The success of a B2B organisation is often dependent on its ability to generate high-quality leads. As a result, sales and marketing teams are always looking for ways to improve their lead generation efforts.
Yet despite the exponential growth of social media, some B2B companies remain sceptical of its effectiveness as a lead generation tool. If you or your company is hesitant to use social media as a lead generation channel, it’s time to put your reservations aside.
- Of those who use the internet, 76 per cent of Americans use social media;
- In as little as six hours a week, 66 per cent of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media (source)
- Social media has a 100 per cent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing (source)
- Social media lead conversion rates are 13 per cent higher than the average lead conversion rate (source)
Lead generation through social media is quick, cost-effective, and relatively easy to implement. If you’re not sure where to start, keep reading! We’ve compiled a list of the most effective ways to use social media for B2B lead generation.
Promote gated content
Unlike email, direct mail or other traditional marketing tactics, social media allows for two-way conversation — making it a natural companion of content marketing. But if you don’t gate your content, you’re sharing valuable resources without getting anything in return.
For those who aren’t familiar, gated content is any sort of content that lives behind a form — requiring visitors to provide their contact information in exchange for your eBook, whitepaper, webinar, etc.
However, as with most marketing strategies, there are pros and cons that come with gating your content. The benefits of putting your content behind a form include:
More leads: This may seem obvious, but if you don’t capture visitors’ contact information, you know very little about who they are, what products they’re interested in or how to reach out to them in the future.
Nurture opportunities: Just because someone reads a piece of your content doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to buy. Add this type of reader to your email lists and nurture them until they’re ready to make a purchase.
While there may seem to be no downside to gated content, here are some things to be aware of:
Reduced lead quality: As previously mentioned, a lead that comes from gated content isn’t always sales ready. It can be frustrating for sales reps to receive an influx of leads who don’t want to buy.
Reduced readership: Publicly available content will receive more visits and reads than gated content for obvious reasons. If your organisation prioritises brand awareness, gated content might not be the tactic for you.
The key to successfully using gated content is to find a good balance. Use social media to promote some gated content and some public content.
Generally speaking, top of the funnel content like blog posts and infographics perform best when they aren’t gated. Bottom of the funnel content like webinars, eBooks and data sheets perform better when gated. But don’t just take our word for it; test a variety of content to see what works best for you.
Most modern social platforms offer advanced targeting capabilities that keep advertising costs down and generate high-quality leads. If your marketing team doesn’t already run a paid social program, consider these statistics:
- 59 per cent of marketers believe paid social is more effective than organic social;
- Over 50 per cent of B2B marketers rank social media as a “very” or “somewhat” low-cost ad option;
- Marketers see a 25 per cent lift in conversions for paid social media compared to organic social media.
To get started, you must first analyse your customers and prospects to compile buyer personas.
Simply put, buyer personas are profiles of your best customers. Consider who your best customers are and what traits they share. For example, do they have a specific job title, work in a particular industry or come from companies of a certain size?
Once you’ve identified your buyer personas, create highly specific content, offers or promotions and target your ads accordingly. The more specific you get, the more success you’ll have.
For example: If you have three buyer personas — a sales rep, a sales manager and a VP of sales — you should run different three ads targeting their pain points, preferences and buying habits.
Run a contest or sweepstake
Social media contests can help with most marketing initiatives; expanding reach, increasing brand recognition and, of course, lead generation.
While there are many types of contests that can be run using social media, we recommend — for lead generation specifically — to run some sort of sweepstake or giveaway that can only be entered once your prospect provides their contact information.
Remember to be super targeted with the paid promotion of your event, otherwise you’ll end up generating low-quality leads.
It’s also important to consider exactly what your target audience would be interested in winning. While you may get more entrants by giving away a fancy vacation, you’re more likely to get sales qualified leads by giving away something targeted.
For example, if your audience is made up of sales professionals, try giving away free admission and airfare for an industry event.
Involve your sales team
Just because social media is typically a marketing responsibility, that doesn’t mean your sales team can’t play too.
Social selling is no longer just a buzzword, it’s a proven strategy used by reps to increase sales productivity and generate high-quality leads. In fact, 90 per cent of top performing sales people now use social media as part of their selling strategy.
The extent to which you involve your sales team is entirely up to you, but we suggest you start small. Remind your reps to monitor certain message boards, answer questions left on your corporate profiles and join in on prospect conversations.
As a marketer it’s your job to support your reps with guidance and, of course, the content they need to convert prospects to leads.
Conduct a study
Use social media to facilitate and promote a research study. Ask your target audience important questions about their day-to-day activities, their biggest pain points, the tools they use and more.
Be sure to collect their contact information as a requirement of the study. This serves three purposes: you collect the contact information of potential buyers, you garner important insights about your prospects and customer base, and have user-generated content to pull statistics from in the future.
Once the results are in, compile a report and send it to participants. Bonus points for establishing your company as a thought leader.
Offer a free trial
Offer a freemium version of your product and promote it using social media. Although a free trial generates leads on its own, social media can expand the reach of your campaigns and amplify your success.
When you offer a free trial of your product or service, it proves value to the customer, improves adoption rates and, if your product is good, it sells itself.
In fact, best-in-class software companies report a 60% conversion rate following a free trial.
To see the most success with this approach, you must offer features that allow users to see the benefits of the product without offering the entire set of features.
For B2B companies this approach is most successful using LinkedIn, where professionals are accustomed to seeing overt advertisements and are actively looking for products and services.
Implement a social listening strategy
Social listening is not typically thought of as a lead generation strategy, but we think it should be. Here’s why.
With social listening, you don’t need to wait for prospects to come to you or seek out your product. Instead, you can listen to conversations between prospects and offer up your product as a resource.
For those who may be unfamiliar, social listening is exactly what it sounds like: a process of listening to online conversations between customers or potential buyers in an effort to gain valuable brand and industry insights.
Here are three quick ways you can implement social listening today:
Set up Google Alerts: Get emails every time Google discovers a new mention of your brand, industry or competitors.
Monitor hashtags: Track keywords and hashtags using Twitter’s built-in search feature. These should include mentions of your brand, but also keywords that indicate someone is ready to make a purchase. For example, a cell phone service provider might monitor ‘dropped call’ or ‘no service’.
Invest in a social media management tool: Social media tools don’t just schedule your posts anymore. Many come with advanced tracking capabilities that allow you to listen to customers, track competitors and automate social media reports.
Continue reading to learn our top tips and best practices for social listening: The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Social Listening.
Social media is an integral part of any lead-generation strategy. As with most marketing tactics, the more specific to your target audience, the more successful your efforts will be.
Let us know if any of these strategies, or strategies not included here, have worked for your company.