By Hurera Sheikh, 

For decades, businesses have relied on telemarketing, walk-in meetings and print ads to generate leads. Despite their utility, many companies are shifting towards a combination of both online and offline lead generation techniques to maximize their reach. According to Webbiquity, overall B2B marketing budgets are expected to increase by 5% on average in the coming year with spending on digital marketing programs projected to rise three times as fast. These astounding forecasts mandate a swift revision of your B2B lead generation methods and here are the bleeding-edge online lead generation tools that can help you get there.

1. Virtual Event Marketing

Virtual events have seen a hockey stick growth in the past decade with no signs of stopping and there are several sophisticated virtual event platforms out there, like vFairs, that can help you deliver a stellar virtual event. With Market Research Media stating that the virtual event market will grow from $14 billion in 2018 to $18 billion in 2023, we can see how pivotal a role this avenue has to play in online lead generation and here’s how to make the most of them to generate leads:

Develop a Killer Registration Page: Incorporate a simple signup form, informative yet concise content and good visuals on your registrations page.

Optimize Virtual Booths and Help Desks: By having someone present at each booth 24-7 when the event is live, you can maximize the contacts exchanged over the booths and follow up with these leads when they’re still warm.

Host Stellar Webinars: These are the front-running lead generation tools in content marketing which is why you should include live or pre-recorded webinars in your virtual event.

Leverage Your Resource Center: Add a sense of exclusivity to your event by either charging for or having visitors sign-up for downloading premium content from the virtual event.

Integrate With Ecommerce: With a virtual event, you’re attending visitors, demonstrating products and negotiating prices in real time which makes online transactions a lot more easier, quicker and likely. Use paypal or debit/credit card integrations to make sales during the event and maximize on the shortened sales cycle.

2. PPC (Pay Per Click)

PPC is a digital marketing formula where the advertiser pays an amount (as per suggested bid) each time someone clicks a link on Google SERPs. With PPC, you select the keywords in Google AdWords that you want your website to show up whenever a relevant search is performed which allows you to advertise to people who are genuinely interested in what you are offering.

Here are 4 pro tips to nailing your PPC Campaigns:

Identify What You’re Selling: Run some google searches to find out what words your competitors are focusing on.

Research Your Keywords: If you’re new to PPC Campaigns, it’s best to go for broad keywords that yield wider results. Shift to more specific keywords once you’ve gained deeper insights and also incorporate negative keywords to further specify searches.

Be Specific: If you have categories within a product or service, focus on them by creating themed ad groups. For instance, ‘premium male colognes’ is far more relevant to a buyer looking for a purchase versus a generic phrase like ‘colognes’.

Build Specific Landing Pages and Monitor Them: Don’t land all your ads on the same page. Make separate landing pages for each keyword to maximize your chances of conversion. The idea is to match your site copy with the initial intent.

3. Content Marketing and SEO

With SEO, you can reach leads and route them to your website without paying for the top spot in search results. However, it’s not a lead generating strategy on its own and must be coupled with great content to seal the deal. This marriage of content marketing and SEO, known as Search Engine Marketing, relies largely on a concept called ‘user intent’ that is, the real meaning behind a person’s search that explains what they’re looking for. When someone keys in a certain keyword for search, the pages that rank highest in search results are the ones that best serve its user intent.

For instance, a quick search for ‘content marketing’ shows search results on ‘how-tos’ which show that the phrase serves an ‘inform’ intent. Alternatively, type ‘content automation’ and you’ll see companies that enable content automation which signals a purchase intent. This is valuable information for your SEO campaign because it allows you to develop content to meet the audience’s needs.

Using SEO for Lead Generation:

Enlist Relevant Keywords and Research Them: Use Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to identify terms that are relevant to your industry and put them to the search test to identify the user intent behind each of them..

Segment Keywords According to Sales Funnel: Keywords predominantly showing an inform intent are likely to be used by people at the top of the sales funnel whereas those more used for purchase intent are likely to be used by people further across the sales funnel. Use these insights to develop relevant content and ascertain conversions.

Optimize Existing Content: Review existing content and rephrase parts of it to match keywords with user intent. Go over your eBooks, blog posts, listicles, tutorials and press releases to modify them with keywords according to the sales funnel they are catering to and develop additional content to fill any gaps.

According to ReadyTalk, inbound campaigns generate 3 times more leads than outbound campaigns at 62% the cost. With search engine marketing providing an astonishingly lower cost per lead, it’s about time that you start exploring it to up your lead generation game.

4. Social Media Marketing

Social media is a powerful channel to disseminate content and engage audiences at a personal level. It’s a place to sense sentiments as well and develop the “voice” of the brand. Persistence in social media eventually leads to discovery and a boost in incoming leads. Last year, social media channels were the third leading source of website visits for businesses and with 72% internet users engaged with social networking, the platform has immense potential to bring you business. Here’s how:

It Enables You to Publish Varied Content: Social media allows you to express yourself in a variety of mediums from infographics, articles and videos. With repurposing, you can drive a lot of value out of the same material too.

Run Active Q&A Sessions to Become Thought Leaders: Position yourself as a thought leader by adding value in LinkedIn discussions, taking questions on Quora, creating informative posts and responding to comments.

Paid Campaigns: You can run sponsored campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to grab a more targeted audience. These campaigns allow you to create target audience profiles in great detail based on their demographics, income levels and interests. For instance, LinkedIn you can post an ad in front of C-level execs in your industry if you throw enough spend on it. You’re already creating great things, it’s important that it reaches the right people too and these campaigns facilitate this.

5. Email Marketing

According to Neil Patel, leading author and online marketer, email campaigns surpass social media by 20% in customer retention. With 73% marketers citing emails as crucial to their marketing plans, it becomes clear that they are a formidable source of generating solid leads.

Email marketing can be used to promote your blog content, upcoming events, sales and promotions and quite simply to stay in conversation with your followers and guiding them to a specific call-to-action. This two-way interaction lends emails the edge of being far more personalized which brings a lead another step closer to converting. According to HubSpot, companies that nurture leads through email generate 50% more sales-ready leads on average at 33% of the cost.

There’s no denying the centrality of digital marketing in today’s day and age but investment in its different techniques is only as good as the returns they bring. With the rules of marketing changing fast, it’s crucial to keep pace. Employ these bleeding-edge techniques so that you stay connected with your audience in a meaningful way and allow them to naturally transition from being consumers to paying customers.

Sourced from Huffington Post