5 Steps to B2B Content Engagement Success (Part 2)

B2b content engagement (continued) b2b content engagement

This is the second part of a 2 part blog on B2B content engagement. You can find part 1 here.

3.  Make your prospect the hero

If the story you are telling in your marketing content features you as the main protagonist, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Building on the point above, stories enable people to imagine themselves in other scenarios and internalize new ideas or beliefs as their own.

By creating a story that allows your prospect to imagine himself as a hero (e.g. saving the day and earning the boss’s praise for finding the perfect solution for X), you create a major incentive to transact, so he can become that hero he imagined.

  1. Set up an emotional experience

We’ve written previously on why emotional connection matters more in B2B than in does in B2C. One aspect is that with higher risk sales, people need emotional assurance that things will go well in order to ease their anxieties.

Additionally, “behavioral psychologists have long argued that only 30% of human decisions are actually driven by rational considerations. This means more than 70% of customer loyalty and spending decisions are based on emotional factors.” Because we are so emotionally motivated, anything you can do to create an emotional experience for your readers will keep them more engaged. There are many ways you can facilitate an emotional response in your marketing content—humor, building action to create excitement, ending with a ‘hook’ to keep people coming back for more, etc.

5.  Get it out there. Fast.

One of the biggest mistakes B2b companies make in their initial content marketing efforts is thinking that all you have to do to get prospects to engage with you is post content on their website. In terms on engagement, publishing content—like a blog—should merely be the first step in getting the content to your target audience.

Additionally, founder of Moz Rand Fishkin recently wrote that in terms of SEO, “One of the harsh truths of blog-focused SEO is that a few hours after a post is published, 90% of the ranking ability is spent. . . It’s that first burst of activity – of social sharing and people emailing it around and links coming in – that set the stage for ranking success in the search engines.” This means that the quicker you can get your content out and shared on a variety of platforms, the wider the reach your content will have and consequently, the more engagement.

For more tips on creating engaging marketing content, you can read 5 Ways Your B2B Content Marketing Program Can Fail. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

3 Tips for Better B2B Email Lead Generation

3 Tips for Better B2B Email Lead Generation

How B2b marketing leads to more profitable outcomes

As a sales and marketing outsourcing company with over 13 years of experience, we have executed countless email marketing campaigns for both ourselves and our clients. During those years, we have learned what works and what doesn’t in terms of B2B lead generation and conversion.

Here are 3 tips to improve your email lead generation:

  1. Offer value and make it highly visible.

The key to using email to turn prospects into leads is offering value. For B2B products and services, the value offered is usually some form of content. This is known as email content marketing. The content you send can vary greatly, but should generally be educational in tone. You can send short blog articles, important industry news, webinar invitations, video links, industry reports, white papers, etc. By sending your prospects content that has some type of value for them, they start to think of you as an expert in your field and will eventually turn to you when they are ready to make a purchase.

When offering value in your B2B marketing emails, make sure it is the focal point of the entire message. People love getting gifts, and that is essentially what you are doing by offering your content. Make this obvious, and your prospects will thank you in the form of conversion.

2.  Think about how emails are viewed.

Think about your own inbox. It is likely that when you open many of your emails, a notice appears telling you the certain images have been blocked. Most email applications (including Outlook) now have the default setting to not display images, so you need to think about this when crafting your marketing emails. Make sure any information that is critical does not appear exclusively in an image.

It is also helpful to think about the display window you view your emails in. For most of us, we view our emails in a preview window, and therefore only see a small portion of the message at a time.  Many people only scan the first line of an email before deciding whether or not to delete it, and if your prospect does not see anything of value immediately, you might end up in the trash. Make sure that the value you are offering in your email (whether it is an announcement about a sale, an educational webcast, a new blog post, etc.) is immediately obvious and is visible within the small preview frame of most email applications.

3.  Analyze and refine constantly.

Once you have created your email for lead generation, make sure it stands out. Open it up and compare it side by side with your competitors’ emails that have similar goals or calls to action.  Are your graphics sharp enough or do they look dated in comparison? Is your overall messaging aligned with theirs? Is your differentiator clear and immediately obvious? What is it about your email that makes it better than all of the others? If you don’t know, it is time to back to the drawing board.

If you would like more information on email lead generation or using email for B2B marketing, click here. If you would like to know more about content marketing in relation to the new rules of buying and selling in the digital era, you can download our white paper here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Soft vs. Hard Lead Generation for B2B Sales

Soft vs. Hard Lead Generation for B2B Sales

B2B Lead-Capture Web Form

Many B2B companies try so hard to generate more leads that they do not come up with a clear strategy for how to do so most efficiently and effectively. What these companies do not understand is that a successful campaign requires clearly defined goals and a well-articulated strategy.

This blog is meant to educate those with less experience in B2B sales and marketing about the fundamentals of lead generation. Specifically, we will address the difference between soft vs. hard lead generation for B2B sales and when each is most appropriate to use.

(If you would like information with a little more depth, please visit our knowledge center focused on B2B Demand Generation.)

The first step in creating a strategy for B2B lead generation is to formulate your overall goals. You should ask the following questions:

• Who are you trying to target?
• What is the number of leads you want to generate?
• What do you want to achieve in terms of sales?
• Are you willing to pay for a lead? How much?
• Where do you want your leads to be in the sales cycle?

The answers to these questions become essential in determining which lead generation technique will be most effective for your business. Depending on what your goals are, you will usually choose either a soft or a hard lead generation strategy. Hard techniques usually generate a higher quality lead, while soft strategies tend to produce large numbers.

The soft offer:

Using an incentive with an apparently low risk factor, soft strategies will give you huge numbers of leads. For example, if you offer free tickets to the World Series, you are likely to get a massive number of responses. The downside of the soft lead, however, is that most of these respondents are more excited about baseball than learning about your business. So, while the soft lead may give you the numbers you want, most leads generated in this way do not progress any further in the sales cycle.

However, in our experience as an outsourced sales and marketing company, we have found that offering an iPad or a gift card can be quite effective, especially in terms of generating a quick opt-in database. We have also seen that the soft lead generation strategy is most effective for businesses trying to target leads early in their sales cycle. This method will take much more time because of having to sift through large numbers and so should be used primarily when attempting to generate activity or jump-start your sales.

The hard offer:

In a hard lead generation strategy, you offer something that is relatively higher risk than free tickets or an iPad. When you make this type of offer, which may require some type of commitment from your prospect, the leads you generate are usually going to be much further along in their sales cycle. Some things you can use as hard offer incentives are free consultations, preliminary audits, invites to webinars, etc.

When engaging with these types of leads, you should be aware they have a much greater chance of becoming closed deals. We have found that a hard lead generation method is most effective for businesses that have little time to weed through huge numbers of leads and are therefore looking to talk to leads much closer to making a purchase.

If you are still having trouble deciding between soft vs. hard lead generation for B2B sales, a good place to start is deciding who you are trying to target. If your goal is to reach marketing teams, a soft offer may be the most appropriate. On the other hand, if you are looking to speak to buying executives, you may want to go with the hard offer. Once you decide the kind of lead you desire and determine what will be of value to them, you will be able to come up with a successful strategy for generating leads.

Gabriel Sales has over 12 years of experience as an outsourced B2B lead generation company. For more sales basics, please feel free to visit our Blogs on Sales and Content Basics.

Keep it Conversational – Best Practices for B2B E-Mail Marketing

Keep it Conversational – Best Practices for B2B E-Mail Marketing

The best approaches for digital b2b marketing

A great deal of the clients Gabriel Sales works with as an integrated outsourced sales and marketing company are smaller businesses without a highly recognizable brand.  However, when the brand is recognized in the market (at least for most of our clients), that brand is associated with quality, professionalism and, in most cases, a premium or mid premium service.    This blog talks about how Gabriel Sales uses email marketing to increase B2b lead volume (to maximize budget because cold calling while effective has gotten much more expensive check out Cold Calling is Not Dead but You Need To Be Smarter!)  while not disrupting the delicate dance between increased volume and brand reputation and positioning.

Here is a list of Best Practices for B2B E-Mail Marketing from Gabriel Sales:

Make Sure Your Email Offer has the Best Interest of Your Customer/Buyer in Mind

Provide some content that has some genuine educational value for your buyer.  We have the most success with content that can help the buyer do their job better whether they choose to work with you or not.  Your chief aim needs to be helping your customer define their problem.  The win for you is that at the same time you are simultaneously establishing your credentials as a thought leader to help them.

Make Sure Your Email Gives Your Customer Educational Value Quickly

Help the customer to quickly compare your solution to other solutions in the market. So they can quickly to evaluate their alternatives.

Make Sure Your Graphics (if you use them at all) are Relevant

Use your logo to support the brand.  Don’t use additional graphics unless they are totally specific to the offer and educational in nature.  So for example:

  • Video Screen shot that gives them a sense of the video.
  • Use recognizable logos like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn so they are clear on the platform you are suggestin
  • Photo of Presenter if its Webcast (Makes it Human)

Keep it Conversational

Don’t use sales language.   Don’t talk about ‘our’ company, ‘us’.  Talk about your customer’s needs.

Keep it Simple

Get to the point quickly and directly.

Keep it Uncluttered

A case can be made that it may make sense to give someone multiple offers in one email so if the first offer is not of interest there is a secondary offer or even a tertiary offer your recipient can click through.   We just don’t typically approach the market this way.   We come from the school of thought that one offer is typically enough:

  • Buyers are smart and can quickly evaluate if you can help them do their job more effectively with your specific area of thought leadership
  • If you lead with educational thought leadership it shows respect for their interests and needs
  • If you keep it short, simple and uncluttered it shows respect for their time
  • If you keep the tone of the message conversational even if this is not the right conversation, they will remain open to future conversations and not consider your message and foray into electronic conversation as invasive but helpful

For more Best Practices for B2B E-Mail Marketing, we invite you to check out our Blog Series on Integrating Sales and Sales Content Marketing

For some tactical examples of what our approach to email looks like in action feel free to check out some of our actual b2b email marketing templates.

B2B Lead Generation Fundamentals – Soft vs. Hard

B2B Lead Generation Fundamentals – Soft vs. Hard

Lead generation sales and basics

B2B sales companies have come up with a variety of ways to generate more leads, and building a successful campaign requires that companies carefully and strategically choose a method that addresses their specific goals.  As an outsourced sales, and outsourced marketing firm this is part of our series to educate customers not experienced in sales and marketing with some of the B2B Lead Generation Fundamentals to help them make an informed decision about outsourcing to generate leads.  This blog discusses the differences between hard and soft generation methods, as well as when each is appropriate for use.

If you would like meatier content on Lead Generation we invite you to visit our knowledge center devoted to B2B Demand Generation.

The first thing to do when coming up with a generation strategy is to clearly articulate you goals.  These should be both quantitative and qualitative.  How many leads are you trying to get?  What kind of sales to you need to generate?  Who is the audience you are trying to focus on?  How early or late in the sales cycle do you want your leads to be? What are you willing to pay for a lead?

These questions are important to ask because how you choose to generate leads will affect the number and quality of your leads.  Soft strategies tend to generate large numbers, while harder strategies tend to generate a higher quality.

The Soft Offer

Soft offers pull in high numbers with an incentive that has very little perceived risk.  If you use a sweepstakes type strategy, and offer free tickets to the Super Bowl, you are likely to get an unprecedented number of respondents.  However, most of these leads are likely to care more about football than your product or service, and few will convert to qualified leads.  One example of a soft offer that we have seen work is gift cards or a free iPad.  As an outsourced lead generation company we have found that this is sometimes a great way to generate a quick opt in database..

This method should be used when companies are looking to get leads earlier in the sales cycle.  It also requires more time to weed through the large numbers to find qualified leads.  This approach is best when trying to jump-start your sales or create a lot of activity.

The Hard Offer

Hard offers produce fewer respondents, but the leads that are generated are much more likely to be qualified.  By offering something that has a slightly higher risk, or involves some type of commitment, you are likely talking to someone much further along in his or her sales cycle.  Hard offers can include invitations to webinars, an audit, a consultation, etc.

Use hard offers when you want to target prospects further into the buying cycle, or do not have the time to weed through large numbers looking to qualify.  The leads you generate with hard offers are much more likely to convert to closed deals, so take this into consideration when engaging with them.

When it comes deciding which method will be most effective for your company, knowing who you are talking to is key — A hard offer is appropriate if trying to target buying executives, while you might want to try a soft offer if you want to talk to marketing teams.  Figure out the type of lead you want and determine what is valuable to this type of person. If you can make your offer appealing to your desired leads’ interests, your campaign is likely to be successful.

Gabriel Sales has over 12 years of experience as an outsourced generation company.   For more B2B lead generation fundamentals please feel free to visit our Blogs on Sales and Content Basics.