In the digital world we live in, it has increasingly become the buyer’s market. Today, customers have every conceivable information at hand, in the form of their smartphone, tablet, PC or other devices that are connected to the Internet.
This allows them to get all the information they want about companies and products that they might be interested in. This means that the effect of traditional marketing is no longer as great as it used to be.
This means that today you will have to look at online marketing with different eyes than before – it is not necessarily you who must seek out the customer, but to a large extent the customer who seeks out you.
If the content is not relevant, current, engaging and inspiring, then customers will quickly browse to the next website in the list in the Google search.
This progression—from becoming problem-aware to making a purchasing decision—is called the buyer’s journey.
With 67% of the buyer’s journey now completed digitally, it’s become more important than ever to manage the buyer’s digital journey with campaigns that educate, inform and most importantly, nudge your prospects into action, i.e. purchasing your products.
It’s about meeting the customer’s expectations of you – and this is where the digital customer journey comes into play. Once this has been mapped, you are aware of what your customers’ expectations are at the individual steps in the buying process.
The Digital Journey
It is important to understand the digital journey.
One of the reasons is that your company’s employees come on the same page when it comes to understanding the customer. By clarifying the different steps in the purchasing process, and making it clear what the expectations are of the customers, you will be much better at meeting these expectations.
The digital customer journey must be able to bind all activities together so that they support each other naturally through all steps in the purchasing process and weave a common thread in the customer experience from start to finish.
The digital customer journey is the starting point for all relevant and personalized communication with the customer online; both on web, mail, social, display etc ..
It’s important to mention here how you communicate with your prospects will vary depending on which stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in.
Lead management is a way that you can identify potential customers (leads) and educate and engage with them which may take 6 months to a year, before they reach the decision stage when leads are qualified as sales-ready and your sales team reach out.
Generating high-quality leads is the number one challenge for B2B marketers.
Achieving the desired volume and quality of leads, required to improve sales results involves appropriate research, planning, content, and tools. Lead generation is a never-ending process that requires constant iteration, analysis of prospect’s behavior, and personalization of marketing content.
Here is an efficient and effective method to get more leads and managing your leads throughout the buyer’s journey.
1. Get to know your ideal customer
To begin with, you need to establish who your potential costumers are. In turn you will be able to develop a process to determine where individual prospects stand in the sales cycle. Not all your prospects will become paying customers, in fact on average only 12% to 16% of all leads are considered quality leads.
The most important question you should ask yourself is, does our solution create value for prospects, and are they willing to pay for it.
Marketers should use personas to identify ideal leads and hence customers for their products and services. Personas can be shaped on demographics, prospect behavior, engagement and interaction. Content creation is key to lead generation and knowing their source.
The following questions can help in shaping personas:
- Demographics: Where are our ideal customers based? What problems, wants, and needs do they have? What industry/market are they in?
- Behavior: How do they interact with content? What content do they interact with? How do they search for information?
- Source: How do prospects find us? Where do they search for information? Which marketing sources do they engage with most?
The digital customer journey starts right from the moment the customer recognizes a problem or a need. Once we are aware of a problem, we start looking for a solution. Already here you can start with content marking, and help customers become wiser about their needs, and help them further in a direction where they themselves discover the need for your products and services.
This means that you as a company must wear the very wide glasses and look at the customer and understand the customer in a different way – Not just the customer who ends up buying your product. Their searches on the web may be right next to your product, but that’s because the customer has not found any solutions yet. They try to understand their problem and needs and seek inspiration among like-minded people.
Types of content:
- Blog posts
- Updates on social media.
- 5 reasons why you will never find a competent IT employee (Recruitment)
- 5 reasons why you burn out as a manager at work (Management)
- 5 clear signs of stress in an employee (HR)
These articles should then hit the target audience that is most likely to be able to identify with the content and their own situation. So they need to be shared and advertised on Facebook, Linkedin and other relevant sites. Of course, they must also be published on their own media and optimized to rank in the search engines.
Even before the customers have started looking for specific products, you can snatch them from under the noses of the competitors. And in the eyes of customers, you are perceived as an expert who can make them wiser about their problem and help them further to seek a solution. And the solution, of course, is just a click away, and then you have them on their way to the next stage.
2. Track the digital footprint
Your leads leave digital footprints when they interact with your website.
Footprints that all reveal something about the individual visitor’s interests in your company and its products. This means that with every click your website visitors make on your website, they actually tell you where their biggest buying motivation lies.
It can help you communicate purposefully to the right recipients, at just the right time in their buying cycle.
Clear digital buying signals
- Opens sales emails
- Clicks on links in emails
- Downloads of files in Offers
- Read product descriptions on the website
- Reads reference cases on the website
- Number of visits to the website
By tracking each lead’s customer journey you can make sure the timing and messages in your communication is a perfect fit.
Lead Scoring assigns each page a number of points according to how much it reveals about whether a lead is in the market. Thus, points are collected while navigating around the website and it is used to calculate lead score. The more points, the longer the lead is in the buying process.
Your leads build a lead score by moving around your website, opening emails or downloading files. By assigning a lead score based on the behavior, you can form an accurate and realistic overall picture of how close a lead is to a buying decision.
For example, you can give a score of 1 when the lead visits the front page, a score of 5 when the lead visits prices. This gives you the opportunity to use your website as an active sales tool that gives you handy data that you can use in your B2B sales!
Lead scoring is a vital part of the lead management process as it determines the prospect’s interest in your products or services.
The lead score depends on the interest visitors show in your marketing materials, how they engage and interact with it and where they are in the purchase cycle. The higher the score, the greater the possibility that the lead will convert into a sale. Leads that are unqualified as sales-ready can go through lead nurturing. Ultimately, your lead scoring system will depend on your business’s individual criteria and the complexity of your sales cycle.
Automating your marketing activities combined with lead scoring prospect interactions and personalization of marketing materials is undoubtedly a powerful tool for marketers to increase company sales.
3. Nurture your leads with email automation
Lead nurturing refers to a process of sending the right message, at the right time, to prospects to move them through the sales funnel. Lead nurturing is mainly used for leads that are not quite ready to be passed onto the sales team and require an appropriate lead nurturing campaign. Include actionable calls to action in all your marketing materials.
Studies show that nurtured leads result in a 23% shorter sales cycle. Approximately 79% of all marketing leads never convert into sales, mainly due to a lack of or poor lead nurturing. Nurturing leads requires appropriate content delivery, effective communication with the right frequency and timing of delivery.
Furthermore, companies that apply lead nurturing successfully generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower costs. Leads nurtured with personalized content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities.
With the right software, you can put your marketing on autopilot, and at the same time see everything that all your leads do inside your website. You can see when and which pages they visit.
You get tracking on what they do and get an overview of the digital footprint they leave behind. So you collect a large amount of data, about your leads, their behavior and get a deep insight into what they find interesting. Nowadays, data is what can give you the upper hand over your competitors.
The days when sales and marketing are two separate silos are over. With marketing automation, you streamline the process between salespeople and marketing. Marketing automation means that the sales and marketing department collaborates to acquire more customers, and becomes able to retain more.
The marketing department makes sure to get subscribers to the newsletter, and generate leads. These leads will then be nurtured, by automatic emails which will warm up well during a leads purchase motivation. The lead gets just as quiet hotter and hotter. How hot a given lead is will be measured with Lead Scoring. Lead Scoring means assigning a score to a lead, depending on what buy signals they have displayed on your website.
By collecting data about each lead’s interests and needs, you get the opportunity to tailor your communication to each lead, based on exactly what they find relevant and interesting.
Your communication will be much stronger, and far more relevant to the recipient.
Now we can respond and interact with this person every time they visit our website, download a white paper or request the demo using email automation. The key is to make most of this activity automatic and at the same time be building up a picture of the activity so that a salesperson can be notified when the prospect and buyer intends to buy.
4. Reach out to hot leads at the right time
Sales is really a matchmaking process. You only want your sales team to engage with sales qualified leads. For this reason, lead scoring is paramount as you don’t want your salesperson reaching out to leads who are not sales-ready. However, just because a prospect is a qualified lead, doesn’t really mean that they are ready to buy or willing to talk to your sales team. Reports suggest that this is true for 50% of qualified leads.
An important stage in the journey is “decision stage”. This is where a lead goes from needs recognition to searching for solutions.
This is reflected in the behavior on the website, where the engagement becomes somewhat greater because a lead is now trying to educate itself and find a solution to the need. They read more on product pages and try to get an overview of possible solutions.
The lead does not necessarily contact the company to get an offer. It requires the company to pass the screening that many do online today. Here, the website should capture the attention and engage the lead.
Therefore, the website must be decorated with content that provides a good shopping experience, where customers can read different types of content from news, reviews, cases, best-practice, product descriptions, guides and checklists.
It is at the moment when a lead becomes a hot-lead that it is important for the company to respond with sales effort.
It is often a time-limited window when a lead needs to talk to the sales department before going into action and buying. These are the type of leads that are really ready to have a chat and receive helpful information that moves them towards choosing the company’s product.
5. Track KPIs
Tracking, measuring, and analyzing key metrics is very important. Most importantly you need to ensure that the lead moves through the sales cycle without being sent back to marketing for more nurturing when it is not required.
Track and measure the costs of acquiring a lead, nurturing that lead and converting them into a paying customer throughout the sales cycle. Take note of the speed at which they convert. This will enable you to determine which prospects convert based on personas, industry and verticals. Measure sales performance, incentives for the sales team will encourage them to strategically pursue sales-ready leads.
Measuring costs of converting a prospect into a paying customer and the performance of both marketing and sales teams is very important as return on investment is a key metric for businesses.
Ultimately, to implement an effective lead management system, you will need to iterate and evaluate what works and what doesn’t. However, once in place you can expect increased sales and improved business results.
Streamlining B2B Lead Management with Fastbase
Fastbase’s lead generation, marketing automation and sales management software will help you generate more leads and learn about prospect’s behavior, streamlining your sales cycle.
Using real-time behavioral insights from prospects, turn static data into actionable information. Turn once anonymous website visitors into actual users and generate comprehensive lead reports with detailed contact information, including data such as company profiles, email addresses, telephone numbers, LinkedIn profiles and information about visitor interactions on individual pages viewed.
- LeadScoring is tracking technology that enables you to engage with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey, automatically identifying and scoring the visits of each individual according to the pages viewed. When the score indicates ‘sales qualified’ or ‘ready to buy’ a salesperson can act with speed to close the business.
- WebLeads shows companies and organizations that display an interest in your business. It highlights information they are searching for, pages they’ve viewed and provides real insights that help understand your digital audience. There is very little set-up required you simply login using your Google Analytics account and add the WebLeads 6.0 script for extra insights into visits.
LeadScoring can be trialled with 100 leads immediately available for $0. The subscriptions are scaled from $75 according to company needs: from 1000 leads / 500 prospect up to Enterprise levels of 20,000 leads/5,000 prospects.
Fastbase’s WebLead solutions are available as Lite, Premium and Premium+. Premium/Premium+ are available for 30 days as a free trial and then continue with a Premium subscription, with the price determined by the number of profiles/websites a company chooses to monitor. A Lite version is available beyond the free trial period, however with limited features and functionality.