I’ve worked in businesses where marketing was often the butt of the joke. We were often referred to as the “colouring-in” department, or asked “what is your actual job?” This is frustrating for a number of reasons. Number 1 – people weren’t plugged in to what we were doing. We’ll get to that in a later blog post. Number 2 – those people weren’t recognising the value that marketing can and does bring to a business if it’s done right.
That being said, there are many reasons to undertake marketing in a business. If you’re new on the scene, you want to get your name out there and make sure people are actually aware of the fact that you exist. You might want to make customers aware of new products, cross-sell or up-sell other services to them. For our customers, the most common reason they engage with us, and one of the most impactful ways marketing can bring value to a business, is to generate leads.
Having a steady stream of engaged leads that you can deliver into sales is absolute gold dust – not only is it feeding your sales funnel, it’s demonstrating value to the rest of the business.
So, that leaves us with one question – a big one – how do you, you know, actually do marketing so it actually generates leads? Before I begin, this isn’t one of those “I have unlocked the secret to marketing and this formula works every time” kind of posts. I don’t have a proven email template or landing page layout that always converts.
Sorry, it just doesn’t work like that. If it did, I would be rich, and I probably wouldn’t be writing this article so I could keep all my billions to myself. I’d be at lunch with my best friends Beyoncé and Meghan Markle.
Doing marketing activity pointed at lead generation is all about a solid foundation to work from and a clear relationship between marketing leads and sales leads. Once you’ve got that sorted out, it’s dead easy. Ish.
Here are a few pointers to start you off.
The word “lead” might mean slightly different things to different people in different organisations. To a salesperson, it’s likely to be someone they have engaged with in the past – met at a trade show, spoken to on the phone, etc – and they are trying to convert into a sale. It’s common to grade them – something along the lines of cold, warm and hot. This kind of system means that often, the level of engagement leads have when going into the sales team is varied. Some have very proactively filled in a form on the website asking to be contacted, others have brushed past someone at an event. For a marketing team whose performance is measured on delivering leads into sales, this isn’t particularly useful.
It’s therefore more useful to restructure your thinking and your funnel to include “marketing qualified leads” (MQLs) and “sales qualified leads” (SQLs). An MQL is a lead which through a predefined process you have identified as engaged and ready for a conversation with sales. An SQL is a lead which has gone on to have this conversation with sales and is deemed ready to move to the next stage of the sales cycle – whether that’s an on-site visit, demo or even issuing a proposal.
Thinking about leads in this way means that you’re delivering only the most engaged prospects into sales – and you’re also ensuring they’re not missing out on people who aren’t necessarily directly visible to them.
Valuing every interaction
If you want to successfully generate leads from marketing and deliver them into sales, you have to take wider, big picture, helicopter (whichever cliche you want to use) view of how prospects interact with your business. In the digital world, there are multiple touch points, from email marketing to social media to blog content. Without the right tools, this activity isn’t visible to your sales team, but is extremely useful for them to know about. If someone has opened three of your email campaigns and visited a product page five times, there’s a strong chance they’re interested in what you’re selling – marketing have done their job, it’s time to go over to sales. If someone’s read a blog post on a topic and downloaded the companion whitepaper – you guessed it, ready to go to sales. They’re both quite arbitrary examples, and how each activity is valued will differ from business to business and from campaign to campaign. What matters here is translating this into action.
Using a marketing automation tool, you can assign an actual point score to each marketing activity you deem valuable to a particular campaign or your sales funnel, and define what should happen to a lead based on this score. You’d usually set a threshold for them becoming an MQL, and structure points for each activity based on pushing them towards this threshold. Here’s an example:
MQL engagement score: 10
Opened an email: +1 point
Clicked a link in an email: +2 point
Visited your product page more than 3 times: +5 points
Downloaded your whitepaper: +5 points
Filled your contact form: +10 points
As you can see, that structure ensures that not only are people who directly engage with your contact form automatically promoted to an MQL, but also that other touch points are valued and contribute to their overall score too.
When you start to think about your marketing, and the link between your sales and marketing teams, in this way, it becomes infinitely easier to a) deliver better leads into sales and b) design your campaigns and marketing activity around driving more leads into sales.
A solid foundation to work from
Once you’re thinking about leads in this way, and you’ve got some kind of lead scoring mechanism in place, you can really start motoring on generating leads through marketing. Having a clear picture of every touchpoint and the intention and meaning behind each interaction helps you better understand customers, prospects and how they’re engaging with your content and your business. And that, my friends, is how you start to do marketing that actually generates leads.
If you’d like any more guidance or advice on doing marketing that generate leads, then leave here and go to an agency that will blind you with strategy, pretty graphics and smoke and mirrors. We’re offering packages that actually GUARANTEE you a certain number of leads per month – check them out if you want to actually get some leads.