Inbound marketing and traditional marketing share some similar challenges. One of the most significant is that both types cast wide nets and sometimes catch leads who might not fit the perfect persona.
However, what we do and how we treat those leads is still important. I’ve written about actual clients who have thrown leads away by not following up on them, but that’s not what we recommend.
Today, I want to talk about a specific issue associated with judging the quality of leads based on their email account extensions.
Here are some important points to consider when you’re thinking about the quality of your leads and your plans to nurture leads.
Real Business People Have Gmail Accounts
I wish I could give you some stats on this, but after some lengthy research, I just couldn’t find any interesting data. After a number of informal polls, though, almost everyone I asked mentioned that they have a Gmail account, which they use to request information, sign up for subscriptions and surf the Net.
The people surveyed own businesses, have CXO titles, manage teams and spend money. They are over 40 and 50, and they’re serious people. So, why not use their professional business email address? The answer is simple. We’re all dealing with email inboxes that are cluttered with junk, so people use these other addresses to prescreen email content.
Once they like what they’re getting, they often transfer those subscriptions to their business accounts. This means that you might start with a prospect’s Gmail address, but if you earn that person's respect by publishing high-quality, creative, educational content, you can quickly get that prospect to share his or her business email address.
Tools Make It Easy To Associate Business Info With Even Generic Email Addresses
The world knows that this issue of generic email addresses makes prospecting and lead scoring challenging, so there are a variety of tools to help you look past the email extension and qualify leads. HubSpot does its best to pull social media profiles for leads that come into its CRM system. If available, you get Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ account information automatically added to the lead record.
Google itself is an excellent tool to do some cyber-stalking for prospect information. With a couple of quick searches, you can often (not always) find enough details on your prospect to know how good he or she might be as a potential prospect.
Leads Don’t Have To Be Perfect Prospects To Be Good Leads
Every prospect is following his or her own buyer journey. Some of these journeys are quick and superficial, while others are long and intensely research-driven. Some are pushed by corporate initiatives, and others are driven by innovation from a single person. In today’s world, you just don’t know where your prospects are in their personal journey until they allow you to know. You have to accept this, embrace it and create marketing processes to support this new world order.
Instead of spending time and energy judging your leads, take that time and invest it in creating a lead-nurturing system that answers your prospects' questions based on persona, industry and stage of journey. A highly customized lead-nurturing effort like this has been proven to shorten prospect buyer journeys. It accelerates your ability to turn suspects into prospects, then into marketing-qualified prospects, sales-qualified prospects and revenue for your business.
Since inbound marketing is a paradigm shift, it requires a shift in thinking about leads, too. Here is a practical example you’ll all be able to relate to: We used to work with a highly successful residential windows reseller that actually hung up on people if they didn’t want to schedule an appointment immediately. The same thinking is being acted on by a lot of businesses.
If your prospect doesn’t want to schedule a call, doesn't want to have an in-person appointment or isn't ready to speak with one of your sales reps, that doesn’t mean he or she isn't qualified or viable. This prospect should not be tossed out or dismissed as a bad lead.
I can’t tell you how many people tell us that they’ve been listening to our story, reading our content and following us for six, nine or more months before they’re ready to talk to us personally. In the age of inbound marketing, you have to make sure that you don’t prejudge your leads, and you must actively nurture everyone in a non-discriminatory way. This is one of the secrets to creating a successful inbound marketing machine.
Start Today Tip – Today’s tip is to simply stop judging your inbound leads. Treat them all the same and nurture them in a similar way. This doesn’t mean that some will be better than others. Yes, some will be at the top of the funnel, and some will be at the bottom of the funnel. Some will be potential partners, and some will be competitors. But, like all marketing, we cast a wide net and then sift through the fish, looking for those that fit the bill. The difference is that inbound makes this an automated and highly efficient process, as opposed to the old systems that required expensive personal qualification. Let your leads qualify themselves and move themselves through your sales funnel based on their agenda, not yours.
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