So you drank the inbound marketing Kool Aid and it’s the sweetest you’ve ever tasted. Your team is churning out blog content, and your landing pages are generating leads at a rate you’ve never seen before. Give yourself a pat on the back—you’ve made it further than many other companies (including your competitors). Now that you’re generating leads like a pro, it’s time to look closely at that often misunderstood, nebulous area known as the middle of the funnel.
Here are 5 tips you should consider when moving leads through the funnel to your sales team.
Know your personas
Buyers don’t want to be sold to. They’re smart enough to avoid the typical ‘marketing speak’ on your website. The content on your website, blog, ebooks, and elsewhere needs to speak to your prospects, not at them. Segmenting your marketing by personas will result in more compelling and more relevant content that will engage directly with your ideal target customers. This is easier said than done—persona development can be misunderstood to the point where the most important aspects of the personas are overlooked. Read more about buyer personas on Ardath Albee’s blog, and try your hand at developing a buyer persona at Up Close and Persona. Once you’ve defined your personas, consider rewriting existing blog content for each persona. Segment your marketing database and your CRM by persona, too.
Nurture leads for quality over quantity
You may be tempted to overwhelm your sales team with every lead that converts on your ebook (or other top-of-the-funnel) landing pages. Don’t do it. Make sure you have workflows in place that assign leads to sales only after they have reached a defined level of qualification. Do you have lead nurturing in place to follow up with prospects after they download your content? Send them to more advanced content offers, like webinars, case studies, or videos to qualify them as a sales-ready lead. Educate them on your company’s offerings and offer the option for a sales contact every step of the way. Offer plenty of opportunities throughout the lead funnel for prospects to raise their hand for more personal attention.
Align sales and marketing
Meet with the sales team regularly to get feedback from your inbound marketing activities. Are your inbound leads well qualified and high quality? Which campaigns and lead sources result in the best close rates? Can you create more content to better educate prospects before they’re sent to sales? Allow your sales team to participate in your inbound marketing strategy and content development. The more sales reps know about your content marketing and the inbound lead funnel, the better prepared they will be to respond effectively to those leads.
Integrate your marketing database with CRM
Your sales team needs real-time updates and analytics in CRM as leads move through the funnel. We use HubSpot for our company, and we’ve integrated it with CRM for hundreds of customers. Marketing integration with CRM helps in several key areas:
- Smarter segmentation: create smart lists, send email campaigns to all customers and prospects in CRM, and display targeted calls to action based on the customer profile.
- Give sales reps real-time access to website leads and analytics without leaving CRM.
- Trigger lead nurturing and one-to-one messages, manually from sales reps or automatically in workflows.
CRM integration leads to smarter and more efficient marketing, with a broad reach through all customers and contacts.
Don’t forget about your customers
If it’s less expensive to retain a customer than find a new one, why aren’t we all being more proactive with customer communication? It’s easy to take your existing customers for granted, or to assume that their needs are being met. Chances are you’re not only leaving money on the table with inadequate customer communication, but you may also be losing customers to competitors.
Customers need nurturing too
Use workflow triggers to send emails to customers when an anniversary date is reached, after they make a new purchase, or when contacts are changed/added in CRM.
Offer customer-only ebooks and webinars
Inbound leads won’t forget the remarkable content they read as they were learning about your company. Keep it coming with customer-exclusive content to make them feel warm and special inside.
For more insight on how you can be a better inbound marketer, sign up for The Center for Sales Strategy's Inbound Marketing Forum, November 8 in Atlanta.
Daniel Lynton is the Founder and CEO of Lynton Web. He will be presenting on "What to Do When the Leads Start Flowing" at the Inbound Marketing Forum on November 8th. Follow his blog and follow him on Twitter.