Congratulations—you’ve snagged yourself a nice little (or big!) audience. They’re reading your blog posts, following you on social media, opening your emails and even engaging with your content. It’s a huge achievement, and yet, it’s only the beginning.
More than ever, marketing teams are charged with driving revenue for their businesses. That means not only acquiring leads, but making sure the right ones get handed off to sales. Remember: Accelerating the wrong leads wastes everyone’s time—yours, theirs, the customer’s…
Great marketers know that their sales team is counting on them to do some vetting. They know that interest is not the same as intent. And they do what they can to ensure that the leads they put in front of their sales team have the most potential to buy. In doing so, they consider:
1. Authority: Can this person make purchasing decisions? Should we be talking to his or her supervisor? Or someone from another department?
2. Need: Do they need the product or service you’re selling? What are they currently using? And if they do need your product or service, do they know they need it?
3. Urgency: Are they ready to buy now? If not, when?
4. Budget: Can they afford you?
To answer these questions, they use a number of proven marketing tactics.
Create buyer personas
The vetting process starts even before you’ve acquired a single lead. A customer or buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a person who buys, or might buy, what you’re selling. Creating buyer personas helps you figure out who your target audience is, where they get their information and what their top concerns are—information that’s essential to developing an effective content strategy.
To create a buyer persona, you first need to take a look at your existing customers. Factor in demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, pain points and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. Then create a persona that includes the following information:
- Job title and description
- Job performance metrics
- Key motivators
- Media preferences—where does the buyer go for information and insights?
- Validators, or the people they trust
Defining the buyer’s journey is also an important aspect of the buyer persona. This helps you understand how your buyer behaves at each step of the process and will allow you to get the right content in front of the right people at the right time.
Nurture your leads
Think of your leads as little seedlings. They need time and a bit of TLC to blossom. You can’t just hand them straight to sales or set them aside until you’re ready. You should be prepared with a well-thought-out nurture campaign—a set of emails customized to your specific buyer persona. Each email should have a defined objective and should be helping your customer further down the sales funnel.
The first thing a nurture campaign does is create demand. It’s an opportunity to show your audience why they need you. After all, the biggest problem for sales and marketing teams isn’t that customers choose a competitor. It’s that customers don’t know they need to change, and so they do nothing. The nurture is your opportunity to educate your customers. You can tell them about the forces impacting the industry, about the cost of doing nothing and about opportunities to improve. Over the course of a nurture campaign, you can create a lead that is more open to the idea of change, which will make the job of selling to them that much easier. Just make sure you save the hard sell for later. The first touches should be all about offering value. This could be a useful tool, a free webinar, an ebook or a whitepaper. And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, either. Take a look at content that’s been effective in the past, and repurpose it here.
The nurture also helps you get to know your leads better. With adequate tracking in place, you can see what people are responding to, which actions they’re taking and when they drop off. If your tracking’s sophisticated, you can tie specific actions to specific leads. And for more detailed information-gathering, you can present your leads with a high-value CTA (more on that later).
Finally, the nurture keeps leads warm. They might not be ready to buy now, but maybe they will be six months from now. In the meantime, you keep the conversation going. They don’t forget about you. They grow to trust you more. And over time, they warm up to the idea of effecting change within their organization.
Leverage the high-value CTA
The high-value CTA (or call to action) is an opportunity to get valuable information from your customer. Instead of a simple, one-way action, like reading a white paper or infographic, you’re asking them to take an assessment and answer a specific set of questions. Things like:
- What’s their role in the organization?
- What are their current pain points?
- How are they currently approaching specific problems/solutions?
- How satisfied are they with the status quo?
- How open are they to the idea of change?
Example: A 10-minute assessment that tells businesses how “findable” they are.
The assessment asks questions—some that just gather the basic business info (name, website, phone number), some about the individual, and some about the company’s strategies around SEO, social media, content marketing and more. At the end of the assessment, you send them a customized report that scores them against their competitors and offers some suggestions for improvement. You’ll know whether or not they’re ready for the pitch (and have valuable information to hand over to the sales team). They’ll have helpful tactics, some of which they can implement right away. It’s a win-win.
These lead qualification strategies take a lot of work and planning, but they’re absolutely worth the effort. You’ll save everyone time and keep your sales team on your good side! And ultimately, they’ll help you fulfill your role as a revenue driver within your organization.