Award-winning lead generation* – follow these 5 golden rules

An increase in brand exposure? Reaching and engaging key decision-makers? The number of new opportunities generated? There are many ways to define what makes a successful lead generation campaign, but it essentially comes down to three simple words: Return. On. Investment. If you can’t track your activity from end-to-end, or post to sale, you’re missing a step. In today’s world of digital marketing, everything is measurable and everything you do needs to be tracked back to ROI. Of course this isn’t an easy process. It needs the right team with the necessary skills, an in-depth understanding of the buyer, the right strategy and then the correct software, technologies and processes in place to execute and measure activity. Get it right, and results will follow. That’s why the Octopus Group team is delighted to be shortlisted for four best campaign gongs at this year’s B2B awards in November for our work with Gamma**, the leading supplier of voice, data and mobile products and services in the UK. Over the last 12 months, the campaign has led to a shift of the entire marketing strategy from push marketing activities and challenges with reporting effective marketing ROI, to a new approach focussed on driving quality inbound leads through the creation of relevant, timely and incisive content. And it’s worked brilliantly. A 30% increase in revenue from inbound marketing. 60+ new customers in 9 months, hundreds of new opportunities to stock the pipeline of activity. The campaign has been so effective that content is now providing circa over 40% of all closed-won new business. So what makes a great lead generation campaign? Lots of different things, of course, but this is a blog, not a thesis, so here we provide 5 to get you started:

Know your buyers inside-out (rocket science, eh?)

Understanding your audience and what they want is at the core of inbound marketing. We call them ‘buyer personas’ and they’re semi-fictional representations of who your ideal customer is, based on a mix of data, field and desk research, and experience. Once you have this information, you then need to match up the content and the persona. Everything, from social media platforms and posts to content, landing pages and reporting, needs to be personalised by persona, and then benchmarked so you can spot the fluctuations in activity and set benchmarks for each individual audience. Once this is done, you have all the tools to answer a series of core questions: How does this piece of content help our persona? What topics really matter to them? What is the sales action we want them to make based on this content?

You’ll need quite a lot of very good content

Every marketing campaign needs content. But the odd whitepaper or infographic won’t cut it. To be successful, you need a variety of content on different topics, for all stages of the funnel. From blogs and infographics, to premium content such as eBooks, reports and how-to guides, all the way to case studies. Of course content can be repurposed and repackaged, but you need that steady supply of new content to ensure both the message remains fresh and so prospects are not constantly seeing the same old dusty eGuide. As part of our activity with Gamma, over 60 pieces of premium content have been featured over the last 12 months, and that’s not including the 80 pieces of supporting blogs and case studies which reinforce the key campaign messages. …But this is a pretty extensive campaign – you can still have great success with less activity, but this obviously increases the need for every single content asset to be spot-on…

Don’t you dare sit back and relax

Just because one eBook converts well in September, does not mean it will still convert well in November. Content can have a surprisingly short shelf life. You may think it’s still relevant – but you’re not a prospect! Follow the marketer’s mantra of ‘Test, Test and then Test again’. Everything, from messaging and images on landing pages to the type of call to action (CTA) on a post, is optimised on a month-by-month basis to improve conversion rates, page views and engagement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the content themes by persona or the time of day to post in specific LinkedIn Groups, it all plays a role in creating a strong lead generation campaign.

Lead generation doesn’t stop at the lead stage (strangely)

As part of our activity with Gamma, lead generation is just an element of the campaign – strategically nurturing leads is just as vital. Applying a scoring system to the leads meant we could measure how high the interest level was of those who were engaging with the content – were they a lead, marketing-qualified lead (MQL), or a sales-qualified lead (SQL)? This approach meant it was easy to spot the hot leads and feed them into the CRM system that the business used across its marketing operations. This was then combined with refreshing the workflow content on a regular basis, examining the key emails with the highest open rates and click through rates to drill down to exactly which content to serve prospects at varying stage of the sales funnel.

You need great people

Brilliant lead generation needs great people with the right skills in the right roles, both agency-side and in-house. Unless you have the experience to spot what’s going wrong with a landing page (and how to resolve it) or tweak a piece of content in a workflow, you are going to struggle. Octopedes have a variety of marketing and comms disciplines, from demand generation and social media to content marketing and PR. Utilising people’s strengths and implementing strong processes and initiatives to execute, report and optimise activity is the key to a successful lead generation campaign, so be sure to invest in a quality team. *Okay, so we’ve not won just yet, but we needed a punchy title – see rule #2! **Thanks to Gamma for being an amazing client – we’re loving the journey!