Is B2B lead generation any different for life sciences companies? In a word, yes. If you're looking to generate leads in the life sciences, then you need to think differently - and provide serious thought leadership that will encourage your audience to get in touch with you.
Lead Generation – Explained
There was a day when lead generation was carried out by sales teams or telemarketers hitting the phones. The problem is that people don’t answer their phones to telemarketers any more!
Today, B2B sales are made over a long period, and for much of that period – you have no contact with the prospect. In the Life Sciences arena, this is no different. Your prospects are researching, reading, trying to understand and navigate their way through a whole host of problems.
To generate leads today, you need to be the organisation that understands your prospects’ problems, and helps them solve those problems. Only then will people give up their details and allow you to contact them.
That, in a nutshell, is lead generation.
Why generate leads?
You might ask the question – why do it? If the sales team are generating their own leads, for example, why bother?
This is different: it’s called inbound marketing and the strategy helps you find the kind of prospect you really want to work with.
What’s more, you’ll get more leads. When you have a greater volume of leads coming in, you can start to pinpoint the best kind of lead. You’ll be able to optimise your marketing and sales processes, and give the sales team better quality leads that they can work with.
Finally, inbound marketing is sustainable. Unlike when sales teams hit the phones, once the tap has been turned on, it doesn’t stop. If you’ve earned good rankings for a keyword that people use frequently, you’ll get a constant flow of traffic and leads.
What does everyone else do?
If we look across the whole of B2B, we see that the organisations that are generating leads are those that have developed a lot of content.
More importantly, it’s content that ranks well in search engines because people find it helps them solve common problems in their industry or their job role. The best organisations are using content not to sell, but to help.
When a contact downloads a piece of content, or engages at an early stage, the best B2B organisations are not handing that lead over to a sales team. They’re keeping it within the marketing team and they are nurturing that contact.
Nurturing involves sending that person some content that will be of interest, knowing what they’ve already engaged with. This could be a series of help guides, blog posts or case studies that showcase what similar businesses are doing.
Nurturing keeps you front-of-mind for when the prospect reaches the decision-making part of the funnel.
Why is it different for you?
The complexity in the Life Sciences sector is that we are dealing with experts. Frequently, the people you will be trying to reach are highly educated, and what’s more – they’re time-poor.
Frequently, these contacts are well-read, and stick to trusted publications and networks or communities. Inserting yourself into conversations that are happening can be interruptive if you’re not in their frame of mind.
So lead generation in the Life Sciences is just like traditional B2B marketing, except that it’s that little bit harder!
Choosing your audience
Much like in wider B2B marketing, the first step is to choose your target audience. You may want to split them up into decision-makers and influencers, as frequently decisions are made over a long period, with several stakeholders. The person who makes the final decision may not be the first person you engage with!
This is especially true if, for instance, you are pitching a high-value technology sell to a biotechnology company. In this case, you’ll need to talk to the users – perhaps data scientists – while also talking to the IT department and the CIO.
At each level, you’ll need a different message, and preferably different content too.
Understanding their journey & their needs
Your life sciences prospect journey is often long and complex, involving multiple stakeholders each with different issues and points of view.
It’s important, at the start of your campaigns, to map out who these people are, and what issues they are facing as they progress throughout the decision-making process.
Download our user journey mapping template, this will help you visualise that journey, but also will help you understand what content you require to support them through the journey.
If you get stuck, your sales team is often the best port of call. They will have a wealth of knowledge about problems their customers and prospects are facing, and the kind of language they use in conversations about your product or service.
Finding where scientists go online
Once you’ve understand who you want to target, and what with – the next choice is where to go.
Here are some helpful steps in finding your best channels:
- Find an influencer in the sector you’re targeting. They’re often quite prominent, and not so hard to find. They will have a digital footprint: columns in publications, blog posts shared on certain platforms, etc.
- Map out where the influencer has been active, and also where their work has been shared. Follow the chatter!
- To do this, search for the titles of blog posts they have created – and search for their name in Google. This will bring up a wider footprint.
- Unroll their network by looking at content they have shared – this gives you a wider understanding of publications and channels they’re interested in.
One of the major differences in targeting Life Sciences professionals is that they place a much higher value on trustworthy publications. Across the wider B2B arena, you may find newer publications or channels could be quite beneficial, but without wanting to stereotype, life scientists want trustworthy, proven content from their peers.
Creating Content – Be An Expert
It’s hugely important that content you create ticks the following boxes:
- It does not sell
- It aims to solve your users’ problems
- It is unique to you: proprietary data often helps
- It encourages an action: download something, share something, etc.
- It is written by an expert, preferably someone known within the community
This last part is vital. If you don’t have someone well-known in the community, you may want to spend some time pinpointing an individual who could become that person. You will then have to build their profile up over time, as a PR exercise.
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to co-create content. You may have a client who is open to co-creation. They may be open to sharing proprietary data as part of the content creation.
In fact, data is really important. If you have data, or you have access to data that you can interpret for your audience, you will offer a fresh viewpoint in your content.
What kind of content works?
We have found that in Life Sciences, the most effective types of content for quality lead generation tend to be:
- On-demand webinars – preferably co-hosted with a client, showcasing transformation or benefits
- Insightful white papers – preferably offering a diversity of viewpoints and comments from the community
These are great pieces for converting prospects into data, so that you know who they are. However, you mustn’t forget to create awareness in your marketplace too. This could be:
- Blog posts and guest blogs on renowned websites
- Speaking opportunities at conferences
- Community management on social channels
- Ebooks and guides
- How-to videos
Promoting your content
If you have used keywords that people often search for, then you will eventually be rewarded with organic (SEO) traffic.
However, you will always need to promote your content in order to get a high volume of leads. Here are some helpful tips that will help you increase visibility of your content:
- LinkedIn InMail is hugely effective and cheap at around 20p per email sent – and you can target your precise personas with lead generation forms integrated into LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn Sponsored Content is expensive – but is great for awareness pieces where you want to ‘warm up’ an audience
- Facebook is sometimes appropriate. After all, everyone has a personal life as well as a professional life, and sometimes they overlap. You can target by interest, so lead quality is sometimes a bit hit and miss.
- Twitter is not a good lead generation platform for life sciences – the targeting options are very limited.
- Publications usually offer lead generation packages for webinars, white papers, etc. and these are often quite good value.
- ResearchGate is a great platform for targeting researchers and scientists within specific areas.
Would you need help with lead generation?
We have run hundreds of campaigns promoting content towards individuals in the Life Sciences, delivering tens of thousands of leads for nurture funnels and sales teams.
We’ve developed relationships with publishers and we frequently have access to LinkedIn’s beta programmes so that we can use new advertising features before other agencies.
We work with a network of content writers, but we frequently recommend working with our clients and their clients to co-create content for lead generation purposes. Our experience across SEO, Paid Search, Content Marketing and Social Media for Life Sciences companies means we understand the regulatory framework you operate in, and we know what it takes to generate leads!
Contact us today to get a quote for your project.