Best Practices: Lead Generation (1)
The marketing agency business is extremely competitive, making it critical to employ effective practices to generate leads. Marketing agencies must stand out from their numerous competitors, and three of the most effective strategies for accomplishing this are: engaging in targeted networking, developing an authoritative presence in the industry, and using optimal software and website content.
EMPLOY THE POWER OF NETWORKING
- A key practice for a successful marketing business is building a "bank of connections" comprised of current and former satisfied customers and industry colleagues. Referral networks should include upstream service providers, other marketing agencies, and niche partners.
- Customer referrals and positive feedback are both powerful lead generators. Almost nine in ten consumers now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Agency representatives should ask satisfied current and former clients to serve as referrals and to provide glowing reviews for the company website.
- Online tools such as LinkedIn are a key ingredient for generating B2B leads. It is critical to participate in both local and national marketing networks on LinkedIn. According to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog, “1 million LinkedIn users are senior level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions.” One marketing agency expert claims that LinkedIn is a "treasure trove" of large (enterprise) company leads.
- Agencies should utilize both local and national connections to locate information about smaller networking events. These events should be attended as much as possible, as they are powerful opportunities to grow a network and to make new business friends. Agency representatives should avoid large, impersonal networking events, and focus instead on creating genuine, meaningful connections and relationships with like-minded individuals. Such connections will generate leads down the road.
- Marketing agencies should host their own networking events and publicize them widely. These events allow the agency to showcase their own work and eliminate the competition, as the event's audience is completely controlled.
- Networking is a particularly effective tool to win the business of large companies. It is critical to determine the senior employees of the company by researching the company's website, publications, or press mentions. The agency should use LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media outlets to try to find the name of a mutual colleague who might be willing to provide an introduction.
- If a mutual colleague does not exist, enterprise clients have numerous mid-level managers for smaller divisions of the company. As website design company GoMedia recommends, “Find someone else internally who you’ll be able to connect with – an art director or marketing director of a smaller department – versus attempting to take on the head of the corporation. Start a conversation through email, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever works.”
ESTABLISH AN AUTHORITATIVE PRESENCE
- Developing a reputation as an industry expert can generate leads. Volunteer to speak at small, industry-specific events, where speakers are considered experts in that field. One marketing professional indicated that although he was not truly a music marketing guru, he spoke at a conference in the music industry and was subsequently invited to attend and speak at numerous other related events. He then gained national recognition for his marketing company.
- Strive to achieve awards in the marketing industry, as this publicity may convert into leads. Popular digital marketing awards include AVA Digital Awards, Internationalist Awards for Innovative Digital Solutions, and The Webby Awards.
- Create effective webinars and blogs that demonstrate authority, reciprocity, and likability. Offer to guest blog to publish more content about the marketing agency's expertise and to gain even more exposure.
- According to Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions, “By 2020, online videos will make up more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic (85% in the US).” Vimeo and YouTube generate millions of viewers every day and are the perfect platforms to target a specified audience with videos highlighting marketing expertise. Because more information is conveyed in less time, video content yields the highest social reach. Providing a link to the marketing agency's website is an effective lead generator.
- Low-frequency content marketing is imperative. Rather than posting new content on the agency website on a daily or weekly basis, add new material less frequently. New material should be thoughtful, unique, and establish the agency as an expert in the industry.
- Authors are widely perceived as authorities, thus publishing in the marketing field is a powerful method for generating leads and public speaking opportunities. When a copy of the publication is mailed to a key representative at the prospective company, the agency becomes memorable and is easily differentiated from the competition. An example of this phenomenon is the book Blue Ocean Strategy, which has sold 3.5 million copies promoting The Boston Consulting Group’s renowned marketing principles.
- Publish expert content anywhere possible, including LinkedIn, Quora, and Medium. Hosting AMAs (Ask Me Anything) establishes the agency as a reliable authority in the marketing arena and can assist with landing enterprise clients.
USE LEAD-GENERATING SOFTWARE AND EFFECTIVE WEBSITE CONTENT
- The best marketing software automates prospecting and outbound sales, builds a qualified and appropriate prospect list, and automatically reaches out to these companies with a personalized email.
- “Technology stacks” are groupings of software that effectively generate and manage leads. This software includes remarketing tools like Adroll and Google Dynamic Remarketing, which targets visitors to the agency's website who have not immediately converted. These visitors will then view ads on selected websites that are designed to lure them back to the agency's landing page.
- A high-performing CRM software, such as Salesforce or Zoho will analyze leads and categorize them, thus allowing the marketing agency to provide more effective follow up.
- Email marketing software, examples of which are MailChimp and GetResponse will generate personalized responses to those leads in order to secure conversion.
- Marketing agencies should utilize software to assist with search engine optimization (SEO). This software determines which web pages have a high ranking for keywords associated with the agency. One SEO company boasts that using their software increases website traffic by 95%, conversion rates by 37%, and yields a 60% increase in leads generated.
- Marketing agency websites should always include an effective landing page. This post-click, standalone web page urges the visitor to take advantage of free offers from the agency. Companies using 40 or more post-click landing pages generate 120% more leads than those using less than 5. Including engaging media on the landing page can boost the conversion rate by as much as 80%.
- Effective lead capture forms can increase the conversion rate of the website from 0.96% to 8.1%. The key is to offer website visitors unique free offers, such as proposals, introductory consultations, marketing tools, or a personalized audit. Marketing company Instapage recommends, "Determine what offer will attract your ideal client. You need to be original and truly helpful to your prospects if you expect them to redeem your content."
- Marketing agency websites should include skimmable copy, positive reviews, customer testimonials, authority badges, case studies, and a creative "sign-up" button which allows users to link to social media to pre-fill the website forms.
To complete this research, it was imperative to consult the websites of successful marketing agencies, many of which offered insight into how B2B leads are generated. We then reviewed numerous marketing company websites to determine trends in website content, style, appearance, and landing pages. We also consulted the websites of several software companies offering marketing technology designed to enhance sales, referrals, and lead generation. Finally, we accessed a variety of social media sites to ascertain how they are instrumental in providing exposure for marketing agencies. We attempted to determine metrics of success for each best practice and when possible, we noted specific strategies for generating the business of large companies. It should be noted that our research concluded that the three practices cited, when broadly applied, are all applicable to lead generation for enterprise clients.