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Leads are the food that keeps your business healthy and moving forward. As any doctor or nutritionist will tell you, nurturing your body with nutrient-rich grub makes you feel great. And then, when you eat too much junk food — you know what happens. Similarly, leads can be either healthy or junk and they can dictate the strength of your business.

This post is the first in a series to explore lead generation. Today’s post will provide an overview of leads, how to convert them, mapping your prospective customer’s journey, using email to nurture leads and sending what you promise.

Follow-up posts will answer several key lead-related questions to get your lead quality from junk to rich, including:

  • How do you generate quality leads?
  • How do you improve the quality of your lead generation?
  • How do you measure lead quality?

This post serves as an introduction to why quality leads should be a core element of your inbound marketing strategies.

Whether you’re in a B2C or B2B situation, a lead is an individual with a potential interest in what you are offering, and generating fresh leads is obviously a must — if you want to stay in business.

Volume isn’t always (or even usually) better when it comes to leads. Someone who fills out a form on your website, or signs up for your newsletter is merely a name. Someone who fills out that form AND has the qualities and demographics of your ideal customer is a lead.

Capturing names for the sake of bulking up your email or contact database doesn’t necessarily do you any good. There comes a point when it takes more time and energy to tend to those leads than the revenue you may generate from them.

What’s the point in having lots of leads if you don’t do the right things to turn those leads into customers or if they’re lousy leads to begin with?

Conversion

Lead generation utilizes effective calls to action (CTAs) to entice visitors to visit your website. Once there, content assets or educational materials that can be downloaded, can convince someone to exchange their email address for access to that content, turning them into a lead. There are dozens of ways to generate leads through inbound marketing, but one of the mistakes many companies make is not knowing how to effectively nurture those leads through the purchase process.

Lead nurturing involves utilizing more content – such as automated emails and additional content downloads — to pull leads through the stages of the buying or decision-making process. Only 5–10% of qualified leads successfully convert into customers, according to Lucid Press. Therefore, you need lots of leads and you should begin communicating with the fresh ones immediately.

There are some best practices when looking to bolster leads and mature those leads into sales:

Map the Journey

Savoir Faire recently held brainstorming sessions about how to best nurture a client’s leads. Looking at all the reasons why an individual could become a customer and all the customer profiles associated with those reasons helped us to determine a road map to move a soft lead toward a hard purchase. Customers typically go through three stages on the journey: awareness, consideration and decision, and each of those stages needs its own level of content and nurturing.

Using an inbound marketing reverse funnel, we devised a route that would segment prospects and move them along a clear-cut path. This included a series of emails and landing pages that delved deeper into a prospect’s specific needs. Here’s a tip: top-of-the-funnel offers generally do better with shorter forms, asking for just a couple pieces of key information, such as name and email, while bottom-of-the-funnel offers can ask for more, such as geography, income, marital status, etc. That’s because the prospect’s commitment level increases over time.

At the beginning of their digital relationship with you, a website visitor may be only willing to give you an email address — and even that may be done begrudgingly. But, the more you’re able to provide that person with targeted, relevant and educational content that answers their questions and helps them make decisions, the more likely they are to answer additional questions for you. Those could be demographic questions that help you qualify whether someone fits a certain profile. Or, they could be timing questions that help you qualify someone’s likelihood of making a purchase.

By the time someone has been nurtured to the decision stage of the purchase process, they’re more willing to give you information about themself and their needs because you’ve developed a relationship. You have also demonstrated understanding of their needs and you provided a solution that solves their problem.

Email

Providing the right information at the perfect time to assist your leads in their decision-making process is an excellent practice that can lead to sales. However, that email must be strategic; it can’t be blasted messages to your entire contact list.

Using engagement information from your email marketing system (who did what with certain emails: opened/clicked/submitted a form), and/or website information from your marketing automation system (pages visited; forms submitted), you should be able to develop targeted emails that are extremely relevant to certain subsets of your list. That’s how you show value.

This is also where personas can come in handy. These archetypes outline your most common (or profitable) customers and the challenges they face that your product or service solves. Personas allow you to develop campaigns and/or workflows around suspected or confirmed behaviors/needs/wants.

Is that what you promised?

If your website is attracting a lot of visitors who are completing forms, but who ultimately do not become customers, you might need to look at your lead generation strategy. If people are coming to your site, but are then choosing not to submit their information in exchange for your offer, you might need to evaluate your page elements and perform some A/B testing. Is it the landing page design? The form fields? The headline? The image? All these elements can be tested to improve conversion rates.

Providing value-added content on your site is a great way to generate leads, but make sure the offers are clearly explained – and that visitors are getting what’s promised via your emails, CTAs, social ads, etc.

On the flip side, if you’re not getting enough visitors to your site to generate the number of leads you need or want, that could mean that the site is not optimized for organic search traffic or that the page is not being successfully promoted on social media or PPC ads.

Analyzing all of your content to see what garners the highest engagement is another best practice. You can always revisit a topic or repurpose a popular blog or email post to create new, compelling content. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel.

Building a solid inbound marketing strategy is essential to see leads become customers, and tools like impactful CTAs, powerful emails and dynamic landing pages will guide that journey.

Learn about how lead generation, lead scoring, lead nurturing work together in your marketing automation strategy

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