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Do Leads Matter Anymore?

As part of the excitement building around account-based marketing (ABM), there has been a growing school of thought that leads and conventional funnel metrics will become a thing of the past.

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NetLine Highlights 32% Year-Over-Year Growth, Ongoing Enhancements To Lead Gen Offerings

1netlineContent syndication and lead generation services provider NetLine Corporation announced revenue increased 32% compared with 2014 in its fiscal year 2015 results. The company said it also had a 70% client retention rate for the year.

Netline attributes the growth to ongoing enhancements to its AudienceTarget technology. The company also noted that new product launches intended to improve lead conversions was an important goal for 2015 and will continue to be a focus this year.

Taking Control of Your Lead Generation

vin turkTraditionally, B2B publishers use a variety of tools to execute lead generation efforts. This process includes multiple departments — IT, sales, engineering and account management, among others. It typically is inefficient and wasteful.

5 Ways To Leverage Social Media For Lead Generation

Frank Paterno IntelliConnectionMarketers agree that social media should play a part in shaping their company’s image. Yet, many struggle to see how they can leverage social media to generate qualified leads and ultimately boost revenues.

Social media isn’t just another tool to round out your marketing strategy. It has become the most cost-efficient method of driving sales. It boasts a user base of billions in one compacted medium that makes it easier than ever to pinpoint your most probable buyers — and to do so without leaving your desk.

While simply generating user activity can help, it isn’t the same as generating leads. Companies need to realize that likes, shares, comments and followers aren’t guaranteed to transition into sales, but they will if nurtured correctly. There are five ways a business can improve its lead generation efforts by utilizing social media.

1. Know Your Customer

If you don’t know who you’re selling to, it won’t be easy to appeal to them. People use a variety of social media networks for very different purposes. Many B2B clients may be accustomed to buying and selling via LinkedIn. In contrast, consumer brands see the most gains by Instagram and Pinterest users reposting product pictures.

The key is to know which social media platforms your customers use and why. Many use a multitude of different websites daily. Your goal is to learn which services provide you with the most opportunities to reach customers and then adapt effectively to speak their language.

2. Share Engaging Content

Anyone with a social media presence knows they must distribute a steady stream of content to be seen and heard, yet an astounding number of them fail to realize their content should be interesting to their target audience. Surveys show that social media users are deterred by excessive promotion updates with empty messaging.

Instead of getting lost in the clutter of their news feeds, offer users something that will spark their enthusiasm. This will not only retain existing followers so that they’re still around when you do share an occasional promotion, but also attract new followers who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to your marketing.

3. Follow A Timetable

Be strategic when deciding the timing and frequency of social media posts. Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals — identify when and why you want to create buzz, and use those conclusions to form a schedule. It’s ineffective to carelessly post material at random intervals. Keep your company’s calendar in mind as well as the times your audience is most active online. You want to maximize positive exposure and, more importantly, convert that exposure into sales. For example, it might be a good idea to make a daily post for several days leading up to a product announcement.

4. Listen Closely

Consider yourself lucky if your competitors aren’t already taking advantage of social media marketing. If you’re in such a fortuitous position, don’t waste any time in establishing a lead. But if they have indeed made inroads into your customer base, it’s easier than ever to catch up. While social media makes a company more visible to customers, the same characteristics make it just as visible to competitors. Keep an eye on their actions in order to improve your own.

5. Improvise When Necessary

As time passes, the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy will become evident. Make sure to critique both the good and bad to improve your efforts as you move forward. If people stop giving as much feedback to your posts, maybe it’s time to revise your outreach. Repeat your successes and treat your setbacks as learning experiences. New forms of social media are sure to emerge and the popularity of existing websites is bound to shift. Adjust your actions accordingly.

Applying these principles to your efforts will help your business take advantage of one of marketing’s most valuable tools. More generated leads mean more sales and referrals for your team. When the buying process is made more enjoyable for customers, you have built priceless relationships that will pay off long into the future.

Frank Paterno is VP of Marketing at IntelliConnection, a lead generation and marketing automation service. Prior to IntelliConnection, Frank worked at both MCI and Arthur Andersen. He received a degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo. He is currently the VP of the Greater Alpharetta Technology Network.

How To Find Your Buyers Faster Than Your Keys

DW HeadshotFinding the right buyers can feel a little like searching for buried treasure with a faded and blurry map. You may have a general idea of where to look, but without an “X” to mark the spot you can waste a lot of time digging in the wrong places.

In fact, one of the biggest challenges that B2B marketers face when it comes to lead generation is producing high-quality leads. But what if locating your target buyers did not have to be a shot-in-the-dark process? What if you could find your “treasure” in less time than it takes to find your keys? In the era of Big Data, this doesn’t have to be impossible.

I used to approach demand generation by running quasi-targeted campaigns across various channels using filters for geography, job title, company size and other segments. I basically sent campaigns out into the ether and estimated (hoped) that a certain number of quality leads would come through and convert at a certain rate so that I would hit my goals. This approach took a lot of time and was far from predictable.

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I know now that the smarter strategy is to leverage the wealth of internal and external data at your disposal to know your target audience before you reach out. Analyzing organizational insight, as well as closed opportunities, enables you to create Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) built around your best buyers. ICPs also come from analysis of all the unstructured (social, open web) and structured data available for these “best buyers.”

These ICPs can then be used to generate lead lists identifying companies and individuals that match those profiles. Since the lists are based on your best buyers, they will not only indicate who is likely to convert, but also (and more importantly) who will engage deeply with your product and service. They can reflect intent.

This strategy sounds simpler than it actually is, given the amount of information and sophisticated analytics needed to accurately identify your ideal customer. Just because a certain type of lead converts reasonably well does not mean they will become a good customer over the long term. That is a key concern, as long-term customers are ultimately what drive the most value for your business.

However, with the right analytics engine, the entire process of finding your target buyers can happen instantly and in real time. Then you can focus your energy on engaging those leads in a meaningful way.

The first thing you can do to increase the number of relevant interactions with buyers is to lean on channels that enable one-to-one targeting, such as email, phone outreach and programmatic display advertising using email-to-cookie matching. You still can and should use other channels such events, content marketing, and paid search, but they should be layered on the other pieces as part of a comprehensive marketing plan.

Secondly, you can focus on ungated content for outbound efforts, as opposed to putting the majority of your content behind a form. If you already have all the information you need on a lead (which you should), then your goal is to engage those prospects with actionable and fresh information, and with as little friction as possible. Forms will just get in the way.

Third, you can approach campaign measurement in a new, more meaningful way. In addition to tracking the standard metrics by channel and conversion through the funnel, measure how your campaigns perform against the target audience and penetration of top target accounts, as well as penetration of our overall lead space.

This approach represents a shift in the way most organizations think about demand gen. It's more like shooting fish in a barrel than casting a line into the vast ocean and hoping you get a bite. In today’s data-soaked world, marketing and sales teams can stop guessing and hoping they reach their target audience, and start the outreach process with knowledge in hand.

Damon Waldron runs demand generation for Leadspace, a prospect intelligence platform. He has spent the past six years driving marketing initiatives for top B2B demand generation-focused startups in the Bay Area. His digital marketing expertise also includes significant agency-side experience working with brands such as PayPal, Verizon and Amgen. Waldron is an expert on various digital marketing channels, content marketing and creative execution.

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