Not All Lead Generation is Equal
Every B2B marketer knows that the purchase process is becoming more and more complex and generating leads has become correspondingly more difficult. With an array of tools to choose from, it’s important to distinguish different tiers of lead generation. Businesses sometimes make the mistake of purchasing advertising before implementing a strong Inbound Marketing foundation. Direct lead generation, fueled by content, should come before investing in what we call “secondary” lead generation.
What does LinkedIn Lead Accelerator do?
LinkedIn’s expanded Marketing Solutions portfolio includes the LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, which drives leads through what is essentially ad retargeting. When a visitor lands on your website, LinkedIn drops a cookie on their browser. If you couldn’t convert your anonymous visitor into a known lead the first time around, Lead Accelerator serves them ads as they explore the Internet—nurturing the prospect in hopes that you’ll get them the second or third time around. You can tailor the sequence of the ads based on website navigation and LinkedIn data.
Lead Accelerator works in tandem with LinkedIn Network Display (an ad serving network), which allows businesses to place display advertising not only on LinkedIn, but also across thousands of other sites. LinkedIn’s platform offers a set of solutions with a “full-funnel” marketing approach, designed to reach, nurture and eventually acquire high-quality leads as it guides them through the buyer’s process.
What LinkedIn’s service doesn’t do is send you lists of leads or their personal information. It does reduce form abandonment by making it easier for your website visitors to share their contact information on a landing page. All they have to do is click a single button instead of filling out your form. This conversion assist is available whether or not the site visitor has arrived as a result of LinkedIn Lead Accelerator retargeting, perhaps “worth the price of admission alone.”
As Far as Advertising Platforms Go, LinkedIn Is Effective
If you can afford secondary advertising, LinkedIn's marketing solutions are probably a safe bet. Here are some stats from LinkedIn that illustrate why:
- 50% of LinkedIn members are more likely to buy from a company they engage with on LinkedIn
- 80% of LinkedIn members want to connect with companies
- 94% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content
- 80% of B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn
- B2B marketers have generated a 150% increase in leads on LinkedIn since 2010
Why Are Direct Leads Better than Advertising?
Ideally, the content on your website should be compelling enough to convince visitors to take the next step and download or engage with your “premium content” (the stuff you keep behind landing pages). Therefore, marketing teams should focus on optimizing direct lead generation before investing in secondary strategies like ad retargeting. If the content isn’t worth trading personal information for in the first place, the chance that your site will convert visitors into leads on their second visit is low – and you’ll only be getting a fraction of your traffic to come back via retargeting.
The more on-site content you publish, the more relevant visitors you’ll get. When you publish material—e-books, check lists, case studies, white papers, ROI calculators—you’re not only establishing thought leadership for your company, but you’re also setting up a significantly higher chance for conversion.
So it should come to no surprise that:
- 71% of B2B marketers use content marketing to generate leads (MarketingProfs)
- An average of 10 pieces of content are consumed before a purchasing decision is made (Google ZMOT)
- Companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don't (SocialMediaB2B)
Least surprising is that the more frequently you publish blogs and premium content, the more site traffic and leads you will generate. “Publish or perish” has lept from academia to business.
Importantly, direct lead generation ROI inevitably increases as you produce more content. A content-fueled Inbound Marketing strategy grows and improves over time. Calls-to-action will continue to generate direct leads months and even years after being published. By contrast, advertising is usually purchased on a campaign or subscription basis. Once you stop paying for it, you’ll lose visitors—and opportunities to convert them into leads.
Real World Example: eCornell
eCornell, an online subsidiary of Cornell University, says it doubled its landing page conversion rate by using Lead Accelerator, and the cost per lead is three times lower than what they’ve seen through traditional retargeting. Lead Accelerator apparently did wonders for eCornell, but the site also has inbound fundamentals. Its free blog provides the latest news in growth, sales and innovation—which fosters thought leadership. If you want to download eCornell’s free eBook, you need to engage with a Call-to-Action, which brings you to a landing page that asks for your name, company info and email address. This is what inbound content marketing is all about—an exchange of information for premium content.
Start with Direct Lead Generation and Grow
Don’t get us wrong… If your budget can accommodate secondary lead generation, then testing LinkedIn Lead Accelerator vs other ad retargeting options is likely to be worthwhile. However, using Inbound Marketing techniques to turn your website into a direct lead generation machine should be your first priority. Buying repeat site visitation via advertising should come second to content development.
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