In an era when “demand generation” and “content marketing” are virtually synonymous, most B2B sales leads are the result of a prospect downloading or requesting content. However, whereas promoting marketing assets like white papers, ebooks, analyst reports, and the like is an effective way to feed the sales funnel, the fact is that only a small percentage of “white paper leads” will either convert to sales-ready prospects in the short term, or even result in sales engagement.
Most B2B marketers take for granted that content marketing will, by default, generate a wide spectrum of leads – some of them qualified, perhaps, but most just conducting informal research (the proverbial “tire kickers”). That latter group becomes fodder for ongoing nurturing, in the hope that further education and brand awareness will ultimately result in conversion to qualified leads.
There is a better way.
The best opportunity for converting raw inquiries to sales-ready status is at the very top of the funnel, immediately upon the prospect expressing interest. This is the point in the process – call it lead follow up – where a formal, systematic lead nurturing program can have the greatest impact on conversion rates. However, many marketing organizations yield control of that initial follow up process to inside sales, and only take up the nurturing process once raw inquiries are rejected or disqualified by that group, often because the inside sales reps are simply unable to reach the prospect by phone or email.
Here then is a simple, proven technique for increasing the rates at which:
1. inside sales reps make contact with, and engage with, new prospects; and, as a result,
2. raw inquiries convert to either MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) or better.
Fulfill marketing content via email. When a prospect completes a registration form, direct the prospect to a thank you page that 1) thanks the prospect for his/her interest, 2) lets him/her know that a link to the asset has been sent via email, and 3) presents additional offers or resources that he/she may find of interest. I discuss other compelling reasons to fulfill content via email in this earlier post.
In the fulfillment email, deliver the link as promised, and include the same, “secondary” offers that were featured on the thank you page. If possible, have the fulfillment email come directly (but automatically) from the assigned inside sales rep (BDR) and include that rep’s contact information with an invitation to call or email with any questions.
After 3 days, send one of two follow-up emails:
If the prospect has not yet clicked on the content link in the fulfillment email, send a gentle reminder (again, from the assigned BDR) about the asset he/she requested, with an invitation to call or email if he/she has questions or needs further information.
If the prospect HAS clicked on the link in the fulfillment email, and therefore has likely read the content on offer, send an email that thanks the prospect again for his/her interest, invites him/her to share the same content via social media, offers additional resources, and lastly, invites the prospect to contact the BDR for further information or to discuss their upcoming needs or plans for (insert relevant topic here).
Sending these two emails accomplishes two main goals:
1. It reminds the prospect that he/she downloaded the content in the first place, making him/her more likely to be receptive to actual, live communication from the BDR;
2. It provides multiple opportunities for the prospect to take further steps, of his/her own initiative, by accessing additional content or reaching out personally to his/her assigned BDR.
Either one of these will increase the rate at which BDRs ultimately engage with prospects, and as a result, the rate at which they convert raw inquiries into qualified leads.
You can take this technique one step further by automating the entire BDR follow-up process. I discuss that technique (and the results it generated for one client) here.