Research from Ascend2 quantifies that the number one objective of online marketing for both B2B and B2C organizations is LEADS.
With that single-minded focus, it’s reasonable to ask, how do you qualify and rank the actual leads that you spend valuable resources on to capture?
It’s important to recognize that leads are the lifeblood of new business for any organization. And the answer to this question should put the spotlight on the qualified people your sales team needs to turn into actual paying customers.
But leads ONLY represent the opportunity for revenue if they’re successfully educated, nurtured and converted to make the cash register ring.
Lost opportunity is cost prohibitive
In our business as Content Marketing strategists, consultants and creators, we’ve unfortunately, encountered instances where our work successfully delivers qualified leads but the organization seeking them leaves them dormant or untouched! Or worse, the leads are treated as annoying digital distractions that never get followed up on.
The result is a huge opportunity loss to engage and further a relationship with someone who has self-identified themselves with a higher level of interest in your value. If it’s not obvious, this is not a path to success.
In fact, it’s the fastest way to diminish both your investment in Content Marketing and the value of new customers. Why? Because if someone has self-selected themselves as interested or engaged in your content, and they’re not recognized or followed up with promptly, they move on—more than likely to your competitor. Not good.
Rate + Rank with a Lead Score
Any qualified inbound marketing + marketing automation platform should provide insight and understanding on the leads that you capture online. And the best way to do that is by providing a numeric “score” of the quality of each and every lead that you capture through actions on your website—including conversions on integrated forms.
This important score can help you discern:
- How frequently and deep the lead engages with your content
- The lead’s interest level on content + dimensions of your solution
- Opportunities for furthering online engagement through marketing automation and nurturing
How to get lead scoring right
First, you have to identify the important pages on your site that reflect a visitors interest in understanding or learning more about your value. These pages represent the places where you should be addressing your prospects pain or challenge.
At these pages, you should be disclosing how you can provide help, information or understanding of their situation or circumstance.
Next, you need to set a numeric value for each conversion opportunity on your site that integrates data capture fields + forms. That means, that some forms should have higher values than others.
For example, if someone downloads an eBook, that's a recognition of interest in very specific content. But if someone actually fills out the CONTACT FORM on your site, this has more value because the site visitor is letting you know they want to connect with a real person from your organization ASAP.
You then need to assign an appropriate value on all of the gated assets available on your site. These are the hi-value assets like infographics, podcasts, videos, white papers or tools that visitors can get to if they give up some information.
Assign a higher value to these asset types that reflect deeper content detail and visitor interest.
Last, you need to pay attention to the dashboard. You need to configure your marketing automation system to alert you via text + email so that you can easily identify those leads that have achieved a high, qualified lead score.
A summary of recent lead activity should also be sent to you via email so that you can see the most active and qualified leads in quick snapshot. This reduces the chance that you’ll never overlook a potential opportunity.
By simply adding up the numeric values that you’ve given the above activities, you can then identify a reasonable number that would equate to a site visitor engaging with your content to a level that separates them from just casual visitors.
Once you’ve set this threshold, you can configure efficient workflows that automatically put these qualified leads into a dedicated list that alerts your sales and marketing team that an appropriate outreach should take place to recognize the lead’s intent with your content or solution.
A list like this could also become the “go to place” for sales to follow up with every qualified lead. Think of this list as a HOT LEAD list. The list, in effect, becomes the place where your sales team can make a first assessment of the opportunity of converting each list member into a paying customer.
Additional workflows to consider with effective lead scoring include:
- Adding a qualified lead to an initial OUTREACH + TOUCH POINT task
- Setting up and configuring a SCHEDULED APPOINTMENT conversion task + workflow for leads that convert and want to actually engage with a sales team member
- Moving unresponsive qualified leads to a LONG TERM NURTURING status
- Setting up and configuring nurturing campaigns for qualified leads that have automatically been moved to LONG TERM NURTURING status
The sales team’s best friend: Marketing Automation
When a lead reaches the desired score of a qualified lead, your sales team can lean on Marketing Automation to automatically do the essential task of outreach and follow up—without the need to pick up the phone or craft a 1-to-1 email. Think that might save some resources or time?
A simple nurture campaign can be developed that automatically fires an email to a qualified lead when they’ve achieved the qualified lead score number. The results can be exceptionally effective.
In fact, Forester reports that organizations that engage in marketing automation and lead nurturing are able to generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost-per-lead. Getting this kind of value without the need for a sales person to extend any effort is extremely attractive.
Other effective techniques for lead nurturing can include:
- Automatically sending a second FOLLOW UP EMAIL
- Directing leads to an APPOINTMENT SET UP PAGE with conversion form
- Automatically sending a THANK YOU EMAIL for a scheduled appointment with your sales rep
If the lead fails to engage through these automation activities, you can then configure your marketing automation software to move the lead from a qualified “HOT LEAD” status to a new status of LONG TERM NURTURE.
Once again, an easy to use marketing automation system can be configured to:
- Notify lead owner of “HOT LEAD”status removal
- Put the lead into a new LONG TERM NURTURE classification
- Start a series of AUTOMATIC EMAIL’s or drip campaigns that continue to engage with the lead, point them to related content and enable the opportunity to convert them into a paying customer in the future
The gift that keeps on giving
The benefits of lead scoring and marketing automation actually increase over time. As your Content Marketing efforts increase the portfolio of digital assets on your site, this rich repository of information, education and insights for your prospects becomes fertile ground for growing more and more qualified leads that are interested in engaging with you.
If you’re not taking advantage of lead scoring with your current Content Marketing program, it’s time to revisit your processes, platform or resources tasked with making your efforts successful.
And if your marketing automation or inbound marketing software makes all of this too hard, consider turning to a qualified partner to guide you through the necessary technologies, strategies and processes to get this set up and simplified ASAP.
Over to you
As any online marketer knows, success isn’t getting easier any time soon. So where are you?
Are you scoring your leads? Does your sales team know who’s HOT and who’s not?
Share what’s working for you. Looking forward to hearing from you.