What’s your impression of how hard it is to generate leads on social media?
My impression used to be that social media lead generation is unusually hard—much harder than content marketing. But in a recent survey of marketers from Ascend2 content marketing actually surpassed social media in terms of difficulty.
There was another interesting thing in that report. We’ve seen it in a couple of places before: Lead quality is now more of a priority than lead quantity.
It’s becoming pronounced, too. In this last survey, lead quality beat out quantity by 36%
This suggests that marketers are having an easier time with lead generation. Basically, we’re getting pickier. And, sure enough, later in the same survey, Ascend2 reveals that the vast majority of marketers – 89% ‒ say their lead generation programs are becoming more effective, either “significantly” (41%) or “marginally” (48%).
So there’s good news in lead generation these days. Most of us are getting better at it. And today even generating leads from social media is no longer impossible.
There was a time, just a few years ago, that lead-gen efforts on social media were kinda … disappointing. Even in the Ascend 2014 lead generation report, only 52% of marketers said their effectiveness was improving.
What’s more, in 2013, only 11% of B2B marketers said social was their most effective lead generation tactic. Compare that to the 39% who said so in the most recent Ascend2 survey.
So, what’s changed?
Well, we’ve all had a couple of years to experiment with different tactics. Simple trial-and-error experience has helped us get more effective.
Most of us have tried at least a dozen different lead-generation tactics, and even if the majority failed (alas, this happens more than we’d like to admit in marketing), a handful did actually work. And so, being smart marketers, we dropped the duds and invested in the winners.
Voilà: Dramatically better results.
The technology factor is also kicking in. How we track and measure and publish on social media has improved. And how well the social media platforms let us track and measure and publish has also improved.
As you probably know, there’s no shortage of social media tools. Most of them are great. Some of them are downright awesome. And many of them are new or have improved considerably over the last two years.
Basically, we’ve got better tactics. And we’ve got better tools.
Our social media strategies have also evolved a lot, too. Most of us now understand that audience size is nice, but engagement is where the money is. That’s progress.
So now that we’re armed with all these big improvements, which tactics are B2B marketers actually employing on social media? The list below will show you. It’s not an exhaustive cataloging of every available tactic (that’s a book, not a blog post), but I’ve assembled the “classic hits” of social media lead generation. Plus one or two that tend to be sorely overlooked.
If you haven’t tried any of these, it’s time you did. And if you tried them once and found them wanting, I suggest you try them again.
1. Add lead generation call to actions to your social media profiles.
I bet most of you have heard this advice before … and are probably ignoring it.
Why do I say that? Because it takes some searching to find examples of good lead generation calls to action in peoples’ profiles. But I managed to find a few.
2. Offer lead magnets in your social media posts
This is probably another tip most of you have seen before. If it seems like a “been there, done that,” kind of pointer, I recommend you refine your execution:
- Convert your posts into ads.
This will get you more exposure, which is nice. But, more importantly, it’ll let you accurately split-test variations in your posts. Consider testing post headlines, content-asset headlines, images ‒ the works. Also test your landing pages for these opt-ins. (Just not at the same time as you’re testing ads.)
- Repost them.
Biggest mistake I see with social media lead gen: A business will have a shiny new content asset, and they’ll promote it well for about a week. And then it all but gets archived, never to be shared again.Don’t do this. You worked hard for that asset. Make it earn its keep. Keep sharing it at least once every couple of weeks. This will give you a nice steady stream of leads, dramatically improve your ROI on the content asset, and fill up your social media feeds. Nice!
- Use every formatting trick in the book.
See the picture in the post below? They’re doing that because photos get attention. Note the complete description and the shortened URL. Those are all formatting best practices.
- Offer lead magnets for specific customer personas.
Remember how marketers now want quality leads, rather than just more leads? One way to do that is to offer niche content. You may get lower engagement and conversion rates on niche content, but keep your eye on the prize: the final, sales qualified leads. If the numbers work for that metric, you’ve got a winner, even if the initial engagement rates are soft.
3. Stop ignoring Instagram and Pinterest.
“Go where your audience is.” We’ve all heard that before. And B2B audiences are on LinkedIn, right?
Well, yes. But the engagement winner for B2B is …
Instagram? Really? Yes indeed, according to TrackMaven’s 2016 B2B Industry Report.
Check out their data on engagement for different types of B2B companies across the five major social networks:
4. Never underestimate your forms.
Heard enough about marketing funnels lately? Haven’t we all …
Well, you can apply all that funnel talk to your social-media lead generation. Every step along the way – from when someone first follows you to when they become a sales qualified lead (SQL) – is a little micro-conversion. Every one of those micro-conversions can be tested and improved.
I’d recommend you start with your forms.
Form design and functionality certainly isn’t sexy, but the humble form is a power lever of conversion. If you can improve the conversion rate on even one form by 30%, you’ll have bought yourself 30% more leads. That’s a powerful thing. And almost ‒ dare we say? ‒ sexy.
So why the focus on forms? Because they tend to cause a lot of “friction” in the conversion process. In other words, they’re usually the weak spots – the places where you lose the most people. So every little improvement you can make to them tends to have big effects throughout the marketing funnel.
Fortunately for you, we just so happen to have a rather nice ebook about optimizing forms. It’s here.
5. Become an analytics maven.
I can point you to best practices and show you what’s worked for other companies. But ultimately, it’s all skewed information. It’s not specific to your business, or your audience, or the resources you have available.
Here’s the truth: You’ve already got the best source of information for how to get more leads.
You’ve got your performance data.
If you don’t have performance data, or it’s muddy data – make priority #1 cleaning it up. Maybe that means you’ll need to add another tracking system, like Bit.ly (or others) so you can track clicks from third-party sites.
Your analytics data holds vital information. You just have to find it, and be smart enough to recognize it when you spot it. Maybe that will require some study to improve your analytics skills. Maybe it will mean cleaning up your data, or even investing in a more robust tracking system.
Whatever it requires, do it. There’s an old saying, “the money’s in the list.” But it’s also in your data.
Here’s one other game-changing thing to think about: Given recent improvements in social media lead generation, the future could be very sunny.
In the last three years, the number of marketers saying their social lead gen is improving has increased by more than 30 points. If that continues, think of how excellent we’ll all be at this by 2020.
So keep doing what you’ve been doing, marketers (and marketing tool creators). It’s working!
Back to you
What’s your favorite lead-generation tactic on social media? Give it a shout out in the comments.