B2B software lead generation is difficult, despite it being one of the most important tasks.
When turning a prospect into a sales lead, you normally have to involve different parts of the company. Typically, the lead begins with marketing, moves onto the sales team and even post-sale, they may need help from customer support.
Lead generation is not a one-man-game.
So for B2B marketers to be successful at lead generation, everyone needs to work harmoniously together by agreeing on the right way to handle a prospect at each stage of the process. In this post, we’re going to focus on one important element of your B2B lead generation strategy.
Search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t just increase traffic, you can use it effectively throughout all stages of your lead generation process.
For those who have previously discounted SEO as a lead generation tool or those who have never even considered it, this post is for you.
Why you shouldn’t use SEO for B2B software lead generation
Many lead generation campaigns are time-sensitive. Meaning, you run a campaign for X days at Y cost and calculate how many leads you got from your efforts.
But SEO isn’t a quick-win scheme. You can’t put a time-frame on it. Often, campaigns will take months to reach fruition. If you’re running time-sensitive campaigns, SEO probably won’t be your main asset.
However, that doesn’t mean SEO doesn’t have a place in time-sensitive campaigns. Quite the opposite. When you run a campaign with a time frame, use SEO to create keyword targeted content to use as a follow up for the original campaign.
SEO can be an exceptional lead generation tool and can also lower your overall lead generation costs.
Let’s find out.
A majority of marketers struggle to generate traffic and leads as shown in the graph below. When it comes to generating traffic, the first thing that comes to most marketers’ mind is SEO.
So why not consider the same for lead generation too?
At the end of the day, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine so it makes sense to think carefully about your SEO strategy and how you can link that to your lead generation strategy.
The four steps are outlined below.
1. Understand B2B user intent
Understanding your buyer is important especially if you want leads for your software company. But you need to understand your buyer further than “the buyer is someone interested in our software”.
Not only do you need to understand them from a demographic standpoint, you need to understand their behavior at all stages of the buying process. If you want to use SEO for your lead generation campaign, you need to develop your buyer personas by combining them with your keyword research.
When you do this, the result is known as: ‘user intent’.
When creating content, or running an SEO campaign, you need to know if the user is intent on learning or buying. The two are different and require different types of content to appeal to each group. Understanding the differences between the two will help you effectively craft a winning SEO strategy that generates leads for your B2B software.
For example, if a user searches for ‘content marketing’, what is the intent behind this search?
Are they looking to learn about content marketing? Or are they looking to buy content marketing software or services?
When you know your user’s intentions you can guide them towards content that meets their needs and answers their questions.
If a user searches for ‘best content marketing software’ they are probably further along the buyer’s journey as they’re looking for a specific type of software.
As a software company, if you can rank on page one for these types of searches, you will attract warm leads to your site.
Some buyers are even further along the buyer’s journey and conduct branded searches. The intent behind these searches is obvious, users already know the exact software they want.
When putting together this keyword research, you will want to know what terms people use for your software? What questions do they have about your software? What things do people normally get wrong or misunderstand about your software?
Use a tool like ahrefs keyword explorer to understand the keywords users use most frequently when searching for the solutions your software provides and find low-hanging fruit opportunities to rank for specific keywords.
The objective here is to understand the keywords you want to rank for and understand the user intent behind those keywords.
2. Match keyword research to the buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey has evolved. Previously, buyers would spend equal amounts of time at each of the stages in the journey.
Now, they self-educate and find their own route to purchase.
The benefit of using SEO, however, is the ability to get your software in front of your target audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
During the awareness stage, buyers are just starting to realize they have a problem. The type of content you produce should be easily digestible. They’re not looking for in-depth guides at this point. Remember, they’re only just discovering their issues.
You want to answer questions like ‘what is…?’ to introduce potential buyers to the concepts around their problems. At this stage, specific terminology probably won’t mean anything to them.
When buyers reach the exploring solutions stage, they are actively researching their problems in detail to understand how they can solve them. This is where you would want to offer detailed blog posts, ebooks and webinars that solve the issues of ‘how…?’ and ‘why…?’
Buyers who are comparing vendors know they need the service and are happy to pay, but first want to know which vendor will effectively solve their problems.
They might use a software comparison tool to find price comparison charts, reviews and case studies. They need to know how your solution works and why it’s the best.
Key tip: your content needs to answer user intent.
Organize the results of your user-intent keyword research along your buyer’s journey. Ask yourself whether the keywords you’ve highlighted represent someone at the research or buyer intent stage?
3. Create content for all stages of the funnel
Think about lead generation campaigns you’ve run in the past. If you used social media, after a while, the tweet or post will stop showing in people’s feeds.
Paid advertising lead generation campaigns run until you run out of budget.
Social media and paid advertising are both viable lead generation strategies but when the campaign ends, you have to run the campaign again, or increase your budget, if you’re using paid methods.
But the magic of SEO is great content is evergreen. Meaning, for the intended audience, that content will always be valuable and relevant. It means you only need to create the content once.
Great content lasts a lifetime.
4. Optimize your content for SEO
The reason people don’t consider SEO a viable stream for lead generation is because they don’t consider conversion opportunities. Why should it be so difficult for the same strategy that generates traffic to also convert traffic too?
The truth is, it’s not.
You’ve already combined your keyword strategy with your buyer persona to understand user intent. You’ve also created content that targets buyers at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
So where are your leads?
Traffic doesn’t automatically mean leads. That’s where most people make mistakes, thinking the hard work is over. Don’t leave money on the table, optimize your pages for conversion.
If your SEO strategy is good, the right visitor will land on the right page at the right time, but you need to engage them and optimize your pages if you want to turn visitors into leads. Test and compare different concepts to find out what works and optimize approaches for peak performance.
When optimizing your pages consider these SEO metrics:
- Click through rate – this will give you an indication of who saw your link on Google and clicked through to the content. This will tell you whether you need to improve your title or metadata.
- Bounce rate – Shows the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing just one page. Ideally, you want people to stay on your website and explore.
- Time spent on site – You want to engage people. If they’re engaged, they’ll consume more content and if they’re consuming more content, they’ll spend more time on your website.
5. Measure your success
For other lead generation strategies, measuring the effectiveness of your campaign can be difficult.
Luckily, when it comes to lead generation, there are a number of tools available to help measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.
Some of the best ones are shown below in the Crozdesk Market Radar.
Source: SEO & SEM Market Research, Crozdesk
If you market your software at a conference, how do you measure the number of leads that came directly from that conference?
With SEO as a core part of your lead generation strategy, you can measure and monitor your efforts and match your input to direct leads and revenue. Producing content along the entirety of the buyer’s journey means you can easily see where your traffic is coming from and what they’re doing.
If 100s of people are landing on your ‘benefits of X software page’ but no one is clicking your call to action, assume there are further changes needed. But, if 100s of people are clicking on your ‘benefits of X software page’ via organic search and also contacting you via your call to action, consider promoting this page to reach more people.
You already have proof of its success.
B2B SEO is just the beginning
Not everyone who visits your website will convert. Not everyone who visits your website in the awareness stage will return at the buyer stage and purchase. There are simply too many variables to consider to ensure that happening.
SEO doesn’t need to be your entire lead generation strategy. It just needs to be a key part of it. If anything, you should see SEO as the stepping stone to the rest of your lead generation.
For buyers who were looking at your content during the ‘comparing vendors’ stage, why not retarget those users with a paid ad?
SEO shouldn’t happen in silos, especially when it comes to lead generation. There’s a great misconception that SEO is for early-stage traffic acquisition only.
This simply isn’t the case.
After reading this blog post, however, I hope you understand exactly where SEO can fit into your lead generation strategy.
Prospects spend more time conducting their own research which means they usually find their own way to a purchase decision. They are self-educating. If you’re not considering SEO as an integral part of your lead generation process, you’re behind the times.
Is SEO an important part of your B2B software lead generation process? Leave a comment below