Bravo! You have built a successful inbound marketing strategy and your website is now flush with valuable content that is generating a lot of interest which is translating into sales and leads, lots of leads! The logical path is to deliver these leads to your sales people to follow up with and answer these requests. But before you do that, is there anything else your marketing team can do to measure, track, grow and nurture these leads? Yes indeed there is! Read on…
Identify Source of Lead
Yes, you do need to identify where these leads are coming from. If a lead came through your website, what got the visitor to land on your page? Was it a paid ad? Was it an email they received with a link to your site? Was it from a Social Media post? Was it a referring site? Or was it organic traffic via a web search? If it was a web search, what keyword did they use and what page did they land on?
Knowing what generates leads helps in many ways. As a CEO, you need accurate metrics that identify your cost of new client acquisition. Without that metric, you have no way of knowing if your marketing has built a profitable growth engine. Also, you need to know what marketing methods and channels are delivering results, so that you can divert more resources to test their scalability.
So how do you track the source of the lead? With Google Analytics, you have a trove of data that is at your disposal. Web visitors leave a trail of forensic evidence behind that you can analyze and deduce valuable information from. Another way is to ask. How? By using the form that visitors use to get through to your gated content, you want to collect important information while minimizing resistance to completing the form. Ask how a visitor found your site with a picklist menu. In your picklist, list the prominent methods that pertain to your lead generating sources like Google, Social Media, Referring Site, Email, Word of Mouth, Blog Post, etc. Most leads will provide that info if all they have to do is pick an option from a list.
Collect Key Lead Info
Once you have identified the source of your leads, research the people behind them. Having their name and company name, look them up on LinkedIn, read about them, identify their title, background and geographical location. Is the lead already a customer or is it a new prospective customer. Is it a competitor trying to learn more about your company? You can also google the person and the company to learn more.
If the lead is of interest, determine additional information such as the company address, telephone number, industry, size, years in business, target markets, and any additional information that is deemed useful to your nurturing campaign and to the sales person that will follow up. Try to gauge the readiness of the lead to engage in a sales process and label it accordingly: cold=low interest, warm=suspect, or hot=prospect.
Store in CRM
With a constant stream of leads and the slew of information you collect on them, retaining and organizing this data without a professional system becomes a challenge. Welcome to the world of Customer Relationship Management or CRM. A CRM provides easy to use database solutions to help you enter and track information on your leads, customers, accounts and opportunities. It provides a framework to classify your leads, schedule and remind you of your tasks, and store all your interactions.
A good CRM tool can track quotes and produce valuable sales and sales pipeline reports. Sales managers gain visibility into the activities that their salespeople have. It creates transparency that facilitates succession plans and continuity of accounts, minimizing disruption in employee and client turnover.
There are many CRM solutions that you can use with a varying level of pricing and features. The most popular in use today are cloud-based including Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics and HubSpot CRM.
Remember, garbage in leads to garbage out. It is important to have accurate information about your leads, hence keeping your data up to date. This task becomes more difficult as time lapses and your number of leads increase. People change jobs, change companies and retire. Furthermore, their needs change over time.
To help you deal with the constant change, establish a process that involves updating leads and their fields on a periodic basis and as soon as changes are discovered. It’s easy to fall behind if you put off updating. The more accurate and complete your data gets, the more accurate your targeted marketing programs become.
With accurate information about your leads, accounts and customers, you can enable meaningful segmentation by slicing data based on personas, industries, job titles, company size, company location, product interest, readiness to buy, and any other characteristic that you entered and maintained.
This segmentation leads to accurate target marketing campaigns, creating value in the eyes of the customers and leads and reducing unwanted spam-like email and noise. Market segmentation is another pillar of your marketing strategy. CRM delivers this on a silver platter!
Create Email Templates
In my previous blog post Digital Content & Keywords for CEOs I discussed the importance of packing your website and blog with valuable original content to draw traffic. Draw from your blog posts to create valuable email content for each of your market segments.
Create separate templates for leads and customers. Your messages to each will likely be different. This will enable you to target each with relevant offers, messages and campaigns.
Pen feel-good email templates to celebrate major accomplishments, occasions and holidays. Plan to inform your leads and clients when you reach major milestones. In the U.S. it is also customary to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year as well as other religious or national holidays. Solicit referrals, testimonials and reviews from your customers at least once a year. Not all your emails have to be about selling. Some can be about socializing, networking, celebrating and thanking!
Configure these emails in templates in your CRM. Customize each email template by assigning variables as placeholders for your leads’ names, company names, industry affiliation and any other parameter you have implemented in your CRM. The more customized your emails are, the more personal they will feel.
Translate your emails into your clients and prospective clients’ native languages. The cost of translation is incurred only once, but the content is used and reused over and over again. Professional website translation services can handle your email translations maintaining your templates structure intact for proper customization and reuse all over the world.
The use of email templates with the above basic but essential practices will give you the ability to regularly contact clients and prospective clients quickly and efficiently.
Strong Call to Action
Emails need to be formulated with creative subject lines, interesting content, adequate formatting and backed by a terrific website to be effective. The AIDA selling method should be applied to email marketing: Awareness/Attention, Interest, Desire/Decision and Action. The email subject should draw Attention, the headers should create Interest, the body should create Desire to learn more and the Action should be to visit your website via the provided hyperlinks or to reply to you.
Your call to action should be commensurate with the sales stage of your lead. It will be too early for instance to ask a lead for a recommendation or to refer you to others when you have just started the communication process.
Build Nurturing Workflows
Schedule email blasts on your marketing calendar and automate them. Advanced CRM tools allow you to institute automated lead nurturing workflows and processes to touch leads and customers on a frequent basis with valuable information.
Let’s assume that a segment of your leads have requested your whitepaper in the past. A logical workflow that you can build will start by thanking them for the request. You can follow up two weeks later asking them if they had a chance to read it, what they thought and if they have any questions. A few weeks later you can send an email offer to attend a webinar. Then, perhaps schedule a meeting. This can be setup automatically in a workflow with conditional triggers, time lapses and predefined email templates which you have already taken the time and effort to create.
Refine your workflows to maximize open and click through rates, while minimizing opt outs and spam labeling. Content, timing and proper targeting are your keys to success.
Use an Email Delivery Service
A successful email campaign will have a high reply rate and a high open and click through rate. So how do you know if your emails are being delivered, opened or acted upon?
Subscribe to a 3rd party email delivery system like SendGrid, MailGun, or MailChimp. These services give you the ability to track delivery, open and click rates, manage your opt-outs, and track and make note of your undelivered and failed emails, so they are never contacted again. Also, and very importantly, they minimize spam filters from blocking your emails and getting your domain blacklisted. These services are so inexpensive that everyone can afford them.
Touch Leads Periodically
In real estate, the three top priorities are location, location, location. With lead nurturing, it is timing, timing, timing. Out of mind is out of sight. Not all leads are ready to be engaged by your sales people. Most are simply interested in getting basic information out of curiosity, educational or planning purposes. Some already have approved vendors but are looking for possible backup plans or better options.
Prospects don’t buy what they need, they buy when they have a need. By establishing lead nurturing workflows that enable your company to stay in touch on a regular basis with your prospective and existing clients, you will stand a much better chance of engaging them when the need arises.
Honor Opt Out Requests
Obey Can-Spam Laws. U.S. laws do not prohibit sending unsolicited emails. They require you to follow certain guidelines when sending unsolicited email. These guidelines include:
- Not sending false, deceptive or misleading messages
- Identifying your email message as an ad
- Providing your physical address
- Offering an opt-out option, then honor them
- Being accountable for what others do on your behalf
Note that European and Canadian standards are much stricter. Furthermore, virtually all U.S. based internet service providers have zero tolerance policies that go beyond what U.S. laws dictate.
With many watchdog groups today fighting spam, and with the collaboration of internet service providers all over the world, it is easy to fall into spam traps that will have your domain shut down overnight and blacklisted without notice. If this happens to you, you’ve just nullified all the hard work you’ve done on your website and its digital content. Be very careful and do not take unnecessary risks.
Always Offer Value
By offering value, you avoid annoying your clients and prospective clients with periodic emails, you also stand the chance to keep them dialed in and engaged, turning remotely interested leads into fully engaged customers!
With properly segmented and updated leads, hosted in an effective CRM solution, email templates and workflows can be setup to work for you 24/7, gradually moving cold leads into warm ones, ready for your salespeople to engage and close.
If you need help implementing a lead nurturing & email marketing strategy, request a SCORE Mentor here!
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.