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Generating quality leads is something you want to have figured out backwards to run a successful B2B business.
We've tried quite a few things as a young growing business. Here are a handful of them that worked, and a few that didn't quite. We hope you can learn from them.
LinkedIn Pulse articles
Though we haven't been publishing as many articles as we used to, LinkedIn Pulse articles didn't work as well for lead generation as they did for Top of Funnel interactions.
As Mark Ritson puts it, effective marketing is 60% long and 40% short. LinkedIn Pulse articles from CXOs act as a long term brand strengthening activity.
Was it effective as a lead generation point of view. Not quite.
Was it effective as a brand awareness measure? Hell yes.
We got an average of 87 likes, 46 comments, 233 article reads, and 6k post views on the posts of one of our CXOs who has around 2k connections on LinkedIn.
Did it work?
Not quite, if short term lead generation is your goal.
Press releases and editorials are one of the most successful ways of getting leads. Getting published in a well known local publication can push a lot of people to your website and collect leads.
There are good ways of making it to an editorial and then there are great ways of making it to an editorial. We've had the opportunity of trying out both these methods.
Best case scenario, the journalists come to you because they want to write a piece about your business in their publication.
Free publicity based on how well-known the publication and how big their readership is.
Newspaper article don't link back to your website. But a lot of visitors still visit you from Google search and direct visitors.
When we had an article published about the business in De Tijd, we had a spike in website traffic that we understood was related to the publication. But since newspaper websites don't link to your website or allow trackable links, you cannot link them directly to your publication.
Another good scenario. Pay to get published and place your links and Calls-to-Action that allow people to come back to your website, become leads. Websites like Bloovi, Fast Company, Forbes, and Business Insider all have paid options that you can try out.
Most leads coming from a paid article use a trackable link, so your reports can allow you to attribute them correctly.
The leads coming in through that publication were mostly qualified.
We paid about 30EUR per lead. Which for us is more expensive than a lead coming in from a social media ad.
This was an idea we floated, used, and got some good traffic out of. People like to be featured on Top Ten lists. It can make for some good publicity for them. That's what we ran with. Towards the end of 2019, we started creating lists of Top Business Influencer to highlight their social media presence.
We would notify them after publishing the article so they could like, comment, and share the post, and increase its visibility.
They were a bit hit. We spent an hour at most putting the list together. They got at least 5x the reach of our usual LinkedIn posts, and 5x the number of website visits.
It was promising from a lead gen perspective too. We would also get quite a few leads out of those articles.
They weren't always good leads. Even though the influencers were from industries we were targeting, the people who would become leads from those articles, weren't always good leads for us, and therefore wouldn't always convert to customers.
Case Study One Pagers
As a small business, we make it a point to talk to customers, create case studies from our conversations, and publish them to promote our business and our customers.
We ran one-pager case studies as ads on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that we are a relatively young business. So this type of ad was aimed at using social proof to attract leads and demos with us.
It pushed us to really think about the primary value prop of our service. Being able to sum up your pitch, social proof, and value added on 1 page is a great internal exercise. 10/10 Would recommend. Apart from running ads, we also leveraged the case studies for organic reach, tagging companies and personal profiles of our customers which increased our reach enough to mention it here! (want to schedule your case studies with Willow as well? Try it for free.)
Running those ads alone wasn't the best strategy because the people being targeted knew little about what we did. Just that we had social proof. Instead, targeting people who already knew about our business would get better results.
This is a less blunt way to write an article about influencers in your industry and get longer lasting results. And this is a method that content marketers also swear by.
How it works
You ask influencers in your industry a question your audience wants an answer for, collect them, and create an expert opinion article about it. For example this article we wrote with input from the likes of Seth Godin and Rand Fishkin.
As a content marketer, it's not always easy to write a very detailed piece on a subject you don't know about. Collecting expert opinions and writing about it ensures that you're putting out trustworthy content into the internet.
This kind of content is better for attracting search engine traffic and shepherd them into becoming leads gradually than it is to generate a huge amount of leads in a short amount of time.
Witty LinkedIn Ads
Instead of running ads that were functional and only focused on how our business can help customers, we took a slightly different approach.
We made ads that used witty one-liners that explained our value prop. No fancy designs. No paragraphs.
Imagine getting a lot of positive engagement on your ad. And I say positive because we got a lot of comments and people sharing our ad saying that was the best ad they had seen in a long time.
Retention. Like Alexandre, a few other people also said that they still remembered the ad, which is what a good brand awareness ad should do, other than getting people to take a certain action.
Because these ads were popular, a lot of people liked and commented on them, which increased their visibility by 4 times that of a normal ad, and at least 3 times the number of clicks as a normal ad.
Witty ads are risky and people might get put off by them or think they're not "professional" enough. That's not great if your prospective customers prefer a more rational approach eg. an ad that showcases numbers.
Creating a good source of value for prospects and customers has been high on our list for quite some time now. But it couldn't be something we didn't think through and didn't believe in.
So we wrote and published our e-book Win on Social Media put that on its own landing page and ran an extensive multi-channel campaign around it.
In a way, they included a bit of all the techniques we used in the past (that are talked about in this article). We used a lot of examples, we made sure the language was witty yet honest, and we used it as a lead magnet for articles in paid publications.
It helps to be able to say "we literally wrote the book on that." It gives you authority and Seth Godin would argue that books last longer too. If your lead magnet is about your target audience, the leads that come are more likely to be qualified warm leads. They're thinking about solving the problems your business solves, so they might be better interested in your product or solution.
A good lead magnet must deliver on the promises you make about it. Otherwise people that download it and become leads will feel like you fooled them into giving up their email address. So we really had to take time to perfect the e-book so that it was something that would provide value to anyone who received it. But that was literally the only "drawback".