3 Lead Generation Challenges B2B Search Marketers Must Overcome

B2B search engine marketing performance is based as much on lead generation as it is on traffic, keyword visibility, and production. As B2B organizations become more competent in digital marketing strategy, lead quality becomes just as important as lead quantity.

It should not be a surprise that fewer form field requirements generate a greater volume of lead opportunities, as visitors do not usually like to give up more information than they have to.

However, fewer requirements may compromise the quality of leads generated. This poses a challenge for B2B marketers.

In the Marketingsherpa chart below, even though the majority of respondents incorporated optional field information as a method for balancing lead quality and quantity, this still constituted fewer than half of the respondents surveyed. Multi-step forms and all-field requirements are still common.

Landing Page Form Field Optimization

The challenge of balancing lead quality with lead quantity is a B2B marketing opportunity that search engine marketers should take by the reins, particularly given the significance the company website holds towards lead generation overall.

Here are three lead generation challenges we work with clients to overcome, and three recommendations for B2B search marketers in similar situations.

Significance To Sales Readiness

The first step is identifying the types of assets a B2B marketing team has at their disposal for generating leads, and the proximity those assets have to more qualified sales opportunities. There does not need to be a form submission for every asset.

For example, case studies represent an opportunity for prospective visitors to learn more about how a B2B organization solves customer challenges. This type of asset should be freely available (without form) because the viewer reading the asset is in a much more investigative mindset; if this information satisfies the individual’s interests, he/she may come back to fill out the more comprehensive sales lead information later on.

A white paper might offer competitive information across an industry or vertical. While the visitor is still in an investigative mode, the broader information will often make a short form, with additional, optional field opportunities, more likely to be acceptable.

Conversely, forms meant to funnel directly to the sales team should take into consideration details required in identifying qualified leads. Marketing and sales should work together to define the right criteria for these forms.

Here is a rough example of how we broke this out for one of our clients in recent months.

Lead Funnel Example

Multiple Forms, Multiple Lead Scoring Levels

As B2B search marketers identify assets that can be used in the lead generation process, multiple forms, with multiple form field requirements, should be used in capturing visitor information. The various types of leads generated can be scored (i.e., lead scoring) and used to satisfy quantity and quality initiatives.

Lead scoring is the process of creating a point structure for various attributes, such as job title, company size and industry, email address type, etc. A new lead is assigned a total score based on these attributes and, as a result, they are placed in the responsibility of sales (to initiate communication) or marketing (for lead nurturing).

Any lead submission can become a quality opportunity, but understanding their place in the lead funnel is of paramount importance. White papers, research, and newsletters can generate leads more distant to sales but placed in lead nurturing programs.

Take a look at this Marketingsherpa chart highlighting the level of effectiveness and degree of difficulty in various marketing channels.

B2B Marketing Channels

In addition to SEO and PPC, trade shows, webinars, and email marketing represent highly effective marketing channels that drive leads. However, the question arises as to how marketers obtain the contact information required to get prospective visitors to these events and into the email marketing list.

One answer is the form submission data acquired with assets meant specifically for lead nurturing programs.

Device Type Referral Source

As indicated in my last column, website access via mobile device is becoming a more significant percentage of visitor traffic. B2B marketers need to respond accordingly, evaluating form submission requirements and the type of assets being used in lead generation activities.

B2B marketers should consider the following, in relation to mobile device usage:

  • Type of content being accessed more frequently
  • Type of lead form submissions being filled out
  • Complexity of form submissions and accessibility

It might make sense to reduce the number of requirements in form submissions from mobile web visitors, or make lead generation assets more attractive (such as video, webcast recordings, smaller files, etc).

Three Recommendations For B2B Search Marketers

Building a case for developing more comprehensive lead generation programs takes time and trust. To develop that trust, B2B search marketers should consider the following:

  • Optimize Assets Onpage and Across Website Make sure basic optimization strategies are incorporated into lead generation landing pages. Examples include:

    • Keyword research
    • HTML title, Meta descriptions, page headings, web addresses
    • Social sharing functionality
    • Clear call-to-actions
  • Define Success Metrics in Form Submission Data Seek to understand the needs of the sales team and identify field requirements and the inclusion of optional form fields that will help gather the most effective information.
  • Be Proactive with Web Traffic Reporting Keep significant website metrics, particularly successes and quick wins based on testing, in front of as many key decision makers as possible.

Balancing lead quality and quantity is a significant challenge for B2B marketers. What perspective or advice would you have for colleagues in this situation? I would love to read your thoughts via comments below.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing

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About The Author: is a Managing Partner of KoMarketing Associates, a B2B internet marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC, and social media strategy. You can reach Derek at derek@komarketingassociates.com and follow him on Twitter @DerekEdmond.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • websonalized

    Derek, thank you for confirming what I suspected, ”
     fewer requirements may compromise the quality of leads generated .” In the past I felt hesitant of presenting forms that had no requirements; and I echo that short forms and zero requirements give way to bad quality leads. 

    I value the insight you provide regarding the direct correlations of asset exchange for form complexity.  

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Different types and forms of content can help you connect with a potential customer and push them along through the buying cycle. Like you mention, a case study might be a great starting point to introduce your brand, so why lock it behind a lead form? Someone might not be invested enough to bother. But you build that rapport and slowly work them up to a webinar or ebook they have to register for. 

  • http://www.grinkot.com Boris Grinkot

    I think “Define Success Metrics in Form Submission Data” is the most important recommendation here. What I typically see is that web forms are full of “nice to have” fields that are required, or are missing fields that turn out to be critical for lead scoring. Even the optional, but “I don’t know why we ask for this information” fields are common, creating a distraction and reducing the completion rate.

    When I put together that first chart for MarketingSherpa in 2011, I was looking at it entirely from the conversion rate optimization perspective.

    I am doing some new research on the relationship between lead scoring and conversion optimization practices, and your insights are certainly helpful!

  • http://twitter.com/HispanicMarkets Sebastian Aroca

    At Hispanic Market Advisors we try to facilitate the lead generation process by allowing leads to complete a simple contact form with no many requirements. Then, when we receive the requests, we contact those who have potential of becoming good customers, and we send them a link to a quick survey with specific questions (sometimes we call them as well). Those who are really interested, they normally take the time to have an intro call and complete the extra fields. Those who don’t, may have not been very committed after all. Balancing lead quality and quantity is a significant challenge for B2B marketers but if you manage to maximize / optimize both that’s the ideal scenario.. as we see it!

 

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