What is a ‘qualified lead’? A question that sprouts endless differences between how Marketing sees it and how Sales does not. To align marketing and sales into thinking alike and to ensure that not a single lead is disregarded, we recommend you to establish an objective lead nurture and scoring system.
Lead nurture is a systemic process that helps marketers to constantly communicate with prospects and buyers. It also addresses the time lag between the first levels of response of the lead to finally upsell a service. There are certain guidelines that should be followed through the buying cycle to drive revenue:
After the strategy has been defined, effective lead sorting can be practiced while following steps that can enhance your nurture process:
A. Define segment and audience: It is important to design email campaigns on the basis of customer interest by creating segments for each industry/vertical/line of business/offering. This action would not only help in delivering relevant information to the corresponding segment but also increase the conversion ratio.
B. Do not pitch sales: The most important factor to focus upon is to make an offering which would be of value to the client. Usually companies end up pitching their services against the contact information received from the client. This would lead to failure. Therefore, the solution is to first nurture those leads by sending relevant emails, eBooks, white papers, invites to your webinars, etc. Results would be conversion and high value deals.
C. Define objectives and goals for each email: This is the step where marketers need to know that it is content that prospects care for initially and not sales quotes. However, many marketers grapple with answers to questions such as – do you know what type of content is to be sent? And what should the purpose be? Ultimately, your choice should be to choose offers that will appeal to your audience segment with the intention of moving leads further down the sales funnel and closer to the customer stage.
Refer to the chart above from one of HubSpot’s customers. Each email comprises the information about the offers and goals along with suitable subject and CTA which they use to entice the reader to accept the offer. Such illustrations are a great way to help you organize your campaigns and make sure you’re implementing goals to reach that final step — the sale.
D. Timelines for emails: The ideal count that we recommend is to send 3-4 emails during your nurture campaigning. The service becomes credible to the customer when an information message is attached with the master message which thereafter should be aligned with the USP of the product/service/offering portfolio. Following this, you must define the timeline. For example, if your typical cycle runs for 30 days, you may want to set up a campaign for emails to be sent on the 1st, 10th, 15th and 20th day of a month after a conversion. Remember not to rush into converting a lead. Sale with the help of lead nurturing is a natural course where patience is a virtue.
E. Evaluate and optimize success: There’s always room for improvement. Testing and experimentation to nurture your leads will open more doors. While campaigns are running, come up with innovative offers, mold the subject lines and calls-to-action. This will surprise you but you’ll be more likely to drive multiple lead-to-customer conversions for your business! Lead nurturing may be ineffective if done incorrectly, but continuous improvement shall usually always produces good results.
Once the Lead Nurture process is defined, it is important to know how to grade leads:
In a classroom, the teacher always has her preferences on the basis of which classification is done. Similarly, it is very important to be able to qualify leads per their digital behavior. With the help of marketing automation, you can score and grade a potential customer based on interest in your product/service/offering and vice-versa. This ritual is often practiced and commonly called Lead Scoring and Lead Grading.
Before scoring your leads, figure out the criteria that will be used to evaluate the score. There are three basic types of criteria: Explicit, Implicit, and Negative.
Explicit criteria: This is the informative data provided intentionally by the person (e.g., via a registration form or survey) and taken at face value, rather than analysed or interpreted for deeper verification. Like: company, location, business type/industry, revenue, number of employees, lead source, title/job role, level of responsibility, purchase authority, past purchases.
Implicit criteria: Unlike explicit criteria this is the information that is NOT provided intentionally and; thus, can only be derived from analysis of explicit data. For example, the explicit data about a person’s physical address may yield implicit data about which store location they’re likely to visit. Like: website visits, calls, content interactions/media downloads, webinar attendance, offline/custom events.
Negative criteria:Negative criteria serves as checks-and-balances of your lead scoring matrix, evaluating your lead score in response to factors that might make a lead less desirable. Like: lack of response to marketing messages, unsubscribing from an email list, requesting to be added to your do-not-contact list, no decision-making authority, marking as spam, defined periods of inactivity, visits to certain pages (e.g., your careers page)
To derive best results from lead scoring, you need to determine areas where thresholds are in place for your segments; i.e., the scores that serve as dividing lines to separate sales-ready leads from those that need more nurturing.
Distorted results bring disappointment and delay. For most companies, managing all of the moving pieces involved with lead scoring is not feasible when carried out manually. “Manual” doesn’t scale – there are limited viable hours in a day and so are marketing resources. To get the biggest bang for your buck, it’s highly recommended to use marketing automation platforms to manage lead scoring.