The Evolution of Lead Generation - How Can Your Business Stand Out In a Stagnant Strategy?

First, let's remind ourselves of the main goal for B2B marketing.  When it comes down to it, it's really about capturing the hearts and minds (and wallets!) of our customers and potential customers. And often, that comes down to a magical combination of content marketing and lead generation tactics.

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Increasing lead generation via content marketing has been a successful strategy for ages. For many years, brands have been creating original content and publications to provide valuable information about a specific industry in order to engage customers. The Furrow, which is a magazine targeting farmers launched by John Deere in 1895, has long been thought of as a pioneer in B2B content marketing. The goal behind the magazine was to generate an audience, build relationships and drive sales. The content was educational and used as a tool to position John Deere as thought leaders in their industry - a quintessential example of content marketing.

This same concept has been passed along and has evolved through many transformations to become lead generation as we know it. Brands large and small are creating content to build an audience, capture a lead, and drive a sale. So where is the evolution?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there has been a lot of evolution in the way businesses are capturing leads. Marketers continue to depend on the hum-drum landing page to encourage users to download sub-par content for lead generation. We need a change and so do our customers!

When reviewing past Content Marketing Institute Benchmark Reports, it's hard to ignore that marketers are suffering a decline in effectiveness. This could be a result of a few things, such as a lack of resources but I am more inclined to believe it is due to archaic lead gen practices that are no longer effective.

2014

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2015

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2016

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What is the solution? How do we improve our effectiveness? How do we evolve our lead generation?

For most of us, lead generation almost always falls back on the same strategies: landing pages paired with a form that provides the user with access to an asset. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses don’t think outside the box when creating landing pages and because of this the designs end up being boring. Landing pages can be a great tool for testing what resonates with users. Copy and imagery can easily be swapped out, form language can be altered, and assets can be changed without a lot of effort from your marketing team. When it comes to all content, including landing pages, the ultimate goal is to create content that is considered to be a part of an evergreen lead generation strategy. We need innovation to accomplish this goal.

According to SEO MOZ, lead generation is turning into a value and context game where winning brands put their content up with previews. In some cases, brand go as far as un-gating their content or offering it to users for “free”. Most marketers can appreciate this approach since we’ve all been ‘burned’ by poor content.

Check out this post for an idea on how un-gating your content may increase your results. Some brands have even gone as far as adding additional value to content with interactive content that allows a user to configure a product, select a path, or calculate a solution. This type of content leverages transparency and authenticity which everyone from Millennials to Baby Boomers appreciate.

Our ever evolving audience appreciates content that educates, entertains, and leaves the user in awe. In our crowded digital space the best way to stand out is to offer something the others guys aren’t. That is why app-like experiences that use the most modern UX are constantly beating out their static counterparts. Here’s an example.

Which would you convert on?

Landing Page 1
Landing Page 2

To sum up, lead generation strategies are evolving but brands need to increase their pace in order to catch up with their audience. We’ve moved from a one-and-done approach that doesn’t give us much insight to an audience which a deeper desire for fully engulfing interactive experiences. The results will change how we interact with our audience since we can finally capture more data and insight into their behavior. In-turn this data will make marketers more effective at driving high quality leads that will be based on human interactions.

Stay tuned to our blog posts for this month as we cover using interactive content for landing pages. Subscribe for more!