Lead Generation Evolution
We are a community driven by results. Lead generation and the ability to turn those leads into quantifiable results–an active customer– is an important driver of the marketing and sales relationship. In fact, 78% of marketers feel that generating high quality leads is the most pertinent marketing challenge for their organization.¹ Quantity and quality are two very different goals and meeting the demand for quality requires efforts by marketers as well as resources from the channel partners they select.
There are four stages in building relationships with quality leads to make them sales ready. These stages include Content Auditing, Lead Reporting, Lead Scoring and Lead Nurturing. Marketers need and expect this level of actionable information, which is why IDG Enterprise expanded its lead generation capabilities to serve marketers through these 4 stages with our program LeadAccel, launching in January 2011. It is important to understand and utilize the capabilities of each stage to strengthen the relationship during the transition from prospect to customer.
A robust library of assets is the key to educating and building a relationship with your target customers. Strong content can showcase vendors as a thought-leader and partner. In the IDG Enterprise 2010 Role & Influence of the Technology Buyer Study, 68% of participants use White Papers to keep up-to-date with new technologies and 57% use webcasts/webinars.² These are tools used throughout the purchase process to determine technology needs, create vendor short-lists and approve the purchase. However, beyond distributed assets, a vendor’s website is an important tool to showcase thought-leadership and highlight product strengths, because vendor websites are the number one source IT professionals use during the authorize/approve stage of the purchase process. ²
If your assets have not previously driven the quality of leads you are looking for, then your content should be evaluated. Whether you choose to re-work your assets, conduct research to enhance your materials or hire out the creation of customer content it is essential to update your content and maintain engagement. Opportunities can be easily lost without the appropriate tools.
Lead reporting is the stepping stone for understanding who is engaged with a marketing campaign and how to reach this individual. This stage is where some lead generation programs stop, leaving sales unable to prioritize the best follow-up method. Participants in a recent MarketingSherpa study stated that they pass leads to sales once they have basic contact information (80%).¹ This information is the first stage for developing a relationship with a prospect. Digging deeper into the interaction, additional information can be gained including demographics and what assets have been downloaded, helping to plan your initial contact and highlighting key solutions that will serve their needs.
Lead Scoring is an understanding of how invested an individual lead is in a specific technology as well as identifying where they are in the purchase process. This “score” provides valuable and actionable information, however lead scoring is not widely adopted yet. Only 25% of marketers will wait to approach a lead, or amend the initial lead details, once the lead has reached a certain lead score through expressed interest in a number of categories.¹ The demand for lead scoring services should grow as the economy stabilizes and organizations have money to spend. This will be driven by sales teams wanting to shorten the sales cycle by having the tools to create the right dialogue based on the needs of each lead.
Lead Nurturing creates a path to move prospects through the purchase process by anticipating and serving what assets and information will help educate, strengthen the relationship and continue prospects through the purchase process to becoming customers. Lead nurturing success depends on timing and having the right set of information assets available to keep leads engaged. This is when an asset or content audit plan should be reviewed to ensure that you distribute the correct available assets for each stage of the purchase process.
Once you have successfully turned a lead into a customer, your product quality and service will be the essential tools to help you build and maintain a strong relationship. Customer retention and upsell/resell is an aspect of the sales process that sales and marketing work together on to ensure that the initial lead generation evolution continues to drive revenue. Ultimately, the ability to deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right audience will allow for higher qualified leads and a shorter sales cycle.
¹MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey, August 2010
²2010 Role & Influence of the Technology Buyer Study, IDG Enterprise, June 2010