Throughout this “No Events, Now What?” series, we’ve talked about pivoting event-heavy marketing programs, redesigning marketing engagement campaigns, and Account Based Marketing strategies to engage leads and support active sales opportunities. There’s a lot to digest in these posts.

To conclude this series, we want to explore concepts and ideas that can help activate leads in your CRM leveraging marketing automation. We touched on some tactics in Part 2 of the series, but engaging leads deserves its own article.

Engaging leads and understanding prospect interest is one of the most difficult tasks marketers face. Sometimes even the most qualified leads won’t engage with your marketing efforts. The challenge is two-fold: separating good and bad leads, then determining which leads are and aren’t ready for sales conversations. Anecdotally, we estimate a quarter of marketing departments have this duel challenge solved. Below are several ways marketing can activate leads to better understand quality and readiness.

Pivoting The Message

Everything about the world we’re operating in today is rapidly changing. The messaging of your product/service that was effective last quarter might be somewhat dated today. Here’s a simplistic example to highlight this point: In March your messaging might have focused on productivity and ease of use to address COVID-19’s work-from-home impact. In May your messaging might have extended into security which further enables remote working for the foreseeable future. Both message stylings should point back to the original value proposition, but also act as logical (and truthful) extensions. Updated and slightly refined messaging in both initial lead generation and lead nurturing stages can make a difference when it comes to short term audience engagement tactics. This messaging shift doesn’t have to be a huge exercise, but it’s an important one when trying to catch the attention of a new lead.

Here’s a few ways marketing automation can support messaging shifts:

  • A/B test email performance with different messages for subject lines, email copy, and calls to action to understand what is (and isn’t) effective
  • Measure initial lead scores of different messages to see what helps leads convert to MQL and SQL stages
  • Measure the time (number of days/weeks/months) it takes leads to convert to MQL, SQL and Won opportunity stages

Progressive Profiling

Many marketers stop collecting prospect-generated information after the initial lead has been generated. Generally speaking, the more fields featured on a lead capture form, the lower the conversion rate will be. While there’s a balance of collecting as much information as possible (from the form fields) and driving a good conversion rate, our suggestion is to use progressive profile after the lead has been generated. You can set this up on future gated content for these known prospects or enter them into a “second round” of data collection to better understand their needs. Here’s a few targeted questions we’ve used in some of our marketing automation progressive profiling campaigns over the years:

  • Project timelines (with ranges like 1-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months or 1 year+)
  • Do you have a [technology platform ABC] (options: yes or no)
  • What describes your role in your solution evaluation (options: business user, decision maker, etc.)
  • What are your budget ranges for this project (with ranges like $10,000-50,000, $50,000-100,000, $100,000+)
  • How far are you in your project evaluation (with ranges like identifying viable providers, shortlisting vendors, negotiating contacts, etc.)

Crafted the right way, you can ask almost anything (within reason of course). The best part is if you’ve done a good job of generating qualified leads and can get these fields filled out, you’ll have a very strong sense of your prospect’s timelines and priorities!

Lost Opportunity Revive

What does your team do with a recent lost opportunity? In our experience most organizations don’t do anything. They turn their collective energy and focus on active and potentially hotter opportunities. That makes sense too. However, few if any organizations win every opportunity they identify, so the question is, do you have a specific nurture program for lost opportunities? Creating a nurture track in marketing automation doesn’t have to be a lot of work either. Here’s some examples of tactics you can use in a lost opportunity nurture campaign:

  • Keep the audience up to date with relevant corporate information (basic)
  • Quarterly/Annual check-ins to see how things are going with whatever selection the former prospect made (basic)
  • For enterprise/larger deals: Map a content plan around the implementation/onboarding stage the prospect would be entering (advanced)

These campaigns could be triggered either manually or automated by opportunity stage and close date.

Return to Marketing Nurture

We’ve all seen and generated good quality leads that weren’t ready for sales. That’s OK. In addition we’ve probably all heard or used the line of “return the lead to a marketing nurture campaign”, but how many marketing teams actually have a dedicated nurture stream for these “not yet ready” leads? Again, in our experience few do. The reason we’re discussing marketing nurture or lost opportunity nurture programs is because these are the areas within marketing that get the least amount of attention. Understandably most organizations prioritize leads and opportunities with more momentum. The appeal of marketing automation is creating these short journeys and automating campaign entry and execution. Marketing nurture campaigns can include:

  • Distribution of recent content (blogs, ebooks/whitepapers, videos and more)
  • Additional material or assets around core value proposition(s)
  • Segmented or specialized content around understood challenges/pain points

As you and your marketing team continue to execute your 2020 marketing plan, today’s turbulent landscape will no doubt bring additional challenges and headaches. We hope this series has been helpful in tackling the various stages of pivoting marketing plans, adapting to new (and hopefully temporary) environments, and accelerate lead generation.

If you have any questions or need support in executing your marketing program, please contact us.