10 Tips to Improve Lead Generation
by Russell Kern
In lead management I've found that success comes to those who implement the long-lived, tried-and-true fundamentals.
But if you want to move your lead-generation program beyond the basics, here are nine tips to boost your results.
1. Promote offers that attract prospects early in the buy cycle. It's difficult to reach prospects at the right moment. Hot, active buyers generally use search engines to find vendors and solutions.
To boost response, develop early-buy-cycle offers that allow you to connect with potential buyers. Educational information from third-party sources, value-added Web sites generating custom solutions and webinars are examples of non-threatening, high-value, early-buy-cycle offers.
2. Sell the offer not the product. Prospects don't care about your company, brands or products until they believe you have a solution to their problems. Avoid the common mistake of selling product or service features in your demand-generation solicitations. Focus instead on the value of your offer, telling readers what they'll learn, gain or receive when they respond.
3. Less is more. In b-to-b lead generation, create curiosity. Write only enough copy to motivate response; don't give away the entire story. These days, clear, short, to-the-point communication wins on the Web, in e-mail and in print.
4. Establish a unique, high-value responder capture site. Offer is king; it's the reason people respond. Developing and promoting a high-value Web site, also called a responder site, is critical to boosting results. The site design should be exclusive and interactive, containing content, tools and links helpful to your target audience.
When built-in site value is promoted in your online and offline campaigns, your offer will motivate immediate response, improving results.
5. Use the registration page to profile a visitor's buy-cycle stage. One advantage of the Web is the ability to quickly determine where respondents are in the buy cycle for your product or service. Your Web site is a powerful database collection and processing tool. Use a registration form before you provide access to critical content to motivate a visitor to complete the form. To determine the prospect's buy-cycle stage, include the following five questions, and use pull-down windows to speed response:
• What is your role in the purchase of this product?
• What is your estimated time to purchase?
• Has a budget been approved to purchase this product?
• How many (employees/seats/sites) might need this product?
• Where are you in the purchase process?
6. Take advantage of the tactile nature of direct mail. When using direct mail promotions, take advantage of the power of touch. Paper stock, folds, shape and weight all provide communication value. Combine these with arresting color, graphics and copy to transform a simple mailer into a powerhouse communication.
7. Great e-mail writing never goes out of style. Copy contained in the "To," "From" and "Subject" lines of your e-mail affects the read or delete decision. Keep your subject line short, preferably less than 35 characters. Keep it clear, to draw in prospects.
Some examples: "New Executive Brief Now Available" and "New Customer Rates." Avoid spam words, like "free," which will quickly have your message deleted.
8. Use advanced merge/purge processes to reduce waste and improve results. Reviewing sample sets of your direct mail data can provide insights. First, sort the data by title and request a frequency distribution. This will show the percentage of a mailing that will reach your target.
Second, review all other records not aggregated due to organizational differences in use of title nomenclature. For example, to reach directors of IT you might have titles such as director of technology, director of information services, etc. All such titles might be targets, but wouldn't be included in your frequency distribution count.
Finally, look for titles you will never want to speak to. Establish a title suppression list and run it against all mailings to eliminate junk records. Be sure to get a prison ZIP code directory, available from the American Correctional Association.
9. Rich media e-mails grab attention and boost results. Head-to-head tests of rich media e-mail against text and HTML formats continue to show the power of moving pictures and sound.
While not appropriate for every target segment, rich media dynamically assembles and personalizes the audio track of an e-mail based on database elements, and gives a three-times response lift over traditional methods.
10. Consider deploying a b-to-b "refinery" to increase sales and lower costs. Here's the concept: Created by PipeAlign, a b-to-b refinery applies predictable manufacturing principles across the enterprise to improve return on investment (ROI) on go-to-market resources.
Based on the metaphor of an industrial oil refinery (see graphic), marketers would "drill" for customer "raw crude" with traditional demand-generation campaigns, but also set up oil wells in all customer-facing operations in order to recycle the install base on a just-in-time basis. Each day, the refinery "pipes" this customer information through a high-velocity "filtration pump" in order to clean and distill the record before depositing this "oil" in a central holding tank, the marketing database.
At that point, an automated "routing pump" reviews each customer record and determines what to do next. Some customer records are ready for immediate sales follow-up, so the refinery delivers them to the appropriate channel and representative.
Other leads require telemarketing "refinement," so they are piped to the call center. Most of this oil, however, requires more processing, so the Refinery assembles personalized, relevant e-mail, replicating the dialog that traditionally falls to sales channels.
Russell Kern is CEO of KernDirect. Kern authored "S.U.R.E.-Fire Direct Response Marketing: Generating Business-to-Business Sales Leads for Bottom Line Success" (McGraw-Hill). For free access to the first two chapters of the book, go to www.sure-fire.net. Kern's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.