“Online leads don’t happen in my sector. It’s all about who you know.”
It’s quite alarming how often we hear the above opinion about lead generation. Not only is it an antiquated way of thinking, it’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy – if you convince yourself it doesn’t work in your sector then of course you won’t get any leads.
It’s equally alarming how this attitude prevails despite the number of business sectors that have been dramatically disrupted by digital transformation:
- Uber dominate the marketplace for taxis
- Booking.com have some of the largest hotel groups in the world over a barrel
- It’s pretty much impossible to buy a car without visiting Autotrader
It is no coincidence that these sectors, which resisted digital adoption, are now dominated by businesses with digital-first business plans. They were sitting ducks, and this was due in large part to a number of stubborn myths that stopped businesses digitally updating their processes – myths that some business decision-makers still cling to.
Here are three of the biggest you need to be aware of and what you can do to bust the myth – for good.
Myth 1: Digital marketing doesn’t work in long sales cycles
Large manufacturing businesses often cite this as a reason not to invest in digital marketing. Tenders come around every 5 years or so and that’s how business is won and lost.
The reality is that outside of the official ‘fair and impartial’ decision-making process, buyers are evaluating potential suppliers on an ongoing basis. It’s not as if this is completely new news.
Lots of these organisations have sales teams who knock on doors and pester people endlessly. Marketing teams run an endless number of ‘we just have to be there’ events, too. But this activity seems to ignore that almost everybody who makes B2B purchasing decisions relies to some extent on desk-based digital research to make informed decisions.
Winning the hearts and minds of people when they actually want to interact with your business makes a difference as to whether you start the tender process at the front or back of the pack.
How to bust the myth
Think about the lead-generation long game in terms of your content strategy and design content for all stages of the buying journey. Tools like Lead Forensics, that show you which organisations are reading your content, can indicate which targets are sales-ready and likely to be receptive to an approach.
Myth 2: People have to visit our showroom to buy products
The automotive industry (and specifically car sales) is a great example of how buying habits have changed due to digital disruption.
For example, in the early 2000s, UK car buyers would on average visit six dealerships before making a buying decision. Now, that figure lies between two and three (dipping to just 1.7 visits in 2015).
In this sector, the showroom visit is an important face-to-face sales factor. Customers are obviously aware of this and intentionally do most of their research ‘in stealth mode’ to avoid being hounded by hungry sales people.
However, in recent years, visits to dealerships have increased – a result also due to digital disruption, as digital engagement with drivers has created more intelligence and transparency around buying habits.
Take car sales events, for example. Although it might seem like they happen almost at random, the larger dealerships are using intelligence-based online browsing and the stage of previously negotiated finance packages to have sales events at times they know will be most effective.
Having spoken to a number of large dealerships in the past six months, we know many of them are using digital insights to maximise the effectiveness of their sales events, and thus improve their lead generation. Specifically, they are looking at general browsing activity on content designed for users close to making purchasing decisions and running reports on customer finance agreements from their CRM systems.
How to bust the myth
What touchpoints exist on your website where data collection could give you greater insight into buyer behaviour? Interactive calculators, polls and surveys are great ways of getting customers to reveal their propensity to purchase. Blend this with your wider engagement strategy and you’re onto a winner.
Myth 3: People don’t Google search for the things that we sell
If the growth of the search engines has shown us anything it’s that people rely on Google to supplement their knowledge for just about anything.
And this supplementation is increasingly question- and voice-based. According to this Surefire blog, 27% of search queries are question-based – a trend likely to increase in line with the number of Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices.
Question-based search is completely relevant for organisations who previously thought that service or brand keyword searches were not applicable in their sectors. This has been particularly appropriate for niche areas of financial services and the legal industry where consumers know what their problem is but not what the service they require is called.
How to bust the myth
Blindly optimising your website for any questions you can think of is time-consuming and likely to be ineffective. However, there are lots of platforms our team have access to (including social listening tools) which can help to identify future question search trends. These insights can be used with marketing automation software to warm customers up to a point where your service offerings become directly relevant.
Even if will-trodden sales cycles and embedded buying habits are set to continue in your sector, there are still lots of ways you can use digital marketing to improve your lead generation. If your website isn’t producing leads it’s probably because it is operating as a marketing brochure rather than an interactive tool that helps users to solve problems, increase their knowledge, and justify buying products and services.
Need help with your digital transformation and lead generation? Then get in touch and let us apply some serious myth-busting to your marketing.