About 3 months ago, I had a meeting with a VP of Marketing at a cyber security company. She ran a 10-person team and had a clear sense of her business objectives and revenue goals.
Initially, I didn’t see how I could help but several times in the conversation she mentioned needing a way to drive more quality leads – quality being the preeminent word. They were adding contacts to their database and generating inbound leads, but the sales team struggled to convert many of them into new opportunities.
So we analyzed the leads and how they were converting and compared it to the average conversion rates (lead to opportunity) based on channel for all of Marketo’s customers, as outlined below:
Everyone wants quality leads but not all leads are created equal. Some leads need more TLC than others for them to mature. According to Marketo, inbound leads convert nearly at nearly 1.25x that of paid marketing ones. And referral leads outpace all other leads by far.
My client’s channel performance generally resembled Marketo’s, so she decided to zero in on one specific problem—enterprise leads were converting at almost half the rate as mid-market. This had serious revenue implications because enterprise leads were the largest deals in her company’s pipeline.
What was the issue?
It turned out that many of the enterprise leads were not being nurtured. The moment a lead from a larger company came into the system, they were being handed off immediately to sales. The thought process being that the salespeople would want to work their magic and engage immediately since these leads were on each rep’s list of top target accounts.
The company took a different approach for mid-market leads. When a mid-market lead was generated, they were immediately put into an email sequence and once the lead reached a specific grade or score they were passed off to a mid-market sales rep.
Sending leads directly to sales is definitely a popular approach. According to MarketingSherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to them. The problem is only 27% of those leads are ready to speak with a rep.
There seemed to be a missed opportunity with this client because although the enterprise leads were a right fit, salespeople would mark them as ‘disinterested or not qualified’ because the lead wasn’t ready to have a demo immediately.
This ruined the conversion rate of the program.
So how do you bridge this gap to ensure you’re not wasting money driving leads to only see them marked as disqualified or disinterested?
The answer is…drum roll please…lead nurturing with a side of intent data.
First, utilizing Madison Logic’s intent database my client re-prioritized their enterprise target account list so that companies that were showing increased research behaviors and interest around cyber security solutions, data security, and security configuration would be targeted with digital advertising promoting a white paper about the revenue impact of a data hack.
Second, they switched up their strategy and placed all new enterprise leads into a 5-step sequence and only routed them to the salesperson once they engaged with another piece of content.
After just 7 weeks of this new strategy, the lead conversion percentage for those strategic leads jumped by 37% which lead to an additional $2.45M in the pipeline. More conversations were flowing, sales people were happy because the leads they were handed were ready to talk and pipeline revenue started to grow.
How to get started with lead nurturing
So, let’s say you’re the VP of Marketing at the cyber security company. You know which companies you want to connect with and you’re doing a pretty good job getting those leads in, but what if they aren’t progressing or turning into new opportunities?
This is where the power of lead nurturing comes in. Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with buyers at each stage of the funnel and through each stage of the buyer’s journey. (Marketo)
In other words, you have a conversation with those prospects over time; educating them about your solutions, its benefits and what makes your company well-positioned to solve any number of challenges your prospects have. The most common way to engage with leads is via email through platforms like Marketo, AWeber, and MailChimp.
For instance, if you’ve just launched a product or new feature you can have emails sent every few days to a prospect. If that prospect takes an action such as downloading one of your assets, that can trigger another separate action like an offering for a demo or relevant case study.
Marketers see an average 20 % increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads and companies that excel at these strategies generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost (Source: Forrester, 2014).
But you are likely part of the 64% of companies that do not nurture leads. (Source: 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report.) And that’s ok! What this means is that there’s plenty of room to grow and implement a nurture strategy that moves your leads along quicker into the funnel and helps deals close faster.
Example of lead nurturing strategies
Gavin Tanner of LucidChart outlined a good example of how sales and marketing can work together to follow up on inquires. It works because there are multiple touchpoints and the tactics to reach a lead are diverse — from direct (phone call), digital (email) to social (LinkedIn and Facebook).
If you’d rather try something different than a flow chart, I’d recommend checking out this article by Rajiv Kapoor of Marketo who outlines a “new lead nurture paradigm” where you create streams.
For example, let’s say you offer accounting software and the solution has different benefits for manufacturing and retail. In this case you’d have two streams — one for manufacturing and one for retail. Those leads would never overlap or be put into the same sequence.
Whether it’s a chart, a diagram, or a map, the point is to ensure you’re continuing to engage with your leads continuously and consistently. Remember that in each interaction you have with a prospect, you’re either creating value or it is deteriorating.
If there are gaps in hitting your revenue, pipeline, or lead volume goals, Madison Logic can help—like we did with the cyber security company. We can identify companies that are showing interest in your solutions and then place your content in front of them until they raise their hand.
If you’re interested in discussing a program, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation and we can take it from there.
If you’d like some additional information on sequences, touchpoints, and lead nurturing, check out HubSpot or Marketo blogs. They have tons of easily digestible content to help you develop your own sequences and methods to improve them over time.