When I tell partners and investors that we get most of our customers from inbound activities, they are amazed. Well, this was not achieved in a day and we keep adjusting our marketing and sales strategies all the time. In this article, I would like to talk about how to create a marketing and sales lead generation funnel… One that works and brings growth!
Before we dive into the key success factors to implement this virtuous flow of incoming business, let’s take a minute to define a lead generation. Lead generation is the ability for a business to attract new customers. Before they turn into a lead, they are total strangers to your brand or your company. So what makes them wanna go from being a stranger to being a lead? All they have to do is show a little interest! Depending on your sector and your business model, showing interest can mean different things: in e-commerce, putting items in your basket even though you are not yet buying counts as showing interest. In consulting, the request of diagnosis via the Contact form or an introductory phone call count as showing interest. Finally, if you sell software, the best way for a stranger to show interest is to start a trial. Now, note that there may be additional steps before the trial such as downloading a white paper or asking for a demo.
Now, what is a funnel?
The funnel includes different steps along which the stranger gets closer to becoming a customer. Each step is marked by a particular action from this potential new customer and each step corresponds to a KPI. Measuring is necessary to understand if the marketing and sales effort is efficient. If you don’t measure what is happening at each of these steps, there is no way to understand what could be blocking the funnel progression and what should be adjusted.
For each of the funnel stages, there is one or many sales and marketing activities dedicated to moving the business flow to the next funnel step. To be clearer let me share with you the key stages of the ClicData marketing and sales funnel along with the corresponding marketing and sales effort and the corresponding KPI.
To understand whether your marketing and sales lead generation funnel is efficient, it’s important to monitor the relevant KPIs over time and to put it in a rather short time scale, for example on a monthly basis.
2 other dimensions can be added to strengthen the marketing and sales performance analysis.
The first one is to distribute the statistics per channel. Leads can come from different origins such as search engines, social media, referral websites, etc. Tracking the performance per channel over time will help the marketing team identify if their SEO effort is being effective or if their social media posts include the right message and topics. This way, successful activities can be amplified, for example by putting more budget on a Youtube video campaign or to stop it if the ROI is not significant enough.
It gets trickier for marketing activities that impact brand awareness. Indeed, some companies may see the ad, appreciate the content and only reach the brand later on when they have an actual need. So one may think that the ad did not work simply looking at the immediate number of clicks whereas it actually did a great job putting the brand top of mind when the prospect is ready for this type of product.
The second dimension that will make these statistics more relevant concerns both sales and marketing, is the geography.
For marketing, knowing that the US market shows a great trial conversation rate everything else staying equal could indicate that this particular market is more mature for this kind of product. Or it could mean that the marketing messages of the website resonate better with the American consumers and thereby do a better job presenting the product and enticing them to try it. For the sales teams, knowing the number of customers per country could say something about each team’s performance if the sales team is organized by territories.
Conversion rates need also to be included in the analysis: one sales rep may bring a higher number of customers but if the volume of traffic is much larger in his region it means that there is potential for improvement compared to the other sales rep bringing the same amount of customers with less traffic.
Content marketing works
As I mentioned in the introduction, we did not start getting high levels of inbound traffic overnight. That’s the thing about content marketing, not only it takes time to produce the right content – assuming that your product is good and that you have the right market fit – but it also takes time for Google to pick it up and for your target to even notice that you exist.
There is such a thing as a marketing toolbox that can range from blog articles to super sales events. At ClicData, we have decided to give priority to content marketing as we felt it was the most cost-efficient strategy to reach our future customers. A little while after launching the product, we had a chance to identify 3 buying personas and that helped greatly not only to design the most convincing content for each of the personas but also to determine the right channels to push it on:
- Business owners such as e-commerce directors or Financial controllers would, for example, be more responsive to our data visualization features – what matters to them is the outcome and the dashboard purpose, the ease of templates and sharing the KPIs on mobile. They mostly look for this type of product on Google or via best practices shared by their peers on social media.
- Data specialists such as business analysts or data scientists are definitely attracted by our ability to store data efficiently and the data warehouse features – what matters to them is how extensive the set of data connectors and how easily they can perform and automate their data management tasks. They mostly look for this type of platform on specialized websites such as Capterra or tech websites such as Dzone.
- Services providers such as consultants or marketing agencies appreciate the white labeling and ClicData’s ability to integrate with other software – the key to convincing them is to show them how much more business they can make with this additional BI facility in their portfolio. They mostly trust their online and personal network on recommending this type of product.
None of that great content marketing stuff would matter without the following key success factors which are basically the ClicData marketing and sales secret sauce. The below 3 factors have been critical to ClicData marketing and sales success:
1. Targeting the right professionals
When it comes to traffic, bigger is not necessarily better. One may get amazing traffic and have prospects stuck in the first stage of their marketing and sales funnel if they are not attracting the right crowd. Until we got significant traffic and were able to distinguish our main buying persona, we spent quite a bit of time and trial and errors in getting the right traffic. To speed up the experimentation phase, one needs to do the basic marketing homework such as benchmark competitors’ success and interact with the key market opinion leaders. But one also needs to dare try new approaches and messages in order to eventually narrow down the sweet market spot.
2. Making the website relevant
If your website plays a key role in your marketing and sales lead generation funnel, this is where the greatest amount of marketing attention needs to go. Each buying persona needs to find answers to their questions in the clearest, most dynamic manner.
If you want to trigger a conversation with your audience, make sure to position the form right and to provide all relevant contact details.
If you want your audience to be self-sufficient, put a special effort into your design and have the overall user experience tested a few times before releasing any major changes. Most of all, make sure that your website is relevant: professionals are only interested in useful content.
3. Triggering the sales efforts at the right time
Too many phone calls and the prospect may turn his back because you are too pushy. Not enough phone calls and your future customer may feel that you are not supporting him enough.
You need to adjust your sales efforts depending on your buying persona and each individual’s way of doing business. So one needs to learn to detect whether a prospect needs and appreciates the support or whether they would rather find the information themselves via your product documentation or on your pricing page.
A matter of mindset
Creating a marketing and sales lead generation funnel takes time and stamina. Some things take even more time than others. For example, if you rely on the traffic from the search engines, remember that any changes in your SEO strategy will take at least a couple of months to show effect.
Also, keep in mind that you are targeting consumers who keep evolving in their business ways in a market that keeps changing based on the macro trends and its players’ ever-changing strategies. So you need to keep your marketing and sales effort as agile as possible. In other words, be ready to keep experimenting and whatever you do, keep analyzing your results. The only right marketing and sales effort is a data-driven one.