Managing the Lead Lifecycle. Getting the Most from Your Leads

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1 Managing the Lead Lifecycle Getting the Most from Your Leads

2 Leads are the lifeblood of marketing and sales, the raw material every marketer hopes to turn into gold. Just as marketing technologies have revolutionized the business marketplace in recent years, so too has the art of lead management undergone transformation. Once strictly a numbers game, intelligent marketers know that deft lead management today can drive higher conversion rates and acquire a deeper understanding of which leads, marketing programs and customer profiles are paying off. This level of insight ultimately allows marketers to build their future initiatives on a solid foundation of experience and take their next campaigns to a higher level of performance. Of course, this is only possible when teams utilize the full array of marketing tools and strategies available to them. Too many marketers today are still mired in the mindset of yesteryear that focuses strictly on compiling a high number of leads and handing them off to the sales team. They believe that more leads will result in more sales; these individuals view their duties as amassing as many new net leads as possible. The result of this shortsightedness: a damaging lack of synergy between sales and marketing teams. These marketers devote all their time and energy collecting leads, many of which will be fruitless. Rather marketers should be focusing their efforts on high-potential leads and devising outreach campaigns to escort them through the buying cycle. Instead of evaluating the performance of leads, or crafting strategies to improve their programs, their benchmarks tend to be restricted to meeting the lead numbers of previous months. All of which is a profound waste of the marketing tools available today. The reality is that our current marketing landscape is sophisticated and multifaceted, and marketers who focus only on lead volume are relinquishing an incredible competitive advantage. Tools like Web analytics, CRM systems, listening platforms and marketing automation can help marketers build relationships, elevate branding and deepen customer engagement like never before. By tracking activity and conversion rates from stage to stage, marketers can optimize programs that shorten cycles and coax leads all the way from initial engagement to close. It is simply a matter of continuing to market to those leads throughout the entire funnel. Two top priorities should dominate your lead management strategy. The first is analyzing lead performance then using that knowledge to enhance and refine future programs. The second priority is formulating ways to deepen existing customer relationships with the goal of increasing their sales, activity and brand loyalty. Managing the Lead Lifecycle 02

3 Tracking leads for tailored outreach On a practical level, this means that you ll need to determine if your leads are customers, as well as their responsiveness to your marketing automation efforts. Are they active users, buying multiple products and engaging frequently with your online presence? Did they buy initially, then stop using? The main priority for marketers is to treat the lead management process like a sales pipeline and establish metrics to continually track and improve lead management efforts. Also necessary is, using data to get an accurate picture of both lead cycle times and possible ways to improve conversion rates. Developing a clear roadmap of their behaviors, triggers and motivations will help you sculpt effective methods to nurture them through the funnel and into higher levels of activity; even assessing each customer s product usage and adoption rates can help you adjust your programs by type, content and frequency. Instead of blindly aiming for as large a number as possible; with this knowledge, marketing teams can accurately plan the number and type of leads they should cultivate to meet future sales targets. Remember Lead nurturing programs should never be a one-size-fits-all effort. A well-crafted nurturing program offers tailored, nuanced outreach that demonstrates your value, enticing the leads to deepen their involvement and consumption. This is where marketing automation can help you create meaningful and effective s and Web content that resonates with each customer. As an example consider the use of Marketo which can track a single lead through all of your prospecting and nurturing cycle. Marketing to this kind of customer should involve a unique program that involves advocate marketing and offers content that appeals to their specific needs. Managing the Lead Lifecycle 03

4 Refining customer engagement This is not a one-way effort. In addition to marketing to your existing customers, you ll be collecting data that provides you with insight to craft highly effective content to both those existing customers and future leads. This means that your buyer personas should be based not only on prospective buyers, but also on the existing customers you ve studied. Once again, examine the data on their behavior, their motivations for buying your product and the problems they re trying to solve. Identify the most relevant factors in purchasing decisions, whether it s features, cost, brand awareness or customer service. Painting a detailed portrait of your customers will help you deliver highly personal campaigns that can influence future decisions. Your second priority in managing the lead lifecycle is driving higher returns from your existing customers. Just as you should be tracking lead activity past the handoff to sales, you should continue to monitor and engage customers even after the sale. Through relevant and high-value content, you can intensify the relationship and inspire additional purchases and activity, driving higher lifetime revenue from that customer. Another benefit of marketing post-sale is maintaining a consistent and personalized outreach conversation which can help you eclipse your competitors in visibility and turn loyal customers into brand evangelists. Be sure to keep those buyer personas current, update them twice a year or so. Compare your recent data to your existing personas and tweak as needed to keep them accurate. Then take some time to identify which personas perform best as customers and which personas perform the worst. This will spell out where you need to amplify your marketing efforts and where you can afford to eliminate leads who most likely represent stale opportunities. Finally, sit down and look at the pain points of the poor quality personas. Your goal is to educate those customers on the ways you can solve their challenges. Don t be afraid to ask the sales and customer service teams for help on this; they are in the perfect position to tell you which services and features offer the most value to customers, and can often drill down by category to tell you which features are the most popular with which demographic. Armed with this information, you can promote those features to prospects and customers most likely to be interested in them or build off those features to create new solutions that appeal to that same demographic. Not only can all of this differentiate you from your competitors, it can intensify your customers brand involvement and heighten their retention. Managing the Lead Lifecycle 04

5 Full funnel marketing As we stated earlier, one of the most costly mistakes a marketer can make is focusing only on the top of the funnel. Failing to initiate effective nurturing programs is one of the most common oversights in marketing and marketers who don t bother accompanying leads through sales cycle will be unable to respond to the changes that can occur in the buying process, such as abandoned transactions or fading interest. outreach conversation which can help you eclipse your competitors in visibility and turn loyal customers into brand evangelists. Marketers who do follow the lead through the funnel, on the other hand, will know when they need to repair relationships and revitalize leads gone cold through enticing drip campaigns. It s a well-known marketing truth that it s more expensive to attract new buyers than to retain existing customers, and the further a buyer has progressed through the sales cycle, the more expensive that lead becomes. A smart marketer will protect their investment of time and money by nurturing that lead, rather than ignoring it and letting the relationship die completely. Presenting s that reflect their interests or offering resources that assist with their challenges can warm up a cooling lead, keeping you relevant and appealing in their awareness until they are ready to act. Managing the Lead Lifecycle 05

6 Moving through the funnel is a nuanced process, of course, which is why good metrics are one of the most essential ingredients in full-funnel marketing. Tracking and interpreting activity, from social media visits to past campaign responses, is essential to keep the pipeline fertile. Only data based on a complete view of lifecycle activity will provide a full picture of buying dynamics and preferences. Once marketers have this insight, there are myriad ways to guide a lead through the funnel. Offering customized content or services and products connected to online behavior can answer specific needs, while fostering a greater level of brand memorability and credibility. A solid grasp on what programs, leads and prospect profiles are most effective in converting to sales can help marketers react efficiently to every stage of the buying cycle, making process changes that build off that success. This is particularly true for existing customers, who consume more content than leads do. Because conversion often inspires customers to become more interested in content, marketers must adapt their content creation strategies to reflect the customer mindset. You re playing for higher stakes now; instead of looking to make one transaction or one sale, you re aiming to turn a current customer into a lifetime customer. Devise campaigns that educate your customers on everything you offer and promote appealing upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Inspire loyalty by offering special customer deals and capitalize on your relationship by creating clever incentives for referrals. At the same time, make sure that you re offering these customers white papers and resources that establish your expertise while motivating further engagement through compelling Web content and social media. Finally, don t forget to look back at what worked for these customers in their prepurchase phase; the new post-conversion content should be aligned with those interests and needs in mind to trigger further activity or move them deeper into the buying cycle. Managing the Lead Lifecycle 06

7 Building a foundation for future success It s clear that managing leads over the course of the sales lifecycle offers marketers numerous advantages. The information gained can connect customer dynamics and behaviors to closed deals, while the deeper insight helps marketers spend their resources wisely. By capitalizing on the potential of the entire funnel, marketers can not only increase revenue but build a promising foundation for long-term profitable customer relationships. As much as the marketing landscape has evolved in recent years, one underlying truth has never changed; customers want to feel understood, valued and satisfied. Staying attentive to leads throughout the sales cycle and beyond is the key to effective marketing that drives both profit and brand success. And thanks to the technologies and tools available today, marketers have an unprecedented opportunity to attract, nurture and close leads with more power and efficiency than ever before. Managing the Lead Lifecycle 07

8 About LEADMD 9383 E. Bahia Drive, Suite 225 Scottsdale, Arizona Fax: LeadMD combines the resources of a digital marketing agency with revenue focused sales and marketing alignment strategy, all through the use of on-demand cloud technology. Creating, managing and converting quality leads in higher numbers is how we enable our clients to out perform their competitors and out market their peers. The most effective way to engage more prospects and convert better leads is through Conversational Marketing. At LeadMD, we will help your team leverage and online channels to build buyer trust and engagement through cutting edge technology such as Marketing Automation. When your focus is on building a demand generation process that truly drives revenue, it s time to engage LeadMD and fix your funnel. Managing the Lead Lifecycle 08

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