8 Ways to Generate More Sales-Ready Leads: Part Two
May 21, 2019 | Elizabeth Rivelli
Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a two-part series that explores best practices for nurturing prospects, generating qualified leads, and improving conversion rate.
In part one of this blog series, we looked at the ways marketers can lay the foundation for an effective lead generation strategy. According to our panel of experts, it starts with getting to know your audience and understanding your company’s buyer personas.
We heard from Jennifer Lux of LyntonWeb, who said, “Really understanding your personas is key to attracting the right sales-ready audience. Marketing teams are sometimes too aspirational about their personas.” Mapping out your buyer personas is critical in order to create effective content that educates your readers and nurtures them throughout the buyer journey.
As you’re building a portfolio of marketing resources, don’t forget to optimize your content with high-intent search terms. “A great way to generate more qualified, sales-ready leads is by targeting the right keywords,” says Growth Hackers’ Jonathan Aufray. “Instead of targeting informational, educational or navigational keywords, start targeting transaction, buying-intent keywords.” Using the right keywords in your content can boost organic web traffic, and attract more bottom-of-the-funnel leads that have a higher intent to purchase.
Many of the marketers we spoke with sang the praises of using qualifying questions and elements of interactivity in your content. In part one, we heard from Brian Casey of Ironpaper, who uses this strategy with their online forms. “When focusing on qualified, sales-ready leads, it’s important to have your forms optimized with questions that will indicate whether the lead aligns to your ideal buyer profile.”
Not only do qualifying questions help marketers determine if a lead is qualified based on sales’ criteria, but they also provide valuable insights that sales can use to personalize their follow up conversations.
In part two, we’ll look at the ways marketers can align with their sales team to score leads, create effective nurture campaigns, personalize the buyer experience, and improve their conversion rate. Let’s get started.
1. Hand Leads Off to Sales Quickly
Ben Walker of Transcription Outsourcing recommends a remarkably simple way to get more qualified leads: “We contact the people that fill out our online form within the first five minutes if possible. Our close rate goes above 90% when we do this and we have done the numbers to make sure this works, and it does.”
2. Market Your Salespeople’s Expertise
Getting people to your website is only the first step. Many marketers recommend optimizing your site for conversion to get them to the next step. “Two big things correlate with conversions,” says Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina: “answering questions and visual prominence in the call to action. Here’s a way to do both with one small design element.”
“When you put a face near the CTA, you draw attention to that part of the page. This is because faces are powerful magnets for attention. Most marketers know this. But there’s a second benefit that few marketers consider.”
“Before a visitor converts, there is a moment of uncertainty. Who am I contacting? The face answers this question in a subtle way. It humanizes the act of conversion. You aren’t just submitting your info into a void. You’re sending it to a specific person.”
Alexandra Zelenko of DDI Development gives similar advice: “Be personal. Be a human. And do this right next to the call to action.” Running conversion experiments can also yield huge results, says Henry O’Loughlin.
3. Align Your Website Offers with the Next Step in the Sales Process
Nectafy had a client whose main call to action on their site was to sign up for a free trial. “We learned that the free trial process was difficult for the user, however, and the sales team’s goal became trying to give a demo to the people that requested free trials.”
“We decided to switch the main CTA on the site from free trial to demo to match with the sales process that followed,” continues O’Loughlin. “After twelve weeks of data, we saw these results:
- 24% increase in bottom-of-funnel landing page views
- 37% increase in bottom-of-funnel leads
- 27% increase in demos given
By matching the main call-to-action with the sales process, the sales team was able to give 27% more demos over the same time frame.”
4. Use Chat(bots) to Move Visitors Through the Funnel
“I implemented conversational marketing for my client SafetyPro Resources,” says Pepper’s Myrna Arroyo. “The chatbot engages website visitors to create more engagement, then filters out the leads based on how they answer questions so that the best ones get offered the opportunity to schedule a call with a sales rep.”
“Those who want simple information get routed to appropriate resources, those who want a basic safety program get routed to an online sales page, and those that need more complex consulting services get the opportunity to schedule a call.”
Sophie Shiatis of ShinyBlue Marketing gives similar advice: “Chat on the website has been the more impactful way of generating ready to buy and sales qualified leads. Engaging with people the minute they are evaluating a vendor, eliminates the back and forth and keeps them focused on your service/product vs jumping into a competitor’s site.”
5. Nurture Leads with Automated Email
“By far, the most effective way I’ve generated more qualified, sales-ready leads for my company is by nurturing leads via email marketing,” says James Pollard of The Advisor Coach.
“I sell a lot of high-ticket products and services, so most people are hesitant to buy right away. When they opt in to my email list, they receive daily emails and eventually see that I am the real deal and can help them achieve the results they want.”
“I’ve had people who were receiving daily emails for two years before they finally decided to do business with me. The good news is that this email follow-up can be automated with an email autoresponder service.”
5. Use Personalized Videos in Your Email Outreach
Weidert Group stands out by including video in their emails, says Kelly Wilhelme. “We’ve had great luck getting email responses by including a personal video when from the salesperson when they send the connect-attempt email. It seems people can’t resist clicking on a Play button.”
“Our VP of Business Development creates quick one-on-one videos to connect with leads who’ve shown interest and most of the emails are opened immediately—and many recipients respond more quickly than they do to just text emails. People appreciate not having to read another email and seeing a face builds trust.”
6. Implement Lead Scoring
Cass Polzin of Accelity Marketing recommends “a combination of Progressive Profiling, Lead Scoring, and Workflows. Each of our content pieces is behind a gated landing page where visitors are asked to input their name and email in order to get the download. Once they’ve visited once, the next time they show up the form will ask different questions in order to continue qualifying them.”
“We usually have 2–3 layers of this. Each answer is assigned a point value which either moves prospects closer to the MQL threshold or bumps them out entirely. Other activities, such as clicking on emails, reading blogs, and more also give prospects points as well.”
“After we’ve generated a few MQLs this way, we go back and look at our lead scoring compared to the quality of lead we received and edit the formula to ensure we’re providing the highest quality leads.”
Marketing and business success coach Ashleigh Peregoy stands by automated lead scoring via email: “I can see who opened up an email and what they clicked on. I then automate the process to reach back out to those people. These are those that are ‘HOT LEADS,’ who are obviously interested but hadn’t reached out yet. I close a high percentage of these.”
Brand chemistry’s Christabelle Tani says this about setting up your lead scoring system:
“Work closely with Sales to create a lead scoring system that gathers all the data they need to determine whether they want to accept the lead and gives them context to inform their outreach messages. We consistently review these leads in a monthly sales and marketing alignment meeting to see if there are ways that we can tweak scoring or our processes to better support them.”
7. Provide Free Versions of Your Product
“If you’re a subscription-based SaaS service that offers a Free plan (like we do at Survicate), then I’m sure you’ll agree there’s a very specific group of leads who sign up for an unpaid account only to…never use it, or abandon it for months,” says Vlada Masevich.
“Our sales team at Survicate wanted to analyze what the sales potential was within this group. Just a couple weeks back, we asked them a [straightforward] question: ‘What’s stopping you from using Survicate?’ Here’s a breakdown of the answers:
26% – I don’t need surveys right now
22% – Found a better solution (the perks of being in a competitive market, eh?)
19% – Other reasons
17% – I had no time to test it yet
11% – I don’t know how to create and/or send a survey
4% – Didn’t find what I was looking for.
Only slightly over a quarter of respondents declared they did not need the tool! So how do we approach the remaining 74%?”
“Respondents who haven’t had the time to test or didn’t know how to use the tool constituted 28% of respondents. It’s possible that they might just need a demo call (or, simply, a little more time) to become paying customers.”
“The 22% who chose a different solution are also an important group for your lead management goals. Even if you don’t convince them to give you another try, by reaching out you’ll learn how you can position yourself better in the future. All in all, while it was the first time we’ve run such an in-app lead activation survey at Survicate, it’s definitely going to become a recurrent lead nurturing method.”
Tettra also pursues free account users, says Kristen Craft. “We sent personal emails, including a personalized video, to each new free account signup. In the email, we invited people to attend an onboarding webinar or request a demo with a salesperson. The conversion rate (to paid accounts) was much higher among these people than among those who hadn’t received this personal outreach.”
“We get 3500 signups for our free product every month and that leads to more than 100 new paying customers every month” said Davorin Gabrovec, founder of Databox. “In the beginning, we did not have an effective marketing funnel and were not generating sales qualified leads. Once we started creating educational content that aligned with what our product did, we started getting more and more free users. Some of those free users upgraded on their own and many more upgraded with some help from our pre-sales customer support team. If you need more sales-qualified leads, the combination of a free product and content marketing can’t be beat.”
8. Experiment with Tactics that Cater to Your Audience
As we saw in the section about buyer personas, it’s important to understand your audience, their needs, and the methods they respond to. Every company finds results with their own combination of tactics. Here are some of the other methods you might try to generate sales-ready leads:
- Partner and customer-referral programs (Cory Snyder, Zenreach)
- Press releases and subsequent social media ads (Evan Roberts, Dependable Homebuyers)
- Creating more success stories and case studies (David Hoos, The Good)
- Using forum sites like Quora and Reddit to tell companies’ authentic stories (Stacy Caprio)
- Using analytics to find out which traffic sources are driving qualified leads and focusing on those channels (Colton De Vos, Resolute Technology Solutions)
No matter what you do, you’ll have to find a way to stand out. Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls gives us a great breakdown of one of her favorite methods:
“Thought leadership is still a great way to build your organization’s brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients/customers. Activities like speaking at a conference, writing articles, building your following on social media all contribute to increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community.”
“Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter,” says Arnof-Fenn, “try contributing regularly to existing well-trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of like-minded organizations reaching the same target audience as you.”
There are as many ways to generate qualified, sales-ready leads as there are audiences. Each one is unique, and each one will earn you different results. See how SnapApp helps marketers maximize the reach of their marketing programs, and improve their lead generation efforts.