Author: Carter Matthews, Vice President, Empowering Brands
Marketers more than ever are being tasked with showing Return on Investment, which is where having a plan, knowing the tactics, and measuring the results are critical.
From a philosophical stand-point, a good strategic marketing plan should be trying to 1. Grow awareness and 2. Increase sales leads. While more awareness absolutely leads to more marketing and sales leads, from a campaign execution and evaluation stand point, it’s good to know exactly what the goal is, how you’re going to get there, and how to keep score. This is where we find many companies need a little help.
What Constitutes a Lead and What do I do with it?
The biggest challenge I see in working with B2B companies when it comes to leads is not fully understanding the different types of leads and what needs to happen with the varying types of leads.
Here’s a few items to consider when you think of leads and lead management:
- Not every lead you generate is ready for sales.
- Your sales team may spend too much time sifting through leads that aren’t ready for sales. By doing this they’re actually less productive.
- If you only increase the leads you generate without nurturing or scoring them, the sales team may begin to disregard marketing leads and marketing altogether.
This creates conflict within your organization that is counter-productive. The goal is for marketing and sales to work closely together for the mutual benefit of the company.
A marketing qualified lead is like a normal lead but better because they’ve raised their hand. They’ve taken an action or done something to indicate interest (Perhaps downloaded a white paper or attended a webinar). Simply put, this lead may not be ready to buy yet, but they’re ready to be nurtured.
A sales qualified lead is further along in the journey. They have specific questions and are ready for your sales team. This may be because of lead nurturement or maybe they entered the funnel (revealed themselves) at this stage. Remember, over 50% of the decision-making process is now made BEFORE a prospect ever speaks to a sales team.
Lead Scoring is a term that is used to help marketing and sales quantify the value of a lead based on what stage of the process you’ve identified the prospect.
Lead Nurturing is the process of engaging a defined target based on each stage of the buyer’s journey to the point where they become paying customers.
How to Generate more marketing qualified leads?
Some of this may sound familiar if you’ve been following our last few blogs such as “Why content should be at the core of your marketing strategy.”
Create and Share Compelling Content. As was shared in our “Marketing for Awareness” blog this content should be based on helping your prospects solve problems.
Incentivize your Prospects to Act. Strong call-to-actions such as valuable research, white papers, how-to’s, infographics, webinars, demos, or other related content can be effective.
Direct prospects to very specific web pages or landing pages. Limit navigation and provide them with just the information you’re promoting so they can easily convert. You can also use these pages for your internal remarketing destinations.
Keep Initial Forms Short. Remember you don’t have to get all the data right away. Sending prospects who may just be wanting to learn more to a long-complicated form is a big no-no. There’s always steps to further sales-qualify later.
Make All of your Marketing Elements work together. If you’re truly serious about gathering leads, all of your marketing elements should support the goal. Website design, Search Engine Marketing, Blogs, Social Media, Email marketing, Content Partners, ads and events should all be working together towards creating marketing qualified leads.
How to get a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead?
In short, Nurture and Follow Up! Consider integrating a marketing automation platform which can automate most of this process for you. This process can be different for every company but can include elements such as:
Automated email follow-up. Perhaps create a series of educational auto-responders designed to guide your leads to a consideration stage.
Personal emails. Perhaps reach out from marketing with a personal email with questions for the prospect or a suggested next step “check out our case study” that ties in to what made them an initial lead.
Educational content. Hopefully now you’re creating lots of content. What helpful piece of content could you send a new marketing lead that would be beneficial to them?
Call-To-Action. Regardless of your nurturing tactics, they each should include a call-to-action that identifies somewhere the prospect can go next or a pre-qualifier to see if they have questions that only sales can answer.
This is where your sales team can be very helpful! Ask them what questions they commonly receive from prospects? Use sales feedback in your lead nurturing process.
You don’t have to perfect the process to start! In fact, you’ll likely tweak your lead management process often based on trial and error.
By better understanding this process, sales and marketing can become better aligned. Working closer together and sharing data will ultimately lead to increasing company sales revenue.
Need Help with a Content Marketing Plan to Get Started?
Let the staff at Empowering Brands help you get started with a free basic analysis of your existing content resources.