How to Groom the Big Shaggy Dog of Lead Generation
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Lead generation can feel like the big shaggy dog of your marketing department–you can spend countless hours grooming it only to find it still looks like a tangled mess. Even when you nail the look, you’re still a long way from winning “Best in Show” unless you have an effective strategy for nurturing the qualified leads you generate into customers.
Lead nurturing is a foundational part of any successful lead generation strategy. It’s why you bother committing the time and resources necessary to attract new customers to your business. Yet, despite its importance, most businesses don’t believe they have mastered the process of turning that interest into action.
In the 2021 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Benchmark Survey, 56% of respondents said their lead gen performance was either poor/inadequate or in need of improvement. When asked how challenging lead nurturing was for their business, 60% said it was challenging, while 24% said it was very challenging.
The survey results also reinforced the idea that businesses still receive a significant return on their lead nurturing investment when successful. The primary benefits respondents cited include:
- Generating leads more receptive to sales pitches (75%)
- Improved reception to campaign offers due to increased relevancy (52%)
- Ability to better segment prospects based on their interests or behaviors (51%)
- Leads progressed more quickly through the sales funnel (42%)
- Higher acceptance of leads resulting from sales (40%)
These results make perfect sense to anyone who has ever made a sale. Potential customers are far more likely to engage in the sales process when primed than old-school cold calling. So how do you warm the sales engine to make prospects more receptive to your pitch? Develop a multi-touch, multi-channel personalized lead nurturing program tailored to your audience’s needs.
What Does Multi-Touch, Multi-Channel Mean for Lead Generation?
Since terms like “multi-touch” and “multi-channel” sit right next to “synergistic” and “value-add” on cliché business bingo cards, let’s unpack what we mean when using these terms and how investing in them can improve your lead generation programs.
If you’ve invested time and money in developing a lead generation program that fails to achieve its goals, you’ve realized that opening the sales funnel is only the first step in the process. Catching a prospect’s attention won’t lead to action without meaningful engagement on your part. During this engagement, demand gen begins to bear fruit as it transitions into the lead generation your business needs to generate new sales.
At LocalFresh, we’ve had success helping our clients turn one-off lead generation engagement into ongoing conversations with prospects by creating multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns designed to automatically deliver the right information at the right time until the prospect is ready to talk to a salesperson. Don’t forget about your existing customers–retention, upselling, and referral business is perfect for an ongoing multi-touch, multi-channel program.
Once a prospect has entered the lead generation funnel, you need to gain their trust now that you’ve caught their attention. Each touch needs to deliver optimal content based on where the prospect is in their journey. Each person’s action alters their journey, moving them from one stage to the next. Your lead generation strategy needs to anticipate how a prospect may move and have already generated content that welcomes them at each new stage.
It all starts with establishing credibility. It doesn’t matter how great a sprocket your company produces if no one has faith buying from Spacely. You need to create a content marketing strategy to produce valuable content works to establish the trust of your sales leads. Whether that comes in the form of white papers, email campaigns, infographics, blogs, or customer testimonials will depend on your business and knowing what your audience responds to.
Having established yourself as a dependable and trusted source, your audience will begin listening to what you have to say. Now you can provide prospects with content that positions your business as a thought leader.
Content that educates and informs will demonstrate to your target demographic how you can help solve prospective customers’ problems. Does a service you provide satisfy a need? Can a product you produce enable a business to run more efficiently? Do you offer a solution to a problem they didn’t realize they had until you told them about it? Informational and educational content allows you to sell your business in a way that meets the audience’s individual needs.
Finally, don’t be afraid to have a little fun. Once you’ve gained the audience’s trust and informed them about how you can solve their problems, the next step is to entertain with content that engages. You have personality, and people want to see that reflected in the type of content your business produces. While most brands default to humor, you don’t need to be funny to entertain and engage. A behind-the-scenes video of your production process, getting to meet the faces that work for your business, or opening a dialogue about what is happening within your industry are all ways of entertaining your audience that will give your company a personality people can relate to and want to do business with.
Grooming Your Multi-Channel Approach with Social Media, Text, Email, and More
Now that you have detangled the content, you need to groom your approach to meet prospects where they engage. This requires understanding the channels that offer your business the best chance of connecting with its target audience. Most businesses will admit they don’t know their customer base as well as they might think. Using a multi-channel campaign reduces the risk of misreading your audience by attempting to connect through different avenues of communication until you find what works.
Whether through email, direct mail, text message, social media, PPC, ringless voicemail, or another avenue, a multi-channel campaign will allow your business to fish in all the waters until you find where your audience is most likely to bite. For example, if you don’t like using Twitter for social media but your prospect does, that’s where you need to engage.
Through A/B testing different calls to action, offers, and incentives, you’ll have the ability to hone your campaign further until it becomes the lean, mean, lead-generating machine your business needs to meet its goals.
Establishing your lead generation campaign means going beyond an automated process of:
“Dear, #Insert Prospect’s Name Here and Hope they Don’t Notice How Generic This Message is#.”
Your multi-touch campaign will only generate interest amongst high-quality leads if it’s as dynamic as the content you have waiting for prospects that take the bait. You need dynamic copy, images, and a call to action (CTA) in everything you send out to your audience. What doesn’t work needs to be quickly identified and changed. What draws interest needs to be built upon and further fleshed out.
Your prospects are not your own. Your competition and the entire industry will work tirelessly to capture your audiences’ attention away from you. Keeping up means always putting your best foot forward and never settling for running a lead generation marketing campaign you hope might work or that you think will resonate. Multi-channel lead generation tools open many doors, but you must make it entice if you want prospects to walk in.
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The Best Places to Put Your Marketing Efforts
In the 2021 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Benchmark Survey, respondents stated that content remains their primary tool for engaging with leads. When asked which tactics generated the most lead generation success, respondents stated:
- Webinars (48%)
- Thought leadership articles (41%)
- Email newsletters (40%)
- Sales emails (40%)
- Sales calls (38%)
Rather than focusing on only one method of reaching their audiences, survey responses indicate that businesses are taking a mixed bag approach with their lead generation efforts. A few examples:
- Early-stage (new lead, completed form) (69%)
- Current client (cross-sell and upselling) (49%)
- Warm-up campaigns (42%)
- Touch campaign (27%)
Unsurprisingly, the survey found that more than one-third of all respondents stated they ran between 11 to 20 different programs, including multi-touch strategies. Specifically, 25% of respondents include between six to 10 touches, while nearly one-third include four to five. Furthermore, today’s nurture campaigns don’t reach out once a quarter or even once a month. Instead, businesses are now focused on becoming more relevant, timely, and reoccurring. Most respondents stated their nurture campaigns operate on a weekly schedule (40%), followed by every three days (19%).
However, more interesting was that one-third of all respondents also stated they were actively nurturing existing clients, specifically by attempting to generate upsell or cross-sell opportunities. Once again proving that the best customers are the ones already in-house.
What Does Multi-Touch, Multi-Channel Lead Generation Look Like?
Multi-touch lead generation is complex by nature, so it’s critical to have a platform that automates as much of it as possible. A typical nurturing campaign could have a series of emails with direct mail timed to the same delivery date, personalized with graphics that appeal to that persona, or even better a direct mail that has, for example, their college or favorite sports team ball cap.
Follow-up communications can include email marketing of course, but also text messages and pre-recorded and/or personalized voicemail timed to arrive right before that webinar, for example. For your top-tier clients, a personalized video from your CEO or Sales Director would certainly get their attention. The choices are endless–and the best part is that every interaction makes your database more valuable over time.
Whatever lead generation programs you develop, it’s key to make sure your entire team understands the customer journey.
From Shaggy Dog to Best-in-Show
If increasing conversion rates is your goal (which, of course, it is), your business must improve its lead nurturing cycle. Demand generation will only take your business so far. Gaining a new prospect’s attention isn’t enough to get them into your sales funnel. Prospects need enticement, which you can generate using a multi-touch, multi-channel inbound and outbound strategy that appeals directly to their interests and needs.
Everybody knows the importance of nurturing leads, but not everyone is doing what it takes to master this process to improve the ROI on their marketing investment. The survey found that 63% of respondents use multipurpose content when lead nurturing. This is a failing strategy, as not all content works equally when trying to generate leads.
Don’t keep pounding the same square sprocket into the round hole while hoping to generate different results. Take the tailored approach, and your lead nurturing program will win “Best in Show.”