What Bad Dating Experiences Teach Us About Lead Generation Failures


Do you remember “That Guy”? The one who was totally inept at landing dates?

Oh, he tried. Often too hard.

He would talk about topics that his conversation partner was not at all interested in, he wouldn’t be able to keep her attention… and on top of all that, he would ask her out way too early in their not-yet-gotten-off-the-ground relationship, putting her off entirely. He was ultimately labeled (at best) pushy and (at worst) obnoxious.

Fail. Fail. And fail.

Too many marketers are the B2B versions of “That Guy.” They desperately want to land leads, but interaction with them comes off like a bad dating experience, making potential leads turn and walk away.

Here are some of the common pitfalls of lead generation, and what you can do to steer clear of them and successfully land those dates… err, leads.


Irrelevant conversation topics

The more you know about the individual you’re wooing, the more you’ll be able to find topics that interest him or her. The object of your affections is a devoted fan of Celtic music? Be able to discuss more than Riverdance. Brush up on your knowledge of the fiddle, the wooden flute, and the uilleann pipes. Do your homework and talk about what they want to talk about.

If, instead, you steer the conversation into your love of heavy metal and sing along with Metallica every time your prospective date brings up music, that person won’t stay a prospective date for long.

When your B2B prospective lead lands on your site, or hits a piece of content you’ve curated, he most likely has a specific topic he’s interested in. If you can talk about that topic, and keep sharing relevant insights surrounding that topic, you’ve piqued his interest and can potentially keep it, steering his content journey toward fulfilling your marketing goals and moving your target down your marketing funnel. If you continually segway into less connected topics, he’s unlikely to stick around.
For example, imagine your prospective date regaling you with stories about his experiences backpacking through Eastern Europe, and you reply by moving the conversation toward outlandish wedding celebrations (think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.) Even though you’re likely coming across as amusing in your anecdotes, you’ve probably lost him! In dating, and in lead generation, you must empower your conversation partner (or prospect) to lead the conversation. You must indulge his interests, and continue the conversation on his terms, according to his interests and goals, not yours.

(Besides the fact that talking about weddings before you even get a relationship started could really be taken the wrong way.)


Pushing too early

When you’re proposing a date, timing is everything. Wait too long, and your prospect will have moved on to the next shiny object in the room. Ask too early, and you’ll come across as pushy or scary.

The same delicacy in timing should be observed by B2B companies trying to generate leads… except often, their excitement gets in the way.

Imagine that you just sat down next to the potential partner of your dreams. He or she turns to you and asks you a question. Oh, wow! you think. I have their attention! … What if I lose it?

And with that fear propelling your mouth, you immediately propose a date. The potential partner of your dreams freaks out and bails.

A bail is a fail.

The benchmark for lead generation today is popups and gated content. Get their email address before they run away! Lock them in before they leave! is the motivator and the mantra. While this works sometimes, think about how annoying it is.

Pop-ups that occur soon after you come to the site are a huge turnoff. Nearly 90% of B2B buyers claim that popups tick them off enough to leave a site!

For example, just to illustrate my point, I searched for articles about effective ways to capture leads. One of the posts listed said helpful things like this:

“The positioning of a lead capture form is a key factor in the success of your campaign. Various types of pop-ups are a common choice as they take up the entire screen; they are impossible to miss. However, the error online businesses tend to make with popups is introducing them too early.”

After about two seconds on the site (I hadn’t read any of the post yet), I was hit with a full-page popup that looked like this:



I guess I got my example! If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is.

In January 2017, Google made it clear how much pop-ups and interstitials like this tick them off, especially on mobile where it tends to be even more disruptive. Google initiated an algorithm change to downgrade the rankings of sites that use these popups.

This comment on a post reviewing Google’s actions says it all. While the article is specifically discussing ad-related popups (as opposed to internal popups to encourage email signups) and therefore won’t necessarily affect the popups you’ve got on your site, it is indeed a crystal clear statement on how websites should adjust their user experience.


“Please let me read the content that brought me there first. Then we’ll talk.”

Inability to keep conversation partner’s attention

When interacting with a potential date, you need to be more attractive and attention-grabbing than everything else on that individual’s immediate horizon. You’re “competing” with everyone else at the bar/club/opera.

When you’re working on B2B lead gen, similarly, you need to be more attractive and attention-grabbing than everything else on that person’s device. That’s a tall order.

One big mistake that contributes to lead distractibility is gated content. As soon as your prospect hits a form she has to fill out, there is the immediate question of: “Is filling out this annoying form worth my time, in light of all the other things I could be doing? Are these people going to spam me?” The longer the form, the bigger the question mark.

How it could look different

What makes good rapport and a great shot at a “yes!” when you ask your prospective date out?

The winning recipe: the conversation flows, you’re demonstrating genuine interest in her needs and lifestyle, and you take it slow and don’t push the relationship harder than it’s growing naturally.

Copy-paste that picture into lead generation and you have a winning model.

In an ideal lead generation world, you wouldn’t need popups or gated content, and you’d be able to bring up one spot-on conversation topic after another. Your prospects would gobble up your content until they practically ask you out!

To avoid being “That Guy” and actually land dates, you need a decent measure of emotional and social intelligence.

To land B2B leads in a way that’s effective for you while simultaneously enjoyable and supportive for your prospects – you also need intelligence behind you: Artificial Intelligence.

AI now has the capacity to figure out what your prospect is looking for, show them the right content at the right time, and lead them step by step through a personalized journey that feels interested, comfortable and supportive.


Your turn!

How do you think the content experience should flow? Got any great content journey stories (or nightmares)? Any tales of being pursued by the content marketing “That Guy”? Have you stopped gating and started dating? How’s that working out for you?

Share your thoughts with us in the comment below!


Sharone is the Chief Customer Officer of CliClap, a smart, autonomous, inbound lead generation and qualification solution for your content marketing channels.


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