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.
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.
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.
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.