“Eighty percent of sales are closed after the fifth call or after the fifth closing attempt.” — Brian Tracy The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success
Sales cycles are often long, involved processes. Each stage can be extremely complicated, and you can find yourself fielding multiple rounds of objections from several different stakeholders before you actually close a lead.
Or not. It can be frustratingly difficult to predict when a seemingly warm lead will suddenly go cold on you. Sometimes, there’s an obvious mismatch the very first time a prospect visits your website. Other times, you might hit a dead end only after you’ve spent a huge amount of time and resources nurturing a lead.
Whether you run an e-commerce store, a tech startup, a large SaaS company or a multi-million dollar consultancy, your business has the potential to leak hundreds of thousands of dollars every day simply because your lead generation program is faulty. However, with the latest available technologies, which are capable of automating the extraction of insights from business data, there is no reason for companies to bleed money like this any longer.
Let us examine how three companies — an online B-to-B service, a consumer e-commerce company and a well-known multichannel retail store with online and physical presence — use marketing technology to nurture leads and generate more sales. Active in different verticals and using different intelligence-driven nurture techniques, each of these three cases achieves a similar goal: a more effective, scalable and efficient lead nurture program.
Prescreen.io Hunts the Hunters
B-to-B businesses typically aim to generate sustainable traffic from a mix of sources, including organic search, display ads, retargeting and content marketing. But even amid this diversity, it can be difficult to close leads. Somewhere along the long journey from the first time a potential customer visits a site to conversion, companies lose opportunities for a number of indefinite reasons.
Prescreen.io, an e-recruiting service based in Vienna, is one such B-to-B company. They found the difficulty of generating enough qualified leads to be overwhelming, especially given the pressure of having large players like SAP to compete with. Instead of increasing their ad spend, though, Prescreen.io’s leadership started looking for ways to know more about and engage with visitors coming to their website via different sources. Google Analytics was the obvious starting point, but they quickly realized that GA doesn’t offer enough functionality to identify, score, vet or qualify anonymous site visitors.
So they started using Leadfeeder, a tool that works on top of Google Analytics to gather accurate data about website visitors and pass it on to CRMs and other marketing automation systems. Leadfeeder provides user-specific logs that come pre-filtered with detailed visitor insights, such as time spent on specific pages, the company the visitor works for, and contact details of relevant people working there.
Prescreen.io has a relatively aggressive outbound sales team that doesn’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified lead identified via Leadfeeder, no matter how big or small.
“We used Google Analytics for the identification of our visitors,” Prescreen.io VP Sales and Marketing Andreas Altheimer recently explained in a Leadfeeder blog post. “But the filter options just weren’t sufficient, and it was tough work to gather all the information needed to be able to contact the lead.”
Altheimer reported a significant increase — as much as 85 percent — in his team’s sales call conversion rates thanks to Leadfeeder pointing them to the right people at companies with self-qualified interest.
1-800 CONTACTS Minds the Fold
The customer journey for a B-to-C e-commerce company is significantly shorter than that of a B-to-B company. Nevertheless, it is often tricky to find effective ways to identify (and engage with) potential customers browsing your site and leaving without a trace. Remarketing works, but it is often expensive and doesn’t necessarily target the people with the most burning intent to buy.
Online contact lens seller 1-800 CONTACTS found an ideal way to meet this challenge, focusing on patterns of user behavior on their website, so as to maximize opt-ins for ongoing relationship building. When traditional Web analytics couldn’t help them, they perused session replays, scroll-reach heat maps, mouse-move heat maps and attention heat maps powered by Clicktale to understand the problem.
One heat map report revealed that a key landing page of theirs, which was under-performing and had a high abandonment rate, was suffering from a serious design flaw that caused many visitors to overlook a primary conversion mechanism. The page’s prescription information call-to-action (CTA) button fell under the fold on smaller screens or lower resolutions, so unless visitors scrolled down, they didn’t even see it.
Clicktale helped the 1-800 Contacts team to quantify the frequency and impact of this issue, which quickly drove the company to rectify the situation.
In another instance, 1-800 Contacts were able to enhance user experience simply by increasing the font size of the word “or.” There were several such instances which helped the company capture more leads and increase their mobile conversion rate by 4.3 percent and annual ROI to 115 percent — within just two months of beginning the conversion optimization program.
The crux of the matter is that for an e-commerce company, your website is the first and the most important place to mine for business intelligence. Once you optimize it to learn how your user thinks and behaves, it is just a matter of time until you start nurturing more effectively and closing more leads.
Crate & Barrel Engages Across Channels
Virtually all retail giants, including by Walmart, Macy’s and Target, have implemented big data to maximize their in-store, online and seasonal sales. Houseware retail behemoth Crate & Barrel (C&B) is no stranger to leveraging data intelligence from brick-and-mortar retail (where they have been around for more than 50 years) and applying findings to their e-commerce site.
But now, they are taking a step further in that direction by gleaning customer data through a slick multichannel lead-nurturing and engagement strategy. C&B recently launched a pilot program in which customers are given a tablet — dubbed Mobile Tote — to carry in-store. Rather than lugging around unwieldy boxes and fragile merchandise they’re interested in purchasing, customers can scan showroom bar codes, search for items within the store, request out-of-stock products and add products to a wishlist, just as they would on an e-commerce site.
No registration or login is required to use the Mobile Tote system, but customers are incentivized to share their shopping experience data with the retailer. Opting in unlocks benefits like the ability to email yourself wish lists, help from a sales associate in gathering items, real-time checkout and scheduled pickup. C&B, in turn, can use this information to retarget people with product-specific banner ads and email offers.
This integrated strategy has not only won C&B a lot of praise from customers and retail marketing experts alike, but has also helped the company amass valuable data on buyer behavior across online and offline channels.
C&B was able to implement this multichannel marketing and customer care solution with the help of CloudTags, which analyzes over 150 different variables to understand in-store customer behavior, and then uses this intelligence to estimate for retailers what their customers are considering, and if or when they will purchase a product.
Based on such specific insights, retailers can send out highly targeted emails and retarget visitors with ads that match the funnel phase they’re in. Retargeting might still come across as creepy to some, but Joan King, C&B’s VP of e-commerce, defends their initiative, arguing that the rules of the game have changed. “I don't think customers will find it creepy,” she says, “More and more, people are actually expecting that we know their shopping preferences. They are expecting us to be smarter and smarter.”
Every business is different. Their ways of nurturing, closing and converting leads are different too, even if the end goal is same. From psychological hacks to A/B testing your touchpoints ad nauseam, there are virtually endless ways to reach that end goal. These three companies found distinctive solutions that worked for them in order to glean business intelligence from data that was available to them, and fine tune their lead-nurture processes along the way.
What operational data or insights are available to you? What tools and techniques do you use to score leads and convert them? Which of these are working and which aren’t? Please share in the comments.
Rohan Ayyar is the regional marketing manager for India at SEMrush. His blog, The Marketing Mashup, covers digital marketing from the perspective of B2B, B2C, lead generation, mobile marketing, SEO, social media, content marketing, database marketing including predictive analytics, and conversion rate optimization. In addition, he'll look at emerging marketing technology and how marketers can use it. Reach Ayyar at firstname.lastname@example.org.