When it comes to lead generation, quality matters over quantity. But by the same token, people don’t like being sold to and they resent the notion that they’re simply “numbers in a database somewhere”. With that in mind, Ascend2 conducted research on the most effective tactics for both lead generation and lead nurturing. What they found out may surprise you.
Which Strategies Were Most Effective?
Email marketing is still king of the hill when it comes to lead generation effectiveness
It may come as no surprise, but for sheer ease of implementation and effectiveness of results, nothing beats good, old-fashioned email marketing. Websites and landing pages are close behind, with content marketing making noticeable gains. It’s also worth noting that the survey shows email marketing as one of the easiest tactics to implement.
Email marketing is one of the easiest tactics to launch
But notice the relative difficulty of other measures such as content marketing. Sure, it gets decent results, but at what cost? Effectiveness and difficulty are tied. Keep in mind, email marketing has been around much longer, and therefore we’ve had much more time to experiment and learn how to interact with prospects. Huge strides are being made in creating new tools that make content marketing more relevant and personable, but we’re still in the collective crawling stages with it.
And while we’re on that topic, take a look at testing and optimization. Low effectiveness, relatively high difficulty. Surprised? Don’t be. That’s because testing and optimization isn’t a lead generation strategy in and of itself – it’s something you do with the other strategies.
So now we know that email marketing is both one of the best converting and most cost effective measures – what next? Before you load up and catapult a bunch of messages to your prospects’ inboxes, remember that you need to nurture the leads you’ve gotten into your funnel at this point. Fortunately, Ascend2 also looked at the most promising lead nurturing strategies and what trends were getting the kinds of results their teams had hoped for.
Lead Nurturing Goals
When asked the question about the most important objectives of a lead nurturing campaign, the answers were varied. Most responded as you might imagine – to increase conversion rates or open up more sales opportunities.
Right behind these two responses was a surprising answer thrown into the mix – “lead qualification”. This idea namely revolves around ensuring that a lead is best poised to make a decision and convert. This means understanding the difference between “interest” and “intent” – many people are interested in something, but far fewer have an active intent at that point to purchase. As of yet, there are no tools which can seamlessly predict this kind of action, although there are many ways to go through the process. No matter what, it’s still a heavy burden on the sales team to discern who’s ready to act and who’s just a well-meaning enthusiast.
So when it comes to nurturing leads, which strategy came out on top? Here again, email marketing:
But what, specifically is it about email that people respond to? As it turns out, the best effects on lead nurturing come from creating relevant content:
But notice the other points below these – points which have far fewer reported success rates:
- Campaign personalization
- Targeting by persona
- Targeting by stage in the decision-making process
These are all the very things that email marketing excels at! You can use your CRM data to segment leads based on the persona they most closely match, as well as what stage they’re in when it comes to making a decision. You can personalize your campaign with all the relevant details in the world, but prospects still won’t bite.
The Crossroads of Relevance and Relate-ability
So far, marketing has tried to create the appearance of relevance in campaigns. We try to do this by personalizing emails to give the prospect more of a sense of “me-to-you” communication. We try to align them with personas like theirs in an attempt to get inside their minds and find out what motivates them to purchase. We look at how close they might be to making a decision and we market accordingly.
The fact is, marketers are both swift and smart in using technology to automate much of their follow-up and nurturing tasks. The problem however is that people know it. They know you’re just filling in blanks in a software program or trying to put them into neat boxes based on a few scraps of information that you’ve gleaned from them.
Of course that begs the question, “How are we supposed to create relevant content when people won’t tell us anything about themselves?” They will – you simply have to ask. When was the last time you connected with a prospect and really meant it when you said, “how can we help you?” We’re so conditioned to answer that we’re “just looking” for fear of being sold to.
Creating Better Communication
Maybe the better question is, “what’s challenging or frustrating you? What can I help solve for you?” If a prospect knows that you can relate to them personally, they’ll be much more open to sharing with you. And while it’s not currently possible to write content that appeals to everyone at every moment, it is possible to open up communication and get suggestions for new content, while acknowledging the source.
The bottom line whether you’re looking to attract more leads or help grow the leads you have is shifting your approach from pure sales and marketing to problem solving. Email is a prospect’s open invitation to get as close to them as you possibly can. It’s something they can access anytime, anywhere. And it’s the best shot you’re going to have at learning about their unique issue and demonstrating precisely how your product or service solves it. Not in a high-pressure, hype-filled way, but in a friendly, open, personal way.
We have all the right tools and processes – we just need to add in the human factor.
What are your thoughts on using email marketing for lead generation and nurturing? Have you found in your own experience that other tactics work better? Do you think we should spend less time automating and more time communicating? Share your thoughts and perspectives with us in the comments below.
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today! Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!