How do you attract and handle leads? It's a simple question, but few of the companies we talk to have a definitive answer. More often than not, there is no process in place for generating and managing leads from first conversion through sales closing. If a process exists, it's commonly a mix of manual sorting and inefficient communications that risk losing leads and the all-important timing between a bottom-funnel request and a sales response. Here are 10 steps you should take to improve your lead generation and management process.
With the growth of the internet, the world has changed from one of information scarcity to one of information abundance. In fact, according to Google chairman Eric Schmidt “there was 5 Exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization and 2003, but that much information is now created every two days and the pace is rapidly increasing”.
Lead generation is the method of getting inquiries from potential customers. In the old pre-Internet days of sales, lead generation occurred at places like trade shows – visitors to a company's booth would fill out a card with their contact information and turn it in to receive a call back from that company's sales team. Since the rise of the Internet, many businesses use their websites as a lead generation option. Email also offers lead generation potential, since companies can buy another company's email marketing list or pay them to promote the company on their own marketing emails.
Think about those questions in the context of the above email. Postmates likely has location data of their subscribers. If they can target their lists in cities where this delivery deal is offered and a time they’re likely to order, they’re delivering on value and promise. It gives them a special offer and solves the problem of what to order for lunch. It’d be especially helpful to those needing to work through lunch or for those not watching to shlep young ones to the restaurant for dinner.
ConvertKit has been incredibly useful to me. I can use it to create complex automations and branching message sequences to deliver the exact right message to the right people. And I can do that without spending an entire weekend trying to figure out how it works. Trust me, if I can figure it out, literally anyone can. ConvertKit is a terrific tool, even if your list is still small. And it will grow as you do. — Sonia Simone, Chief Content Office, Copyblogger
Search engines also provide lead generation options. Any business with a website can appear on a search engine listing for related searches, and visitors can then click a link and be taken to that company's website. However, some search engines also offer a pay-per-click lead generation option. The search engine posts a link to the company's website at the top of the search results form, making it much more likely that prospective customers will choose to visit that website. However, when a visitor does click the link the search engine charges that company a small fee, as opposed to the free 'general' listings.
There are a number of reasons a person may not have acted after the first email. Perhaps they still weren’t convinced to make the purchase. Or maybe they didn’t even open the email at all. People get busy. It could be that they just needed one extra nudge. Hopefully, those regretting not taking advantage of the sale yesterday are inspired to do so today.
Use it to make sales on autopilot. Creating a sales funnel out of an email autoresponder sequence is a widely adopted strategy used by information marketers, but it can also be used by software companies, eCommerce businesses and service providers. For example, it could consist of a series of educational videos, a sales video and follow-ups to sell your information products. Or, you could create a sequence of free educational emails, and then invite them to a live or recorded webinar where you make an offer. For eCommerce businesses, your sales sequence could include promo offers for products your subscriber has just viewed on your website.
When a subscriber is sorted into a segment, it can trigger an automation to send to them. Each person’s interactions with your email campaigns or your website can trigger a sequence of follow-up emails based on their interests, allowing you to hone your message to your targeted audience. For example, if someone visits your pricing page, you know they’re probably further down your sales funnel and will want to follow-up appropriately. Or if they went to a specific product page or clicked on a link for that product, you can send additional information about the product, testimonials and more.
Whenever possible, add a personal element to your emails. Most email tools allow you to enter shortcodes that will be replaced with the recipient’s name when the email is sent out. Emails from Treehouse Co-Founder Ryan are always fun and personal. The subject lines are creative, messages are sent "from" Ryan's email address, and the content is personalized. If you reply to the mail, you'll even get a prompt response from Ryan himself!
Lead generation is a core part of the sales funnel for many B2B companies since their products can cost thousands of dollars and web visitors less likely to buy their product or service directly from the website. Collecting leads allows the businesses to educate and nurture prospective customers through e-mail marketing, before reaching out to them directly via salespeople.
The digital age has also made it easier for companies to research and understand their perspective leads. By understanding the wants and needs of their target customers, companies can tailor information to better draw them in, as well as qualify any potential leads based on a variety of factors, such as engagement and demographic information. It is increasingly important for companies to not only generate new leads but also develop and nurture relationships with them.
Imagine you have 125 leads. Every lead has engaged with your business in unique ways, and they’re in different stages of your sales funnel. It’s not humanly possible to glance at a lead and recall how closer/farther they are to your business—until you use lead scoring technology. Lead scoring is a method by which you define parameters to qualify or “score” a lead in the CRM. So a CTO might get 15 points by virtue of their designation, and a lead who clicked on a link in your email might get 10 points (versus a lead who only opened your email and gets 5 points). All these points add up, and the higher the score, the hotter the lead. Putting a score on a lead cuts down your decision-making time in terms of which lead you should contact first.
CTR is the number of clicks on your CTA button, versus the total visitors to that landing page or ad. If 1000 people visit your landing page/view your ad, and 650 people click on the CTA, your CTR is 65%. A high CTR depends on a number of factors, chief among which are the value proposition on your page/ad, your CTA’s placement, and the relevance of your content vis-à-vis your target audience.
If you select Custom, a small calendar will appear. Use the arrows to navigate between months and click your preferred start date. Then, enter a start time at the bottom of the calendar, and select AM or PM from the menu. Finally, click anywhere outside of the calendar box to save the configuration and close the calendar. Your chosen date and time will appear next to the Start option.
Whether you are hosting a small private function, a large-scale international tradeshow, or an executive-level webinar, event marketing needs to be an integral part of the lead generation mix. After all, events are a critical component of an outbound marketing strategy. Essentially, events offer you the chance to define your brand, clarify the solutions you provide, and establish personal connections with participants. And while they provide you with an invaluable opportunity to engage with prospects and customers, events also give attendees the chance to interact with each other. As every marketer knows, there is no better advertising than the direct words of a satisfied customer. Events also provide a venue to deliver speeches and content that convey your company’s thought leadership and raise your perception in the eyes of buyers. Compared to other marketing tactics, events are more likely to quickly turn a prospect into a strong lead. As a lively, interactive, educational forum, events position your business as a trusted leader in a field of many.
These examples might make it seem like lead generation is pretty easy; it is not. To get people to divulge information about themselves, you should be able to articulate the value in your business solution. Plus you need to be present in channels that get you closest to your target audience. Articulating value is a broad, multi-layered topic, and it has as much to do with soft skills as it has to do with your knowledge of the business. However, there are specific channels you can tap into when it comes to lead generation, and that’s where we’re heading next.
A common example of permission marketing is a newsletter sent to an advertising firm's customers. Such newsletters inform customers of upcoming events or promotions, or new products. In this type of advertising, a company that wants to send a newsletter to their customers may ask them at the point of purchase if they would like to receive the newsletter.
In the old world of information scarcity, the concept of “lead generation” meant marketing found the names of potential buyers and passed them to sales. Buyers expected that they would have to talk to sales and sales expected to speak to uneducated early stage buyers that may not yet be qualified. This has all changed. Today, buyers can do their own research online and can find a variety of educational resources through search engines, social media, and other online channels. Through content resources, today’s buyer can learn a great deal about a product or service before ever having to even speak to a sales person. So businesses must make sure that they build their digital presence.
The basics we've gone over in this blog post are just the beginning. Keep creating great offers, CTAs, landing pages, and forms — and promote them in multi-channel environments. Be in close touch with your sales team to make sure you're handing off high-quality leads on a regular basis. Last but not least, never stop testing. The more you tweak and test every step of your inbound lead generation process, the more you'll improve lead quality and increase revenue.
Flexibility is necessary, but not always easy—especially when you’re trying to get both your marketing and sales teams up to speed. Best practices around the many complex things that comprise marketing today, including website best practices, mobile viewability, email, SEO/SEM, marketing automation, content marketing, and social media change so swiftly that many people find it difficult, if not downright impossible, to keep up.
While inbound marketing is getting a lot of buzz, a well-rounded marketing mix should include both inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Inbound works for broad lead generation activities, but outbound is good to amplify your inbound efforts, and target specific opportunities. So what exactly is outbound marketing? It’s using outbound channels to introduce your message and content to your prospects, typically through rented attention, rather than making your content and messages availableon your own properties.
Lead generation often uses digital channels, and has been undergoing substantial changes in recent years from the rise of new online and social techniques. In particular, the abundance of information readily available online has led to the rise of the “self-directed buyer” and the emergence of new techniques to develop and qualify potential leads before passing them to sales.