Digging a little deeper into lead generation

Posted by on 27th, Nov, 2012

I thought I’d put together a post which fully explains our lead generation strategy. We have a book on the strategy itself which looks at the macro elements, but I just wanted to explain in a little bit more detail our philosophy and the theory behind our techniques.

Understand Buyer Personas

First off, Buyer Personas. A personification of your target audience, these are people who are most likely to buy products and services from you. The best place to look for those are people who you’ve done business with before. Profile those right down to job title, demographics and where they hang out.

Would you say that John Smith, who is a marketing director mid-to-late 40s would hang out on Facebook professionally? If the answer is no, then you should be pitching your content more to LinkedIn and Twitter.

In essence, what you want to do is build a picture of those three to five target prospects — the people who are most likely to do business with you — and pitch them content accordingly. This is where content comes in.

Grab them with some good content

The second part is the creation of some interesting content to grab their attention and convince them to part with a low friction amount of personal information. Perhaps a name and email initially that you can build on over time. The content can be in the form of a free PDF report.

For example, if John Smith is a marketing director in his mid-to-late 40s and your product is a retirement planning service, then you might want to start putting together content which piques his interest.

With a thorough research phase with buyer personas, we have discovered that he isn’t going to hang out on Facebook but he would receive well a report — a nice, well-designed PDF document — which talks about the ‘Seven Things You Can Do to Retire Early’ which looks at some interesting methods and case studies for people who have retired early and the things that differentiated them from their peers.

Make your site work for lead generation

The next thing we would do as part of any lead-generation campaign is to adapt your website to maximise the chance of conversion. This is a bolt-on service so when we’re building out lead generation strategies we could work with the site that you have right now. We can plug any lead-generation campaign into your own website — and that means any CMS that you have or any technology that you’re utilising.

We can use that and actively adapt it to maximise the chance of conversion — putting an emphasis on call-to-action and user flow, talking about this free report and making it really clear to your otherwise-passive visitor that there’s something that they can really grab hold of here.

The point is converting this otherwise passive visitor into something of value to your business, and given that we’ve already defined them in the buyer persona stage, we know what kind of things may push their button and what kind of imagery or what kind of feel will make them click that button to go and grab that report and give you information.

Make it really easy for your prospects

The next part is make it really easy for them to grab that information. When we look at web-forms, we look at what we call the “friction value”. Friction occurs whenever people have a resistance or a slight concern about giving you a certain amount of information (generally more fields & more sensitive information = more friction).

The maximum friction that you can ever instil on somebody is asking for a credit card number, instantly their guard is up and they will not hand over that information without 100% certainty that it’s going to the right place. That’s the maximum end of the friction scale; the minimum level is just an e-mail address.

What we have to balance is the value of your content versus the friction value of that form. If we have a report — which is a free simple report talking about Seven Ways To Retire Early — we will probably look at pitching this as a form with two fields: maybe a name and an e-mail address.

Build out your buying funnel

Then we go into The Buying Funnel. We’ll build a series of contact points which suit your target audience, and drive them down a funnel towards completing an action. We call it the A to B process.

B is the goal, something of value to your business. If you’re selling retirement planning services, B would probably be a meeting — whether that’s a telephone meeting or a face-to-face meeting — to discuss your products and services.

A is an visiting prospect. They’ve happened upon your site from maybe a search engine position — paid or natural — or perhaps they’ve visited from a referring site. The point is they are potentially interested in you and your services but you still have a job to do, to get them from a position of unfamiliarity with your brand and some distance to being ready and willing to speak to you in a meeting situation, with them by that point having identified a need.

We tend to have in the region of two weeks as a cycle; in that two weeks they’ll receive ten or so pieces of content from you. Those pieces of content would be pushing them ever further down your buying funnel. So we want to make sure that the messaging at each point helps to move them down that funnel and makes them think consider firstly your service, then you as their preferred partner.

Automate it

Set up an automated system that feeds your prospects with content that they crave — by email for a set period of time. That is the crux of the lead nurturing cycle.

Don’t expect everybody in that list to convert over that two-week period, there may be a 20-30% drop-off, but we’ve found the uptake at the end of the funnel to be nothing short of remarkable. Conservative average conversion rate estimates for B2B websites is around 1%, a widely acceptable norm. David wrote a great post recently discussing that 1% is very, very low, but it is the acceptable average.

Great expectations

By taking a lead in with the lowest friction they will accept, by understanding who your target audience is and by walking them through a non-aggressive, longer sales cycle you can multiply that 1% by 10 or 20 to get to a point where you’re converting maybe 20 out of every 100 — that’s a 2000% hike in your conversion rate, all by just being a bit more intelligent about how you’re actively going and grabbing leads and how you’re converting otherwise-passive traffic into something of real value to your business.

Intelligence

In order for you to keep on top of leads within your lead funnel you need tools to enable you to manage the whole funnel. We’ve developed a proprietary software which enables you to login at any point, see how many leads you’ve got in your funnel and export those or drill down to see which touch points they’ve received, whether they’ve read those, whether they’ve opened those, whether they’ve clicked those to build a picture about the leads that are in your funnel and pass those through to your sales team for them to follow-up.

If you’re implementing some of the strategies that we recommend or you’re investing in us building out these strategies on your behalf then you can look double or triple digits in terms of the percentage increase in conversion rate.

The point of all of this though, the over-riding benefit is that there is zero time cost to you. There is a financial commitment — nothing worth having comes for free — but at the end of it you’re going to receive a healthy supply of fresh leads ready for you to convert and that’s the point of all this.

So that’s it. I wanted to explain in a little bit more detail how we actually go about managing lead-generation campaigns for our clients. If you’d like to talk through this any further, perhaps step into our funnel — consume some of the resources that we offer. We’ve also got an in-depth resources section that we’d love you to jump into.

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Liam

Posted By Liam

Liam heads up the Production Team here at Tone (amongst other things) @toneliam or on Google+ Liam Veitch