Series B Funding: 10 Startups That Raised Millions In 2021

You’re looking for series B funding to grow your startup. Before you approach an investor, you need to get informed. If you ask for too much, you’ll be laughed out of the room. Ask for too little, and your company might not get enough funding to hit your growth goals.

Series B funding - insight from 10 successful startups in 2021

What Is Series B Funding?

Series B funding is generally the third funding round after seed funding and Series A funding. At this stage, investor expectations start to grow. Investors will expect you to have a growing list of customers and a proven strategy to grow your customer base. For an investor to take the risk of writing a seven or eight-figure check, they will expect more. Also, your company’s prior investment history will be a factor. Previous investors may want or even expect the chance to invest more capital before you reach out to other venture capitalists.

Series B Funding: Data From 10 Startups

Your pitch for Series B funding is more likely to succeed when you can cite other startups. To help you succeed, check out these examples.

1) Arable Labs. $20 million in Series B funding. A startup building technology for the future of agriculture.

2) Connected2Fiber. $12 million in Series B funding. A Boston startup that builds network technology.

3) Idelic. $20 million in Series B funding. This Pittsburgh startup business is in the transportation safety and insurance industry.

4) Linktree. $60 million in Series B funding. An impressive feat for a social media startup in Australia.

5) Holberton. $20 million in Series B funding. This San Francisco startup offers engineering education.

6) StarkWare. $75 million in Series B funding. This startup company provides “scaling and security solutions to overcome the limitations of Ethereum’s existing technology.”

7) Wiz. $130 million in Series B funding. This cloud infrastructure startup has reached unicorn startup status with a valuation of over $1.78 billion.

8) Maxwell. $16.3 million in Series B funding. This startup is in the mortgage lending industry.

9) Camunda. $100 million in Series B funding. This business produces open-source software for sales and marketing.

10) PocketPills. $30 million in Series B funding. This startup operates as Canada’s largest online pharmacy.

These examples tell us that many companies can raise between $10 million to $50 million in Series B funding. According to Investopedia, the average amount raised in a Series B round is $33 million.

Key Questions To Review Before Talking To Potential Investors

Long before you walk into a room, virtual or otherwise, with investors, take some time to think through these questions first.

How did you use your Series A funding?

Series B fundraising is different because you will face questions about your track record. Let’s say you raised $3 million in your Series A round. Investors will expect to hear how you used those funds to achieve growth. Generally, it is wise to show a mix of product development and growing revenue by creating a repeatable sales process.

What does your internal data reveal about the company’s growth?

Early in the life of a startup, it is common to focus to emphasize external data. For example, you might point to a market research estimate about your total addressable market’s potential size. Such estimates have value in terms of grounding the startup idea in reality. However, as a company grows, general market trends take a back seat. Instead, investors will want to hear about your sales, lead generation numbers, and product utilization data.

Have you contacted past investors?  

It might sound exciting to pitch venture capitalists cold and walk out with a check. In reality, investors are people! As much as your pitch and company fundamentals matter, a trusting relationship is even more critical. Therefore, start by talking to people who already know the company (e.g., seed investors).

Do you have reasonable valuation expectations?

You might have a goal to achieve unicorn startup status. However, that status is unlikely to occur in the  Series B funding. Expect to have a valuation under $100 million at this stage. Of course, there are exceptions to every guideline. If a startup business venture has achieved a very high annual recurring revenue, you might aspire to a higher valuation.

What is your engine of growth?

By the time you reach Series B financing, you are far beyond the “business idea” stage of startup funding. Instead, you are now expected to have a real business. Therefore, you will want to give some thought to how you will grow. For example, are you going to leverage an app marketplace like the Salesforce exchange? Or will you offer your product free to individuals to create awareness and focus on selling to business users?

How do you engage with venture capital firms?

Put yourself in the shoes of people at venture capital firms for a moment. These investors are expected to deliver investment returns better than the stock market. Yet, they face challenges like assessing a startup business with minimal data. They may also face challenges selling shares when they desire (i.e., liquidity challenges). Similar expectations apply to investors at private equity firms in many respects.

With this understanding, you can give yourself an advantage by being easy for investors to work with. This includes providing clean, correct company financial reports on schedule every month and quarter. Further, you can also reassure your venture capital investor stakeholders by showing them how you are using prior rounds of funding to fuel growth.

How will you engage with the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors plays an essential role in providing advice and direction to the management team. In the case of private companies, the Board and the management team might have significant overlap. To maintain a positive relationship with the Board, the management team should proactively discuss potential transactions (e.g., acquiring another startup) and significant hiring decisions. Don’t assume that directors only want to hear from you during quarterly board meetings.

Tip: Involve the Board in the company business planning process. If you have qualified directors (e.g., business leaders from other companies), you will get great advice on how to use your startup financing effectively to grow.

What is the exit strategy?

The founders and the rest of the management team might want to run the company for years or decades to come. Investors have a different perspective. They need to deliver a return on a reasonable schedule. In most cases, the exit strategy takes one or two primary forms: an IPO or getting acquired by another company. Sure, some shares may change hands with institutional investors and hedge funds in the secondary market, but those transactions don’t count as an exit strategy.

Do This Before You Talk To Potential Investors

Imagine if you had a concrete marketing plan in place to bring in new customers. More than anything else, a predictable way to bring in new customers will convince investors that investing in your business is a worthwhile risk. Contact me today to request a marketing review for your business.

7 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A B2B Content Strategist

The right content strategist can help you meet your business goals. For example, if you work with a strategist who knows B2B marketing strategies, you can get more business customers. Many people use the content strategist title, so how do you make the right choice? Use the questions in this post to make an informed decision.

Content Strategist: Start With Business Goals First

Before you talk to a content strategist, it is wise to give your business goals some thought. For example, your goal might be to launch a new product to the market. A new product launch will require one type of content. In contrast, growing organic traffic to your website will require different methods (e.g., content audits).

Content strategist

1 What does a content strategist do?

A content strategist uses several marketing skills to bring more leads to your business. Generally, a content strategist focuses on big picture business strategy questions first. That means asking questions about sales, profits, target market, and more. It might feel awkward to answer these questions, but it is vital.

Once a content strategist understands your business strategy, they can develop customized content strategies suited to your business situation.

2 What does a content strategy include?

It depends on your business’s size, the strategist’s skills, and the degree of competition you face in the market. In general, a helpful content strategy includes the following areas:

  • Business strategy: explain the product or service you’re focused on selling and describe the target market.
  • Competitive analysis. Analyze the market presence of the company’s main competitors. For example, review the content marketing published by competitors using a tool like SEMrush. It is also worthwhile to find out where competitors are active on social media platforms. In addition, use tools like Google Search Console to understand the search terms that bring in customers
  • Customer Interviews. There’s nothing like gathering insights directly from customers. A content strategy should consider the specific questions, complaints, and desires raised by your customers. In these interviews, ask how customers use social media platforms and
  • Set content objectives. Using a content calendar, determine how often the business will publish content to address each part of the customer journey. Your objectives should also include measures of inbound traffic (e.g., increase monthly organic traffic by 5% each month)
  • Content distribution. Publishing on your website is not enough. Instead, use social platforms to republish your content and encourage people to come back to your website.

3 What are the qualifications of a content specialist?

The answer depends on your situation. Let’s assume you are a potential client and want to work with a content strategist to grow your business by attracting more potential customers.

A qualified content specialist can only help you to grow your business if they have the following skills:

  • Focused on business objectives. The best writing skills in the world are only valuable if they bring in more customers. A content specialist should always focus their efforts on key performance indicators such as lead generation.
  • Writing skills. A content specialist needs to know how to write content that generates inbound traffic from search engines on the one hand. Creating content to make Google happy is just one part of the equation. You also need an understanding of psychology and solid copywriting skills. That means knowing when to ask for the sale, such as asking a business owner to contact you to request a free marketing review.
  • Thinks in terms of marketing campaigns. Sometimes clients tell me that they want to “one article” or one piece of content. I understand why they say this – they want to see results before investing. There’s just one problem. It is nearly impossible to connect with a target audience the right way. Instead, you need to take a marketing campaign approach where a content creator creates multiple types of content over a period of time. By taking this approach, you
  • Understanding of Multiple Traffic Sources. Most content specialists and content strategists know social media platforms and SEO guidelines to drive traffic. Drawing potential customers from several digital marketing channels, you stand a better chance of reaching your goals.

4 What makes a good strategist?

A good strategist can develop a strategy and guide it to success. Some strategists are content to develop a plan, hand it off to the client and leave. There are some cases where that approach makes sense (e.g., the business has a strong internal marketing team lacking strategic direction). In most cases, a strategist will also need to help a business owner with execution by organizing content creation, copywriting, and related tasks.

A good content strategist is also concerned with business objectives rather than vanity metrics. In digital marketing, it is far too easy to become fixated on metrics like page views. Such metrics have some value in assessing whether or not you are making progress toward your goals. However, a 100% increase in page views is not valuable on its own.

5 What is a content strategy framework?

A content strategy framework defines how a specific business will approach content marketing. It matters because general principles developed by organizations like the Content Marketing Institute need to be customized.

Common elements of a content strategy framework include answers to the following questions:

  • What is our cost of customer acquisition?
  • Who is going to consume our content?
  • What problem can we solve for the audience with our content?
  • What makes our business unique?
  • What content formats (e.g., blog posts, video, audio, etc.) will we focus on?
  • What channels (e.g., blog, Facebook, Linkedin, Medium) will we use?
  • How will we manage content creation? (e.g., outsourcing to a content marketing agency)

6 What is the difference between content strategy and content marketing?

Content strategists develop a content strategy, but they don’t always play a role in execution.

Let’s imagine you are building a house. The architect creates the blueprint that describes the size and layout of each room. The blueprint keeps the building process organized and focused. In this analogy, content strategists are like the architect who sets out the vision for the project.

Back to our house…. Now you have a blueprint! Fantastic. That’s not the end of the job, however. You also need to build the house. The actual building of the house may involve multiple specialists. Likewise, putting content marketing into action will involve search engine optimization, copywriting, and analytics. All of these skills are needed to achieve success.

7 What makes a good content strategy?

A good content strategy helps you to achieve business goals like obtaining more leads. If the strategy doesn’t move the needle on leads and customers, it needs to be revised.

Now, what about all of these “secondary” marketing metrics? Is it a bad thing if your content strategy brings in more website traffic? On its own, increased website traffic has minimal value. Let’s say you’re competing against Oracle in the enterprise software market. In that case, increased website traffic from college students would be useless. Those students are not able to buy your enterprise software.

Grow Faster With A Content Strategist Today

There are plenty of ways your business can grow faster by working with a content strategist. If your customers are businesses, contact me today. I’ve helped B2B companies to grow leads and become thought leaders. Contact me today to request a free consultation about your content strategy.

Before Choosing A Content Marketing Agency: Answer These 8 Questions

A content marketing agency can help you get quality traffic. But how do you determine the right agency for your business? Before you choose an agency, take a few minutes to understand how successful content marketing works.

Content marketing agency: 8 questions to answer to avoid wasting money

1 What are the benefits of content marketing?

The benefits of content marketing include more leads, customers, and revenue! That’s not all. Content marketing is also a great way to open tools in your industry. Case in point: I used content marketing to build an audience and publish my first book, Project Managers At Work.

Content marketing is unique because it involves answering questions and helping people before they buy. When customers find you through a search engine, they are more likely to buy. Even better, content marketing is an excellent way to get more leads without spending hours on cold calling and cold email.

Outsourcing growth to content marketing agencies is one of the best ways to increase web traffic and consistently lead over time. Your in-house staff can focus on other areas like creating sales scripts for the sales team.

2 What some examples of content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategy used by all kinds of companies. I previously wrote a post about eight content marketing examples from companies like ClickFunnels, PhoneWagon, HubSpot, and McKinsey. Since B2B purchases involve significant money and risk, content marketing is an excellent way to develop trust over time.

While I focus on B2B marketing strategies, a content marketing agency also works wonders with consumer brands and products. For example, fiction authors like Brandon Sanderson (a New York Times best-selling author) give away content like free chapters and bonus material. In the pet supply market, Purina publishes a wide variety of content on pet care topics for cats (e.g., a guide to grooming a cat).

In terms of types of content, content marketing usually includes blog posts, photos, social media updates, videos, and audio content.

3 Why partner with a content marketing agency?

It is valuable to partner with a content marketing agency because you can achieve results faster.

Training your employees in the art of content creation, search engine optimization, and social media platforms takes time. Further, your in house marketing team might have a different area of focus, like running Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or other marketing channels. Instead, a content marketing agency saves you time so your employees can focus on other marketing strategies like working with channel partners.

4 Are you using the right questions to develop your content strategy?

A content marketing strategy is your GPS to getting more organic traffic and growing your customer base. Without it, your marketing campaigns are likely to fail.

Creating random types of content and hoping for the best is not good enough. Instead, it is more effective to resist the urge to jump into content creation immediately. Instead, start with content strategy questions like:

  • What client goals are we aiming at? Specifically, it is best to aim for lead generation goals like growing an email list.
  • What are the prior content marketing efforts? Before developing new content marketing opportunities, I like to understand a company’s previous content marketing programs and experience.
  • Who do we want to attract to our business?
  • What questions are clients asking the sales team?
  • Who else is publishing content in our industry? Why are they popular? A content marketing strategy needs to consider both direct competitors and indirect competitors (e.g. an industry news website)

5 What types of content do you need?

Content marketing agencies can help you with multiple types of marketing and content creation. Some popular options to increase organic traffic include:

  • Blog content creation: your content development efforts generally start with your blog because blog content is one of the best ways to drive customer engagement. A mix of marketing content, long-form content, and newsworthy content all contribute to an influential blog.
  • Visual content marketing: for example, an original infographic can be an excellent way to generate links,
  • Video production: YouTube is one of the most popular search engines globally, even in B2B areas. IF you are looking for content ideas, start by looking at your website analytics. Your original, high-quality web content can serve as the foundation for video production.
  • Online publications: unlike a blog, online publications are more like a magazine. For example, potential customers for McKinsey can read McKinsey Quarterly. In particular, McKinsey does excellent work in design and carrying out original research.

6 Is your social media marketing built on the right foundation?

For social media marketing to work, you need content. Why? Ultimately, your business goal should be to bring people back to your website. As we saw earlier in 2021, Facebook can shut down access to an entire country. The same problem can happen with other social media platforms.

You can indeed use social media ads (e.g., Facebook Ads, Instagram ads) to grow. However, there is still value in growing your organic following and traffic. To achieve that goal, you will need to post content worth sharing. To have a chance of a viral video, I recommend going back to the content strategy questions laid out above.

7 How do you decide between in house content marketing Vs. a content marketing agency?

The most effective B2B content marketing involves content marketing strategists from a content marketing agency and input from in house marketing staff. An in house writer can also play a role in providing feedback to a content marketing agency with the proper guidelines.

Tip: Client feedback like “I like it” or “I don’t like it” from an in house team is useless for a content marketing agency. Instead, provide feedback based on specific customers. For example, your customers might prefer to receive content in high-quality PDF files rather than blog posts. In that case, you might decide to offer a content upgrade (i.e., a PDF of related content and resources) to drive more traffic from your blog content.

8 What goes into a complete content marketing campaign?

Running a full-scale content marketing campaign for a client, including content distribution, printable infographics, video blogs, and other branded content, takes time and money. If you ask your content marketing team to do just one piece of content to save money, you’re unlikely to see meaningful results.  Even expert content creators need time and repetition to ramp up their content program.

As a guideline, I recommend running a content marketing campaign for a minimum of three months. That will give you enough time to measure conversion rates, see a search traffic increase, and get leads.

Request A Free Content Marketing Review Today

Want to know quick wins to get more leads from your content marketing campaign? Contact me today to request a free consultation. In a laser-focused 20 minute free consultation, we’ll discuss your content strategy and develop at least two specific ideas you can implement this month.

What Is Series A Funding: Answers To Five Common Questions

Creating a startup company takes imagination, a great idea, and resources like venture capital financing. If you aspire to create a unicorn startup, funding is a crucial variable. That’s why you’re probably wondering “What is Series A funding?”

What is Series A Funding: get answers to 5 common questions

Without it, it will be tough for startup founders to make progress. Once you raise initial funds from angel investors and your network, Series A funding will probably be your first goal.

1) What is Series A funding?

To answer this question, let’s zoom out for a moment to answer a different question: what are the stages of investing (or rounds of investing)? Investing stages vary by firm and startup. However, the following funding rounds are typical.

  • Pre seed funding. Typically, this funding round is small. The initial resources to start the company often comes directly from the company founders and their friends and family. Usually, there is no exchange of equity, and the dollar amount of pre seed funding is small.
  • Seed funding. Seed funding is the first “official” funding round with amounts ranging between $200,000 to $2 million. Investors usually expect to receive an interest in the startup business, such as an equity share.
  • Series A funding. By the time a startup seeks Series A funding, it is operational, has a product, and some customers. Investors like Greylock and Benchmark Capital expect a business to have a business model that will generate profits. It is no longer enough merely to have a good business idea. According to Investopedia, the average Series A funding amount is $15.6 million as of 2020.

There are other funding rounds available from venture capital firms (e.g., Series B, Series C, and so forth) but, we’re going to limit our focus to Series A funding in this post.

2) How do I prepare for Series A Funding?

There are several ways to prepare for Series A funding.

Before you talk to potential investors, start by setting reasonable expectations for how much funding you are likely to raise (i.e., $3 million to $15 million is probably achievable; $50 million or $100 million is unlikely). Next, understand that raising Series A funding is fundamentally a sales transaction. An investor is buying an interest in your company through debt or equity, and the startup receives cash. Investors have many different investment opportunities, so the startup needs to make a compelling pitch.

To prepare for Series A venture capital funding, be prepared to answer common questions, including significant performance indicator numbers:

  • What is the cost of customer acquisition?

A startup that can profitably acquire customers over and over again is more likely to succeed. Therefore, it is worth taking some time to crunch the numbers on your CAC (i.e., cost of customer acquisition).

  • What is your annual recurring revenue (ARR)?

Some revenue question is practically guaranteed to happen. Some investors will still consider a “pre revenue” startup in a Series A. The odds of success are higher if you can point to a compelling annual recurring revenue chart.

  • How will you use the funds?

Remember, an investor invests in a startup to achieve a positive return. The odds of success are higher if the startup has a clear plan to use Series A funding to grow the business. A vague answer like “developing the product” is not compelling. Instead, you might talk about building specific features like a Salesforce integration or investing in B2B lead generation program.

  • Who are the previous investors in the company?

An experienced investor will usually ask about prior investments in the company. For example, have prior investors taken a seat on the board of directors? Also, investors might want to see a cap table (i.e., capitalization table) that sets out the specific shareholders and their shares’ value.

  • What is your total addressable market (i.e., TAM)?

Building a unicorn startup is easier when you have a large, fast-growing market. For example, the electric vehicle industry is growing. The AI software industry is also growing quickly. Get your market research numbers in order before you ask for Series A funding. If the potential market is too small, private equity firms and other investors may not see an attractive exit strategy such as a public offering.

  • Did you customize the startup pitch for this investor?  

Before walking into a room with an investor, do your homework on them. There are free resources like Crunchbase that make it easy. For example, you can see that Index Ventures has recently invested in Cutover, Rohlik, and Dream Games in 2021. If you were going to see Series A funding from Index Ventures, it would be wise to speak to companies who have recently received investment so that you can anticipate investor-specific questions.

3) How long should Series A funding last?

Running out of money is one of many nightmares that haunt startups and venture capital investors. The answer will depend on company growth plans, marketing channels, and product plans. For example, a hardware startup may consume funding more quickly due to the cost associated with creating prototypes.

As a rule of thumb, look at a few factors before you go back to venture capital companies for more funding

  • Expenses Trends: a key performance indicator to track monthly

Also known as burn rate, the amount of money a company spends each month influences how long Series A funding will last. If revenue is low and does not cover expenses, Series A funding will run out more quickly.

  • Annual Revenue Estimate (or Run Rate).

In the early stages of a company, you may not have multiple years of revenue data. Instead, the company may only have three months of sales revenue. In that case, you might annualize the three months of revenue on an annual basis. If there are significant outliers in the data (e.g., like a customer who bought 1000 licenses vs. an average of 100 seats others buy), consider excluding them from the calculation or using a weighted average.

  • Sales Cycle: a key performance indicator to watch

The length of time it takes a startup business to close a new business is a significant factor. If you are executing B2B marketing strategies to obtain enterprise clients, the sales cycle might be measured in months. In contrast, an ad-supported mobile game company may able to generate revenue more quickly.

Note that marketing fit (also known as product-market fit) influences your sales cycle. When the product is unknown and hasn’t established market share, sales will take longer.

  • Product Development.

If the product is far from complete or operational, the lion’s share of Series A funding may go into research and development. Aim to develop a product roadmap so that you can launch a basic version and start gaining customers before funding runs out.

4) How much do you get for Series A funding?

Millions of dollars! That’s the short answer.

Let’s answer this question with new 2021 data sourced directly from Crunchbase.

  • BlocPower raised a Series A of $8 million on February 22, 2021. BlocPower is an energy technology startup based in New York.
  • Zeni raised a Series A of $11.5 million on March 9, 2021. Zeni is an AI finance startup serving small businesses.
  • Pipe raised a Series A of $50 million on March 9, 2021. Pipe is a finance platform to transform recurring revenue streams into upfront capital.
  • Sorare raised a Series A of $40 million on February 25, 2021. Sorare is a fantasy football company based in France.
  • Symbo raised a Series A of $9.4 million on March 4, 2021. Symbo is an insurance tech startup company based in Singapore.

As of March 11, 2021, Crunchbase has data on 270 Series A funding transactions in the past 30 days.

Remember that startup investment amounts – including Series A – tend to ebb and flow throughout the economic cycle. Fundraising during or immediately after a market crash is likely to be complicated.

5) What do Series A investors look for?

It depends on the investor. That said, there are a few general patterns to keep in mind.

  • Prior Investment. In many cases, a startup will already have seed funding or pre seed funding before taking on a Series A.
  • Prior Relationships. From attending dozens of TechTO events, the importance of relationships in funding has come up repeatedly. If an investor first met you years ago, long before you started fundraising, that is a good sign. It is possible to go in cold and win, but that is playing business on hard mode.
  • Working Product. Investors are unlikely to be impressed by a vague PowerPoint presentation about the size of the target market. Instead, aim to build a basic working product that customers can use.
  • Revenue. Yes, revenue matters! Without revenue and customers, investors will struggle to understand a company’s market value.

How To Get All The Funding And Customers You Want

You’re probably curious about Series A funding because you’re running a growing startup. To get a free review of your marketing plan, contact me today. In 20 minutes, we’ll develop at least three marketing ideas you can use to grow your traffic and customers.

Lead Generation For B2B: 10 Ways To Boost ROI This Month

Lead generation for B2B is special. Typically, it involves selling a complex product or solution. The sales process could take weeks or months. There are probably several stakeholders involved in the decision. Finally, finding B2B leads can be quite tricky.

To get your lead generation for B2B off the ground, you first need to know your options. View this article as a resource to get more leads whenever you need more qualified leads for your business.

lead generation for B2B - 10 ways to boost ROI

Lead Generation For B2B: Foundations

Before you jump on LinkedIn again, there are some fundamentals to keep in mind. Without these fundamentals in place, your lead generation efforts will fall short.

1) Update your target audience regularly

Before you touch Facebook, install a new marketing automation tool, configure a form to gather email addresses, or look at search engine optimization, you need to know your target audience first.

Knowing your target audience is always an excellent starting point in marketing. If you don’t have a clear picture of your customers, you will waste a lot of time. Imagine if you tried to market a warehouse management software solution to a business without a warehouse. All of your marketing strategies would be wasted. As a marketer, it is wise to confirm your definition of qualified leads with the company’s sales teams.

If you already know your target audience well, then make a note to update your understanding six months from now. The world changes over time, and that includes changes in your target audience.

To use a simple example, your B2B buyers might have spent a considerable amount of money on live events and conferences for training in the past. Today, that spending activity has probably shifted to online training tools.

2) Refine your sales process

Fully optimized B2B lead generation is a waste of time if your company lacks a sales process to convert B2B leads into closed sales. After all, we’re in business to win our industry’s best customers, not just users on a website.

While I focus on the marketing side of lead generation for B2B, the sales process also matters. For example, consider how quickly the sales team responds to new leads from webinars. Aside from speed, the sales process should include practical tools such as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to simplify follow-up activities.

To get started with refining your sales process, start with the fundamentals. Ask your best performing sales professional to write down everything they do to engage with a new lead. Once these steps have been documented, you can take additional steps to optimize your buying process. For example, can you add different tactics to your sales funnel (e.g., alternate phone calls and emails even if the marketing automation tool doesn’t automate all of these steps)?

Tip: When in doubt, focus sales teams on improving follow-up practices. Anybody can send a “ready to buy now?” style follow-up email to a person in the CRM. Aim to do better than that!

3) Write your buyer journey as a series of actions

Let me tell you a story about how I discovered the value of understanding the buyer journey. I provide marketing services such as content marketing as a service to technology companies. I often wondered, “what happens inside to company to prompt them to work with me?” Interviewing recent customers one by one is the best way to gather insight on the buyer journey – marketing automation software will not do this for you.

The specific actions of the buyer journey vary, but I have detected a few patterns.

  • Company decides to start a website redesign project.

As this project starts, the company realizes that it could use better copy, content, and conversion optimization. If you’re already investing in graphic design, new content management systems, and beyond, improving content and copy makes complete sense.

  • A company buys a marketing automation platform like HubSpot or Marketo.

Marketing automation tools are fantastic! However, these tools can only work their magic when they are fully powered up with email copy, content, and other marketing assets.

When you understand the buyer journey, you will find more leads and quickly determine if you can help those leads. For further reading on the buyer journey, check out HubSpot’s overview: What Is the Buyer’s Journey?. Focus on actions rather than thoughts or feelings because it is easier to detect your potential customers’ actions.

Tip: Put descriptive information about your ideal potential customers into buyer personas documents. For more details on buyer personas, check out HubSpot’s post: How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business.

Lead Generation For B2B: Choose Your Strategy Mix

For your lead generation program to deliver results, focus is your best friend. Specifically, I recommend using the 80/20 principle. Start by focusing 80% of your effort on one lead generation strategy that delivers results. Spend the other 20% of your resources on experimenting with other lead generation strategies. This combination approach helps you to attract leads today and include some diversity.

6) Lead Generation for B2B: Email Marketing

Building an email list of people who look forward to hearing from you is one of the most valuable business assets you can build. As a general guideline, it is best to send emails to your list weekly or monthly. If you’re too overwhelmed to organize your email marketing, consider working with an email marketing agency. Choosing a full-featured marketing automation tool can also be a helpful way to stay organized.

If potential leads are not signing up for your email list, the problem might be due to the type of content you are sending. In that case, using tactics like exit popups and infographics might not help. Instead, I recommend going back to the fundamentals: answer questions and share ideas that directly address your prospective customers’ concerns (i.e., relevant content). If your website is not gathering leads, you may find it helpful to outsource content creation to a content marketing agency.

You need a clear and straightforward CTA (i.e. call to action) to grow your email list from a copy perspective. At a minimum, tell people how often they can expect to receive emails from you. Once you have a few thousand email addresses on your list, use that number in a social proof CTA (e.g., “Join three thousand subscribers.”).

Once prospects join your email list, you can start to send offers to them like an invitation to join your webinars or view your most popular articles.

Tip: Strike a balance between offering valuable information (e.g., link to your latest article, infographic image, or other valuable content) to your audience and aiming for sales. If you only send sales letters to your list, your audience will start to disengage over time. The pieces of content you share with your email list should also vary over time unless you want to become known for length like LongReads.

7) Content Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

For individuals to join your email list or ask for a sign, they need to know your company exists. Content and SEO are some of the best ways to attract attention online because of intent. With a platform like Twitter or Facebook, intent is tough to determine. With a search engine, we can make a good guess about intent (e.g., a search for “content marketing consultant” probably means you seek a consultant to grow your business).

Search engines like Google want to provide answers to people searching online. By the way, search engines cannot show content hidden behind an opt-in form so consider putting your next whitepaper available on your website for anybody to see. Sharing that kind of original research will also help to increase your company’s credibility in the community.

Techniques include:

  • Research. Talk to current customers and potential customers about their questions and the pain they have. This research will supplement what you learn from using SEO tools like Ahrefs.
  • Content Creation: Create exclusive content that people cannot find anywhere else on the web, and you will get more attention. I like to use WordPress to publish content because it is user-friendly. You can also promote your content on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. By the way, creating ebooks is still an excellent way to generate awareness online. If you’re worried about your content strategy, work with a content marketing strategist. A strategist will define your goal and then build a content strategy to achieve that goal.
  • Backlinks. Every time another website links to your valuable content, those links send signals to search engines. That means you are more likely to show up on the search engine results page (i.e., SERPs). Posting links to your content on Twitter can also play a role in getting backlinks. Success in building backlinks means more people find your content and your sales team gets more opportunities.
  • Tests. Like advertising on Facebook or Google, testing is part of search engine optimization. Remember to be patient, gather data, and evaluate which types of content generate the most interest. For example, test whether your sales reps are interested in sharing company content online on a social platform like LinkedIn. Even better, please encourage them to join conversations and leave comments to be seen as an authority.

While we’re talking about tests, make sure that you test your website on mobile. According to Oberlo, mobile devices account for more than 50% of all website traffic in 2021. Make a plan to test your website on mobile each month regularly. Taking a few minutes to test and tweak your website can pay off in higher traffic and opportunities.

Tip: Content and search engine optimization require both art and science. If you are already creating at research, you may want to focus on the equation’s science side. Use checklists and templates to make sure each piece of content is optimized.

8) Send Cold Emails (i.e., outbound emails)

Cold emails are a tried and true B2B lead generation strategy. I’ve used this strategy myself to win B2B customers. There is an entire set of technologies and methods to make cold email work. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I suggest you pick a leading cold email application like Quickmail or Outreach and get started there.

As a lead generation method, cold emails have a few key advantages. Assuming you have a high-quality list, you can send outbound emails today and start to hold meetings in a matter or hours or days. If you have quality content to share, such pieces of content can help to set your outbound emails apart from the competition.

Once you have your email lead generation software in place, your next step is to obtain potential customers’ email addresses. Fortunately, there are B2B service providers that make this process easy. For example, I have used Uplead for cold email campaigns with decent results.

By the way, sending a single email is unlikely to generate results. Instead, you need to use an email sequence that uses different messages. For instance, you might include several kinds of customer testimonial to connect with different people in your B2B audience.

Note if you have a small list of target accounts, take your time with cold emails. Fine-tune your pitches to appeal to each specific company and person. This customization work takes time, but it will pay off in generating more sales meetings. For example, look at your potential customers’ social channels and websites. If they are already using a similar vendor, you may need to adjust your message accordingly.

9) Use Website Analytics (e.g., Google Analytics)

Your content marketing strategy requires analytics. Otherwise, it will be tough to tell if you are connecting with the B2B buyers you want. By all means, share your videos and content on social media channels. However, your ultimate objective is to bring more prospects back to your website. Once they arrive at your website, you can nurture visitors into leads.

By tracking which blog content attracts the highest engagement, you will know what kind of gated content to offer. Also, analytics will help you spot B2B lead generation problems on your website, such as a broken contact form. In addition, analytics can help you measure your social media strategy’s effectiveness in terms of driving attention.

10) Use Pay Per Click (e.g., Google AdWords) Marketing Campaigns

For B2B businesses, the top pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platforms included LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook. All of these audiences have large audiences of business owners, so you can easily reach qualified leads. Unlike e-commerce, where immediate purchases after an ad click are standard, B2B buyers are unlikely to buy immediately after seeing an ad. However, you can probably get an email address for your email list.

In general, email list growth (i.e., email signups) should focus on using Google Ads. At this point, your email marketing strategy takes over. Testing different headlines and CTA (i.e., call to action) are essential techniques to generate ROI.

Tip: Cost per click for a B2B audience tend to be high: $10, $50, or more per click costs can consume your budget fast. To stretch your budget further, use remarketing. A remarketing campaign means showing your ads to decision-makers who have already visited your website. If you have a high level of traffic to a specific URL, your remarketing can leverage that fact for personalization (e.g., show a discount ad to people who visit the price page on your website).

Lead Generation For B2B: You Don’t Have To Do It On Your Own

Increasing B2B leads doesn’t have to be a solo mission. Contact me today to request a free review of your B2B lead generation.

Content Marketing As A Service: Seven Steps To Get B2B More Leads

content marketing as a service: 7 steps to get more B2B leads

Choosing your content marketing as a service agency may fill you with questions.

Will investing in content marketing will help you to achieve your business goals? (Yes, it can if your business needs more leads) How long does content marketing take to work? (Depends on your budget and competition but the right time measurement is months not days or weeks).

Isn’t content marketing as a service just writing blog posts? (No. You need to create content marketing campaigns that work together to attract traffic.).

Since so many business owners have questions about what goes into successful content marketing, I created this resource to help marketers and business owners may a more informed decision about who to work with and what to expect from that relationship.

1) Successful Content Marketing Starts With A Content Marketing Strategy

Starting with content creation without a clear content marketing strategy is unlikely to work. Before you ask a content marketing company to create any blog posts or social media posts, make time to discuss strategy.

Fortunately, answering a few simple questions is all you need to build your content marketing plan.

-How would you describe your ideal customer in 1 sentence?

My answer: The ideal customer is a marketing manager or director at a 50-100 employee business to business software company located in the USA or Canada. Based on this insight, I know that relevant content for this audience looks like and what topics should be avoided.

-What product or service do you ultimately want to promote using content marketing as a strategy?

My answer: Ultimately, I am seeking to promote my company’s content marketing services for B2B and enterprise clients.

-What content (e.g. magazines, blog posts, podcasts, influencers) do you customers already follow?

My answer: My potential customers read magazines like Inc and Fast Company. They use keyword searches like annual recurring revenue.

-What is the one metric of success (also known as a key performance indicator) that you will use to determine success?

For SaaS companies, the most important marketing metric usually looks like free trial sign ups, email list sign ups or demo requests.

Tip: The above questions serve as a foundation for strategy development. Set a reminder to periodically refresh your strategy by studying your competitors, updating your email templates and digital marketing goals.

2) Assess Your Content Marketing Assets and Resources

The best content marketing agencies also assess your content marketing assets before creating new pieces of content.

Consider the resources you already have in place because leveraging those assets means you will be able to achieve successful content marketing campaigns more quickly and get more customers from the search engines.

At a minimum, a content marketing team will needs to know the following answers to produces B2B content marketing that positions your company as an industry leader.

  • What pages on your website drive the most traffic and have the highest time on site?
  • Which social media posts have generated the greatest response from customers and potential customers?
  • What feedback do you receive from the sales team regarding content assets (e.g. “our enterprise customers love the guide on improving the cost of customer acquisition!”)
  • Which emails have generated the highest response as measured by open rate and click rate over time?
  • Which employees are available to support content marketing campaigns?

A content marketing as a service will make a greater impact on your business goals if they have a good internal partner. In a small company, an agency might work directly with the business owner. In a larger company, collaboration with the sales team and marketing director would fit.

3) Content Creation: A Key Content Marketing As A Service Offering

Based on the business goals and insights developed in the previous two steps, you’re now ready to start the content creation process.

Successful content marketing needs to balance two business goals. First, the content needs to be valuable in the eyes of potential customers. Second, the content needs to advances business goals like lead generation. If either of those elements are missing, your content is likely to be ignored.

The content marketing consultant overseeing the content creation process will use multiple tools and techniques. For example, they might start by interviewing your customers. If that option is not available, they may review your search engine optimization (SEO) data in Google Search Console, Moz, Ahrefs or SEMrsuh. Based on these steps, they will have enough information to start the content creation process.

Tip: As a general rule of thumb, I recommend focusing your content creation efforts on text content like blog posts and social media posts. By all means, consider producing videos for YouTube and podcasts but recognize those assets will typically involve higher costs and production time. They may still be worthwhile though. For example, CoSchedule has published more than 100 episodes of the Actionable Marketing Podcast to attract leads.

4) Content Promotion: The Content Distribution Habit

On their own, content creation services will not create leads or grow your email list.

There are millions of blog posts published every month. Simply publishing new content is no longer enough. You also need a promotion plan to get those blog posts and other content in front of your target audience.

Your options for content promotion include:

  • Email Marketing. Send an email to your email list to let your subscribers know about the new content you published. Some sales professionals also share new content with their sales leads to keep them engaged.
  • Social Media Posts. Look for conversations online where you can join the conversation. For example, I created an article based on a Reddit post: How do you actually get paying SaaS customers? (Reddit Question).
  • Working With Influencers. There are different ways to work with influencers including paying them to post about your company. Alternately, you might invite a business influencer like an author to give a presentation to a small group of prospects.
  • Building Backlinks. Backlinks are critically important if you are focused on attracting more customers from search engine optimization. As a general rule of thumb, websites with the most high quality links tend to get the most traffic. That said, it is easy to get backlinks wrong. Before you work with a content marketing as a service agency, ask them about their backlink and search engine optimization process.

5) Content Repurposing: Get More From Your Content

Last year, I read Content Based Networking by James Carbary. It’s a great book that explores how to create content through interviewing. For example, Carbary records audio podcasts and then repurposes that content to LinkedIn in the form of quotes and short excerpts from the full interview.

If your company has never used content repurposing, you are missing out on an easy way to make faster progress towards your business goals.

Let’s take an example of a blog post you created based on a survey of 500 customers. Through that survey process, you may have gathered all kinds of statistics and comments. Such data can be repurposed in several ways. Start by creating four to five social media posts that highlight a single insight from the content. Next, you might create a short video based on the post and upload it to YouTube.

When you work with a content marketing as a service agency, you will get expert help in stretching your content further.

6) Content Reporting: Discover If You Are Reaching Your Goals

How do you know if the content marketing plan is working? The answer is reporting. Content marketing agencies can use a few different tools and techniques to measure success in monthly reports.

Typical content reporting metrics in monthly reports include:

  • Leads (i.e. potential customers) – measure the number of people who have joined your email list after consuming valuable content on your website.
  • Email Newsletters: measure the effectiveness of your promotional emails at generating orders, sign ups and other valuable actions.
  • Search Rankings. When your business has higher search rankings, your ideal customer is more likely to find you when they have a need.

Measuring content marketing effectiveness requires comprehensive data. That means you also need track phone calls and whether people mention content (e.g. guides, blog posts and promotional emails) when they call your sales team.

7) Conversion Rate Optimization And Content Maintenance: Keep Your Content Relevant

Outdated content is unlikely to attract potential customers. Further, sending the same promotional emails month after month doesn’t make sense either. That’s why the final step in content marketing as a service lies in optimization.

Optimization can take several forms:

  • Blog Content. Review all of your blog posts that are more than two years old and assess identify areas where they can be updated with new data and examples. Quality content should be up to date, so regular content maintenance needs to be part of your workflow.
  • Email Newsletters. Regularly test new subject lines and copywriting ideas so that potential customers don’t get bored with your emails.
  • Technologies. Test different tools that can help you boost conversions. For example, I started to use Optin Monster in 2021 to grow my email list. I like that it includes analytics data so that I can make better marketing decisions.

Content Marketing As A Service: Is It Right For You?

Content marketing is a great marketing strategy but it isn’t a good fit for every business. Let’s meet to talk about your business goals and what types of content are best suited for your situation. Send a message through the contact form today to request a free consultation.