Today’s customer is in charge of what they want to see and when they want to see it. This means marketers have had to do a complete 180° on the way they track and generate leads: they need to make sure the customer is interested in their service or product, before “pitching” it to them.
To put it more accurately, marketers have to qualify their leads before anything else: the more qualified the lead, the more likely are they to become customers. Inbound marketing sets out to do just that: its primary aims are to improve lead quality and increase the number of conversions and sales revenue.
The success of a lead generation strategy isn’t contingent on the total leads generated, but the number of leads that successfully converted into sales. According to a study conducted by Hubspot , only 27% of the total leads generated are qualified for sales. This means that, on the whole, a business’ sales team is dealing with a large pool of unqualified prospects that results in a waste of marketing and sales resources, and therefore a poor ROI. In order to maximize lead conversions and sales, only the hottest and most qualified leads should reach the sales team.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 ways businesses can ensure that their lead generation strategies aren’t for nought.
1. Optimize Your Leads Database
Inbound marketing is a data-driven marketing methodology. Its efficacy is therefore dependent on proper data capturing and data organization. If your lead database isn’t organized or optimized, it will limit just about every aspect of your marketing campaign, right from decreased quality leads to poor engagement and conversions. Here are a few things you can do to clean and optimize your lead information:
Crank up lead capturing tactics
One of the key pluses of inbound marketing is the ability of the marketer to create a complete profile of their leads, so that they can tailor their marketing efforts to align with their prospects’ needs at every stage of the sales funnel.
However, to even begin creating a lead profile, marketers need to capture the necessary information, starting with an e-mail address: a prospect that’s actually more challenging than it sounds because visitors will not be willing to disclose personal details until they’re offered something that is of value to them. This, therefore, necessitates the tactical use of lead magnets - which are incentivized content that provides value to your visitors in exchange for their contact information. These include e-mail opt-ins, subscriptions and social media follows, as a start. Further down the line, as the lead’s interest is captured, lead magnets like e-books, whitepapers, free trials and special offers can help you build a more concise profile of your lead.
Regularly de-clutter your database
Even as you continue to build your lead database through marketing automation, there will eventually be data that’s either redundant (duplicate information) or unnecessary. This will result in what is generally termed “database bloat”, where you’re left with a mass of unorganized, un-segmented lead information that will, in turn, lead to a rabbit hole of poor marketing decisions.
Marketing automation tools provide a number of options to help you optimize your database including deleting duplicates, merging data records with similar information and lots more. Additionally, they also provide you periodic (daily/monthly) reports on the number of leads generated and the performance of your workflows and campaigns. Use this information to prune your database of underperforming and inactive leads.
Segment your leads with workflows
Inbound marketing’s key foundation is allowing brands to position themselves in front of prospective leads relative to where they are currently in the buyer’s journey. Therefore, segmenting your leads into distinct groups based on criteria such as their geographic location, job description, and specific pain points can help you create more focused content with higher engagement rates. Automated workflows can help with this lead segmentation and lead nurturing tactics to deliver relevant and personalized content.
Another way to qualify leads is to score them: this involves assigning positive or negative scores to their characteristics and level of engagement with your content. The aggregate of these scores will ultimately help you ascertain how sales-ready a lead really is before passing it on to your sales team.
2. Maximize Your Digital Marketing Potential
As we’ve said before, digital marketing is a crucial part of inbound marketing, and therefore you need to optimize your digital marketing strategy to ensure the success of lead generation strategy. Various aspects of digital marketing contribute to various stages of the inbound strategy such as:
You may be tired of hearing it, but there’s no two ways about it: content is king, especially in inbound marketing. If your content is unappealing, you have failed before you can even begin to think about lead generation. Every stage within the inbound methodology is centered on leads consuming various bits of content to push them further down the funnel.
The “Attract” phase of Inbound is especially crucial, when you think about it, since they’re primarily used to drive a potential pool of leads: whether it’s through relevant and information-rich blog content or landing pages with effective CTAs. The further a lead advances, you’ll need to craft content and implement content marketing tactics that are more specific to their needs like free e-book downloads, webinars, case studies and more.
One of the major sources of potential lead traffic are those who are specifically looking for a solution to solve their issues: and it all starts with the search engine.
Search engine marketing is primarily aimed at increasing a brand’s visibility online and increasing traffic. There’s no point in developing lead generation strategies, if your primary lead generator - your website - is barely registering on anyone’s radar. Therefore, optimizing your website for search engine visibility should be high on your lead generation MO. You can start with performing a SEO audit on your website to identify the issues with your website and then slowly and systematically eliminate those issues one by one.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing, perhaps, seems to be a source of divisiveness among marketers when it comes to its potential at generating qualified leads; not in the overall potential, per se, but in the individual potential of each social media channel in generating qualified leads. However, there is a middle ground and that is that every social media channel has the potential to generate qualified leads provided:
a) They’re the right fit for the business. Some companies make the mistake of thinking they need to be on every single platform. The key is to understand that every social platform has a specific type of audience that enjoys a certain kind of experience on those platforms. For instance, a company that sells baby products online, is not going to find interested customers on LinkedIn, whose primary audience is business owners.
b) The business knows how to use the channels correctly and regularly to maximize their potential. Adopting a blanket approach for all your social media channels is a waste of social marketing resources: every channel has to have the content tailored to its specific type of audience.
3. Align Sales and Marketing Teams
One of the primary reasons for poor lead-to-sales conversion is the gap between the sales and marketing teams regarding Lead Qualification. The marketing team’s primary focus is to generate leads, but not all of those leads are qualified to convert into paying customers: in fact, a study showed that only 20% of the leads generated by marketers were opened by sales reps.
On the other hand, owing to the disconnect, sales teams are left to deal with leads that aren’t qualified - only 27% of leads sent in by marketing are qualified - and a lack of marketing content that aligns with their prospect’s needs.
This gap, therefore has to be bridged to ensure that the sales and marketing teams are in sync with each other, and also with the business’ overall goals and expectations. This can be done by:
Aligning both sales and marketing to company’s overall goals
The first step towards alignment is ensuring that both sales and marketing are on the same page as to what the company’s overall goals are, such as: what the expected lead generation and sales conversions are, what is the expected ROI for every dollar spent on marketing and sales activities, and what are the specific lead qualifying factors for both MQLs and SQLs. You can also put Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place to ensure that both teams hold up their end of the deal.
Marketers aligning with sales
To help the sales team close deals successfully, marketers should keep them informed about the latest campaigns, marketing materials and promotions offered to incoming leads. This will allow the sales team to stay up-to-date in their conversations with prospective customers, expediting BOFU lead nurturing activities and successful conversions.
Sales aligning with marketers
Marketers can benefit from the sales team’s experience with converted customers to enable them to create more effective marketing content across all stages of the funnel. For instance, ask your sales team about the frequent questions they often field from customers and then create a single effective FAQ that your sales team can then provide to future customers.
4. Automate Your Marketing
In order to ensure that your lead generation campaigns are tracked accurately and that your sales team only receives the most qualified leads, and therefore, increase your Marketing ROI, you need marketing automation.
With all-in-one CRM solutions like Hubspot’s CRM, marketers can boost the ROI on their lead generation through:
Efficient lead nurturing
Marketing automation allows marketers to define and create lead-nurturing workflows for different stages of the buyer’s journey, which are triggered just as soon as a lead reaches that stage to send targeted e-mails and offers aimed at pushing them closer to the sale. This ensures that no potential sale is lost due to lack of immediate action.
Automatic lead scoring
Lead scoring, as we said before, is a way to determine how sales-ready a lead is. CRMs can assign scores to leads based on their activity on your website, and ensure your sales team is ready to take them on when the time is right and convert them into a customer.
Marketing and sales alignment
CRMs can ease communication between the marketing and sales: automation allows teams to stay on top of each others’ activities. Marketing teams can provide sales with up-to-date marketing content, and keep track of the communication between sales and customers. Likewise, the sales team can re-assign cold leads back for re-engagement and nurturing to the marketing team, leaving them free to take only sales-ready leads on.
5. Track Your Analytics
Businesses sometimes underestimate the ability of analytics in guiding intelligent marketing decisions and increasing ROI. By constantly tracking and analyzing the data your campaigns are generating, you can get a clear picture about how each element of your inbound campaign is contributing to the overall expectations. The availability of analytics allows marketers to boost ROI by:
- Planning new marketing activities based on projected ROI through analysis of historical data and the use of predictive models to ascertain their effectiveness.
- Providing focus on engagement metrics, which present a far clearer picture of a campaign’s performance than vanity metrics which, while not entirely useless, have no immediate bearing on a business’ success rate.
- Providing both marketers and sales with a clear view of their lead-to-sales conversion success rates so that they can adjust their lead generation and conversion activities accurately.
Conclusion: In order to make the most of your marketing dollars, you must focus on ensuring that your lead generation tactics are on point: generating quality leads that can be nurtured into definite sales for your business.