Do you know which of your online assets give the most number of leads? White papers? Product reviews? Webinars? Social media? Email marketing? Knowing your most productive lead generation sources is helpful to align a campaign, but don’t fall into the trap of choosing one for the other. Each of your online assets is a cog in the wheel of your lead generation funnel. Here’s why:
The Google/Millward Brown study (2015) reported that B2B customers make around twelve searches prior to engaging a specific vendor. During their initial product research, potential buyers can come across any of your online assets–a retweet, whitepaper, product review, user comment, discussion–as they scour the internet to read product reviews and ratings, user testimonials, watch videos, and compare their choices, among others.
Maybe your email marketing got you a lot of leads today, but some of the recipients who didn’t respond to your email may one day land on a B2B review site and see your product again; or they may engage your CEO in a LinkedIn discussion. Each element of your online presence is a potential lead generator, that’s why it’s important that you map a clear lead-to-conversion path that arcs over your digital landscape.
3 Ways to map your lead-to-conversion funnel:
1. A Campaign-centric Way
The lead generation funnel is clearest in an online campaign. It may vary by goal or approach, but, generally, the funnel consists of four elements:
Offer –> Call-to-action (CTA) –> Landing page –> Form
A thank-you email or page can also be added at the last part to provide a link for opt-ins or to personalize the campaign. Here’s an example conversion path used by Freshdesk showing all elements:
The elements may look obvious, but you still encounter PPC ads that lead you to the homepage (not a dedicated landing page), or CTAs that ask you to like a page (no offer), or an offer without a clear next step (no CTA).
Make sure you check if your campaign has these four lead-to-conversion elements, and use these tips to enhance each element:
- Use scarcity to create exclusivity either by limiting the period when the offer is available or setting a quota
- Use the bandwagon effect by showing your offer’s proof in numbers, such as, number of downloads, shares, subscribers, etc.
- Piggyback on news by aligning your offer with the hottest story of the day
- Vary the offer to match it with leads at their different levels of engagement or interest
- Place your CTA above the fold
- The CTA’s color should contrast with the background color; do the squint test to see if the CTA stands out
- Be specific about the action that needs to be taken (e.g. “Start your free trial here”)
- Link it to a dedicated landing page
- Have a single goal, then make all messages on the page should support this goal
- State the offer clearly in the headline
- Avoid clutter; break paragraphs into one-liners, bullets, violators, blurbs
- Use a supporting image
- Display social proof with facebook likes, and trust seals (a popular B2B review platform FinancesOnline offers a Verified Quality Seal that works great for SaaS services because it’s industry-specific)
- Use short forms for top-of-funnel leads and long forms for middle- and bottom-of-funnel leads
- Only ask for the information you need, no more and no less
- Use an engaging CTA (ex., instead of “submit” use “get the ebook now!”)
2. A Search-centric Way
One of the critical insights in the Google/Millward study is the fact that 71% of buyers make a generic search at the start of their purchase journey. They are using broad category keywords like ‘collaboration software’ not product-specific keywords like ‘Wrike’. This, perhaps, makes SEO, the most important part of your lead generation channel.
However, can you capture leads at this early stage of buyer’s product research? According to Business2Community, 60% of organic clicks go to the top 3 search results. If your website can’t achieve this SERP, your lead generation channel is greatly compromised.
To rank high in search, Moz calculated these Google ranking factors:
Many of these factors take time and a lot of budget to execute. For example, Link Signals involve a team of writers and outreach marketers to get important websites to link back to your site. Likewise, competing in generic category keywords means a long-term investment in SEO and content marketing. You should use these two strategies for the long haul.
Meanwhile, there’s one ranking factor that can immediately deliver leads to you through organic search: review signals. If your software has been around for a while now, it’s been likely reviewed in one or all of the top B2B review sites. B2B review sites act like SERP extensions because when a buyer makes a generic software category search, she’s likely to get review sites in search results. Top review sites enjoy high Page Rank ratings because of their utilitarian roles. Many buyers rely on these sites to kick start their product research. Instead of scouring the internet for independent product assessments, ratings, and user comments for each software, buyers use review sites to quickly compare products and shortlist their choices.
That does not mean, however, it’s enough to be present on B2B review sites. You need to optimize your presence there because your competitors are also vying for customer attention. Luckily, most review sites offer some form of marketing to vendors and there is a variety of ways you an use to distinguish yourself from your competition. For example, one of the popular review sites FinancesOnline can offer you a premium positioning for your product ensuring its the first thing a potential client sees on their site. Catching their attention before they can actually examine your competitors may often result in a lead. You can also benefit from highlighting your product as a suggested alternative, which is especially helpful on the comparison pages, during a critical moment when a buyer is deliberating a purchase decision.
Many B2B review sites also invite vendors to submit their software for industry awards competitions. Winning such an award, no matter if it’s a major one like Best CRM Software or a smaller one like Great User Experience can have a significant effect on the number of leads you get. Not only can you brag about these on your blog or in a press release, displaying awards next to your product name on a review site makes people much more likely to choose your product over a competitor without any awards. If you want to learn more about the possibility of getting an award and premium positioning of your software you can request a review of your product here
3. A Website-centric Way
Your website should be ready to deal with varying levels of leads when web visitors come knocking on the door. Usually, a lead visits your website only after the initial product research. After encountering your product elsewhere–a B2B review site, for example–a buyer may check out your website for more details. Likewise, a lead may land on your blog because of an article or a video that you’ve posted in your social media. The question is, can your website distinguish promising leads from false leads? Even more, can it identify false leads from raw leads?
One way to check if your website has a clear lead-to-conversion path is to measure it against your sales funnel. A typical sales funnel has three levels of leads: raw leads (top of funnel), promising leads (middle of funnel), and prospects (bottom of funnel).
Your website should create offers that match the position of the lead in the sales funnel. Here’s an example:
Top of funnel
Case: A visitor checks your blog but is not interested to buy.
Offer: Free value content (whitepaper, report, webinar, etc.) in exchange for her name and email address.
Website section: Display the offer on the homepage, product page, or blog, the three things she’ll likely to check for content.
Middle of funnel
Case: A visitor checks your homepage, pricing page, about us, or contact page. This indicates an interest to know more about you.
Offer: Free trial, freemium, or a demo run
Website section: Display the offer on the homepage, pricing page, about us, or contact page. There are also great live chat tools such as LiveChat that let you automatically pop up a chat message to engage a visitor who spends too much time on a specific page, which may indicate she’s pondering a question.
Bottom of funnel
Case: A visitor has subscribed to your free trial or demo request.
Offer: Extend the free trial period if she’s used the offer throughout the trial period or send her sales pitches after the offer expires.
Website section: Log-in section, integrated email autoresponder
Optimizing your lead generation funnel means making sure that all your company’s digital assets and campaigns dovetail to a single goal: conversion. This means no individual online channel stands alone or is better than the other; rather, each one is a critical part that helps to run your entire lead machine.