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How to use Content as a B2B Lead Gen Tool – Lillian Haase // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: Content is key to lead generation for every business, including B2B businesses. The challenge with lead generation lies in how to obtain user information ethically and provide the type of content they’re looking for at the right time. Join host Ben as he continues B2B SEO Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of European Marketing Lillian Haase as they discuss how content is a valuable lead generation tool for B2B businesses.

Summary

  • A key aspect to B2B lead generation is to obtain user email addresses using gated content.
  • Content such as gated whitepapers, newsletters or signups for free demos and trials are efficient, safe ways to obtain user email addresses.
  • Organic traffic is typically more engaged than PPC traffic, with users browsing more than one page of a website and more likely to browse a site’s content catalog.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                   Welcome to B2B SEO Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day discussing what you need to know to optimize your SEO efforts, to reach business partners and prospects. Joining us for B2B SEO Week is Lillian Haase, who is the director of European marketing at Searchmetrics, which is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions.

Ben:                   So far this week, Lillian and I have talked about why SEO matters more than ever for B2B brands, and yesterday we talked about how to build a B2B specific content strategy. Today we’re going to focus our attention on how to use that content as a B2B lead gen tool. Okay. Here is the third installment of B2B SEO Week with Lillian Haase, director of European marketing for Searchmetrics. Lillian, happy hump day, and welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Lillian:             Thanks, Ben. Good to be here again.

Ben:                   Excited to have you on the show. Hey, we’re halfway through the week we talked about why SEO is important for B2B brands. We talked about creating the content strategy. Let’s talk about filling the top of the funnel. You can’t get conversions if you don’t have leads, so how is content being used as a lead generation tool for B2B brands?

Lillian:              Yeah, I think most of us are still sticking with lead generation in terms of, we need that email address. So the email address is the key, still, now. Who knows if it’ll change in the future, but for most B2B companies, we’re working on email and that email becomes the gold for marketing and for sales. So a good piece of content, well-written, well-presented, excellent graphics, good marketing plan behind it, can be rolled out across many, many channels. To varying degrees and varying levels of success, depending on which channel, that can be the driver, just to get that email address in the first place.

Ben:                   So the point here is you’ve got to grab the email address to start a relationship with somebody, to not only understand who they are, but to be able to re-market to them, and then to be able to distribute more of your content. When you’re thinking about somebody that comes in through search or through the virality of your content, and they’re exposed, hey, they’re reading our blog posts, they’re consuming our … whatever the piece of content is, saw something on social media. How do you get someone from, I’m a reader, to, I am actually going to give contact information?

Lillian:             Yeah, it’s not a straightforward answer. I mean, there’s so many different ways to inspire people to get in touch, but it’s also very dependent on the needs of that person, depending on where they are in the buying cycle, or if they even want to work for the company. So this is happening all the time.

Lillian:             So I think getting that person to take the next step can be done in multiple ways. You can definitely encourage them to provide more information every time they come back to the website, for example. So you already have their email address. This is autofill the next time they find themselves at a form. We have a few more questions on the form this time, and slowly develop a profile for that person so that we can perhaps next time present them with more customized content. So I realize that sounds a little bit like stalking, but unfortunately that’s the world we’re living in right now. It’s all well intentioned, of course.

Lillian:              On the other hand, there are definitely a lot of companies, and we do this as well, where we want all of the information. So we’re giving an incredible amount of content away. We’re educating people with our time, our money, our staff. Everything we know is put into this content and we’ve given it away for free. All we ask in return is that we can contact you again in the future.

Lillian:              Now this, to me, when I hear myself saying it out loud, it’s very much a barter deal that we’re talking about and we, of course, would love to share everything for free without asking for anything. We do with the blog, and a lot of companies do this as well, but at the end of the day, we are also trying to influence, and all marketers are doing this. This is what we do for a living, and this is a positive influence on people’s thinking, people’s career, and also influence about our brand and our company.

Ben:                   So there’s a couple different mediums which I can think of off the top of my head, of ways that you can grab an email address, and by grab I mean ask for and do in an appropriate fashion, have somebody sign up for a newsletter, right. Access to download a white paper, schedule a demo. Are there any other tools or tricks that you can think of, let’s call them mechanisms, to incent people to give their contact information, to start building that relationship?

Lillian:             Yeah, sure. On one hand, you don’t want to give a negative experience to somebody, really locking them out of experiences with your company without giving away some of their personal information. But, yes, if your content is good enough and you really have something to offer that could potentially help them in one way or another, this generally inspires that better conversion rate, if we look at it quite simply.

Lillian:             The other side of this is, before the lockdown, for us it was a big part of it, where we might only have an email address but we invite people to an event for free. It also catches the rest of the market who are not on the website, they’re not downloading stuff. They were in our database and they’ve heard of us, but we’re finding each other in offline circles. We’re finding each other at meet-ups or at big conventions, or meeting up with people for one-on-ones, and where no phone number has ever been exchanged.

Ben:                   I think of a couple of different things. One, I mentioned the newsletter, right, reoccurring access to the content, a different delivery method, gated content. This can be infographics, white papers, any sort of checklist or download. And then you mentioned the notion of events, whether it is in person or whether it is digital, whether it’s your webinars, access to something that happens in real time, another important way that you can grab information, and of course there is the demo form. Contact us, have a conversation, a one-on-one, a personal event, if you will. To me, those are the main buckets for grabbing contact information.

Ben:                   So the last question I have for you when we’re talking about lead generation, obviously content can be used and is a great way to convert once you have somebody on your page, but there’s also the notion of getting the content out to people. I have your email address, so I can send it to you. When you’re looking at SEO content specifically, somebody finding you through a search engine, are there any rules of thumb that you can think of to get someone from an SEO lead to a form fill, to getting their contact information, and are all channels created alike or is SEO different than some of the other channels that you’re using?

Lillian:            Right. Well, actually, in the data I often see that organic traffic is behaving at a higher quality through the website. So what I mean by that is simply, they’re going beyond one page generally. So an organic visitor is more engaged with the content than one that came from PPC, definitely one that came from social media, and bringing those people into a stage where they’re wanting to get in touch or they’re wanting to sign up for more of that content, there’s a mix of methods. We can do user-based popups, for example. Popups is such a horrible word, but you can do it elegantly, unintrusively.

Ben:                Notifications.

Lillian:          There we go. Yeah, to encourage them to do something or take a look at something else. There’s custom content, so building in these fields into the web design where it’s automatically switching content depending on which pages people have visited on the website and what they’ve engaged with. So depending on the level of expertise of the web team, web developers, and what your commitment is to that user experience, there are definitely custom experiences you can build for people to get them to actually take the next step and follow their curiosity to find out more about the solutions. But, yes, for organic, I think in general, it’s one of the most powerful and effective channels for definitely engagement with the website and potentially future engagement with the brand in general.

Ben:                 I think that goes back to our first conversation about whether SEO is more important than ever for B2B brands. People have to search to find your content, literally. They have to go to your search engine, type in a query, and select you to get to the content which has some sort of a self-selection bias, as opposed to you seeking them out and presenting it to them when they’re not necessarily in hunting mode.

Lillian:           Right.

Ben:                So, again, do you think that SEO is incredibly important because your conversion rate for SEO is going to be higher than some of your other marketing channels? That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search Podcast. Thank you for listening to my conversation with Lillian Haase, who’s the director of European marketing for Searchmetrics. We’re going to continue this conversation tomorrow by talking about optimizing and updating your content for B2B success.

Ben:               We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Lillian, you can find a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter, her handle is @LillOnline, or you could visit her company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com.

Ben:               Just one more link on our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:               Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is @voicesofsearch on Twitter, and my personal handle is @benjshap. If you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week, so hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.