Every marketer knows that quality leads are an essential part of the business. Their utility can be explained by looking at the marketing funnel. The top of the funnel marks the start of a marketing campaign – raising awareness and helping users on a search for information. Awareness should encourage a user to be interested and learn about products. After this, they typically consider the product by reading reviews and comparing products; they then put products in a cart, evaluate the cart, and check out. If you look at the marketing funnel, all sales start with a simple search for information, and it is at this stage that the best companies will offer easy-to-access information to their users in a way that generates leads.
One way that enterprising companies try to capture interest from a search for information at the top of the funnel is to offer information in an easy and accessible package. This might be a webinar, a PDF, or an infographic – the possibilities are broad. If a business offers satisfying information, it can leverage the value of that information to consumers by requiring that the user enters their email address or other information in their lead form to receive it. This represents a fair exchange, and if the information is important enough to the user, they will be happy to oblige, as it evokes the norm of reciprocity. This norm is one of the most powerful in marketing, according to Cialdini, and is a basic human instinct: if you’re given something, you feel you should give something in return.
When a user trades their email address for some information, you are not just getting the opportunity to add them to your mailing list. You are getting information that they are interested in the niche your company occupies, and you are also getting a route to communication and effective sales follow-ups with what is now a potential customer, where you can nurture them as a lead, evoke deeper interest, and prompt consideration of your products. This can take place over a long period of time and works best when combined with alternative and targeted forms of advertising and marketing.
The marketing funnel works for both B2C and B2B companies, but B2B companies often find it more difficult, as purchases are typically for much more money than in a B2C model. Their lead generation will, on average, involve fewer leads than for B2C companies, so, as this is the case, they want to capture leads as effectively as possible as early in the funnel as possible. The obvious place for B2B interaction is the world’s biggest business-oriented social network. So, does LinkedIn facilitate its users to capture leads smoothly in a mutually beneficial exchange?