Say Sayonara to Bad Leads

Say Sayonara to Bad Leads

When is the last time you cleaned out your CRM? Are all your leads still active and interested? If they aren’t, they’re probably doing more bad than you think. You see, bad leads weigh down your campaign results and make it difficult to draw conclusions from your data. Even worse, bad leads cost you money. Marketing automation platforms (MAs) charge by how many leads you’re storing, so you’ll want to clean out unqualified ones whenever you can.

We define “bad leads” a few different ways. A bad lead might have missing or out of date contact info, be a duplicate in your system, or have not shown interest in your business (e.g. not opening emails, no website visits) in the past few months. You should also consider these factors when determining if a lead is “bad” or unqualified:

  • Is this lead in my target demographic?
  • What is this lead’s budget?
  • What is this lead’s job title?
  • How urgently does this lead need my product/service?

Now, just because a lead isn’t in your target demographic or has an usual job title doesn’t mean they should immediately be classified as unqualified. However, these factors can push a lead in that direction if other factors add up, too.

You can weed out unqualified leads in a few different ways: going through auto-replies from email sends, awarding negative points for lack of engagement in a lead’s score, using filters to generate a list of unengaged leads, and creating a re-engagement nurturing campaign.

Check Auto-Reply Messages

When you send emails out to leads, a good chunk of them will have an auto-reply message saying they are out of the office, have retired, have moved to a new position, have a new email, etc. Don’t overlook the fact that Joe Shmo is lying on a beach somewhere far from the office; use that info!

If the lead gives a return date, you might resend your email when they’re back in the office. If they are no longer with the company, you can remove them from your CRM and add their replacement, if given. Any information they offer (e.g. phone number, job title, new email address) can be used to update their contact info.

We go about this process manually, opening up auto-replies, checking for personnel changes or contact updates, and then make changes in our CRM. Depending on the size of the list you send to, manually checking may be a perfectly good option. Out of office messages differ greatly and sometimes it takes some close reading to figure out if there’s any valuable info, which is why we like having an actual human checking them.

If you receive a large number of auto-replies, automated web services, like LeadGnome, can do the grunt work for you. We haven’t tried LeadGnome’s services ourselves, so we can’t speak to their effectiveness, but it’s an option worth looking into. They understand the value of checking auto-replies and make the process much faster.

Award Negative Points to Lead Score

Keep track of leads you suspect to be unqualified by using negative points to affect their lead score. Actions like visiting your website’s careers page, staying on the site for less than 10 seconds, failing to visit the site for a period of time, and failing to open emails can be all be accounted for. Then, you can check lead scores to find unqualified leads. After that, you can make decisions about what to do with them, like put them in a re-engagement campaign or ditch them for good.

Generate a Smart List of Unengaged Leads

If you don’t have a sophisticated lead scoring system, you can still use filters in your MA to identify unqualified leads. Our MA, Marketo, allows us to choose filters for numerous lead attributions. Once we have selected the ones we want, Marketo generates a Smart List of all the leads who fall under the filters. We can even create campaigns to run the filters and automatically delete leads on the list however often we choose. With this kind of automation available, there’s no excuse for your CRM to be clogged with oldies!

Create a Re-Engagement Nurturing Campaign

Like we mentioned in a previous blog post, re-engagement campaigns attempt to spark lead interest after not having engaged with the company in a while. Re-engagement campaigns are your last effort to salvage leads in your system before dumping them. If they don’t respond after this, you really don’t want them, anyway.

Unbounce shared a list of great subject lines used in re-engagement emails. Some of our favorites are, “Were we boring you?” and “Steve, where are you?”. When it’s the last straw, why not go bold? Check out the subject lines >

The body of the re-engagement email can be just as blunt as those subject lines. Ask leads straight out if they’d like to unsubscribe. An unsubscription is not ideal, but at least you’ll be able to clear out leads that are going nowhere. If you’re really set on winning them back, try offering a reward or engage them in a questionnaire. Find out what they’re interested in and adjust your emails to suit their needs. People appreciate the opportunity to give feedback. If you need some inspiration, Emma posted examples of re-engagement emails that won them over. See re-engagement examples >

Whichever method you choose, be sure to clean out old leads often. Do a check every few months to ensure you’re not wasting time and money sending to unengaged leads.

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