If you sell to other businesses, as we do, I’m sure you’ve noticed some significant changes in how to effectively reach prospects over last few years. They are more wary of our efforts to engage with them and reticent to give information.
In this post I want to share several of the ways that we engage with prospects for our business as well as use with our clients. As you will see, these are not all focused on directly contacting a prospect. I hope you find some of these applicable for your business.
Create a very specific customer avatar.
I understand that a lot of businesses can use the product/service you offer…if only they knew about you. Unless you have the advertising budget of Coke or Ford you are not going to be able to reach that many people. A far better strategy is to precisely identify the most likely customer and focus your marketing efforts on them.
A customer avatar is one strategy to help you and your team do this. Create a demographic and psychographic profile of the buyer. How old are they? How long have they been in business? Who do they sell to? What challenges do they face in their business? How can they best utilize what you are offering? What problem do you solve for them?
You might identify two or three (no more!) customer avatars. By narrowing the focus in this way you can tailor the language of your marketing to just this group, demonstrating your unique understanding of their needs, and create relationships more quickly.
Have a keyword strategy.
When someone is looking for your product/service what do they type into their favorite search engine? In most cases they don’t know your business by name, so they are searching for something you offer. If you do an in-depth keyword analysis and really understand how people search for you it will help you optimize your website and content for those keywords.
If paid advertising is a component of your overall marketing strategy, then identifying the keywords that offer the best balance of search volume and cost per click will help your campaigns be far more successful.
Ensure your website and landing pages load quickly.
I know you’ve read this before, but it is amazing how many sites take two or more seconds to load. Today’s searcher has a very short attention span when it comes to researching online. This is particularly true when they search from a mobile device.
There are two ways to accomplish this. One is to have your site hosted on a platform that emphasizes load speed. It would seem like this is such a basic that all hosts would provide this level of service. That is not the case. You will pay more for a high-speed host, but if it keeps just one prospect on your site, and they buy, it should more than make up the difference.
The second is in how your website is structured. If you have a WordPress site, make sure the number of plugins is as few as possible. I evaluate a lot of websites over a month’s time and see the direct correlation between the number of plugins and load speed. (The most I’ve ever seen? 42 plug ins on a single site! The load speed was just over 5 seconds.)
One of those plugins should be an image compression program that will help your images load more quickly. Video is a great addition to a website, but you don’t need high resolution quality in this application.
Optimize for mobile.
You’ve probably heard this 100 times, but that’s because it is so important. For most business niches over 50% of the searches for your service are done using a mobile device. If it is not easy to read and navigate with a flick of their thumb your prospect is now reading your competitors site.
A few years ago the technology for mobile adaptation was to essentially shrink the width of the site, a technique with marginal results. Think about how many different screen sizes there are on mobile phones today, not to mention tablets. Make sure your web developer is using tools that will intuitively format to the device being used.
Offer relevant content that adds value.
I can’t say this often enough. Think for a minute about your own experience when searching for a product or service. How many websites did you find that were a buffet of platitudes about how wonderful the company was and all of the features their products offered? Not one word about the benefits to you the prospective customer!
When you create the content for your website, or for future blog posts, start with the keyword search I described in #2 earlier. Then write benefit-based articles utilizing those search terms. You’ve studied your customer avatars; you understand their needs and what keeps them up at night. Share how your company will help them resolve these issues. If you do this effectively you will be far ahead of your competitors who spend way too much time thumping their chests.
Give some of your best content for free.
Huh? That sounds so counterintuitive.
A well-worn strategy is to give some sort of lead magnet, a report for example, in return for the prospects email address. We call this “gated content.” Not too many years ago that worked really well. But today’s business owner realizes that what the “free offer” really does is open their email address up to a lot of spam. (I’m going to resist the temptation to lecture you on the poor job you’ve done in the past creating email sequences. One reason our customers don’t want to give up their information is because we’ve spammed them!)
So why give some of your best content for free? Because you have now provided real value, an idea or tool that will help your avatar. It is only natural for them to conclude that if you’re this generous for free, what will they experience when they pay you?
There is also the subconscious, but very real, law of reciprocity. If you share something of value with me I feel as though I need to ‘pay you back’ in some way. Even if that is just accepting more contact and information, which is exactly what we want.
Use video whenever you can.
I’ve read multiple surveys of people who search online, and the average result is that right around 80% of those asked would prefer to watch a video rather than read text. I like to encourage our clients to include a short, no more than 75 seconds, welcome video on the home page of their website. This personalizes the owner as well as keeping the prospect on your site for awhile and helping them navigate to your other pages.
For site load speed considerations you don’t want a lot of video on the website. Rather, use a site like YouTube or Vimeo and store your videos there. Then include links in the copy on your website and blog posts that will take the reader to your videos. This way they can engage with you, your team, and your products in a powerful way.
Add a Live Chat widget to your website.
Frequently a visitor has a question and doesn’t want to fill out a form or pick up the phone. The convenience of typing in their question and having someone answer in a reasonably short time is a great way to separate your company from the competition. While this is a relatively new tool, it is already quite popular. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Vtldesign 38% of the respondents said they based their purchase on a live chat.
An alternative is a Chat Bot. That is a tool you can pre-program to respond to some of the most frequently asked questions that a prospect might have. While not as satisfying as a live response, a Chat Bot is available 24/7 for a very nominal investment. As artificial intelligence technology improves these bots will become even more intuitive.
Design and host webinars.
The upside of a webinar is obvious. You can personally introduce your company, yourself, and products to a group of prospects in a ‘live’ setting. They can ask questions, and even if they don’t buy immediately someone who attends your webinar is an excellent lead.
Hosting a successful webinar is not easy. It requires a significant investment of time in marketing to get people to register, keep them interested in showing up after they do, and if the webinar is too long or doesn’t capture their interest right away they’ll leave before you have a chance to really engage with them.
You can overcome this in several ways. Offering a high value bonus for those who stay until the end is a good one. Limiting attendance to a small number will also create scarcity and make it more likely those who register will attend. Making the webinar interactive by conducting surveys of the audience will also increase engagement and retention.
There are several good webinar platforms that can help you automate all of these tasks. If you’d like to know more about these grab 15 minutes on my calendar and I can share our research: https://calendly.com/gordonvanwechel/15min
Get customer testimonials.
Focusing on generating customer reviews and testimonials is today’s Internet version of good old-fashion word of mouth advertising. It is so powerful because prospects trust others who have been your customers far more than they trust what you might say about your business.
Two recent studies from Bright Social and Real Strategic indicate that 87% of people who are referred to a business will first go online and look for reviews. If you don’t have a consistent referral generation strategy in place you could be losing business opportunities and not know it.
I’ve written elsewhere about our 5 Stars in 5 Days program. You can learn more here.
Nurture your leads.
Once someone has given you permission to communicate with them do so in a way that is comfortable for your prospect while still sharing the value of working with you. Lead nurturing is a lot like dating, there is an acceptable cadence, a give and take that is a natural part of the process. Ask for the sale too quickly and you lose their confidence.
We frequently refer to this process as a “sales funnel.” The purpose of your funnel is to take the prospect from their initial expression of interest in your company to a clear understanding of your product/service and the value you offer. This is done through email, text messaging, reports and other collateral materials, phone conversations, and in person meetings. As the prospect approaches the bottom of the funnel it is time to make an offer and ask for their business.
You spend a lot of time and money to generate a lead, make sure your funnel is a carefully designed process that is tailored to each of your customer avatars.
To wrap up this discussion…
Lead Generation for B2B companies is constantly evolving. What worked last year isn’t always effective this year. Here at Alchemy we also offer our products to other businesses and are constantly monitoring new best practices for this as they appear. I’d be happy to discuss strategies for your business. You can call me directly at 505-720-2647 or book a time that is convenient for you by going to https://calendly.com/gordonvanwechel/45min.