New customer acquisition is the lifeblood of many businesses, but it can be costly. One of marketing automation’s big wins is the ability to create a continuous process to manage leads at scale. The key to making it work is developing an effective process to automate.
Act-On’s white paper, Best Practices for a Lead Management Strategy, outlines six steps to figuring out the best process for your organization:
1. Define and document your process
- Have a clear, mutual understanding between sales and marketing as to what a lead looks like; include all factors that matter. Depending on your business, those could be industry, role, technology use, location, or a host of others.
- Have a plan for how leads are qualified and routed.
- Have a plan for how you manage, store, and archive data.
2. Include all stakeholders
- Sales must be included on many levels, from inside sales reps to strategic account managers. Marketing should include at least those who plan and execute strategies and campaigns.
- Marketing and nurturing content development processes are part of the lead management process, and should be defined and maintained alongside the other steps in the prospect cycle.
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3. Create buyer personas for leads
- This is all about understanding your customer beyond demographics. Look to you existing best customers to build model personas, including characteristics, triggers, motivations, desires, needs, and preferences.
- An effective persona has the customer’s goals at its core.
- In the B2B and considered-purchase world, develop personae for champions, buyers, decision-makers, and users. Each has their own requirements and agendas.
4. Create persona-specific content
- Knowing your buyer personas will help you develop the key messages and core content that speak to those buyers.
- The more accurately your content depicts how you can meet the unique needs of a prospect, the more likely they are to trust you with their business.
- Different personae prefer different channels. Understanding a persona’s willingness to engage over social media, email, traditional phone outreach and other touch points is vital – the medium really is part of the message.
5. Watch, listen, and adjust
- Stakeholders should agree on metrics. Track them, and evaluate at least monthly.
- Pay close attention to basic statistics such as email open and clickthrough rates. Don’t be afraid to make rapid changes if a campaign is falling flat before your very eyes. Today’s marketing automation tools provide the flexibility to change tactics on a dime – use it!
- Stay in touch with existing customers, and pay close attention to those that leave. Face up to what your customers tell you is wrong with your business, and use it to design a better customer experience for new arrivals.
6. Process dictates technology
- There are a lot of CRM and campaign management solutions on the market. Know what you want to accomplish, and don’t settle for software that forces you to constrain your goals and limit your effectiveness.
- Automated lead nurturing should be considered a must-have. Qualified leads will buy, eventually, from someone; nurturing lets you stay on their radar.
- Understanding the contact and campaign history associated with every lead is vital. CRM and marketing systems should combine data to deliver a comprehensive activity history; this gives sales a sturdy basis for warm conversations, and helps uncover trends.
- Ensure that your system makes it easy to pass leads to sales, and that sales can see the significant trigger events which qualified the lead.
Ready to learn a bit more? Look to our white paper, Best Practices for a Lead Management Strategy, for more tips and guidance.