What’s a healthy business status? If your business product and service is in high demand and it’s rising in the industry, but 80% of your main revenue is from one or two clients, it’s not healthy. Thus lead generation for the purpose to sustain a business is critical.
So I would say it’s not a healthy business, because it’s risky when all eggs are put into one basket. Once your client terminates the contract, your business immediately suffers from no revenue. Now we are living in the digital era, things change super fast. Thus, termination is belonging to a high rate of events, rather than an occasional accident.
That’s why more and more companies invest and input effort on lead generation, for the purpose to sustain business growth. However, companies are also being challenged by the lead generation process, or even suffering due to time-consuming, higher cost, and lower ROI.
In this article, I would talk about my view of digital lead generation strategy and how to automate the lead generation process, according to my over 10 years of experience on the brand and agency side. You can solve your pain by reading this article.
Traditional Manual Process of B2B Lead Generation
Back in the days B2B marketers and sales in a company work together to find, identify, and categorize leads from below a general process:
- Marketers find and identify contact lists from the source of 3rd party data company, in-house CRM, online search engine, partner referral, exhibition, workshop, and related events, etc.
- Sale teams or cold-call centers can reach those contacts provided by marketers through email, SMS, or cold-call. Or, sales themselves might leverage sales assistant tools, such as Linkedin Sales Navigator, search engine or B2B marketplaces, etc, to find leads and identify more information about the lead profile. After a day of lead approach, sales usually updates the status in CRM.
- Marketers check the update from the sales team in CRM, to see the feedback and further optimize the lead generation approach and prepare marketing materials if necessary.
Thus, this is a general process of how marketing and sales team work together to find, identify and update the leads
What are the cons of manual lead generation strategy?
Compared with the B2C business model, B2B needs more time to close deals with customers, because you might be selling a solution or service in which customers need time to understand your service scope of capacity, compare pricing with several suppliers and fine-tune the terms & conditions in a contract.
From the above B2B business growth funnel, lead generation is just one part of the whole journey. It’s easy to imagine if 80% of your marketing and sales team labor efforts are on the manual lead generation process, how big a team you need to have with the capacity of nurturing, closing deals, and customer retention as well? Also how many qualified leads are? So I don’t suggest a manual lead generation approach nowadays and summarise some cons of the manual lead generation approach.
Unknown Data & High-Cost Per Lead (CPL)
I would say that no matter you are buying contact lists from 3rd party vendors, or research contacts on Linkedin, B2B marketplace/search engine, etc, this approach is a kind of outbound strategy and all the data is unknown. Unknown data here is not only about uncertain PII information, but also it’s uncertain if they’re your target customers and what demand they have. It’s as if you are just net fishing when you bump into the water and don’t care if it’s a sea or river. Also due to GDPR etc data privacy rules released, it’s also risky to violate the law rules when you contact leads without consent.
Only replying on exhibitions and events to generate leads cost you super high CPL(Cost per leads). How many quality leads of business cards you did get from the last exhibitions or workshops. Also, time matters in CPL as well. How many suitable events for your business every year and how much investment if you host one?
I agree to join events and host workshops, but it’s for the purpose to create PR and marketing content assets and invite, meet potential and existing clients to catch up and maintain relationships as a party. This’s more proper to measure overall ROI rather than measuring CPL.
Not a right place, right timing with right messages
Even you got a huge amount of funding to hire sales and build up a CS center, it doesn’t mean your team can understand when it’s the right time to contact these leads and what demand they have. If you’re doing global business, time-zone is a problem if you rely on a manual approach, unless your team can work 24 hours a day like a robot.
Not A Proper Way To Run A BD Team
As mentioned, lead generation is one part of the whole B2B business growth process. When your BD team only has 8 hours a day and 5 days a week, they should not spend time to generate lead. Instead, they should act as a consultant to help potential clients understand company service, customize the proposal, and fine-tune the contract pricing and terms. Most importantly, they are the key person to build up a relationship with clients in a rational and emotional way.
5 Strategies Of Digital Lead Generation To Automate The Process
Inbound Lead Generation Strategy Is A Priority
Digital capacity facilitates potential leads to submit inquiries to your team to follow up. When she/he browses a web page and bump into a piece of rich media advertising, for example, “One Month Free Trial Of Cloud CDN”, she/he can fill in all information and submit right away from the ads. Also, she/he might search service providers in Google, Baidu, or Yahoo Japan, etc search engines, she/he clicks the ads form extension, fill in all information about the needs on the pop-up form and submit.
Whatever your lead generation strategy is, an inbound lead strategy mindset is fundamental and prioritized. And the pros of inbound leads areas listed below:
- All data with the submitter consent and you don’t need to worry about data privacy issue;
- You briefly understand the needs of the submitted information
- Most importantly with lead scoring automation if you have deployed a CRM strategy, you could categorize the follow-up approach as the image attached below. For example, you can categorize 4 scenarios from the submitted information (25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of information completed). If the lead only fills in 25%, you can only automate an email or social media message to her or him, because it might be not urgent or spam; If the lead provides 75% above information, you can arrange for staff to follow up the conversation, because the lead describes situation clearly and understand what she or he is asking. This’s the beauty of inbound and automation integration.
Marketing Cloud Is A Must
To automate the lead generation and communication process, you need a marketing cloud to help you centralize data, content assets,s and integrate with digital marketing platforms, for the purpose to function automation and implement the communication on Whom & What & When.
Take Salesforce Marketing Cloud for an example
Salesforce data platform caters to categorize different types of customers, like prospects, new customers, existing customers, and lost customers, etc. Also, it enables to identify of the audience data quality by lead scoring function. Normally, we would create an audience 360-degree profile through leveraging Salesforce Datorama(CDP), Salesforce CRM, and audience studio (DMP). Thus, you could set up email, digital advertising, and web personalised content based on audience data analytic and behavior, for the purpose to automate the communication and achieve commercial success.
Dynamic and personalized content is a must when you implement marketing automation, because who and when to receive the tailor-made messages are the key to win. Salesforce content builder for email marketing, built-in creative library in the Salesforce advertising studio, and Salesforce CMS are the three key models for you to facilitate personalization content on the whole user communication journey.
Human staff is difficult to work 24/7, and even you can set up offices globally in a different time-zone, it’s impossible to handle real-time communication with millions of leads and customers in your business. However, machines are able to communicate with your leads and customers at the right time.
For example, you find out some leads have high potential to be new customers because lead scoring is super high. However, after one or two months of communication, the leads haven’t decided yet. Thus, you could design a tailor-made plan for this segmentation and set up an automated communication schedule based on time zone, location, festivals, event day, etc, and feed the personalized messages or offers to these leaders, for the purpose to convert them asap.
AI chatbot Eases Workload & Increase Efficiency
As mentioned in Wechat chatbot and AI strategies in digital marketing, sales, and CS call center don’t need to handle all the questions from prospects and existing customers to push the process forward. This strategy also works in automated digital lead generation. We need to implement a Q&A strategy and see how to assign the tasks between the AI chatbot and the sales team.
For example, when a visitor is asking questions on your web pop-up window before submitting an inquiry to further understand your company business, AI chatbot can lead the visitor to share more information in a conversation, for example, what business the visitor is doing? what service she/or he likes to know more, etc. Also, the AI chatbot can reply to the standard questions from the visitor on the process, such as service scope, case studies, whitepapers, pricing, etc. During these processes, the AI chatbot can score this lead and decide whether to assign a staff to follow up on this conversation, based on the score quality.
Web pop up window is just one of the communication touchpoints. We could roll out this strategy to social messenger, digital advertising, call center etc. Also, based on the audience’s behavior, we could feed personalized messages accordingly and assign an account manager to follow up afterward.
Push-Model Digital Marketing Become More Critical
Artificial intelligence facilitates advertisers to narrow down the scope and save dollars to reach the target audience, as I talked in AI strategies in digital marketing. When almost everyone is using a push-model strategy thanks to focused and measurable pros. They are doing SEM and SEO, launch a brand profile on Linkedin, and become active on social and PR activities. Of course, you need to build up to something as well as your competitors, however you need to understand these places have already been a red ocean. The blue ocean is you have already educated your leads before they positively search you.
Thus with AI application, you could well utilize 1st party data connecting with digital marketing platforms to active programmatic media bidding and retargeting ads. Outside of owned media, search engines, and social media, etc, your target leads can receive personalized and heart touching messages. Search volume and the positive social listening results are from the effort on awareness and education. That’s the beauty of AI, to make it possible and efficient.
Video Content and Live Seminar Are The Secret Weapons
From a digital marketing perspective, almost three-quarters of consumers 72%, prefer video more than text for receiving branded marketing information, according to a HubSpot Research study cited in a report by Coresight Research.
More and more people realize quick daily news, infographic content, and advertorials they read every day are produced by AI robots. Also, Quantum Speed Reading and Youtuber success give us a hint that people are losing patience to read textual on the internet.
We could adopt video content on the web, advertising, social, and video channels instead of textual content. Also, marketers could collaborate with the sales team to organize workshops in a fixed schedule and invite leads to join. As a lead generation ad creative, it makes your brand stand out and enhance credentials of your brand.
Automated digital lead generation is a trend and must become more important in the future. Thanks to that, marketers and sales staff can focus on more nurturing leads, close deals, and maintain relationships to build trust between customers and your brand.
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