May 19, 2017
In today’s increasingly competitive world of digital marketing, it’s not enough to know about concepts like search engine optimization, social media marketing and other marketing buzzwords. It’s important to learn how to incorporate the concept of a sales funnel, particularly qualified leads, into your digital marketing strategy.
Your organization’s definition may vary, but marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are defined as the “best-converting leads on the market. MQLs are leads with intent – individuals and companies who are in-market (or considering buying) a technology product.” MQLs are deeper down the sales funnel, and more “ready-to-buy” based on key indicators defined by your company.
A great way to identify if a lead is a marketing qualified lead is by using the BANT method, which is a sales method revolutionized by IBM 30 years ago. BANT is an acronym that stands for:
- Budget – Is the lead willing and able to buy your product or service?
- Authority – Does the lead have decision-making capacity to actually buy your product/service?
- Need – Does your product/service address an existing challenge experienced by the lead?
- Time – Can your company deliver the product/service in the same time frame the lead wants it?
If you’re looking to generate leads that will make you answer “yes” to all four questions, then read on to find out what steps you can take to do so.
Create high-quality content and targeted ads
A great way to capture marketing qualified leads is through high-quality content and targeted ads. To deliver those, you need inbound marketing and demand generation strategies, respectively.
Inbound marketing includes the tactics you employ to draw interested individuals to your website/product/service via content marketing. Your inbound marketing activities could be the creation of landing pages, blogging (case studies are great), guest blogging, social media updates and engagement, and premium content such as eBooks, white papers, webinars, and infographics.
Demand generation is a marketing tactic that drives awareness and interest in your company, your products, and/or services. The strategy may include digital tactics such as paid search (pay-per-click), social media ads and e-mail marketing, as well as traditional marketing like print ads, TV commercials and tradeshows.
Answer questions before they’re asked
This doesn’t mean you should bombard your potential customers with e-mails on what makes your product so great. Instead, make information available and easily accessible for them to find without having to contact you every time.
Be proactive; make sure product/service descriptions are thorough, up-to-date and accurate. Provide access to FAQs, forums, blog posts and other content that addresses potential inquiries, concerns and even objections.
Remember, sales pitches aren’t enough for some clients. In fact, many are determined to gather as much information as possible before they even ask you any questions directly.
Value is relative to the customer, so many of your qualified leads may try to ask for a lower price, especially when a competitor has a lower price point. Instead of viewing this as an objection, look at it instead as an opportunity.
This is your chance to explain why your product or service costs what it does and why your product is critical to the lead’s continued success. Focus on providing the many benefits your customer will have by investing in your product.
Now, if the lead appears to be apathetic to your sales talk, that’s the time to start offering case studies and demos to prove the real value of your product/service to them. If the information is available, it may even be a good opportunity to give examples of the consequences of not making a purchase.
Define a qualification process
According to Salesforce, the qualification process cannot be overstated. Indicators on if a lead is already qualified will vary from one company to another, but the most common indications are:
- The lead is a decision-maker
- He/she is in a position that’s primed to make the purchase and not just looking for information.
It is important to qualify on these two points because a study has shown that 50 percent of leads that are qualified are actually not ready to purchase.
Monitor the progress of prospects and leads through the use of both a CRM (customer relationship management) and a marketing automation software. If a lead turns out to be unqualified, it only makes sense to send that lead back over to marketing to nurture the relationship.
Create and target content like personalized drip e-mail campaigns or design landing pages that are tailored for specific lead segments. Finally, define lead scoring rules because leads consume your content and move them to the different sales funnel stages as necessary.
Lead generation is an important indication of sales and marketing success. More than just any other lead, however, qualified leads — those who are confirmed as interested in the product or service and have the ability to buy — must be a primary concern for any organization that aims to make a profit. Consider incorporating these tips into your strategy today and start generating qualified leads.
Johanna Rivard drives the product and data strategies at PureB2B. She's a two-decade veteran of the online publishing, B2B demand generation, and technology media markets. When not in the office, Johanna enjoys her family, fitness routines and reading self-help books.