inbound marketing leadsAs we focus a tremendous amount of time and effort on our marketing efforts, we need to remember the whole reason for marketing, which is nurturing leads to sales.  We are all looking for ways to grow our business, and looking for the differentiator that gives us the edge over our competition.  One of the real beauties of inbound marketing is that once we get our visitors to convert to leads, we already know a bit about the leads and they are likely truly qualified leads.  But a question we get on a routine basis is, “great we have gotten leads, now what?”

Well, dealing with leads used to be a whole lot easier than it is today.  In the past we would attend trade shows, collect business cards, and answer the phone when it rang from outbound marketing campaigns.  The phone call was our main method of communicating.  In today’s world we can communicate via phone, email, social media, through workflows, web meetings and more.  Some of us old timers see an inbound lead and are conditioned to grab for the phone to reach out, talk to the lead and close them.  This is the way we’ve always done it but it couldn’t be further from what we need to do today.

Nurture Leads First

Inbound Marketing has afforded people the ability to search the web without the fear of having to directly interact with a sales person.  While I believe that sales people have a bad reputation for being overly aggressive, we must agree that there are plenty of pushy sales people out there.  So, people have become accustomed to being able to search in anonymity without the fear of their phone ringing.  As Inbound Marketers our job is to get their information in exchange for valuable content, eBooks, whitepapers and the like.  So let’s just say, that as soon as a lead is generated, unless they specifically request it, we do not reach out to them by phone.  The goal is to nurture the leads.

The more engaging the lead is, the more information that we are able to extract from them over time.  You need to think of this like dating.  They have expressed an interest in you and your company because they visited your website.  It is possible that they were just interested in your content and have no interest in your company, but that is okay, too.  The key is to remember to remain in the top of mind of your lead.  When they or someone they know need your services, they quickly recommend you.

One of the keys to engaging them is twofold.  First, we want to set them up into appropriate workflows that routinely engage with them via email, by letting them know of additional content offers they may not be aware of.  There is a little bit of a balancing act here, because we do not want to become spammy but we do want to remain on the top top of mind.

How Often Do I Email Leads?

Your industry and its unique buying cycle will determine your emailing frequency. It’s up to marketers to continue to create great, new content to give leads a reason to return to our site and retrieve the latest information.  The real beauty of this is that with each form that leads complete, we can request additional information that help us determine exactly what interests this lead.

Here is where the magic happens.  Now, your sales team can review all of this collective information, and be more prepared than ever before reaching out directly to the lead.  This is exceptionally powerful and will definitely set you apart from your competition.  Additionally, knowing your business the way that your sales team does, they will be prepared to address concerns of the clients prior to the first contact.

Progressive Profiling in Action

Let’s look at an example.  Let’s say that you run a flower shop.  You  write articles about all sorts of occasions where your services could be used, Weddings, Funerals, Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs, Proms, and more.  Someone downloads your ebook “The Guide to Best Wedding Flowers”, and one of your form questions can be if you have a pending wedding, when your wedding may be, and/or your role in the wedding (bride, groom, mother of the bride).  Now, not all of these questions need to be asked on this form.  We can ask some on this form and others on “guide to the best centerpieces”.  If one of your questions is how long until the wedding, now you know exactly how aggressive you need to be with your email marketing to them.  This concept is known as progressive profiling.

One of the great innovations as inbound marketing evolves with technology is the continued use of progressive profiling.  This tactic allows your CMS to replace questions that you have already asked a visitor with new questions.  HubSpot is leading the way with this innovative technology that will increase our close ratios in turning our leads into sales.