and how it can help you to generate leads that close
95% of the UK is now online and buyers are using that power to make more informed purchasing decisions. Make sure your content is the first thing they see when they do.
Surveys have the remarkable ability to tell stories. So when an industry-wide survey by Adobe revealed that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the previous 50, we had to ask ourselves ‘why?’
Look at your own market for the evidence around you. It’s likely that greater connectivity has upturned the conventional seller/buyer focus. At the same time, there has been a substantial increase in the quantity and quality of opportunities for you to connect with prospects. The setting has changed and the story has progressed, but the characters haven’t developed with it. At best, this means people’s understanding of marketing, from the underlying principles to the day to day tactics, is out of date. At worst, everyone is working from a different page.
On average, sales give up after two unsuccessful attempts to connect. When it’s brought up, marketing blame sales for being lazy. Sales blame marketing because ‘the leads are weak’. Blame gets you nowhere, and the problem remains. Unfortunately it means that for all your marketing success, it can only ever achieve 10% of its potential.
It’s time to fix all of these problems from the ground up. In the same way that an inbound approach to marketing is transforming the way businesses help their prospects to become well qualified and excited leads, a more customer-centric sales process is going to transform your business from selling to helping to buy.
Changing your business processes to become buyer focused is a transformative step, but it’s absolutely crucial if you want to generate leads that close.
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But the traditional marketing methods they were using (including telemarketing, trade shows and email) were not generating enough leads and sales to meet this target. In addition, they couldn’t identify any deals that had happened as a result of an enquiry coming through their website. Not one!
Recognising a shift in buyer behaviour, and that LAN3’s website and digital marketing had not adapted to it, Managing Director Martin Jones and Sales Director Steve Thompson made the strategic decision to move towards a customer-centric approach.
The first step was to hire an experienced Inbound Marketing Manager (Paul Sweeney) to implement the change in direction. The next was to get some expert help from a leading marketing agency to implement HubSpot, provide guidance on strategy, deliver marketing activity, and engage with the sales team.
Get the full story from the video above or read how they transformed their business with sales enablement here.
You probably have an idea of who your leads that close are. But how much of this is based on assumptions and how much is based on actual research into your customer data?
You’re trying to start a conversation with your target buyer. And while you focus your time on the broader themes of increasing web presence, your consumers are becoming more and more discerning about the type of content they engage with. Before you even think about starting to create that content, you need to understand who it is you’re creating it for. The first step to generating leads that close is paying attention to your audiences.
Imagine how much a persona could inform the content you’re creating for your prospects and the conversations you are having with your customers. It’s common for brands to assume that they are the main character in their stories, but this is incorrect. The brand is the enabler, the wise man, Rowling’s sparkly eyed Dumbledore. You bring the knowledge, the expertise, the magic. Your IT manager? He’s the small boy trapped in the cupboard under the stairs, wishing for more.
Everything starts with who you are targeting, and this means creating a buyer persona for them. Only by knowing your personas and looking at current trends for consumption will you be able to target your approach and resonate with today’s time-sensitive buyers.
You’ve identified your target buyers, but if you want to generate leads that close, you need to understand how ready they are to buy.
We believe what really matters when looking to generate leads that close is understanding the journey the buyer takes when making a purchase.
If you start by understanding your buyers, instead of by trying to decide what kind of marketing services you need, you will end up with a very different answer to the question ‘what do I need to do in order to get more customers?’
A straightforward way to understand your buyers is to use the buyer’s journey—a simple framework that maps a buyer's progression through the research and decision process they go through before making a purchase. When you combine this with a deep understanding of who that prospect is, you create a process during which the lead never actually feels ‘sold to’, and is therefore much more likely to want to start a conversation.
Consider each stage of the buyer’s journey—awareness, consideration and decision—and set out what you can do to keep your prospects moving through that journey until they become customers.
An inability to communicate what your business is and where it sits in the market could be limiting your ability to draw leads that close.
Digital is a crowded room full of noise.
Your prospects are mingling. You want to join in the conversation—but where to start? How to introduce yourself, what to say? A tech business sidles up to chat about software and solutions. Everyone smiles, nods, pops olives like Tic-Tacs, fiddles with their empties, but nobody’s listening. They’ve been hearing the same pitch all evening.
Outside, a group forms around a glamorous multinational enterprise. She talks a good talk but the conversation dries. Her proposition is outdated. No one can see the value in what she says she does.
Near the bar, an SME excitedly relates the story around his rapid growth. He’s engaging, magnetic, so passionate his bubbly’s almost flat (the waiter’s hovering), but there’s a disconnect between what he says he does and the markets into which he’s expanding.
In this scenario, all these businesses find themselves faced with one of two challenges: they don’t know how to define themselves or they don’t know how to communicate this in a way that aligns it with their target buyers. It’s a problem they didn’t even realise they had, and it’s ubiquitous in this day and age when it’s all too easy to build a website and start promoting yourself.
To navigate this challenge, we always work with our clients to develop a messaging framework. Defining this framework enables you to create compelling, relevant messages that run through every piece of communication about your business or brand.
The importance of consistent messaging across channels can't be overstated, giving prospects a clear picture of who you are and why you're relevant to them.
First impressions count.
In today’s world, your content is your brand for prospects and new customers. People who’ve yet to do business with you form their perceptions about your company through reading your articles, browsing your website, and downloading your offers. Their first impressions come from your online presence—mainly from reading your content.
No one ever willingly bought something from someone they didn’t trust. Hopefully you are already working hard to build trust by showcasing your satisfied clients, making your website smart and contemporary, and by providing valuable content that establishes your credibility.
But all of that good work can be undone if what you say is not uniform. You’ve defined your buyer personas and clarified your value proposition. Now you are in a position to bring these things together in a communication strategy that bridges who you are and who you want to be starting conversations with.
Getting your business messaging right just became a much bigger priority.
A predictable, long-term, repeatable strategy depends on your ability to complete core sales and marketing activities each month.
If you’re looking to grow your business by generating leads that actually close, you’d better believe there’s some fundamental core activity you need to have in place first. Imagine you’re building a house; without solid foundations, anything you put together will fall down pretty fast. Set those foundations in place, however, and you have the groundwork on which to build predictable, scalable, and repeatable business growth.
But how much is this reflected in your sales and marketing, and can you confidently say you’re delivering a consistent output of effective, relevant core activity each month?
Break down and define your core marketing activity.
To generate leads that close you need an interconnected web of detailed and informative content on the topics your buyers are searching for.
The content on your website can (and should!) be used to help support your visitors throughout their buying journey. This means it’s incredibly important to make sure the user journey is optimised as much as possible by ensuring that your website is easy to navigate and that information can be found quickly.
You'll also need a good SEO strategy to make sure you don’t start creating content that is never going to appear in search results or generate your goals. Google's latest shift in their algorithms is towards favouring topic-based content. This favours websites that are content-focused. So how can you ensure that your content is fully aligned to the buyer’s journey, presented in a logical order on your website and can help boost your ranking with search engines?
Google is no longer looking at exact keywords but topic clusters. Linking the content together shows the search engine you have authority on a topic. Over time, you should rank higher and higher for the topic it covers. It effectively weaves your content together and creates a site architecture that is easy to crawl.
There’s a strong chance your content is already generating leads that close. A content audit will highlight this, giving you visibility over your most valuable assets.
There will be some content in your business already. You may have created some articles, white papers, or case studies and that’s only looking at the online content—what about the brochures and collateral being used by the sales team?
Doing a content audit will help you to:
1. Get clear visibility of the content already in your business to understand what is missing, what should be binned and what could be repurposed.
2. Ultimately, save time and resources by not having to start from scratch.
It’s time to do a content audit - both online and offline.
The prospect of reviewing all of your content can seem like a challenging task, particularly when some of that content might be hidden in the inbox of the sales department, but honestly, it will be worth the time when your content starts delivering leads that actually close.
Look for the social media sites and forums where your target buyers spend their time and set about sharing useful, relevant content with them there.
The way we see it, the secret of worthwhile social media distribution is to make sure you take the time to understand where your target buyers are spending their time and what works best on the various platforms. You could just share all your content across all channels, but you’ll get better results (and save a lot of time) if you take a more strategic approach.
If you spend 30% of your time creating content, we recommend spending the remaining 70% on its promotion. As long as your content is strong, this is when you will really start to climb above your competitors and engage relevant traffic, which is essential if you’re generating leads that actually close.
You can find these places by searching for them (not just via Google, but also through Reddit, Google+, Facebook, Quora and LinkedIn). You need to make sure that you are promoting content to your prospects in the right place.
If implemented using the same inbound logic, paid advertising can also be a valuable asset, particularly to the attract stage of the buyer’s journey if rooted by the fundamental Inbound principles.
There are three forms of paid advertising that lend themselves particularly well to this: paid search, sponsored posts, and retargeting. At its simplest, paid search enables you to advertise your pages to users actively searching for your keywords, sponsored posts sit natively within social media feeds alongside content viewers have already chosen to see, and retargeting shows your products or services to users who have already visited those pages. With all of these forms of advertising, the paid element is simply expanding the reach of your content in a targeted way that makes sense for the customer, rather than just those footing the bill.
Increase the number of leads that will close with engaging content offers and downloadable offers tailored to your target buyers
The concept’s as simple as it is familiar: you offer the reader a valuable piece of downloadable content in exchange for their contact details. To generate leads that close, you therefore need to give real thought to the kinds of offers and resources available on your site. Content offers are gateways to leads, so they need to appeal to your buyer personas.
There’s another step to the process that is often overlooked. If the content offer is the what, then the conversion path is the how you convert website visitors to leads. The conversion path works behind the scenes, leading the prospect logically from the call-to-action on which they convert to a landing page and form, and then the thank you page and follow-up offer.
Remember, don't just leave it at setting up the offer. Conversion rate optimisation is a crucial element of generating leads that close and bring you ROI.
Turning your website into an effective lead generation tool requires a combination of data-driven insights and human-centred design
It’s not just your content offers that can improve the relevance of your website to your target buyers. By designing the layout and navigation of the website itself around the buyer personas, you make it as easy as possible for your most valuable visitors to move around your content and engage with your messaging.
When you turn your eye to optimising your website for your target buyer, you’ll find yourself faced with a multitude of questions and considerations. If your most valuable traffic comes from mobile, is your site mobile first? Is your buyer-centric marketing strategy reflected in the website? How fast is the page speed? Can you guarantee security? Does your website promote a personalised experience for your prospects, facilitating the idea that it is the often the first step in an ongoing conversation with each visitor?
Time, budget, and internal resources typically limit a company’s ability to address all of these points simultaneously, making it important for you to list and prioritise the factors that will have the biggest impact on the experience your site offers.
In our guide to generating leads that close, we have suggested a three-part strategy that you can work from when looking to align the look and feel of your website with the preferences and challenges of your target buyers.
Generating leads that close means generating the right kinds of leads. The only way to optimise your marketing and sales to speak to those people? Testing and iteration.
Back in 2015, HubSpot carried out a test that revealed 92% of their monthly blog leads were coming from historic posts. Even more interesting, they found that 46% of their monthly leads came from just 30 individual posts. For a company that was, at the time, publishing nearly 200 new posts every month, this must have been quite an eye-opener.
By taking time to step back and look at the figures, HubSpot identified areas of focus, like improving the conversion point on high-traffic, low converting posts and increasing traffic to posts which were already converting well. By adding the schedule for updating posts to their editorial calendar they were still creating new timely articles, but were also able to improve the overall performance of the blog.
If you’re a HubSpot user there really is no reason why you shouldn’t be testing. Let’s take a look at some of the key tips for making use of your data to start implementing today.
If someone hits your homepage and can’t figure out if you’re going to answer their question, or be relevant to them, they will go back and find another search result.
Think about it. Someone who is going to close as a customer in the next few days is going to be looking at your site in a very different way to someone who has just found it through organic search. The live prospect may be very interested in case studies and the ins and outs of your product, while the first-time visitor is more likely to want to see if you can help them fix their specific problem.
By using context to create smart content tailored to those varying needs, you can really boost your conversion rates and stop losing visitors who feel overwhelmed by a wealth of technical information on their first visit.
(Note this part is very specific to HubSpot, as this is the platform we work with and encourage our clients to use.)
Keep the conversation going between you and your leads with helpful emails containing links to content that will help them close.
Just because your prospects have signed up to your blog or downloaded a guide, it doesn’t mean they are ready to hit 'go' yet. Even more qualified leads, like those who have downloaded a pricing list or spoken to one of the sales team, may well have decided to try solving the challenge they are facing themselves first.
At this stage, the lead is still little more than engaged traffic. You need to respect that, and be on hand to offer advice if (or when) they find the DIY approach too difficult.
We’ve already covered why you need to be customer centric at all stages of the buyer’s journey and appreciate that a prospect is likely to move back and forth through the stages as part of their thought process. This means you need to be visible throughout that journey.
Already have a lead nurturing strategy? Great! Always remember to review your progress and iterate. Don't wait until later to review your data. If something isn’t working, there is a reason and you need to find out why.
If you don’t already have a strategy for lead nurturing in place, you really can’t afford to leave it alone. Forming those connections should be a big part of your business, helping you to not only close leads but earn those prized referrals we all yearn for.
Today, generating leads that close means speaking one-to-one with prospects at their convenience. When time or scale limits this, the technology now exists to enable those conversations.
Creating relationships with prospects needs to be an all round effort, not just a single email sequence. Your leads expect to be able to reach you at any time. They want your help. They’re starting to trust you, even depend on you for the information and advice you’ve dispensed up until now. You’re Dumbledore, remember?
But you can’t predict what they’re going to ask and you can’t predict when. Email automation serves its purpose well, but leads expect immediacy and open channels of communication at all times. How, then, can you keep your presence going outside of their inbox and your website?
Think back to the section on distribution, and you’re almost there: you take the conversation to their favourite platforms. By definition, social media platforms are the places your leads go to ask questions and engage in conversation. According to HubSpot research, ‘71% of people are willing to use messaging apps to get help’.
A chat presence on your prospects’ platforms of preference shows that you are at their disposal, making it as simple as possible for them to engage with you at their convenience.
Before we move on, it is definitely worth noting that chat automation should be used as a stepping stone to a real-life conversation. Yes, it can help qualify a lead to know they have already engaged with your chat bot, but we’re not yet at the stage where they can close your leads for you.
A marketing-qualified lead is more likely to close, but 90% of them never get connected with by sales. A smooth handover is key.
It’s a familiar story: the marketing team will say they are effectively generating leads, but go to sales and they will say those leads aren’t even worth looking at. The real problem? A lack of communication.
Aside from hindering revenue goals, this disconnect can also impact internal resourcing. One big example of this is that the average salesperson spends 30 hours a month customising content for their prospects and uses less than 10% of the deliverables that marketing provide them with. Imagine how much more time your sales team could spend helping leads to close into customers if they were using some of the content that marketing were spending time creating.
Aligning sales and marketing efforts is fundamental to any business seeking sustainable growth. Whilst many of us will readily admit that our main goal is revenue generation, it’s still a rarity to see full alignment in businesses. Sales creating their own content and ignoring the website, varying messages being delivered from the two departments confusing prospects, and a lack of agreement on lead quality are certainly challenges faced by many of the businesses we encounter.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s not that the C-suite are indifferent to these challenges. The real problem lies with implementation and the bringing together of two departments that have a traditional rivalry going back decades.
If only both teams could work together, the name-calling would stop. And as they begin to achieve this, you’ll find you have a stronger, more revenue-oriented business focused on (yes, you guessed it) generating leads that close.
Most business owners wised up to the notion that site traffic and views are metrics a few years ago now, but really, without qualification, how is a lead any different?
Can you confidently say who the person behind the lead is, and do you understand what they want, and does their contact record support this? Are you even tracking the way they move around your site?
Now leads that close, there’s an appealing phrase.
So how do you generate them?
BabelQuest was formed as we believed that businesses need to focus on generating leads that close if they want to grow in a predictable, scalable, and repeatable way. Sometimes that involves creating free resources to educate the directors and marketing heads among you with a willingness to learn and a genuine passion to grow your business.
This is one of those free resources. In fact, it’s a compilation of several intended to guide you step-by-step along the process of generating leads that close. Dive in.