Five success factors to increasing lead conversions


Leveraging your campaign inquiry list is an essential best practice to successfully converting leads into sales.  Not only does it convey you are interested in quickly satisfying a target prospect’s needs, it positions your team to close more sales-ready prospects who are further along in the decision-making process.  Measuring your progress over time can help you focus internal resources toward the core of your marketing efforts, but only if you truly understand what motivated a customer to inquire and how you can maximize the opportunity.

Here are five success factors that can directly increase your campaign lead conversions:

1. The most recent prospect inquiries tend to be the most valuable and viable to lead nurturing campaigns. As time passes, content becomes less valid in general due to changes in prospect responsibilities and demographics.  A dialogue that was once important to a prospect may no longer be fitting or a purchase decision may have already been made.  Stay on top of who has recently requested information about your brand!  Consistently reach out to these prospects during the first three-to-six months after inquiry.

2. Use lead scoring methods to qualify the level of influencer your prospect is. By keeping your best salespeople in front of more customers who are closest to purchase decision, your marketing department will enhance lead conversion potential dramatically.  Ask both behavior and demographic questions in your inquiry form and scorecard respondents based on decision-making drivers (e.g. resources, authority, need, and timeframe).  Cross measure the mediums that generate the most inquiry activity and analyze your tactics to create an efficient, ROI driven marketing engine.

3. Recognize that messaging relevance directly enhances lead conversion. Are you communicating what problem your brand will solve in the prospect’s life?  Many prospects stop listening to your message because they believe you do not understand what their needs are.  Create a message map by professional role for email nurturing campaigns!  For example, a CEO who responds to your campaign will have a very different company-wide strategic focus than a Marketing Manager entrenched in the day-to-day tactical programs of a specific vertical.  If an inquiry hasn’t responded over time, check if your content is properly segmented by audience to provide clear value at first glance.

4. Make sure you effectively promote to the nature and the source of your leads. For example, if a lead came from a trade show where a target prospect realized your brand offering first-hand, consider sending a product sample and a limited time purchase offer in your first lead nurturing campaign.  Not only does this re-engage the prospect to what they experienced in your booth, it allows you to measure the effectiveness of your promotional offer across multiple events and test which tactics generated the greatest number of lead conversions.

5. Calibrate your lead generation process so that it closes the feedback loop. Many leads go cold simply because a prospect did not quickly receive the attention necessary to aid in the purchase decision process.  Set a predetermined timeframe to reach out to your prospect after the first inquiry to understand how long it took for your team to make contact and if they were satisfied with the service received.  Asking follow up questions can make sure your internal team did everything possible to maximize the opportunity while it was in progress.

Finally, using lead management software can directly amplify the success of each campaign.  Thin client SaaS platforms like NitroMojo (http://www.nitromojo.com) have real-time dashboards that cross analyze market-based responses to each marketing event.  This will allow your management team to understand successes as they happen and make strategic changes much more quickly, keeping your team ahead of the competition searching for the same valuable conversion opportunities.

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Lead scoring increases sales conversions


Lead scoring is the methodology of ranking an incoming consumer inquiry from a marketing event based on critical success factors to closing the sale.  The rules of engagement may change from company to company based on the voice-of-the-customer but they have the same common essence: to best identify where a prospect is in the purchase life cycle, and create urgency for sales teams to contact prospects in order of those who have the most urgent decision making needs.

There are many benefits to scoring incoming leads from customer centric criteria.  First, sales associates have a limited amount of resources and time available at their disposal.  By aiding the sales team’s ability to analyze the best opportunities that are the most likely to result in a sale, marketing management increases positive collaboration between all teams.  In short, when a sales associate believes marketing understands how to drive their business, there is more likelihood they will buy in at a greater rate of speed, directly influencing the success of the program.

Second, a marketing team must maximize their potential to create events that consistently get the best sales associates in front of more customers who are qualified as sales-ready.  This scenario presents the greatest likelihood of growth: leverage the most efficient use of company resources that generates the greatest marketing contribution to sales revenue.  The sales team is a critical asset to marketing resource management: are you helping your team to accurately qualify prospects so they can maximize their time spent selling?

Finally, the initial conversion rate of an incoming lead plays a critical role in determining the potential for customer lifetime value.  If a customer views your company as responsive to their needs, there is more likelihood they will purchase from you and have a greater loyalty response to future marketing events.  This directly increases your channel pricing power and allows you to promote at a consistently higher price point instead of using heavy discount programs that reduce margin.  The ability to reduce follow-up marketing costs in retention programs is critical in building customer lifetime value.

When creating your rules, assess purchase decision drivers into a measurable scorecard.  Recognize the sphere of influence the prospect resides in through campaign landing page questions.  Simple behavior questions can also help in the scoring process, such as questions that involve product motives and patronage motives. Anticipate the needs of your target customer and the positive feelings your value proposition must resonate inside of them to initiate a response.  Have a clear call to action that encourages a passive user to inquire about how you solve problems in their world.

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Retention marketing: developing consumer preference into partiality


Developing a consistent dialogue between your brand and consumer is essential to long-term market share growth.  While lead nurturing campaigns create awareness to the market problem your product/service offering can solve, retention programs communicate to existing customers that you are willing to go to any lengths to keep their business.

Strategy efforts that truly enhance customer partiality focus on eliminating available customers from the market, not necessarily eliminating competitors from the marketplace.  Customers are the “air flow” that every business needs: when your tactics eliminate the air your competitor needs to breathe, you end their potential for growth.  How are you using retention marketing to develop preference into partiality?

The main goal of retention research is clear: what kind of marketing programs would it take to make your customer voluntarily take themselves “off the market” and only buy from you?  An effective medium of confirming this connection is to conduct satisfaction outreach with your existing customer database and listen closely to the voice-of-the-customer responses.  Survey responses can help you understand the relevance your value proposition resonates with your existing customers and the consistency your messaging must maintain to hold their attention.

Use a research professional to write your survey questions so that skip patterns are determined in advance to guide the user experience.  Data collected from respondents will give you a clear perspective of the issues you need to resolve before departure occurs.  Promoter customers will confirm core competitive advantages that connect your value proposition to the messaging that develops the greatest potential for success.

Build your strategy by understanding the emotional connection between the research data that connects buyer behavior and purchase intent.  Realize quickly that if your company does not give a comprehensive brand experience that highly exceeds customer expectations, there is minimal potential for creating partiality.  Dialogue with your customer needs to be clear and consistent, and must connect fresh and compelling content in line with the evolving needs of the customer.  Determine the most profitable characteristics of existing customers, including how sync your resources in alignment of when to pursue a customer and when to walk away.

Never lose sight of the perception that how you sell a customer determines how you will serve your customers.  When positioned correctly, loyalty programs offer an influential incentive for the customer to continue participating in your brand experience after first purchase.  This type of tactic can be highly successful when you need to differentiate your product/service offering without sacrificing quality or price.  Consider the highly profitable business traveler: hotel loyalty programs offer an incentive to show partiality for their favorite hotel chain without specifically giving revenue back at the time of purchase.  Traveler incentives are given only after buyer behavior confirms partiality through a revenue stream of earlier purchases.  Airline frequent flyer miles are an example of how status and service is translated into partiality: the illusion of premium beverages at no cost, focused attention on all the details and a brand experience that exceeds expectations goes over very well with millions of travelers.

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Using internet search to reduce purchase risk


Engaging your target consumer and holding their attention is a difficult task, especially when technology aids our ability to reduce messaging exposure (e.g. satellite radio, voice mail, digital video recorder).  Many of these barriers revolve around limiting marketing that consistently over-delivers campaigns of significant mass media.  For example, is it really necessary to have that tenth Viagra commercial during a single three-hour Major League Baseball game on television?

Internet-based pull tactics, such as web development, search engines, blogs, and rich media content, are emerging mediums the educated consumer consistently turns to as a source of information.  They can become a very positive influence for your brand since the consumer engages in the learning process and brand evaluation on their terms.  Pre-purchase evaluation is a critical because it increases brand comprehension and helps consumers to make a “feel good” choice.

Think about the many reasons why product sampling is an effective tactic for reducing risk through awareness, and what the internet shares in common: low entry cost, minimal risk of use, ease of availability and consistency for learning.  Is your brand developing an inbound marketing identity that leverages internet search to reduce purchase risk?

Search engine optimization plays a critical role in this process.  The relationship between web development success and unique traffic can be confirmed through understanding your inquiries and a simple click-to-conversion analysis.  Ask yourself how important the cover of a magazine is in standing out on the shelf at Barnes & Noble?  Does your value proposition create compelling interest from the moment the user arrives at your website?

Graphic identity and typography can mean the difference between new leads and a skyrocketing bounce rate.  Examine both the visual and sensory elements that develop the greatest levels of interest in what you offer and the problem you can solve.  Simple changes like white space and header tool bars can enhance the ability to interpret and enjoy the brand experience you are creating.  Start your analysis by realizing why top content pages are important to your audience, copy that increases time spent on each page, and percentage of unique visitors organic traffic brings in comparison to return clicks from previous visitors.

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Developing a customer lifetime value model


Customer lifetime value (“CLV”) is critical to sustaining a long-term dialogue and relationship with the audience driving your business.  CLV is used as a quantifiable metric, and defines how you measure the “value” of your customer base.  Are you currently segmenting your marketing resources into key performance indicators of acquisition, retention and cross-selling?

A solid CLV strategy can help your business in multiple ways.  It can help you directly increase the accountability of your marketing programs.  Tactics and resources can be properly allocated once the most influential programs that cut churn are discovered through voice-of-the-customer research.  Next, consider the critical problem that lack of retention has on generating revenue.  Analyze customer deflection for a specific time span and research if your value proposition speaks to the benefits that increase response rates and repeat buying.

Recognize the differences between the “awake” phase of the consumer buying cycle and the “awareness” phase.  Someone who is awake to your brand has given you the ability to share in their purchasing power.  This profile may need nurturing, and dropout rates segmented by tactic and messaging helps measure churn.  Understand your process of customer acquisition by recognizing the marketing influence that drives your “awareness” phase audience closest to the buying decision.  E-mail open clicks and landing page conversions can be simple measures to defining the difference between a dialogue that is current and a relationship that is over.

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Test email creative through different imagery, copy content and layouts


Marketers continue to search for mediums that accelerate the success of business.  Email marketing has rapidly become this type of cost-effective, highly productive solution.  Email enables the marketer to use a closed-loop feedback process to improve decision-making through digital analytics.

Email can also help you define drivers that justify marketing’s contribution to sales revenue.  Make sure to go beyond simple thinking and truly analyze what success means through the medium.  Open rate may be an initial metric to show delivery conversion but it does not necessarily measure contribution because the dialogue is not complete.  If the user did not click through to a campaign-specific landing page or submit personal data into a contact us form inquiry, a two-way conversation did not occur.

Compare the effectiveness of different offers and contrast the number of inquiries you received with traffic acquisition costs of the promotion.  Measure the effectiveness of the incremental value of the promotion against different lists or audiences, and understand how to anticipate one population responding versus another.

Test your email creative by using different imagery, copy content and layouts.  Learn from the differences and expect the impact of changes.  Testing subject lines is essential to getting the consumer’s attention and building trust from the moment of first impression.  Personalization is critical: it is the difference between a call to action that is lifeless and limp and one that builds comfort and confidence in your brand.

Finally, give your inquiries the ability to shop immediately through an e-commerce site and promotional code.  It will directly connect the effectiveness of your campaign to contribution to sales revenue.

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Building solution-oriented comfort in your brand


The landscape of business is intensely challenged during a recession.  This process forces marketers to precisely redefine their brands and know exactly what they stand for during tough times.  There is a tremendous challenge to interacting with and engaging a nervous recessionary consumer without interrupting their life.  Build your brand personality to highlight ease of use and unmistakable experience to encourage your target consumer to spend time learning about your brand, even though they may be holding back on making a purchase in the short-term.

Post recession marketing presents a great opportunity to capitalize on economic growth that will quickly ensue as the consumer reenters the market.  Here are a few ideas to help keep you ahead of your competitors during this time.

Research the consumer confidence in your brand offering and expect that your target market has evolved their purchasing behaviors into a “new normal”.  Some industries may not recover the trust of the marketplace for years and years to come if they were dramatically effected by the downturn in the eyes of the public.  If this is your industry, make sure to test your creative in advance to measure if the copy content and imagery is building solution-oriented comfort in your brand.  There is no substitute for a well detailed analysis of your campaign before it goes to market.

Capturing new leads is essential to growing your business in a post recession economy.  If your target consumer has been out of the market for some time, there is the potential for pent-up demand to catch fire quickly if many return to the market at the same time.  The marketer that satisfies the needs of this demand consistently will position their company to gain market share quickly.  Measure the growth of the number of your leads scored against your ideal customer profile as sales-ready on a month-by-month basis.  Watch this measurement closely as a key velocity metric that demonstrates the momentum your brand is gaining.  Don’t be afraid to spend aggressively as the market finally shows signs of life through an increase in inquiries from campaign-specific landing pages.

Finally, anticipate that the laggard segment of the recession consumer base still believes they have more than they need and can postpone purchasing. Calibrate your value proposition so that it speaks clearly to the problem in their life that your brand can solve.  Consider co-branding promotions with “limited time only” offers that are simply too good to pass up to help motivate slow returning consumers back into the market.

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