The B2B sales cycle is notoriously long, but it’s highly dependent on price and industry. Sure, a product that costs $100 will move out the door quickly. In that case, it’s not a huge loss if an impulse buy goes wrong, but if your client is planning to invest thousands (and even millions) of dollars on a product or service, they’re a lot more cautious. Hubspot found that, on average, the sales cycle of B2B SaaS products with an annual contract value of more than $100,000 was just under six months, but it’s not unheard of for a customer to take more than a year to convert, either.
Considering the long sales cycle, marketers and salespeople in the B2B space often put an emphasis on lead nurturing. The more you nurture a lead, the less likely they are to forget about your business in the months they’re taking to make a purchase decision. This is crucial, but as a result, some bootstrapped startups inadvertently push the process of lead acquisition to the wayside. Enter: the lead magnet. Instead of seeking out leads, let the leads come to you.
A lead magnet typically refers to a product or service that’s given away for free in order to gather contact information, but you can also think of it like fishing with a net instead of a rod. A net catches a lot more fish, and you won’t have to actively keep casting out a line. The more leads you get, the more qualified leads you’ll have to nurture, and the more potential conversions.
If you’re looking to attract more leads, the following lead magnets are some of the most effective in the B2B space.
Offer a free trial
Considering the high cost of B2B products and services, a free trial can make buyers more comfortable with their investment. Conversion rates are modest (one study shows about 14% of those who sign up to a free trial actually convert) but they’re also passive. Nearly half of buyers who convert from a free trial are self-serve, meaning they make a purchase without ever talking to a single salesperson.
Free trials also open up a major opportunity for a company to collect qualified leads, which they can nurture later on. Think of it this way: Those who sign up are already interested in your brand. They’re already using your product. Even if they don’t end up purchasing that specific product, you can still try to cross sell another.
Upload an ebook or downloadable report
Decision makers are always looking for better, more effective ways to run their business. This requires being on the pulse of the industry, and if you’ve crafted a marketing plan that establishes your brand as an industry thought leader, you’re who they’ll be looking to for advice. In this case, a downloadable report or ebook can serve as an excellent lead magnet.
This type of content is built on the back of excellent research or exclusive data and expertise. Oftentimes, it’s spread across different marketing channels to cast the widest net possible. Some companies will recycle a particularly successful blog post into a short ebook, while others will take their research report and tease it into multiple blog posts. The more content—particularly, the more useful content—you have, the more people will trust your brand and feel prompted to subscribe and share.
For example, B2B drone technology company Drone Deploy opted to craft an ebook about how drones can help make agricultural crop management decisions. This is a huge deal for the agricultural industry, which is notoriously slow to adopt new technology. Not only does it sell their product, but it gives their target audience a greater understanding of how recent technological advancements can really transform their business.
Host a virtual event
A study from Forrester found that 45% of B2B technology decision makers rely on information from conferences and trade shows to inform their purchasing decisions. The problem is that as businesses push forward in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, people are shying away from in-person events. Instead, they’re turning to the internet.
A virtual event is a great way to attract leads online (and, as we previously wrote, drive actual revenue), but it’s solely dependent on signups. What’s an event if no one attends? To give your lead magnet the strongest pull, consider hosting a virtual networking event or a webinar that shares your unique expertise in a specific topic or industry trend. If buyers find the information valuable and timely, they’ll sign up.
Enact a customer service chatbot
A chatbot isn’t a traditional lead magnet, but it does serve the same purpose. B2B buyers do a lot of research before ever connecting with a company, and you’re likely on their radar before they’re on yours. In other words: They’re probably going to contact you first, and you should make the process as seamless as possible.
Research has shown only 19% of buyers want to connect with a company during the awareness stage, but 60% of buyers want to connect with the sales team after they’ve researched their options and come up with a short list. So, where do they go? During both phases, nearly half of buyers look at a company website. A prompt from a chatbot, which can provide immediate answers around the clock and help a customer avoid the dreaded hold music of a traditional customer service call, can entice a potential customer to hand over their contact details.
Lead magnets are an effective way to rake in contact information from a variety of potential customers, but they’re only as effective as the number of signups. You can post a free ebook, but if potential customers don’t know it’s available, it’s not worth much. For this reason, lead magnets are best worked into a comprehensive marketing plan that can help build brand awareness across the board.