According to HubSpot, 63% of marketers say that generating traffic and leads is their top priority. Right along with it comes the challenge of figuring out what to do with those leads once you get them. Managing them – or guiding them– takes some planning, but once you set up a workable system (and have automation in place to execute it), you’ve got a lead gen engine that will work hard to turn those leads into customers. Here’s a look at the sequence of activities that take place in a lead’s buyer journey and steps you should take to optimize them.
When is Someone Considered a Lead?
When a person comes to your website, he or she is considered a visitor. Once he sees some content he wants and downloads it, he’s a lead. A lead is someone who’s shown interest in what you have to offer (by downloading content) but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a good lead. To determine that, you have to ask qualifying questions on the form the lead fills out in order to receive your content. Using your ideal client profile and your buyer personas, you can ask questions that will help you determine if the lead is a fit. Depending on their answers, you’re able to determine if that new contact is a lead or Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) that you want to nurture further.
Segment Your Marketing Qualified Leads
Now what? Now you have to identify where each MQL is in his buyer journey – is he just starting to review his options, or is he still trying to understand exactly what his problem is? Is he kicking the tires of your company, or is he still comparing multiple vendors?
Every business varies the way in which it defines the criteria for these, but this is how we do it:
- A lead becomes an MQL when he’s indicated through his form submissions that his demographic information fits our ideal client profile and one of our buyer personas but he hasn’t taken enough actions on our website to be qualified as a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) yet
- A lead can be put into the SQL bucket — or an MQL can evolve into one — when the person is identified as an MQL and shows through his behavior and actions that he’s ready for a call from Sales. In other words, he’s close to making a purchase decision. This can be based on him viewing a pricing page, the number of times he visits your site in a given timeframe or a combination of many other factors
Side note: Some leads won’t go anywhere at all. You may choose to disqualify those who are outside your service area, whose companies are too small, those who don’t use your specific product, or any number of other reasons.
Create Connections with Sales with an SLA
A service-level agreement is essentially a contract between Marketing and Sales that clearly outlines what the collective revenue (and other) goals are, who’s responsible for what, what specific actions are to be taken when, and more. Part of that is coming to agreement on what an MQL and SQL are, and what each department’s role is in managing leads – what actions have to happen for us to move our MQL to an SQL? What steps does Sales have to take once a lead is turned over? When? How?
This agreement creates accountability for both teams, and outlines all the metrics that will be measured every month and quarter to determine success.
Create a Lead Nurturing Process
Not every MQL is ready to buy. In fact, studies have shown that 73% of your leads will not be sales-ready when first generated. That’s where lead nurturing comes in. Lead nurturing – continuing to offer relevant content to the lead through email offers and other channels – guides them down the funnel toward making a purchase. Because you’re offering content that’s relevant to his needs (you know this because he’s had to offer some information about his situation in download form fields, and because of the nature of the content he’s downloaded), nurturing is “warming him up” with incontrovertible evidence of your fit with his company. We can’t underscore the importance of smart and consistent lead nurturing. Consider these two facts:
- Leads who are nurtured with targeted content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities (DemandGen)
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost (Forrester Research)
There’s a lot more I could talk about in each of these areas; it’s not quite as cut-and-dried as I’ve outlined here. Want to learn more? Check out this recording of our HubSpot User Group meet-up where we dove into these topics further.
Topics: Lead Nurturing
Stacy Bouchard is a consultant at Weidert Group. After twenty years marketing manufacturing, A/E/C, and service companies, Stacy dived into inbound marketing in 2014, and has since become an expert in HubSpot and inbound strategy.