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Lead Generation

What’s Driving B2B Lead Generation in 2010? (6/15/10)

Consumer marketers have been at the forefront of the effort to capitalize on the explosive growth of social media, but Business-to-Business communicators are also coming to realize how the new modes of connection apply to them.  The social Web, and the development of communication tools that optimize peer to peer and community conversation in real time, have allowed the customer to completely control the marketing process in the B2B space as well as B2C.

Forrester has some particularly useful data regarding how business technology buyers are now willing to use social media:

  • 51% would use social media to try and solve a work problem
  • 36% would turn to peers via social media network for answers or opinions
  • 30% would use social media to find new ideas or insight

(Source: Forrester North American And European B2B Social Technographics® Online Survey, Q1 2010)

Lead generation has always been a key part of all B2B marketing. Social media has opened up new ways to find, qualify, and nurture prospective customers in 2010, and this has helped generate interest in a few key ideas this year:

  • Think like a publisher, not a marketer
  • Lead nurturing supports the longer buying cycles of B2B
  • Search and Email are still B2B’s best friends

Think like a publisher. Content is king, especially for the modern B2B buyer, but not just product literature or application studies. The length of the buying cycle, and the increased restrictions on purchasing and decision making because of the economy, typically mean that multiple influencers and deciders might enter the process at any point. Providing value at any touchpoint increases our worth to the prospect and reinforces our position of thought leadership and industry expertise.

  • Provide content with true value to your customer, not simply materials to market your products
  • Use social media channels to push that content out, but also use it for feedback and engagement from your customers
  • Change, adapt, and improve based on that feedback

Use lead nurturing to support the buying cycle. Too many leads fall by the wayside in B2B companies, for any number of reasons:

  • Prospect is not immediately ready to buy, so Sales team discards the lead
  • Sales is oversubscribed because of economy-driven force reductions and cannot follow up
  • Sales simply does not value leads from Marketing

Implementing a lead nurturing program can sort out hot opportunities from longer-term possibilities, and keep prospects engaged with your company as they move along the buying cycle without requiring time-intensive involvement from your busy Sales team.

  • Score leads both for value but also where they are on the buying cycle, to help qualify for quicker action
  • Use marketing automation technology to manage ongoing communication
  • Email is still a hugely important and effective way to touch your prospects

Search and Email are still B2B’s best friend. Despite the huge attention rightly given to the social media revolution, and all it means to the future of business communication, the kings of B2B engagement remain Search Marketing and Email.

  • While 66% of marketers plan to increase social media budgets in the coming year, 54% plan to do so for email AND 64% intend to do so for SEO/SEM (from a 2010 study commissioned by Exact Target and eConsultancy)
  • Integrating email delivery with social media engagement promises to be the most effective way to connect with B2B buyers at each step of the buying process

Very recent events, such as developments in Twitter advertising and new search capabilities such as the launch of Blekko, will further expand digital and social options for the B2B marketer. It all serves to reinforce the understanding that core B2B needs such as lead generation will never go away, but the tools and processes involved are constantly changing