Leaky Buckets and the Lead Funnel
Last week, we wrote about the need to align marketing incentives with sales goals to drive the marketing behaviors that deliver sales results. The first focus: Filling the sales funnel with the opportunities sales needs, that is, taking the sales quota and working backward to build a marketing opportunity quota to ensure marketing is focused on the leading activities, from press to webinars to events, required for building pipeline. But is it just that easy: Can Marketing really turn on a faucet and generate more lead volume for sales as and when they require those leads? In a 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report released by Marketing Sherpa, 44% of marketers said that "generating a high volume of leads" is a top priority, and 78% of marketers identified "generating high-quality leads" as their top priority. This need for "more" is relentless; and as customers become savvier, companies need to up their game to convert a casual visit into a lead. In this post, I will focus on how marketing organizations can increase lead volumes, especially in the online world. Your lead funnel is like a "Leaky Bucket" — it is difficult to plug leaks completely in any scenario, and the thinning of the funnel from top to bottom is inevitable. The funnel represents the process of narrowing the theoretical range of options until a sale is the only path left. The crux of the problem is that if you don't have a wide enough net at the top of the funnel, you'll most certainly not have enough sales activity to fatten the funnel. One of the most important channels is the corporate website. According to the 2011 Demandbase National Website Demand Generation Study, the corporate website was the top source of leads at over a quarter of all companies. Website design, management and optimization was identified by B2B Marketers (31% of the respondents) as one of the top five initiatives in a study by Marketing Sherpa. Regardless of the source — search, blogs, social media sites and other websites — it is your primary point of contact with your leads, and should be optimized to convert visits to leads.
Tips for Maximizing Website Leads
Based on my experience, here are my top 3 tips for maximizing the leads from your website: First, there is a "moment of truth" when your visitor is ready to become a lead. Your website needs to be able to give your visitors the information they are looking for, and at the right moment present them with an offer that they will find valuable enough to give you their information. You can make this determination based on the amount of time they spend on your site, their source domain, and the kind of content that they consume. For example, assume that a visitor from an insurance company visits your site. At the right moment — this could be based on the number of pages read, total time spent, and possibly other factors — you should offer an insurance-related asset that this person will find useful. By doing so, you will be increasing the chances of converting this visitor into a lead. You can do all of this without having access to any personally identifiable information. Internet protocols have been passing information about the source of traffic from the beginning of the internet. It's just that the technology to leverage this information in real time is now available. Second, your offer pages must be clear, concise and direct. Remember that the visitor is doing you a favor by accepting your offer, and that you need to work to earn and keep their trust. Your messaging must be consistent across your site, and there must be no doubt in the visitor's mind about what they are signing up for. Do not make multiple offers on a single page. If you have multiple relevant assets, run tests to identify the relevance and popularity of these assets and make the determination about which asset to offer and when. Third, design simple forms that collect a minimum amount of information and nothing more — you can collect this information as part of your nurture program as you earn the trust of your lead and s/he becomes more willing to share relevant information with you. Forms should have fewer than 4-5 fields and ideally, should be limited to the contact information — location, corporate identity, organization size, etc. can be stitched together from the information passed from the browser. The abandonment rate is directly related to the length of the form and the nature of the questions within. Also note that you need to be prudent about the assets that you want to guard behind a form. Very often, it is better to present your asset and use them to convince your visitors to become leads rather than the other way around. To state the obvious, this post is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of website/landing page design and lead generation. Technological advances have brought ever increasing amounts of information to our finger tips, and greatly enhanced our ability to harvest this information in real time. I would like to hear from you about techniques that have worked for you. Please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shreesha Ramdas | February 3rd, 2012