Marketers are always asking themselves the age-old question: "How do I generate more leads?"
Unfortunately, that question doesn't have a simple answer. A quick Google search reveals plenty of opinions, tools and resources claiming to be the best and easiest way to do this. With so many resources, and everyone claiming "the" answer to all problems, it can be challenging to know where to begin.
Complicating the issue is the fact that sheer quantity will not solve the lead generation challenge. It is important to generate a large number of leads, but they must also be quality leads. There's no sense wasting valuable time and resources - both of which are in short supply - generating leads that will never buy from you or become a client.
So, how can you locate, connect, and attract the "optimal" lead? How can you construct a strategy that makes marketing efforts worthwhile for both your audience and your need to increase the potential for a sale?
According to Smart Insights, "60% of marketers say that personalization is a key strategy for improving the quality of leads being generated.”
There are a few key factors and best practices to keep in mind as you build a personalized marketing approach to lead generation.
The obvious place to start is to determine the best way to create a personalized experience for someone that you don’t even know.
Of course, you can’t have all the details you would like about your target audience without this information being provided. However, you do have access to a wealth of aggregated data and a high level of product and industry knowledge that can be leveraged to conceptualize what the key attributes of the “ideal” lead might be. This makes it easier to create buyer personas.
Semi-fictional, archetype, buyer personas will allow you to personalize the lead capture and generation process by focusing efforts around details and attributes that a certain type of target audience is likely to have, such as:
- The specific industries or companies the persona will be found in
- The business issues the persona is probably interested in
- The business challenges the persona may be facing
- The preferred communication channels of that type of persona (“watering holes”)
A complete set of buyer personas provides a starting point for personalization. The personas make it easier to structure strategies around content that aligns the right message with the right prospect at the right time in the buyer’s journey, creating a more personalized and targeted experience. Developing your marketing efforts in this way will allow you to personalize the marketing process to raise awareness, engage with a prospect, maintain that connection throughout the buyer’s journey, and move the target deeper into the marketing and sales funnel.
Buyer personas should also evolve to reflect changes in the market. Therefore, you should continue to collect data and refine your buyer personas to keep in step with the evolution of your target audience.
Personalize Marketing Automation
Once a lead has engaged with your business and provided more personal information, marketing automation can take over to do a lot of the heavy lifting that will keep the lines of communication open and push the lead further towards a sales conversation. However, marketing automation can only do so much in the way of personalization if processes are not properly established, monitored, and refined. Your automation platform should be optimized to provide an even higher level of personalization.
In most cases, prospects are captured in a large database where they are labelled as a “lead” and treated the same as everyone else in that category until they are graduated to being a “customer.” To maintain the connection, automated emails are sent to all leads on a predetermined schedule.
However, it’s not enough to think of leads as simply those who haven’t purchased yet. Since every lead is unique, it should have its own unique experience with your brand. Segment further and design categories that specifically address their current position in the marketing funnel.
As we touched on in a previous blog post, leads should eventually fall under one of two categories:
- Marketing Qualified Lead
- Sales Qualified Lead
As noted by Smart Bug Media, “An MQL is a contact that is sales-ready but is not yet ready for direct, personal attention from sales. An SQL, on the other hand, is ready for direct sales follow-up and should be made a priority to engage with one on one.”
Each classification requires a personalized content marketing approach that will nurture and progress them through the next step in the buyer’s journey.
Don’t Stop After Sales Gets Involved
After a lead has been passed to the sales team, many marketers feel their role, and the element of personalization they bring to the table, is over. As noted in a previous blog post, it’s also easy for marketers to forget about a lead once an initial purchase is made.
But, as Outbound Engine notes, “acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.” So, you will want to continue the personalized marketing process long after the handoff to sales.
By the time a lead is talking to sales, important data should have been collected that will allow the personal marketing process to continue until a buy decision is made. This can be achieved with content that keeps the prospect informed about the brand and the product they were interested in.
After the purchase is made, personalized marketing tactics should shift from courting to delighting the customer with new content that will confirm they have made the right decision. New content can be used to inform and plant the seed about potentially upgrading or purchasing new products or services. This can include new product or service news, company news, or even recent blog posts that will keep a customer engaged.
Obviously, it’s difficult to ensure that every lead generated will be a quality lead that will eventually result in a sale. That’s okay. No level of effort or personalization strategies and tactics are going to change that.
But by leveraging the available data at the start of a buyer’s journey and the information collected along the way, the journey can be personalized to deliver the best user experience possible.