We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Leads are the oxygen of business. The more of them you have the more you can accomplish… But be mindful of the operative word here… can. Many enterprises invest a lot of their time, effort and capital on inventive lead capture activities, only to find that an abundance of leads never quite translates to success in business. Our businesses need leads just as our bodies need oxygen, but there’s a complex process at work making that oxygen useful and nourishing to our bodies. The exact same thing goes for leads. It’s important to have them… But even more important to know what to do with them.
It seems that there’s a lot of information out there when it comes to generating leads, but decidedly less information on converting those leads into loyal repeat customers. Here we’ll look at effective and actionable strategies for capitalizing on the momentum you pick up with your new leads...
The importance of Lead Scoring / Qualification
Generating leads is a bit like panning for gold. Can you be sure that every little sparkly nugget you dredge up will be worthy to make a necklace or a wedding ring? Of course not. By that same logic, it’s important to remember that not all leads are created equal. You’ll need to qualify the incoming leads and separate the wheat from the chaff if you’re to capitalize on your lead generation effectively and efficiently.
Of course, that’s not to say that some leads are wasting your time, but some will be “hotter” (and by hotter we mean more intent-rich) than others. Knowing the interested from the intent-rich can help you to set your sales team at work on the prospects which are ripest for conversion while your marketing efforts can help nurture those leads which need a little more help along the way. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that part later. It also prevents you from inadvertently turning cold leads colder by “harassing” them with unwelcome sales calls.
So, how do we score and qualify these leads? Glad you asked...
How to score your incoming leads
With a scoring criterion that’s appropriate to the needs of your business, scoring leads can be a quick and easy process. While every enterprise’s needs are slightly different the following rubric can serve as a rough guide which you can later personalize to better suit your needs;
- Demographic Information- This helps you to build up a customer profile. How old are they? What’s their income? Who do they work for? Where do they live? Do they have children? How can this information inform their consumer behaviors? You may also find outliers that make the lead unsuitable for you due to geographical restrictions.
- Company information- B2B businesses will want to get to know the company the lead works for. What industry do they serve and how much quantifiable need is there for your product or service in that industry?
- Online behavior- What social platforms do they use? What other brands are they engaging with?
- Brand engagement- How, if at all, are they engaging with your brand? Are they clicking through to links sent on email shoots? Are they retweeting you? Are they commenting on your Facebook posts?
- Types of interest- The type of interest a lead has shown will demonstrate whereabouts in your sales funnel they are. Are they downloading your free e-book, requesting a free sample or demo or simply viewing a product page repeatedly?
- Activity level- How active are they on your website? Which pages are they spending the most time on? How many inquiries have they made and how much content have they downloaded?
- Spam detection- Finally, your qualification criteria should also weed out the spammers and bots.
Determine your own points system based on which of the above criteria matter most for you and align the closest with your priorities.
Nurturing your leads
Once you’ve applied your lead scoring criteria and filtered out the “hottest” leads, you’ve redirected them to your sales team who are ready to work their magic and get some conversions. But what about all the cooler leads?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because a lead isn’t red hot right now that it won’t have value later.
Lead nurturing is the process of helping cooler leads through your sales funnel and guide them successfully to the point of sale. Here are some effective lead nurturing strategies which will help convert the tentative lead into a faithful customer.
Keep giving them something for nothing.
A steady stream of content is a useful lead nurturing strategy for two reasons. Firstly, it keeps you a constant presence in their mind. Even if the lead doesn’t read all of your email shoots, simply getting them helps to build familiarity with your brand… And familiarity is a building block of trust.
Secondly it helps to build value in your brand. It establishes your knowledge, authority and expertise and gives them what we all want… Something for nothing! For optimum impact, make sure that your content is useful to the lead. It should help them to solve a problem, save money or make their lives easier in some way.
Deliver targeted content
Targeted content gives leads the personal touch. It gives them content that’s just for them rather than a generic piece of marketing content. Leverage the information you have to deliver highly targeted content including special offers and links to products and services that you think will be of use to them.
Embrace multi-channel marketing
Leads cannot be nurtured by email shoots alone. Hedge your bets by reaching out to leads across the channels that they use the most. Effective marketing takes place over email, social platforms, retargeted ads and, of course, direct sales outreach.
Fail to keep your name, your logo and your brand at the forefront of a lead’s mind and they may drift over to your competitors.
Keep in touch
Do you expect leads to convert after the first time you make contact with them? If so, your expectations may be a little unrealistic. It can take an average of 10 “touches” to guide a lead through the top of your sales funnel to the bottom.
With an effective lead scoring criteria and the right approach to nurturing cold leads, you can make sure that not a single lead that you’ve worked hard to generate goes to waste.