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    May 22, 2012 // 5:00 PM

    The Technology You Need to Fix Dismal Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rates

    Written by Pamela Vaughan | @

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    Technology . It’s supposed to be a marketer’s friend -- the tool that democratizes and empowers marketing everywhere. Except ... how often does that happen?

    Instead of empowering, it paralyzes. Marketers see all the choices -- marketing automation, social media, landing pages , content management systems, pay-per-click platforms, social tracking tools, social publishing tools, social advertising tools, marketing analytics, lead management tools, lead tracking tools -- they get overwhelmed, and they freeze or veer off course into a doomed solution.

    So sure, maybe you've got the top of your marketing funnel all figured out. You've got a good amount of traffic flowing into your website, and your visitor-to-lead conversion rate is solid. But if you're like so many marketers, you may still be unsatisfied with your ability to generate the customers and revenue you want to be generating. If this is your case, the following excerpt from our new ebook, How to Avoid Marketing Technology Paralysis: A Guide for Marketing Technology Buyers , will help you understand the technology you need to help you convert leads into customers.

    What to Look for in Lead Nurturing Tools

    There is no shortage of email marketing software options , and you could read volumes about the differences between the various flavors. Here are the most important things to consider:

    Choose Sending and Tracking Tools That Your Team Can Manage

    There are lots of different levels of sending and tracking in email marketing software, but you have to make sure you pick the sending and tracking tools that you can manage. Make sure you don’t get stuck with a sending and tracking tool that goes beyond your needs and that is too complicated for you -- or one that is under-powered. The best way to find this fit is to run a trial of a potential new vendor.

    If You’re Using a Shared IP, Make Sure You Have a High Sender Score

    For most marketers, a shared IP address is the way to go. It’s far more cost-efficient, and less complicated to manage. Only there’s a catch: If your email service provider’s shared IP has a low Sender Score , many of your emails won’t be delivered. Make sure you find out if your ESP has a good Sender Score to ensure people actually see your emails.

    Make Sure It's Easy to Manage Lists

    Many email marketing programs make it difficult to manage lists. You have to export your lists from one app, then load them to another app, then deal with all the footing issues. You want a seamless way to manage lists, ideally within the email creation process itself.

     

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    Utilize Suppression Lists

    Be sure any new email service provider you use allows you to upload suppression lists. A suppression list will prevent you from sending to all the email addresses on your main list that have unsubscribed. If you don’t upload a suppression list, you’ll end up emailing people who have already unsubscribed -- and those recipients will be unhappy, mark your message as SPAM, and hurt your Sender Score and deliverability rate.

    Be Happy With Your Email Templates

    Many marketers sign up for a new email service provider only to discover, halfway through producing their first email, that they can’t live with the template. Set up a trial with your
    new email service provider and make sure you’re happy with the email templates they have available.

     

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    Make Sure There Are Custom Fields

    The ability to customize and personalize email messages doesn’t have to be a complicated feature. If you collect your leads in the same application as the one the one from which you send your emails, you should be able to add custom fields in just a click!

    Look for Integration

    Your email tool should have good integration with your marketing database and list management tools. Without that integration, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time going back and forth between different tools as you download and upload lists. You should also ensure that your email tool has good integration with your marketing analytics platform .

    What to Look for in Marketing Automation

    Marketing automation is another key tool to help improve your lead-to-customer conversion rate . If you’re able to create well-timed, relevant, personalized interactions with leads, you’ll be able to engage them, build their trust, and turn them into customers. Of course, marketing automation runs the risk of appearing overly automated and spammy, too, so you need to proceed with caution. Here’s what you should look for in marketing automation software:

    Be Clear on the Staffing Level it Requires

    Marketing automation automates the email flow, but not the process of managing those email flows. Make sure you’re clear with your marketing automation vendor about the amount of time it typically takes to manage the types of marketing automation campaigns you need to run to achieve your goals. You don’t want to sign up for a marketing automation package, then get a big bad surprise when you discover how much time it takes to run it.

    Don’t Pay for Tools You Don’t Use

    Many marketers sign up for expensive automation solutions loaded with deep, sophisticated features, but end up only using a handful of them. Make sure you buy the tools you use ... and use the tools you buy. If you buy too much, the complexity will be overwhelming and will get in the way of doing what you wanted to do.

    Make Sure You Have Content or Conversion Assist Reporting

    Content is the fuel for marketing automation campaigns . It’s the stuff that produces engagement in your emails and draws prospects in. Most marketers guess which content will create the best engagement with their users. Don’t do that. Use tools like Conversion Assists reporting to measure which pieces of content are helping to convert the most prospects to leads and customers. Then use that content in your automation flow.

     

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    Get Support for the Trigger Actions You Want

    Marketing automation typically means setting up flows of actions to take on a prospect once they hit a specific trigger or condition in your system. Before you commit to any specific
    system, make sure it supports the triggers and actions you want. Key actions to look for are emailing, list actions (adding a contact to a list) and contact actions (changing a value in
    the contact record).

    Yet Again, Look for Integration

    Your marketing automation platform should be tightly integrated with your email marketing, list
    management, and marketing database tools. For example, you should be able to use emails created in your email marketing tool as part of your marketing automation flow. Your contacts lists should be able to trigger automation actions. And, of course, all this should be measurable in the same marketing analytics platform that you use to measure everything else.

    What to Look for in Your Marketing Database

    As a marketer, you need to be able to manage all of your contacts. You need a place to collect all of the leads that you accumulate, and add data to their record as you gather it. Which emails did a contact click on? Which pages on the site did they visit? When did they tweet about you? All this information should be stored in your contact database -- and if you do it the right way with the right tools, it will help you improve your lead-to-customer conversion rate. Here are the keys for tracking your marketing database:

    Robust Contact Tracking

    Your contacts are the core of your business -- they’re the people you are trying to build relationships with so that you can nurture them down the funnel. The more information a contact database tracks, the more it will help you in that nurturing process. Before you decide on a marketing database tool, go through all of your marketing activities, and make sure that as many of them as possible are being collected in your new marketing database.

     

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    Robust List-Building Capabilities

    You need to be able to slice and dice your database so that you can zero in on specific segments of leads and actually do the work of nurturing. You should be able to create dynamic lists (a list defined by a set of criteria that is updated with every new contact that matches the criteria); static lists (a list that meets a specific set of criteria at a specific point in time); and list imports (lists that come from an external source via a manual upload).

    It Should Feel Like Sending Email, Not Database Programing

    Your marketing database should be easy to use. Too many marketing database programs are all database and no marketing. You don’t need to sacrifice one to get the other. Anybody on
    your team should be able to navigate their way around your marketing database and become an expert.

    Integration, Integration, Integration

    To be most effective, your marketing database needs to be the hub of all your marketing activity. It needs to be (you guessed it) integrated with all your marketing activities, because it’s the place where you need to record all the activities of your contacts. That means blog activity, social media activity, webinar activity -- you name it. In addition to collecting a record of all your prospects’ activity, you need to be able pass that activity into your CRM , so make sure that your marketing database also has a great integration with your CRM.

    To learn how to overcome marketing technology paralysis to help you solve problems such as no funnel data, low traffic, and low visit-to-lead conversion rates, download your free copy of our guide today.

    Image Credit: Zach Klein

    technology-paralysis-ebook like-what-youaposve-read-click-here

    Topics: Lead Management

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