Guest Post By Alex Lysak
Lead generation is an aspect of marketing that involves generating consumer interest in a company’s products or services. Leads are usually one of the first stages of a successful sales funnel, turning awareness into interest and converting interest into direct sales. No matter what kind of product or service your company is offering, knowing how to generate successful leads is essential, and it’s also important to stay up to date with current trends. Lead generation is constantly changing and adapting to the trends and habits of consumers, including where and how they shop.
Lead generation isn’t all online or digital. Physical events such as conferences and other gatherings are recognized as the best lead generation activity by 68% of sales and marketing teams. This, combined with other strategies such as video marketing, helps draw potential consumers to the products and services being offered. However, the pandemic completely changed the equation.
In this article, our author Alex Lysak, (check out his profile) will be explaining how technology, software, and automation are changing the face of lead generation and sales in the US 2021 and beyond. We’ll be looking specifically at examples of current trends in the industry, lead generation tools, and how these trends may continue to develop in 2022.
With the effects of the global pandemic still being felt across the world, many businesses have been forced to adapt. Meetings rooms, conferences, and sales events have all had to close their doors, leading to offline lead generation trends changing and developing digital sales methods.
Digital Lead Generation
While marketers might prefer in-person methods for generating leads and closing sales, the current trend has shifted more towards digital lead generation. The COVID-19 epidemic has caused a significant shift in corporate practices, leading to a great focus on digital techniques. B2B organizations that had always relied on in-person sales methods have been compelled to adapt to the situation and make great use of software and digital automation.
With tight remote work policies in place, networking and selling activities, as well as lead generation, moved to the digital stage. Digital lead generation techniques include social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, email marketing, and more.
According to a recent survey of marketing teams, 70 to 80% of B2B decision-makers prefer digital communication to in-person encounters not only for safety concerns but also for the convenience of scheduling and lower travel costs. In addition, consumers and clients are now more likely than ever to make purchases using digital platforms.
According to the same report, buyers are willing to spend anywhere between $50,000 and $1 million through digital self-service or by contracting with a remote sales representative. Crypto payments make buying through digital platforms much simpler and safer, as researched by Scanteam. This form of digital payment is becoming more popular than ever with consumers and businesses.
Switching from traditional to digital platforms has its drawbacks, including the need to learn how to generate leads using new processes and techniques. However, the inconvenience outweighs the long-term benefits of using the digital platform, and it’s unlikely that businesses will go back to traditional methods even once the pandemic is over.
Video calls and video conferencing are the 21st century alternative to phone calls and conference calls. Video messaging is generally considered to be far more effective than communicating through the phone when it comes to contacting existing and potential buyers as well as communicating with colleagues and other vendors. This form of communication became far more popular due to the pandemic and has only continued to grow since then. Video calling allows for the distance between buyer and seller to be reduced and allows for far more expression and natural communication than a phone call would.
Video conferences are an excellent alternative to in-person conferences, allowing a large number of people to attend without needing to travel. This way, salespeople can fit far more conferences into their schedules and don’t have to worry about long travel times. Furthermore, as of April 2020, video contacts between sales personnel and B2B buyers accounted for 69% of revenue.
Meanwhile, videoconferencing has generated 43% of B2B income, making it the most profitable of the B2B channels. Traditional or in-person interactions continue to exist, but they now account for only 13% of total revenue since before the start of the pandemic.
Overall, B2B organizations have reaped more benefits from video and live chat communication platforms than drawbacks. And, according to 90% of business leaders, these digital communication sales trends will be here not only in 2022 but also in the years ahead.
One of the biggest lead generation trends of 2022 will be the drive to promote value-based selling. Rather than simply focusing on the benefits of a product or service when selling, value-based selling instead highlights how it brings value to the potential customer. This method is generally far more effective, although it requires being more selective over lead generation as well as more detailed research into the leads.
Companies realize that being pushy and simply putting deals in front of customers doesn’t work. In fact, this approach frequently backfires, meaning that the business loses out on a potential sale and ruins a lead that may have developed into a valued customer with a slightly different approach. By focusing on each individual lead and finding out more about them, marketing teams can instead outline exactly how the product will benefit them and what kind of value it will provide.
Companies are beginning to focus more on value-based selling already, using real-time data trends as part of their lead generation efforts to demonstrate the value of their products and services. Leads will no longer receive a traditional pitch that focuses on closing a sale but will instead be made aware of the different ways the product can bring value to them or their business. Salespeople focus on providing value to the client at every stage of the sales process, from lead to closing. To avoid losing potential clients due to unsatisfactory encounters, outbound call centers will gradually move toward more value-based selling.
Today’s brands are more likely to make use of influencers to help them create leads, and this trend has been growing a lot over the past few years. Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that involves endorsements and product placement from people and organizations with a reputed expert degree of knowledge or social influence in a certain sector. These people or organizations are known as influencers because of the influence they can have on trends and buying habits.
Influencers have been part of marketing practice for some time, but it was amplified in the last few years. The audience of influencers has different opinions on different types of content depending on where they’re from and what niche they’re interested in. Consumers in the United States, according to research, are more interested in how-to and tutorial information, for example.
When it comes to giving endorsed brands, products, or services a chance, an influencer’s trustworthiness is more important than their reach or the type of content they produce in most cases. In fact, the majority of consumers in the US and UK are more likely to trust influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers compared to those with a million or more. With the influence of influencers growing, it’s expected that 2022 will see this trend grow further. Businesses are more likely to collaborate with influencers to reach certain demographics and connect with an engaged audience.
Focusing on Customer Experience
Modern businesses are also increasingly seeking new methods to improve and personalize the service they deliver to their customers. The customer experience is the name given to the combination of perceptions, emotions, and opinions during the buying process. This includes how the customer feels and what they think when they discover a brand, research a particular product or service, test the product and make the final purchase. It will also include how they feel when interacting with staff or when receiving support for the product or service.
Speed, informed assistance, convenience, and polite service are all important variables that influence customer experience, and businesses are exploring new methods to guarantee that they give the best possible service. Customer loyalty has been demonstrated to increase when customers have a positive first experience. Furthermore, putting in the effort to analyze customer behavior can encourage potential leads to gain more interest in the business and what it has to offer. This can include offering ideas based on previous purchases, which can potentially lead to the customer purchasing additional products or services.
Voice and Local Search Optimization
The use of voice assistants such as Google Voice, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana has increased substantially over the past few years. In 2020, there are an estimated 4.2 billion voice assistants in use, but by 2024, it’s predicted that this number will exceed the global population. Voice search is used by around 40% of Internet users in the United States, and this number is predicted to grow to 122.7 million users by 2022. With these figures in mind, voice search should not be overlooked in any company’s marketing plan.
Source: Invoca Blog
As a result of this, sales and marketing teams are now beginning to focus their search engine optimization on voice search as well as on local searches. Local search turns up results in specific areas, such as informing a user of businesses that are nearby. For example, a user might use their voice assistant to ask to show them where the nearest electronics store is.
This optimization should include, among other things, updating listings, reviews, content, and voice search performances. Businesses can generate more inquiries and leads by doing so. However, despite the high accuracy rate of speech-activated devices, accuracy remains one of the major impediments to voice technology adoption around the world.
Social Media Lead Generation
Social media has become one of the most important developments on the internet of the past decade. Today, social media sites receive more traffic than any other type of website, and it’s estimated that over half the world’s population is active on some form of social media. With how much time people spend on social media, it’s become an excellent way for marketers to generate leads. This is magnified by the fact that social media networks allow marketing campaigns to target specific demographics, tailoring an ad campaign to a certain target market.
Brands can use social media platforms to personalize content based on what kind of leads they’re interested in generating as well as strengthening engagement with the intended audience. Engagement is a useful way to develop, and progress leads through the sales funnel, and social media is a great way to create engagement. This entails getting to know leads and potential leads on a more personal level, such as their preferred social media platform, their areas of interest, and so on. Proper engagement can have a major impact when trying to increase sales.
Chatbots are one of the latest developments of AI and how it can be used to improve business operations. Offering an alternative to using live customer service reps, chat bots are software applications that use text to communicate with users. Experts predict that chatbots will take over a majority of business communications in the future and that more companies will invest in chatbots to supplement existing customer care offerings.
Survey by Userlike
Current chatbot statistics and data show that more consumers than ever before are open to using them. This applies to a wide range of industries, including B2B and B2C brands. The greatest advantage of using chatbots is that they can provide service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Aside from this, they also offer faster answers as well as increased accuracy, making customer service faster and more helpful. A sizable portion of the market is already used to using chatbots, and they can be helpful in generating leads that arrive on a landing page or website, finding out more information about site visitors, and providing useful information to potential consumers.
Guest Post By Alex Lysak
Alex is working in online marketing since 2011, his main areas of expertise are marketing research, social media marketing, and SEO. During 9+ years of experience, he has helped many products and startups to develop marketing strategies and to implement them further.