B2B Lead Generation in 2014

B2B lead generationGenerating more leads is usually the number one challenge faced by any business.  It’s not about the quality of the leads or reaching decision makers—both of which are important, but the volume of leads produced is typically the biggest issue. And one of the best places to find out what’s working is to ask a bunch of marketers.

And that’s just what MarketingProfs did.  And they do it every year.  MarketingProfs recently released its B2B Lead Generation Trends for 2014.  And the details in their study are rather interesting in terms of which lead generation techniques top the list.

Here’s my view of these findings.

Outbound Marketing Techniques Best for Lead Gen

The findings do indicate that outbound marketing—inside sales, executive events, telemarketing and conferences and trade shows are most effective.   I don’t think there’s any surprise that these concepts still work.

But I think they actually work better now that we’re integrating them with content or inbound marketing.  With all the noise out there today, you can shout louder from the rooftops but that still doesn’t mean anybody will hear or even care.  And if you only shout “Buy, Buy, Buy!” I can guarantee that no will care.

Smarter sales and marketing people are using some of these newer tools like social networks for research and combining those with content assets to build old-school cold calls into efficient and effective smart calls.

And that’s where inbound marketing comes into play.  Once you develop an inbound marketing approach and find that it’s attracting and converting the right kinds of customers, it’s easy enough to expand this approach.  The next step is amplifying it through other channels—including outbound channels.  Getting found via inbound marketing it certainly nice, but it can take some time and be somewhat limiting.

So, for most businesses, they need to be performing multiple marketing tactics simultaneously—both inbound and outbound.  The idea is that you use several of the tools at your disposal to narrowly target the prospects you work best with and invite them to find your valuable, education-based content.

As participation in social media expands and our interaction with social channels expands, combining inbound and outbound marketing makes even more sense.  This integrated approach gives you the ability to target, learn, and then connect through social media.

Integrated Inbound and Outbound Marketing

An integrated approach looks something like this:

  • Build a contest strategy targeted at the kind of customer you want to reach.  This strategy should be designed to help you build trust.  You’ll need to tweak and play around with it until you find what looks like the right journey for conversion and creating a customer experience.
  • Spend time diligently working to understand everything you can about the prospects and customers your inbound marketing is attracting.  This will teach you what to tweak and modify.
  • Think about having your sales team start to mine social networks to further understand the needs and challenges of the customers your marketing appeals to.
  • Have those sales people start to use and personalize the content assets you have to turn up and make smarter marketing calls.
  • Now that you know who your marketing appeals to, start to build a narrowly targeted advertising approach that brings even greater number of leads into your content or Marketing Hourglass.
  • Implement ongoing testing and tweaking of your outbound marketing based on actual conversations and conversions that move prospects through your marketing approach.
  • Be sure to re-engage your existing customers as you refine this process and measure your results, including referrals.

This integrated approach to marketing works because it’s based on the way that people want to buy today.  And you know that because you tested it.  Once you start to use this approach, you’ll have an even greater element of control with your outbound marketing.

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