Direct Business to Business (B2B) marketing is unique in the sense that each promotion requires the prospect or the business to take action. Essentially, every amount spent on B2B lead generation can be tracked. This gives marketing managers a task to ensure that their efforts yield great ROI.
Let us explore a few areas in B2B marketing before we begin.
The technological developments in search, social media, content marketing and ecommerce have dramatically altered the role of buyers and sellers causing a change in how B2B marketing is done. Sales people will of course remain functional and useful but their roles keep changing.
As a matter of fact, 82% of B2B decision-makers think that sales reps are unprepared and product descriptions are among the least valued of information. This definitely means that a winning lead generation copy should now contain more than product descriptions.
According to a 2012 benchmark report by Marketing Sherpa, 71% of survey respondents stated that creating top quality leads was a major challenge. One of these challenges as marketers have reported is getting the perfect winning lead generation copy.
A different report showed that 14% of businesses fail due to poor marketing. It is therefore clear that should you fail to put ample effort in your marketing strategy, you are bound to experience low conversion rates and in extreme cases, business failure.
One of the marketing strategies you need to focus on is how to create a winning B2B lead generation copy. So, how do you do this? This post will highlight 11 basic but crucial ways of creating a perfect sales copy that will result in amazing revenue.
- Strategy 1: Optimize For Both HTML And Plain Text Emails
- Strategy 2: Address Your Prospect’s Biggest Issues In The Opening Sentence
- Strategy 3: Avoid These 4-Letter Words
- Strategy 4: You Don’t Have To Always Sound Professional
- Strategy 5: Create A Product Video
- Strategy 7: Give Fewer Choices
- Strategy 8: Take Advantage Of Your Signature
- Strategy 9: Include Response Avenues
- Strategy 10: Perfect Your Grammar, Punctuation And Spelling
- Strategy 11: Ensure That You Appear Credible
- Final Thoughts
Strategy 1: Optimize For Both HTML And Plain Text Emails
Research has showed that people prefer a rich-text email compared to plain text email. This means that an image-based email is best when generating leads for your business. On the other hand, the number of people who prefer text has not changed.
But, is that entirely true?
Even after people responded that they preferred HTML and image-rich emails from businesses, an a/b test was done, and it was discovered that they were more inclined towards text-based emails. This however does not mean that you disregard visuals in your lead generation copy.
It means that you should optimize for both. So, how do you do it?
Step 1: Properly Code Your HTML
When generating leads, deliverability is of great concern. Unfortunately, if you fail to properly code your HTML email, email editors in the business you are contacting will mark your mail as spam. While you think this is bad, it gets worse.
Your future emails to this business will be marked as spam by the email provider, stifling any efforts to make a follow up with your prospects.
Step 2: Include A Plain-Text Version Of Your HTML Email
When using an email marketing tool to generate your leads, you will discover that there is a provision for creating a plain-text version of your email. This means that you will take an extra 5 minutes creating and optimizing the plain-text version of the email.
If you follow these two steps, your emails are bound to have the same deliverability results.
While this works, you wonder:
Why do your text-based emails perform better than the HTML ones? Here are a few reasons why.
Reason 1: HTML Reduces Open Rates
HubSpot realized that as much as its HTML and plain text emails had the same deliverability rates, the HTML emails were underperforming. To understand the reason, the business decided to run an a/b test on various segments on their database.
Yes, HTML emails were getting received but were not getting opened as much as the plain text emails. Worse still, they realized that the more HTML-rich an email was, the lower the chances it had of getting opened.
The image below shows the results.
The image above only shows a fraction of the number of a/b tests that were conducted. Basically, the general idea is that the more sophisticated a HTML email was, the less noticeable it was to other businesses. Do you know why?
This is what email providers have done to commercial emails:
Before email providers did anything on email organization, you basically had to sort out your emails into labels and decide which ones you would read and prioritize more, compared to others. But, in May 2013, everything changed.
Google announced that it had redesigned its inbox to keep users back in control of what came into their emails. Google would now deliver mails based on categories such as social, promotion, updates and primary. These would appear in different tabs and you would have the ability to choose which one to open.
Here is a screenshot of the new Gmail look like you already know.
What exactly is the effect on marketing?
There have been fears that the filtering done by email providers such as Google has stifled lead generation. Different companies have seen different results. At Hubspot for example, after the new feature was launched, there were 58.9% more emails opened and 63% more unique email opened.
MailChimp on the other hand realized that open rates reduced in three consecutive weeks since the new features were rolled out.
Here is what happened at MailChimp. Do you see the drop in open rates everyday of the week?
This is why it happened:
Google automatically filters what it deems commercial from the inbox tab to the promotion tab unless an account holder changes settings. Unfortunately, you have no control over this, but you can always advise your prospects to change settings for easier future communication. This is how it’s done.
Here is the solution:
Like we said, optimize for both ways and learn the best practices in order to satisfy prospects who love HTML or plain text, and also ensure that your lead generation efforts pay off. After all, Gmail for example has over 425 million active users. You definitely need to find a way around this.
Reason 2: HTML Reduces Email Click-Through Rates
Reportedly, humans are designed to be attracted to beautiful design. Unfortunately for marketers, this fact does not apply to email, especially when writing a lead generation copy with excessive design.
Do you know why?
Simple! Unlike other marketing channels, emails are perceived as a one-on-one communication channel. Let’s take for instance, when emailing your colleagues at the office. Do you use fancy images and illustrations? I bet probably not. If you must include an image, then it is always very necessary.
You write in text in a simple yet concise way that will ensure the right message is passed. The email seems more personal at this level. This is why when creating a lead generation copy, you should ensure that your business addresses the other business in a personal way.
This way, you are sure that you will have a higher click-through rate, meaning that your prospect will probably take time to read your email.
Here is proof that this works:
Hubspot set out to find out the click-through rate of over half a billion emails from different types of business with different list sizes, segments and list compositions. Hubspot was able to find out that just a single image reduced the click rate.
Here is a graph showing the results.
This is our conclusion:
When optimizing for both HTML and plain text in email lead prospecting, simply remember these three proven facts. One, filters set up by email providers divert your emails; two, understand the email client limitations and lastly, understand the user preference for digestible formatting.
Strategy 2: Address Your Prospect’s Biggest Issues In The Opening Sentence
We earlier on discussed that people actually love text-based emails and HTML tags so it is best to optimize for both. Even when using an image-based lead generation copy, you will still use some text to describe your business.
Now that you know that,
How do you design your text email to capture your prospect’s attention from the word go? Do you showcase your cheapest goods or services? Do you instead start with the most expensive goods or services? Do you begin with a list of big businesses you have worked with?
No! This is what you do:
Before writing your lead generation copy, you should research and understand your target business. What challenges does it face? Which ones seem to be the biggest? Is the business trying to find the best solution? If so, what are the criteria?
How this helps:
After reading the first sentence, the business will understand that the suggested solutions are relevant to it. As a result, your pitch will be taken seriously.
How you approach this:
In her book, “Winning Direct Response Advertising”, Joan Throckmorton, gave different approaches on how to address your prospect’s biggest challenges in the first sentences. Here is what she said.
Tip 1: Address The Issue Generically
For example, if you are talking to an employer, let them know that you understand that it is a pain to track the labor hours of all his employees globally.
Tip 2: Use Quotations And Statistics
These will resonate well with your prospect when they can place themselves within the mentioned statistics. They will indeed feel like they are not the only ones facing a particular problem.
Tip 3: Ask Them A Question
Asking your prospects a question will actually provide them an opportunity to dig deeper into their problem. Upon realizing that you actually thought about the problem and have a solution, they will in turn listen to your proposition better.
Tip 4: Create A Story
A story is a way of showing your prospects that other businesses have had the same problem and proven solutions actually exist.
Tip 5: Offer An Invitation To The Solution
This gives a business the idea that they are not obliged to work with your company but have a choice to get their much-needed solution from you, and you are open to help.
Tip 6: Instill Fear
Well, you should be careful at this point. You need not tell a business that it is doomed. Simply show it in a real but candid way, the losses they could make if they did not deal with a particular problem. After this, point out that you can offer the solution at affordable rates.
Tip 7: ‘Talk’ To Your Prospects
Starting a sentence with a personalized greeting, for example using the CEOs name instead of title will give the business a sense of discussion. The person reading your lead generation copy will indeed feel like you are having a discussion at a personal level.
Tip 8: Give Them A Dream
This is the part where you use words such as imagine. For example, ‘imagine 30% growth in revenue in just one month’
Strategy 3: Avoid These 4-Letter Words
Your B2B sales could be reducing due to use of certain 4-letter words when writing a lead generation copy or interacting with prospects. While they may seem harmless, these words play a big role in determining whether your business stays in the market.
Is profanity the only thing you should avoid?
Most people know that profanity is what every sales person ought to avoid. This is obvious! You do not expect to close a deal when all you say are vulgar words. But, these everyday words are a complete no-no for any smart sales person.
Word #1: Can’t
Every prospect would love to hear the word can. In all honesty, your prospect does not want to hear that you can’t do something. In case he does, he will be left wondering why your business is running in the first place.
After attracting their curiosity and enticing them to develop interest in your business by showing them you care, like we did on strategy one, your prospect will hope that you have the much needed solution. For this reason, it is vital to focus your B2B lead generation copy on what your business can offer.
But what if you can’t?
That is a very good question. In this case, after highlighting all your capabilities, you can offer to help them find someone who can provide what they want. That way, they will remember you for the assistance offered and maybe, decide to put your products into consideration.
Word #2: Same
Well, we all know the importance of change. It is usually a sign of progress, especially when it comes to offering solutions. As a business, you sure hope that there is always a faster and better way of doing things, which will in turn lead to better revenue.
Then this happens:
You design your lead generation copies telling your prospects that you are offering a solution in the way you are doing it, because things have always been do that way. Believe me, you are single-handedly building your own business grave.
You know why?
At this point, your prospective client thinks that your business lacks innovation, creativity and the drive to make things better. Additionally, they begin to doubt your prowess. The best approach is assuring them that your business is committed to finding the best solutions, in an effort to serve them better.
You will experience an increase in client loyalty, higher referral rates, amazing prospect-client conversion rates and ultimately, great revenue.
Word #3: Fear
No one ever wants to feel or hear fear when they are desperately looking for solutions. It is common sense that your prospects will not do business when all you portray is fear. However, a business will sometimes have its own fears. This is natural.
Here is how to show it:
Express your fears but ensure that it is accompanied with solutions. For example, in case there is a legal barrier, make plans to have a legal expert advice on the best way forward.
Word #4: Busy
Yes, busy shows that many clients believe in your business. While this is good, you need not rub this on your prospects. When writing your lead generation copy, it is essential that your prospects feel special. Assure them that you will give them personalized attention and that your best team will work on their issues.
Let your prospects and clients know that they are the reason your business still stands. This way, they will feel more inclined to do business with you and even consult you before dealing with a different business for solutions you do not offer.
Word #5: Bore
Never ever show your client that the job is boring and is simply drudgery. They will in turn question your capabilities.
Word #6: Safe
You could think that playing safe makes your clients trust you more. While this might be true, you are somewhat mistaken.
You know why?
A business will appreciate you more when it understands that you are ready to take risks in order to find opportunities.
Strategy 4: You Don’t Have To Always Sound Professional
You need to ask yourself before anything else, what is tone? Tone is simply not what you are saying but how you are saying it. Do you understand the difference? This is the voice that you bring across when your prospect reads your lead generation copy.
Using the exact tone is what stands between creating a good copy and a winning copy. Depending on how you say what you need to say, your prospect is likely to evoke certain emotions and develop perceptions on your business.
Why should you care about emotions?
You might think that emotions and business do not mix. But, you are wrong. Take for example an advertisement on legal representation after a crime which uses gory images to show you crime. Would you work with such a business? I bet not.
Fine, what about professionalism?
You need to find a balance between exuding a great personality to your prospects and sounding professional. If you use a purely professional tone, you could come off as dry and formal, failing to resonate well with your audience. This is why you should consider adding your company personality to your copy.
How do you do this?
Loosen up a bit and make your pitch conversational. People really want to be spoken to the way they are spoken to in real life. Have you ever thought about colloquial writing or even slang? Well, you feel confused how this works.
This is how Emailonacid does it:
Seen the word ‘crap’ above? I am sure you would resonate well with this business trying to sort out your email issues. Maybe because, you actually think your email looks like crap and you feel great that someone thought just like you.
Do you still think this is odd?
While speaking at Distilled’s SearchLove London conference, Amelia Showalter showed her results after running several a/b email tests to find out the impact of not being too professional and using a little slang here are there, just like we saw in the example above.
Her results showed that a lead generation copy that had mild curse words returned good results. As much as you have proof of this, you need not go on a cursing spree and dropping the F-bomb. Remember, everything should be in moderation. There is a thin line you should not cross.
Strategy 5: Create A Product Video
A video! Yes! Why send a prospecting copy without a video? It wouldn’t hurt. Do you know why? 65% of people are actually visual learners. This means that videos are a great way of driving your point home and further convince in a manner that text wouldn’t.
Reportedly, product explainer videos can generate leads at a rate of up to 33%. It is important to note that this results greatly depend on the focus while making the video.
Here is a case study that shows the importance of including videos in your copy, as well as explains the need for focus when creating marketing videos.
Vidyard was running a campaign on the tale of two marketers, in an effort to explain the two kinds of outlooks that people seem to have about video. There were two different cartoon characters, Post-and-Pray Pete and Strategic Sue.
From the names, you can see that one marketer simply posted a video and prayed it generated the desired results. The other marketer was strategic and knew what she wanted out the video.
Strategic Sue wanted people to download her case study, an intention she made clear in the video. This is how there were 33% more generated leads with her.
We will briefly discuss 4 ways the business achieved this.
Method 1: Have One Direct Action
Before writing your video script, ensure that you know exactly what you want your target audience to do after watching it.
Method 2: Tell An engaging Story
At no point should you give your audience the chance to stop playing your video. While you are at it, ensure that you trigger emotions that will cause your leads to want more. At this point, you will have enticed them to download your demo or software.
Take this adobe video for example. It makes you anxious and want to try the product.
Method 3: Ensure That Your Track Meaningful Metrics
In 2013 alone, 70% of marketers were unable to deliver on quantifiable results. Clearly, their subsequent marketing campaigns were unable to achieve their possible potential because marketers really did not understand the dynamics.
To do this, you could consider using analytics tools like the range Truconversion offers, such as visitor session recordings.
For example, see how Vidyard tracked its video metrics to make better marketing decisions.
Method 4: Follow Up With Leads That Engaged
An action from a lead means that they are interested and yearning for more. Even if this is not the case, their comments and suggestions would help your marketing team a great deal.
Include a video in your email or lead generation copy and ensure that your intentions are spelt out in the video.
Imagine stumbling upon a link that promises you that it will not spam your email with unnecessary information. Will you still consider its products and services?
Michael Aargard ran a test to find out the effect of including the phrase “100% privacy – we will never spam you!” on a sign up form. He realized that the phrase reduced conversions by 18%.
Here are the experiments he ran.
It is perfectly okay to promise privacy to your prospects. However, you need to be creative on how to go about this. Just remember not to use the word spam when you do this.
On the brighter side:
Including an authoritative and solid policy statement seemed to work. Michael used the phrase, ‘we guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared’. According to his results, this is a perfect phrase to include when generating leads. It yielded 19.47% more conversions.
Strategy 7: Give Fewer Choices
It has been proven that choice paralyzes buyers. This is according to the book, The Paradox Of Choice, which states that the more choices you give your prospects, the more the chance that they will choose nothing.
This idea is reiterated by Hick’s law, which states that fewer choices mean less confusion, which in turn generates more leads. This is why when completing your lead generation copy, you need to have a single call-to-action.
Here is how one business did it:
Before incorporating Hick’s law into their business strategy, MySiteAuditor had six options on its free trial sign up page. This is what happened when they reduced their options to one.
They had 25% more conversions! See the old and new pages here.
Here is the old page:
The new page:
Strategy 8: Take Advantage Of Your Signature
Well, you have created your lead generation copy and feel that you have perfectly incorporated every useful tip on how to do it. At this point, it is time for you to sign off. Do you just say your regards and put your name or use this opportunity to further speak to your lead?
No. This is what you do:
When signing off, use the opportunity to link back to your website or landing page. You never know, this could be the last needed emphasis to another business to check out your website.
Don’t be shy to do this. Even British Red Cross does this:
As a charity organization, the British Red Cross has to talk to other businesses for donations. After all, this is their chance to show that they are committed to corporate social responsibility. To further generate more leads, they have added links to donation pages in every employees email sign off.
20% of businesses and people who talked to employees with the modified signatures had more chances of making a donation. Don’t you find that impressive?
Here is how the typical email looks like:
This is where you can even get creative and make promises to your prospects. For example, promise them a discount if they referred another business.
Strategy 9: Include Response Avenues
In all honesty, taking time to write a winning lead generation copy and failing to give a response avenue shows lack of focus. What did you expect anyway? To feel good that you sent a couple of copies and they were delivered? Oh, C’mon! You want to see returns!
In a light hearted note though, just to drive this point home. This is just like a woman taking three hours to apply makeup hoping she will catch a date at the club then getting there and not responding to anyone who serenades her. I mean, she should have just stayed home. Right?
So, how does this come about!
You have sent a great copy and you want to see results! No business has the time to sift through search engines to find your contact information when all you have given is a ‘noreply’ email address. They have seen your pitch, liked what they have seen and now want to engage.
Give them as many choices as possible on how to contact you. The rule of fewer choices does not apply here as you might wonder. This is a case of what your leads prefer to use to contact you. Give all your fax, email, telephone or even Skype details. More response options will mean more responses, more clients and better ROI from your mailings.
Strategy 10: Perfect Your Grammar, Punctuation And Spelling
Believe me, the fastest way to sink your credibility is failing to spell your prospects name right. Why would a prospect trust that you can take time to provide the best solutions when you did not spare an extra 5 seconds just to proof read your sales copy?
Here is how poor grammar could hurt your lead generation and sales.
Strategy 11: Ensure That You Appear Credible
When contacting a fellow business, which probably has been contacted by other businesses, you need to ensure that your credibility ranks high. You know why? Out of the many pitches, the target business will develop its own elimination criteria and you really don’t want to be struck off at the very beginning.
Here are a few ways of appearing credible:
Number 1: Have A Corporate Email Address
When sending an email, kindly send from an email address which is @yourwebsite.com. Please refrain from using free email addresses. You need to look like you invest in your own company therefore can invest your time and thought into another.
What if you don’t have a website?
It is essential for any business to have its own website. However, in the event that you do not have one for whatever reason, ensure that your email address reads as professional as possible. For example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. This would serve really well.
Number 2: Use Custom-made Stationery
Basic old-school marketing channels such as direct mail are still deemed a fit way of generating leads. As a matter of fact, 59% of marketers say that print marketing is an effective channel while 64% of buyers cite print as one of their most trusted sources of information.
Clearly, print is not dead. So here’s what you do:
Sometimes you would prefer to send your lead generation copy by mail. While this is a good way of sending an even bigger and more elaborate portfolio, this could also be your chance to seem credible in the manner in which you present your items.
Ensure that the stationery you use is custom made with a well-designed logo. This ranges from the envelops, letterheads used when formatting the letter, business cards and even pens that you could decide to add in the package.
Number 3: Include Testimonials
You need to show proof that you have worked with other businesses before. The importance of testimonials is reiterated by several statistics from different studies. 70% of your users will trust recommendations from people they do not know while 90% will trust recommendations from people they know.
Either way, testimonials tremendously increase your chances of converting prospects into clients. However, you should be careful in how you present them. Yes you want to portray your business as the best but do not give your prospect an opportunity to be skeptic.
Here is the reason:
90% of prospects suspect glowing testimonials. To emphasize further on this fact, Reevo conducted a survey that revealed that 68% of prospects trusted reviews when they had both good and bad scores. You should be clever here though, do a little reputation management. Do not show testimonials that portray your greatest weaknesses. Instead, use that information to improve yourself.
This is how you make it even better:
Use buyer photographs which comprise of screenshots and other photographic feedback. You can also use celebrity endorsements if you have any. Using influencers such as celebrities to vouch for your business increases your credibility rates to higher levels.
Is any celebrity relevant?
Absolutely not. The main focus is selling your business for what it is and what it does. This means that using any celebrity will cause you to lose focus. Do you know why? People tend to associate celebrity traits with a product and when they don’t see the connection, they stop paying attention to your business.
What if this is your first lead?
Great question. When you have no testimonials for your business, you can comfortably switch to testimonials of you as a person. Surely, there are always people who could speak on your behalf. These could be your former bosses, former college mates, club mates and any other person whose association is an asset to your business.
The reason that you are experiencing a low conversion rate could be that people dismiss your lead generation copy based on how it is written and presented. You should see this as your business magnet, the lower the magnetic force, the less chances are that you will attract any business.
Before releasing the document, you are advised to proof read it and double check for grammatical and marketing errors. One key thing you should always remember is the fact that you are trying to sell your business to the other business and still show how the other party gains.
In general, find a balance between what you offer and what the other party stands to gain. Understand what your target business suffers from and use the information to create a custom pitch. Do not simply use one sales template and expect to get admirable results.
Finally, you sure want to track your conversion rates and understand what happens through the conversion funnel and use this information to develop better strategies for your business. The all-in-one Truconversion analytics tool will sure help you achieve this.