Lead Manage­ment Process

In simple terms, lead management is the process of getting leads to the right place. There are five basic levels involved: capture, qualify, nurture, distribute, and report. But before we dive into those, let’s discuss why you should be thinking about your lead management process in the first place.

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Benefits of Lead Management

Using a lead management strategy improves sales and marketing efficiencies and generates more business. Numbers vary, but as many as 80% of leads generated by marketing do not receive follow-up. In many cases, leads are ignored by sales because they’re unqualified. In other cases, leads don’t receive the information that helps them choose your products or services.

A good lead management system can smooth out the process by:

Lead management works. Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months (Source: Gartner Research).

Capture

Where are all the places someone can find out about or talk to your company? Think about places like your website, email campaigns, trade shows, content downloads, webinars, direct marketing campaigns, third party lead sources, social media, and brick-and-mortar locations. Understanding all of these possibilities lets you begin the process of lead capture. 

The most important thing to have in your toolset is a place to keep track of all your lead records. You might have a contact manager of some kind, but if you’re looking for a robust tool that can help in other areas of your business, too, a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) may be the perfect solution.

Whichever kind of tool you choose, you’ll want to make sure it’s capable of automatically recording incoming lead information, such as name, email, phone number, company, location, and any other data points or demographics you’re interested in tracking. A tool with lead tracking capabilities can further help you recognize which lead sources and marketing campaigns are generating results by tracking behaviors like where leads came from and which pages they visited.

Qualify

Not all leads are ready to purchase. Determining which ones should be sent to sales and which ones shouldn’t can be tricky. This is where lead qualification comes in to cut down on the guess work. In our experience, we have found great success with qualifying leads through lead scoring and telequalification.

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Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is the process of assigning points to leads based on their behaviors and demographics in order to determine sales-readiness. By assigning points to leads and creating a threshold before they are sent to sales, you can ensure that only your most qualified leads are reaching sales.

A variety of factors can contribute to a lead’s score, such as downloading a whitepaper, visiting your website, and clicking on an email. You can even award leads negative points for actions like viewing your Careers page or unsubscribing from your emails. Each business’ scoring system is unique, so you’ll have to consider which actions say the most about your leads.

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Telequalification

Even in an age of digital communication and automation, sometimes speaking directly to a prospect on the phone is quickest and easiest way to find out their level of interest.

All you need is a list of prospects, a script, and maybe a follow-up email. Depending on your goals, you might put together a list based on certain criteria of leads in your database. Then, develop a quick, friendly calling script that accounts for a variety of directions the conversation may take. Finally, it’s always a good idea to have an email ready to go, so leads still interested in your business can be sent additional information or be added to a nurturing stream.

Nurture

Lead nurturing is the process of communicating consistent, meaningful touches with viable prospects who are not at the buying stage yet. Creating an email nurturing program will:

The overall goals of an email nurturing campaign are to:

To help you start putting a campaign together, we outlined 7 key steps, below:

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Define the Goal of Nurturing

Nurturing campaigns can serve a variety of purposes, including generating new leads, increasing lead quality, and reengaging exhausted leads. Before you begin planning emails, decide what your campaign’s goals are.

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Create Personas & Segment Your Send List

Before you do any type of marketing, it’s important to have a clear idea of your audience. Building personas is a great way to really dig into who your customers are. And of course, you’ll want to create a few different ones. If you need help determining your audience and developing personas, we are more than happy to get to work.

Once you have your audience laid out, you can segment your contact list to compile a send list of people who resemble your personas. This will allow you to create much more personalized content that really speaks to the specific audience you’re targeting.

When you create your send list, you may also want to segment by lead actions, such as:

  • Website visits
  • Page views
  • Past purchases
  • Lead score

Any factor that can help you personalize content may be something you want to use to segment.

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Define Success

Think about which actions determine “success” for a campaign. What marks a conversion? It could be clicking through an email, downloading a whitepaper, or watching a video. Success is going to be different for each campaign.

One way to measure success is through creating a lead scoring system, where certain attributes and behaviors add to a lead’s score until they pass the threshold and move into a sales-qualified funnel. Lead scoring systems will be different for everyone. You have to consider what attributes and behaviors are important to you. For example, you might create a scoring system like this:

Open an email – 2 pts
Click in an email – 4 pts
Download a whitepaper – 10 pts
Visit your website – 5 pts
Visit the pricing page of your website – 10 pts
Attend an event – 25 pts

60 pts = Ready to talk to sales

You may also include demographic information to score a lead based on their likeness to your target audience. This might look like:

Industry is marketing, advertising, or public relations – 10 pts
Company has 50-100 employees – 10 pts
Location is within 100 miles of your company – 10 pts

Of course, if location doesn’t matter to you, you won’t want to assign points to it, and so on.

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Determine Your Calls to Action

Everything you create should have a goal behind it and a way for the lead to move to the next step. You don't want to halt leads on their nurturing journey. There's always a next step, a new way for them to engage with you. When in doubt, link to your website or blog. Getting traffic on your site and more eyes on your blog are always great ways to keep your brand top of mind.

We show people the way by using call-to-action phrases, or CTAs. CTAs use action verbs, telling the reader what to do next. This might take the form of a clickable button or link, or just a line of text advising on next steps.

While you're planning your content for a nurturing campaign, plan the flow. Where do we take leads next? How do we phrase it? And make sure the next step stands out, like a CTA button does, so leads don't miss it.

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Create a Lead Scoring System

As mentioned under "Qualify," lead scoring is the process of assigning points to leads based on their behaviors and demographics. This way, you know how far along in the funnel your leads are and whether they are ready for sales. It's important to score leads while they're in a nurturing stream, so you can determine how well your stream is moving them along.

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Map It Out

There is tons to plan out for your nurturing campaign, including the order of emails, send frequency, day/time of sends, and follow-ups. From the beginning of your planning, have an idea of the big picture. How many emails are in this campaign? What is the most logical order of the emails? How often should leads hear from us? When is the best day and time to send? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine content and keep the entire campaign on track.

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Test It

Test everything! You want to perfect the right message with your audience to see the most ROI. One of your goals of creating a nurturing campaign should be to build a knowledge base of what your customer responds to the best. After everything is set up and running, start A/B testing elements, one at a time. Here are just a few of the many things you might test:

  • Subject lines and preheaders
  • Content copy
  • Calls-to-action
  • Form length
  • Pricing
  • Scoring

Distribute

Leads convert better when they are sent to the right sales person. This can be challenging when go-to market strategies involve complex mixes of resellers and direct selling offices. These strategies may have to contend with:

It's important to have a logical (and if possible, automated) system for determining where a lead should go, based on geography, product interest, lead source, and previous purchases.

Report

Your efforts aren't proving anything if there's no data backing up your success. It's important to determine which metrics are the most important to you and watch them closely across time. If you're unsure where to begin or where to set your benchmarks, pick something arbitrarily and watch it over a few months. Once you get a feel for how your campaigns perform, you can make deliberate choices to try to increase email opens, whitepaper downloads, or whatever it is you're measuring.

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