What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words lead generation marketing? Is that a cringe?
Have you shelled out thousands of dollars for email addresses and phone numbers only to realize the whole list was nothing more than a registry of the cold, dead, and uninterested? Your return on that investment: zero. Obviously, it’s a mistake you will never make again. So how do you grow your business with a list of qualified customers?
The key focus here is qualified. An entire database that includes tens of thousands of so-called leads doesn’t amount to anything on its own. The sheer volume constitutes nothing more than a vanity metric. On the other hand, if these contacts match your target customer profile, then they’re not so cold. In fact, they’re warm in the sense that they could very well turn into bona fide buyers.
You’ve cast a net for a particular demographic, and these constitute the fruit from that strategic play. From now on, we’ll refer to them as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), and they’ll be an essential component to your customer base. They just haven’t said they want to buy from you – yet.
Never fear. The next type of lead stands out among all the others. It’s someone who not only fits your target demographic, but one who has expressed a specific interest in your service. Perhaps they’ve set up a phone call or consultation to speak with an actual salesperson. They’ve raised their hand and are eager to be called upon. We refer to this special category of lead as a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), and they count more than all the rest.
At this point, it’s crystal clear. Never pay for plain old leads again. It would be a complete waste. What you should invest in instead are MQLs and SQLs. Anything less equates to time and money down the drain.
So how does one go about the business of procuring these treasured and coveted MQLs and SQLs? It all starts with funnels. So what’s a funnel? There are a few different types, but in general a funnel is a method for drawing in potential customers who eventually submit their contact information to you. In other words, a funnel is nothing more than a device whose aim is to collect and catalog your future clients.
The first and most basic type is the Acquisition Funnel. Its purpose is to generate brand new customers, potential buyers who are at the beginning of their journey of seeking out your services. At this stage, you cast a wide net, often in the form of curiosity-piquing content that is meant to naturally draw attention to you and what you have to offer.
The next funnel is referred to as the Activation Funnel. Similar to the previous funnel, it’s geared toward new customers, perhaps ones who have already gotten familiar with you via your effective attention-grabbing content in the acquisition funnel. At this juncture, you want to address a specific need of theirs, a problem they have that necessitates a solution. Once the problem is addressed, you make known possible solutions. Among these solutions will be the one that is uniquely yours. At this point, you’ll deliver the message of why your solution is best.
A third funnel is one that too often gets neglected, which is a shame because it’s the most critical for making your business thrive. It’s called the double funnel, and with good reason. Its purpose is to re-funnel previous customers back to your business. Forget them, and you make a huge and costly mistake. The double funnel is an effective way to continue nurturing your existing customer base. If you’ve done the job properly for your customers the first time, then there’s an excellent chance you’ll gain their loyalty. Not only can they themselves be a source of future revenue, but they can also be a critical vehicle for generating additional leads in the form of referrals.
So how does this oft-forgotten funnel work? There are several ways, but they all revolve around the premise that your previous customers are still judging you and formulating their opinion about you. Continuing to nurture them will go a long way in cementing a favorable reputation for yourself. Entering your previous customers into a so-called success funnel allows you to engage with them further, educating them on how to most benefit from what they purchased. If you sold them software, then perhaps you send them a special tutorial that gives secret tips, hidden features, or solid advice on how to get the most from their investment. Another option would be an automated checkup to ensure they’re satisfied. Overall, let them know that if they need further guidance, you’re available and standing by to assist.
If, by chance, your service or product requires a renewal, then the double funnel is all but required if you expect them to continue their patronage. If you do nothing to nurture them, you can rest assured they’ll go elsewhere when their subscription expires.
Lastly, with regards to the double funnel, is a method named The Magic Question. By taking the initiative to ask if there is something else they need help with, ideally an issue that you can easily solve, you instantly open the door to a future business deal. Remember, if you’ve done a proper job of rendering good service from the beginning, you’ve likely established some trust, which means you can offer up-sells and additional products as an efficient and effective means to maximize customer loyalty.
So now you’re familiar with funnels and the critical role they play in generating MQLs and SQLs, but you still have some lingering questions. Good! This means you’re paying attention, and you’re ready to examine best practices for optimizing the results of your funnels.
The first rule revolves around trust. Simply put, never take for granted a customer’s trust. Lose it once and it’s likely gone forever. This means you’ll never make a promise you can’t keep. Grandiose promises, while alluring, will ultimately destroy your credibility when you can’t deliver. Don’t waste their time or yours. Stick to what you can do, and only what you can do. This is especially important with regards to your content. Talk about yourself objectively. Explain how you’re a great solution for many, if not most, but not necessarily a solution for everyone. Such a precaution will go a long way into establishing trust if you effectively explain who is best suited for your services and who isn’t. Transparency takes a business infinitely further in the eyes of the customer than faulty promises, or worse still, unnecessary bashing of your competitors. Remember, being humble is considered a virtue.
In addition to building trust, you also have to generate content that your potential leads and customers actually will want and consider of value. If they tune out, you’ve lost any chance of convincing them to give your their contact information. Remember: the whole point of a funnel is for your leads to share their contact information with you. Whenever possible, use data, surveys, and customer insight when creating new content. Such enhancements to your marketing approach will ensure that new eyes and ears ultimately turn into genuine contacts. Forget about hunches or marketing trends. Relevant data wins out every time.
Never underestimate the importance of timing. When you understand that each potential customer is on his or her own journey with regards to utilizing your services, you’ll be more intuitive with the timing of your approach. Consider the implementation of automated workflows, which disperse content in accordance with your larger marketing plan. Such workflows should trigger new content, and perhaps premium offers that serve to nurture your leads at various points along their specific journey. Eventually, you’ll want to have a lead scoring system. Ultimately, such a system identifies and flags signals that each lead gives when they are ready to move on to the next step of their journey.
Once your funnels are in place and operating effectively, you’ll need to segment, or group, your leads based on which of your products and services they’re most interested in. By segmenting them, you’ll be able to send them specific content that supports their indicated interest. For instance, if a lead shows interest in tropical beach vacations, you’ll show them an entirely different set of lead nurturing content than you would a lead who is interested in visiting European art and history museums. By providing them examples of what you know they want, you’ll be much more successful at gaining their business than if you use a blanket approach that ignores the unique wants and needs of your respective clientele.
Psychology matters. You don’t have to have majored in psychology to understand the role that psychological triggers play in the acquisition of new leads. However, you do need to understand the various mindsets of customers based on where they’re at in your funnels. If it sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Thankfully, we have tools at our disposal such as A/B tests and heatmaps that can assess lead engagement. An A/B test is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a test to determine whether visitors to your site prefer one web design over another. Find a sample of viewers and ask them for their feedback and preferences regarding the two choices. Such a simple test can go a long way in determining the future success of your funneling capabilities. A heatmap, on the other hand, is a little more covert. It’s a method for determining how effectively your viewers are navigating your website and its various funnels. By tracking where they position their cursor and click, you can easily ascertain what elements on your site work properly, and which ones need reconfiguration.