Turn Inbound Leads into Customers
Marketers have changed the way they handle online demand generation by using thought leadership like white papers, surveys and videos to drive interest in their industry or solution. But for many companies, leads from these inbound methods don’t necessarily mean an increase in potential sales opportunities. Here are some tips to help you convert these inbound leads into customers.
1. Don’t expect a lead generated from inbound marketing to turn into a qualified prospect overnight
When someone responds to an offer for a white paper, it does not mean they have the budget to buy, or the need for your product or service at that exact moment. This is why three-step drip campaigns don’t work, as they don’t engage prospects unless they are already ready to buy at that moment. Instead, marketers must create longer nurturing campaigns that infuse thought leadership with occasional offers for demos, fact sheets or product information. When this information creates engagement with the lead, it causes them to click through a landing page or download information. Be sure to follow up with a sales email or phone call to determine if it’s the right time for a demo.
2. Ensure future offers are highly relevant
Now that a prospect has opted-in to your lead nurturing program, be sure they want to keep receiving your emails and don’t end up opting-out later. According to research firm, MarketingSherpa:
- 82% of prospects say content targeted to their specific industry is more valuable
- 67% say content targeted to their job function is more valuable
- 49% say content targeted to their company size is more valuable
- 29% prefer content targeted to their geography
Be sure to watch for signs that offers aren’t working by reviewing the email reports provided by your marketing automation system. Compare the opt-outs, click throughs and open rates in the different steps of your nurturing program to ensure that everything is performing well.
3. Create offers for each step of the buying cycle
Once someone shows interest, offer them vertical-specific content like industry-overviews, analyst reports, buyer’s guides, etc. This will help drive demand for your entire industry and create better educated buyers who are more likely to make purchases based on value instead of price alone.
4. Make sure solution-oriented and company-focused content is available when prospects are ready to buy
Just because someone has opted into your nurturing campaign does not mean that a prospect knows what product or service your company provides. When a prospect starts to engage in industry-specific content make sure to follow up with offers like product demos, product fact sheets or case studies.
5. Create a lead-recycling program
While marketing may have found the perfect prospect, that does not mean the prospect has the right budget or resources to buy now.
If, after contacting a lead, a rep determines that the lead is not sales-ready, sales should be able to send it back to marketing by adding the lead to a lead-recycling program.
When leads are recycled, they can either be put back into your basic nurturing campaign or, even better, they can be added to a specialized version of the campaign that is optimized for the specific information the rep collected during their interactions (e.g. interests and timing).
By following these tips you will make more of one of your company’s most valuable asset, its database.