B2B Leads and the Email Wild West

Lead generation in the B2B space is full of gold mines, quick shots, grifters, fancy tools, and lots of carnage. Ok, maybe it’s more like open rates, click-through percentages, and conversions, but it can be overwhelming trying to make sense of it all.


How do you start? What are some rules of the road? Here are a few ideas on how to navigate this shape-shifting landscape.

Seeing the spectrum

When it comes to marketing to new clients, the different approaches are innumerable. But, in general, they fall on a spectrum between two extremes: the handcrafted letter and the automated email.

The handcrafted letter:

Swaths of people romanticize the written letter. They long for a “simpler” time when you made connections by taking out a thick piece of company stationery, pulled out your quill and ink bottle, and set to crafting a long introduction, word by word, letter by letter.

They believe that this personal touch is the only way to truly connect with a client and that b2b leads come only through networking and knowing the right people. 

There is some truth to this personalized approach, of course, but it isn’t the only way. And it’s certainly not the most efficient.

The automated email:

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the completely automated email, albeit one with tons of bells and whistles. 

You open an email and somehow, somewhere, some marketer knew it was your cat’s birthday,  and it looks like Steven Spielberg directed a summer blockbuster about the day you got Mittens. The email uses your first name repeatedly in an attempt to sound more human and mentions facts only your mother or your therapist know about you.

But in the end, it all feels sterile–pictures, and motion graphics, and fancy fonts. It’s a lot to digest in your inbox.

The automated approach continues to gain traction because it’s so fast, so convenient. We have access to more and more data, so we have to do something with it, right? Not necessarily.

Navigating through the noise

If you’re at either end of that spectrum, you aren’t reaching clients the way you could. Either you’re spending too much time to make a connection with a single lead, or you’re blasting a list of thousands with information that isn’t tailored to their needs, hoping to impress them with animated gifs. Instead, you want to strike a balance.

Use the data; don’t abuse it

We live in the 21st Century. There’s no need to pretend that email doesn’t exist or that marketers don’t have access to reams of data about clients. But there’s a line between using that data to make yourself useful and alienating customers who will find your approach, well, creepy.

One reason email is still the #1 source for lead generation is because it allows you to tailor the potential client's journey through awareness and conversion. Your potential client wants to feel like you understand him. He doesn’t want to feel like you’re looking over his shoulder while he’s shopping online.

Be a human

Sometimes, despite all the fancy marketing funnels and automated campaigns, the best option is to pick up the phone or send a truly personalized email. The data can help inform your decisions, but ultimately, you want to make human contact.

Yes, it’s the B2B space. But those businesses are run by real people. And they want to know that you’re a real person too.

Be authentic

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. At times, it feels like the only way to have clients notice you is to act like you are a giant corporation with everything figured out. But if that isn’t the truth, your clients will find out eventually. And it won’t be good for either of you.

If you aren’t “one of the big guys,” that’s fine. Instead of pretending that you are, embrace your strengths. Take the Jerry Maguire approach and pitch yourself as a nimble agency who dedicates its time to its clients.

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