It’s a tale as old as time. Sales thinks the leads they get from marketing are lacking, while marketing thinks sales isn’t working hard enough to convert them.
The truth is, filling your pipeline with sales-ready leads gets harder every day. Social media, online review sites, and other influencers have empowered buyers to enter the buying cycle much later. Consequently, competition for leads is greater than ever.
But there are several proven tactics for generating leads in less time. Here are some battle-tested techniques that can help you capture plenty of hot prospects quickly:
Focus on lifetime value (LTV). While the idea of reducing the number of leads you generate can be scary, fewer and better-qualified leads will convert better and have a greater LTV.
- Identify the characteristics of your highest- and lowest-value customers. Don’t make the common mistake of chasing customers who cost more to acquire than they are worth. Understand the relationship between cost per acquisition (CPA) and LTV, and then build your acquisition strategy around those customers who will be most profitable.
- Establish how and when your prospects want to be contacted. Ask them their preferences when they opt in for your communications, and test to see which delivery time and days have the best open and conversion rates.
- Establish an acceptable cost per lead (CPL). This will help you decide where and how to allocate your budget.
- Create a clearly defined process that outlines how and when leads are passed from marketing to sale. Use explicit (budget, authority, needs, and time-frame) and implicit (subsequent behavior) scoring to segment your leads. Titles, roles, company size, industry, revenue, geography, content downloads, and other criteria should be included.
- Have sales and marketing agree on what makes a qualified lead.
- Once you’ve established your lead criteria, score your leads based on how likely they are to purchase. This will help sales identify and prioritize the low-hanging fruit. If possible, integrate your lead-generation or automated-marketing platform with your CRM or sales platform for real-time scoring and transfer of leads.
- Develop a solid lead-nurturing strategy. This lets you continue to have conversations with prospects until they are ready to buy. According to Marketing Sherpa’s Lead Generation Benchmark Report, companies that leverage lead nurturing see a 45 percent lift in ROI.
- Use marketing automation software to score leads based on their activity, and then deliver drip-campaign messaging by email and social channels until the leads are sales-ready.
- Track online behavior and amend lead scores based on digital footprint. Marketing automation software makes it possible to score prospects based on which articles they’re reading, which materials they’re downloading, and which videos they’re watching.
- Come up with a compelling offer. Even your best prospects won’t respond if there’s nothing in it for them. Providing them with something of true value will deepen the relationship and help you stay top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.
- Align your offers with the prospect’s stage in the buying cycle. A gift-with-purchase or free-trial offer means nothing to someone who’s just researching their options.
- Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) for every campaign. Set clear goals and objectives so that everyone knows what success looks like. Measure lead volume, close rate, time to close, conversion costs, revenue for the new customer, and customer LTV.
- Create compelling, relevant content that focuses on your best prospects’ pain points. When creating your content, be mindful of the search terms your prospects are using. These may not be products or services, but problems or challenges they are experiencing.
- Measure the interaction your customers and prospects have with your content, to ensure that you are creating information that’s relevant and valuable. Translate your content into other forms, such as articles, videos, and podcasts, so customers can have the information served up in the formats they prefer.
- Decide which tactics to use. Trade shows, webinars, e-mail marketing, search, pay-per-click, and traditional advertising should all be considered.
- Use search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that searchers will find your site. Create content with the long-tail keywords that your best prospects will search for. As prospects move through the buying cycle, their keyword searches become more specific.
- Take a close look at your online forms. The fewer questions you ask, the more responses you’ll get, so save additional qualifying questions for subsequent communications. Always test before you eliminate fields on your lead-generation forms.
- Use social media channels to promote the content you develop. Identify the social channels your prospects and others with similar interests are using to inform themselves. Then join the community as a trusted advisor who provides valuable solutions based on the most-asked questions or concerns.
- Start a blog. According to HubSpot, businesses that regularly blog get 55 percent more web traffic and 88 percent more leads than those that don’t. Write posts that use the search terms your best prospects are using.
- Shift some of your budget from outbound marketing to inbound. A study by HubSpot showed that inbound leads cost 61 percent less than outbound leads. Develop great content that is of value to your target audience, and then use email marketing and blogging to promote it.
- Speak at industry events. This will expose you to lots of prospects you might not otherwise meet, and establish you as a thought leader in your field or industry.
- Attend conferences and trade shows. They’re a great way to stay abreast of industry trends, and you’ll likely learn more about what challenges your prospects are trying to overcome.
- Encourage your existing customers to refer their contacts. There’s no better advocate for your business than a satisfied customer.
If your sales and marketing teams haven’t agreed on what makes a great lead, start there. This simple step will have a positive impact on the rest of your lead-generation efforts moving forward.
Once you’ve agreed on that, create a plan of action that addresses how you’ll use compelling content to nurture your leads and guide them through the buying cycle. Stay in contact with them so you’ll be top of mind when they’re ready to buy. Also, take advantage of trade shows and conferences in order to meet your prospects face to face.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.