Archive for Lead Generation

How Often Should I Follow Up with Leads?

lost-leads-funnel

As marketing and sales folks, we are always on the look out for the latest and greatest ways to attract more leads. Lead generation is important, but the money to be made from generating leads is in the follow up. Most small business owners and sales people would be better off fixing their follow up before spending more money on lead generation.

Do You Stop Following Up Too Soon?

Most sales people, particularly those without a systematic follow up process, give up on prospects too soon.

According to a couple of studies (one by Sales & Marketing Executives Club of Los Angeles and another by SalesForce.com) over 90% of sales are made after the fourth call – here’s the breakdown:

  • 2% of sales close on the 1st call
  • 3% of sales close on the 2nd call
  • 4% of sales close on the 3rd call
  • 10% of sales close on the 4th call
  • 81% of sales close after the 5th call

However, most (>70%) salespeople stopped following up after the second call:

  • 48% quit after the 1st call
  • 24% quit after the 2nd call
  • 12% quit after the 3rd call
  • 6% quit after the 4th call
  • 10% quit after the 5th call

According to these studies, most of us don’t need to focus on generating tons of new leads, we need to focus on improving our follow up with the leads we have.

Stop Leads From Slipping Through Your Fingers

You may find it helpful to think of “nurturing your relationship” rather than just following up with your leads. Repeatedly sending “just checking in” emails or voice mails isn’t very effective. In order to differentiate yourself from your competition and stay top of mind with your prospects you will want to stay in touch by providing educational, helpful information that focuses on their needs. This approach of maintaining contact by providing long term value will lead to more meaningful sales discussions and closing more deals.

Mix Up Your Channels

Email is easy, but don’t be afraid to add other communication channels to the mix. Mix in the occasional phone call, direct mail piece, text message, or share something via social media – whichever makes sense for your target audience.

Automate As Much As Possible

Once you have mapped out your follow up process, automate it as much as possible. Automation can take many forms, from simply adding a reminder to you to-do list or calendar, to sending automated email, voice, or text broadcasts. Some systems will even help you respond with messages based upon actions taken by your prospect.

Our favorite sales and marketing automation tool is Infusionsoft, but there are many systems covering a wide range of features and budgets. If you would like to see an example of how automation software can help you, check out this demo.

How to Automate Your Follow Up

robots

In the last post I mentioned that capturing leads and following up is the blocking and tackling of marketing. The last post covered capturing leads, so lets talk about following up. We tend to focus on ways to generate new leads (networking, advertising, etc.), but without proper follow up, those activities are a waste of time and money.

Some studies show that while it takes an average of 5 sales calls or contacts to close a deal, most salespeople quit following up after one or two calls. Are you leaving money on the table because your follow up activities are falling through the cracks?

Two Broad Categories of Follow Up 

Some of the people you meet, either in person or virtually, will have an immediate need for your products and services. Most of them, particularly in the B2B world, will not have an immediate need, but over time a need will arise or they will know someone who has a need for what you do. To accomodate this fact, you will typically have a short term follow up sequence to address those with an immediate need and a long term nurturing sequence to help you stay top of mind until a need arises. There are several strategies for achieving this, I’ll outline two of the more popular ones below.

The first strategy is to follow up with a short series of emails (3 or 4) and then present an offer to see if the contact is ready for a sales conversation. Depending on your business the offer may be for a free consultation, a demonstration, a free trial, etc. If the contact does not respond to the offer, they are put into a long term nurturing campaign – for most businesses this means they are added to the newsletter list.

A second popular strategy is to have a longer series of emails, but to space their deliverary dates out by using a Fibonacci Sequence. A Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers where the next number in the series is determined by adding the two numbers preceding it in the sequence. For a series of 8 follow up messages, your Fibonacci Sequence may look like this:

1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34

Using this sequence you would send out a message on days 1, 2, and 3, then you would wait until day 5 to send the next one, etc. By communicating more frequently at the beginning of the relationship you have a better chance of achieving top of mind status and you also have a better chance of connecting with your hot prospects are ready to buy. The sequence automatically adjusts for those who are not ready to buy now, but who you want to stay in touch with over time.

Tracking and Testing

While there are all kinds fo benchmarks and rules of thumb you can use to get started, you best course of action is to get started and use your analytics to review what is happing, form hypotheses about how to improve your results, run tests and see what happens. If the latest marketing book tells you to have a sequence of 5 emails and all of your leads stop reading after the third message, you need to try something different.

Automated Doesn’t Have to Mean Canned

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that all of your follow up has to be canned email messages.

Some CRM systems will help you accomplish this via the creation of actions sets or task series. These are a series of follow up actions that you define that you can later assign to a contact in a single step. For example, lets pretend after you meet someone at  networking event you like to follow up by:

  • Sending a handwritten note
  • Emailing them a helpful article
  • Introducing them to someone on LinkedIn
  • Calling them on the phone to see how the introduction went

Many CRM systems will allow you to create these task, bundle them as a unit, and give them a name, i.e. “Networking Follow Up”. Once created, these bundles can be assigned to a contact record, saving you time and making sure all steps are followed every time.

These systems also let you specify how much time should pass between each task so you can send the thank you note the same day, the article 7 days later, etc. (or use your Fibonacci Sequence from above). Depending on the task to be performed, the system can either perform the step automatically (send an email) or it can create a task or appointment and assign it to the appropriate person on your team. Sophisticated systems like Infusionsoft can also send text messages, recorded voice messages, and send lists to fulfillment houses.

Get Started Today

Because there are so many ways you can follow up, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to create the perfect 37 step follow up sequence before you launch – don’t fall into that trap. Start with one message and have a goal for that message – an action you want the reader to take. After you create that message (or dig it out of your email Sent folder) ask yourself 1) If they do what I ask, what do I want to happen next? and 2) if they don’t do what I ask, what then? Use the answers to these questions to craft your next messages and then rinse, lather, repeat.

Components of a Lead Capture System

old crate trap

In the last post I shared some ideas for creating a compelling lead magnet and the role the lead magnet plays in your overall marketing system. One of the main roles the lead magnet plays is to attract people looking for a specific type of solution and to get them into your marketing hourglass. Doing so allows you to begin building Know, Like, and Trust with them by sharing your educational and trust building content.

In order to be able to provide useful content over time, we need gain the permission as well as the contact information of the people you wish to engage. As I mentioned in the previous post, you are asking people to “buy” something from us using the currency of their contact information. This is one of the reasons for emphasizing the idea of creating content that is compelling from the prospects point of view. That’s the only way you can create something with enough value to convince them to buy.

Once you create a compelling lead magnet you want to begin capturing information about your leads in a consistent, systematic process. You need a lead capture system.

Main components of a Lead Capture System

Your lead capture system can be as simple or complex as makes sense for your business. Here are some of the typical components you will find in a small business lead capture system.

Your List or Database - Your main repository of contact information. Many small businesses maintain their list in their custoemr relationship management system (CRM), email service provider (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc.) or in the contacts section of their email program.

Because there are many ways to capture leads it is very easy to end up with several different lists. Try to avoid this. The more lists you have, the more complicated your system becomes, and opportunities are more likely to fall through the cracks. Rather than keeping seperate lists, maintain one master list but capture enough data so that you can slice and dice the list when you want to communicate with a subset of your list. For example, if you generate leads at tradeshows, don’t keep a seperate list for each tradeshow. Rather, add a field to your main list that will allow you to record which tradeshow you were attending when you met your prospect.

Data Collection Form – can also in several varieties –  website forms, a clipboard by the cash register, or the fishbowl at your tradeshow booth. Most CRMs and email service providers give you the ability to create a data collection form and add it to your website. One someone fills out one of these forms, their contact information is automatically added to your database, saving you the time of manually entering the information.

Landing Page – when the data collection form lives on the web, it is typically either a) embedded on a page on your website or b) part of a dedicated landing page. Landing pages, sometimes called squeeze pages, typically help boost your conversion rate (the number of people who fill out the form) because they remove all distractions and focus on one task – getting the visitor to complete the form.

Autoresponder - Once someone completes the form we need to respond – to provide the information we promised and to begin nurturing the relationship. You could do this manually, but in todays world people expect to get their response right away. One way to provide this information is by using a tool called an autoresponder – which does what its name implies.

While most email service providers and CRMs include an autoresponder tool, you will find they differ in their feature sets. For example, some tools will allow you to send different follow up messages depending upon how an individual got on your list (i.e. which form they filled out). Others give you more control of when your messages are sent (i.e. send my messages only on week  days).

Using your System Online and Offline

Part of having a system is processing data in a consistent manner. Most of us will still meet people “offline”, in person at networking events, etc. Make sure to include these folks in your lead capture system. Most email systems provide a mechanism for adding contacts manually, or, you can just go to your website and enter them yourself. Make sure to set expectations so your contacts know why they are suddenly getting follow up messages.

If you have a store or an office where people walk in, make sure you have a system in place to capture their information and get them on your list as well.

 

 

Improve Your Marketing – Create a Better Offer

effective lead magnets for attracting prospects

In the last post I shared some general ideas for scoring quick marketing wins in 2014. In the next series of posts  I’d like to offer some specific things you can do to your marketing more effective so you can win more customers and increase your sales in the coming year.

Create a Compelling Lead Magnet

In order to get more customers, you need to attract more people to your business. Sounds simple, but how do you do that?

One of the more effective ways to attract people to your business and get them to enter your marketing hourglass is to provide the answers to the questions they are trying to answer. In order to do this effectively, you need a thorough understanding of your ideal customers buying process and the types of information they need to see and/or hear before they feel comfortable moving from one stage of their process to the next. While this is true for all businesses, it is particularly true for B2B companies.

As John Caples famously said, you need to enter the conversation going on in your prospect’s mind. When was the last time you think “I hope I can find a newsletter to subscribe to today!” was a conversation going on in the mind of your ideal prospect?

Unfortunately, “subscribe to our newsletter” is the strongest call to action on many small business websites. Offering a subscription to your newsletter probably isn’t going to be enough to entice someone to give you their contact information these days. Most buyers who haven’t come to Know, Like, and Trust you yet aren’t interested in your newsletter – they want answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.

You can create a compelling lead magnet by providing the information that answers the questions in their mind. Luckily, you already have a good idea of what your prospects want to know because you talk to prospects and strangers about your business almost every day. Think about your recent conversations (or look through the Sent folder in your email) – what are the topics or questions you answer over and over again. Use these questions to jog your memory:

  • What are some common mistakes you help people avoid?
  • When people work with your competitors, what frustrations do they experience?
  • What are your prospects trying to learn?

Packaging Your Offer

Once you decide upon the information you will share with your prospects, you need to decide how you will package that information. One common approach to delivering this information is in the form of a white paper or eBook. A word of caution, I’ve seen more than one business owner get so bogged down in creating the “perfect” eBook that they never get their lead magnet in place. If you find yourself continually pushing back the due date on your white paper or eBook, consider using a different medium to deliver your information. A simple email series or a series of short videos or audio recordings can be just as effective. Get something deployed quickly – you can always improve and repackage the information in the future.

Not just for online marketing

Although lead magnets are typically thought of as an internet play, a compelling lead magnet can be used for offline lead generation as well. This has been the essence of two step or direct response marketing for decades – provide something of value in exchange for the prospects contact information so you can continue to nurture the relationship until they are ready to buy.

Even if you don’t buy traditional advertising for your lead magnet, pretending you will can be a helpful exercise to determine how compelling your offer is to your target audience. Assuming you were thinking about buying your first home, would you be more likely to respond to an ad for a real estate agent’s newsletter or a free report about the “3 Mistakes First Time Homeowners Make and How to Avoid Them.”?

Once you have a compelling lead magnet you can use it in all of your lead generation activities. Here are a few examples:

  • Advertising – change your existing advertising to offer your valuable information
  • Networking – “give before you get” by offering your information to those who indicate interest
  • Referrals – encourage your referral partners to share your lead magnet with their networks

Your First Step to Measuring Success

Having a lead magnet and incorporating it into your lead generation activities provides another, important benefit – it makes your marketing measurable. Now that your lead generation activities ask prospects to take a specific action, you can measure how many of them actually do. Set things up correctly and you can even measure where your prospects come from so you can start to make better decisions about where to spend your marketing budget.

Start Today

Take a look at the lead magnets you have today from your prospects’ point of view. Are they compelling? Could they be better if you tweaked them a little?

If you don’t have any lead magnets yet, take out your calendar and set a deadline for creating one. Don’t get bogged down by making it a bigger project than it needs to be – get something in place so you can start testing and improving upon it on a regular basis.

Need a second pair of eyes to take a look at what you have? Feel free to contact me.

Start 2014 With a Marketing Win

score a marketing win

It’s the start of a new year – how big is your checklist of marketing tasks to accomplish this year?

It’s easy to create a long list of things you would like to do. The problem is, once we create our list we often become overwhelmed and paralyzed. Or we get so wrapped up in the busy work we create for ourselves we never get to the part that brings in money.

In order to get your marketing efforts off to a solid start this year, I recommend picking one item that will produce a “win” for your business and get to work on that one item right away.

How do you find a quick win? If you are like most small business owners, you have two untapped or underutilized sources of business – 1) your existing customer base and 2) your list.

Your Customer Base

In the hunt for new sources of revenue, it is easy to forget that we should be marketing to our existing customers. These are the folks who already know, like, and trust you. If you’ve had success attracting people who fit your ideal customer profile, then you already have a base of customers who value what you bring to the table and are not “price shoppers”. Finding new ways to help them achieve their goals will not only help you grow your sales, but you’ll be doing work that you enjoy at the same time.

If you are not sure what to offer your existing customers then you are probably overdue for a conversation with them. Make that your “big win” goal for January – take out your calendar and make appointments with your top customers. Make the agenda of those meetings to listen to your customers’ goals and aspirations. Once they finished (and not before) spend some time thinking about how you can help them achieve those goals – either by offering one of your solutions or introducing them to someone in your network who can help them.

Your List

If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you have a list. We already talked about your list of existing customers, so now let’s talk about your contacts, leads, prospects, referral sources, etc.

While everyone has a list, many small business owner’s lists have one or more of the following challenges:

  • Their list isn’t organized
  • Their list is dormant
  • Their list is not segmented

The Unorganized List

By unorganized, I mean that the contact information for the people on your list is not in one central place. It is  scattered about in your email inbox, on notes jotted down on paper, and in the stack of cards on your desk. The biggest problem with an unorganized list is that it makes it difficult to follow up on a consistent basis. The tendency is to follow up with those contacts we consider to be “hot leads” – someone we think we can sell something to in the very near future. In B2B sales, many of the people we meet may not need our services right now, but chances are they will sometime in the future (or will run into someone else who needs what we sell). Without consistent follow up, sales and referrals often fall through the cracks. Consistent follow up without an organized list very difficult, if not impossible.

The Dormant List

Without regular follow up, your list becomes dormant and loses its value to your business. Once you lose top of mind status (or if you never had it), your messages become just more junk in the recipient’s inbox. If they forget who you are, what you do, or why they should care, they will see your messages as spam. Technically, they are not spam you say. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the perception of the recipient.

In addition to regular communication, keeping your list clean by removing those who are no longer interested is also essential to your marketing success.

The Unsegmented List

Segmenting is simply dividing your list into categories. Lists can be segmented in a variety of ways including geography, business size, industry, or interest.

The problem with an unsegmented list is that it forces you to talk to everyone on your list the same way. This reduces the effectiveness of your marketing messages because you generally end up talking about:

  1. What’s important to you rather than what is important to them. OR
  2. Things that are not relevant to the recipient. For example, have you ever received an offer to become a customer when you already are one? A personal example – I recently received an invitation to a free lunch meeting being held 1,000 miles away. With a segmented list, the company that invited me could have excluded me from the invitation or, realizing it didn’t make sense for me to attend, offer to send me the information being shared at the lunch.

Use the information in your list to create segments that allow you to communicate in a way that is relevant to the recipients of your marketing messages.

Using Your List to Get a Win

A word of caution, it is easy to get bogged down trying to “perfect” your list before you start doing anything. Don’t fall in this trap!

The theme of this post is how to get a quick win. The best way to get a quick win with your list is to start with a marketing objective in mind. Creating a spreadsheet or database to organize your contacts is not a marketing objective. Following up with the 10 people you met at yesterday’s networking event is – the spreadsheet or database is a tool to help you meet that objective. In order to get the quick win, get those 10 people on your list and contact them today. During your follow up, make notes about those things that will help you continue to follow up in a way that is relevant to them. When you get back to your office, add those notes to your list, so you will be able to create segments for future messages.

If you have a list, but it is at risk of becoming dormant, score your quick win by reaching out and determining if the contacts on your list still have an interest in what you do. A simple email or phone call to ask “Are you still interested in tax preparation services?” or “Are you still interested in [insert your service]?” will let you know who you should follow up with and who you should remove from your list.

If you have a list that can use segmenting, don’t start by trying to think of all of the segments you could have. Score your win by coming up with an offer or marketing message you want to send and then determine how to segment your list to make that offer as relevant as possible. For example, if you want to offer an in person seminar, can you identify the people on your list who are within a reasonable travelling distance?  Can you quickly send a “for customers” only offer? If you have to collect data to update your list, first send the messages you can and then set goals for collecting and sending messages as you go. For example, set a goal of sending out 10 new messages every week rather than trying to update your complete list before sending out the first message.

Wrapping Up

I hope that gives you some ideas for scoring some quick marketing wins in 2014. If you have any questions or tips you would like to share, leave a comment below or drop us a line.

5 Ways Great Content Makes Cold Calling Easy

phone for cold calling

Cold calling is alive and well, or completely dead, depending upon who you talk to. Marketers will tell you that cold calling is dead, many salespeople still include cold calling in their daily activities. Cold calling can still be effective. One of the ways that marketers can help salespeople be more effective with cold calling is to provide them with great content.

For this post, great content is defined as content that is useful from the user’s point of view. It addresses a problem or challenge they are facing. It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem for prospect, but it may show them how to go about solving the problem, i.e., what to look for, things to consider. symptoms vs problems, etc. Great content focuses on the needs of the buyer, not the qualifications of the seller.

Great content takes time and effort to create. Great content, coupled with an inbound marketing system may eventually replace the needs for methods like cold calling, but it won’t happen overnight. Until it does, here are 5 ways you can use great content to make cold calling easier.

1. Content Helps Overcome Call Reluctance

Do you struggle to get your salespeople (or yourself) to make calls? Sales people experience call reluctance for a variety of reasons. One way to overcome call reluctance is to change your mindset from “I’m interrupting people in order to ask them for something” to “I have some valuable information that people similar to you have found helpful and I thought you might find it helpful too”. In other words, changing from asking to giving; from selling to helping. This shift in mindset takes the pressure off of the salesperson as well as the prospective customer – helping you overcome call reluctance and increasing your chances for starting a conversation.

2. Content Helps You Get Past the Gate Keeper

Another benefit of changing your mindset and having valuable content to is that you can stop dreaming up creative ways to get around your prospects’ gate keepers and inlist them in helping you connect with the right person. I know of a software reseller who cold call script goes something like this – “This is Joe from XYZ company. I have a special report that shows construction companies how to increase the profit on their jobs without buying new software. Is that something you’d be interested in? It is, great – what email address should I send that to?”. More often than not, they end up connecting with the decision maker or a key influencer.

3. Content Gives You a Reason to Follow Up

Do you hate making “just checking in” calls”? So do your prospects.

“Just checking in” is like asking “is there anything we can talk about?”. Sharing great content gives you something to talk about. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions about what your prospect wants to talk about – them and the issues they are facing.

Rather than just checking in, try asking:

  • Did they find the content helpful?
    • If yes, which parts were helpful and why?
    • If not, what would they have liked to have seen? Do you have other content that can help fill that need?
  • What other questions did content raise?
  • Didn’t have time to read it? Would you like me to give you a 30 second summary of what is covered or point you to the section that addresses your particular question(s)?
  • Do you know anyone else who would like to receive this information?

Provide great content and give yourself, and your prospect, something to talk about.

4. Content Helps You Lead with Solutions Rather Than Products

Professional service firms and B2B companies often bundle several products and services to create a comprehensive solution for their customers. One of the challenges they typically face is getting bogged down in a discussion about a particular product or products before they have chance to get the full picture of the challenges facing their prospective customer. This may lead to smaller sales, sub-optimum solutions, and/or wasted time backtracking or reconfiguring solutions.

Sharing great content that educates and builds trust can help alleviate these challenges by setting the stage for the higher level conversations that will help you and your prospect take a solutions based approach to the challenge they are looking to solve.

5. Content Helps You Have a More Productive First Conversation

Sharing great content during the prospecting stages of your sales cycle leads to better, more productive discussions when you do get invited in for a sales conversation. In essence, you’ve already started your sales conversation before the meeting. Now you can quicly get to the heart of the matter – do they have a problem that you can solve and are they willing and able to pay you in order to do so.

These are just a few ways that great marketing content can help you shorten your sales cycle. For more ideas on how to apply these content ideas to your business, request a free consultation or download our free Content Creation Guide.

Lead Generation – Recycling Cold Leads

recycle logo

Lead generation is a key component of every small business marketing system. It can also be one of your most expensive marketing activities. Re-engaging your cold leads can be an effective way to stretch your lead generation budget.

We’ve all had contacts who we thought were “hot leads” or at least interested in our products and services who, for one reason or another, just faded away. We never received a “No”, they just seemed to disappear.

Sometimes they disappear early in the process, i.e. someone who requests additional information from your website but then never replies to any of the follow up messages you send.

More frustrating is the situation where you get to the point where you make a sales presentation, only then to have your contact seemingly fall off the face of the earth.

Or we may have leads that come in from our website. When this happens, most companies will:

  1. Do nothing. They will wait for the prospect to call them
  2. Contact the prospect the same day, or shortly thereafter, and try to engage in a phone conversation
  3. Add the prospect to an email follow up sequence or drip marketing campaign

If nothing happens after the initial follow up activities,  businesses will often dump the contacts into their newsletter list, add them to a future call list, or just decide to “close the file” on that particular contact.

That means that most businesses, particularly those who sell more complex and/or expensive products and services, tend to have a good sized group of these “stale contacts” in their database. So the question becomes, “What should we do with these cold leads?”.

Restarting the Conversation

A better question may be, “What can we do to get the conversation started again?”. Most B2B and service businesses won’t benefit from just blasting new offers or discounts to their inactive leads. Chances are the potential customer didn’t feel comfortable enough to risks abandoning the status quo, so we need to start a two way conversation so we can learn what they need to see and/or hear to help them move to the next step of their buying process.

From a systems point of view, the first thing we need to be able to identify these contacts. This is usually done by applying a tag (or label or category) to the contact record, allowing you to identify and create a list of these contacts.

If you are using marketing automation software like Infusionsoft, you can set up your follow up sequence to apply this tag automatically when a contact completes your follow up sequence without satisfying any of the goals you have defined (i.e. scheduled an appointment). The action of applying the tag can then automatically fire off your “cold contacts” follow up sequence.

If you keep your contacts in Outlook, Google Contacts, or a CRM, you should still be able to identify your stale contacts by using categories, labels, or groups. The key here is to have well defined procedures in place that everyone follows so that none of your contacts fall through the cracks.

Once you have your contacts properly categorized, you can either fire off a follow up sequence automatically (as mentioned above) or periodically generate a list of people to follow up with based on your categories.

Once you have solved the technical issue of identifying your stale contacts, the next step is figuring out how to restart the conversation. This step seems to stump small business marketers more than the technical issues mentioned above. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

Change the Channel

While email may be the most convenient way for use to send a message, it may not be your prospect’s preferred method of communication. Sending everything via email doesn’t do much to help you stand out either. If your previous communications have all been via email and you’re not getting any response, try sending a hand written note  or a piece of lumpy mail, or picking up the phone.

Send An Invite

Chances are you are attending a social or educational event that your prospects would benefit from attending as well – why not invite them to attend the event with you. So many of these events today take place online, so it is easier to invite your out of town prospects than ever before.

Make An Introduction

You can also add value to your relationships by making introductions to other people your prospects would benefit from meeting. During your early sales conversations, you probably learned about several challenges your prospect is facing that fall outside of the solutions you offer. You can begin to solidify your position as the person they turn to when they have a need by connecting them to members of your network who can help them address those challenges.

Send More Personalized Messages

The more interaction you have with your prospects, the more information you have to personalize and tailor the messages that you send to them. You are more likely to restart a conversation by sharing or referencing things they care about, rather than just blasting more self promoting content to them.

Are They Interested in Something Else?

From the buyers point of view, a big part of the sales and marketing process is defining their needs. While they may have  discovered they don’t need the product that initially drew them to you, they may have other challenges that you can help them with – make sure they know how else you may be able to help.

Those are just a few ways you can try to restart conversations with your stale leads. If you have other examples you’d like to share, drop me a note in the comment section below.

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How to Create a Compelling Lead Magnet

lead magnet

One of the basic principles of modern marketing is to provide information that potential customers who meet our ideal customer profile will 1) be able to find 2) “purchase” our information using the currency of their contact information and 3) give us permission to continue sending them relevant content.

In Duct Tape Marketing we often refer to this information as a Point of View whitepaper (or eBook). Infusionsoft calls is a “lead magnet”. Others refer to it as a bait piece or an opt-in offer. No matter what name you give it, the goal is the same – to get people to “buy” your offer using the currency of their contact information.

As this practice has become more widespread, the value of a prospect’s contact information has risen substantially. As marketers, we need to also raise the value of the content we provide. Offers of “sign up for our newsletter” are no longer valuable enough. We need to provide information that helps prospects solve the problems they are facing.

So how do you create an educational information piece that people will be willing to buy with their contact information? Chances are you and/or your sales people are providing this type of educational information in your everyday conversations. Here are some example topics that you can use for creating your bait piece:

What are the common questions people ask about your products and services at networking events and sales calls?

What questions do you wish they would ask but don’t? Early in the buying process prospects often don’t know what they don’t know – here is your chance to help them out.

What are the frustrations people have when they buy from your competitors? Related to the item above, what information can you share with prospects to help them find relief or avoid these frustrations in the first place?

What are the different approaches to solving the problems you solve? What are the pros and cons of each approach? How should a prospect decide which is the right approach for them?

What are your prospects underlying goals? How will your products and services help them achieve those goals?

What are your prospects curious about or trying to learn?

The idea of creating a whitepaper or eBook may sound like an intimidating task, but, as I mentioned above, you already have valuable information to share. In order to share that information in a more scalable way, you just need a slightly more formal way (write it down, record a video, etc.) of delivering it.

If you don’t have one already, take a stab at creating your information piece today. If you would like a second opinion, feel free to send it to me and I’ll be happy to review it for you.

Photo credit:  National Library NZ on The Commons on Flickr

How To Calculate the Value of a Website Conversion

monetary value

Identifying the monetary value of your website visitors is an important step to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of your online presence. Creating goals and assigning values to those goals is how you connect the resources you put into creating your total online presence to your business goals. In the last post we touched briefly on assigning values to your goal conversions, this post provides some additional ideas on how to go about calculating your goal values.

You don’t have to sell products and services directly on your website in order to track the value of goal conversions on your website. Most professional service providers and B2B companies have several “mini conversions” that their customers complete before making a purchase – downloading brochures, attending webinars, scheduling a free consultation, etc. Since we don’t have a sale price to use for these conversions, we just need to calculate a value for the goal.

The “ideal” method for calculating the monetary value of a goal conversion on your website is to divide the lifetime value of your typical customer by the number of goal conversions it takes to land a new customer. For example lets say that:

  • 1 out of every 800 people who download an eBook from your website ends up becoming a customer
  • The lifetime value of that customer is $5,000

The value you would assign to the goal conversion of an eBook being downloaded would be $5,000/800 = $6.25

Now, as a small business owner, you may not have been collecting the data you need for this “ideal” calculation. Should you wait until you have the data before calculating values for your goals? No. There are many ways you can calculate the monetary values you assign to your goals. My recommendation is to assign a value, start tracking your data, and refine your estimates as you learn more from the data you collect.

If you don’t know the LTV of a customer you can use your average sale amount or the price of your typical sale. If you have a wide range of products and services, you may (over time) tie the value of the sale to the goal that is converted. For example, people who sign up for your webinar may typically purchase a $99 dollar workbook while those who request a free consultation may typically purchase a $10,000 coaching engagement. In this example, tying the value to the specific goal conversion will give you a better measure than using an average sale.

If you don’t know the percentage of visitors who become customers, you can find a starting point by Googling “average conversion rate by industry”. You will find conversion rates ranging from 2% to 10% and higher.

For many small business owners, it is easier to skip the formal calculation and assign a starting value based on experience and/or gut feel. You could assign a value based upon:

  • Prices you have paid for purchasing mailing lists
  • Prices you have paid for pay per click advertising
  • Price you would be willing to pay for a qualified visitor

Don’t worry about assigning the perfect value to your goal conversion; assign a value, start measuring, and build the habit of reviewing the data, adjusting your estimates, and continuing to improve.

If you don’t have any data to begin with, start by assigning one value to your goal or goals. As you continue your reviewing and planning processes you can begin to refine your goals and goal values based on product types, traffic sources, keywords, and other factors.

AdWords Announces Enhanced Campaigns

google adwords

Earlier this week,  Google announced a set of improvements to AdWords they are calling enhanced campaigns.

The announced changes help deal with the reality that people use different devices (and often switch from one to the other throughout the day) to communicate and shop. They want results that are relevant to where they are, what they’re doing, and when they’re doing it.

Enhanced campaigns make it easier to customize ads and adjust bids depending on your customer’s location, device, and time of day. Here is an example from the Adwords post that illustrates how this type of flexibility can help a breakfast café:

A breakfast cafe wants to reach people nearby searching for “coffee” or “breakfast” on a smartphone. Using bid adjustments, with three simple entries, they can bid 25% higher for people searching a half-mile away, 20% lower for searches after 11am, and 50% higher for searches on smartphones. These bid adjustments can apply to all ads and all keywords in one single campaign.

It appears that these “new” features are more of a consolidation of existing features – meaning you will now be able to do things in one campaign that in the past may have required multiple campaigns (i.e. one campaign for desktop searchers and a separate one for mobile). This should save time and make life a little simpler for small business advertisers.

You can learn more about AdWords Enhance Campaigns here.