As we begin the new year, many organizations are eager to refine their lead generation practices and convert prospects into customers. However, each year, many marketers fail to meet their annual benchmarks and lose out on prospective customers. Today, we’re sharing the seven steps of lead generation that will help ensure your marketing success in 2017 and beyond.
1) Establish definitions for a marketing qualified lead
The term marketing qualified lead (MQL) is ubiquitous for marketers. However, defining it isn’t quite that simple. Before getting started on your lead generation campaign, collaborate with your sales team to define “MQL” for your organization. This will be vital to building a realistic campaign that will resonate with your audience.
Consider the key attributes of your prospective leads, such as company size and revenue. We suggest doing an audit of your existing customer base and defining a target. We’ve written before on account-based marketing and the same principle applies here. If you make the decision to only pursue accounts that align with your strategy, you will be putting yourself in the best position to convert the most leads into sales.
2) Establish lead qualification protocols
You will also need to decide what separates a qualified lead from one that is unqualified. This will require you to standardize your lead scoring process with your sales team. To create an effective marketing strategy, decide upfront what should happen after first contact is made. Will it be a lengthy nurture phase? Or will your lead be ready for a direct sales approach? Collaboration with sales is key in this step.
3) Identify the marketing automation solution
Finding a marketing automation solution that is conducive to your organization’s marketing and sales process will help you nurture potential customers. Not all systems are created equal, so make sure to clearly define your needs prior to making a selection. If you have not explored marketing automation systems, we recommend Eloqua, Pardot or Act-on.
4) Identifying the right content for engaging buyers
Certain content pieces or other downloads might not resonate with every individual in your target market. That’s why it’s important to use content mapping when first defining your content strategy. According to HubSpot, content mapping is the process of targeting content to “the characteristics of a person who will be consuming it [and] how close that person is to making a purchase.” Both of these considerations will increase your chance of offering content that resonates with your audience when they are most likely to act. We recommend using customer data or talking with sales to identify the most engaging content.
5) Architect the user experience and nurture flows
To convert leads into MQLs, you need to better shape the user experience through nurture flows. Once a consumer opts in to receive content, it’s important to provide them with the communications they will need to eventually convert and become a customer. Depending on your product, this could take weeks, months or even years. Try monitoring your content carefully and swapping out pieces that may not be working — it could save your campaign and work to convert leads you were missing previously.
6) Develop the campaign
After putting together this information, you are ready to start developing your campaign. While a good campaign can help build brand awareness, a truly great lead generation campaign will compel prospective consumers to take some sort of action like downloading a piece or taking advantage of a sales promotion. Developing your campaign also includes selecting the right tactics to promote it such as SEO, SEM or email marketing depending on your campaign. The good news is that many marketing automation platforms integrate directly with Google Analytics or other lead capture platforms so you will always have a full view of where your leads are coming from.
7) Deploy, measure, and optimize
Regularly checking in on the success of your campaign will help you see trends and measure what’s working. We recommend that all of our clients define metrics at the beginning of a campaign and track progress toward them. A successful lead generation campaign takes into account the cost of investment versus the revenue generated. If you are not seeing the results you expected, try viewing all of your data holistically and deciding if you can reasonably obtain your goals. We’re always ready to provide you with campaign recommendations.
Do you want more guidance on improving your lead generation? Take a look at our full ebook to learn how to build highly effective lead generation campaigns.