Everyone wants more sales. Everyone wants more demand. Sales can’t come from nowhere and demand has to be realized somehow, and the way we marketers help generate sales and realize demand is, largely, through generating leads. According to a recent Webmarketing123 study, the top objective and the top challenge for B2B marketers (or at least digital B2B marketers) is generating leads. Lead generation has even become more of a focus in content marketing – something which has traditionally been more of a branding activity than a demand generation activity. With how central leads are to most marketers’ missions, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on leads in the life sciences as well as go over some of the myriad information out there and what it means for our industry – for marketers of life science tools and services.
Let’s start at the top! Lead generation first requires an understanding of how much a lead is worth. Unless you can estimate the value of a standard lead, you won’t be able to determine what is an appropriate amount to spend on generating each lead. Assuming that all leads are created equal (they’re not, but we’ll say so for sake of simplicity) you can approximate the value of a lead by calculating the net present value of your average customer and multiplying by your conversion rate. If this number is very small, you’ll likely want to minimize the cost of lead acquisition. On the other hand if this number is extremely large, it will likely be worth spending more per lead to generate more leads – at least to a point.
Regardless of the value of the customer, the buying journey will be the critical factor in determining how to generate leads for your product or service. Based on the informational needs of the customer during this journey, which can be gathered through market research and validated through testing and analytics, you should be able to create a content roadmap which informs the campaign architecture and directs content creation efforts in support of lead generation.
In most circumstances, lead generation in the life sciences should be supported heavily by scientific content with a low barrier; for example, a white paper that requires only an email address to download. This is especially true if you have any kind of marketing automation in place, since the cost of a nurture campaign for low-quality leads can be incredibly small. The reason content is so important is to establish trust and, thereby, reduce perceived risk. Scientists are trained to be skeptical and will not readily accept the claims in your marketing as fact. Content helps overcome this through educating the audience on your technology, demonstrating your expertise, etc. This provides more confidence that your products / services will fulfill their need, thereby reducing perceived risk and increasing perceived value (a less risky purchase is a more valuable one), making it more likely that a scientist will buy. Additionally, downloading a piece of content in exchange for a small amount of personal information is a far lower barrier than placing an inquiry about a product and thereby requesting a sales call. For all but low-value products, these baby steps towards purchase are often necessary.
Keep in mind that contact forms greatly effect lead generation as well. Each additional field in a contact form leads to approximately a 12.5% decrease in form submissions. Keep forms as short as possible and also make sure they’re accessible without being in the way. You want prospects to be able to contact you easily at any time without feeling that you’re trying to push them into contacting you.
Of course, content and contact forms are all components of inbound lead generation. Inbound methods are great if scientists are looking for what you are selling. If not, you probably need to get your hands dirty and go and create your own leads. This can be done at conferences, via cold calling / cold emailing, or with good old-fashioned advertising. If you’ll be trying to generate leads at conferences, or even just fill up your database with prospect for downstream marketing, remember that conferences are a numbers game and talk to as many people as you can. If you decide to cold call or cold email, remember to be forthright and to the point. If you’ll be advertising to pull in your audience, consider using a content hook rather than a hard call to action about a product to play to scientists’ curiosity.
Next week we’ll be discussing responding to leads, including some best practices which can can lead to massive increases in conversion.