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3 Strategies to Generate Fresh Business Leads During a Global Crisis An economic crisis can slow down business, but there are still efficient methods to win new customers

By Simon Moser

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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While the global health crisis gradually loosens its hold on the economy, firms small, large and everything in between are beginning to double-down on marketing efforts and get back on steady footing.

In the past few months, businesses have been forced to get to grips with a dramatic change in working conditions, buyer sentiment and consumer engagements, leaving some firms struggling to adapt. In particular, businesses with a major B2B focus have been hit hard, because many of their clients are also struggling and prospecting for new clients via in-person events is a thing of the past — for now.

Related: How the Global Health Crisis Affected 3 of Europe's Most Promising Industries

But it's not all gloom and doom. Plenty of B2B and B2C companies have successfully weathered the storm and come out stronger on the other side by deftly changing the way they engage their client base and generate new business leads. Here are three of the main strategies these firms have used to break the mold.

1. Overhaul your online presence

Social media advertising is big business. In 2019, marketers spent more than $92.9 billion on social media ads, with this number projected to reach $132.2 billion in 2020. As more people than ever before now work from home, social media consumption has gone through the roof.

Now, according to data from Statista, 44 percent of people are spending longer on social media than prior to the crisis, whereas social media engagement has skyrocketed in recent months as people flock to social media to interact with their favorite brands.

As platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram surge with activity, it's time to take a second look at your brand's online presence and take steps to optimize the types and frequency of content that you put out. This will typically involve putting out more regular content that helps to nurture leads and grow your audience, interacting with your followers and keeping up-to-date with your changing user/follower demographic.

Related: Five Ways to Boost Your Startup's Online Presence

Though there is no getting around the fact that the economy is in a downturn, how you present your brand on social media can strongly influence the amount of traffic your website receives and how many leads you generate. Surprisingly, only 42 percent of B2B companies execute a sophisticated content marketing plan, and even fewer have a documented strategy.

"High-performance content will be a major source of leads for B2B brands in 2020. However, content for the sake of content will not get your brand very far," says Giovanni Casagrande, who strategically advises dozens of fintech startups on issues of branding, marketing and scaling.

"The bottom line is that if you want successful content, it's critical to focus on performance, including traffic, engagement, the voice of the customer (VoC) capture, backlinks, online sharing and conversions. Eighty-three percent of the most successful content marketers use KPIs to measure their content initiatives, whereas merely 30 percent of the least successful do in comparison," Casagrande explains.

With more people working from home than ever, it's also vital to deliver your content earlier in the day as people work shorter hours. Likewise, spreading positivity and value, as well as garnering information about your audience, are important considerations when ramping up your social media presence.

Related: 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Keep Their Businesses Positive During Challenging Times

2. Host a virtual event

Although most conferences, meet-ups and networking events have been canceled, networking remains one of the best ways to generate business leads. But now that face-to-face meet and greets and live networking events are a no-go, it's time to get creative.

Virtual events stand out as one of the most promising ways to garner B2B leads and help customers see the value your business provides. Webinars, in particular, are rapidly growing in popularity among firms looking to ramp up prospecting, since they can be delivered at low cost using one of the numerous webinar hosting platforms.

Related: 10 Tips to Create a Wildly Successful Virtual Event

Webinars are an excellent opportunity to showcase your brand and products by delivering live-streamed content to your viewers. Participants have the opportunity to dive in and ask questions, while carefully designed webinars will also feature interactive elements, like polls to learn more about what customers like and dislike, as well as hashtags to drive social media mentions and chatter.

Discussing the importance of virtual engagements, Daniele Marinelli, founder of social profit marketing firm UShare, has this to say: "Today more than ever before, customers need to feel empathically involved, and this can only be overcome with tools that allow direct meetings, albeit online. Zoom and Webinar are the platforms we use, and they are showing us to be able to overcome the limits of social distancing while maintaining direct contact with people and gaining customer trust."

To ensure your webinar is a success, you'll want to give yourself ample time to promote it across your social media channels, blog and other outlets to maximize attendance. You might also want to consider promoting it using an exit-intent popup on your website, email signature, paid ads and other strategies.

Webinars can take a great deal of effort to create and launch successfully, but they work wonders for generating hot leads with a real interest in your product. Don't forget to record it for later and email it to everybody who signed up for the event — including those that couldn't make the live session.

3. Start retargeting

Approximately 97 percent of people who land on your website don't end up making a purchase. But that's not to say that these potential leads aren't interested in your product — they might just need more convincing than your average customer. Fortunately, there are ways to rekindle these lost opportunities and convert some of these warm leads to hot leads and paying clients.

One of the simplest ways to do this is with a little known practice known as retargeting. In short, retargeting is a strategy used to re-engage prospective customers that have already engaged with your brand — whether that be through your website, social media, mobile app or other avenues. This works by showing these leads follow-up adverts when they visit other websites and consume social media, positioning your ad in their feed.

Related: 4 Proven Strategies for Retargeting to Hot Prospects

If you have ever visited a website and later found adverts for that website showing up later, then you've been retargeted. Retargeting is a deceptively simple practice that can yield excellent results when done right. It's also more cost-effective than many marketing strategies, because it targets leads that have already expressed an interest in your brand.

Most retargeting campaigns make use of a snippet of code known as a pixel, which you post on your entire website or just specific sections. This pixel drops a cookie on your viewer's browser and communicates with your ad network to display relevant ads to these users later, helping to build familiarity, garner trust and remind leads from any layer of the sales funnel about your brand.

With more people shopping online and browsing than ever before, retargeting is a crisis-proof way to recapture old leads and maximize conversion rates.

Simon Moser

Founder of Polygrowth

Simon Moser is a European communications specialist and entrepreneur. He is particularly focused on new markets, such as high-tech, fintech and cannabis. In 2018 Simon co-founded Strain Insider, which has since become the leading online media outlet in the European cannabis market.

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