By Kevin Mabul on 19 June 2018
Simplify the term “lead generation” down to its roots.
What it is, when stripped of marketing and business terminology, is essentially a way of reaching out to your potential customers who are the most likely to buy your products or services. To gauge their likelihood of converting to sales, marketers must engage with the prospects in conversation to understand their challenges and needs, and determine how the product or service being marketed can solve their issues and pain points.
That’s what lead generation basically is: conversations.
Regardless of who initiates it (inbound vs. outbound marketing), or how and where conversations are initiated from (phone, display ads, blogs, videos, etc.) conversations lie at the heart of lead generation. It is the sole activity that must be done well and matters the most; not the numbers, metrics, keywords, or spreadsheets. It is the messaging that reels visitors in, content that engages them in conversation, and the human interaction that prospects feel from your brand that must trump all others efforts.
Crafting better conversations
Your brand’s messaging sets the tone for all future communications with your prospects, so it’s only logical to do it right from the very first touch point. But how do you do that, exactly?
Two words: Buyer Personas.
The key to successful marketing is knowing your audience well.
When you know your audience well, you know what tone appeals to them. You know what voice they’re most likely to listen and stay engaged to. You’ll know exactly where they hang out - both in the digital and offline world - and what offers they will respond to.
Creating buyer personas is a worthwhile activity in that once you spend the time to know your buyers well now, you will be rewarded in the long term with: - lower bounce rates, as you now know what content, voice, and tone resonates with your prospects - increased conversions, since you’re reeling in more qualified contacts, instead of casting a very wide net - the ability to segment your contacts, allowing you to create highly personalized content for your different personas which, in turn, will improve the metrics your boss will surely love.
Spend the time to know more about the people behind the B2B companies you’re marketing to. What are their roles, responsibilities, and goals? What do challenges and pain points to they face in pursuit of their objectives? Who do they answer to? To whom do they share their responsibilities with? How do they spend their free time? Your answers to these questions will help you empathize with your prospects and guide you as you craft the perfect messaging for them.
To help you get started with buyer personas, we have prepared a free guide for you to download. It includes tips and tricks for asking the right interview questions, formatting your research, and presenting your buyer personas for use in marketing segmentation.
With buyer personas in place, the next logical step would be to take advantage of those powerful insights. Align your marketing efforts to where you’re likely to find your personas, and meet them with the content and messaging that fits.
Human conversations first, SEO second
As marketers, it is our prime directve to generate leads above everything else. We’re given marketing resources to reel in as many prospects as possible. The more effective we are at driving demand for the sales teams, the happier the upper management becomes, and the more budget we can get.
Because of this perpetual pursuit for metrics, it can be easy to forget that it is our duty to communicate with prospects as much as it is to attract them in. It is communication that differentiates and allows us to transcend from advertising. It helps us uncover insights from prospects that we never would have known if not for human interaction.
And what better way to start conversations with your prospects than to genuinely offer them your help. This line of thinking extends to every marketing activity there is: from display and programmatic ads, content marketing, SEO, marketing automation, you name it.
Shifting a marketer’s mindset to helping prospect is important because it gives them a human goal that guides the message creation process. This, along with the buyer personas, serve as content compasses in choosing the right tone, voice, style, and design decisions.
Any marketing activity without a human goal is bound to feel unnatural and robotic.
Take SEO writing in the context of content marketing, for instance.
Content marketing simply means providing educational and helpful content in the form of ebooks, infographics, how-tos, and videos for your potential readers. For these pieces of content to be useful in the first place, they must first be found - visible and preferred in search engines.
Copywriters and online marketers must then make sure that the content they create follow SEO best practices. The target keyword (what you’re trying to rank in search for) must be present in the page title, meta tags, and heading, and must be mentioned with reasonable frequency in the content body.
And therein lies the problem.
The “need” to rank can often take a writer’s focus away from writing content for people, and into writing content for search engines. With SEO considerations taking the spotlight, writers lose the flexibility and creative freedom they need to create compelling copy. Instead of witty wordplay, they may be forced to settle with a rather bland title just to fit the keywords in the title. Subheaders take the heaviest toll, since writers see this as an opportunity to introduce new subtopics creatively - opportunities writers for print magazine articles tend to take. For writers, subheads are more than just breaks in content for manageable pieces; they’re poetry.
True, this will get you in the first page on Google search (just look at the titles of the articles you see on page one when you look something up). Think about the traffic though. Are the views you’re reeling in coming from the right people? Does the title and content resonate with your personas once they land?
Having “fully SEO-optimized” copy may increase views and overall traffic, but it increases bounce rates from unqualified views as well. Ultimately, this will manifest itself in the form of lower than average page conversion rates.
A middle ground
Striking a good balance between being found and writing compelling copy is, of course, the way to go when faced with this dilemma. At ThinkLogic, it is our style guide to prefer to write freely, deferring SEO except on the absolute necessities, or incorporating them into the title where “creatively” possible.
We put our faith on the power of having genuine, human conversations with our clients and readers. We prioritize getting them engaged and to stay over bulk volume. This way, we can focus on increasing conversions - not visits - and understand our core audience segments as well.
Which leads us back to the original point: There is no B2B lead generation; just human to human conversations with B2B executives to better understand their needs and pain points, and to get to them with the right helpful content. This, with enough time and nurturing, will eventually turn to sales.
Focus on buyer personas to know where and how to attract your audience. When you have those details, craft creative and compelling content specifically tailored to your persona’s channels of choice.
And that’s basically how it all works. There is no need to overthink anything, for as long as you’re willing to help your audience succeed through genuine human interactions.
The rest, we guarantee will come to you naturally.