This post is by Sam Holzman from Openview Labs
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There’s no way around it: lead generation can be a frustrating process. You work tirelessly to craft the perfect lead generation campaigns— and often end up scratching your head, wondering how your results ended up falling short of the expectations you set for yourself. If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone in your lead generation struggles. Believe it or not, lead generation is the #1 challenge facing B2B marketers. Lead generation success is dependent on many different factors, and unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to your lead generation woes. But, we can tell you this: there are several common problems plaguing many companies’ lead generation efforts.
Roadblock #1: Misalignment between sales and marketingYou may think of lead generation as a marketing strategy— but if your sales and marketing departments don’t agree on the definition of a qualified lead, you’ll end up generating leads your sales team can’t use. Unfortunately,
problem is rampant in the business world— 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, but only 27% of those leads are qualified. And, sales reps ignore 50% of all marketing leads.
Solution: Prioritize sales and marketing alignmentPrioritize sales and marketing alignment to avoid inefficiencies in your lead generation program. Here are a few steps we recommend:
- Set shared definitions: Work with your sales department to set clear and universal definitions for a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). These shared definitions should be detailed and specific to avoid any future misunderstanding. With these shared definitions, your marketing team won’t waste time sending unqualified leads to sales, and your sales team will trust that the leads they receive are worth contacting.
- Maintain open communication: Hold regular meetings with your sales and marketing departments to discuss goals, campaign results, and any concerns either department may have. Your definition of a qualified lead— and your overall lead generation strategy— will likely change over time, so keep your lines of communication open to ensure both departments grow and develop together.
- Get executive buy-in: Here’s the hard truth: no matter how much your sales and marketing departments want to work together, you won’t achieve long-term alignment unless it’s a company-wide priority. Communicate with your executive teams and ensure that they understand the importance of sales and marketing alignment.
Roadblock #2: Poor targetingPretend you’re taking a road trip. You’ve filled your car with gas and packed everything you need… except for a map or directions to the place you’re going. Surely, in this scenario, you could never expect to reach your destination— and the same logic applies to your lead generation strategy. A large budget and top-of-the-line technology won’t yield positive results if you don’t know where to look for qualified leads. When you focus your efforts on the wrong channels, you fail to reach your target prospects and negatively impact both the quantity and quality of the leads you generate.
Solution: Deepen your buyer personasProper targeting, and lead generation as a whole, depend on a comprehensive understanding of your target customers. You need to know how they act and where they live, so to speak— so you can prioritize the channels they use most regularly. For this purpose and more, buyer personas are a marketer’s most valuable tool. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, buyer personas are profiles of your ideal buyers, based on customer data, quantitative research, and anecdotal observation. The more sophisticated your buyer personas are, the more informed your lead generation strategy will be. For example— past customer data may reveal a large number of your top buyers attended an online webinar during their buyer’s journey. When you dig deeper into webinar analytics, you discover the majority of webinar registrants signed up after clicking on a paid Facebook advertising. This leads you to prioritize webinars in your lead generation strategy and increase your budget for paid Facebook ads— which results in more qualified leads.
Roadblock #3: Low-quality dataWithout question, poor data quality is one of the biggest roadblocks to successful lead generation. In fact, studies show 40% of all leads generated have poor data quality. Missing data points, duplicates, inactive email addresses, and other inconsistencies can wreak havoc on your lead generation strategy if you don’t take measures to prevent them.
Solution: Invest in ongoing data maintenanceOn an immediate level, you can address the issue of poor data quality by examining your lead collection methods. For example, if you receive a number of leads with invalid email addresses, you can then use form validation to prevent incorrect addresses before they enter your system. But, there’s no one-stop fix when it comes to data hygiene. Even if leads enter your CRM correctly, data decays at a rapid rate— meaning many of the leads you generate will inevitably decay over time. To solve this common issue, we recommend you implement ongoing data maintenance. Instead of manually auditing your database when you get around to it, invest in an automated data management tool that can regularly perform data audits and clean up any inaccuracies in the leads you generate. Not only will ongoing data maintenance improve sales outreach, but it will also keep your buyer personas more accurate, your reporting more reliable, and so much more!
Roadblock #4: Lack of personalized contentThe modern buyer demands a personalized experience throughout the buying journey – otherwise, you risk losing their attention to a company who better speaks to their particular wants and needs. Unfortunately, 83% of marketers say creating personalized content is their biggest challenge.
Solution: Map content to the buyer’s journeyContent mapping is the best way to start solving the roadblock of one-size-fits-all content. If you’re new to this term, content mapping is the strategy of aligning content to each stage of the buyer’s journey. Through the process of content mapping, you can deliver content to the right people at the right time, whether they’re in the earliest stages of the buying journey or they’re ready to make a purchase. Here’s a brief look at the traditional stages of a buyer’s journey, and the types of content you’ll need to appeal to each one:
- Pre-awareness: Prospects in this stage haven’t recognized their problem, so they’ll require more engaging, digestible content that doesn’t push a specific product or company. Social media images and infographics are great examples of content that will catch the attention of these prospects and potentially nurture them along in their journey.
- Awareness: The prospect knows they have a problem but doesn’t fully understand it yet. So, they will engage with more informational, yet still vendor-neutral, content. Examples of useful content for this stage include helpful how-to blog posts, eBooks, or guides.
- Consideration: Prospects at this stage are looking for a solution to their problem. They will now respond to more salesy content that explains the benefits of a specific product or company.
- Decision: The prospect is ready to make a purchase— and may have already reached out to specific vendors. In this stage content containing testimonials or case studies can provide the final push and convince the prospect to choose your service.