3 ways to improve lead generation this year

One of the most important responsibilities of B2B marketing is lead generation. However, the B2B buying cycle changes all the time, and firms need to keep up with new trends in the industry to stay relevant to prospects. Even though the Internet has provided companies with new ways to connect with potential customers, the sales cycle is lengthening and growing more complex. 

Marketers are facing new and intensifying lead generation challenges. Buyers can be 90 percent of the way through the sales cycle before they engage with sales representatives, according to infographic from Eloqua posted in MarketingProfs. In addition, many website visitors choose to remain anonymous, and it's impossible for marketers to reach 95 percent of these potential customers with email. Prospects are also reluctant to provide contact information in exchange for access to more detailed forms of content marketing

Overcoming these challenges is paramount to conducting successful B2B marketing campaigns. Marketers can adapt to evolving buyer behavior in the following ways:

1. Make sure you're keeping up with new developments in SEO
Search engine optimization is changing all the time, and not paying attention to new trends can significantly impact your online visibility. Google's seemingly continuous updates to its algorithm have made it even more difficult for B2B marketers to achieve high rankings. In light of Hummingbird, it's a good idea to regularly assess your search engine marketing and make adjustments when required. This can ensure long-term success. Developments in this area mean a high-quality user experience is more important than ever before, ClickZ said. If visitors find value on the page, you'll receive more positive signals in Google. 

It's also a good idea to determine whether users are sharing website content because this is an indication of value. You may need to create social sharing buttons to facilitate this. Here are three other ways to succeed at SEO:

  • Analyze keywords regularly: Hummingbird has shifted away from shorter keywords and places more emphasis on relevant search phrases. Content should be assessed for optimization.
  • Improve load speeds: This was once optional, but Google will drop slow-loading sites further down in the results. People have less patience when it comes to waiting for pages to become fully interactive. Loading speeds also impact mobile SEO performance. 
  • Remove duplicate content: Google frowns on this and will penalize your website. Even a temporary dip in rankings can significantly impact lead generation activities. 

2. Update your content marketing strategy
In the past few years, content marketing has gained a great deal of attention in the B2B universe. While the majority of marketers are aware they need to employ these tactics, there may be some confusion on the best way to execute content. In fact, this technique relies a great deal on context, according to Ad Age. While quality content should still be a focus, marketers need to assess where prospects are in the buying cycle because leads want to read different types of materials. Some B2B organizations cater to multiple customer segments, and there's a further division between different buyer personas among these separate groups. 

The source of traffic to your website makes a difference as well. Depending on whether visitors arrive through organic search or were referred by a colleague in the industry, they will have varying knowledge about your organization. The notion of providing the right context is further complicated when you consider where leads are in the sales funnel, especially because individual leads interact with content in different ways. 

It's important to consider your landing pages, the article notes. If a visitor arrives on your site through a display ad, you need to think about the context of the message and create a relevant call-to​-action to drive the next step. Landing page viewers have already made one conversion, which means they represent a significant opportunity. 

3. Use social media to spread your content
All online marketing efforts need to work in harmony. While content is essential for lead nurturing, it needs to be closely tied to SEO and social media efforts. In particular, social networks are a great way to connect with an industry audience that may not be actively searching for your products. However, a social strategy involves more than posting videos on Facebook or tweeting blogs, a separate article for ClickZ says. When outlining social media plans, you have to define your target market. This can dictate which networks you use. Though Facebook and Twitter have the largest audiences, LinkedIn may be more relevant to your prospects, for instance. 

In addition, social content shouldn't be overly promotional. For users to want to share or engage with it, content needs to deliver some type of value. While social media doesn't directly impact search engine rankings, the increased activity can drive more traffic to your website, and this will positively influence SEO. 

Sheila Kloefkorn (1031 Posts)

With more than 20 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing,, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.