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Posts Tagged ‘lead management’

A little of the right content goes a long way toward converting a new customer — especially as you get near the bottom of the sales funnel.

I was reminded of this truism recently while researching contractors to perform tree work around my home. A few too many years of growth, nature’s whim and weather wear-and-tear had left my wife and I with a handful of trees in need of either removal or grooming.

The city where I live publishes a list of licensed tree contractors. Plus, I consulted a few neighbors for referrals. Based on preliminary research, I called three contractors.

At this point I’m deep in the funnel. My trees need work. I’ve gone to the trouble of contacting a service provider and asking for an estimate. I’ve spent 30 minutes or more touring the yard, talking through the needs of each tree, asking when the work can be done.

Yet in each case, I was struck by how casual, to the point of lackadaisical, these service providers were about the project scoping and estimating process.

  • No. 1 arrived on a motorcycle, a quote sheet folded in his pocket. I loaned him a pen and a clipboard with which to jot down the work scope and estimate.
  • No. 2 scrawled his estimate across a price sheet, neglecting to use any of the preprinted lines and boxes for labelling the trees to be worked on or entering rate amounts.
  • No. 3 offered me a brochure, which seemed like progress. Then he proceeded to scribble his scope and estimate in the brochure’s narrow margins.

Missing in Action: Bottom of the Sales Funnel Content

I was willing to overlook a few rough edges. After all, these guys are hustling to do estimates in the evenings after long days working hard on current projects. We’re standing out in a breezy back yard, not sitting comfortably across a desk in an air-conditioned office. Theirs is a blue-collar business built more on technical know-how and physical capability than formalities.

But where the sales process truly fell apart, in each case, was when I requested what seemed to me was the barest minimum of content. Content that would give me confidence in them and their ability to perform the work. Content that would help me differentiate one from the other.

  • Their contractor license number
  • Proof of insurance
  • Names and contact information for 2 or 3 customers they’d worked for in the past

Mind you, I wasn’t expecting to get this info on the spot, in a die-cut folder overflowing with four-color sell sheets and glowing testimonials. I was willing to receive it as a follow-up via phone or e-mail. None of the contractors has a website, so directing me online was not an option. Still, if they’d had a typewritten sheet of paper back in the truck (or the motorcycle saddle bags), that would have been fine.

Each contractor made a point of saying he’d been in business locally for decades. But you’d have sworn I was asking for content no prospect had requested before. 

No. 1, the motorcyclist, said he’d follow up with the info but never did. A few unanswered calls leaves me wondering if he is currently licensed and insured. Though I was most impressed with his tree-side manner, he won’t be getting the business.

No. 2 hasn’t responded, but I’m still following up because at least his wife returned my call while he was away on vacation. No. 3 hasn’t called or e-mailed since. Meanwhile, his tri-fold brochure, while speaking to his longevity in business, lacks the information (and assurance) that I’m seeking.

Suffice to say, if any of these three businesses had provided me with the content I wanted, when I was seeking it, they would have had me as a customer. Makes you wonder how many more years they’ll go in business without putting together a simple content asset that will answer the questions I asked, and thus position them for greater success at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Is Your Content Ready to Convert?

Granted, these are local contractors, not mid-size or large corporations. No doubt your company’s resources and commitment to deliver bottom of the sales funnel content about your brand, products, services and people is far advanced from these small — micro, really — businesses.

Or is it?

  • Does the standard brochure and presentation you’ve been relying on for years answer the questions today’s prospective customers are asking as they’re about to make a purchasing decision?
  • When was the last time you systematically surveyed your sales force to learn what might help them close more deals as prospects get down to the wire, ready to decide among vendors and price quotes?
  • Better yet, when was the last time you interviewed customers and prospective customers, to better understand their decision-making concerns and criteria, and then crafted deep-funnel content to address those questions? 

We marketers spend lots of time, energy and resources trying to get more opportunities into the top of our funnels.

Which makes you wonder if we’re focusing enough on the other end, close to the funnel’s bottom.

Where a little of the right content can go a long, long way.
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This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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It might be the most challenging communication to craft — and the most important — in any lead management program:

The email you deliver immediately after, or soon after, someone has accepted one of your advanced content assets (e.g., participated in a webinar, downloaded a podcast or an e-book, etc.).

It’s a moment of truth. Will this next communication invite them further into engagement with your brand, push them away, or leave them feeling and acting neutral, but open to further nurturing communications?

A Lead Management Email Fail

An experience I had last week serves as a perfect example of how NOT to craft that follow-up email.

The e-book I’d downloaded seemed relevant and promising enough: New research commissioned by a technology company (let’s call them WhizBang Communications) on best practices in mobile marketing. Then came the email:

Subject: Thank you for your interest in WhizBang Communications!

Having been focused on the content of the e-book itself, not the name of the firm which produced it, I didn’t immediately recognize the company name. Normally that would cause my spam antennae to vibrate and I’d simply delete the email without opening it. But for some reason, in a moment of weakness, I clicked to open.  

First paragraph: Thank you for your interest in WhizBang Communications! With over 400 clients spanning verticals including retail, grocery, CPG, financial services, healthcare, telecom, and utilities, WhizBang’s multi-channel communications platform delivers integrated…

“Stop. Hold it right there,” I said to myself. “Now I know who WhizBang Communications is. You’re the company which produced that e-book I downloaded just a few minutes ago.”

Sure enough, I went back to my desktop to check the e-book. It was, indeed, from WhizBang. But you wouldn’t have known it from the email. And therein lay the problem: I’d downloaded the e-book because of my interest in getting smarter about mobile marketing — not because I was interested in WhizBang.

Right there, in a split second, momentum stopped. Any sense of dialogue, stopped. Trust, barely beginning to sprout, stopped. Because WhizBang’s follow-up communication violated the first rule of of lead generation:

When I’m at the top of the funnel
and I accept your content,
my interest is in my need, and your content,
not your company or its products.

Continue the Conversation 

You can bet I won’t be calling or replying to the person who’s name is at the bottom of WhizBang’s email. And, in fact, I haven’t even read the e-book. I’m now officially turned off. As a lead, you can officially score me “cold.” And it didn’t have to go this way.

Here are at least four things WhizBang could have done with this all-important communication to keep the potential for further engagement alive. To keep what could have been a conversation, going. See if they make sense for your lead management program.

  1. Entice me to consume the content I’ve already accepted. Interestingly, the follow-up email didn’t mention the e-book at all. Plus, it arrived so soon, there was a good chance I’d yet to even read the e-book. What WhizBang’s marketing team could have done is highlighted some of the most intriguing research findings contained in the e-book, giving me greater incentive to consume, maybe even share, that initial piece of content.
  2. Offer me more content. Instead of hitting me with gobbledygook about WhizBang, the follow-up communication could have invited me to a webinar, or to download case studies about businesses similar to mine that are having success with mobile marketing. I’d probably have accepted that next content call to action, and by doing so moved one step further into the funnel.
  3. Speak to me about my issue. Rather than thank me for my interest in WhizBang (of which I had none), the email could have commiserated with me about the challenges faced by marketers when it comes to mobile marketing. Maybe it could have quoted from the research, letting me know I’m not alone in facing these challenges. And then it could have invited me to call or email if I had questions after reading the e-book and digesting the research.
  4. Don’t send the email. WhizBang could even have elected to not send the email, which is sometimes the best follow-up communication of all. After all, I’m not even remotely a warm lead for them at this point. This is the first time I’ve downloaded a piece of their content. We’re not even on a first-name basis, at least in my mind, and yet their email feels as though they are asking me out on a date.

Lead Management Rule No. 1? Take extreme care with that follow-up email after someone first accepts your content. Assume they’re interested in their issue, and your content, but not your company. And craft your communication accordingly.
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This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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