Demand Generation

Don’t be fooled, in B2B marketing ‘cheap leads’ are never cheap

Opportunists are around every corner when times are tight. In B2B markets these wolves clawing at your door often take the form of chancers desperately trying to sell you ‘cheap leads’, or lead generation for your products or services at a miraculous fraction of the typical cost. 

Marketing departments are becoming smaller and more centralised in response to the tech industry contraction and budgets are under more scrutiny than ever, so these services can feel understandably tempting. But the first bit of advice any security expert will give you when trying to spot scams is when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Cheap leads are never truly cheap–while it might look like you’re making savings up-front, you’ll ultimately be tampering with your bottom line, and potentially jeopardising everything you’ve worked so hard to build.

If you’re bringing in a lead generation service purely because they’re low-cost, not only are they unlikely to get any significant hits, it’ll disrupt your sales-marketing ecosystem, making it far harder for you to generate any leads at all. In reality, the cheapest leads are always going to be the ones that have moved through the funnel – the people who already know your brand and are thinking of buying. Selling to someone at the top of the funnel–those who aren’t even aware of you or what you’re selling–is always going to be expensive. The only way to control that cost of lead is through effective and persistent multi-channel marketing and PR.

That said, there are a few helpful things you can do to enhance your marketing thinking that will ultimately have a positive impact on your cost of lead:

Get your targeting right

Recent research from LinkedIn measuring the targeting of B2B organisations identified that only 16% of sales and marketing teams are hitting the same people. That’s an overwhelming amount of misalignment between teams that should be working hand-in-hand. Ensuring your sales and marketing teams and their targets are aligned will help create a streamlined and effective combined front.

Conduct qualitative research

If you’re not basing your marketing on customer insight, you’re making a stab in the dark. Instead, conduct qualitative research on the needs, outcomes, motivations and buying behaviours of your customers. By thoroughly collecting behavioural data, you’ll be able to proactively market to the buying patterns that become apparent, sculpting your messaging to ensure its effectiveness.

Market brand as well as product

LinkedIn research shows that only 8% of B2B marketing budgets are being used for brand advertising, despite the fact that brand marketing creates more financial value than short-term performance marketing. Customers are far more likely to buy into a brand than a product, so by putting in at least as much effort into marketing your brand as your product, you’ll be investing in the financial future of your business while supporting the efforts needed to sell today.

Market through the funnel

Your cheapest lead will always come from the bottom of the funnel, but they don’t magically arrive at that point. You need to be investing in a marketing strategy right from the start, and supporting it throughout the lead-gen funnel. Rather than focusing on just the top or bottom, concentrate on the entire journey, from awareness, through appraisal, all the way to conversion.

Market to every touchpoint your customer uses

Research from our Catalyst insight reports shows that every tech buyer uses at least five different touchpoints before making a decision. Whether it’s industry reports, opinion articles, blogs or podcasts, knowing what influences potential buyers at different points of their purchasing journey, and giving them the right information at the right time, is crucial.


Written by Dan Miles


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