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With a new year fast approaching, now is the time to re-evaluate what lead gen strategies are worth keeping and which outdated habits should be kicked to the curb fast. Certain strategies, like content marketing and SEO, are enduring no-brainers that will continue to allow you to thrive in 2018. Others are pushing their way to prominence thanks largely due to shifts in how your audience desires to be engaged with on and offline.

The big secret to effective lead gen in 2018 is knowing when to adapt to newer trends that work and are increasingly relevant, and when to optimize those marketing strategies that may need a tweak or two.

In this blog, I’ll show you lead generation strategies you should adopt or hold on to for 2018 and the strategies you need to let go of to stay on top in the new year.

Do: Take a Second (and Third) Look at Mobile Marketing

As of 2015, most of Google users access the search engine via mobile phone. Therefore, it only makes sense to optimize mobile marketing efforts for lead generation purposes.

In addition to web page responsiveness, it’s very important to consider the mobile-friendliness of:

  • Content should be examined for font color and size, as well as paragraph size. Make sure it’s easy to read on a mobile phone.
  • Ads should be less intrusive and less ad-like—especially on your site.
  • Email should be mobile-friendly. At least 20% of your email list will be accessing their email on their smartphones. And don’t just create an email template that works and forget about it. Email clients are constantly updating and rendering of your email on mobile could change from time to time.

This may sound obvious, but in fact, a lot of websites, emails, and ads are not mobile friendly. And your audience is starting to notice. Content designed to generate leads is often making a first impression, so make it a good one on every device.

Do: Stick to Social Media Marketing via Business-Friendly Networks

Social media is a popular sales channel for B2C brands, but it can be just as effective for B2B lead generation. A focused strategy—especially on professional networks like LinkedIn—can target and get the attention of new leads.

  • Fill up the business page. Make sure your company profile is complete and robust, so users who are unfamiliar with the brand can quickly understand who you are and the unique value you offer.
  • Post awareness-stage content. Brands frequently post in-depth content to LinkedIn—either directly on the platform, or by linking to the company blog—but include a balance of entry-level content as well.
  • Participate in different LinkedIn Groups. Many marketers are intentionally involved in LinkedIn Groups that relate to their industries, but preaching to the choir doesn’t generate new leads. Follow your buyer personas to Groups related to their industries, and offer genuine, unbiased help.

Do: Convert to HTTPS

Effective October 2017, Google Chrome has started adding a label on forms, on HTTP sites. Users will now see a “not secure” warning if your site hasn’t been converted to HTTPS.

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Which means that the amazing resources you’ve created, and the strategic landing page you’ve designed, might be showing errors to visitors. It’s too soon to tell, but the coming months may provide insights on dropping numbers of download—and conversions—because users were scared away from “not secure” forms.

Do: Up Your Content Marketing Game

The importance of quality content marketing is a well-beaten drum going into 2018, but that doesn’t mean you should walk away from it. It’s true that 89% of B2B marketers rely on content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, but that’s because more and more B2B decision makers look to content for making important buying decisions.

It’s just time to up your game. The internet is flooded with content marketing, but it’s by no means flooded with outstanding content.

Kick it up a notch to make sure you’re standing out:

  • Use video. If you haven’t started with video yet, it’s time.
  • Make it fast and mobile-friendly. Mobile is only going to continue to grow, attention spans are only going to continue to shrink.
  • Marry it to SEO. Google is the average person’s portal to the internet. If they can’t find your content, it might as well not be there.
  • A/B test everything. Don’t guess what your audience wants, test it. From subject lines to video ads to content length, to the color of a button: test and tweak.
  • Make it relevant. Don’t ruin your content strategy with irrelevant content. If your audience is looking for something, give them what they want.

Do: Embrace Automation

Users increasingly expect unified brand experiences across all their channels, personalized communications, and individual attention—even before they give you an email address. A smart engagement platform is the only way to deliver that kind of communication at scale, especially as your company continues to grow.

Recognize visitors by IP address, master the art of retargeting, deliver answers to questions when they need them, and more. One marketer can do this for a handful of potential leads, but a good system can make everyone feel like one of the favorites.

As you focus on what’s working, it’s okay to let go of what is not. Here are 5 things to stop doing in 2018.

Stop: Using Social Channels That Don’t Work

Most social channels provide their own analytics, so make them part of your regular routine. Examine which of your networks are getting the best engagement and compare those with industry averages. Don’t keep a social channel that isn’t working for you simply because you feel like you “have” to be there.

The channels that are best to engage B2C consumers may not be the best channels for B2B customers. Continually test, measure, and check your engagement levels as social channels are never a set-it-and-forget-it strategy.

Stop: Gating the Wrong Content

It’s possible that website visitors will casually offer up their name and email when prompted, but highly unlikely. Further, even if some surrender their email addresses for a white paper, most expect to access lighter content, like infographics, without the form. Make sure you’re offering a real incentive in exchange for a name and email address.

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And don’t hesitate to gate really good content downloads. Lighter pieces and end-of-journey content such as pricing sheets should be ungated but research and meaty content should not be free! Too many marketers are missing loads of lead gen opportunities because they’re shy about gating their best content.

Stop: Isolating Marketing Strategies That Work Well Together

It’s time to tear down the silos. Traditional marketing doesn’t have to be entirely replaced by digital marketing. Combining SEO, PPC, ABM, email, web, social and more can maximize your lead generation possibilities. When reviewing successful (or even unsuccessful) strategies, consider whether or not there might be any benefit to combining marketing strategies into a single, cohesive, integrated campaign.

Stop: Cold Calling and Email Blasting

Still cold calling in 2017? Research shows that the call back rate for prospects is below 1%! That percentage is deflating enough on its own without the revelation that it takes an average of 18 calls to get through to a potential lead in the first place. Compare that outcome to stats that show a good subject line is enough to convince 33% of recipients to open an email.

Whether it’s cold calling, buying mailing lists (say hello to the spam folder!), or keyword stuffing, certain lead generation attempts are obvious no-no’s in 2017. Can we expect them to be anything else in 2018? Probably not.

Stop: Creating Content That is Redundant and Behind the Times

When it comes to content marketing, nobody likes a parrot. It may feel convenient to merely repeat what other B2B authority brands have stated, content that only repeats but fails to offer a new perspective is ultimately useless.

Additionally, stop auto-generating content. Several platforms cropped up in recent years offering to automatically generate content based on a keyword, but these programs—by necessity—can only find and rearrange content. It can’t generate new ideas and insights, which means it will never produce outstanding content.

Research your competitors to see what they haven’t said or what trends they’ve overlooked. Leads are looking for fresh content, not info they’ve read several times elsewhere.

Start 2018 With Your Best Foot Forward

Make 2018 the year that you fill the funnel with the RIGHT leads. Every brand, industry, and audience will work differently, so keep your eyes glued to those metrics and A/B test all the things.

Start by reviewing the lead gen strategies you’ve been using this year. Determine what has worked, how well it has worked, and what hasn’t worked at all – and stay honest. This will set you up to kill the things that aren’t working, and create some benchmarks for new strategies in the coming year.

What plans do you have for 2018 when it comes to B2B lead generation? What strategies are on your list to cut? Tell me about your planning in the comments!

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