Every week, the folks at InVision send a roundup of their best blog content, their favorite design links from the week, and a new opportunity to win a free t-shirt. (Seriously. They give away a new design every week.) They also sometimes have fun survey questions where they crowdsource for their blog. This week's, for example, asked subscribers what they would do if the internet didn't exist.
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.
ToFu: Leads at the top of the funnel need awareness. They know nothing about what you offer and what domain you operate in, so you’ll need to create a conversation around both these focus points—without selling your product up front. If you sell CRMs, you attract ToFu leads by talking about how SDRs (sales development representatives) can do their job better using CRM software. Blogs, ebooks and guides are content types that work well at this stage.
In addition to satisfying legal requirements, email service providers (ESPs) began to help customers establish and manage their own email marketing campaigns. The service providers supply email templates and general best practices, as well as methods for handling subscriptions and cancellations automatically. Some ESPs will provide insight and assistance with deliverability issues for major email providers. They also provide statistics pertaining to the number of messages received and opened, and whether the recipients clicked on any links within the messages.
Lead generation is the process of finding people (leads) who’re likely to become your customers immediately or in the future. “Finding” people implies finding information about people, like their name, email ID or organization’s name, all of which you can use to initiate a business relationship with them. You can generate leads organically and/or by spending money, depending on your resources.
Be sure to look at the tech support offered by each of these companies, as we felt many weren't as available as we would have liked. You'll find that some offer 24/7 phone support, live chat, and email help, while others leave you to rely on online documentation and limited live support hours. The best services offer a combination of self-serve help resources—where you can search FAQs and articles to find your own answers—as well as live support via chat or phone when you can't solve an issue yourself. We cover all of these concerns in our reviews, plus you can get an overview in the feature chart above.
Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear CTA that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, "Wait, when is Mother's Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?" Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself -- click on any one of them, and you'll be taken to a purchase page.
Attention scarcity is driving a shift from “rented attention” to “owned attention”. Historically, most marketing has been about renting attention other people have built. An example of this would be if you purchased an ad in a magazine or rented a tradeshow booth. But in the noisy, crowded market that today’s buyers live in, rented attention becomes less effective as attention becomes even scarcer. Of course, this is not an either-or proposition; you will ideally use a mix of rented vs. owned attention for your lead generation efforts to be affective.
Beyond that, avoid using all caps, too many exclamation marks, and hyperbolic phrases ("ACT NOW BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT!!!!"). Poorly formatted HTML in your emails can also hurt how they’re handled. Every spam filter is different, so an email might pass through one filter but get flagged by another. For more comprehensive info on how spam filters work and how to avoid them, check out this guide by MailChimp.
Not only is InVision's newsletter a great mix of content, but I also love the nice balance between images and text, making it really easy to read and mobile-friendly -- which is especially important, because its newsletters are so long. (Below is just an excerpt, but you can read through the full email here.) We like the clever copy on the call-to-action (CTA) buttons, too.
Remember when we talked about lead scoring? Well, it isn’t exactly doable without your sales team’s input. How will you know what qualifies a lead for sales without knowing if your defined SQLs are successfully sold? Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned on the definitions and the process of moving a lead from MQL to SQL to opportunity before you even begin to capture leads.
Online surveys: Consumers are asked to complete a survey, including their demographic information and product and lifestyle interests. This information is used as a sales lead for advertisers, who purchase the consumer's information if provided. The consumer may 'opt-in' to receive correspondence from the advertiser and is therefore considered a qualified lead.
The most advanced email marketing services offer custom workflows where you can specify triggers based on actions (such as opening an email or making a purchase) or on inaction (such as ignoring emails). With these services, you can also set up a series of emails (such as tutorials) to be sent to segments of users, and you can pause or stop a campaign at any time. You can also move contacts into new segments once they have completed tutorials.
It’s also important to understand that operationally we need to break down silos. Effective lead generation relies on marketers’ ability to connect the website user experience your site serves up, plus what you’re doing with SEO and SEM, email marketing, content marketing, and social media strategy, with a well-integrated blend of sales expertise. None of these things can be effective on their own, although we see companies separating out these services and failing to integrate them all the time. Big mistake.
Virtual Assistants. “There are many virtual assistant companies and individuals available to help you with your seller and buyer calls. I struggled through three of them and was ready to throw in the towel. Then I found an amazing company that trains well and is very well scripted and constantly improves. I hired them and have been with them almost six years with the same person. They will become an integral part of your team when utilized properly. They all charge differently. I personally spend between $125-$135 per week for six to eight hours of calling. This produces approximately 12-18 leads weekly for me so two to three per hour counting the sourcing time they have to do. They send me on a daily basis fully filled out property information sheets. This assures you that you’re only speaking with quality leads that want to speak with you.”
With their service, you can choose from a curated list of email newsletters and sponsor those that share your target customer. Sponsoring allows you to advertise your lead generation campaigns in email newsletters that matter to your target audience. LaunchBit screens all lists to make sure they’re legit and handles the transaction from sponsor to advertiser so the experience is smooth for all.
How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers? One of the greatest risks of an auto-responder program is having users become frustrated with hard-sales attempts and subsequently marking your email as spam, opting-out, or simply not opening future emails. All of the aforementioned activities can lower your quality score with email service providers and make it harder for your email sends to get into the inbox. Therefore, it's very important that your auto-responders actually contain useful information. While it's acceptable to include a sales offer along with useful information in each email, it is not advisable for you to make a sales-only email any more frequently than every fifth email in the series in order to protect your email sender reputation.
And that leads us right into understanding service pricing and packaging. The email marketing services we reviewed range from about $5 per month to as much as $20 per month for a range of features. Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month and bill you based on the number of subscribers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Sometimes this requires a custom plan that has to be arranged directly with a sales rep. If you're willing to commit, then look for the companies that offer discounts if you pay yearly rather than monthly. A few offer also money-back guarantees.
ii) Give value before asking for anything: Whether you’re hosting a webinar, writing a blog post or speaking at an event, you have to offer tangible help before asking for the sale or any other thing that would require the attendee to move out of their comfort zone (e.g., purchase your product). This how to draw in your potential customer – and, hopefully, keep them.
These metrics give you a high-level overview of how your subscribers are interacting with your campaigns and allow you to compare the success of one campaign to another. If you want to go deeper and see the exact people who opened and clicked your campaign, what links they clicked, etc. you can do so by choosing some of the other reports from the right hand side menu.
Historically, it has been difficult to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns because target markets cannot be adequately defined. Email marketing carries the benefit of allowing marketers to identify returns on investment and measure and improve efficiency. Email marketing allows marketers to see feedback from users in real time, and to monitor how effective their campaign is in achieving market penetration, revealing a communication channel's scope. At the same time, however, it also means that the more personal nature of certain advertising methods, such as television advertisements, cannot be captured.
In many cases, outbound techniques can get someone to think about you even if they haven’t thought about you yet, since many of the methods you use should have more of a “wow” factor to make your company stand out. Outbound communication is often highly targeted, with a call-to-action that is very obvious. As a result, good outbound marketing can push someone through the funnel at a faster rate, assuming they are closer to being ready to buy. Inbound alone often does not drive someone to buy. Outbound gives them that extra nudge they need to drive a lead down the funnel.