For some companies, it seems as though those contact lists and leads lists grow endlessly. While this may be a good thing, it is useless if the marketing team cannot properly manage and nurture the leads among that list. Good leads will slip under the tsunami of contacts, and companies could end up nurturing the wrong leads. It can also be overwhelming to deal with, segment, and engage an enormous amount of contacts. In that case, automation will need to come in.
The most important thing to remember when sorting through new conversions is to decide who is a marketing qualified lead and who is not. This makes sure that valuable time and resources are not being used on the wrong contacts. This first step will make the next ones much easier. So before we dive into those steps think about what makes a qualified lead a qualified lead. Use that to guide your next decisions.
Let’s think about the buyer’s journey. At the beginning of the consideration stage, when a prospect may sign up for a newsletter for your blog, is the snapshot of what you will see in their contact record. It is a snapshot that you (or your automated workflow) will be judging the quality of the contact. So beyond deciding what makes a qualified lead, you must first create your conversion forms that provide enough information to make that decision, otherwise it is impossible to do so.
Once that is done you have the option to set up workflows to help decide what contacts are marketing qualified and which ones are not. While workflows are very helpful, you should still go through contacts manually because the workflow may not capture all of the contacts that you want to be marketing qualified.
To really deep dive into what you are looking for when qualifying leads then look to your buyer personas. Buyer personas should encapsulate the audience you are trying to capture in a more detailed way. By refreshing your memory with buyer personas, you will be better able to understand what needs to be in your conversion forms. Think about your buyer personas when they are in the consideration phase of their buyers journey, now apply that to your conversion forms–– how would they fill out the form? This should give you the best idea on how to move your conversions. Beyond being qualified or disqualified you should be able to identify “hot leads” that are more likely to become a customer and so on. You do not want to miss out on hot leads by not having a good system to sort through your leads, especially if you get a large volume of leads.
Once you have your marketing qualified leads, it is time to prioritize them. While it may seem important to go through each and every marketing lead, it just may not be possible for some companies to do so if they have a large volume of qualified leads. One category, for let’s say a non-profit organization, might be “funder.” This would be considered a hot lead because this is an actual point of revenue for this organization. Many leads may only be just that–– leads. But by recognizing where revenue generates, companies can make better use of their time and energy.
The thing about inbound marketing is that it requires a lot of energy and thought. So, ideally you will want to categorize because you need to provide different types of energy and attention to each different type of lead. You could categorize based on how much time and energy is needed for nurturing each type of lead. Alternatively, you could categorize by which type of marketing is best suited for different types of leads. Either way, you will be providing the inbound marketing experience to all of your leads and providing extra attention and nurturing to your hot leads.
As I mentioned before, hot leads are your critical leads that need extra attention and nurturing. For some companies, hot leads may not be as obvious as others. It will often take some experience and trial and error to figure out which leads you do not want to miss out on. But from a general standpoint, hot leads will fit your buyer persona to a tee. They will often spend more time looking at your content and will generally seem more engaged than other leads.
Another way to identify hot leads is by identifying the buyer persona most likely to become not only a customer but an evangelist for your company. This way, if you have a greater number of buyer personas and many of your leads fit into those buyer personas, you could pick one buyer persona to focus on as your hot lead.
The opposite should also be stated, do not spend so much time on your hot leads that you are ignoring your other leads. A lead may not seem promising at first, but as time goes on proves to be one of the best (hottest) leads that you have. That is why nurturing your leads is important for this marketing strategy, nurturing may just turn some leads hot.
The second step in the inbound marketing process cannot be overstated. Engaging your leads is the best way to keep them on your marketing trail and eventually become customers. Marketing emails is one the most common ways that marketers keep in contact with their leads and continuously engage them in a quick and convenient way. It is a great strategy no doubt, but you do not want leads to become desensitized to your marketing efforts. Individualization when engaging your leads is a great way to keep things diverse and engaging.
When thinking about buyer personas, you must also think about the marketing type that would keep them engaged, what emails will they open? Engaging your leads might mean playing the long game, don’t overwhelm them with offers. Go slow and get a better idea of your leads as you go. Then, become more and more engaging as time goes on. This method will help you keep as many leads as possible but allow you to close in on them in a way that is not overwhelming.