In the world of B2B marketing, lead generation matters a lot—yet, it’s also one of our biggest challenges. Consider these statistics:
- 63% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge (source).
- 80% of marketers say their lead generation efforts are only slightly or somewhat effective (source).
- Lack of resources such as staff, funding, and time remains the biggest obstacle to successful lead generation efforts for 61% of B2B marketers (BrightTALK, 2015).
The truth is, lead generation is often easier said than done. And, to make matters worse, the more traditional lead generation tactics of the past just don’t produce the same results as they used to. So, if your campaigns need help and you’re looking for more innovative tactics to add to your lead generation program, keep reading! Today we share five of our favorite less conventional ways to generate leads.
#1 Social listening
Although typically not associated with lead generation, social listening is something most marketers are already familiar with. For those who aren’t, social listening is exactly what it sounds like—the process of listening to online conversations between customers or prospects in an effort to gain valuable brand and industry insights.
Traditionally, marketers have utilized this practice in an effort to develop a deeper understanding of their target audience. However, when executed effectively, social listening can also help uncover new, potential prospects that your team can nurture into leads through meaningful interaction.
It’s important to note that social listening requires a lot more effort than simply checking your notifications or @ mentions. Consider this: On Twitter alone, 30% of the Tweets about your company don’t include your Twitter handle. In fact, only 9% of Tweets that impact your company are actually directed at your brand (source). This means most conversations about your brand are happening without you!
If you’re not implementing correct social listening practices and actively digging for relevant conversations, you could be missing out on key opportunities to connect with potential buyers and generate leads.
To get the most from your efforts, leverage tools like Google Alerts or a social media management tool, to help track industry-related keywords and phrases. Some ideas you should pay close attention to include:
- Customer pain points/complaints
- Competitors’ brand names and products
- Job titles related to the ones you serve
- Common questions regarding your product or service
After doing your research and experimenting with keyword variations, you may find a particular set of keywords that regularly yields an audience of people just looking for a product like yours. Then, direct users to your website, a sales rep, or some other type of offer. The key here is to use messaging that sounds natural and fits into the flow of the conversations that are already taking place between potential customers.
The latest social media tools have predictive learning functionality that makes this process simple and efficient. Even if your current technology stack isn’t equipped for this type of outreach, it’s still worth your time and effort to conduct some of these tasks manually. Give it a shot!
#2 Influencer marketing
Consider this: Word of mouth recommendation still ranks as one of the most trusted sources of advertising, and as a result, is able to generate nearly 2x the amount of sales as traditional paid advertising (source). What’s more, retention rates are often higher for customers obtained through word of mouth marketing – specifically, 37% higher than any other form of marketing (source).
While effective, word of mouth marketing isn’t often cited as a staple in the marketing community. The reason for this is simple: There has never been a natural way for marketers to incorporate the tactic into their everyday initiatives. Until now, that is. Enter influencer marketing.
For those who aren’t familiar, influencer marketing is a strategy that requires brands to enlist the help of influencers to achieve vital business goals. In essence, influencer marketing is just word-of-mouth marketing, amplified. Let us explain.
After years of experience, social media influencers quickly became some of the most admired individuals in their respective fields. They’re seen as authority figures in the eyes of your customers. An influencer’s community trusts their judgment—and when they ask their audience to take action, the audience will often respond enthusiastically.
Unsurprisingly, this innate ability to persuade an audience can have a huge impact on your company’s most vital objectives – including lead generation. However, in order to drive optimal results from your influencer marketing initiatives, your team must enlist the help of the right influencers.
While there is no exact formula to tell you which influencers to work with, there are a few key characteristics that can help you evaluate a potential match. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Relevance: Above all, it’s important that the influencer you choose to work with is relevant, or aligns nicely to your brand. Your audience should never find the partnership odd.
- Reach: Remember, the point of influencer marketing is to broadcast your brand to new, potential leads. This isn’t possible unless the influencer in question has a large and loyal fan base.
- Resonance: Top influencers are able to connect and engage with their followers in meaningful ways. Just remember, bigger audiences aren’t always better. According to a recent study, influencers with the most engaged audiences have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, not the millions (source).
After you’ve identified and reached out to a set of target influencers, it’s time to consider your campaign. Traditional influencer marketing aims to generate brand awareness— not necessarily lead generation. For this reason, you must be strategic about the messaging you use and the campaigns you create. Here’s our advice—always have a clear, singular call-to-action. There should be no doubt in the audience’s mind what the influencer wants them to do.
Learn more about running a successful influencer marketing campaign here: Influencer Marketing 101.
#3 Content syndication
Your marketing team spends a significant amount of time and effort developing content. From blog posts and whitepapers to eBooks and infographics, your team likely has access to a comprehensive library of content designed to convert prospects into customers. But, once a piece is published and promoted, it’s lifecycle is relatively short.
Content syndication, the practice of allowing other publications to repost your content, extends the reach of your marketing materials and promotes it to a larger audience of potential buyers. But, the benefit of content syndication for lead generation is two-fold.
Not only does it expand your reach and put more leads into the top of your sales funnel, but it can also drastically improve your web presence. Here’s how: When another website syndicates your content, it allows you to build up high-quality backlinks to your website. This, in turn, increases your search rankings and generates more organic traffic to your website.
To get the most out of content syndication, you must select platforms and websites that have a strong readership within your target market. Otherwise, your content will seem irrelevant and won’t produce the results you’re hoping for.
#4 Interactive content
By now, content marketing has proven to be an effective lead generation strategy. Hint: According to one recent study, content marketing generates over three times as many leads and costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods (source).
But, because over 90% of organizations utilize a content marketing strategy, today’s buyers are faced with an overload of content. Therefore, content must be truly engaging in order to gain any kind of traction online. The solution? Interactive content.
At its core, interactive content is content tailored to facilitate back-and-forth engagement with your prospect. Unlike traditional, static content types, interactive content is inherently participatory and provides your prospects with an immersive and compelling experience. And here’s the good news:
- Interactive content generates 2x more conversions than passive content. (source)
- Interactive content can convert prospects into leads two times better than its static counterpart. (source)
If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these suggestions:
- Quizzes: Unlike traditional marketing materials, users get something at the end of a quiz—their results! Bargain for your prospects contact information by gating quiz results with a simple contact form. It’s important to note, that, in order for this technique to generate high-quality leads, your quiz content must be related to your product or industry. For example, if your company sells HR software, it wouldn’t make sense to promote a quiz about Disney princesses.
- Contests/Giveaways: People love free stuff–and, a lot of times, they don’t mind providing you with a little information in order to obtain it. With that said, contests and giveaways are often the most effective (and simple) way to incorporate interactive content into your marketing strategy. As with quizzes, don’t offer something too generic, like a cruise. You’ll get a lot of irrelevant entrants. Using the same HR company as an example, it might make more sense to give away tickets to an industry event, a free year of a product, or an autographed book by an industry professional.
- Assessments: This third content type also gives away something free—but in the form of a consultation or assessment. This is an effective way to generate leads for two reasons—it allows you to collect the contact information of a highly relevant audience and it also solidifies that person’s need for your product. Allow us to explain: The same HR company from previous examples offers an assessment of companies time-tracking mechanisms. In doing so, they’re able to point out flaws in prospects’ current systems and demonstrate how their product can improve their business.
#5 Exit Intent Pop-ups
Generally speaking, in terms of web experience, pop-ups are frowned upon. And if you frequent a website that uses them, you probably know why– they’re annoying. Despite their bad reputation, pop-ups can actually be an effective marketing tool. According to one study, Opt-in pop-ups result in 1,000% increase in conversions (source).
While we don’t recommend hiding a pop-up around every corner—we do suggest that you experiment with exit intent pop-ups. Exit intent pop-ups are just what they sound like—pop-ups that appear when a user attempts to leave your website. While still somewhat annoying, these types of pop-ups are less intrusive than the typical pop-up and can drive huge results.
When combined with a compelling CTA and contact form, exit intent popups grab your audience’s attention and can effectively convert them into leads. In fact, one company recently reported a 600% increase in leads after implementing an exit-intent pop up (source). Here are a few quick tips to make the most out of your exit intent pop-ups:
- Facilitate a sense of urgency with a timely offer
- Keep your message concise
- Keep your form short
- Use an attention-grabbing design
In today’s crowded marketing landscape, it takes something innovative to stand out from the crowd. Rather than relying on the same old lead generation techniques, it’s time to think outside the box and do something a little more innovative. Just a few small tweaks to your existing strategy can be the difference between hitting your lead generation goals and missing the mark.
Test out the strategies outlined above and let us know what works for you!