Customers often come to us because they have problems finding an effective source of quality B2B leads. Most of them tested almost all of the popular tools such as Google Ads and paid advertising in social media, SEO, content marketing, sponsored articles and cold mailing… but to no avail. Usually, this lack of effectiveness is caused by errors during the performance of such tests — lack of an action plan, lack of comprehensive knowledge on how to choose marketing channels, how to test them, and above all how to measure their effectiveness.
It’s all about testing
Proper planning and testing will allow you to save not only money but also the time needed to find the best source of lead acquisition.
Problems with finding the right channel are most often associated with mistakes in the methodology of searching for them. Many companies want to use the same method of promotion as their competitors. This seems like a time-saver, but often the results are unsatisfactory. It is caused by many variables such as, among others: the specific kind of the company, the experience of the person carrying out the project, commitment and often just pure luck. On the other hand, we never know if the competition really derives profits from a given channel or just spends the advertising budget inefficiently.
Other companies decide on one promotion channel or, worse, all known to them, from the very beginning without adapting the advertising format to the specifics of their business. In the first case, you can never determine if you are spending money effectively. Even if the investment pays off, you can’t determine if another channel wouldn’t deliver twice as much good quality leads in the same period of time and budget.
In the second case, you allow your resources to scatter, which leads to insufficient data. What’s more, if you don’t adjust the marketing strategy to the specifics of your company, you’ll spend money on the channels that are not likely to work.
How to test properly?
Testing can be divided into four basic stages:
- Establishing an action plan
- Choosing feasible channels for testing
- Choosing promising channels for testing
- Choosing an effective channel and attempting to increase results
Stage 1: Action plan
At the very beginning, the most important matter is to think about what goal we want to achieve through testing. It has to be precisely defined. Your goal may be to get x % ROI (return on investment) or increase the number of leads by x %, not just increase them. At the end of the test, you must be able to easily conclude: “yes, the test was successful” or “no, the target wasn’t achieved”.
It is also worth making hypotheses that we will try to confirm or deny. There can be several of these, don’t limit yourself to one. You can formulate the hypothesis in this way: “Paid advertising in social media brings me the newest leads among all channels” or “Publishing sponsored posts on industry portals doesn’t generate profits”.
At this stage, it is also important to determine what metrics are the most important to us. They will be closely related to the goal we set for ourselves at the beginning of this stage. If the goal is to increase the number of leads, the most important metric will usually be the number of forms received, the cost of obtaining one form or the conversion rate.
You must have a plan to test successfully. Before you take action, prepare a work schedule with the division of duties, deadlines for each stage and allocate time for meetings after each of them. Depending on the channel, you’ll have to wait for the data several weeks (e.g. PPC advertising) or much shorter (publication of an article in an industry magazine, a speech at a conference). You should analyze when the first effects may appear on each channel and set a rigid date for analyzing the collected results. It is also important that the tasks assigned to the team are tailored to their knowledge and competence.
The plan and analysis can be done in a spreadsheet or you could use one of the popular project management tools.
Stage 2: Feasible marketing channels
Next, think about which marketing channels we can test. It may turn out that the industry specifics or our internal resources won’t allow a specific channel to be used. Also, do not test everything so as not to fragment the available budget too much. If you run too many tests at the same time, you may find that you’re not getting any deeper insights and can’t draw conclusions that translate into actions. Think about the pros and cons of each channel in relation to the target group of the company and then, on a low percentage of the budget, conduct a test month in each of the selected ones.
Stage 3: Promising marketing channels
Usually, after the first few weeks (6-8) we have enough data to analyze the effectiveness of the campaign. Put together all of the most important business data that you chose during the first stage. It will probably be clear at this stage which activities are more effective or have potential and which… don’t.
Now you have to decide which activities you want to continue and allocate a larger budget to them. However, don’t limit yourself to one channel — choose two or three and keep testing with a higher budget for the next few weeks.
Stage 4: Scaling the effective channel
At this stage, we should be able to say, “yes, this channel has worked best. We will invest in it.” And start scaling it.
If none of the channels has a clear advantage — extend the tests, perhaps testing additional hypotheses. It may also be the case that two channels get comparable results. Then you can base your company’s marketing strategy on two main sources of lead generation, treated equally. However, try to make bold theses. Always rely on data, not feelings.
A marketing strategy cannot be based on only one channel. The marketing activity that turns out to be the most effective should be your main source of customer acquisition, but not the only one.
Purchasing decisions of B2B customers often take several weeks or even months. During this time, we should use as many touchpoints with leads as possible and motivate them again to take up the offer. Remarketing campaigns will certainly be helpful, but so will the knowledge of the effectiveness of other channels, gained from previous tests. The most frequently used support channels in B2B businesses are: remarketing campaigns, content marketing, newsletter, as well as appearances at industry conferences.
Before you start testing, be sure to prepare the right strategy. There is no point in testing without a proper plan. And without testing, you won’t know which investment will be the most profitable for the company.