9 Tips for Lead Follow Up

Leads are an integral part of any marketing and sales strategy. This issue is that it’s difficult for marketers to know which leads will convert successfully into customers. Sometimes “quality” leads can fizzle out and “suspect” leads can turn into big business.”

The best practices for lead follow up begin with a strategy. Maximizing the efficiency of the interaction and the potential of the transaction is at the core of this strategy. Your lead’s time is valuable. That said, there’s no such thing as the ideal lead, and all leads will need to be coached through the buying process to some degree. The trick is to get a quick handle on what your lead needs in order to successfully convert.

Check out the below infographic for a best practice approach to lead follow up.

9-Tips-Follow-Up-With-Leads

 

8 Steps to Nurturing Your Leads into Butterflies

Most organizations are engaged in some type of lead nurturing, but are you doing it right? At it’s best, lead nurturing is just that—nurturing. An enhanced nurturing program gives you the data and expertise to nourish your leads with the content they need, when they want it, in whatever channels they want it, until you’ve created a customer who is ready to purchase.

Great lead nurturing goes well beyond drip email campaigns. It’s driven by accurate, predictive data and personalized with relevant content that actively progresses leads through the customer lifecycle.

Check out this tip sheet for the 8 steps to nurturing your leads from caterpillars to butterflies.

Lead-Matamorphosis-8-Steps

Lead Nurturing: Eight Road Signs to Guide You to More Revenue

Getting valuable farmland for free. Striking it rich mining gold and silver. Accessing acres and acres of lumber cheaply. Spreading out and ranching hundreds of heads of cattle. These were just a few of the compelling reasons why thousands of Americans walked the 2,200-mile Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s and headed west.

Yet millions of others did not. There were no paved roads or GPS navigation back then and many saw the rugged journey as being extremely inconvenient or long.

I feel that the same thinking is keeping millions of marketers from taking sellers’ journeys with lead nurturing.

I wonder how many more Americans would have made the trek along the Oregon Trail if there had been clearly posted signs—or newspaper articles—with tips and directions from those who went before them and succeeded.

The 8 Steps to Lead Nurturing Success

I would like to start posting signs for those considering the lead nurturing trail. Here are eight road signs to follow to ensure that you have a successful seller’s journey:

  1. Lead Creation & Capture: Your journey begins by stocking up on plenty of digital (webinars, emails, social, SEO/SEM/PPC, blogs, etc.) and traditional (TV/radio, print ads, events, telesales, etc.) driving interested folks to campaign landing pages. Follow this road sign and you are beginning in the right direction with lead nurturing.
  2. Landing Content & Profiling: This road sign points out your gateway to success. Once you drive prospects to your landing pages, it will be your relevant content on these pages that will get them to engage. You want to collect some information about them on your web forms and get to know them better. Based on the data you collect you will want to assign them to a persona. It may be a multi-month journey so get to know their behavioral profile.
  3. Lead Scoring & Segmentation: Be sure you make this turn and steer your inquiries into a lead scoring pass. Implicit and explicit behavioral data is captured and scored using a predictive model. The scoring will help determine which inquiries are Sales ready and which ones need to be nurtured. The scoring will also help you with segmentation.
  4. Nurture Track(s) Design: The road sign helps you take inquiries down a few bypasses based on segmentation and persona. These paths ensure that specific inquiries are exposed to specific content. These trails can be set up to release content through a drip or trigger method. As you become more comfortable and sophisticated, you will have more and more of these well-worn paths.
  5. Digital Curation & Personalization: This road sign often gets overlooked by marketers and they end up going down a road to nowhere. Personalized content increases engagement. There is no reason not to do it. Personalization will only make your journey more successful. Digital curation ensures that you have a dependable and systematic way to select, preserve, maintain, and archive your digital assets. Digital curation is important as you go from a few campaigns in the beginning to dozens of campaigns over the course of a year. Often this is where an inquiry becomes a lead because of the amount of content consumed.
  6. Enriched Personas & Scoring: This road sign highlights the scenic route. Those who have traveled down the road of lead nurturing before are often looking for nuances to make the journey better. Enriched personas and scoring enables you to fine-tune your personas and scoring during the journey for more accurate engagement and routing.
  7. Lead Routing to Sales: This is the main exit sign off of a busy highway. By this time, your leads should be Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and should meet all the criteria to be handed off to Sales. The lead profile and engagement history is transferred to your CRM system and the appropriate sales rep. is notified.
  8. Closed-Loop Lead Tracking & Reporting: The final road sign lets you know “speed camera ahead.” All the lead nurturing volume, conversions, etc., need to be collected in a snapshot or dynamic reporting dashboard for you to see. The dashboard will help you measure performance and make campaign adjustments as needed.

Although the lead nurturing journey, your Oregon Trail, may seem inconvenient and long, I guarantee that the rewards far outweigh any risks. In fact, I believe that lead nurturing can be one of the most effective activities a CMO or VP, Marketing can have his or her team implement. It’s your time to strike gold. You have already invested significantly in acquiring those names. Most are not Sales-ready. Don’t let them go to waste. If you could get 20%, 30%, 40%, or more of them to become sales opportunities through lead nurturing, how much gold would you have mined? The journey begins with the first step: contact us today.

If you would like to learn more about MarketBridge and our RevenueEngine approach to lead nurturing, please visit market-bridge.com or download our Lead Nurturing Solution Guide.

 

 

Your Lead Nurturing Is Not Successful: What’s Missing?

Behind Every Successful Lead Nurture Program is Segmentation

We all know that content is King, but how do you decide what content to use to support your lead nurture campaigns?

That’s where segmentation comes into play.

Organizations are often challenged with not only generating demand and interest with leads in a highly competitive marketplace, but qualifying leads to pass on to sales. According to SiriusDecisions, of the 20% of leads that sales reps follow-up on, 70% are disqualified; 80% of these disqualified leads will then go on to buy from you or a competitor in the next 24 months. If you want to be competitive and be the organization that remain top of mind when they are ready to buy, nurturing is critical and segmentation is the foundation.

Why should I consider segmentation?

According to a study from MarketingSherpa segmented emails get 50% more clicks than their untargeted counterparts. Segmentation allows you to tailor your content and communications to your audiences’ unique wants and needs and also helps target your learnings based on audience types. Many organizations shy away from developing a proper segmentation model because they have the misconception that segmentation is complicated – however, simple really is better.

What is segmentation?

Every organization’s needs vary and your customers will have significant differences across verticals, job titles, geographies and lead stages that must be considered before developing a lead nurture campaign.

Segmentation by definition, clearly categorizes groups of customers with similar needs, pain points and characteristics. Geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral data are all commonly used to define segments and support the development of content strategies.

More than half (58%) of B2B buyers spent more time researching purchase decisions than they did a year prior, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey. By defining segments and understanding your target audience(s), you’ll be better positioned to anticipate content needs and align your communications and channels to deliver more targeted conversations and accelerate the buying process.

How do I get started?

As mentioned before, segmentation can be complicated, so it’s important to keep your segments clearly defined and aligned to your business objectives.

  • Step One: Define Target Customer(s)

Begin your segmentation journey by defining your marketing objective and then organizing your prospects/customers into complimentary groups. For example, consider stage of buying journey, buying behavior, learning and engagement preferences or channels. Placing your prospects/customers into different groups based on their preferences and key characteristics helps you tailor your message to their needs.

  • Step Two: Build Buyer Personas & Buyer Scenarios

Next, you’ll need to create detailed profiles – aka buyer personas – for each of your target segments to categorize unique needs and business drivers. Buyer personas should include descriptive characteristics with both qualitative and quantitative information on what a segment really looks like. To further enhance audience understanding, take your personas to the next level with buyer scenarios that describe potential events or triggers a prospective buyer is likely to experience when engaging with your organization. This deeper understanding will help inform your lead nurture content and messaging strategy.

Utilizing buyer personas and buyer scenarios in your nurture campaigns can results in 2x the open rate and 5x the click thru rate because you have a comprehensive understanding of your target segments’ issues, challenges and business drivers that influence the purchasing decision.

  • Step Three: Map Content

As a final step, use your segmentation and historical nurture performance to assign relevant and compelling content and messaging for each identified segment. Then use your content map to determine the optimal execution tactics and cadence for lead nurture communications.

Use Segmentation to Drive Lead Nurture Success

Segmentation is the foundation of lead nurturing and as an organization you want to build a relationship throughout their journey not just at the time of purchase. So remember, the next time you start brainstorming ways to optimize your lead nurture activities, take a step back and ensure you are leveraging the power of segmentation.

Organizations who have identified the importance of engaging with customers and prospects with the right content at the right time are reaping the benefits of segmentation and delivering value in each interaction across the buyer’s journey.

 

Lead Nurturing Guide: 9 Best Practices for Lead Follow-up

Leads are an integral part of any salesforce strategy. Without leads the process stumbles, relying on only chance and fortune. Fostering leads is a great way to take control of your sales force, relying on expertise instead of luck.

Fostering leads can be a time-consuming and challenging endeavor. It’s difficult for a sales staff to know, for example, which leads will convert successfully into customers and clients. This implies that it can be tempting to not follow up on a lead.

Sometimes so-called quality leads can fizzle out and suspect leads can turn into big business. It’s this unpredictability that pushes many businesses to spend equal time and energy on all leads. But this may not be the best practice for lead follow up.

Potential vs Likelihood of Conversion

And yet, sometimes this every-stone-unturned strategy can be limiting in its own ways. Lead development and generation is, at the heart of the matter, about resource allocation.

If you have enough resources to develop every potential lead, that strategy makes a lot of sense. However, most businesses do not have unlimited resources to throw at lead development and generation, so there’s a balance that needs to be achieved. The potential of each lead and the likelihood of the lead to develop into a conversion is a delicate, but necessary, balance to achieve.

 

How to Follow Up with Leads: A Strategy

The best practices for lead follow-up begin with a strategy. Maximizing the efficiency of the interaction and the potential of the transaction is at the core of this strategy.
Your lead’s time is valuable. If roadblocks can be identified earlier in the process, it will save everyone time and money. That said, there’s no such thing as the ideal lead, and all leads will need to be coached through the process to some degree.

The trick is to get a quick handle on what your lead needs in order to successfully convert. If you can provide that need, it’s likely to be a successful experience. And determining this earlier in the process will make the entire interaction more efficient, more cost effective and more successful for every party involved.

There are several ways a lead may be generated, depending on the shape and scope of the campaign. Sometimes leads are generated through a simple pay-per-click campaign, such as Google AdWords. Sometimes they’re generated through a concerted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) drive. Other possibilities range from a simple word-of-mouth reference to the complex white-paper distribution. Nearly all lead generation methods have something in common: data. Learn more about the different types of lead nurturing programs to find a program that works best for your organization.

1. Use Big Data to Learn About Your Lead

In today’s world, big data is more valuable than gold. There are, of course, legitimate privacy concerns that go along with it, but when those concerns are managed responsibly, big data can tell you a lot about your leads.

If this data is harvested and analyzed properly, it can help you identify leads that are likely to convert and help you concentrate resources in a productive, efficient way. It can also maximize the productivity of interactions with leads, saving everyone time and money in the process.

A system for keeping track of big data is essential for developing your lead. Often, these systems can be tailored to keep track of the most important data.

For example, most online lead generators allow you to track the origin of leads. Whether your lead found you through a Google organic search or through direct traffic will tell you something about how much research your lead has done. Additionally, you can often track what online content your lead has downloaded, which means you can assess how far along your lead is in the lead conversion process.

2. Properly Select Your Metrics

Because data can be difficult to interpret, it’s important to select metrics before you begin interpreting it. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What makes for a good lead?
  • What makes for a lead that still needs to be developed?
  • Where should the resources go?
  • How do we know which data to look at

The answers to those questions will largely depend upon the service or product you are selling. Some products and services require leads to do a substantial amount of research to be ready for the next steps. And data can help tremendously in those situations. It will help determine which leads are ready to take the next step in the lead development process.

The more you know about leads, the better you can anticipate their needs. This helps make the entire interaction more efficient. In other words, the more data you have, the greater your chances for closing the deal and converting the lead. You’ll improve best practices for lead follow up and your bottom line.

3. Respond Quickly to Leads

Most of your leads will come from the Internet, which moves at the speed of light. Even if most of your leads don’t come from online today, they likely will in the near future. Because information moves so rapidly in today’s digital world, your leads have short attention spans and high expectations.

For example, if you make a purchase on Amazon, an email confirmation of the purchase is sent within seconds. It’s a simple, automated process, but it solidifies the relationship. And, more importantly, it’s the speed consumers expect.

Implications of Waiting To Contact Leads

This implies that letting days go by before contacting leads is wasted time. Not only are you providing a window for the competition to set in, you’re also disappointing the customer’s expectations. Waiting just five minutes can reduce the likelihood of the lead to convert by up to a factor of 10. That means for every minute you wait, you’re losing customers.

4. Manage the Initial Contact

The initial contact can be difficult to manage, but it must be done so thoughtfully. If initial contact comes in the form of a white paper, for example, following up with a phone call asking “What did you think of that white paper?” within 60 seconds would be a mistake. Obviously, someone can’t read an entire white paper in under a minute.

But automating an email delivery – one with a contact name and phone number – is a great way to confirm to the lead that he or she has entered the lead process.

5. What Is Email Lead Nurturing?

Email lead nurturing is simple. Using emails, you can confirm, follow up and engage with leads. Automated processes make email lead nurturing simple.

Remember that communication is key to nurturing leads through what can often be a long process. Beginning that communication immediately sets the tone for all future interactions. Using email is an easy way to communicate with the lead right away.

6. Engage When Your Lead Is Ready to Talk

If your lead contacts you with a question, research conducted by the Harvard Business Review suggests that responding within an hour gives you seven times better a chance at a meaningful interaction than if you respond one hour later.

Lead Response Time

The cardinal rule of lead nurturing is to engage with your lead when your lead is ready to talk. Everybody, leads included, have moods and mindsets. If they’ve built themselves up to talk about your product, you’re missing an opportunity by not being there when they’re ready.

It’s worth noting that keeping great lead data can enable various team members to efficiently interact with leads. Ensuring that a team member is always available is a great way to form a seamless path of immediate communication.

Leads are more likely to covert when you’re readily available. And they’re less likely to find reasons to seek out your competition.

7. Invest in Excellent CRM Resources

We’ve already established that data and communications are both key to developing your leads. Those tasks seem pretty straightforward, but they can also be complex and time consuming. Managing those tasks efficiently is why many businesses invest in Customer Relationship Management platforms, or CRM.

CRM is a broad term. It’s either provided by software or people, but, regardless of the provider, it enables effectively managed interactions with and data from leads.

Perhaps the most common CRM software available is Salesforce, which allows you to use technology to achieve lead follow up best practices. This CRM is scalable, which makes it a perfect fit for businesses both large and small. It’s capable of handling everything from email marketing to competitor tracking to sales collaboration.

Essentially, Salesforce can help you keep in contact with leads by giving your team access to great information, which Salesforce can be set up to selectively gather. Of course, Salesforce is not the only option. There’s a myriad of software out there, including NetSuite, OnContact, and SalesNexus. All of them offer software with support.

8. Consider Help from the Outside

Sometimes it’s more efficient to let someone else connect the dots for you. There are plenty of resources available that combine marketing efforts (essentially, lead generation) with lead nurturing. Sometimes an outside eye can help accomplish this combination in a way that insiders simply can’t fathom.

The size and scope of what each business hopes to accomplish will determine the degree of support necessary. Customer Relationship Management can be a fulltime occupation, one that you simply don’t have the time or expertise to effectively manage on your own.

If that’s the case, a software solution such as Salesforce will, on its own, do little to put a dent into return on investment. You won’t have the time to use the software to its full potential. The solution, then, is to partner with experts in that field. Your CRM network with established practices will set you up for success for years to come.

9. Give it Away for Free

Creating great content, such as white papers, e-books and social media posts, is a vital component of lead nurturing. Content is designed to educate your potential leads and encourage them to realize their need for your products or services.

A lead that comes to you – an inbound lead – is far more likely to convert into a customer than almost any other type of lead.

Providing valuable content at the beginning of the relationship is only the start of the nurturing process. Lead follow-up best practices suggest that you continue to provide access to helpful, engaging content.

Education is incredibly valuable. When you offer it for free, you make the lead more likely to return. And the more a lead returns, the more chances you have to convert the lead and continue growing your business. You can automate this process with a lead follow up email, which drastically improves your efficiency.

Why Nurture Leads?

In conclusion, leads are the fuel that keep your business running. In some very literal ways, leads are the future of your business. But not all leads will be equal. Some will be sales-ready and others will be marketing-qualified. And, of course, there are many leads that fall somewhere in the middle.

Lead nurturing is simply the art of finding out which leads fit into which categories. There are many ways to accomplish that, such as using analytics and a CRM system.

The beauty of lead nurturing is that it gives you the opportunity to calibrate your response to each individual lead, therefore increasing the chances of a successful conversion.

Lead nurturing for the complex sale can also make your entire operation more efficient. Following lead nurturing best practices and placing your leads into categories allows you to allocate resources based on likelihood to convert and what the lead needs to convert. Lead nurturing allows you to guide leads through a complex process based on both the needs of your sales team and the needs of your lead.

Stay Informed

Leads come into any nurturing process with a set of expectations, and they judge you based on how well you meet those expectations. You can automate part of that process, with the help of CRMs, but you also need to have a plan. The Digital Bridge can help with that plan by keeping you updated with the latest industry news and knowledge.

A logistically sound, strategically planned lead nurturing campaign will help you maximize your efficiency and optimize your results. More satisfied leads mean higher numbers of conversions. And at the end of the day, that means higher profits, which will keep you in business longer.

The more information you have at your disposal, the better position you’re in for the long term. If you want to know more about how to do lead nurturing and learn more about growing your business through customer relationship management, sign up for our newsletter for our POV and expertise.

A Simplified Approach to Developing a Content Strategy for Nurturing

A recent Ascend2 study asked 375 marketing, sales and business professionals about the tactics they use to generate demand[1]. Both content marketing and email marketing came out on top as THE most effective lead generation and lead nurturing tactics. Even though marketers continue to focus on content marketing, according to the study nearly half (48%) ranked content marketing as the most difficult to execute. In fact, in the 2015 B2B content marketing benchmarks released by the Content Marketing Institute[2], only 35% of marketers indicated that they have a documented content strategy.

Why is it so hard? Because content strategy requires lots of pre-planning and organization before the process even starts, including content mapping, persona development, etc. Marketers are required to work with multiple internal partners to develop a strategy and finally assemble a team for content creation. Every single step is time-consuming and requires personnel and budget resources that are not always available.

The thought of creating multiple pieces of content may be daunting[3], but remember, more is not necessarily better. Oftentimes, one piece of good content can be dissected, used and reused throughout the lead nurture journey. The most important aspect of content strategy is to make sure efforts are synchronized across all communication channels. This is essential to ensure the same message is carried all the way throughout your campaign and your customers can easily find relevant information no matter where they look.

How can this process be simplified for lead nurturing?

A great starting point is to think about content strategy through the lens of “Who, What, When, How, Where”.

  • Who: develop different personas based on both firmographic and behavior data, in order to understand different customer pain points. Studies have shown 89% of prospects prefer content specific to their industry, whereas 49% prefer content targeted to their job function.[4]
  • What: conduct a content audit to identify what materials are currently available on different channels. Analyze content gaps by mapping available content against each persona along the lead nurture journey
  • When: gather at least one stakeholder from each department that manages or generates content and form a content editorial board[5]. The editorial board should meet quarterly to determine key themes, initiatives and the content calendar.
  • How: fill in the gaps by identifying content themes based on common denominators between customer pain points, product expertise/value proposition, and upcoming product updates. For example, think about the pain points a new feature or functionality can address and use this as a basis for your campaign theme. Content themes should be user-centric and highlight solutions.
  • Where: determine content format and channels of distribution within the context of the holistic marketing plan, in order to maximize the utility of the content piece. For instance, if someone from your organization is scheduled to present a content theme at an upcoming conference, extract memorable quotes from the speech to create social media posts. At the same time, create a complimentary eBook to be leveraged as a lead nurture asset, and to develop an Executive Summary to be handed out at future events.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Another method to help streamline the content strategy and planning process is to incorporate the Agile method. Agile software development method utilizes smaller, cross-functional teams and is rooted in adaptive planning, evolutionary development, continuous improvement and encourages rapid and flexible response to change[6]. The Agile method has been adapted across various business functions, far beyond just software development, including content development. By implementing the Agile method, even small teams with few resources can be made flexible enough to tackle content creation efficiently. For more information on leveraging the Agile method in content strategy, click here.

Finally, depending on your organization’s flexibility, it may be worthwhile to consider outsourcing some of your content needs once the themes and the channels have been identified. Outsourcing can be helpful in multiple ways. On the one hand, outsourcing could alleviate some of the resource limitations your organization is facing. On the other hand, by letting your team work alongside partners, they can learn content creation by example.

Having the right content is key to successfully implement any marketing communication campaigns. When relevant content is delivered through the right channels, the results can be tremendous. In 2012 DocuSign reached 127% of their target in the first half of the year, after implementing 36 automated email nurture programs to deliver targeted content to prospects.[7] With a systematic approach to planning and strategic thinking, you can take your content from interesting to impactful.

 

Sources

[1] Kramer, Shelley. Content Marketing Effective for Lead Gen But Most Difficult Tactics to Execute [Study]. Nov. 7, 2014

[2] Pulizzi, Joe. New B2B Content Marketing Research: Focus on Documenting Your Strategy. Oct. 1, 2014

[6] Agile software development, Wikipedia

[7] Griffis, Gigi. Why DocuSign Is the Best Content Marketing Brand of 2013. Nov. 12, 2013

Lead Scoring That Will Top the Charts: 5 Keys to Lead Scoring Success

A few years ago, I met a well-educated, highly intelligent, and extremely creative man in essentially the middle of nowhere. He and his two PHD buddies had traveled by RV from New York to Nevada motivated by the sole purpose of sharing their art with complete strangers. I, was one of those strangers.

The night I met this trio, they introduced me to their art – a line-up of musical scores based on……wait for it……their DNA! This group of creative intellects had tested their DNA for a handful of genetically determined conditions, mapped the resulting chromosome sequences to the corresponding music notes, and then added elements of rhythm, meter and tempo to create a harmonious footprint. These musical geniuses could have stopped at the pure science of mapping chromosomes to notes, but that would have produced a one dimensional musical score. Instead they infused a dose of art which resulted in a multidimensional experience.

The same approach used to create these musical masterpieces can be applied to orchestrating a sound lead scoring methodology. Just like in the above scenario where chromosome sequences were combined with the fundamental principles of music, marketers must combine, and score, a multitude of attributes in order to create a robust and actionable profile of a lead. If you only consider one attribute when establishing your approach to lead scoring, your results will be flat.

 5 Keys to Making Your Lead Scoring Program Sing!

1. Finding Your Groove

In the ideal situation, you’re able to perform some analysis on your customer data. This exercise in analytics should identify not only which attributes define your customers, but also identify the common paths and behaviors that determine the tempo in which a prospect is converted to a customer. Once these attributes are identified you have a framework within which you can assign values, ranking leads based on their readiness to buy.

If like many marketers, gaining access to customer data is virtually impossible, you’ll need to rely on qualitative and anecdotal information — talk to your sales reps, develop customer personas, establish scenarios that reflect a prospect’s journey and make assumptions about behaviors. At the end of the day, whether your lead scoring methodology is based on predictive analytics or qualitative information, establish a lead scoring baseline and then constantly test, measure and optimize to yield the best results.

2. Scoring Behavior Only Will Get You in Treble

Scoring leads based solely on behavioral attributes without considering demographic information is the equivalent of playing Beethoven’s 5th with only a piccolo. You’re certainly not playing with a full symphonic orchestra.

Demographic and firmographic attributes tie back to your organization’s customer personas. Based on either your data analysis or qualitative assumptions, you can identify what explicit attributes are indicative of a lead’s likelihood of converting to a customer. Defining scoring logic around demographic and firmographic attributes like job title, company size, industry and geography can tell you how closely a lead maps to your ideal buyer profile.

Equally important is a prospect’s behavior. Actionable behavior indicates how interested a prospect is in your company’s product or service. “If you only use one lead score value, there will be no easy way to distinguish between, for example, the CEO with little to no interest in your solution vs. the low-level end user with a high interest. Scoring on both demographic and behavioral attributes allows you to provide more meaningful and relevant data to sales.”1

3. The Composition of Lead Scoring

Interactive scoring is the assigning of a value to specific activities such as: content downloads, event attendance, website visits, email interactions, form fillouts, etc. What’s important to remember is that not all actions are created equally. For instance, a visit to your pricing webpage or your demo webpage will be of higher value than a visit to you careers webpage. Similarly, a whitepaper download may be of higher value than an infographic download. Start by mapping content to the stages of the buyer’s journey. Once you have a firm understanding of what types of content align to awareness, versus education, consideration and preference you can weight actions accordingly. Engaging in content that is aligned with stages further along the buyer’s journey will yield a higher score.

4. The Crescendo of Activity and Time

The ratio of activity:time is an important and often overlooked pillar of lead scoring. It’s not simply about the type of content your prospects engage with, but the level of intensity in which they engage. Denseness of activity is a key indicator of active vs. latent buying behavior and sales readiness. Consider two different leads. Both leads register and attend a webcast, open and click through to content in your push emails, visit a product page on your website, and view a demo video. You can almost hear your sales team chanting, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send that lead right over!” Not so fast. What if I told you the activity lifespan of the first lead was over a 6-month period, whereas the second lead crammed all of their activity into 3-weeks? While both leads may have identical engagement profiles, one lead would be considered active and the other latent. Both leads may ultimately get passed to sales, but the lead with the intense level of activity in the shorter period of time would be considered a HOT LEAD.

5. Time to Rock ‘n Roll

Lead scoring is an important and integral part of driving higher conversion rates, improving sales productivity, and enhancing revenue performance. Invest the time up front to secure input from sales, map out a lead scoring taxonomy and gain buy-in from stakeholders across your organization. Follow this advice and the guidelines above, and you’re sure to orchestrate a lead scoring methodology that will top the charts.

Have any lead scoring tips and tricks to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Soundtrack

Musical inspiration for this blog post came from:

Taylor Swift, 1989

Beck, Morning Phase

(Sit down, Kanye.)


Want to learn additional lead scoring tips and best practices? Read on whitepaper the Essential Guide to Predictive Lead Scoring!

Resources

  1. http://spearmarketing.com/blog/top-10-b2b-lead-scoring-mistakes-part-2-of-2/

 

Lead Nurturing: 5 Ways You Are Leaving Money On The Table

Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” He said that as he rolled out the Model T which had a major revenue impact on the automobile assembly process. Eventually Ford’s Model T evolved into other cars—taking on many colors, shapes, and styles.

I think the same holds true for lead nurturing—which has had a major revenue impact on the lead management process. Marketers roll out lead nurturing primary for new customer acquisition. This makes sense as most leads are not “Sales Ready.” Why pass a high volume of leads to Sales that will not convert to opportunities in today? That is not to say that most of these leads won’t buy, they are just not buying today. So instead of abandoning these leads, savvy marketers “nurture” them and get 20%, 25%, or 30% of those leads to engage and become qualified opportunities over time—and see significant incremental revenue.

But that is where lead nurturing ends for most.

However, as with Mr. Ford’s Model T, lead nurturing has evolved—taking on different shapes and styles as well. If you are not leveraging them, you could be leaving $400,000, $4,000,000, or even $40,000,000 on the table. Let me touch on five of them.

The 5 Types of Lead Nurturing Programs

  1. New Customer Acquisition: I addressed this one above. But for those not doing lead nurturing, this is where you should start. Don’t think of lead nurturing just in terms of email. Think of it as an omni-channel journey where you are pushing out relevant content (of all styles) to specific personas at a specific stage in the buying cycle. You will find that this approach will help drive higher quality leads down the pipeline and build awareness and recognition in the marketplace.
  2. New Product launch/Update: Most marketers use this opportunity to just publish a press release, leverage social media, and send out an email. However, a new product launch is a great time to roll out a lead nurturing campaign that engages and educates various audiences with differing messages of consideration. According to Marketing Donut, “63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months—20% will take more than 12 months to buy.” Use a well-designed lead nurturing program to accelerate the purchase decision for many.
  3. Existing Customer Upsell/Cross-sell: Too many marketers focus all their time on acquiring new customers and overlook existing customers. For many companies, over 75% of their revenue comes from existing customers. What makes this lead nurturing approach particularly interesting is that you can leverage purchase history as well as buying preferences and behaviors to help you segment audiences and identify your upsell/cross-sell opportunities. In your organization, these types of campaigns may not come from Marketing but rather Customer Success, Customer Service, or Account Management (who many not be familiar with the mechanics of lead nurturing) so the initiative may require Marketing to work with these other teams to kick off the program. No matter where they come from, these campaigns will make your customers feel valued and help improve loyalty.
  4. Dormant Customer Re-engagement: No matter how strong your marketing is, you are going to have a certain percentage of dormant customers/prospects. For this type of lead nurturing program to be successful, you are going to have to data-driven. Accurate data that you can use to segment your audiences is key. Research does show that the investment of your time is worth it. Many companies have seen up to 35% of their dormant customers and prospects re-engage and even become active advocates for their products, services, or brands. You have already made the investment in acquiring these names and many of them had expressed a good amount of interest in your company at some time so they are worth reaching out to one more time.
  5. Competitive Win-Back: The vendor-customer relationship can be hard to explain and understand. Sometimes you just don’t know what happened at a specific stage in a given buyer’s journey. What you can know is that whatever that trigger was that caused a customer to choose your competitor over you can also work against your competitor. Sometimes it is just a matter of time. With this type of lead nurturing program you need to make sure that you are showcasing very clear value propositions and competitive advantages (pricing, benefits, support, training, etc.) The tone for these lead nurturing campaigns is usually a bit bolder and stronger than in the other mentioned campaigns.

Keep Your Leads Alive With Lead Nurturing & Recycling

I’ve got another one for you: For those of you who have a formal lead management process and are leveraging marketing automation, don’t forget about Lead Recycling. Sometimes, no matter how well Marketing qualifies a lead, once it is handed over to Sales, it is not accepted. Perhaps budget has changed. Other times a timeline has been altered. Who knows? If that lead is “recycled,” it will go back to Marketing to be nurtured again. However, it should be placed in a new, different lead nurturing program from those leads that are going down the lead management funnel for the first time. Since lead nurturing is all about timing and getting the right message to a specific prospect or customer when they are ready to buy, lead recycling programs can be fairly successful.

You will probably need to start these different lead nurturing programs as drip campaigns and map out a consistent drop cadence. The duration of the campaign will vary depending on the type and amount of available content but these campaigns can run anywhere from six weeks to six months. If you are using a marketing automation platform, you will eventually want to evolve to a trigger-based campaign based on various customer or prospect behaviors.

Obviously if you are new to lead nurturing, your best bet is probably to set up a new customer acquisition campaign and try and get more of your leads to move down the funnel as they become more qualified. However, for those of you who have been running this type of lead nurturing for a while now, I challenge you to set up the other lead nurturing programs and see if you don’t find that you have been leaving a significant amount of money on the table. As Henry Ford also said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

If you would like to learn more about MarketBridge and our RevenueEngine approach to lead nurturing visit Market-Bridge.com

5 Metrics to Track When Building Your Lead Nurture Strategy

Whether you’re a small business struggling to connect with the social networking junkies of the 21st century, or an industry leader eager to maintain momentum in the digital space, it’s imperative to recognize the power online communities can have on your lead nurture strategy.

Survival of the “digitally fittest” proves that today’s most successful marketers not only call for a strong presence on social media, but a best-in-class strategy to measure their lead nurture success. According to Salesforce[i], social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. So despite your company’s valiant cold calling and telemarketing efforts, the data proves that the Zuckerbergs of the world have created the black pearl of lead nurture tools. Organizations that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost[ii], proving that a consistent lead nurture strategy is the bread and butter of converting prospects to sales-ready leads. If you have hunch that your sales team is struggling to connect with potential customers, start tracking these interactions to help you optimize your lead nurture strategy. Here are the essential metrics you should be looking at:

5 Essential Lead Nurturing Metrics to Track

1. Click-Through Rates: The click-through rate has proved its worth to marketers time and time again, but what’s important to address is how it’s maintained the reputation of being a staple metric for marketing and sales professionals. It’s as simple as this: With high click-through rates, come high quality scores. With high quality scores, your organization is able to improve their advertising positions for a lower cost[iii]. Start monitoring your click-through rates, and begin the quest to save advertising dollars.

2. Conversion Rates: Reaching potential leads through SEO tactics has been seen as a black art for marketing and sales professionals. It seems impossible to master Google’s ever-evolving search engine algorithms and quantify success through predictive marketing schemes. What will never change however, are the valuable insights conversion rates can provide to your business. As Sara Helmy, CEO at Tribu claims, “Conversion rate is by far the biggest indicator of whether or not our efforts as a marketing agency are successful. Every other metric we examine (page flows, bounce rate, traffic source) is simply a number that supplies helpful hints on where we are succeeding or not succeeding in increasing the conversion rate[iv].”

3. Time-to-Customer Conversion: The phrase “time is money” couldn’t ring more true to this metric. When considering B2B benchmarks, if it is taking your organization longer than 18 days to convert an opportunity to a deal[v], your sales team should consider taking another approach. Keep in mind that online community-based tools such as websites and social media are ranked to have an above average conversion rate, and have the shortest time-to-close rate along with referral-based leads[vi].

4. Cost of Customer Acquisition: Everyone can empathize with how painful and costly it can be to acquire a new customer, but not everyone takes the time to discover just how effective their marketing tactics are. If you are spending more acquiring a customer than the amount that the customer will net the company in return[v], that customer clearly isn’t worth your company’s value. Take the leap and begin to treat the cost of each customer as if it was coming out of your own wallet.

5. Customer Lifetime Value: Every business should be living and breathing this metric. This is a KPI that ought to be at the core of every business strategy, and was a metric that transformed the way companies like Starbucks looked at their ROI data[vi]. Customer Lifetime Value is arguably the most influential metric of all because it not only shows marketers how much a customer is worth, but how much money they should invest in acquiring new customers.

Granted that every company will have a distinct approach to lead nurture, it is crucial to consider these 5 metrics when seeking to continuously improve your lead nurture performance.

  • Gauge how you connect with your stakeholders.
  • Track the results of your digital footprint effectively and efficiently.
  • Discover if your organization needs to invest in alternative solutions to convert leads.

By staying true to these metrics, you can transform the way you interact with lead nurture data and harness the power of digital engagement.

 

References

[i] Salesforce – http://mashable.com/2013/11/21/conversions-metrics

[ii] Forrester Research – http://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/26-stats-prove-content-marketing-increases-lead-generation-sales-roi-0922091

[iii] Word Stream – http://www.wordstream.com/click-through-rate

[iv] Mashable – http://mashable.com/2013/11/21/conversions-metrics/

[v] Tech Target – http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/customer-acquisition-cost

[vi] Kiss Metrics – https://blog.kissmetrics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/calculating-ltv.pdf

 

Elevate Your Lead Scoring with the Right Content

Implementing and truly adopting lead scoring can help put companies on the path to more efficient and effective lead management and nurture processes. This ultimately helps drive better conversion rates and financial outcomes. However, it is important that your lead scoring does not stand alone. In other words, the lead score is insufficient to drive the sales outcomes you are looking for without support from other tools, namely relevant content and an underlying decision engine fueled by segmentation.

There are different levers that we can affect as we think about how to get leads through the funnel quickly and focus time and resources on the right leads. Lead scoring is fundamental to this and generally focused on –who– to contact. It rank orders the audience to separate who to call on and engage with via high cost sales channels, and who to route to lower cost digital lead nurture tracks.

Audience selection is one of the most impactful decisions you can optimize and warrants a lot of focus, via lead scoring. However, there are other levers to pull as it relates to not just who, but also what, (and when and where for that matter). Segmentation is an important tool to deploy to compliment and elevate your lead scoring, as it focuses on these other levers.

Often times your segmentation will include the creation of corresponding profiles to and describe each segment through data combined with personas to bring them to life and provide insight into attitudes, consideration, and buying processes. Drawing on these tools, we can make informed decisions around –what- and align our messaging, offers, and content to each lead through a decision engine. This engine may take many forms but may be as basic as segment-specific business rules coded into your CRM and Marketing Automation systems.

In thinking about your segmentation, it might be a simple lifecycle-based solution. In this case, overlaying lifecycle segment with your lead score allows you to arbitrate and map the message, offer, and content that is most relevant to where the lead is in their buying journey for both push communications (outbound sales and marketing touches), as well as response to inbound activities such as a visit to your website. For example, leads in the early stages of the buying journey are in education and learning mode, and the content they receive from a sales rep or, more likely, from a marketing impression because their lead score is relatively low, should meet them where they are.

Alternatively, your segmentation may be firmographic or demographic (maybe even attitudinal) in nature. If so, an overlay of that with your lead scoring allows you to version your message and content to be as relevant as possible to each segment. At the top of your lead scoring prioritization this allows you to arm your sales team with the right conversation starter. For the leads at the lower end of the list, who are routed to digital lead nurture, it provides marketing with an automated way to version communications that will increase engagement.

In some cases you will want to do both, either through a single segmentation, or by layering the buying or lifecycle stage atop firmographic segmentation. This allows you to optimize the content category and version it accordingly, while also drawing on your lead scoring to prioritize audience selection decisions for sales.

If your lead scoring solution is one-dimensional, you’re losing engagement potential. In addition, current marketing automation and sales enablement toolsets make additional dimensions an easy add-on, transforming your existing tools into a more robust decision engine. It is as simple as defining multiple tracks or paths that scored leads are guided down. The leads are pushed to end users prioritizing who to communicate to, coupled with aligned content and messaging.

For more lead scoring tips and best practices, check out our free whitepaper – The Essential Guide to Predictive Lead Scoring.