The Importance of Tracking Leads

tracksTracking metrics throughout the lead lifecycle is important to most companies, and it is especially trying for those with long sales cycles. Having to wait 12-18 months before revenue is generated to learn which, if any, of your marketing campaigns are working can be a long time. Not to mention the process is further complicated by the fact that rarely does one campaign take full responsibility for moving a lead along the cycle it’s often a combined effort of multiple marketing touches.

Tracking lead interaction through all campaigns is critical. What are the important milestones in between that showed lead movement? Yes, there are milestones or key metrics that you can measure to determine the likelihood of campaign success long before revenue hits. These metrics give insight into how well marketing tactics are going, and whether adjustments need to be made to the campaign.

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Lead Nurturing…the New Wave of the Future

WaveYesterday, I was reading Aberdeen’s new industry analyst report, which discusses the best practices of lead nurturing by exploring the tactics and strategies of top performing organizations. I found it quite interesting that 56% of all respondents surveyed indicated that they lack a formal lead nurturing process.

With 80% of sales closing after the 5th contact, can marketing and sales really afford not to nurture all leads? I think not. It’s time to wise up and realize the importance of lead nurturing and the impact it can have on your organization. By implementing a lead nurturing process, marketing departments can significantly reduce their lead generation budgets and in return maximize their efforts on lead quality instead of lead quantity.

With today’s economic conditions spiraling downward across the globe many organizations are being forced to cut costs and focus on maximizing marketing and sales effectiveness. We can no longer afford to waste money on generating qualified leads to only have them fall through the cracks. So not only is lead nurturing the new Wave of the future, but it is a powerful way that all organizations can help to maximize their lead generation efforts once and for all – finally!

If you’re interested in learning more, download a complimentary copy of Aberdeen’s Lead Nurturing: The Secret to Successful Lead Generation report.

Say No to the Status Quo

Status QuoOver the past several weeks I’ve had some interesting conversations with marketers and it seems to me that some company’s allow status quo to outweigh ROI – why is that?  Most of my discussions have been with marketers that are seeing the value in lead management – especially from a behavior tracking and lead nurturing perspective. But what’s very odd is their ability to redistribute marketing dollars to support a nurturing program. The money is stuck in existing campaigns that the company has executed for years.  What I’m seeing is that certain management would rather stick their head in the sand or do what our competitors do, just because it’s always done that way. Versus those that are analyzing the ROI of marketing expenditures and continuing to readjust as necessary.  In these economic times one would think that there is no money left for that tradeshow “we just have to do”, or that print ad that produces very little but “it’s what we’ve done for years.”  Granted some marketing line items are harder to equate a direct ROI – such as collateral and branding elements, but there should be some way of measuring effectiveness.  And if you are truly going to increase the ratio of marketing dollars spent to sales revenue generated, then the status quo has proven not to work.  If people continued to buy the way they used to before the Internet became so pervasive, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue. However, that has all changed and the number of leads coming to your website to buy from you today is small.  According to statistics, most will buy from someone over the next 24 months.  Most are not buying from you or anyone else today. So, if your lead generation dollars are driving leads to your website or landing page and you are not nurturing, you are wasting money.  There are plenty of statistics out there to drive a business case. Don’t allow the status quo to rob your marketing budget and lead you to fail.

Has Cold Calling Gone Cold?

I  found The Case Against Cold Calling published in Softletter to be a very powerful wake-up call to re-evaluate the way we all communicate with prospects.

The way we communicate has changed dramatically over the last decade. The role of call centers has shifted from lead generation to lead nurturing for prospects who have responded to via email, direct mail, website visits, blog comments, and other marketing efforts. Telemarketing that follows up on emails and other marketing efforts can still be effective, but calling without prior introduction will become evermore challenging and cost prohibitive.

Today, a major change in the work force is occurring that is going to once again change the profile of our prospects. In many sales opportunities, the younger people in the buyer’s organization do the initial product screening/vendor comparing. While we were sleeping, Generation X has been replaced by the Millinials (people born between 1982 and 2002). This new generation communicates more by text messaging than by email or phone – even though they use their cell phones to type the text messages – some of us would just use the speed dial to reach the person and avoid Blackberry (or Iphone) thumb. This generational shift is coming on us rapidly – 21% of today’s workforce are Millinials and this percentage is going to rise rapidly as the Baby Boomers retire. 

In short, you have to change your marketing communication approaches to remain first in mind with today’s prospects.

Shorter Is Better

Anne Holland of MarketingSherpa says shorter email Subject Lines are the trend and that Sherpa’s testing indicates shorter is better.

We agree. We’ve been using two- and three-word Subject Lines for some time now with satisfying results. We believe it’s not just white space or the element of the unusual, but the brevity itself and leaving something to be desired.

Subject Lines, in our view, are not wholly the same as headlines. After all, you do not see the Subject Line sitting atop the article. It’s there in the inbox. You don’t see the article until you click. So, you want the recipient to click to see more.

Generating Leads and ROI from Event Marketing

I  had an interesting lunch the other day with some folks from Constellation Communication Corporation about event marketing and the lack of ROI and real leads companies generate and track from these costly events. Companies spend millions each year in one of the largest marketing budget items, but too often very little time is spent on pre- and post-event planning and lead nurturing.

Like all other marketing campaigns, event marketing requires planning before,  during and after the event. How do you drive the most people to your booth, or, better yet, how do you get the most pre-meeting face-to-face with key prospects?  A number of companies I’ve spoken with have found their hands tied with the pre-event marketing – tied to allowable sponsorship or industry trade advertisement. 

Companies should think out of that box. How to get lists to append email addresses and do some targeted email marketing. Or, perhaps weeks before the event, companies should do targeted email marketing to companies that fit the criteria of who would go to the show, whether they’ve signed up or not. The worst that could happen is targeted companies now learn about your company and what you provide.  OK, so there’s tons to do pre-event, but what about when you actually get some leads or suspects from a show. Now what?

I continued to be surprised as we spoke to the folks from Constellation that lots of companies – very large companies that spend millions on shows don’t have a process or supporting automation in place to track, nurture and see full visibility to all leads from that event (or from most marketing campaigns).  Most of the business cards go straight over to Sales for them to call and immediately dismiss.  How do you know how qualified the lead is?  Has Marketing and Sales defined what constitutes a qualified lead?  If so, how has marketing measured that indeed that lead has hit the point of qualification? Only at that point should the lead be passed on to Sales?  This is what marketers responsible for costly events should be asking themselves.

With so much money and time spent on Event Marketing, its a shame not to develop a process and automation that maximizes ROI of each and every event.  Pre- and post-event planning, lead tracking, visibility, nurturing and scoring are all base elements to ensuring that ROI.