Mastering the necessary touch points to successfully nurture traffic into leads into engaged leads into prospects and finally sales ready prospects is a balancing act so complicated even Donald Trump’s accountants might struggle. We can even learn a little something from the crooked candidate as, loathed to admit as I am, he’s gotten himself to the last leg of the presidential race with THAT hair and a litany of cringeworthy faux pas’ – Mr Trump knows how to sell himself. And his soul, but let’s leave that there.
The Typical Inbound Process
Those familiar with the typical inbound process will be aware that it starts with awareness – something like a blog post. People learn of content via social media or email, they read it, then engage. From someone downloading your content and handing over their precious contact details they can be nurtured with further content aligned with a later stage in the buying journey, supplemented with case studies and led to a contact form or similar resulting in them taking up an offer or requesting a quote. Then they get handed over to the sales team. There’s a lot of research involved and a lot of talk around personas.
Since our little agency went live a year ago however, we’ve discovered a few flaws with this methodology.
- People aren’t engaging on email like they used to: Email is one of the core inbound channels and this is partially a numbers game, however you need to get numbers in that fit your target persona, and getting enough of these numbers is proving more difficult as people become saturated and less engaged
- People are flooded with content: So why should they read yours? Getting enough of the people you want into your readymade funnel is far from a piece of proverbial cake – multiple channel strategies are a must
- People aren’t making it all the way down the funnel: When the final converting pieces of content are distributed, the response rates go right down and the lead is left untouched
It’s Time To Get Your Hands Dirty
Although perfect automation requiring no input is a nice idea, we’ve found you need to get your hands dirty to pull out those conversions. To this end, we’re finding that building in some offline steps into our marketing process and involving sales early on is working a treat.
Example 1: We had problem 3 with our own marketing – no sales team and a lot of redundant leads sitting expectantly in our CRM once they didn’t take us up on our email offer. So we employed a salesperson to go back to the dark ages and call up (groundbreaking – we know) engaged contacts. Sometimes the answer is so obvious – and yes, it worked.
Suggestion 1: After 2 – 3 digital touch points where you consider a lead to be engaged, consider bringing in an offline step – a friendly phone call to gage interest and see if you can progress to a sales call or even a meeting.
Example 2: For one client we were discovering that the buying journey tended to be short, thus our long lead nurturing funnel was lying largely unused. We drafted in a physical offer of a free gift after 1 – 2 touch points, offering this to leads we felt engaged and qualified through the website activity they had undertaken and downloads they had completed.
Suggestion 2: There’s definite merit to having your branding sitting on someone else’s desk for often large amounts of time. For engaged leads, a phone call offering a free gift to be sent via post (more shock) can be a great idea to get you one step closer to a sale.
Example 3: One client was on the events circuit, using speaking opportunities to create leads and kickstart the buying process offline. After this first touchpoint we brought this online and rather than handing out business cards that might get lost with all the others people invariably receive at events, the client had an instant text number they could give to interested parties in their presentation. Texting a word or phrase to this number prompted users to enter their email address, after which they would receive a follow up email – all with minimal effort their end.
Suggestion 3: Use events and offline marketing activity to bring people online and get the benefit of your online collateral. In addition near-field communication (NFC), social media cards and QR codes can accomplish this too.
It’s cited that it takes between 6 – 8 touch points to qualify a lead. Blending online and offline activity using print, events, post, sales, gifts and the telephone can work to build a robust and successful marketing to sales process and achieve those coveted conversions.
Perhaps marketing and sales are finally beginning to feel the love for one another – linked by our abilities throughout the buying journey, matched by our distaste for Donald Trump.
We elaborate more on the core online lead generation process in our eGuide: How to Create a Successful Online Marketing Strategy.
Use the ideas in this and blend some of the offline ideas in this post – we think you’ll be delighted with the results!