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Digital prospecting:
how to find new customers on the web?

How to prospect when traditional techniques no longer offer the expected results?

Digital prospecting is adapting to the new habits of buyers. Faced with the over-solicitation of decision-makers, it relies on less intrusive techniques to generate new business opportunities. What are the techniques of online prospecting? How to succeed in your web prospecting?

Summary of the article

What is digital prospecting?

Digital prospecting refers to all the marketing and commercial actions carried out online by a company to find new customers. Generally speaking, commercial prospecting is a strategy that aims to generate a continuous flow of potential customers (or prospects) in order to feed the commercial dynamic.

With traditional prospecting methods, the company took the initiative for the first contact. Conversely, digital prospecting consists of attracting prospects to the company.

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Why prospect online?

Online prospecting is a strategy that responds to the changing behavior of prospects and buyers. While commercial contact by telephone was the norm, the development of the web has changed the situation.

From now on, buyers are autonomous in their search for information on the Internet. There is so much information on the web that they can research their issues on their own. They can even find out about existing solutions and compare them online.

As a result, prospects are no longer dependent on companies for the first steps of the buying journey. It is considered that 50 to 60% of the B2B purchase path is done digitally and without commercial contact.

Under these conditions, inbound marketing has become the ideal prospecting method to capture a prospect in the pre-purchase phase on the Internet. No more unsolicited, interruptive digital sales contact. The company attracts its prospects by providing them with useful and quality information.

In addition, B2B buying cycles are longer and more complicated than in the past. In order to optimize expenses, each purchase is weighed, controlled and often involves several decision makers. As buyers are better informed about solutions, competition is stronger. As a result, more sales cycles are not completed. Therefore, you need to improve your lead generation to reach your business goals.

Finally, in a context of over-solicited B2B buyers, the ROI of traditional marketing methods is at a low point. Digital methods are often less costly for successful results.

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The methods of web prospecting

There are several methods to find potential customers on the Net. This is especially true for email marketing.

Nevertheless, mass emailing is losing ground and is more akin to traditional methods. From now on, the success of emailing campaigns depends on the quality of the contact base and the relevance of the segmentation.

Therefore, emailing is most effective when it is part of an overall inbound marketing strategy.

Prospecting through inbound marketing

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a strategy that consists of attracting prospects to your website through quality content and then converting them into customers.

Since traditional methods are met with reluctance from buyers, companies need to optimize the initiation of the first sales contact.

If this contact is made too early in the buying process, the buyer may consider that he is being forced to do something. Conversely, if it is too late, the company risks losing opportunities to a competitor.

To trigger sales contact at the right time, when the prospect is mature, the company must first create a pipeline of sales opportunities.

How to do inbound prospecting?

First, the company seeks to generate qualified web traffic. Once she has identified her target clients and their issues, she sets up a content strategy. Content marketing consists of creating and distributing relevant content to attract qualified visitors.

Once the company generates qualified traffic through SEO (SEO referring to natural search) and social media, the second step is to keep the conversation going with some of the visitors. Indeed, most web visitors are not yet mature enough to buy. You need to get them to share their contact information, for example by offering valuable content in return for a form.

Now that the connection has been made, the company is looking to mature its leads. To do this, it interacts with its contacts through personalized email sequences. This lead nurturing phase will allow you to score the prospects according to their behavior and automatically transmit the hot prospects to the sales teams.

Social selling

Social selling is an online prospecting approach that relies on the « social networks » channel. In fact, it is mainly on the professional social network LinkedIn that salespeople can prospect effectively.

Social selling is the process of identifying new business opportunities on LinkedIn, connecting with prospects and interacting with them in order to get a sales meeting.

It can be used in addition to an inbound marketing strategy. Indeed, in B2B, professional social networks are essential in an inbound content distribution logic. By sharing quality content, salespeople can expand their subscriber base and therefore potential leads. Content is also a gateway to create interactions with previously defined targets.

Digital conversational marketing

In a broad sense, conversational marketing refers to any form of marketing based on conversation with the prospect.

In a stricter sense, it corresponds to all marketing actions based on direct conversation such as chatbots or instant messaging.

This is a trend that companies can no longer ignore. Indeed, buyers demand immediacy in relationships. Moreover, chats are an excellent way to generate leads in an inbound logic.

If a visitor struggles to find the information they want on a site, they will leave without giving any contact information. Unless they can easily access a chatbot that will redirect them to the right information while collecting additional data.

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The stages of digital prospecting

Define your targets and prospects

To reach their objectives, online prospecting actions must be based on an excellent knowledge of their target customers on the Internet. Indeed, the actions must be specifically aimed at potential buyers.

It is therefore necessary to determine the profile of its ideal customers.

The buyer personas method allows you to define the typical profile of your target customers, the main issues they face and their preferred communication channels.

More broadly, defining your personas helps you to know precisely the buying path of your prospects. Then, personas are used as a guideline for all marketing and sales actions.

Set your digital prospecting objectives

One of the advantages of digital prospecting is that it allows you to finely divide the buying process into several stages. At each stage, intermediate goals can be set and results measured.

Upstream, the company will therefore set prospecting objectives that are directly connected to its business objectives. On the basis of the projected turnover, you can for example define a target for the number of new customers.

Then, based on past or industry conversion rates, the reel can be unwound and intermediate goals set over a period of time.

Optimize your website for prospecting

Online prospecting requires making your website a digital tool to serve the commercial dynamics of the company.

From a prospecting point of view, we cannot be satisfied with a window site. The website must be designed to convert visitors.

If the purpose is to purchase a product directly online, then the site must facilitate the creation of an online account. If the purchase cycle is more complex, the site will integrate online forms, for example for downloading premium content.

In all cases, it will be essential to create call-to-actions, landing pages and online forms to achieve your goals. The site’s ergonomics, the mesh and the navigation path must also correspond to the buyer’s journey defined during the personas stage.

Deploying your content strategy

Content marketing addresses two issues:

  • Generate qualified traffic on the company’s website
  • Provide the prospect with content throughout their journey

To generate traffic, we will design a content strategy based on our personas. Indeed, the best way to attract qualified visitors to your site is not to boast about your offer. What prospects are interested in is finding answers to their problems.

Once these issues are identified, we will produce content accordingly and optimize it for SEO to generate organic traffic. In a logic of diffusion, we will also share the contents on the favorite social networks of the target customers to attract them.

But the role of content is not limited to this attraction phase. When the visitor becomes a lead, he is rarely mature enough to buy immediately. Therefore, it is necessary to continue the conversation before initiating a sales contact. With this in mind, digital content is used to fuel the marketing conversation to connect with prospects.

Therefore, it is not enough to create content to attract visitors. You need to produce relevant content for all stages of the customer journey.

Generate online leads

Generating leads requires equipping your site with conversion tools: call-to-action, landing pages, forms. Above all, it requires having something to offer the visitor in exchange for their contact information.

Very often, we will propose content with high added value (white paper, e-book, practical kit, template,…) to capture leads.

Nurture your leads

When you get the contact information of a visitor, nothing is won yet. You still need to qualify the lead, i.e. assess its level of maturity and gather additional information.

At this stage, we will provide the lead with content that corresponds to his profile and behaviors. The goal is to move them through the conversion tunnel. To do this, we send them personalized email sequences and observe how they react.

For each interaction, a score will be assigned. This is called lead scoring. For example, +20 for downloading a white paper or -5 for an unopened email.

This score corresponds to the maturity level of the lead. If you use a marketing automation solution, you can score your contacts automatically and trigger the transmission of the lead to the sales team when a given score is reached.

Triggering commercial contact

Marketing considers that the prospect is hot for a sales contact. The sales teams take over.

The sales representative will make an initial contact to qualify the prospect once again. This is called « commercial qualification ».

Traditionally, the BANT method is used to ensure that the prospect has a budget, is the decision-maker, has a real need and is already planned in time. If this is the case, then the business dynamics are set in motion. Otherwise, the prospect is either disqualified or reintegrated into a nurturing cycle.

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The tools of online prospecting

Digital prospecting presents a major difficulty: knowing when the prospect is hot enough to be called by a salesperson.

Bringing a lead to maturity takes time and, at the same time, additional information must be gathered to qualify it. On a large scale, it is impossible to perform these tasks manually.

A marketing automation solution allows you to create personalized email sequences for lead nurturing. It also allows you to score your leads in order to prioritize your sales efforts. Today, this type of solution is a must-have in digital prospecting.

Moreover, marketing automation is all the more valuable when the information gathered by marketing is automatically transmitted to the CRM software of sales representatives. The MagiLeads solution offers a perfect synchronization of information for an optimal alignment between marketing and sales.

Digital prospecting appears to be the remedy to the decline of traditional techniques. To be effective, however, it must be based on a solid knowledge of the customer’s buying path and on automation tools that support the conversation and conversion.

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