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How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn in 2023, According to LinkedIn’s VP of Marketing

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How to Generate Leads on LinkedIn in 2023, According to LinkedIn's VP of Marketing

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful platform for growing both recognition and revenue as a B2B business. 

In fact, audiences exposed to brand messages on LinkedIn are 6X more likely to convert, according to data from the social company. 

But without a clear strategy in mind, the task of lead generation on LinkedIn can feel challenging. Which is why I sat down with Jim Habig, VP of Marketing at LinkedIn, to learn some of his key insights, as well as additional tips on how to use LinkedIn for lead generation in 2023 and beyond. 

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Free Guide: How to Use LinkedIn for Business, Marketing, and Networking  [Download Now]

LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategy

As a refresher, lead generation refers to all of the activities and strategies you use to attract potential customers. Generating leads is important because, with nurturing, potential customers can become paying customers that use your products and drive revenue. 

LinkedIn’s typical audience comprises professional decision-makers with purchasing power, helping you speak directly to the potential customers that can become paying customers. Below, we’ll discuss how you can use LinkedIn for lead generation.

1. Make sure your executives have a strong LinkedIn presence.

When you’re first getting started on LinkedIn, it can be tricky to know how to dedicate your initial efforts. Should you create a compelling LinkedIn Page and immediately begin posting content to your business’s feed? Or should you start by posting all your job openings to attract new talent?

Habig agrees that it’s critical to optimize your company Page to make a strong first impression. He encourages marketers to ensure their Page is complete and up-to-date with relevant information like a business description, logo, website URL, and industry.

However, an often overlooked opportunity to generate leads falls on individual employees’ pages. 

As Habig puts it, “You’ll want to encourage your leadership teams and employees to have well-crafted personal profiles with professional headshots, descriptive headlines, and detailed job experiences.

He adds, “A consistent brand presence builds credibility, attracts the right audience and fosters trust among potential leads.”

Consider the leaders at your company and their current LinkedIn presence. Could they contribute more thoughtfully to LinkedIn groups within your industry or post more often to their feeds? More likely than not, your executives could be doing more to grow their LinkedIn following.

For instance, let’s take a look at HubSpot CEO Yamini Rangan’s recent LinkedIn post: 

Rangan uses LinkedIn wisely, leveraging the platform to share helpful, relevant content geared towards business leaders. Rangan uses LinkedIn to build a personal brand and help her followers find valuable content related to business growth. Ideally, your executives should be doing the same.

2. Create a powerful LinkedIn Page for your business.

Once you’ve ensured your own executives have a strong LinkedIn presence, it’s time to cultivate an impressive Page for your business.

You’ll want to ensure your page is active, with thought-provoking content and contributions to conversations already happening on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Pages is a free product that can help your company build visibility on the platform. It’s also a key Page to house your brand’s thought leadership content, such as videos, commentary from executives, and curated information from other sources. 

Take a look at LinkedIn Company Pages: The Ultimate Guide [+ 12 Best Practices] to learn more. 

3. Post relevant content and engage with your audience. 

To ensure your LinkedIn page and profile are strong, consider posting various content types, including video. Featuring this industry-relevant content can help you position yourself as a knowledgeable source and establish relevance and credibility with potential customers. 

As Habig puts it, “Creating and sharing high-quality content tailored to your target audience’s interests is key to driving engagement and generating leads. Share a mix of content types — like blog posts, infographics, case studies, and videos to keep your audience engaged.”

He continues, “And don’t forget to join the conversation! Proactively respond to comments and answer questions to foster relationships with your audience and showcase your expertise.”

When you’re recognized as an insightful, valuable source, you’ll begin to develop connections with like-minded professionals that fit your ideal customer profile. If you post often, you’ll become a regular on their feed, and familiarity makes it easier to initiate further conversations.

Jim Habig discusses the importance of engaging with leads on LinkedIn

If you assume that the connections you have on LinkedIn are professionals within your industry, they can expose you to new audiences with the content you post. When your connections click ‘Like’ on a post you’ve made, it may show up on the feed of a new lead. This lead will see that your shared connection has liked your post, vouching for your credibility and authority, and possibly prompting them to send a request to connect.

To ensure that you’re creating content that people want to see, follow your page analytics to figure out what resonates with them the most and create accordingly.

4. Join LinkedIn groups your clients and customers are in. 

LinkedIn, at its core, is a social platform like any other. Just as you can on Facebook, users can create groups centered around industry-relevant interests, and you should join these groups and have conversations with other professionals.

You can post content and updates to encourage discussions about relevant topics or simply talk about the services you offer. If you’ve joined groups wisely, your potential customers can see what you say and begin to recognize you as a source of valuable information. 

You can also use groups to learn more about your audience. If members are active, learn from what they say and discover common industry pain points and how leads want these issues addressed. Use this information to your advantage, and create hyper-targeted value propositions when you reach out that speak directly to your customer’s needs. 

5. Use LinkedIn Ads and Sponsored Content to ensure your content reaches your intended audience.

Businesses with small marketing budgets may be wary of putting money behind paid campaigns on LinkedIn. They often ask — We have a small marketing budget, and we want to use it wisely. Where should we spend it? Given that LinkedIn is the top paid and organic channel for B2B businesses, spending your money on the platform would be worth your while. 

Habig suggests, “Consider using LinkedIn’s advertising and sponsored content solutions to reach the right audience based on factors like job title, industry and company size.”

He adds, “You’ll want to utilize sponsored content to promote your top-performing posts or lead generation forms to capture valuable lead information. Try testing various ad formats like sponsored InMail, carousel ads, and lead gen forms to identify which works best for your target audience.”

In particular, Habig believes the LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms is one of the platform’s most powerful offerings for lead generation.

He told me, “LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms streamline lead generation by auto-populating users’ LinkedIn profile information when they click on your ad. This simplifies the process for users, allowing them to submit their information with ease and boosting lead generation efficiency. Furthermore, the collected data can be effortlessly synchronized with your CRM system.”

Additionally, it’s important to note other native content features — such as articles and polls — can help you increase engagement with your audience. 

While LinkedIn has a native ads management service, you can also use HubSpot’s ads management tool to create, organize, and execute advertising campaigns on LinkedIn. You’ll also get access to high-quality reports that explain ad performance, helping you optimize a strategy to meet your customers’ needs. 

6. Ensure you have strong sales and marketing alignment.

You’re likely all too familiar with the recent shift in consumer buying behavior. Nowadays, customers are researching online ahead of time and typically use marketing content to inform their purchasing decisions before even reaching out to a sales rep.

With savvier consumers, it is now critical that marketers meet the needs of consumers who are further along the buyer’s journey and then seamlessly hand them off to sales so sales has the context on which stage of the buyer’s journey the consumer is at. 

Additionally, many salespeople know the target customer better than anyone, so leveraging sales reps’ knowledge when creating marketing materials is vital. 

All of which is to say — it’s critical you align your sales and marketing teams since they play equally valuable parts in finding prospects and closing deals, and they overlap more heavily now than ever before.

To figure out strategies for better aligning your sales and marketing departments, take a look at this Ultimate Guide to Sales and Marketing.

Jim Habig emphasizes importance of using creativity on LinkedIn

7. Leverage connections with current customers and clients. 

LinkedIn’s main draw is networking, and you should use this feature to your advantage for lead generation. 

Connect with current customers and clients on LinkedIn and learn from who their industry connections are, as they may be relevant to you as well. If you have relationships with existing clients you connect with, ask for referrals, references, or simply learn how to get in contact with a connection they have that matches your customer profile.

As LinkedIn is a professional network, such requests are less pushy, spammy, and salesesque than cold calling someone after finding their number online. Leads can receive your request to connect, browse your profile, and see your shared connection as a guarantee of trust. 

In addition, when you connect with new leads, you’re using warm outreach. This means that you already know a bit about them and can immediately make propositions that relate to their interests, providing value to them off the bat.

8. Maintain a consistent presence on the platform. 

Just like all of your other social media sites, LinkedIn requires consistency. If you post an article once a week and then log out, you’re not establishing yourself as a consistent presence with your connections. You also want to communicate consistently with your leads. Disappearing in the middle of a conversation is not a good look and does the opposite of furthering their interest in doing business with you. 

Additionally, to ensure you’re reaching the right audiences, consider leveraging LinkedIn Matched Audiences to retarget website visitors. 

Habig says, “LinkedIn offers advanced targeting capabilities to help you connect with your ideal audience. With LinkedIn Matched Audiences, you can retarget website visitors, create contact-based audiences using email lists or CRM data, or build account-based audiences by targeting specific companies. This feature enables you to engage people who have already shown interest in your business or are more likely to be interested.”

He adds, “For newcomers to LinkedIn or those seeking guidance on setting up targeting, consider using LinkedIn’s pre-built audience templates. These templates simplify the process and cater to various audiences, such as doctors, recent college graduates, millennials and more.”

As mentioned above, use platform analytics to learn about your audience’s interests, when your posts get the most traction, and create a strategy that will keep you consistently present and visible on LinkedIn. 

The Most Effective Content for Generating Leads on LinkedIn, According to LinkedIn’s VP of Marketing 

When asked which content Habig believes performs best on LinkedIn when it comes to generating leads, Habig told me two major types of content typically win out: educational, and thought leadership. 

As he puts it, “There’s a delicate balance between offering what I’ll call practical content geared towards the practitioners and presenting forward-thinking thought leadership. Both are essential for capturing the attention of your prospects and customers.”

Habig continues, “Providing educational content — such as how-to guides, case studies, whitepapers and e-books — positions your brand as a ‘helpful teammate’ that your audience can rely on for support and expertise.”

On the flip side, you don’t want to ignore the potential power of thought leadership, either. 

Habig says, “It’s crucial to incorporate thought leadership, demonstrating that you’re in tune with the industry’s trajectory. According to recent research conducted in collaboration with Edelman, 50% of C-suite executives say that high quality thought leadership has ,more impact on their purchase decision-making during economic downturns than when times are good.”

Of course, you’ll want to assess your own content analytics to determine what performs best with your own audience. But consider testing these new formats — if you haven’t already — and see how they do. 

What Marketers Get Wrong When It Comes to LinkedIn for Lead Gen 

Finally, I had to ask: What is the biggest mistake marketers make when it comes to LinkedIn lead gen strategies? 

Habig had a straightforward answer: “People underestimate the impact that creativity can have in growing your business and attracting new leads. In a recent report, we found that 69% of people said B2B purchasing is just as emotionally driven as B2C. Creativity is a powerful way for businesses to build their brands, differentiate themselves, and tell compelling stories about the problems they’re solving that will pique the interest of their audience.”

Which is good news for most marketers — who likely got into marketing for the storytelling in the first place. 

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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