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Posts Tagged ‘lead nurturing’

I recently had the opportunity to present at the RISE Conference here in Austin. Given the audience was filled with entrepreneurs in various stages of starting or running a business, I focused my presentation, “The Top Three Ways To Uncover More Qualified Leads for Sales”, on often overlooked and easy-to-implement ideas that lead to generating more leads. After a short presentation, we spent time discussing the companies of various audience members and the specific needs and challenges they were experiencing related to lead generation. It was a lively discussion, and as an outcome they were able to walk away with several tangible next steps that could be implemented back at the office.

Enjoy the slideshow and hopefully you will walk away with tangible ideas as well. Learn more about our lead generation services, and be sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for more B2B marketing content.

Do you have stagnant leads in your pipeline? It is a frequent problem among marketers, but with the right message, the right mix of marketing activities and the right timing, stalled leads can be nudged through the pipeline, moving them closer to a sale. These three things should be incorporated in order to create an effective lead nurturing campaign.

  • The Right Message: To implement successful nurturing campaigns marketers should segment their leads and target their messaging to appeal to those leads’ interests, and always avoid sales messages. For nurturing campaigns, you have already determined the leads are not sales-ready, so high pressure communications will be unwelcome. The key in nurturing campaigns is to hone in on a specific segment’s pain points and send marketing communications that provide valuable tips, materials and activities that address these pain points. The more value the recipient receives from the communications, the more likely they will continue to welcome them.
  • The Right Activities: When it comes to nurturing campaigns, a mix of marketing activities is key. It is important to position your company as a thought leader and a resource, not a company with a product and/or service to sell. To do this, create communications focused around best practices and leverage customers and third-party industry experts to support your case. Successful nurturing campaigns could include invitations to webcasts and regional best practices seminars or email marketing communications offering whitepapers and articles or driving recipients to blog postings, etc. In addition, for key prospects, attention grabbing dimensional mailers with one-to-one follow up calls can help to reengage.
  • The Right Timing: It is practically impossible for marketers to know when, and if, static leads in the pipeline will convert to sales-ready leads. This is why the timing of nurture campaigns is incredibly important. When a lead is ready to buy, it is crucial that your product/service is top of mind. To accomplish this, nurture campaigns need to have consistent timing and be implemented on a regular basis. However, it is equally important to avoid overloading your target with communications, so they are not perceived as a nuisance. Monthly campaigns are a nice balance between over communicating and under communicating.

Read more about implementing strategic lead nurturing campaigns in this article.

Need help with your lead nurturing strategy? Contact Launch today. Be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest B2B marketing tips and tricks.

Step by Step: The Basic Lead Nurturing Process

March 28th, 2013 by Kathryn Drake

Research has shown that up to 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. This represents a large audience of potential buyers that should not be ignored simply because your sales team is solely focused on short-term gains. A strategic lead nurturing campaign enables you to stay engaged with these prospects until they are ready to purchase.

Lead nurturing allows you to more effectively reach these leads by mirroring the natural progression that they go through during the sales cycle, therefore not overwhelming or annoying them with “salesy” tactics when they are not ready to purchase. The process of nurturing leads can seem tedious at times, but it is important to keep building the relationship in order to stay top-of-mind.

While the process of taking an inquiry from a cold lead to customer will vary according to the characteristics of your specific industry, here is a simplified framework that most lead nurturing processes follow:

1. A Cold Lead is Acquired

Whether it’s through a list purchase, tradeshow booth visit or white paper download, the lead nurturing process begins by making an initial contact with someone. It is important to begin with a softer sales approach in order to gradually introduce the lead to your company, since it is likely that many of them will know only a little about your company, if they know anything at all.

Some companies’ first instinct is to immediately send a new lead to a salesperson, have them make contact and ask for a purchase. While this method may result in a few sales, more than likely leads will be annoyed and stop engaging with your company. A better practice is to place leads into a nurture program, during which it is possible to learn more about their specific pain points, needs and processes. This enables you to more effectively reach them throughout the sales process.

The goal during this stage of the lead nurturing process is to drive awareness of your company and products. This can be achieved by leveraging thought leadership content that illustrates your knowledge and expertise. Doing so creates a sense of trust among your prospects; seeing how knowledgeable you are reassures them that engaging with your company will be successful.

2. The Lead Becomes Engaged

A lead nurturing plan is a strategic way to ensure that you stay top of mind with prospects throughout their progress in the sales funnel. Through continued interactions with your company, a lead will become more engaged with your company. Typically, the type of content they consume will become less thought leadership focused (such as blogs and webinars) and more sales focused (such as case studies and price sheets).

The more the prospect engages with your company, the more you can learn about them based on their activity and the information they share with you. Lead scoring, the process of ranking leads to determine their sales-readiness, is an effective method to understanding the qualities of a lead. The more data you use to build a lead profile, the more it will accurately reflect a true picture of the lead. Therefore, both explicit and implicit lead scores should be used in order to develop a well-rounded picture. Explicit scores come from information that a lead gives your company directly, either by filling out a form or when speaking to a sales rep, while implicit scores are those that you infer from a prospect’s behavior using tools such as analytics or marketing automation software on your website.

The duration of this phase in the lead nurturing cycle varies depending on multiple factors such as the number of internal parties involved in the decision process, the monetary investment required or the contract renewal cycle length. It is important to pay attention to cues that prospects give you in order to determine when it is appropriate to move them to the next stage. If you sense that they are becoming annoyed or overwhelmed, it would be wise to take a step back and lower the frequency of your interactions with them. On the other hand, if you see that they are expressing interest in content that is sales focused, you may want to have a salesperson reach out to them directly.

3. The Lead is Converted to a Customer

Ultimately, the goal of any sales campaign is to convert leads to customers. If executed correctly, lead nurturing increases the conversion rate of a sales campaign since the process keeps your company top of mind. Thus, when a lead is ready to purchase, your company is at the forefront of their consideration due to the relationship that has been built over time.

It may seem like the lead nurturing process is never-ending. However, although the process may be lengthy, ultimately your sales team will be more successful than if they solely focused on trying to convert the small percentage of sales-ready leads that you receive. Companies with best-in-class lead nurturing programs have been shown to have a greater win rate with marketing-generated leads, as well as more sales reps who make quotas than companies without lead nurturing programs.

Need help with your lead nurturing strategy? Contact Launch today and be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest B2B marketing best practices.

Making a Case for Marketing Automation

January 24th, 2013 by Kathryn Drake

marketing automationThe adoption of marketing automation software is steadily increasing, and SiriusDecisions expects the adoption rate to be at 50% by 2015. However, many companies are still unsure of the value that marketing automation can bring to their company, while others are not even sure exactly what it does. We at Launch Marketing believe in the capabilities and benefits of marketing automation, and have developed and maintained successful marketing automation programs for several of our clients. In this blog post, we will present a simple explanation for what marketing automation is as well as the benefits that we have seen from the implementation of marketing automation software.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is, in short, a comprehensive lead management and nurturing software solution that determines the level of interest of leads along with their stage in the buying process , allowing you to effectively move them through the sales funnel. The software tracks these individuals throughout the purchasing process, allowing marketers to interact with them on a more personal basis by matching their needs and interests with relevant content. This automated system also allows you to more accurately score these leads and alert your sales team when a lead is determined to be sales ready, based on their score.

Why We Believe in Marketing Automation

There are several distinct advantages that companies gain by utilizing marketing automation. Here are a few:

“Listening” to the Buyer

Marketing automation enables two-way information flow, as opposed to the one-way information flow that occurs in traditional sales conversations. This allows marketers the chance to “listen” to the buyer and respond appropriately based on their preferences. By listening to and understanding the preferences of individual prospects, marketers are better able to keep them engaged throughout the buying cycle without overwhelming or annoying them.

Staying Top-of-Mind

Since leads will rarely be sales-ready the first time they are engaged by a company, it is important for a company to stay top-of-mind and build relationships with these prospects so that when they are ready to purchase, the company will be included in their consideration set. Ongoing, multi-touch campaigns are key to achieving this, and marketing automation software allows marketers to better deliver this type of campaign to prospects.

Painting a Complete Picture

Marketing automation also helps marketers and sales teams build a complete picture of a lead, one that is composed of both implicit scores (those that are inferred about a prospect such as downloading a whitepaper or viewing a webinar) and explicit scores (things that a prospect explicitly tells a company, such as their job title or budget). Understanding both of these components of a lead is essential in determining a prospect’s level of interest and stage in the buying cycle.

Aligning Sales and Marketing

A critical step in the marketing automation implementation process is ensuring that both the sales and marketing departments are in agreement as to the goals of the implementation. It is also important that both departments agree on the scoring methods that will be used to determine when a lead is sales-ready. Once this is achieved, both departments are able to collaboratively work together to best meet the needs of prospects.

Marketing automation ensures a smooth transition of leads throughout the sales funnel, and also ensures that leads are only given to sales when they are truly sales-ready (defined by the scoring methods agreed upon before beginning the implementation). This reduces the common frustration among sales teams of being given leads from the marketing department and discovering that they are not truly sales-ready.

Working More Efficiently

Marketing automation frees marketing teams from having to manually conduct the lead nurturing process, allowing them to devote their time to more strategic tasks. In other words, they are able to do the work of a much larger team.

Ready to Automate Your Marketing?

Are you ready to experience the benefits of marketing automation? Contact Launch Marketing today to learn how marketing automation can improve the lead management process and drive revenue in your organization. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with our insider marketing tips.