Are you lead-worthy?

Whether selling a subscription, a luxury good, or software as a service, the pressure to convert is enormous. With ephemeral traffic and empowered customers, it’s no wonder that marketing leaders have increasingly turned to lead generation best practices to increase the odds they convert their customers over time. Once solely the province of enterprise sales, lead generation tactics are now taking root across the transactional landscape.

The pressure comes in leveraging the initial visit to start the digital relationship. For etailers, this manifests in an urgent need to capture an email address for promotional campaigns. For enterprise sales, like SAS software providers, the email address is just the beginning in a long line of desired datapoints. After all, the more they know about their targets, the better they can market to them.

In a world where long sales cycles are often literally mapped out as customer journeys this might sound highly tactical, but that lead is what enables businesses to put some aspects of the journey on their terms.

A higher standard

Regardless of organizational size or construct, what etail and enterprise sales marketing leaders need to consider in their lead generation vehicles, is an exchange of value. Your would-be customer’s value is obvious – they are providing their data and the implied promise of future contact and potentially a sale. What your business provides in exchange should not only provide proportional value, it should also meet a higher standard – supporting your brand.

What follows is an overview of the top tactics employed by either etailers, enterprise sales, or both; emphasizing those that offer an equitable exchange of value, eschew the temptations of nefarious dark-patterns, and consider the long-term implications for their customer relationships and their brand.  

Gated content

Providing access to original content in exchange for a lead is commonplace for SAS software providers. Given its ubiquity, it’s tempting to toss any and all content behind a lead gen form requesting field-after-field of valuable info, but best-in-class operators know they can’t ask for everything on the first visit. By integrating progressive profiling into their landing pages, they ask for ‘just enough’ information on the first visit, like name and email, and save additional asks, like role and company size, for future visits.

Industry leaders also know they must give a little to get a little; revealing enough of the content for free so consumers can draw their own conclusions on what’s download worthy. Finally, they also understand the value of the content itself. If the content is a let-down upon receipt, they know the value of the lead diminishes greatly and the perceptions of their brand erode. Content that can be freely Googled and found, download free, doesn’t meet the bar. What does? Unique content that’s reasonably deep, detailed, and relevant.

SAS software provider Qumulo offers industry reports from Gartner Research. These reports not only offer value-added content to top-of-the-funnel consumers researching their options, they also cast them in a positive light as one of the top reviewed options in the sector. Other tactics include buying guides that cover competitive options without bias – real professionals project confidence to establish trust. Original research backed by a transparent process and data is another means of cementing domain authority and providing proportional value.

The consultative close

As software eats the world the human touch is becoming a luxury. For businesses that have the margins to offer assistance, typically high price point items that require real consideration, many are turning to in-house experts to provide guidance to customers. It can be tempting to hook up a hastily trained customer service agent to help close sales and deals, but the experts know that expertise requires, well, expertise.

For etailers, it’s essential to not only provide in-depth product knowledge, but also options to let customers communicate via their preferred channel. The consumer electronics experts at Crutchfield allow customers to reach out over chat, email, or phone. Each of these options provides a warm lead for sales in the moment and follow-up post. Customers can also filter the sales agents for area expertise and even proficiency in Spanish. Finally, Crutchfield offers a shared browsing experience so their advisors can push content to customers from installation instructions to preconfigured shopping carts with custom wiring kits. That’s the kind of expertise that solves customer problems and drives sales.

Consultative sales aren’t the sole practice of the pure-plays. Multichannel retailers like Nordstrom and Best Buy have their own variation on this theme in the form of scheduled in-store consultations with professional stylists or Geek Squad specialists.

In enterprise sales, product consultations typically come in the form of gated access to video or live demonstrations. Those honoring the idea of value exchange don’t simply gate their 60 second marketing videos. A potential customer doesn’t want to provide their contact information for an animated puff piece. They’re already interested – they’ve demonstrated that by visiting your site. To meet the lead-worthy bar, enterprise marketing professionals should make marketing content freely available and focus their lead gen materials on stronger value-add content like in-depth product demonstrations from in-house experts, live demos, and webinars.

The immediate discount

An increasingly popular tactic, immediate discounts are now offered by several etailers in exchange for a newsletter subscription. A growing house file helps marketers reach out to potential customers via email drip campaigns. If I can’t convert you now, I might get you later. A secondary benefit is that an email-initiated sale lowers blended customer acquisition costs (CAC) – a key metric for most performance marketers.

To provide a proper value exchange for the customer, businesses should reveal their discount codes onsite immediately provided the customer has submitted their email. This is a convenience for the customer who may not want to fumble with their email if they are ready to buy now. Businesses should also practice good email hygiene by enabling easy unsubscribes and monitoring their campaign fall off numbers to know when a drip campaign should end.

For bonus points, etailers should make their campaigns retrievable. Popups have negative baggage and are often closed reflexively. By making the offer recoverable, customers have a chance to reconsider, and etailers get a chance to save the sale.

It’s about value

The tactics in lead generation are myriad. What’s essential for businesses that want to create long-lasting relationships with their customers is an exchange of value. Whether content or consultation, discount or a time-saving convenience, a well-crafted and considered exchange can be the difference in not only a sale, but also the regard of your brand and the value of your enterprise.

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