How To: Convert Leads in B2B

Sam Kuehnle (VP of marketing at Loxo) talked about what makes a lead convert in a recent Connecting The Dots EP, so let’s dive into that topic today.

Heey there,

Ever felt like you're chasing shadows with your marketing?
Like you're pouring resources into leads that just... evaporate?

It's a rather common pitfall, but the good news is there's a way out.

It's all about understanding and harnessing true intent by refocusing your marketing (even revenue) goals at an operational level.

Sam Kuehnle (VP of marketing at Loxo) talked about what makes a lead convert in a recent Connecting The Dots EP, so let’s dive into that topic today.

But first.
Do you know what archery has to do with your buyer's intent?

I’ll explain at the end of today’s course

Topic Of Today

  • 🎙 Episode Highlight: Focusing on true intent

  • 📚 Deep Dive: Rethinking your marketing strategy

  • 📌 Actionable Advice

  • 📚 Homework

  • 💡 Pro Tip

📽️Connecting The Dots: Sam Kuehnle📽️

In this episode, we discussed in detail why many marketing motions fail as well as some truly easy and some more challenging steps a business can take to significantly improve its lead conversion rate.

  1. 🎙 An Episode Highlight: Focus on true intent

Sam talks about the issues with customer journeys that still rely on strong lead-gen efforts with less focus on understanding what happens to a lead once it has been "generated".

Key Takeaways:

The essence of true intent:
In the endless web of digital user journeys, not all leads are created equal. While a large number of people may be driven to download an e-book or sign up for a webinar, it's essential to recognize that these actions are generally related to casual interest.
True intent on the other hand is when potential buyers actively seek out your services or products, indicating a genuine interest in what you offer.

Redefining the Lead Journey:
Many marketing motions often stop at the point of lead acquisition, especially when the lead is categorized as an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). However, unless your goal stops at getting leads (and you’re not interested in getting paying customers) looking beyond this initial interaction is something you can’t spare. It's about understanding the entire journey from the moment they express interest (i.e. interact with a campaign or organic content piece) to the point they decide to make a purchase.

A shift in cost perspective:
The traditional metric of 'cost per lead' can be misleading. It merely captures the expense of getting someone to express "initial" interest.

A more holistic approach will lead to more meaningful leads. Understanding the 'customer acquisition cost’, a metric that delves into the expense involved in not just capturing interest but converting that interest into a tangible sale is a step towards shifting your approach to understanding the customer journey as a whole.

Enhancing Sales and Marketing:
This approach to ‘true intent’ and understanding the entire lead journey necessitates a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing.

It's about ensuring that once marketing has captured a high-intent lead, sales can seamlessly take over, understanding the lead's journey up to that point.

Without shared goals, messaging, and assets that are created with insights from both teams, you can’t completely optimize the customer journey.

In case there is a customer success team, it’s worth involving their insights into the mix as well.

2. 📚 Deep Dive: Rethinking your marketing strategy

The traditional marketing funnel has been upended by the rise of digital channels, changing the sheer volume of information available to the buyers and thus buyer behavior.

Similarly to how buyers approach B2C relationships, in the B2B realm they also prefer to conduct their own research, understand their challenges, and explore potential solutions before reaching out to a business.

This shift focuses on building customer issue-centric, value-based assets recognizing and catering to high-intent leads. (i.e. instead of stuff that revolves around how great you are » content/campaigns that focus on an understanding of your target audience’s key issues and how they may solve those).

1. From Lead Gen to Demand Gen:

Lead Gen traditionally focuses on the short-term acquisition of leads, often through gated content » downloadables with contact forms. The intent here is typically low, as users are merely providing information to access content in a "research phase",

Demand Gen, on the other hand, is about the long-term creation of demand. It's about attracting those in your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Content pieces may still be gated and a certain stage, but instead of gating ‘high-level’ content and then handing these ‘leads’ to sales, the goal is to understand what makes buyers move forward in their buying decision and get to a high-intent stage. That way you can create journeys in which buyers will mostly come to you when they're ready to learn more.

High-level content should still pack value but be available everywhere where your buyers hang out as there is literally no point in getting the type of contact information that simple martech can get to you through low-quality gated content.

2. The challenges in focusing on Paid Search:

The allure of low-cost leads can be deceptive. While certain keywords might generate a high volume of leads at a seemingly low cost, not all leads are created equal. Many marketers fall into the trap of pouring money into a paid acquisition that can attract low-intent visitors.

These are individuals who might be merely browsing or seeking general information rather than having a genuine interest in purchasing. As a result, while the initial cost per lead might appear favorable, the subsequent conversion rates can be abysmal.

The true measure of success in paid search shouldn't be just about how many leads you can acquire but about the quality of those leads. It is crucial then to track how these leads progress through your funnel. Are they turning into genuine business opportunities? Are they contributing to the pipeline and, ultimately, to revenue creation?

To optimize paid search efforts, you need to adopt a more holistic view. Instead of focusing solely on the top-of-the-funnel metrics like cost per lead, it's essential to delve deeper, examining metrics like cost per opportunity and customer acquisition cost.

3. Research First, Outreach Later:

Especially with mid to high ACV products, instead of immediately reaching out to those who download low-intent content (like e-books), it's more effective to research these individuals.

Understand their roles, industries, and potential goals. This approach allows for more personalized and value-driven communication, generating trust and building genuine relationships.

4. Rethinking the content download experience:

The typical B2B content download experience has become predictable and impersonal. To stand out and build trust, businesses need to humanize this process.

As Sam suggests, this could involve adding a note assuring users they won't be bombarded with sales pitches, creating a fun confirmation page, or even sharing a thank-you video. The aim is to show there's a real person behind the business, genuinely interested in helping.

5. The Power of Relationships in B2B:

In a world where many B2B products are competing on price and in some cases insignificant features, they can be seen as commodities.

This then leads to purchase decisions often hinging on the relationship and value derived from the company and its team. It's not just about the product but the entire experience and support that comes with it.

3. 📌 Actionable Advice

Prioritise true intent:

Recognise the difference between low-intent and high-intent leads. Focus on creating value at every stage of your funnel and thus attracting those who actively seek out your services or products, as they indicate genuine interest.

Rethink Paid Search:

Don't be swayed by the allure of low-cost leads. Dive deeper into your metrics, looking beyond just cost per lead. Track how these leads progress through your funnel and focus on quality over quantity.

Enhance your outreach:

Before reaching out to leads, especially those from low-intent content downloads, take the time to research them. Understand their roles, industries, and potential goals. Tailor your communication to offer value and build trust.

Humanise your customer experience:

Stand out from the typical B2B content download process. Add personal touches, such as thank-you videos or fun confirmation pages, to show there's a real person behind the business.

Continuously nurture relationships:

In the B2B realm, where many products can be seen as commodities, relationships matter. Focus on the overall experience and support you offer, not just the product itself.

4. 📚 Homework

Audit your leads:
Take a look at your current leads and categorise them based on intent. How many are high-intent versus low-intent? This will give you a clearer picture of where your marketing efforts are currently landing.

Review your paid search strategy:
Analyse your paid search metrics. Are you focusing too much on cost per lead? Dive deeper and look at how these leads are progressing through your funnel. Identify areas of wastage and opportunities for optimisation.

Outreach strategy assessment:
Review the last 10 outreach emails or calls made to leads from low-intent content downloads. Were they generic or tailored? Did they offer value? Use this as a starting point to refine your outreach strategy.

Relationship check:
Engage with three of your best customers or leads this week. Instead of a sales pitch, focus on understanding their needs, challenges, and feedback. Use this to refine your relationship-building efforts.

5. 💡 Pro Tip:

Instead of just mapping out your buyer’s journey, put yourself in the buyer's shoes. Experience the journey firsthand. Download your own content, interact with your campaigns, and even reach out to sales. This will give you a unique perspective on what's working, what's not, and where there are opportunities to enhance the experience.

Fun fact answer:
The word "intent" comes from the Latin word "intendere," which means to stretch out, direct, or aim at. In ancient archery, "intending" was the act of aiming the bow at a target.

Just as archers needed to be precise with their aim to hit the target, in marketing, understanding and targeting true intent is crucial to hitting the mark with potential customers

Isn't that just fun?

Keep learning and growing! 🚀 ❤️

New episodes of Connecting The Dots & Business Companion are coming out regularly, so stay tuned.

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