Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lead Generation Best Practices

I've spent a LOT of time this week discussing the mechanics and best-practices of lead generation and lead nurturing programs. Some great conversations with some very bright marketers got me thinking that it was time to highlight this topic in my direct marketing blog.

Take a look at this presentation from Marketing Sherpa, titled "B2B Marketing Fast Fixes: How to Generate and Nurture More Qualified Leads." The presentation provides ten excellent tips and best practices. I've highlighted a few here that I found especially helpful, but I urge you to take a look at the entire presentation, if you're involved with--or interested in--lead generation.

This tip blew me away: "Time Telemarketing Follow-up Calls Better." Essentially, the quicker you can follow-up a web-generated lead, the better. Marketing Sherpa presented results that showed that if a follow-up call is made within five minutes of your prospect completing your online form, you are 85% likely to actually connect with that prospect. Contrast this with what happens if you wait even 30 minutes to make that call. At 30 minutes, the likelihood of connecting with the prospect drops dramatically--to about 10%. Lesson learned: initiate a process where a follow-up call is initiated immediately after the person has registered on your site.

As a direct mail advocate, I was pleased to see this tip: "Add Postal Mail to the Lead Nurturing Process." It's easy to discount direct mail as a channel. Who wants to kill more trees? And let's face it, direct mail is costly, especially when compared to email. But, direct mail can be an effective channel. For example, you can get very creative with format. When done right, direct mail will not only get opened, but it will get noticed and make an impact.

Finally, this tip (a bonus tip, no less!) just makes good business sense: "Identify and Schmooze Evangelists." We all know how hard it is to gain a loyal customer. A loyal customer who not only stays with you, but one who shouts your praises is a rare and wonderful thing. I like the idea of taking the time to figure out which of your customers are evangelists and then treat them like royalty.

In addition to the above, Marketing Sherpa presents ideas about using blogs to generate leads, landing speaking gigs as a way to collect highest quality leads and more extremely useful information.

Good stuff!


Ted Grigg said...

Another outstanding post Suzanne.

I particularly appreciate your link to the pdf from The Marketing Sherpa. In fact, I intend to give one of my health care clients the link mentioning that I hope to help them create effective B-to-B lead generation strategies.

The comment about the power of direct mail as part of the mix certainly holds true in my testing. Nothing beats the skillful blend of traditional and online media to maximize your response and conversion rates.

The lead process shines when viewed as a relationship building process. Generating the lead represents the start, not the end game for building databases that yield the most profit.

Perry said...

I partly agree with the time telemarketing principle. After all, you can compare your leads to perishable goods. The longer they stay untouched or uneaten, the more they would go stale until they become useless. However, I believe that lead marketing, especially if it’s in relation to B2B marketing, should be more than that. You have to also practice proper lead distribution and know where to exactly assign a particular lead. You also need to sort them out, as not all leads are going to be a match to your business. In fact, if you haven’t really put enough focus on your marketing strategies, you can be getting a lot of duds than the most ideal ones.

Suzanne Obermire said...

Thank you, Ted. I completely agree with your thought about the initial inquiry (what most call a lead) being the start of the relationship. I believe in a systematic approach in developing and nurturing those inquiries/leads.

Along those same lines, Perry, you make an excellent point about understanding the best action to take with each and every lead. A strategic approach,one that maximizes the potential of each and every lead, to lead nurturing is key.

terrie said...

Good Stuff, really good. Just one thing that I think people assume because it's such a popular thing to say. "We're killing trees!" We are NOT killing trees. My father is in the timber business and sells to paper mills. You must cut the old trees so that the new trees can get sun and grow - otherwise the new trees wouldn't grow. We're harming the eco-system when we don't manage timber properly (which is part of the problem with wild-fires but I'll spare you on that one). Responsible timber management means that you thin the forest so that new growth can occur. And, most trees re-seed so you don't have to "plant a tree".

I'm convinced that the timber industry simply has no influence in Washington or more people would be educated about this.

Suzanne Obermire said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective on timber management. Good food for thought.

I firmly believe that another way that postal direct marketers can be more conscious of the environment is by being sure that they're highly targeting their list and then sending the piece only to clean, deliverable addresses.

Darin said...

Thank you for posting the results of the contact time survey. That has proved to be the most powerful bit of information on web leads. We have audited many company's response times and it is sad to see how almost all companies are falling short on contacting their web leads quickly. Oddly enough, our response audits show the bigger companies, even though they may have more resources, scored worse than the smaller companies.

Joao said...

Great post for more information on contact time and the differences it makes, check out the MIT study at Lead

Damian Lee said...

The post "Lead Generation Best Practices" is very informative... Thanks for sharing...
Ads And Leads

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The marketing sherpa pdf is a great find.