You can’t drive sales or grow your B2B business without a steady supply of quality leads, period.  Marketers understand this simple premise, which is why they spend so much time and money on lead generation and inbound strategies.

According to Hubspot, 53% of marketers say they spend at least half of their entire marketing budget on lead generation, and 58% say they plan to increase their lead generation budget in 2018.  At the same time, however, 80% of those same marketers report that their lead generation efforts are only “slightly or somewhat effective.”

So, What’s the Problem?

There are as many ideas for generating leads as there are businesses trying to generate them.  That could be part of the problem.  According to Crazy Egg, for every good piece of internet advice on B2B lead generation, there are 3 bad ones:

 

Want to experience nausea? Okay, Google ‘how to get B2B leads.’ You’ll come up with more dreaming drivel than you could imagine.  No one wants to read more pabulum on ‘Tweet five times a day!;’ ‘Cater to your user’s interest by sharing cat videos on Reddit!;’ or ‘Aggressively seek to incrementally maximize your intentional trade show presence for the duration of 2014 in order to garner and nurture more qualified leads.

As the old saw goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Said differently, if you want to be successful filling your lead pipeline, you’ll need to adhere to best practices.  That means getting good advice and putting in the requisite time, energy and money to pursue strategies that actually work.

The Lead Generation “Holy Trinity”

With consumers increasingly skeptical of traditional outbound strategies (like telemarketing and TV ads), more marketers are turning to inbound strategies to meet their lead quotas, and with good reason.  Inbound marketing generates more leads, and on average inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads (Search Engine Journal).  The three inbound strategies with the best track record for generating leads are search engine optimization (SEO), blogging and social media marketing.

Here are 7 inbound marketing strategies which will help you meet your B2B business’s lead generation goals:

1.  Develop an Effective On-page SEO Strategy

One of the best ways to generate leads is to create compelling content offers and send prospects to a landing page where they give you their contact information in exchange for the content.  Of course, that means the first need to find your website.  On-page SEO is a strategy in which you make changes to your website that make it easier for search engines to see and understand what your webpages are about, which leads to higher rankings.

Specifically, on-page SEO means placing the right keywords into 5 areas of your website:

1 – Your page url

2 – Your page title

3 – Your header tags

4 – Your image alt tags

5 – Your body copy

Although every SEO strategy is different, in general you’ll want to optimize each page for a single keyword.  Optimizing pages for multiple keywords can confuse readers and, equally important, search engines.  (Spoiler alert:  SEO is not generally a DIY project.  Unless you have some expertise, you’re going to need help.)

2.  Build Quality Inbound Links

This is sometimes referred to as “off-page SEO.”  When another website links to content on your website, search engines view that as a “vote” in your favor, a sign that another business views your content as valuable.  The more prestigious that business is, the more it will persuade search engines to rank your site higher in online searches.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re a home contractor.  If a business down the street, say, Fred’s painting supplies, links to your site, well, that’s OK.  If on the other hand, Home Advisor on Angie’s List links to your site, that’s golden.  Google and other search engines will see that “vote” from an industry giant as proof positive that the content on your site is stellar, and will reward you with substantially higher search engine rankings.  Higher rankings mean more website traffic, which means more people going to your landing pages, which means more leads for your business.

3.  Embed Links to Premium Content in Your Blogs

Blogging is one of the best ways to create leads for your business.  According to Hubspot, for example, businesses that post 16 or more blogs each month on average get 3.5 times more traffic than those which blog 4 or fewer times.  The trick is to use your blog to push people to your website.  You can do that by including a link to highly-valuable content in your blog.  For example, if you sell CRM software, you could include a link to an eBook with a title like, “How to get a customized CRM solution without spending too much money.”

4.  Use Blogs to Increase Online Visibility

Creating a steady stream of useful blogs can dovetail with your SEO strategy.  That’s because every blog you post on your website creates a new page for search engines to index and crawl.  The more frequently you blog, the more you increase your visibility in the major search engines.  The more blog topics you have, each optimized for different keywords, the more likely your keywords will match something prospective leads type into those search engines.

5.  Understand the Culture of Social Media Sites

Effectively engaging prospective customers on social media sites will send more of them to content and landing pages on your website, but you need to know that the culture of each site is different and use that understanding to get optimal results.  Facebook is more casual than LinkedIn, for example.  When you engage people on Facebook, adopt a more casual and friendly tone.  When you engage them on LinkedIn, which people use for business purposes, use a more professional tone which reflects expertise and thought leadership.

6.  Post Rich Content on Social Media

Social media platforms are visually-oriented.  Use this to your advantage by diversifying your content to include the kind of rich content that gets attention on these sites.  For example, a recent article from  Simply Measured found that businesses which post photos and videos on Facebook saw a 65% increase in content engagement.  Bear in mind that, although Facebook tends to be casual, 74% of people go to the site for “professional purposes.”  You can maximize engagement using rich media that gets attention, drives traffic and generates leads.

7.  Create a Long-Term Social Media Strategy

Success on social media is all about consistency and persistence.  You’re not likely to substantially increase the leads you get from social media if your engagement with prospects is short-term or infrequent.  You need to post often with social media content that initiates and perpetuates conversations in which prospects want to participate.  To generate significantly more leads, create a calendar to schedule your Facebook status updates, LinkedIn shares and Twitter tweets, and stick to the schedule.

Conclusion

Using inbound marketing strategies like SEO, blogging and social media marketing can substantially increase your B2B leads and create more sales opportunities for your business.  The trick is to do it right.  Unless you have the in-house experience to create robust and effective inbound lead generation campaigns, your best bet is to partner with a full-service marketing agency that specializes in inbound marketing.

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