7 B2B Manufacturing Marketing Trends Driving Growth in 2020

B2B buying is growing ever more complex. From 2016 to 2018 the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision jumped from 6.8 to 8.2 contacts at a company. Today, consumer experiences continue to overlap and influence our expectations and behaviors more and more each year in our business buying experiences. For B2B manufacturers already navigating a complex marketing and sales environment, this can be challenging. As 2020 unfolds personalization and online expectations will increase. These are seven key b2b manufacturing marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2020. 

Manufacturing Marketing Trends

Account-Based Marketing

B2B manufacturers face some of the most complex buying environments. 

  • Long sales cycles
  • Growing numbers of buying roles involved
  • High-value transactions
  • Channel and distributor relationships

Traditional outbound and inbound marketing strategies can struggle to prove value and support manufacturers’ sales channels in this environment. 

Enter account-based marketing or ABM for short. HubSpot defines ABM as a focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.

Account based marketing

At its core, it turns the funnel upside down and aligns sales and marketing to hunt with spears instead of nets. Manufacturers benefit from building an account-based marketing framework by

  • Creating higher quality opportunities
  • Tightly aligning sales and marketing
  • Streamlining and often speeding up the sales cycle
  • Expanding business relationships in key accounts
  • Better measure ROI

Because ABM starts by targeting and seeking to reach only your most qualified ideal customers first, it can be resource-intensive to get a pilot going but provides long term returns. DemandBase found companies that have been using ABM for at least 1 year saw an increase in revenue of 10%, 19% of those surveyed saw revenue growth in excess of 30%. 

Account-based marketing isn’t necessarily one of the new manufacturing marketing trends, but tools and platforms are now making it easier to orchestrate and evaluate and as a result, savvy B2B manufacturers are looking at it as a potential addition to their sales and marketing programs. 

Consumer-Like Buying Experiences

More and more B2B buyers are behaving as they do in their consumer lives. Forester 2020 predictions point to 2020 as a year of change as B2B buyers continue to evolve more of their experiences to online channels. In Gartner’s B2B Buying Journey we see that sellers actually have little opportunity to influence the decisions of their potential buyers. Enter B2B e-commerce’s time in the spotlight. 

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – now there is an even faster escalation in demand for investments by manufacturers to make sure they meet changing buying preferences. Insite Software, a provider of B2B e-commerce solutions for Manufacturers notes in its parent company Episerver’s annual B2B Digital experience report that 93% of manufacturers and 95% of distributors expect more than 20% of their revenue will come from e-commerce websites they own and operate by 2025. 

Chat Bots

With a push online, creating more opportunities for real-time response to customers, and end-users will be critical. Queue the chatbots. Chatbot technology continues to advance every year enabling advanced logic capabilities that manufacturers can use to field all sorts of questions to drive sales and marketing forward. BotCore points out a handful of ways chatbots can help with fulfillment in addition to questions around inventory and delivery, chatbots can be an effective way to answer product questions or point website visitors to the product documentation to help them in their buying process. 

Marketing Automation & Personalization

Marketing automation for b2b manufacturers will continue to grow in importance as the buying journey becomes more digital. Marketing automation helps manufacturers simplify complex b2b processes while personalizing and scaling their digital marketing and sales efforts. 

Here are a few personalization examples b2b manufacturers are taking advantage of:

  • Addressing your recipient by name in the greeting
  • Referencing their company name when giving an example of how their company could benefit from your product
  • Referencing their role or job title when discussing pain points or solutions pertinent to their role
  • Referencing the last piece of content they downloaded by name and asking if they are finding it helpful
  • Customizing the sender information per contact by contact owner
  • Referencing product or product category of interest
  • Referencing examples and case studies

The complex business processes facing many B2B manufacturers are also a challenge marketing automation platforms or MAPs are ready to tackle head-on. 

Marketing automation can drive efficiencies and allow for real-time routing, task creation, and follow-up across functions and channels. The automation we’re seeing B2B manufacturers take advantage of include:

  • Routing leads by sales rep territory
  • Sending custom ‘Thank You’ emails by country
  • Routing internal requests like samples, RFQs or catalogs
  • Creating custom tasks by a sales rep for lead review
  • Automatically setting subscription types
  • Setting product interest categories or other data governance within the CRM

MarTech Assessment

Video Video Video

This is one of the manufacturing marketing trends that industrial buyers love: Video. Engineers, for example, nearly 87% report getting at least some of their work content from the video. B2B manufacturers have a ton of options when it comes to video. Brand videos, testimonials and case studies, use cases or field solutions, culture videos, demos, and more. 

An area you can expect to see video grow significantly is through 1:1 personalized video. Short videos created for a specific user. It could be a sales follow up, a quick how-to, or just a thank you. With the influx of more personalized sales and marketing experiences across the B2B manufacturing marketing ecosystem – video enables face-to-face connections that can otherwise be lost in a completely online sales experience.  

Virtual Events

This year many B2B organizations had to adjust their event strategy due to COVID-19. While not anticipated and certainly sudden, many marketing and sales professionals leaned into the pivot and are embracing the benefits afforded to virtual events. A lack of travel and time constrictions. The ability to meet with much larger audiences in discussion settings. Virtual events are here to stay and for B2B manufacturers this spells opportunity. While trade shows will inevitably return in some fashion, planning a virtual strategy for everything from recurring lunch and learns or product demos to featuring unique use cases and customer stories will only enhance the growing online buying process many B2B manufacturers see their customers adopting. 

Manufacturing Marketing Trends

Content Isn’t Optional

Creating content that answers your potential buyer’s questions early in their research process and throughout their buying journey is non-negotiable.

A survey by engineering.com found an overwhelming preference for an online search or a website blog as a primary source for finding answers to questions they have in their work. This begs the question: if your technical buyers have questions, whose content will they find, yours or your competitors?

When it comes to steady consistent lead generation for b2b manufacturers, content is front and center across all of the 2020 b2b manufacturing marketing trends.

How to Master B2B Website Strategy and Drive Growth

The website plays one of the most pivotal roles in business-to-business marketing for technology companies and manufacturing businesses. Forrester Research found 74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase offline. With the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision growing every year and the journey becoming ever more complex – the B2B website job is heavy.

master b2b website strategy

The b2b website is the doorway between your prospects, your brand, and a potential sales opportunity. How do modern brands juggle all these priorities? With a B2B website design strategy focused on your buyers. Here’s how.

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Difference between B2B & B2C 

Understanding the distinction between B2B and B2C web strategy starts with acknowledging the substantial differences in the types of transactions.

Evaluating HubSpot for Startups? 4 Questions to Consider

Two things we love here at Lake One. Startups and HubSpot. Startup marketing has a special place in our heart. Most of our team has had a stint in a funded startup at some point, so we know the culture and mindset that drives startups. We team up with venture funds and accelerators here in the midwest to share marketing insights with startups every year. Many of those startups, through their venture fund or accelerator, get access to a special perk known as the HubSpot for Startups program. We’ve worked with many startups through this program and want to share some of the essential questions we’ve helped organizations consider when evaluating HubSpot for startups.

Evaluating HubSpot for Startups

What is HubSpot for Startups

HubSpot for Startups is a special program for startups who are members of or alumni of more than 2,000 approved HubSpot for Startup Partners. These partners are incubators, accelerators or Venture Capital firms all over the world. Additionally, there are revenue guidelines that apply to your startup. If you’re eligible, startups earn significant discounts on HubSpot Growth Suite subscriptions and gain access to startup specific resources. You can learn more about the program and see if you’re eligible for it here.

Is My Startup Ready for HubSpot?

One of the first questions to consider when thinking about onboarding with the HubSpot for Startups program – is your startup ready for a platform like HubSpot? There’s a couple of different ways to think about this.

Inbound

Would inbound marketing for your startup work? Not every startup is a great fit and those resources might be better served somewhere else.

How do you know if you’re a good fit? If you answer yes to some of these questions for example:

  • Do you sell your product or service direct to your end-user?
  • Do you have a long, complex sales process?
  • Is your good or service a considered buying process, in other words, does it require multiple decision-makers and/or a lot of research?

Market Traction

Does your startup have some initial traction? This is important because traction indicates some semblance of process. When you adopt marketing and sales tech, data governance around your CRM and thinking critically about logic for workflows is a key part of the success you’ll have with your technology. That’s not to say you have to have everything figured out, but if you’re expecting the tool or an agency partner to make your startup launch, you’re probably not ready for this investment of money and time yet.

Which Hubs Should I Leverage From HubSpot?

Let’s assume you’ve made the decision that the timing is right. The discount is awesome from HubSpot – does that mean it’s worth signing up for all three hubs of the Growth Suite? Not necessarily.

Just like not every startup will lend itself well to inbound, or your maturity level might not have the traction needed for a platform like HubSpot, every Hub may not be immediately valuable to you.

Reflect on your most pressing needs with your startup.

Sales

  • Are you looking to scale and define sales processes?
  • Do you want to better report on your pipeline and have the ability to forecast?
  • Are you looking to automate certain aspects of your sales process like prospecting and outreach?
  • Do you need one source of truth for your CRM that supports both sales and marketing activity?

Sales Hub is worth a look.

Marketing

  • Do you have a long sales cycle with a complex product with prospects that need educating?
  • Do you have manual processes dragging down your team?
  • Do you want to be able to launch rapid tests with landing pages, emails and other creative?
  • Do you want to be able to send segmented and personalized email content?
  • Do you want a tool to launch lead capture without needing IT?

Marketing Hub is worth a look.

Service

  • Are you drowning in support tickets?
  • Wish you could just send people links to commonly asked questions so they can help themselves?
  • Is customer service a top priority for your brand?

Service Hub is worth a look.

You may find you want to go all-in right away, but know you can always add on over time as well. Take one Hub, implement it and get it operational. As a HubSpot partner, we’ve seen a lot of abandoned Hubs where teams just got overwhelmed.

How Long Should I Expect to Implement HubSpot?

Implementation time will be directly related to the complexity of your business and it’s processes. On the low end give yourself 4-6 weeks. It can scale up dramatically if you’re dealing with large amounts of existing customer data, integrations with third-party tools or your own product.

How Long Should I Expect to Get an ROI?

Technology is not a strategy. So the ROI will be contingent on how effective your strategy is within the platform. Whether it’s lead gen and conversion or customer experience improvements. That said, some rules of thumb, for example, are a lead gen program from inbound can take anywhere from 6 – 18 months to start building momentum. Also, give yourself time to continue to apply learnings around lead quality. It takes time to build the momentum around driving high quality traffic at volume.

search terms growth - inbound story

Onboarding Remote Employees: How to Build Culture, Rapport and Support

Running a remote marketing firm provides a lot of benefits for our team and our clients. But having a team working from home most or all of the time isn’t without its challenges. One area that I get asked about a lot is how to successfully onboard a new work from home employee? How do you make sure they feel like they are part of the team quickly? How do you make sure they have the tools and access they need to get up and running quickly?

Here are some of the strategies that have worked for us. We also reached out to our network of business owners, managers and talent leaders to get their thoughts on strategies for managing onboarding remote employees. Their insights are included throughout. 

Clearly Layout 30 and 90-day Plans

Whether your new team member is working from home or not – having a clear 30 to 90-day plan is so critical. SHRM points out that 69% of employees are more likely to stay based on their onboarding plan. At Lake One, we turn to the same tool we use to plan and manage our client Marketing Springs – Asana. We build out all the tasks and milestones for our new team members and link it up to the essential resources they’ll need to accomplish their onboarding from links to our standard operating procedure to the company drive file structure. 

Jennifer Zick, Founder and CEO at Authentic Brand adds, “New employees – whether working in a physical office or remotely – need clarity in two primary areas in order to get up to speed and become productive in their roles. First, any new employee needs to know where to find what they need to do their job. Secondly, they need clear definitions on what they are responsible for, and what success should look like.”

Diversify Training and Communication Styles

Mix up the training schedule to make sure your new team member gets to spend time with a diversity of folks. This helps the new employee develop connections within the company and absorb information better. Not to mention, putting the responsibility on one person to get a new employee up to speed can be a lot.

Tyler Anderson, Principal at Andcor Talent states, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to communicating during onboarding and beyond.  Each leader (and team member) needs to understand communication preferences and needs. Some may prefer and are comfortable with email.  Others need verbal communication and interaction. And others want a combo of both.”

Outline Subject Matter Experts

Make it clear – who in the organization owns what. This not only saves time across the board, but it sets expectations for both the new and existing employees. If you have a standard operating procedure (see below) this is a great place to put this information. Some HRIS systems also have a place for this in an org chart. 

Anderson recommends, ”Getting them up to speed fast and hit the ground running by pairing the remote employee with an on-site employee or if everyone is virtual, another remote team member who they can go to for advice.”

Onboarding Remote Employees

Zick notes, “Many companies may not have well-organized online databases or platforms full of training materials, sales collateral, HR documents, or other resources that new employees can quickly locate. In these situations, it might make sense to align an employee with an internal guide – a “sherpa” of sorts – who can answer questions to help them quickly get to the right person or place to find what they need. Collaboration tools – like Slack – can be invaluable in these cases, allowing employees to quickly ask questions and crowdsource answers from their peers. The key is to open as many pathways to answers as possible, as quickly as possible, to help the new team member feel fully equipped to do their job.”

Set Up All Accounts in Advance

One simple thing you can do to make sure your new team member is ready to hit the ground running is getting all their account access set up in advance. There is nothing more frustrating than over the course of 30 days constantly having to ping a supervisor to get access to this, that or the other thing. Make an account run through a task in the onboarding plan. That way your new team members on their first day can go through all their welcome emails from systems, make sure they can access everything and feel good about checking some things off their onboarding plan. 

Anderson suggests, “Break up onboarding/training tools. Don’t throw too much at them all at once. Also, if you can get started on setting those tools and accounts up before official day one, all the better.”

If Possible, Have an In-Person on Day One

Depending on where your team is actually located and where the new team member is, this work from home onboarding idea may not be doable. But if it is, even grabbing lunch or breakfast with your new employee can help defer any jitters on day one. If you can’t do it, is there another team member that’s close by? 

Anderson notes, “When this whole C-19 thing is behind us if you have a physical office, bring the new hire in and go to lunch or a happy hour. But don’t just let it be a one-time thing. Hold quarterly gatherings and continue to make them feel like part of the team.”

Break the Ice 

Like with any new job, the first few days can feel like you’re an outsider. That can be especially true for remote employees who aren’t onsite. Find ways to break the ice with new employees. Whether it’s fun facts, a game, or something else. Keep it light and fun. 

Cami Zimmer, EVP Sales & Marketing at Glympse says, “Use “Reply All”: Send out an email to the group with an icebreaker question, asking everyone to respond via email and “reply all” so that everyone gets to know each other a bit more. 

Don’t cut the Chit-Chat: It’s personal chit-chat that actually helps employees relate to each other!  When working remote, team members do not have a chance to make small talk with others in the coffee area. We have to build time for this small talk into group meetings.  Try to spend a few minutes at the start of each meeting to discuss personal or department updates. Ask that team members send in recent photos through Slack or other chat tools.”  

Anderson says, “Learn and share fun facts:  “What are three (3) things people you know well would be surprised to learn?”  Give examples – e.g. survived a plane crash, world-class chess player, child actor.  Give the new hire a couple of days to mull over the questions and share what other team members have said in the past. After learning what teammates answer, they might be more willing to open up.  This exercise is great for building rapport and humanizing remote team members.”

Schedule Video Meet n Greets

A key part of our operating procedure at Lake One is daily standups and regular check-ins. Get your new team member looped in on these ASAP. Even though they may not be fully up to speed – the face time with the team is crucial and they’ll also start to get the habit of how the team works remotely. 

Anderson advises, “Set up a series of orientation calls/video chats within the first few weeks with the CEO and each member of the leadership team to learn about company history, culture, goals, structure. In addition, set up calls with team members in other departments within the first month.  Maintain this going forward in long-term across functions and combining new and tenured team members. Depending on the individual’s communication preferences, at a minimum suggest starting the call with a video chat to do a quick wave and know who you’re talking to and then turn it over to a phone call.”

Have a Standard Operating Procedure? You Should

We run on EOS ® Traction and our standard operating procedure is our north star. If you don’t have one – start documenting one. This is also a great way to help familiarize them with how y our organization operates and executes consistently. In an office setting – it’s easy to pop up and ask a question. Virtually, that’s not always possible. Standard operating procedures help give guidance on how the business handles key situations. 

Zick says, “What has been effective for us, and for many of our clients, is having a very regular and predictable cadence of communication – whether through in-person or virtual meetings. People quickly feel included, valued, and aligned when they know that they are “in the loop” on the company’s strategy, decision-making, and work efforts.

Because our company runs on EOS – The Entrepreneurial Operating System – much of this cadence is built into how we operate. Our executive team meets weekly and quarterly to work on the business. Additionally, our consultants – our Fractional CMOs – come together twice per month as part of our “mindshare” community. In-between these planned meetings, we use collaboration technologies (Slack and Basecamp) to stay connected, share ideas, celebrate milestones, and reinforce our company values.”

Setup Regular One-on-Ones

Another holdover from working face to face – one on ones are key. But even more so with your work from home team. In the first few weeks, it may feel like overkill but do this at a minimum weekly. First, it’s a great way to build up that comradery and second, it’s a chance to identify any early questions or concerns that might be harder to pick up on working way from each other. 

Rob Weber, Managing Director at Great North Labs says, “Productivity should be measured and greater expectations of asynchronous work should be accepted. When not working in a face-to-face environment, you’re much more likely to see work schedules drift and become more flexible. This flexibility though should still require certain regular check-in meetings or standups to ensure collaboration and free-flowing discussion. I’m also a big fan if possible to occasionally still meet-in person, such as for onboarding, annual planning, etc.”

Anderson suggests, “Maintain a consistent communication structure.  Include regular check-ins and checkpoints that are mandatory for every team member.  Sets expectations of how each team member should interact, communicate and adhere to the plan for every team member. I also suggest leveraging visual communication tools.”

Closing Thoughts

Anderson says, “Keep in mind, not everyone is built to work remotely so before you onboard be sure you have the assessment data to identify who will work well and who will not.  Some really need face-to-face interaction and the structure of an office environment. Others will work well independently and thrive in a virtual one. There aren’t enough tools in the world to turn one into the other. They may be successful but you run the risk of losing them to the environment that’s better suited for them.”

Zimmer notes, “We were/are lucky in that we had a remote policy in place before this all happened. We all have laptops, Zoom, Slack and are used to working remotely part-time. Thus, we really haven’t noticed much of a pause to business.  Being in the Last Mile industry, we are experiencing an increase in inquiries, even, keeping most of us here at Glympse rather busy.”

Weber reminds us that, “The characteristics of a well-managed business are similar for all businesses, regardless of whether they support work from home operations or face-to-face. Accountability is created through transparent delivery of key performance information which empowers the workforce to make decisions wherever they are working from.”

Zick advises, “Through this time of chaos and uncertainty, the very best advice that I could offer to leaders and employees is to give one another abundant grace. Everyone is adapting. Everyone is coming up to speed on our “new normal”. And everyone’s workplace experience is being radically changed. The silver lining in all of this is that – as a global community – we’re learning how to work differently, and the lessons that we learn through this time of disruption can carry us forward with new skills, deeper empathy, and an even higher level of workforce productivity. Together, we will get through this.”

Related Reading: Benefits of Working with a Virtual Marketing Agency

Lead Generation for Manufacturers: 9 Strategies to Crush 2020

Over the last decade, lead generation for manufacturers and industrial organizations has transformed. While the industry is still heavily relationship-driven, like every other vertical it’s been affected by digital disruption. Marketing for manufacturers is changing rapidly. B2B buyers are empowered with more data then ever and shopping experiences in our consumer lives are informing our expectations in our business lives.

As the modern economy evolves – manufacturers and industrial firms may find themselves wondering how to get more sales opportunities in a quickly changing sales and marketing environment.

If you’re ready to move past the basics of lead generation, these are the manufacturing and industrial lead gen trends we’re seeing drive success as we head into a new decade.

Industrial Lead Generation with Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing can provide manufacturing and industrial firms a strategic way to market only to the prospects your organization’s value most. It flips the thinking of a funnel. Instead of casting a wide net and working to qualify down to the best opportunity, you identify the accounts you want to work with and target outreach and promotion to reach and influence buyers. Generally, it works as an additive strategy to a diverse sales and marketing program and can run parallel to an inbound effort. It’s also a great way to repurpose and leverage your inbound content in a complementary strategy making sure you maximize your content investment.

industrial lead generation with account based marketing

Centralize Marketing if you Sell Through Distributors

For manufacturers who sell indirectly through distributors, consider centralizing marketing efforts. By creating a coordinated marketing effort, you can provide a digital co-op marketing initiative to your distribution partners. It serves two purposes. First, it provides a central place for potential buyers to go to as they research products. As the manufacturer, you retain brand control. Second, it’s a value add to your distribution channel as you can provide a steady stream of leads. It can also serve as a channel to recruit new distribution partners. Finnleo, a sauna manufacturer with a dealer network distribution channel, is a great example.

manufacturing lead generation with centralized marketing

Leverage Inbound for Manufacturing Lead Generation

Inbound marketing is a great way to drive a steady source of new leads for your manufacturing or industrial firm. Inbound marketing at its core is about creating content that answers your potential buyer’s questions early in their research process. The content is designed to convert prospects along with conversion funnels, maybe you provide a webinar or request a quote. Inbound also serves as a great way to develop your organization’s thought leadership and is extra powerful when combined with industry outreach and PR. Further, inbound aligns well with how engineers want to consume content based on research from Engineering.com When asked about preferred ways to acquire engineering information, a search is the top channel for finding answers to questions. This begs the question: if your engineering buyers have questions, whose content will they find, yours or your competitors?

manufacturing Content

Leverage marketing automation and CRM

A key part of successful lead generation for manufacturers is implementing right sales and marketing tools. Essential to that tech stack is a CRM that your sales team will actually use, with data governance that is meaningful to your business and marketing automation that helps nurture and identify opportunities. Marketing automation in manufacturing is also a powerful tool to help drive efficiency into often manual processes from lead routing and quote management to data governance and lead nurturing.

MarTech Assessment

Activate retargeting

Outside of paid media for account-based marketing and promotion around tradeshows, retargeting is an absolute must. If you’re doing any sort of lead generation program – retargeting is a low-cost way to drive additional conversion opportunities off people who respond to your manufacturing lead generation programs but don’t convert on your website. You’ve already invested a ton to get a prospect to your manufacturing website, if they don’t convert, set aside a small add budget to serve ads to them after their visit to try again.

Monitor social conversations

Depending on what your firm makes, monitoring social media for conversations around needs or trends can be a great way to identify opportunities for direct sales, PR opportunities to talk about your offering or identifying new channel partners. You can monitor conversations in several different ways. Join groups on LinkedIn, set up feeds or lists on Twitter or search on Facebook.

Manufacturing lead generation with social monitoring

Activate paid media around trade shows

Trade shows are still a great gathering place for manufacturing and industrial firms. But following up with people from trade shows can sometimes be a bit – meh. Instead of grabbing everyone’s business cards, leverage your marketing automation tools and let people book real meetings with you. Or set up a nurture sequence for those who stop by the booth.

Activating paid search around the tradeshow name is often a low-cost way to drive traffic to a landing page ahead of the trade show. Here you can promote any giveaways or reasons for people to book time with your team.

Monitor industry news & trends

Similar to monitoring social media, monitoring news alerts can be a great resource on multiple fronts. It can inform you inbound content strategy, support your account-based marketing program or provide opportunistic outreach opportunities for your sales team. The easiest way to do this is to set up Google Alerts or create a Feedly account to monitor terms and topics that matter most to your industry and buyers.

Manufacturing news monitoring

Leverage tools

There is a constant flow of tech tools rolling into the market. Here are a few of our favorite lead generation tools for b2b. Of the tools mentioned in that post, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is probably the most relevant for our friends in manufacturing and industrial organizations. One of the features I find the most useful is the account and lead recommendations. As you interact with and tell Sales Navigator what kind of leads and accounts you’re interested in, it surfaces new contacts and accounts that are similar but might not have been on your account based targeting list. It’s a great way to expand your scope with the accounts you can truly add value to instead of randomly selling to anyone with a pulse.

manufacturing lead generation with LinkedIN

7 Best B2B Lead Generation Tools for 2020

Like all things sales and marketing tech-related, there’s an ever-expanding supply of options. Rather than inundate you with a list of 100 of the best B2B lead generation tools, we’re going to keep it focused. Here are the top seven tools we’re digging for generating new business leads in 2020. Seven, not a hundred.

1. Unbounce

b2b lead generation tools

Long time fans and users of Unbounce, they’ve significantly expanded the platform beyond landing pages. For organization’s who maybe lack design and/or tech resources, Unbounce makes lead capture easy peezy. With a diverse set of integrations, you can connect it to email platforms and other tools to build a marketing stack if you don’t have an all in one platform, like #2.

2. Hubspot

b2b lead generation tools

When you’re ready to scale and want a more unified view of your lead generation activity, Hubspot is the way to go. As they’ve expanded their product line up from a marketing tool to a platform for marketing, sales, and support, it offers tools from lead generation all the way through your customer journey. But even just getting started with some of the free marketing and sales tools will help ramp up your b2b lead generation efforts in 2020. For example, use forms and live chat on the free version of marketing to immediately start converting some of your website visitors.

3. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

b2b lead generation tools

For sales teams taking a targeted, account based approach, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a must have lead generation tool. One of the features I find the most useful is the account and lead recommendations. As you interact with and tell Sales Navigator what kind of leads and accounts you’re interested in, it surfaces new contacts and accounts that are similar but might not have been on your account based targeting list. It’s a great way to expand your scope with the accounts you can truly add value to instead of randomly selling to anyone with a pulse.

LinkedIn Marketing Guide

4. Calendly

b2b lead generation tools

There is nothing more annoying than trying to schedule meetings back and forth with someone. Calendly eliminates all the back and forth – but it also makes it easier to open up your calendar to potential prospects, referral partners and others who can bring value to your network. Setting aside a time for “office hours” and making that meeting link available opens you up to letting potential partners book time with you in a far more convenient way for everyone – and easily generate a lead.

5. Vidyard

b2b lead generation tools

Video is a hot topic these days – and for good reason. It’s a far more engaging and easily consumed form of content. When it comes to lead generation, personalizing outreach has a significant impact on improving response rate. My favorite tool for this is Vidyard. It makes personalized video super easy to produce and distribute. Don’t worry – you don’t need to be Scorcese – just get started.

6. Meetup

b2b lead generation tools

Depending on what you sell, generating B2B leads with Meetup could be your new secret weapon. Here’s how – find events and meetups related to your topic, in your area. Reach out to the organizer and see if they are looking for speakers. Many times – they’re open to it and it’s an easy way to get in front of an interested audience of potential buyers. Other options, if you’re a product and you need focus groups or beta users, you can find meetups that are often willing to share these kind of opportunities with their members. Do some research and see what groups are already getting together and how you can add value but increase your awareness.

7. Feedly
b2b lead generation tools

Keeping track of buying signals in your target accounts, verticals etc. can be a nightmare. Maybe you’ve set up a bunch of Google Alerts that have now been relegated to a folder in your inbox that you never actually check. Maybe you have an intern putting together a spreadsheet. Alternatively, you could setup feeds in Feedly to monitor accounts or industries to identify opportunities for reaching out with your b2b leads. Feedly goes with you on your phone and makes checking updates on the go a lot easier too.

Methodology for Best B2B Lead Generation Tools of 2020

I realize there are a lot of tools out there, but this list focuses on helping sales people do more of what they want to – selling and less of what they don’t – managing tools. That said, we’re looking at tools that help scale activity, make prospecting better and help drive b2b lead pipeline. We also love to hear about new tools so leave a comment if there’s something you think fits this criteria.

Is a HubSpot CRM Right for You? 7 Questions to Consider

If you do a Google search for “easy to use CRM” you’ll return more than 50 million results. Why so many? Because people hate using CRMs. Back in 2001, Gartner measured a 50% CRM failure rate. Chief among the reasons: lack of focus, complexity, and lack of commitment or buy-in. I’ve worked across multiple CRMs from Salesforce to HubSpot. As our client work spans marketing and sales teams, we inevitable tackle the CRM question. Many times we get asked if a HubSpot CRM is right for our clients. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. This is how we help our clients answer this question. 

Is a HubSpot CRM Right

TL;DR

If your organization matches any of the following, the HubSpot CRM might be a good fit for you:

  • You’ve struggled to adopt a CRM,
  • You’ve struggled to align sales and marketing
  • Your sales processes aren’t extremely complex
  • You like access to support without large costs
  • You’re looking for a functional CRM without blowing the bank. 

Don’t go it alone. Let’s figure out your best CRM option together.

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Where are you in your CRM journey?

If you’re relatively new to CRM, or an organization that’s struggled to adopt CRM across functions, HubSpot can be a great option. It’s been built to drive ease of adoption. Its integration to email inbox makes managing contacts easy, and it let’s reps spend more time selling and less time updating contact records. 

Are your sales and marketing teams in alignment?

If you’re looking to drive alignment throughout your marketing machine through the lead management – and you’re using the HubSpot marketing platform, HubSpot sales is a smart addition. Rather than adding more tools and tech to the mix, keeping with one platform helps drive data quality and reporting consistency. (Ps- here’s a way to check your Smarketing alignment if you need it.)

How complex are your sales processes?

Generally, the more complex the sales process gets, HubSpot (at this version) may not be the best CRM solution for you. The caveat being how you answer questions one and two. If your organization struggles with CRM adoption and aligning your sales and marketing team around consistent processes – HubSpot’s CRM is a great entry point to building your sales and marketing data muscle. 

Having a sales & marketing Service Level Agreement can help streamline your process. Here’s what ours looks like.

Is a HubSpot CRM Right

What kind of support and training do you need?

How do you learn best? Are you a self teacher who can poke around new software with ease? HubSpot is an intuitive CRM with a fantastic knowledge base and support team. If you’re looking to get a CRM up and running fast, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better support resources without shelling out thousands of dollars for training or administrators. 

What kind of efficiency would your sales team benefit from?

Ironically, sales reps spend the minority of their time actually selling. Too often they’re stuck with the administration of their CRM. HubSpot’s CRM is loaded with easy to use tools to drive sales rep efficiency so they can spend more time selling and less time administering software. 

What’s your budget threshold for software?

How much do you want to invest in your CRM? Consider all the costs. Subscription fees – term – setup and ongoing maintenance – support. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly CRM with some horsepower, HubSpot might be the right fit for you. 

What are your reporting needs?

Generally speaking, the more robust your reporting needs are, the more HubSpot may not be able to deliver. There are a lot of reporting options available within HubSpot, and with the reporting add-on, you can accomplish more. But compared with enterprise-level CRM, this is one area where the CRM doesn’t always stack up. 

inbound campaign checklist

Sales and Marketing Alignment Case Study: Smarketing in Action

Hubspot provided a definition to smarketing in 2014, and that hasn’t changed. The gist is a process by which your sales and marketing team get on the same page around goals and communicate regularly. The results can be huge. A 2016 LinkedIn report found nearly 60% of teams that reported sales and marketing alignment saw customer experience improvements, and a 2013 report from Marketo found companies with sales & marketing alignment are 67% better at closing deals and drive 209% more revenue. In this sales and marketing alignment case study we’ll walk you through real results from a Lake One client.

For a deep dive into driving sales and marketing alignment, check out our comprehensive guide on the topic. Today we’re going to take a look at smarketing in practice; there’s plenty on the internet that can define smarketing. What we’re going to look at are examples of sales and marketing alignment operations at work and its impact. 

This review will follow key topics touched on through past posts on sales and marketing alignment. 

Commit to Smarketing from the Top Down

In order for any smarketing effort to be effective, you have to commit to it throughout your organization – starting by leading from the top. 

Over the past year, our work with a client who believed in this from the C-level to the front lines has seen significant benefits from tight sales and marketing alignment. 

But how do you measure the benefit of sales and marketing alignment commitment? This isn’t a scientific, double-blind survey, but on average, our client whose leadership team not only buys into smarketing alignment but drives it forward, has seen faster time to marketing traction and ROI. This is especially impactful for inbound which on the short end can take 9 months or even up to 18 months to start showing in the numbers. 

If the anecdote above leaves you wanting more sales and marketing alignment proof, keep reading. We share some down and dirty numbers that back up our smarketing claims.

smarketing example

Establish & Track Key Measures

Knowing what and how to measure smarketing alignment can sometimes be a challenge. The two teams are often coming to the table with only their view of the funnel. But at the heart of a harmonious sales and marketing alignment, lies marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

You may have a program that with your first pass at an MQL definition is driving good volume, but when push comes to shove, your marketing contributed revenue isn’t all that great. 

The benefit of this is when your best-educated guesses go wrong. We have a favorite saying at Lake One, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” – multiple sources

Over the past 12 months, our unified sales and marketing alignment with our client resulted in increasing marketing-sourced revenue while actually flattening the volume of MQLs.

smarketing example

Wait, what? MQLs flatlining? It truly is about quality over quantity. Fewer, better quality MQLs could only be accomplished because of regular communication, and in two quarters of work, we saw a little over two times the marketing sources impact on revenue. 

smarketing example

Get Acquainted & Communicate 

Just saying we’re going to agree to a few measurables isn’t enough to drive an aligned sales and marketing organization. You need to develop a sales and marketing plan for regular communication and alignment checkpoints. 

Two heads are better than one, a whole group of heads – that’s magic. With the client we’ve been mentioning throughout this post, our smarketing alignment is tied into all of our marketing program meetings. Sales is represented in every meeting so we get to hear weekly what’s working, what’s not, and what’s coming up. This kind of immediate connection between two teams that don’t traditionally work together opens up lines of communication. Both teams feel comfortable lobbing ideas over the fence in between those meetings. 

Ideas that have lead to optimizations seeing traffic nearly quadruple and leads nearly double in 6 months. 

smarketing example

Smarketing Results and You

This is just one sales and marketing alignment case study from one client of how smarketing can drive impact throughout the funnel on an organization. Every organization is different, but with so much attention, smarketing or sales and marketing alignment or whatever you want to call it is getting we thought it was worthwhile taking a look at how bringing the two teams responsible for revenue closer together – can actually make a measurable impact. 

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Crush B2B Lead Gen Goals with LinkedIn Sponsored Content

It’s a common story. Inbound marketers do their diligence developing buyer personas; cultivating content plans informed by keyword research throughout the buyer’s journey designed to attract and convert B2B leads. We launch our campaign to the world. Check for form notifications. Hours go by. Days. *DING* WE GOT ONE! – oh, wait… it’s a guest blogging service in Croatia.

Well, shoot. Here’s the deal: it’s not that the inbound research is necessarily wrong. But the content and conversion paths are a long game. Driving B2B leads with content can’t always rely on the grit of our organic and earned efforts. Especially in the short term. Take this data from Hubspot for example:

LinkedIn B2B Lead Gen

It usually takes 3 – 6 months before we start seeing the blogs we’re posting today really start picking up steam in attracting the contact volume that can start to scale our business. It takes 12 months to really go crazy.

So what’s a marketer to do? Help crush your B2B lead gen goals with some help from the social network built for B2B. LinkedIn. If you sell B2B, you should already consider LinkedIn marketing. What we’re going to look at today, is sponsored content.

LinkedIn B2B Lead Gen

Get to Know LinkedIn Sponsored Content

LinkedIn Sponsored content is the promotion of a post from a page that appears natively in the LinkedIn feed [psst, here are some post ideas.] You can include a link to your site or landing page or build a lead generation form within LinkedIn that lets LinkedIn users request content, information, or other contact from your organization with the click of a button. The form will automatically populate with information from their LinkedIn profile.

Because it behaves like a native post you get the benefit of the engagement functionality resulting in brand awareness via the social nature of the network. This reach is extended beyond that of your company page with the assistance of an ad budget.

LinkedIn B2B Lead Gen

Setting up Sponsored Content

Getting your sponsored content campaign up and running requires a LinkedIn advertising account. For a complete guide to doing that, check out the Getting Started with LinkedIn Advertising chapter in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.

Some things to consider as you plan your advertising strategy.

  • Budget
    • LinkedIn, like most online ad platforms enable total and daily budget parameters. Bids can be set per click or impression if sending InMail. Because of the niche element of LinkedIn (focus on work) costs are generally higher than you’ll see on other networks.
  • Audience
    • There’s a multitude of options for targeting ads from audience development around LinkedIn profile parameters like job title, professional interest, industry. etc.. But another powerful tool is combining LinkedIn with your own data whether using matched audiences like those who visit your website or for account-based targeting. All of this is covered in depth in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.

Aligning Sponsored Content with Inbound

The LinkedIn B2B lead generation goal crushing comes in when LinkedIn sponsored content aligns with a well crafted inbound marketing program. If your marketing plan and website is built to be a lead gen machine, give the machine some extra horsepower by plugging in another channel.

First, look to your personas when you build out your audience targeting in LinkedIn advertising. Structure campaigns around them, their stage in the journey, and use the LinkedIn Insights tag to create audience groups for people who engage with content as they move through the funnel, adjusting the content you show them during their journey.

Second, make sure that the audiences are aligned with the timing delivered in your email nurture sequences. The goal is to create a multi-channel soft touch to attract and nurture your prospects along their journey.

Finally, once a prospect has achieved the desired behavior, make sure to exclude them from LinkedIn sponsored content both to conserve ad budget but to also deliver a positive marketing experience.

For more information, here are some additional ways you use LinkedIn for Lead Gen.

6 LinkedIn Post Ideas To Drive B2B Eyeballs

Creating LinkedIn posts for B2B can be a challenge when competing with all the other noise on social. However, unlike some channels that are heavily influenced by friends and families, research from Marketing Profs found that while individuals have a slight advantage, brands bring a fair degree of influence on LinkedIn, making it a key part of your b2b marketing. 

Additionally, MarketingProfs found that LinkedIn members will engage with content when it’s educational or informative, relevant to their specific interests, and related to industry news and trends. 89% of people said say they are interested in industry news, and 86% said that want tips and best practices.

Here are a few of our recommendations on how to create LinkedIn posts for B2B to drive views and engagement while giving the people want they want.

LinkedIn Posts for B2B

Create Posts That Give How-tos and Tips

As mentioned above, people use LinkedIn to learn more information. They go to the platform to stay relevant in their fields and competitive with what their colleagues are doing. They want to learn from their peers and find interesting, useful tidbits of info that are applicable to their own career.

Looking for more info on LinkedIn Marketing? Download our guide.

B2B posts centered around giving your audience just that- useful information- will go far. Make your audience feel smart with posts that fuel their natural inclination to do their job better.

Create Posts about Your Company Culture

B2B companies have a much larger opportunity to be seen and followed on LinkedIn than any other platform. This is simply because many professionals still want to keep their work and personal social channels separate. That being said, LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your business’ culture.

Create posts that show what your culture is about. Please don’t just spew culture-related buzzwords all over your audience. Post photos of your team, congratulate your employees on their successes, showcase how you’re putting your mission into action by serving the community.

We love this example of how our partner Beehive Strategic Communications used International Women’s Day to showcase their culture through dedication to gender equality.

LinkedIn Posts for B2B

Create Posts Giving Predictions and Unique Points of view

LinkedIn is a great platform for your company to strut its stuff, so to speak. You’re experts in what you do, right? Use LinkedIn to prove it. Make your proclamations and show your audience that you know what you’re talking about. They likely are following you for exactly that reason already. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements about your industry.

Furthermore, since we’re talking B2B here, your prospects are likely looking to work with a company that’s confident in their assertions.

Check out these tips on how to use LinkedIn for lead gen!

Create Posts that Provoke Thought

On that note, the average LinkedIn scroller will be looking to engage and interact. They are eager to offer their opinion and sound smart. This is partly due to the fact that commenting gains them visibility, which you can use to your advantage. By declaring your own point of view or making predictions about the state of [insert topic here], you have the opportunity to open up a dialog. Ask questions, invite feedback, and inspire your followers to give you their opinion, too.

Make it a point to write specific posts geared toward igniting discussion on a weekly basis. The more engagement you get, the more likely you will be to show up at the top of the newsfeed.

Create Posts Using Your Company Influencers & Thought Leaders

Because “B2B” by definition is Business-to-Business, we tend to forget about the humans actually running the businesses. So, even though we’re talking about posting on a company LinkedIn page, you can absolutely let individuals speak through your company. Especially when it comes to video, which we’ll talk about next. Your employees are brilliant authorities on your core topics. Allow them to generate, lead, and influence the conversations you want to have.

Here’s an example from HubSpot. They’ve showcased VP Katie Ng-Mak. She’s breaking through barriers about what it means to be a ‘salesperson’ and opening the door for other like-mind individuals to do the same, sparking a dialog in the comments. This video really hits on all the sections above, too.

Create Video Posts

How far can you get in your own LinkedIn feed before you see a video? Starting at the top of my feed, I got to post #5 and it was a video of a dog hugging a goose. Can’t make this up. Maybe not the most relevant subject matter for LinkedIn…? BUT right below that was a video on personal branding and authenticity. She recorded it on her own personal device- no budget, no frills, no extra equipment. You bet I watched the whole thing, took mental notes on it, and went on my way. Note that this wasn’t a paid spot, either. But here is some info on using LinkedIn Ads if you’re interested! 

When generating LinkedIn Posts for B2b, if you’re an expert in your field, which we already assumed you are, people want to hear from you. And video is one of the easiest, fastest ways to accomplish that task. We can guarantee that almost everybody (save for those people who really want to be actors deep down) are going to be camera shy at first, but the reward of video is worth feeling silly at first.

LinkedIn Posts for B2B