Every marketing channel matters, but they serve different purposes. Some are ideal for customer retention, while others excel at amplifying your signal for lead awareness. Your most valuable marketing real estate might be on those channels that are proven lead generation engines. Lead gen is a critical part of your sales and marketing program, so gaining a better understanding of which channels produce the greatest return on your marketing investments is vital.
In Ascend2’s 2016 report on the state of lead generation, researchers asked marketing professionals about their most effective digital lead generation channels. These were the channels that produced not only the largest number of leads, but also the highest quality leads. It’s important to note, though, that every marketplace is different; what works for other B2B organizations is likely to work for you, but working with a lead gen team that can help you understand your specific needs is the best way to discover your best lead generation strategy.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that email marketing consistently earned high marks from marketers as a lead gen channel. Its reach, cost-effectiveness, and utility as a data-gathering tool as well as an information outlet make it the top lead generation choice for the majority of B2B businesses. Respondents also ranked it as the most accessible lead gen channel, scoring it as simpler to implement than SEO, SEM, and social media, among others. That ease of entry makes email a must for start-ups and smaller businesses, while its success rate keeps it a priority for larger corporations.
Chances are, you’re already using email as a key component of your lead gen strategy, but it’s worth looking at whether you’re optimized for it. Does your email marketing address:
- Customization and personalization?
- Demographic, firmographic, and behavioral data?
- All phases of the lead lifecycle?
- Differentiating influencers from initial contacts?
Content creation drives lead generation, respondents said, ranking their content marketing efforts as second only to email for its effectiveness as a lead gen tool. A sound content strategy allows leads to self-sort, showing marketers at a glance where their leads are most sales-ready and where they need more nurturing to develop. Content includes everything from your top-of-funnel blog posts to the white papers and case studies that influence knowledgeable leads who have already completed most of their buying journey. Here’s what to aim for when prioritizing lead generation in your content marketing activities:
- Differentiate your content streams so leads at every phase find relevant knowledge
- Repurpose your content for different phases of the buying journey, allowing leads to dig deeper with each new level of interest
- Use gated content to collect information from leads
- Turn gathered data into insights not only about the leads you have now, but also the leads you hope to generate later
Social Media Marketing
Five years ago, social media might not have made the list for B2B organizations as a lead gen channel. Its applications for consumer-oriented retail sales are obvious, while its power for B2B lead gen has taken longer to develop – but develop it has, according to respondents. The strength of social media lies in its speed; through it, you can instantly impart new information to leads, learn more about what they want, and see how referrals propagate.
- Peer-to-peer influence is increasingly important and marks a shift from top-down marketing strategies
- Social sharing amplifies the effectiveness of other lead gen channels, making it an important force multiplier for everything else you do
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