Down to Basics: Understanding Lead Management
Lead management has become an integral aspect of many marketing campaigns, ranging from email marketing to social media and even digital advertising. Essentially, leads are vital to just about every single business, whether online or offline. Understanding how (and why) leads are captured and nurtured will help you get a better idea on why this strategy is so important. Business Dictionary defines lead management as the “Complete process of tracking and managing sales leads (prospective customers) from generation of leads to their conversion into sales and long-term relationships. The data generated in this process is used in the measurement of the efficiency of the marketing and sales efforts.”
A DemandGen Report study shows that on average, nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads. MarketingSherpa meanwhile notes that over 79% of marketing leads don’t convert, largely due to a lead nurturing. These lead management statistics show that the management and nurturing of leads is more important than ever before in our often competitive markets.
Lead Management 101: The Lead Lifecycle
Getting back to basics, we will be exploring lead management in more detail, to show exactly how it can help you thrive online. First things first, let’s take a closer look at the lifecycle of a typical lead. There are a number of stages in conversion. Each stage plays its own role and predicts how you each any given lead. These stages include the following:
Stage 1: Subscriber. This is how every potential lead begins. Many subscribers have heard about your business and have opted in to receive information. A number have only signed up for a newsletter or blog without making any sales as of yet. This is an integral stage that can determine whether final conversion. A long-term relationship should be nurtured to increase the subscriber’s chance of continuing in the lead lifecycle.
Stage 2: Lead. Once subscribers show further interest, they move up the lifecycle to become a lead. Leads have given more information than subscribers. Many have signed up for an offer on your website. Once each lead is ready to be offered more information, they will progress along the lead cycle.
Stage 3: Qualified Lead. When a lead shows a deeper interest in your business, they become a qualified lead. These leads have not get converted, but they are more likely to respond to product guides and other similar calls to action. Simply put, these leads are nearly primed to buy.
Stage 4: Opportunity. This lead is a contact who has become a genuine sales opportunity. These can emerge from qualified leads, or even appear from elsewhere after seeing an ad or discovering your business.
Stage 5: Customer. The very best stage in the lead management lifecycle – customers are leads that have fully converted to making a sale.
You may also encounter other types of leads along the way. Evangelists are leads that act as informal brand ambassadors. These are the leads who frequently refer new business to you without any prompting. They can often bring in leads that you may not otherwise have been able to target. Other stages include the wildcard stage, which could account for anything from very close opportunities that did not convert, renewed leads and even hugely successful leads.
Lead Management 101: Lead Nurturing
A massive part of lead management is lead nurturing. This term aptly suggests that leads need to be carefully won rather than seized. The lead lifecycle helps to nurture leads effectively, ensuring that you are targeting the right leads at the right stage. Each stage requires a different strategy. Trying to use a catch all approach for every stage will often end up in lost leads.
Pardot has a great infographic that illustrates the lead nurturing process. Best practices for nurturing leads carefully and effectively include the following:
- Lead Definition. Be sure that you understand your leads and the stage they are in, so that you know exactly what content and offers will entice, what channels they use to communicate, where they are found online and what traits they have that may show they are ready to move up the lead cycle. This will go a long way in helping you craft a lead generation strategy that is targeted to your leads.
- Targeted Content. According to Salesforce, companies that have a blog are 67% more likely to bring in leads compared to companies that do not have a blog. This means that content is essential to convert leads along their cycle. Content allows you to cement your reputation as an industry leader, provide your customers with useful information and even help you further understand what your customers want. Targeted blog posts and emails can work hand in hand with your social media strategy to boost brand awareness, reach expanded audiences and nurture leads.
- Nurture Journey. Leads should only be moved up when they are ready. Developing and fine-tuning a nurture journey is the best way to keep track of the process. It allows you to build relationships with potential leads and keep leads that are not as qualified on the backburner for future targeting. Despite the importance of this step, it’s often overlooked.
- Clean Data. It is absolutely imperative that data is accurate. Mistakes can be expensive and time-consuming. If you are not using clean data to nurture your leads, you also risk reduced conversion, failed leads and even a damaged reputation. When data is accurate however, you will have far more chance of succeeding in your lead management campaign.
- Marketing Automation. Automated lead nurturing is the simplest, most efficient way to grow your leads. Marketing automation helps you target your leads at the right stage of their cycle, which in turn allows you to make smarter decisions that genuinely add value.
Ready to take your lead management efforts to the next level? Grapevine Interactive offers all the tools you need for fully effective, simplified marketing automation. Contact us today to learn more about automating your lead management process for optimal growth.