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Next-Gen Lead Gen; Buyer Centric Tactics Take Center Stage at Online Marketing Summit

As the web plays an increasingly critical role in the BtoB buying process, marketing and sales professionals are challenged to develop an understanding of the pain points and needs of prospects in order to serve up relevant content.

The Online Marketing Summit (OMS) Regional & International Conference Tour, Presented by ClickZ and Online Marketing Connect, explored topics including social Media, search, analytics and demand generation, During the tour’s Jersey City, NJ stop, the content focused primarily on Buyer 2.0 and the increasingly larger role of the web in the buying journey.

“The most over looked discipline in marketing is the user experience and now on the web, its impact is exponentially more important,” said Aaron Kahlow, CEO and Co-Founder of Online Marketing Connect. “At OMS we like to bring all of us back to earth with things like user experience in a time when mobile social and search get all the buzz. ‘Results, best practices and first things first’ is the mantra to help the marketer make sense of it all."

SiriusDecisions estimates that more than 50% of leads come through a company web site, and by 2015, the figure will increase to 70%. During the presentation “Avoiding the Lead Gen Tradeoff: How To Boost Web Form Conversions Without Sacrificing Lead Data Quality,” Jason Stewart, Director of Marketing at Demandbase, broke down the importance of providing prospects with content and information early in the buying process to dictate their next steps and optimize web sites for conversion.

“We’ve heard anecdotal stories about how the sales cycle is getting shorter,” Stewart noted. “It isn’t because BtoB companies are learning to sell better. It’s because they’re inviting us to sell to them much later in the game because they’re doing a lot of their research online and reaching out to the social networks to find out as much as they can about you.”

One of the key tactics to help BtoB marketers increase conversion is enhanced landing pages, but Stewart cautioned that the value proposition must be clear from the very start. Web forms, a common “gating” tactic to garner prospect information, can be helpful to understand pain points, but must be shortened for maximum performance.

“In BtoB, they know if they interact with you and receive your information, someone’s probably going to be picking up a phone and start to talk to you,” Stewart said. “But the problem is those sales people are not going to pick up the phone and talk to you unless they have enough information about your prospects — it’s sales driven and it’s a compromise.”

Dirty data can be detrimental to lead generation, as marketers and salespeople operate on false information. And the problem has become more common, as a recent SiriusDecisions study found that 30% of all prospect records had critical data errors. This hygiene problem is typically attributed to data input errors or prospects deliberately providing inaccurate information on forms. These inaccuracies wind up costing BtoB organizations substantial sums of money, in terms of campaign and sales efficiency. Stewart offered the following solutions to combat dirty data:

  1. Do a data pull of information, and outsource a third party vendor that can “fill in the blanks.” While data standardization can be helpful, it does immediately affect lead scoring and won’t enable immediate follow up as quickly. 
  2. Use analytics tools that allow you to see company account names (ungated landing pages) to see who is viewing educational content, and reach out to those prospects.
  3. Inline capture can save information in each line as it enters so people can still reach out to someone who abandoned the form without filling the information out.