For the past number of years, more and more business owners have devoted increasing proportions of their annual budgets to boosting their online and social media presence. Unfortunately, too many businesses get obsessed with maximizing traffic and views without investing enough effort and resources in their lead management. The result: they attract eyeballs and garner reactions but fail to generate any meaningful revenue. In extreme cases, the digital assets actually become liabilities as the time and effort they require to maintain outweigh the benefit they deliver.
If this sounds painfully familiar, then it’s time to start thinking more strategically. It’s not enough to get people’s attention; after that, you have to do the work of finding the most promising prospects, creating an optimized experience for them, and making sure your sales and marketing processes are solid.
Dig Into the Data
Knowing your leads’ motivations can give you a good feel on how to approach and convert them. You can get an idea about that based on traditional information like their age, gender, civil status, address, and occupation. A lot of businesses can learn even more by having new customers fill up an intake form with more specific details.
But people’s responses to questions or forms generally don’t fully reflect their true motivations and needs. As every good psychologist and marketer knows, what people say and what people do are very different things. In other words, having data on people’s behavior can really boost your lead management and conversion optimization efforts. Tools that look at social media activity, website traffic, and other online movements can be your best friend in that regard.
One of the most overlooked tactics to boost leads is lead scoring — a feature that comes with some automated marketing software — to gauge the level of commitment associated with each lead by giving them points for each successful content interaction. Assuming you’ve already got a solid content and digital marketing plan in place, you can set up a system that gives prospects 5 points when they download an ebook you’re offering, 10 points when they fill up a contact form on a landing page, 8 points when they view a piece of video content that explains a product or service, and -10 points when they unsubscribe from your mailing list. Having a setup like this, especially one that shows real-time information, can let you uncover trends and see which leads would be most receptive.
Balance the User Experience
Getting information to find good prospects is good, but it isn’t always easy; a lot of time, it involves certain costs and tradeoffs. As noted in the introduction, website traffic and views aren’t the same thing as conversions. In the same way, some techniques that can help you find quality leads can end up disrupting the user experience.
Let’s say you’re thinking about creating a landing page that asks for a user’s information in exchange for a free ebook. You may want to consider having a registration form with more fields; the more granular data you get, the more fine-tuned your analysis later on can be. On the other hand, people generally don’t want to spend a lot of time filling out forms, so a very long contact form could actually decrease the total number of people that volunteer their data. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it could actually help with conversion optimization since the ones who actually take the trouble to submit their information are likely more interested in the ebook — which makes them more likely to be interested in other offers.
There are a lot of other examples, but the basic point is clear: a seamless, interruption-free user experience isn’t always helpful for information gathering, and vice-versa. Striking a balance between the two is a good step toward finding quality leads for your business, which is where A/B testing — basically creating two versions of a certain web page and seeing which gets better results — can come in handy. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect strategy when it comes to CRO. The best you can get is continuous improvement as you experiment and gather information.
Mind the Mid-funnel Gap (in Operations)
Conversion can be especially hard for industries involving big-ticket, high-investment items. These can require coordinated pursuit and persuasion not just across digital and non-digital channels, but also by multiple departments — and a lot of the time, friction and confusion can cause people to drop the proverbial ball. Consider the mid-funnel management challenges in auto sales when a dealership’s marketing team passes the leads they’ve attracted to the sales team.
The marketing team might consider their job done once they’ve handed off a lead to the sales team, whom they expect to “work” the lead into a successful purchase. On the other hand, the salespeople might expect that the leads they receive are all ready to sign on the dotted line; they consequently end up ignoring prospects who don’t decide to convert that same day. Businesses that don’t address this disconnect — or worse, don’t even recognize it — face serious erosion of their ROI by losing customers who would have been converted with a sneak peek at a car’s features, a discussion of financing options, and so on.
Problems like this generally require management to step in and work with both parties. On the sales side, they will likely need training to rein in their natural aggressiveness; emphasize the fact that many leads need to be dealt with patiently or they’ll take their business elsewhere. On the other hand, the marketing team may need to be more empowered with lead monitoring, evaluation, and segmentation tools so they can endorse more high-quality leads to the sales team.
By following these and other strategies — and doing the necessary optimization for your particular situation — you should be able to get more bang from your marketing buck. But once you get your lead management down pat, you shouldn’t rest on your laurels. Even today’s best lead management tips may not work as well in the future, so always be prepared to learn and adapt, pivot, and overhaul your strategies accordingly.