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Without a reliable source of net new, qualified leads for your product or service, your business can not attain new customers and sustain growth. That makes lead generation essential to the health of your entire organization. Hence the significant amount of time and money that marketing and sales teams dedicate to lead generation efforts.
You’ve launched ad campaigns, created in-depth and thoughtful blog content, and hosted informative webinars but your leads still aren’t sticking. According to a recent report by Unbounce, the average conversion rate ranges from 2.2% to 6.1%, depending on the industry. A number of things could be allowing you to generate leads that never convert but a probable explanation is: the quantity of leads is useless when they are unqualified. If your sales cycle is a funnel, unqualified leads enter at the top and get stuck there. This results in lead leakage: generated leads that never interact with sales in any way.
The only way to create an effective and sustainable lead generation program and achieve an above average conversion rate is to focus on quality and quantity. With a lot of leads coming in, you’re halfway there. But how do you begin to identify and nurture quality leads? Start by having your marketing and sales team agree upon what a lead actually is and how to measure it.
Before you go down the path of creating a lead scoring strategy, remember that every lead is an actual person. Real people aren’t metrics— they have desires, needs, motivations, ideas, and backgrounds that all contribute to how they are engaging with your marketing campaigns. The questions that you should be asking when thinking about appropriate metrics to measure leads include: how did they find your company? What about your product makes their life easier? What role do they have at their company? Once you are able to reveal patterns about conversions, you’ll be able to better score leads and adjust campaigns accordingly.
Identify Reasons Why Leads Aren’t Converting
A lot of marketers talk about the importance of leads and conversions but use the terms interchangeably. Leads and conversions are two different metrics and properly differentiating between the two can help grow your business. A lead refers to a customer’s interaction with the website. How that is quantified depends on the marketing organization; some consider a chat message a lead while others believe looking at a certain number of pages qualifies as a lead.
Conversions, on the other hand, refer to an action taken by a user in response to a call-to-action. Call-to-actions are probably all over your site: Schedule a Demo, Download the Ebook, Chat with a Rep, etc. Conversion rates, the percentage of users who have completed a desired action, are used to measure the success of campaigns.
The reasons why your leads aren’t converting are probably numerous but remember, there’s always a reason. If you’re offering great content or getting a lot of traffic, and leads aren’t converting, there’s a reason. Some reasons are beyond your control. Others can be solved by smart and efficient strategies.
A Narrow Strategy Equals Slim Results
Let’s revisit a concept introduced by one of the greatest advertisers in history, Eugene Schwartz. In Breakthrough Advertising, Shwartz talks about the five stages of awareness: Completely Unaware, Pain Aware, Solution Aware, Product Aware, and Most Aware.
At any point, your prospects are in one of these stages. Your job as a marketer is to move them to the next stage. This is the power of content and campaigns. Unfortunately, a lot of content produced by businesses is very product-focused, catering only to those who have identified a problem, know that a solution exists, and also know that your business offers a solution to their problems. That takes an immense audience pool and narrows it down, resulting in people bouncing from your site and conversions being lost. Remember to meet your prospects where they are and address every stage of awareness when creating content and generating leads.
You Haven’t Truly Understood Your Audience
Making steady sales requires a strong understanding of your audience. Most businesses have already sketched out their target personas. That’s a good start. Still, without data, those personas are just glorified guesses. By conducting research, analyzing existing customers, or speaking candidly with your Sales team, you can start to associate concepts and features with buyer types.
Start by working backwards with your highest value customers. Find out details like industry, company size, point of contact role, etc. Then, find out what features of your product are most valuable to that customer and how your product addresses their pain points. Much of this information is living in the mind of your Sales team. Use all of this information to build out 3-5 qualified buyer personas.
These personas need to be more than just words or Powerpoint slides, they need to include quantifiable details like most valued features and how much they are willing to pay. The more details you have on your highest value customers, the more successful this strategy will be.
Your Buyers’ Journey Maps Are Incomplete
Once you’ve created target personas, you’ll need to create a customized buyer’s journey for each persona. Many marketing organizations rely on the same nurture strategy for all leads and that simply won’t move prospects down the funnel. Using the details you’ve already laid out in your personas, your journey maps will outline the pain points your customers have, how you solve them, and why your product is the right choice among the competition. Taking a deep dive into the buyer’s journey will also help you pinpoint holes in your website including optimized navigation, sensible CTAs, and more.
Getting Started: Organize the Leads You Have
If you have any data on existing leads, there are opportunities to segment them. We’ve already talked about buyer personas, that’s an amazing place to start. Even if you haven’t built out actionable personas, you can start making the most of your leads.
Explicit segmentation refers to segmentation of leaders according to characteristics which are given clearly and known to your business either through conversation, forms, or purchase behavior. Segmentation implies generalization but remember that people are more complicated than one or two attributes: be careful to make assumptions and always test your methods. Explicit segmentation includes characteristics like:
Buying behavior: Has this prospect bought anything previously?
Role in their company
Implied segmentation refers to the segmentation of leads according to characteristics of a prospect that are implied according to their behavior, demographics, etc. Implied segmentation includes things like:
Prospects who downloaded an asset and are likely to be interested in resources that are similar
Leads who viewed a page more than once in a certain timeframe and need extra attention to convert
What to Do After Segmentation
So you’ve segmented your leads into actionable categories, what’s next? Now it’s time to marry quality content and campaigns with intention.
Map Your Content to Your Segmentations
Work together with your Sales to map existing content to leads that you think it is relevant to. You can send this in an email nurture series and track the open-rate, click-through rate, bounce-rate, unique-open rate, unsubscribes and more. In addition to delivering content to people who actually want to read it, you’ll collect information about how to further define your segmentation efforts.
Tweak Your Existing Content or Fill Holes Where Content is Missing
It’s likely that your marketing efforts prior to creating buyer personas or analyzing the results of segmentation are off-base. Maybe you created content that doesn’t speak to your customers or maybe you simply didn’t create anything. Content creation doesn't end after publication, you’ll need to constantly be tweaking content according to new data you’ve acquired. With all this actionable information, you’ll also be able to strategize with a purpose. You’ll discover holes that can be filled by a case study, a whitepaper, or a redesigned product page.
Building a Lead Nurture Program
You’ve created buyer’s personas and you have actionable data from your segmentation efforts, it’s time to build a lead nurture program. The key to a successful lead nurture program is two-fold: your communications need to be relevant and high-quality and they also need to be considerate of a prospect's pace during a sales cycle.
A lead nurture program will allow you to create automated, intuitive, and scalable communications. This allows you to create conversations and long-term relationships with your audience, establishing brand loyalty and advocacy. Here are some steps you’ll need to take before you can start to nurture your leads:
Establish and strategy and communicate it clearly to your team
Figure out what time of content works best for your audience: webinars, downloadable content, conferences, etc.
Make sure your team understand who needs to be nurtured and when
Learn how to lead nurture across multiple channels: email, social media, your website, etc.
Maintain the health of your program via testing, optimization, and ROI
Understand what is happening to leads when they get to Sales and create a feedback loop
When creating your nurture program, you don’t have to start from scratch. Look to other brands who are doing it right or are analyzing tactics and detailing what works. Hubspot, for example, cites 7 effective tactics for lead nurturing in 2021 including the use of targeted content that closely aligns with your buyer personas and thoughtful lead scoring tactics. One of the most effective strategies: knowing your target audience.
Freelancer, a hub for freelance designers and writers looking for work, knows that they are catering to an audience who appreciates a good illustration and thoughtful design. Their email campaigns include infographics that speak directly to their audience: the freelancer.
Wrapping it Up
If this feels overwhelming, remember that lead generation is a process that involves many moving parts. Efforts to optimize should be both holistic and individualized. Stay process-minded and trust the data. Remember that some strategies will fail but those failures will help inform your overall goals.
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