check email? Do they look for helpful content? How many daily google searches are made for your targeted keywords?)
- How much time can I spend developing a lead generation strategy for companies until it’s effective? (if you’re not pressured, quality content marketing might be your answer. If you need clients right now – cold-mailing could be your quickest bet)
- Finally, will it be cost-effective to do it in-house, or should I look for lead generation companies?
Smaller ROI is OK if you pick a tactic that is right for the current stage of your company’s lifecycle.
Looking for the next best way to generate leads
Even when a tactic is working and generating the leads you need, don’t stop looking for the next best tactic for your company. After all, a number of customers you attract determines success or failure of your company. You want to make sure you’re able to constantly find new customers.
And just in case you’re wondering if direct outreach is the best lead generation strategy for your company – email me at email@example.com with a few details and I’ll tell you if it’s currently the right move for your company.