Marketers spend plenty of time fretting over what sometimes seems like a lofty lead generation goal. But luckily (for the leads and the sales organization), marketers are also still thinking about what happens to those leads once they enter the CRM. While leads were once given the cold shoulder upon entering the middle of the funnel -- sales isn't ready to talk to them, and marketing is worried about generating more leads -- now effort is being expended to nurture those leads to a point at which they're uber-qualified and ready to buy your awesome product or service.
So how do you ensure you're rocking your middle of the funnel marketing? First, make sure you're not making some of these common but lethal mistakes. And of course, we'll provide you with the way to right these wrongs if any of them strike you as all too familiar.
Giving Up on Conversions
You collected an email address; the marketer's job is done, right? No! You still need to get your leads to convert over, and over, and over again. Why? Because to properly nurture your leads, you need more information about them. And you get that information through multiple conversions. Remember, only 25% of new leads are ready to hand over to sales. Before you waste your sales team's time and throw out all the hard work you've put into generating new leads, spend time getting those new leads to convert on more offers so you can learn more about them, and pass along only the best prospects to your sales organization.
Not Using Marketing Automation to Personalize Your Lead Nurturing Emails
Now that you're focusing on multiple conversion events, you would be remiss not to use the extra data you're collecting to make your lead nurturing more personal. Use marketing automation software to collect data about your leads' on- and off-site behavior, and use that information to better segment your leads and ensure the emails you're sending them correspond with their needs and interests. The more information you collect, the better targeted your communications, and thus the more quickly they can be qualified for sales.
Not Sending Content That Aligns With the Prospect's Stage in the Sales Cycle
Lead nurturing is a little bit like dating. Just like you shouldn't get down on one knee with a diamond ring on your first date, you shouldn't ask a first time site visitor who converted by subscribing to your blog to get started with a free trial. You barely know each other! Don't rush the relationship by sending content that's not relevant to your prospect's stage in the sales cycle.
Instead, use the information you're gathering about your lead to do some content mapping. Line up the lead nurturing content you have, and start to align that with different points in the sales cycle. You may find you have more relevant content for some stages of the sales cycle than others. Work with what you have, and use the content map to identify holes in your content strategy that you can work on filling. And remember, even if you don't have the long-form content and offers you need right away, you might have written blog posts that can be used in your lead nurturing while you work on filling those content gaps.
Not Getting Your Timing Right
Timing is everything (it's a cliché for a reason), and effective middle-of-the-funnel marketers take timing into account in all of their lead nurturing activities. Bad timing could mean lower email open and click-through rates, higher unsubscribe rates, less live connections on the phone, or opportunities lost to your competition. Take time to test the optimal email sending frequency of your lead nurturing campaigns, monitor social media for mentions of your name and competitor brand names so you can capitalize on sales opportunities when prospects are actively looking, and look back on notes in your CRM about the best times to get in touch with your prospects so you don't call when they're likely to be unavailable, busy, or just plain annoyed at you.
Not Using Analytics to Leverage Your Best Content
Like all of your marketing activities, it's crucial to back up and improve upon your decisions using data. Closed-loop analytics lets you understand which offers have converted the most customers, allowing you to visit your content map and adjust your lead nurturing content to highlight the most successful offers in your arsenal. Plus, you can guide your future content creation efforts around creating more content with the characteristics of those high-performing assets.
Not Giving Your Best Offers the Most Real Estate
Now that you know which offers cause the most leads to convert into customers, it would be foolish not to highlight them prominently in relevant places. Include your best converting offers on your homepage, in your lead nurturing emails, on your blog, and as calls-to-action on relevant blog posts, on your product pages, and any other place prospects visit when they are closer to making a purchasing decision.
Not Re-Engaging Leads You Fail to Close
Just because a lead didn't buy from you immediately, doesn't mean they won't be interested in purchasing from you at a later date. Use marketing automation software to track your leads' behaviors and see if their interest piques again. Continue to educate and nurture these leads so you are the established thought leader in their minds when they are ready to pull the purchasing trigger.
Working in a Marketing Silo
Remember that all of your middle-of-the-funnel success is dependent upon great SMarketing communication. After all, what good is ninja-level lead intelligence if sales doesn't know about it? Does your sales organization know how to identify a good lead? Do they know what offers you're using? Do they know where to get information you've collected about the leads they're working? Do they know what other information Marketing wants to know to better nurture leads, and where they can document it? While CRM integration is a crucial part of this smooth communication, an ongoing verbal dialogue between sales and marketing should never be underrated, either.
How much emphasis are you putting on your middle-of-the-funnel marketing in 2012?