A phrase you’ll often hear if you hang around the Newfangled office is “highly-qualified leads.” It’s a term we talk about with all of our clients, and our goal is that, through working with us, we will help our clients create highly-qualified leads through the ecosystem of tools that we put in place and train them on.
A lot of the conversation that follows is typically about how to generate leads. It can sometimes be difficult for clients to grasp the nuanced difference between creating leads and creating “highly-qualified” leads.
The assumption is often that if you are a well-positioned firm, and you are using the tools we help you put in place, then a good percentage of the leads you create will be considered “highly-qualified.”
This can oftentimes be true. But is not inherently true. Even when you are well-positioned, creating good thought leadership content that attracts and informs your prospects, it doesn’t mean the leads that ultimately engage with you are immediately highly-qualified.
If we promise to help you create highly-qualified leads, then the process doesn’t end with just generating leads; it extends into the process of qualifying and nurturing those leads.
But what does that look like?
Leads can come in from many avenues and at many stages of the buying process. A lead could be someone who lands on your site from a Google search and fills out a form to access one of your white papers. It could also be someone who has read many of your blog posts and is subscribing to receive future blog posts via email. This action alone does not tell us if they are a qualified lead or not.
Marketing automation can help you qualify the lead and put them on the right nurturing track until they are sales qualified and ready for your sales team to make contact.
The first tool we employ is progressive profiling. This allows us to collect added bits of information each time a prospect fills out a form on the site. For every white paper they download or webinar for which they signup, we learn a little bit more about them by asking a couple new questions with each form submission.
This helps to qualify the lead because we start to learn if they are a good fit. We begin to see if their profile lines up with our target persona.
Lead Scoring & Grading
As we are progressively profiling these leads, we are also using lead scoring, which is sometimes separated out into scoring (activity-based) and grading (profile-based), depending on which system you’re using.
Lead scoring allows us to assign a numerical value to every lead who engages with the website, email, or other marketing asset, in addition to providing points (or a grade) based on the profile information we have been gathering.
With a strong set of scoring rules, we can easily identify which leads are highly-qualified based on this score. They’re a good fit demographically, and they have shown positive engagement with our website and other digital marketing campaigns.
While lead scoring will assign a value to all prospects, we also use list segmentation to divide the list based on lead score and profile attributes.
For example, at Newfangled we have a segment called “Agency Principals,” because one of our target personas is the principal at a marketing agency. This identifies our leads that we have profiled and determined they are a good fit. We can then segment this further based on lead score to see all of the agency principals who have recently been actively engaging with key resources on our site, such as case studies, articles that target the later stages of the buying cycle, or premium content items like webinars.
In short, this is our “highly-qualified leads” segment.
But simply identifying these highly-qualified leads isn’t enough. We need to fuel the pipeline and move some of the less-qualified leads into our “highly-qualified leads” segment. For this, we use nurturing campaigns.
To do this, we identify leads that are not yet in our “highly-qualified leads” segment. Maybe they are a good fit, but haven’t yet engaged with our resources designed to target late-stage leads. So, we create programs based on certain interests. If there are leads that have viewed several pages about marketing automation, we can enter them into our marketing automation nurturing campaign, which will send out a series of emails over time, all related to marketing automation, that will drive them to content designed to move them through the buying cycle, toward one of our automation offerings. At first, we send a recent blog post about example marketing automation programs. Then, we invite them to download a webinar all about marketing automation. Lastly, if they’re still engaging with this content, the program links them to a case study of how we worked with an agency to build an ecosystem that relied on automation to generate leads.
If this prospect engages with all of this content, then it’s likely their lead score will be increasing, we’ll be able to continue to progressively profile them as they fill out forms to access the resources we’re sending, and they’ll likely end up in our highly-qualified lead segment.
As you can see, creating leads is one thing, but creating and identifying your highly-qualified leads is a process that involves several tools working together to move leads through the buying cycle. The example above is just one way to look at it, but it is important that you think about how you can implement these tools to better qualify the leads that are coming in through your site, and of course, Newfangled is always happy to assist you through this process.