Much like we have a choice today selecting the next President of the United States, buyers of our products and services have the opportunity to select a partner or vendor to do business with 76% of B2B buyers use three or more channels when researching a potential purchase (Blue Nile Research). This modern buying process provides an opportunity for marketers to place relevant and compelling content in prospect honey holes in order to drive awareness and ultimately engagement. Lead generation is a robust process, however having consulted for 5+ years at The Pedowitz Group I’ve found that if you excel at the following three fundamentals your lead generation engine will be more effective.
1) Define your Target Audience
In order to conduct effective lead generation, you much first understand your audience. The anchors for defining your audience is the development of personas and prospect buying journey.
- A persona is a customer-centric profile grouping of your audience intended to sharpen messaging, content and enhance the prospect/customer experience. There are three core attributes for persona development.
- Prospect Pain Points – Identify challenges such as lack of qualified leads or limited budget, and incorporate into content and messaging to illustrate that you understand your audience.
- Prospect Business Objectives – Demonstrating that you understand what it is your audience is trying to accomplish or experiences in the workplace, establishes credibility and increases the propensity for engagement.
- Information Sources – Knowing where your audience goes to gather information is critical to understand what topics are top of mind and having a viable channel to distribute your content.
- The Buying Journey is often confused with the Sales Cycle, however they are vastly different. The Sales Cycle is an internal organization perspective of how the prospect progresses after engaging with sales. Think of things like opportunity stages in CRM. The Buying Journey is a customer-centric view of what your prospect experiences when buying products or services in your space. For example, the first stage of the Buying Journey is typically Awareness. Awareness can be driven by marketing conditions, internal initiatives or by you as a marketer. The development of a Buying Journey has become a common practice for modern marketers, however the trick is integrating the journey into your marketing strategy.
2) Content Marketing
85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is their most important content marketing goal in 2016 (Content Marketing Institute), how does your program stack up against initial 2016 goals? When implementing content marketing, you must first have a plan and then nurture your leads.
- Content Marketing Plan – The lack of a plan will be apparent to your prospects as they engage with your business and will hinder your ability to drive quality leads. After mapping your content to personas and buying journey stages, you must ensure that all prominent lead sources such as a contact us form or event attendee have a journey or supportive campaign to keep them engaged and demonstrate that you can add value to their business.
- Lead Nurturing – The most effective method of keeping your audience engaged is lead nurturing via email and outbound methods such as re-marketing. Expertise in lead nurturing results in a 50% increase in sales-ready leads, along with a 33% decrease in its cost (Forrester Research via HubSpot). Start with a lead nurturing campaign that addresses your most prominent persona and then expand to additional personas that marketing and sales believes will most influence pipeline and revenue.
3) Lead Management Process
Lead Management is the process used to manage leads internally after their initial engagement and also provides intelligence as to where marketer’s should be applying their funds. Without an effective lead management process, marketers are flying blind as to what’s working and where budget should be allocated. There are six steps to developing a lead management framework.
- Establish Metrics
- Define a Sales Ready Lead
- Create a Common Funnel with Stages and Statuses
- Architect Lead Processing and Routing
- Develop Lead Scoring Model
- Implement Sales and Marketing SLA