B2B lead generation – it’s the journey, not the destination

It was T.S. Elliot that said “It’s the journey, not the arrival that matters” and as a lover of trains, boats and any kind of slow travel I have to agree. There’s a lot to be said for paying attention to the view of the Alps, before you arrive in Paris.

It’s the same in business. We tend to focus on our final destination, sales, rather than the journey our leads took to get there. But by understanding the steps in our customers’ journey we can make their trip smoother, more rewarding and faster.

The end result? Not just more effective B2B lead generation, but better lead conversion.

There are three simple steps you can take to map out a lead generation campaign that will give your leads a truly meaningful journey – to you.
 

1. Know your travellers

The first step is to understand who you want your leads to be. What would your ideal customer look like? And before you say ‘Financial Services Company’ or ‘Retailer’ think about who the people are that you are connecting with. Who is making the decision? Is it the office manager, the CTO or the MD? What’s important to them in their business, what challenges are they facing in their role? It’s also important to understand how they behave, online and in real life.

 A good way to begin this process is to talk to your current customers, get to know them and their businesses in more detail and look for trends.

From here you can group like customer types together, creating customer personas. An example would be:

Sally, the MD. Has trouble getting staff to pull meaningful reporting from multiple systems, is looking for an enterprise solution that is user friendly. Is married with adult children. Likes to read her Twitter feed daily, but rarely posts. Spends weekends at her beach house or working from her home office.

Once you have your customer personas you can begin tailoring your lead generation activity specifically for each group. 
 

2. Look at the map

Your leads will rarely take a direct route to you. Often they’ll spend hours researching their problem and solutions before they make first contact with you. In fact, on average, B2B influencers make 12 searches online before visiting a site. *

Think about each stage of their journey and what they are looking for.

When they are at the ‘Awareness’ stage they have a problem, and they’re just trying to figure out what to call it. For example, their reporting is inconsistent and there are overlaps in the type of data each system reports on.

The next stage is ‘Consideration’. They know they have a reporting issue; they are now looking into what they can do to fix it. They have a few options: better training, restructuring reporting roles or implementing an enterprise system.

The final stage in their journey is the one we tend to focus on most, the ‘Decision’ stage. They have decided the best solution for them is an enterprise system and now they need to decide which one.
 

3. Give them the right transport

Because we are so focused on the destination, not the journey we will often only talk to leads as if they are at the ‘Decision’ stage. It’s a bit like talking about how amazing Montmartre is when your travellers are mesmerized by a Riviera sunset. They’ll ignore you, because at this stage, they’re not interested. 

Each stage requires its own type of content and vehicle (channel). Map out what each of your personas need at each stage of their journey and create an inbound marketing plan that’s truly engaging.

For example, at the ‘Awareness’ stage you might get Sally’s attention by posting on social media, commenting on common issues with reporting. At the ‘Consideration’ stage she might download your whitepaper on creating efficiencies in business through enterprise systems. At the ‘Decision’ phase she’ll receive an automated email from you, followed up with a phone call from your sales team.

The most important thing is to have enough of the right content to resonate with the right leads at the right time.

Travellers? Check. Map? Check. Transport? Check. You’re on your way to an amazing lead generation journey.

To find out more on using content to create leads and grow your business, download our inbound marketing checklist.

 

* Google/Millward Brown Digital, B2B Path to Purchase Study, 2014.