Linus Gregoriadis
Linus Gregoriadis 12 November 2020

5 Learnings From The Digital Doughnut Lead Generation Roundtable

What kind of impact has Covid had on the world of lead generation, and what will the ‘new normal’ look like when we emerge from the pandemic? This was the central theme of a virtual roundtable hosted by Digital Doughnut this month. This article distils some of the key discussion points and insights around how marketers need to evolve their lead generation activities to make them as effective as possible.

#1. Marketers have shifted their focus to online content as events fall by the wayside

A key trend observed during the roundtable was the growing importance of online content in the absence of physical industry events that have for so long been such an important staple of marketing and sales activities.

According to one delegate: “We weren't going to Cannes and we weren’t going to Dmexco, or doing a lot of the things that we were planning to do, so we’ve had to pivot the team more towards our in-house content writers. We’ve always had a content machine but we’re now more reliant on it as we did used to get a lot of leads in from our event strategy.”

This attendee spoke for many when she said that they felt they were producing better content than ever, but that it is becoming more difficult to generate leads. This was a key challenge articulated during the discussion, with another delegate expressing frustration that people are happy to engage with content but not necessarily willing to share their personal details in return for even more valuable and insightful information. 

The shift to online content is a theme which has also been covered in the Coping with Coronavirus: How Martech Companies Can Maintain and Grow Pipeline report, published by Digital Doughnut sister companies London Research and Demand Exchange.

#2. A ‘nudge and nurture’ approach can pay dividends

It was suggested that the solution to the lead generation challenge is a ‘nudge and nurture’ approach, with marketers needing to develop a more holistic and nuanced approach to the overall journey and the touchpoints within it. Companies need to get better at measuring and scoring engagement so they can maximise their chances of capturing and then converting leads when prospects have been sufficiently nurtured and qualified.

According to Katy Howell, founder of social media agency immediate future: “Rather than just blasting out the content and hoping to get loads of leads back in, we have switched to drip campaigns, using an amalgamation of different channels including social and search, and then measuring how many times a particular person has been touched.” 

A related trend observed was the shift away from a single-day campaign launch, for example via a one-off webinar. Because of the demands on people’s time and the ease of attending – or not attending – online events, marketers need to plan campaigns in a multi-faceted, conversational and sequenced way that doesn’t put too much reliance on a single drop or push.     

#3. The key is to build trust without being creepy

Whether wearing a consumer or B2B professional hat, people have become wary of companies over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to the quality of their gated content. There is a high level of cynicism out there because we are often handing over our details and then being over-marketed to in a way which doesn’t address our interests or particular requirements.

It is important for marketers to establish trust by regularly providing content and information that hits the mark, while at the same time making it as relevant and personalised as possible without being too creepy. 

If that trust is built up over time then individuals will be more likely to hand over their personal information in the knowledge that the value exchange will be a fair one, and that they will be missing out if they don’t get access to the information.

Roundtable attendees shared their experiences of being bombarded with messages on LinkedIn. According to one attendee: “I think in this last week alone, I've probably had 85 emails through LinkedIn from people telling me they can do the best lead generation using the power of LinkedIn. Not one of them is personalised to me and it's kind of a blanket approach and I've just declined or ignored pretty much most of them.”

#4. Understand who the customer is and focus on the quality of leads 

Surveys carried out for London Research B2B State of Lead Generation reports have found that lead quality consistently emerges as the most significant challenge for companies in the context of their lead gen activities.

Top lead generation challenges


Source: London Research State of B2B Lead Generation report

It was clear from the roundtable discussion that the focus needs to be on the quality rather than the quantity of the leads, and how the starting point for companies needs to be a shared understanding and agreement within the business around what a good customer looks like.

The first recommendation in the London Research / Demand Exchange Strategic Guide to Lead Conversion report is around target market definition in terms of companies, people and personas. The report urges companies as follows: “Work together to produce a shared definition of who your target market is. Which companies are on that list, which job titles do you want to target, which personas do you wish to engage with and what is your messaging to each?”

#5. Trade show and conference organisers need to do more than replicate their events online

Another point made during the roundtable was that event organisers are hosting hundreds of virtual presentations but a lot of this content is getting lost because people aren’t willing or able to patiently watch presentation after presentation in the same way as they would at a physical event.

Digital Doughnut and Demand Exchange founder John Horsley made the point that there is an opportunity for event organisers to do more to drip-feed their content to their communities who are often highly engaged and receptive to content, but not necessarily able to consume everything that is available during a virtual conference.

It was also noted that events can work well when there is an opportunity for smaller groups of people with shared interests to meet and network, though this requires a lot of organisation and pre-booking.

Even in the absence of physical events there are opportunities for event organisers to help with their clients’ lead generation requirements while also providing extra value to their audiences.

Those interested in lead generation best practices can also download the Coping with Coronavirus and Strategic Guide to Lead Conversion reports referenced in this article. 

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