52% of marketers say they provide salespeople with their best quality leads, while salespeople rank marketing-sourced leads last. (Hubspot, 2017). So how can your brand adjust its marketing tactics to bring in leads that are actually going to convert? For starters, understand who’s a qualified lead and who’s not.
Qualified Leads vs Unqualified Leads
Whether a lead is qualified or not depends on your brand goals and objectives, but there are some guidelines to follow when assessing leads. Firstly, understand the difference between a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead. A user who is researching solutions to their problem would be considered a marketing qualified lead. They might download a general eBook content offer to gain more knowledge on their pain point. A sales qualified lead is someone whose actions suggest they are ready to purchase. This might mean they’re interacting with your content often or requesting a demo, consultation or quote.
When determining whether or not a lead is sales ready, having a specific criteria in mind helps streamline your strategy. Whether you use lead scoring or there is a specific form within one of your landing pages – have some kind of “trigger” that instantly qualifies a user as an SQL. A CRM tool is useful for keeping track of this information.
Once you understand what makes someone a high quality lead, you can begin implementing tactics to attract these users.
6 Steps to Generate & Retain High Quality Leads
Step 1. Define Your Audience and Buyer Personas
If you find that your brand is continuously attracting poor quality leads, the problem may lie in your targeting strategy, or lack thereof. Who are you writing for? Who are you creating content for? Before anything else, you will want to get as specific as possible with who you’re trying to attract. Create buyer personas and use insights from your website and social media analytics to gain a wholesome understanding of your audience.
Nailing down the person you’re writing for means discovering the right messaging, tone, and method of delivery. Where does your target audience hang out? What kind of content do they want to see? What social voice are they going to connect with?
If you shout a message into a room full of people talking, not many people are going to hear what you’re saying. And chances are, few of the people who do hear your message will care. By understanding your audience, you eliminate those people who wouldn’t care about the message and target those who do.
Step 2. Lead Scoring
It’s difficult to improve lead quality if you don’t have a system in place to understand the quality of your current leads and where your best leads are coming from. A common method to qualifying leads is to use lead scoring. Lead scoring is a method for organizing your leads based on their potential value to your brand.
Your lead scoring system can be based on behavioral factors, such as web page visits, form submissions, and email engagement, or demographic factors, such as location, job title, and income level. There are three common techniques for lead scoring, depending on how manual/automated and general/specific you want to be. Consider using a point scale, letter grades (A, B, C, D, E) or describe them as “hot” “warm” or “cold”, with hot being a qualified lead and cold being a lead who more than likely will not convert.
Step 3. Content Marketing
Once you understand who your leads are and where they stand, it’s time to start attracting them. Your brand’s content marketing strategy is what will keep driving high quality leads to your website. Focusing on your blog, search engine optimization, and online ads will position your brand in front of its target audience.
What pain points is your buyer persona experiencing? What questions are they asking? Here are some tactics to finding these the answers to these questions:
- Quora or similar forums
- Look in the comments section on relevant YouTube videos (i.e. If you sell office supplies, look up videos like “organization tips” or “productivity tools” and look in the comments – people will often ask additional questions)
- LinkedIn groups
- Twitter hashtags / Twitter chats
- Find a common blog post topic and look at the comments below the blog – do people have additional questions?
From here, distinguish the keywords your audience may be searching for. There are various tools you can use to assist you in this task, but this will be extremely necessary for SEO purposes. High quality keywords will boost your blog posts ranking in an organic search, helping relevant leads find you.
By answering these questions in the form of a blog post and attaching a CTA to download a content offer (more on this in the next step), you can improve the quality of traffic.
Does your brand utilize online advertisements? Online advertisements can help you place your content directly in front of the audience that wants to see it. There are several different online advertising platforms you can use, and the one that will work best for your brand depends completely on where your target audience hangs out.
Google Ads is perhaps the most popular online advertising platform. It helps searchers find you based on keywords. Google has the Search Network and Display Network. In the Search Network, you place a bid on specific keywords and it includes the entire search engine. The Display Network is a much more visual approach, being the banner ads and sidebar ads you see across the internet.
If you’re looking to advertising through social media, the most popular social advertising platform is Facebook. Facebook’s advertising program places ads that they believe to be interesting and relevant in front of the user. This is based off of past searches and “cookies.” When advertising on Facebook, you have the ability to create what is called a “lookalike audience”, where you can physically upload your customer data to Facebook and it will use that data to assist with even more accurate targeting.
There are plenty of other advertising platforms and nearly every social media platform has its own form of paid ads. Google Ads and Facebook are recognized as two of the most effective platforms, but depending on your audience and brand goals, the best fit for your brand may differ.
Step 3. Content Offers
Using your list of pain points and/or questions from the previous step, you should already have a general idea of your solution or answer. Package this solution into a content offer or downloadable guide that your audience will actually care about. Make it clear and easy to read. Set up a landing page where your audience can fill out a form (more to come on forms later) to receive this content offer that will solve their problem.
Step 4. Polish CTAs
It is essential you have a polished call to action that will attract these leads to your content offer. Here’s a quick checklist to reference when publishing your CTAs:
- Is the CTA copy clear and engaging?
- Is the CTA design and copy on brand?
- Is the CTA incorporated onto all relevant website/social media pages?
- Is your CTA button linked to the appropriate landing page?
When reviewing this checklist, the buyer persona you nailed down in Step #1 should be in your mind the entire time.
Step 5. Lead Generation Forms
A lead generation form is the form that is filled out on your landing page. Depending on your content offer, the information you collect may look different. Your content offers should all target your audience at a specific point in the buyer’s journey.
The awareness stage is associated with TOFU, top-of-funnel, content. Focus on collecting simpler contact information such as full name, email address and city or job description.