The inbound marketing process is highly effective as a model for drumming up business online, but some companies have an easier time than others when it comes to execution. Inbound marketing will only work for you when a steady flow of relevant prospects visits your site, feeding the top of the funnel. People who can’t afford your product or service, are not authorized to make purchasing decisions, or are looking for something you don’t provide are not quality leads. Without qualified leads, moreover, your processes for nurturing and closing are rendered useless, and you won't be able to bring in new customers.
Keep the pipeline flowing by making sure that the leads your website captures have maximum relevance. This way, you'll be able to stop wasting time and resources, your CRM won't be cluttered with noise, and your sales team will become a conversion powerhouse. Here are four questions to ask yourself that can help optimize your inbound infrastructure for lead quality.
What Does Your Website Say?
Start by examining your primary landing pages to see the messaging you're using to capture leads. Are you offering enough information so people can determine whether your product is right for them? If you sell high-priced products or services, consider making that more obvious at the outset by publishing your prices or using words and phrases (“exclusive,” “high end,” “premium” etc.) that spell that out.
Look at the content, layout and calls-to-action with fresh eyes, and ask your brain trust to give their impressions too. Your landing pages need to accurately describe what you are selling and who it is for, so that the right leads are interested and other visitors will refrain from getting in touch with you.
What Do Your Ads Say?
Next, check your advertising keywords and copy. If you’re paying for Google ads on extremely generic keywords, chances are you are getting a lot of irrelevant visitors as a result. Even those who don’t convert on the landing page are costing you money when they click on your ad.
Go for long tail keywords that are more specific, to see if you can more precisely target people who are better matches to eventually do business with you. Then make sure that your ad creative is optimized to resonate with your ideal customers and no one else. As a result, hopefully only qualified leads will head your way.
When Do You Pitch?
Leads usually enter your conversion funnel at the very top, while they are still in the research stage. They are just starting to wrap their heads around their own pain points as they familiarize themselves with a variety of potential solution approaches. If you hit people like this up with a hard-sell pitch right away, they're unlikely to respond well.
Make sure you nurture relationships until your leads trust your brand, understand what you are offering and feel that they will truly benefit from it. Educational content bridges the gap between initial contact and sales readiness, so that prospects can gain a sense of what it would be like to work with you. This helps not only to convert sales but also to manage expectations, so that the new customer intake process is rendered smoother and more likely to lead to customer loyalty. The sales pitch should come at the end of a deliberate nurturing process, only once the prospect is ready for it and your sales reps can build on a strong relationship.
Are You Keeping Score?
It’s impossible to weed out all unqualified leads when they first appear. On the other hand, with lead scoring, you can easily sort your directory of prospects to identify the ones that are most worthy of short-term investment. Make sure you use a CRM that supports automated lead scoring, since it's simply too difficult and cumbersome to be handled manually. Businesses generally score their leads using a point system that ranges from 1 to 100, with 100 indicating readiness for a sales pitch. Points are awarded for various factors, which include off-site attributes, past interactions with you and behaviors on your website and social media channels.
Each lead receives a score upon entry into the conversion funnel based on the data that is available at the time. A CEO might rank higher than a junior employee, or a San Franciscan might be assigned a higher score than a resident of Maine. As prospects move through the conversion funnel, their scores are continually updated based on trackable engagement factors. A lead who consistently opens emails, downloads resources and posts about your brand on social media will quickly receive a high score. Someone who ignores your brand communications will score lower, which allows your sales team to ignore these people until the time comes that they achieve the tipping point of sales-readiness.
Is Your Site Generating Qualified Leads?
Now is the time to take a look at your marketing and sales processes to see whether you are generating and nurturing the right leads. The lifeblood of your business depends on it.
Take a look at your website's pages – especially the homepage and the ones meant to capture leads – as well as your paid ads and social messaging, to see whether you are attracting the right prospects. Investigate your lead nurturing system to determine whether you are educating your customer before trying to sell. Finally, if you don’t yet have a solution for lead scoring, find a marketing platform that offers it and set up a system to help you focus only on selling to those who are ready.
A content and social media marketing specialist, Ben Jacobson joined the Lean Labs team in the summer of 2014. Ben has been active as a digital branding professional since the early days of social media, having overseen projects for brands including MTV, National Geographic, Zagat and Wix. His writing has appeared in Social Media Explorer, Search Engine Journal, Techwyse and the Mad Mimi Blog. Ben resides just south of the Carmel Mountain ridge in Israel with his dashing wife and two sprightly descendants.