Editor’s Note: This blog post has been updated to reflect product changes in Socedo.
As a startup, we’ve had to grow our business without the massive budget of a multinational business. In the past couple of years, we’ve done a fair amount of experiments to figure out the most effective ways to grow our email marketing database and generate leads for our sales team.
Like other B2B businesses, we believe in content marketing and optimizing our website for inbound traffic. But inbound traffic simply doesn’t give us the volume of leads we need to grow our sales pipeline. What we’re talking about here are ways to grow our marketing database outside of our inbound marketing efforts.
Here are four approaches we’ve tried in the past couple of years:
- Purchasing email lists from B2B contact data providers such as Clearbit, which has a prospecting solution.
- Running promoted content campaigns or content syndication campaigns. We worked with companies including eMedia and BrightTalk – which have captive audiences of B2B marketers – asked them to promote our ebooks and webinars to their audiences.
- Advertising on LinkedIn. We tried text ads and sponsored posts on LinkedIn, promoting blog posts and gated content such as whitepapers.
- Building prospect lists with the Socedo. We use Socedo to connect with B2B marketers on Twitter – based on job titles and people’s recent activities on Twitter. Meanwhile, we sync each person Socedo discovers into our marketing database – Marketo – so that we can nurture them via email.
Below, we’ll share with you what we tried, what worked and what didn’t. We’ll talk about how each of these options performed in terms of lead quality, volume of leads delivered and ROI.
1. List purchase leads are hard to get in touch with
Buying lead lists from data providers such as Clearbit is relatively inexpensive.
Each contact comes with accurate contact information, including demographic data on each contact and firmographic and technographic data on each account.
Buying lead lists from data providers such as Clearbit is relatively inexpensive. Each contact comes with accurate contact information, including demographic data on each contact and firmographic and technographic data on each account.
Unfortunately with these contacts, we have no insights into whether they are in an active buying cycle or if they’ve done any recent research about us or one of our competitors. We emailed these leads, but our messaging had to be broad because all we knew was each person’s job title, company and which marketing automation platform their organization uses.
Unsurprisingly, engagement rates were low. In fact, these leads had lower engagement rates with our emails than any other lead source.
Looking at leads from list purchases in the last 180 days, we found that on average, completely cold list buy leads had a 0.6% click-through rate on the first outreach, compared to 1-2% on other sources. In addition, leads from list buying converted into opportunities at about half the rate of other sources.
Socedo’s warmest lead generation sources reached an average 6.5% first-touch click-through rate.
These kind of results did not surprise us. We know that it’s super easy to find out someone’s email address online and start sending them emails. At this point, contact details on business professionals are widely accessible. As a result, many business professionals are bombarded with unsolicited emails from marketers and pressing “delete” without ever opening these emails.
2. Content syndication leads are hard to engage and ROI is hard to justify
We ran a few content syndication campaigns with paid content syndication partners including eMedia and BrightTalk.
If you’re not familiar with content syndication, it is the process of pushing your articles, videos or any piece of web-based content (e.g. a whitepaper) onto third-parties who will republish it on their own sites. This is a good idea for startups who want a larger audience from a more authoritative site.
Content syndication partners like BrightTalk and eMedia already have a captive audience of B2B marketers. We gave them e-books and webinars we wanted to promote, and they promoted them through emails and on their site and gave us a list of leads who signed up for our content.
We tried these programs hoping to get relatively warm leads. We figured that if someone has already requested our content through a third party, they would also want to engage with us through our owned channels (i.e. emails, website).
Yet, we found that leads from our Content Syndication programs tended to ignore our marketing nurture emails and SDR outreach messages. Of the leads who did respond to one of our SDRs, most said that they weren’t ready to evaluate solutions. Some of them did not even recognize the Socedo brand when our SDRs reached out to them.
When the cost of running these content syndication campaigns are considered (i.e for Socedo, it ranged between $45-$55 per lead), these programs did not provide us the ROI we needed to continue with them.
3. Reaching a B2B marketing audience at scale through LinkedIn Ads is tough if you have a small budget
For several months in 2016, we tested out LinkedIn ads. We tried text ads and Sponsored Posts and used those to promote our gated content.
We struggled to generate enough leads. B2B Marketing professionals are an expensive audience to reach on LinkedIn and we had a small budget of less than $3K a month. When we used sponsored posts, we saw click through rates in 0.2% – 1% range and an additional drop-off on the landing pages. That means we could only get a few leads per month with our budget.
4. Socedo consistently provided us with the volume of leads we wanted
With Socedo, we were able to generate more responsive leads based on people’s activities on Twitter, and reach them at scale.
Since the beginning of 2017, we’ve synced just under 64,000 net new leads into our email marketing database and have contacted about 38,450 people via email. This averages to 8,500 new leads per month that we add into Marketo.
On average in the past 90 days, Socedo leads clicked on marketing emails at double the rate of leads from other sources. These leads are 45% more likely to convert into Opportunities and close at a higher average selling price.
Setting targeting criteria in Socedo
Socedo gives us a wide range of ways to find our target audience. First, we put in descriptive keywords found in marketing job titles (SEO, Social Media, Demand Generation).
Then, for each campaign, we focus on marketers interested in a particular set of topics (i.e. “ABM”, “Artificial intelligence, “predictive analytics”). We’ll enter these keywords plus the brands and influencers owning that conversation – Socedo will find followers of these brands and influencers.
Once a campaign is set up, Socedo finds people who fit our criteria, reaches out to these people by following them on Twitter and send them direct messages if they follow us back. This process is ongoing.
Socedo also provides contact details for each person discovered in the campaign. We’ve connected Socedo to our Marketo instance so that leads discovered by Socedo are automatically synced into Marketo.
From there, new leads are put into different email nurture programs based on their social actions and job titles.
How we follow up with Socedo leads
Because each contact comes with social engagement data, as soon as a new contact is synced into their marketing automation system, we could send the lead an email that references their recent Tweet. These initial outreach emails were timely and felt much more personal than typical cold emails.
Subject line: Thanks for following Socedo – [First name]
Hi [first name],
Thanks for following Socedo on Twitter. I want to take 2 minutes to share what we do so you can decide for yourself whether we might be able to help you.
Socedo was built to help B2B businesses of all sizes tap into social networks to grow their brand awareness and generate more qualified leads, with minimal time investment on their part.
You can use our software to reach people who are talking about upcoming events in your space, hot topics in your ecosystem, or those who just followed one of your competitors. Socedo can engage with this audience on Twitter automatically and we’ll provide you their contact information for your email marketing campaigns.
You can get a free trial of Socedo on our website: http://www.socedo.com/request-a-trial/
As a next step, leads are put into segmented email nurture tracks based on the topics they’ve shown an interest in.
For example, we sponsored the Marketo Nation Summit this year and used lead data from Socedo to book onsite meetings for our sales reps. For the two months leading up to the Summit, each time a lead tweets using #MKTGNation (the official conference hashtag), we used that data to send an email to them letting them know where to meet the Socedo team at the Summit.
Additionally, our SDRs will follow up with each lead with a series of touches including personalized emails, phone calls and social media interactions. The rep used these recent tweets and other actions logged in Salesforce to personalize the emails they send to their prospects.
Using the Socedo platform, we found a lot more leads who are more engaged with our marketing campaigns.
On average, in the past 90 days, social leads clicked on emails at double the rate of leads from other sources.
The most well targeted email campaign saw a click through rate of 6.5%.
Leads generated from Socedo are 45% more likely to convert into Opportunities, and in about two-thirds the time it traditionally takes to convert. They also close at a 23% higher ASP (Average Selling Price).
See how you can use Socedo to reach your target audience and grow your email marketing database with our 7-day free trial.