Targeting, messaging, and optimization.
These are the table stakes any marketing professional will start with when talking about generating high-intent leads.
And I’m no exception. Without the right targeting and messaging, it’s simply not possible to generate high-intent leads. And without optimization, it will always be more guess-work than actual science.
But the fact that these are necessary conditions, doesn’t mean they’re the only keys to success.
In this article, I’ll do my best to offer my own insights, based on my experience at Walnut. Hopefully I’ll manage to provide you with a few ideas to succeed in the tedious mission that is generating high-intent leads.
To prove my good faith, I’ve even included this unedited-Walnut of ChatGPT’s tips, so you can see that I really tried to avoid the classic Internet fast-food content.
1. Stand out from the crowd
When it comes to generating high-intent leads, you need to first catch their attention.
In the B2B SaaS industry, and the web in general, buyers are suffering from severe ad fatigue. Publishing an ad on LinkedIn is like shouting in a stadium during the final of the World Cup—no one can hear you.
In order to generate intent, you need to be heard. In other words, you have to be different and memorable. At Walnut, when we launch an ad, the first thing we think of is how we can be different from the rest of the landscape. When many companies show graphs and numbers (Because B2B right? You MUST show numbers), we go for the cat.
Don’t get me wrong, we tried everything else, but the ad below is our all-time conversion rate winner. And it just so happens to be the first one we created.
2. Be consistent
The ad I remember the most from my childhood was for Mercurochrome. It was in France, so don’t feel like you missed something.
Why do I remember it 30 years later? Because instead of creating a 30 second ad like everyone else, they just repeated the same 5 second message over and over again.
It was: “Mercurochrome the bandage of heroes, Mercurochrome the bandage of heroes, Mercurochrome the bandage of heroes, Mercurochrome the bandage of heroes”. To this day, the message has stuck with me.
So, once you find the winning message, stick to it, and try to hammer it into your audience until they can’t forget it. Can’t forget it. Can’t forget it.
Here’s a real quote from a prospect that joined a call with our sales team:
“I’m the director of marketing here and I’ve been with the company for 17 years. As a marketing guy, I’m gonna let you know how I connected with Walnut. It was an ad in the middle of my Instagram reel. So tell your marketing team that social media shit, that’s what got me in it. And it wasn’t just one, it was that drip. The message that connected was like, ‘Screenshots are so last century’ or something like that. I just sat there and I went, ‘Yeah, we got a lot of screenshots…’”
3. Cut the bullshit
Remember Mercurochrome? Of course you do, now you’re cursed too. Welcome to my head.
The other strength of that ad was the simplicity. Five words.
The more simple and to-the-point your message is, the better it will convert.
Our all-time star ad stick to seven words (but two of them are logos, so don’t judge us too quickly). Saving words is a great exercise that will not only help you write more straightforward and memorable copy, but also reduce your product value to the essential points.
4. Start with the promise
We always say it: feature dropping is a terrible habit. And while number dropping is not as terrible, it’s a bit overused.
Instead, focusing on the pain is a great way to associate your product with something much bigger than just its functionality. It creates a connection with the real life of the prospect, helping them understand the solution to their pain, the promise of the solution.
The VP of Marketing at LinkedIn presented our ad at their first B2B marketing event. He explains the ad’s value much better than myself:
Little story: When I created this ad, everyone at the company raised an eyebrow. The first comments we received were something along the lines of “Are you a freaking bakery?”
We are not. But we stick to our guns, and sometimes it pays off. Also, I love croissants like a good cliche of a French guy.
5. Fight for a cause
It’s no secret that our buying decisions are rooted in much deeper considerations than price or value.
By highlighting or fighting for something that matters and resonates with your audience, you show that you’re trying to do more than just sell a product, and that you’re looking to drive a bigger change in the industry you’re targeting. It can make your brand more memorable, and create a strong identification with it.
In our case, it felt natural to launch the #WeAreProspects movement because it explains the reason behind why we do what we do (you for sure saw this classic video).
6. Attack from every angle
Every person reacts to something.
Some love a good eBook, some appreciate case studies, some prefer tips, some are seeking to understand your product’s value in more depth, some will be interested in discounts, and others will just enjoy a webinar that’s done well.
When nurturing and retargeting prospects, it’s important to expose them to different kinds of content in order to stay on top of their minds and educate them about what matters to your business. From thought leadership to problem awareness and product education, it’s essential to try to cover as many aspects as you can.
But this is the tip of the iceberg. In order to be efficient, it’s crucial to spice your content up with a bit of emotional powder.
7. Use emotions
This is no secret.
Before being consumers, we are human. And emotions work on us. From happiness to fear, empathy, nostalgia, curiosity, guilt, and even anger, all emotions, when used smartly and ethically, are a great marketing tool that triggers reactions.
For email subject lines, FOMO is a classic (Don’t miss out on bla bla bla), for ads and creatives, humor (which is not technically an emotion but triggers happiness or surprise) can deliver great results. This is clearly our favorite.
Here’s a post that a LinkedIn influencer wrote about this:
8. Be your audience
If you want to generate high-intent leads, you need to know your audience like the back of your hand.
Take a look at your target audience. If you’re selling to engineers, for example, go to a training session geared towards them. Interview them. Understand them. Be them.
There’s no other way to do it.
Here’s an example of how we interviewed sales leaders to better understand how to target our own audience.
9. Love your sales team as yourself
At the end of the day, a high-intent lead isn’t worth much if the communication isn’t fully streamlined with the sales team.
The same message should come from both sides— especially if you’re the ABM kind of person. Sales and marketing need to dance together and be the continuation of each other in any aspect of the communication with the prospect.
Make sure to work with SDRs and BDRs on their materials as well as align the wording and messaging. Harmony between marketing and sales gives a feeling of confidence to prospects because they’ll feel like they’re in the same environment and get the same message everywhere they go. And for you it means faster deals.
10. Use interactive demos
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Buyers want to see your product earlier in the process.
So, give them what they want.
That’s why it’s important to embed an interactive product demo on your website so they can quickly understand if your product will address their pains.
But it’ll also help you. Because buyers will come to the meeting with your sales team already understanding what your product can do, you can ensure the leads you’re bringing will have higher intent.
Conclusion : Respect your prospects’ intellect
Buyers are smart and understand marketing. When we create content and ads, the first question we ask ourselves is: What can we do to be different, bring value, and be memorable?
High-intent leads are the ones who understand your product value, appreciate your brand and content, and come with a clear idea of what to expect from your company. In other words, they consider you as the vendor of choice.
Ads can bring lots of clicks, but without a strong brand story, they won’t generate intent. Content can create interest, but without the “air support” of strong ads, it might have limited exposure.
This combination is the door that leads to success. And the emotion and creative you inject into them is the key that opens it.
To conclude, here’s an example of a product video we made that puts some of the tips above into practice. But don’t waste your time watching it, it’s just “another product commercial”.