Inbound marketing is different from traditional marketing in many ways, but one similarity between the two is that your prospects learn about your business in a variety of ways, not just one.
Whether they meet you at a trade show, hear about you from a current client or partner, find your profile on LinkedIn or read a press release about you, they are going to visit your website, look around and make a judgment about your business: Do I want to continue a relationship with this company or not?
Once they make the decision to continue, they’re going to poke around your site some more, read your blog (you have one, right?), skip around to key pages and hopefully download at least one piece of educational content.
You still have no idea if they’re at the top, middle or bottom of your sales funnel. So, don’t judge the quality of your leads. Don’t write them off because they use a Gmail address. Don’t dismiss them because they don’t want to talk to you today.
I promise you that CFOs, CEOs, COOs and other execs at major companies use generic email addresses when they download information from your website. By not following up or by judging these email addresses incorrectly, you could end up costing your business millions. Instead, here’s a better plan: Let these leads filter through your system organically, and add an element of email-marketing and lead-scoring data to tell a more complete story.
Treat Everyone Equally At The Start
Please repeat after me: All leads are created equal. All leads are good leads. If someone takes the time to fill out a form on your site and provide you with their contact information, that person is a lead. I don’t care what their email address is, and I don’t care what their relationship with your business is. They have interest. If you don’t follow up, if you follow up leisurely or if you ignore them completely, shame on you.
That lead could be the CEO of a Fortune 100 company or the child of a CEO of a Fortune 100 company. That person could be someone who represents your perfect prospect and is just doing some early-stage research. You just don’t know, and to judge based on limited information is a major mistake. Treat everyone like they might be your best customer, and you’re guaranteed to never make this mistake. You’re guaranteed to always be giving people a remarkable experience with your business.
Create Workflows Based On Behavior
Now that you're thinking optimization, you need to be thinking lead nurturing. One way to do this is based on the actions people are taking on your site: People that visit this page are typically interested in this service or are at this stage in their buyer journey, so when they convert, deliver this series of lead-nurturing emails with this message and these pieces of content. People who visit other pages and are in other stages of their buyer journey need to receive dramatically different sets of messages, content and emails.
The better you are at this, the more contacts you're able to turn into bottom-of-the-funnel leads. This process helps move people through their own buyer journey without the need for a salesperson to do anything. This is complicated, and it requires a well-thought-out strategy, dynamic messaging and highly creative educational content, but it’s very possible and very scalable.
Create Workflows Based On Persona
The same thinking should be applied to personas, too. You have different types of people visiting your website: executives, middle managers, business owners, lower-level admins and maybe even more. The more personal you make their experience with your website, your content and your team, the more likely they are to feel safe with you as an option for their business.
Apply the same thinking. Ask them to identify themselves so that you may personalize their experience with your site. Telling them why you want their personal details is a great way to get them to give you a lot of interesting marketing and sales-related information. It’s important to help them understand what’s in it for them. Getting a personalized experience is exciting to people, and they’re going to want to see what that looks like.
Then, use smart content to deliver very specific messages, images, content and offers on the pages that are set up for those personas. This one-to-one approach increases conversion rates and accelerates people through the sales process 10 times more than the traditional, one-to-many marketing.
Try Lead Scoring Based On Action
For those of you who are advanced and ready for something from the Inbound Marketing 301 playbook, you should consider lead scoring. This applies math and a scoring algorithm to all of your leads based on a variety of variables. You give them points for page visits, time on site, information provided to you via forms and other variables that might be important to you, like size of company or job title.
This won’t help you disqualify any leads – because we don’t do that anymore, right? But, it will help you focus your sales energies on those leads that offer you the best opportunity, and it'll allow you to continue nurturing leads in an automated way until they reach a threshold that might require a sales rep to step in and guide them the rest of the way home.
By adjusting your judgment criteria from a rigid approach to a more open one, you might just find that you increase the amount of qualified leads at the bottom of the funnel. And when you optimize the complete engagement with your total prospect pool, everyone gets an excellent experience with your business, not just those people with contact information that you recognize.
Start Today Tip – If all you did was change your perception of top-of-the-funnel leads (and leads in general), I’d feel like my job was done. All leads are good leads. Now, if you want to optimize the individual’s experience with your company so that they flow through your funnel more quickly, you should start considering their questions up and down the sales process and deliver educational content that fits their buyer journey at the perfect time. This is going to result in more leads asking to talk to you, more often, and that should turn into more revenue for your business.
Square 2 Marketing – Leading The Reality Marketing, Inbound Marketing And Inbound Sales Revolutions!
Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.