It’s exciting when leads bite on marketing hooks and submit their contact information, but many companies do not proceed effectively. According to MarketingSherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales. However, only 27% of those leads will be qualified.
A key takeaway from those statistics is that not all leads are equal. Some will be close to buy-ready, while others may be gathering information. Some may be looking for a long-term supplier of goods and services, while others may be looking to make a small, one-time purchase.
Additionally, the majority of leads will take several months before committing to a purchase. Marketing Donut statistics show that 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months, and 20% will take more than a year to buy. With that in mind, is it really the most productive use of sales team resources to immediately contact every lead as they are added?
The fact is, most leads need further engagement and nurturing to guide them through the buyer’s journey. They need time to learn about your company’s products and services, establish trust and fully grasp your overall value as a provider. They aren’t looking to immediately start talking dollars and cents with a salesperson, and can even eliminate your business as an option if they start to feel pressured. So why not let a marketing automation platform (MAP) do some of the presale activities to gradually bring them along and let your salesforce deal with only the buy-ready leads?
Numbers don’t lie, and the numbers say that marketing automation utilized correctly will increase ROI. A study by Forrester Research found that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% less cost.
How Marketing Automation Helps with Interaction
Marketing automation makes it easy to interact with prospects because it can be set up to deploy personalized touches to each individual lead automatically. It’s also intuitive and bases responses and content on the behaviors of the prospect. Marketing automation creates a variety of paths for potential customers to take and enables them to progress as quickly or slowly as they choose. Here’s an example of a marketing automation workflow:
In this example, you can see that leads are added to the marketing automation platform by responding to a direct mail piece and submitting their contact information on a landing page. Prospects can be driven to the landing page through a variety of channels. Just remember, the channels must work together and deliver a singular customer experience.
Once you have the prospects’ information, you can prepare to interact with them. To increase your chances of getting them to respond, use promotions or offer high-quality content. For a refresher on the steps to develop effective messaging, read our posts on value propositions, USPs and keywords.
Prospects can be engaged and nurtured with information about your company, products and services, and it’s repeatable until leads start advancing through the marketing funnel. Our example shows the unique paths three different prospects would take if they responded in three different ways to marketing materials. This helps them become buy-ready more quickly because it provides them with content most applicable to their interests and eliminates additional clutter that could slow their progress.
Introduction to Lead Scoring
How do you know when it’s time to get your people involved with prospects? You don’t want them to step in too soon and hinder progress made by the MAP, but you also don’t want to wait too long and risk prospects losing interest, or worse, shifting gears and doing business with a competitor. With marketing automation, you can set lead scores to alert you when it’s time to act.
Lead scores are values assigned to the various digital actions leads can take as they interact with your marketing efforts. Values are weighted based on the impact the behavior has on making an individual buy-ready. An action like opening an email isn’t a big step toward making a purchase, so it should be assigned a lower score. However, requesting a free assessment shows that the prospect is further along in the buyer’s journey and should receive a higher score.
Once a lead reaches a predetermined lead score, the MAP will send a notification to one of your salespeople or customer service reps. Each business has its own way of determining what constitutes buy-ready, but a simple system would build up to a score of 100, as in 100% ready to buy.
Here are two key takeaways related to lead scoring:
- It can trigger deeper, more customized engagement and send prospects down various, more relevant content paths depending on their score and digital behavior.
- It can trigger human interaction when prospects are close to being buy-ready. You can react with a simple check-in by a CSR or go in for the close with a salesperson.
Simplify Prospect Interactions
If you’ve got an opportunity to increase your workforce’s efficiency and marketing ROI, why wouldn’t you do it? Marketing automation is the solution. It is complex, so there is a learning curve. But it’s also very fruitful and relatively easy to manage once everything is in place.