Remember that scene in Back to the Future when Doc Brown and Marty found the broken DeLorean boarded up in the abandoned mine?
Remember that scene in Back to the Future when Doc Brown and Marty got all excited when they found the broken DeLorean boarded up in the abandoned mine?
That’s how you probably feel as a marketer when you get a qualified lead. But just as getting to the DeLorean didn’t guarantee Marty a trip out of 1955 getting a lead does not translate into a client. The door has only cracked open, just about enough to get your toe in.
There is a lot of work to be done, especially if you are operating in the B2B world where budgets are high, competitors might have deep pockets, multiple decision makers are involved and the sales cycle can stretch to months, if not years.
The principle of lead generation success- progressive disqualification
But you can do yourself a favour if you harness the 80/20 rule - 80% of your sales and profits will come from 20% of your clients. Most people who visit your site, go to your booth or sign up for your emails won’t buy, at least not immediately.
Your job as a marketeer is to identify that minority who will actually buy from you, spend enough time understanding their wants and needs and come up with a solution to fix those issues.
But how do you do that?
By building a system that stresses on content which attracts the ideal prospects, building a rapport with them, continuously measuring the impact of your efforts and tweaking the individual links of the lead generation chain, that’s how.
A checklist for a robust lead generation system
If you are going to design a lead generation system that works like a well oiled machine you have to
Someone once asked Einstein what he would do if he had an hour to solve a knotty problem. He replied that he would spend 55 minutes thoroughly trying to understand it and exploring various solutions and use the last 5 minutes to actually solve the problem.
Savvy marketers take the same approach to lead generation. The results of your lead generation activities are directly proportional to how detailed your plans are. You need to be clear on
- What your ideal buyers are like (buyer personas)
- The level of competition.
- Your goals as well as measurable metrics.
- The kind of content that draws eyeballs.
- Who will be on your internal team and how will they divide their responsibilities. Spend as much time as you can dare to in this stage.
2. Creating content
Let’s not kid ourselves at this point- content is ABSOLUTELY essential if you want leads and clients. But it’s not just any content: the world has evolved past that. Today, content that works has to
- Connect with your intended audience.
- Be useful and share worthy.
- Be better than the average gunk being pumped out. To achieve maximum possible reach your content has to be available on diverse formats, from text to images to videos. Above all, you have to transform yourself into a publisher and create content regularly. You will also have to involve the whole organisation, especially the subject matter experts who are the reason why your products or solutions are actually unique.
3. Promoting and distributing content
The content that you have created needs to get out in the wild for it to be effective. Your promotion and distribution strategy will have to take into account what you are selling and the makeup of your target market.
Depending on your market your strategy will have to incorporate both digital and non digital channels. For instance, a recent Inside Sales report pointed out that the most effective B2B lead generation methods include telemarketing, search, email marketing, tradeshows and blogs.
Picking up the right distribution channel can result in savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds down the line, and yet another reason why you have to do your due diligence during stage #1.
4. List building and segmenting
When your distribution and promotion works, people will give their email addresses and personal information for something valuable in return. These organic lists are one of your most valued intellectual properties.
But there is a caveat.
Your prospects are not identical clones. They are at different stages in the buying cycle. They have different needs and budgets. Unless you know enough to be able to separate these names into clearly identified buckets and pitch them accordingly your list will simply sit unused and gather digital dust.
5. Nurturing and building relationships
Getting an email address is hard but that does not get you a sale. What inches you further ahead is lead nurturing- a fancy word for follow up.
However I’m not talking about the “Hi, I am checking in to see how you are doing… “ type of emails that some marketeers still send. Those are lame and will get junked immediately. I am talking about a system that engages with prospects at regular intervals by
- Educating them on industry best practices and how your solutions will help them do their job better
- Using digital body language to ascertain where they are in the sales cycle and accordingly provide relevant information
- Keeping them updated on events and news that might have a direct impact on their business Depending on your skill level and resources available you can use anything from a simple Excel sheet, an email delivery service or complex marketing automation software.
6. Analyse, test and optmise
Good marketeers don’t go by gut feel. They go by numbers and measurable results.
The effectiveness of every stage of the lead generation process, from content creation to sending out periodic emails should be measured. Tools are available, both free and paid to suit every budget and skill level to help with their measurements.
Once the numbers are in, marketeers will then have to carry out tests to improve the results. Every element of a campaign should be tested- email subject lines, homepage headlines, landing page forms, offer pages, calls to action etc. Depending on the traffic and the tools that you use, these tests can be either A/B or multivariate tests
Perfecting the lead generation system by continuous testing
Building and perfecting your lead generation system is time consuming.
The only way you will get the closest to a leak proof system is by repeating #6 over and over again to everything from creating buyer personas to promoting content to lead nurturing. This is the culture at companies like Google and Amazon and they seem to have done rather well for themselves.
If the customer, as Ogilvy famously, said is your wife lead generation and lead nurturing is dating. If you know your type and you spend the time getting to know her well enough you won’t be single for long.
What does your lead generation system look like? Do you see any inefficiencies and leakages that can be plugged immediately?