It's that time of year, when buyers hunt aggressively for the best deals they can find.
B-to-B customers are on the proverbial year-end hunt for discounts from partners and suppliers who have aggressive revenue targets to meet.
For B-to-C marketers, the holidays and all the "after x" sales mean lots of abandoned shopping carts. Once they've bailed, those shoppers scream, "retarget me." But your display ads and emails will only perform if the offer and the timing are correct. It's more critical now than any other time of year to deliver a follow-up offer quickly in response to demonstrated buying interest.
These examples demonstrate why B-to-B and B-to-C marketers are experiencing a groundswell of demand for velocity in managing and engaging with leads, consumers and business pros.
For B-to-B marketers, velocity means moving leads into the internal database or sales automation system after they've been captured. Slow-moving lead processes result in one of the most frequent complaints from sales: too much time between capturing a lead and having it ready for follow-up.
So how do you go about building, or increasing, lead velocity?
Create a flow chart that lays out how you currently handle leads. Detail touches, frequency and content types by funnel stage. Analyze whether you're building on the engagement you create initially, looking for gaps and potential disconnects. Once the current process is mapped, these five steps can increase velocity:
1. Define Clear-Cut Processes and Expectations With Sales
The most effective marketing organizations are in harmony with sales, operating as trusted partners who fill the pipeline and drive revenue. But in order to meet organizational goals, sales and marketing need a common set of expectations. That means agreeing on terms for what constitutes a marketing-ready and a sales-ready lead. There must be service-level standards that define how leads will be managed, including timetables for outreach, from initial capture through to sales contact.
2. Target Offers and Messages Accurately
The days of spray-and-pray marketing are giving way to data-driven marketing, which ensures you're targeting offers to the right individuals and companies—including named account lists, where appropriate. Leverage marketing automation, digital body language and granular list selection to identify optimal targets—right company, right persona, right stage in the funnel—for the offer you're making.
3. Use Content Strategically to Maximize Engagement
To keep leads moving in the funnel, content must be of high quality. But, even more importantly, it must be relevant based on recipients' current business needs and drivers. This requires marketers to leverage persona and behavioral data (back to No. 2, above) to ensure relevance and currency for those they target. It is one thing to create nicely designed, elegantly worded content. To manage leads with velocity, content must drive outcomes. Given a choice between great content that performs modestly and good enough content that drives results, my opinion is that the choice is clear. [Editor's Note: Google rewards quality content.]
4. Maximize Lead Data Quality From the Outset
Marketing leaders consistently tell me they lose days, weeks, even months in extreme examples, while scrubbing and validating lead data. That's untenable because a warm—or even lukewarm—lead needs outreach or engagement in the near term, before it goes cold. Losing time to manual validation of basic profile data (phone numbers, email addresses) is out of step with today's business velocity. Related point: Ask tough questions about the quality of your data before you launch an offer. More complete data in an email list, for example, will avoid a lot of back-end delays.
5 Connect Third-Party Lead Sources Directly With Your Systems
The vast majority of marketers engage with third-party data sources to drive leads. An agile, customer-focused marketing organization recognizes it can't tolerate extended delays in pulling those leads into their systems. When leads come in and require validation, marketing and buying cycles are burned. Many marketers during the years have pushed for "direct inject" capabilities to have leads imported into their systems, though actual movement has been minimal. Now there's broad-based progress with more and more direct import of leads, which frees marketers to spend their time on strategy and execution.
What are you waiting for? It's time to increase your velocity. Your boss, colleagues and customers will thank you!