B2B Marketing Lead Generation: Thought Leadership with Amy Hawthorne

Demand Generation


The next interview in the B2B Marketing thought leader interview series is with Amy Hawthorne, Director of Marketing at B2B lead generation company ReachForce, and frequent contributor to the B2BLead blog. As a long time B2B marketer, Amy is continuously looking for new ways to help companies build their sales pipeline with targeted lead generation initiatives.

1. Tell us a little bit about how you got into B2B marketing and what you like most about it.

I’ve been a B2B Marketer for about 10 years now and all 10 years have been with start-up technology companies in growth mode. As a start-up Marketer you very quickly have to learn how to be a jack of all trades – Lead Generation, PR, Events, etc. I love the thrill of the chase, so lead generation has always been my primary focus. There’s no better day as a Marketer then when a prospect generated in Marketing becomes a customer. B2B Lead Generation has changed A LOT over the last 10 years. I’m really enjoying exploring all of the new and social media plays. I’m amazed every week how many people come to us via our blog, LinkedIn and PRweb.

2. A recent post of yours provides an excellent list of demand generation tools and awareness building tactics. In your opinion, what are 3 things marketers can implement today to increase awareness?

  1. LinkedIn – beef up your profile, get involved in the group discussions, and answer LinkedIn Answers questions that are applicable to your business. Remember to offer best practices, don’t be that aggressive sales person everyone rolls their eyes at.
  2. Blogs and blog commenting – if you’re considering starting a blog, what are you waiting on? Good relevant content helps your SEO and highlights your thought leadership. Just be sure to post frequently. If you don’t have a blog in your future, comment on others that are applicable to your business. The conversations are happening whether you’re out there or not. Jump in and see what they are saying about you or your space.
  3. PRWeb – write a press release and link it up. Cost is minimal and it can drive serious visitors. We recently announced our new eBook, 101 B2B Marketing and Sales Tips from The B2B Lead, and we get at least 10 new form downloads a week. We didn’t pitch anyone, just wrote the release, uploaded it to PRWeb and linked it up. Easy as 1.2.3.

3. As you speak to best practices for B2B lead generation, what do you think is the biggest opportunity marketers have in terms of more effective lead generation?

For many years marketers were limited to direct mail and events for lead generation. In this new era of marketing automation and analytics, Marketers have the ability to create more sophisticated, measurable programs that integrate with many vehicles or mediums. Email marketing is a staple for us. Every marketer should have an email automation or marketing automation platform as a part of their toolkit. The automation tools allow you to segment, target and nurture leads on an ongoing basis with little effort. At ReachForce, we drive all of our email nurture campaigns to very focused landing pages. With the help of our website analytics tools we can then see who’s visiting, how long they stay, where they click and if they are forwarding our message on. We can then plan our next move based on their behavior. Gone are the days of throwing it out there and hoping something will stick.

4. In the B2B market, what do you see as the biggest hurdle to managing sales leads effectively?

We are definitely getting closer to real closed loop lead generation but I think there is still room for improvement. It’s not new for sales to get leads and lead information from marketing, but all of those leads don’t end up converting. It doesn’t mean these aren’t good leads, it could just mean they aren’t ready to buy. The glitch in the system right now seems to be efficiently recycling leads back from Sales (with detailed follow up information) for continued nurturing and qualification.

5. In your experience, what is the role of lead nurturing to turn qualified prospects into true leads?

We all know it takes 5-9 touches for a B2B lead to become a prospect. Lead nurturing is a must have for these conversions to happen. Not every prospect is the in the same stage of a buying cycle. Some are gathering information, some are evaluating features while others are looking for help for an immediate need. Lead nurturing ensures you are providing useful information that helps move leads through the buying process and further qualifying them for conversion.

6. With the multitude of promotion channels today (ie: social, blogs, email), what is your advice for B2B marketers striving to increase marketing ROI?

Integrate everything you do. As you are reaching out to prospects, don’t do it in silos. People are looking for you in different places and want to interact with you through different mediums. Use every medium you have access to for your promotions. If you’re going to an event, be sure to mention it in your lead generation programs, make sure to include the event details on your website, blog about it before, during and after, Twitter about event keynotes, search blogs and other social media spots for relevant event discussions. Whatever you do, just be sure your message is consistent throughout every medium.

Instead of a bonus question, Amy would like to pose the following question to our readers:

How are you segmenting and targeting your lead generation initiatives?