Email Tracking: The Complete Guide for B2B Sales Teams

Email Tracking: The Complete Guide for B2B Sales Teams

Have leads and customers opened your email? If so, when, and what links they click? This is valuable information for Sales teams. With this information, you can find out if your emails are actually being read, and pinpoint the optimal for a follow-up.

Tracking emails is nothing new. Popular email marketing platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact have been providing statistics on open and click rates for years. What these platforms lack however, is the crucial ability to track a lead’s email interaction history over the entire course of their customer journey.

This is where email tracking software can provide Sales teams a much-needed edge in closing deals. With the right email tracking software, you’ll be able to identify when, exactly, a lead has opened your email, who opened it, and what pages they viewed since opening that email.

To help introduce you to email tracking software, we’ve put together this in-depth guide to cover what information you can learn from email tracking, how you can use that information, email tracking software options, how to setup email tracking, and a few tips for success.

Use the links below to navigate to each section:

What Can You Find Out Using Email Tracking & How You Can Use This Information?

With email tracking, you can find out the following information:

 

If Someone Has Opened Your Email

The first thing you can learn is if someone has opened your email.

This tells you if you’re sending to the correct email address and if the email subject your using is capturing the recipient’s attention. If they don’t open your email, try to follow up and/or use a different subject line in the future.

You can also identify how many times a person has opened an email and which people have opened the most emails. This allows you to identify the warmest leads and pinpoint which people you should follow up with first/spend the most time contacting or calling. Best kept secret: do not waste time on people who aren’t interested.

 

Who Opened Your Email

As a salesperson, you often have to navigate through a few different positions at a company before finding the person who can actually make a purchasing decision (DMU or decision-making-unit). With email tracking, you can identify other people that may be opening the email and reach out to them directly.

 

What Time They Opened Your Email

If you find that a specific person opens your email in the morning, sending to them again at that time will increase your chance of capturing their attention.

If you find most of your list opens your emails at a specific time, send future emails at the time to increase engagement.

Additionally, you can pinpoint exactly when your emails are being opened and decide if now is the right time to follow up. In many cases, it’s best to reach out right away when the person is already thinking about you versus interrupting them when they’re focused on something else. Extensive statistics tell us that “pizza is best eaten hot”. In other words, people at work are making decisions, and their interest is the most valuable during that decision-making process.

 

Where They Opened Your Email

If someone opens your email in say Hawaii or some other tropical resort, you can probably guarantee they’re on vacation. It might be best to follow up a week or two in advance when they return from vacation and will have the time to respond to your email.

Additionally, some email tracking platforms will track the following:

 

What Pages the Person Has Visited on Your Website After Clicking via Your Email

Software such as LeadBoxer and SharpSpring (which we’ll discuss in further detail below) take tracking a step further and identify which pages the person visits after clicking a link in your email.

For example, in the email, the person may click on any link to your latest blog post. But from there, they then navigate to your features page and pricing page. This is all tracked and it can allow you to identify when to follow up, and on what subject.

 

Email Tracking Software Options

Now, let’s cover a few email tracking platforms that will enable you to track emails at a deeper level than most email marketing services.

This article doesn’t cover every single option out there. But, it does list some of the major players and a few different options based on how in-depth you’d like to go with your tracking.

A few of these options will integrate with Gmail or Outlook only, while a few others can be used with any email client or service you are using.

 

LeadBoxer

We’ll start this list of software with an introduction to ourselves and our email tracking tool so you know who we are and what LeadBoxer does. LeadBoxer is a lead analytics platform that allows you to see who visits your website, what company they work for, lists that person’s contact information and more.

All of this information is then organized into your “LeadBoard” and each of your different leads are given a score to gauge how engaged they are with your company:

Additionally, email opens and click-throughs can also be tracked. From there, any visits to other pages on your website can be tracked and each action is shown in the history for that lead:

This allows you to see every action that the person has taken since first opening your email. You can use this information to identify when will be the best time to follow up (for example, if that person has visited your pricing page).

You can also identify what emails work, which ones don’t, and where your visitors tend to go after clicking through via your email.

LeadBoxer tracks all of this activity via a tracking pixel (which we’ll discuss how to implement further below). Therefore, LeadBoxer can be used with any email client or email marketing platform you are using. All you have to is add the tracking pixel link to any links inside your email that you like to track.

This allows you to track activity and identify leads at scale. Pricing starts at $250/month for SMEs. Custom packages are available for larger organizations.

Note: LeadBoxer can be demoed as free-trial for 14 days with full-access to all of its paid features. Start your free-trial here.

 

SharpSpring

SharpSpring is a full CRM and email marketing platform. With the tool, you can manage contacts, customer relationships, create a content calendar, and send out emails all from the same tool.

In addition to tracking email opens and link clicks, SharpSpring will also track website activity. Therefore, you can see which leads have opened your email and which pages they may have visited directly after viewing your email (or at a later time).

This is all organized into what’s called the “Life of the Lead”. This page shows the entire history of the lead’s interaction with your company. It lists what emails the person has opened, what pages they’ve visited, and so on.

All of this information is then used to create a Lead Score that can be used to identify how engaged that person is and whether or not you should reach out to them.

SharpSpring will be great for teams that want to scale their sales follow up efforts and would like a tool that combines CRM and email automation. However, that amount of power won’t come cheap.

SharpSpring’s plans start at $450/month (for up to 1,500 contacts). Pricing goes up from there based on the number of contacts you have.

 

Hubspot Sales

Hubspot Sales’ email tracking allows you to track email opens straight from your Gmail or Outlook account. Setup with Gmail will require you to allow Hubspot to integrate with your inbox. This is done by installing an extension to Google Chrome.

This extension can be clicked to see who has opened your emails and who hasn’t. A notification will also popup when the recipient has opened the email:

You can also check the history of a lead in the Hubspot dashboard:

Hubspot’s email tracking feature is free to use to track up to 200 email opens. From there, paid plans for Hubspot Sales start at $50/month.

Hubspot is great for sales people who need a simple approach and want to track opens in Gmail or Outlook. However, it lacks the in-depth details of a platform such as LeadBoxer or SharpSpring.

Additionally, it can only be used with Gmail or Outlook. It can not be used with an email service such as MailChimp.

 

Yet Another Mail Merge

If you send a lot of emails from Gmail and want to track opens, Yet Another Mail Merge can help speed up your process.

Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM for short) integrates with Google Sheets. To use the add-on, you would create a Google Sheet with information for each person you want to reach out to (separated by row). You would include their email, but you can also include any custom information (such as their name, company, role, etc.).

Then, you can send out an email and use YAMM’s tags to insert that information. For example, you might say “Hey <>” in your email. YAMM will insert the name that you set for that email. This works similar to MailChimp’s “Merge Tags”.

Additionally, the tool will track who has opened your email, who hasn’t, and who has responded. This is all documented right in the Google Sheet you’re working in. You can then create a follow up directly in that Google Sheet and send from a template you create in Gmail.

The tool is great for speeding up your process if you currently use Gmail to reach out to leads. However, it will only work with Gmail and it won’t track information on the life of the lead. Thus, it will be difficult for teams to use to scale.

 

Yesware

Yesware is a tool that will work with Gmail and Outlook only. It is a paid application that starts at $12/month and is installed via a Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox extension.

The tool is similar to Hubspot’s email tracker. Email tracking can be turned on for a specific email by checking the Track box when using the email composer. However, Yesware does take over your inbox and change the look and layout:

From your email inbox, you can check tracking, templates, and create follow up drip campaigns. Additionally, you can also set reminders for email (much like the way Boomerang works).

The tool is powerful but is a bit intrusive. Some people may not like the fact that it will change their inbox interface. Additionally, the tool can’t be used with email marketing platforms such as MailChimp to track emails at scale.

 

Mixmax

Mixmax is another email tracker that installs via a Chrome Extension. It is not available via Mozilla Firefox or Safari, however.

One of the unique features of Mixmax is the “Enhance” feature inside the email composer of Gmail. Clicking this button will bring up a list of options that will allow you to share calendar availability, create a calendar invite, add a poll, add a custom CTA button, and more directly from the email composer.

Again, just like Hubspot and Yesware, email tracking can be enabled on a per-email basis. With Mixmax, you can do this by clicking the “Track” icon when composing an email. By default, this will stay enabled until you disable it for a particular email.

Mixmax can be used for free. However, a link will be placed at the end of each email that says “Sent by Mixmax”:

You can remove this link, but you will have to do so everytime you create a new email. Paid plans start at $12/month.

Mixmax will be good for anyone that uses Gmail and likes the features of a tool like Yesware but doesn’t want the intrusive interface that Yesware adds to Gmail. Again, Mixmax will only work with Gmail and can’t be used with email marketing platforms such as MailChimp to track leads at scale.

 

How to Setup Email Tracking (with an Email Tracking Pixel)

Setting up email tracking is different with each email tracking software. Some companies, such as Hubspot, have a Chrome Extension that will set this up for you if you track emails via Gmail. But as we mentioned above, tools like Hubspot can be a bit limited.

So we want to briefly cover how to setup email tracking with LeadBoxer so that you can track leads over the course of a person’s entire customer journey.

In order to track email opens, LeadBoxer uses a tracking pixel.

This tracking pixel is a transparent image with the size of 1x1 pixels that can be embedded in an email. Then, once someone opens that email, the image is downloaded. This is how email tracking can identify when an email has been opened.

From this download, it’s also possible to tell the time and date the email was opened, how many times the email has been opened, and from what type of device the email was opened on.

From with LeadBoxer, this pixel can be generated and needs to be added to the source code of your emails (example below):

There are 3 parameters within this snippet of code that can to be set: the dataset ID, Campaign Name, and the email of the recipient. The recipient’s email can be added using a Merge tag. This tag will dynamically add a person’s email from your list to this link so that their activity can be tracked. Our generator can be used to easily create your tracking pixel.

For more information on these parameters, Merge tags and using the generator, please visit this article.

 

Tracking email clicks

The tracking pixel will take care of tracking email opens and reads. From there, to track link clicks and identify customers with it, parameters with merge needs to be added to any link in your email that you’d like to track.

Here’s how the URL will look once the code has been added and a person clicks on that link:

Once the code is added, LeadBoxer will be able to begin collecting data. For example, when a person opens that specific email, this action will be added to the person’s existing customer journey.

This way, you will know exactly when a person has clicked your email and you’ll be able to see their entire history. Also, once this person clicks through via email, they are then identified for all past, present, and future behavior.

 

Email Tracking Limitations

Of course, there are limitations when it comes to email tracking. The main ones include:

 

Images Need to be Enabled

With any email tracking software that relies on a tracking pixel to identify opens, in order for email tracking to work, image loading must be enabled by the person’s email client.

Some email clients block external images by default or can be set by the user to not load when opening an email. If this is the case, the pixel will not be loaded and there will be no way to identify whether or not that email was opened (or any other information that can be gather using email tracking).

 

Your Pixel Could Be Blocked

Just as there is email tracking software, there is also software to prevent email tracking. Pixel Block and Ugly Email will both prevent the email tracking pixel from being loaded. Ugly Email will also let the recipient know if you are using email tracking software and can even identify which software the sender is using.

While it may be rare that your recipients will use an application like this, it’s something to be aware of.

 

Email Tracking Tips & Best Practices

Lastly, we want to cover a few tips to make email tracking easier for you and hopefully, more successful:

 

Use Email Templates

Using email templates can help save time when adding tracking links to your email and help you follow up to leads quicker.

For one, having a few email templates that you can edit will save you time having to insert the tracking pixel code to links within the email that never change (for example, a CTA at the bottom of your email).

Additionally, having a few emails ready to go when you need to follow up with a lead will allow you to touch base quicker versus having to waste time trying to think of what to say.

 

Test Thoroughly

Before sending any tracked emails, make sure to test that everything is working correctly. First, send a tracked email to yourself or other members on your team to ensure that email opens and other track information is being identified.

 

Encourage Recipient’s to Whitelist Your Email

Whitelisting is an action that can be completed in a person’s inbox to ensure that emails from a specific email address are received and that images are downloaded.

By encouraging your recipient’s to whitelist your email address, you can ensure your emails are being delivered and that images are being download. Therefore, the tracking pixel will also be download, allowing you to track the recipient’s email and web activity.

 

Develop a Follow Up Strategy

Decide on a follow up strategy before you even send an email to any of your “hot” leads. That way, when someone opens your email or completes another specific action, you’ll already know what to do next.

Decide when will be the best time to follow up. For example, how many times do you want the recipient to open the email before following up? Or, how much time do you want to wait after they’ve opened the email?

Additionally, have some follow up emails already created and ready to go. This will help to save time and allow you to follow up quickly.

GDPR Compliant Lead Generation

GDPR Compliant Lead Generation

GDPR compliant lead generation means collecting, processing, and storing leads according to the GDPR. This means putting lead qualification materials in place. These materials, consist of relevant content, and touch-points. Touch-points range from downloads, trial sign-ups, contact forms and logins through newsletters, emails, and social media. A third element is data-processing, which consists of CRM (customer relation management) software and audience segmentation, which allows you to monitor sales cycles, and identify upsell opportunities. Click here to read an in-depth treatment of touchpoints for sales and marketing purposes.

GDPR Compliance

In May 2018 GDRP compliance arrives. What this essentially means is

1. you need to have your data secured properly and
2. the (general) Privacy disclaimers most websites currently use will no longer be sufficient.

What do I actually need to do?

1. Perform a serious audit on how your data is stored/ secured/ encrypted, and improve where necessary
2. Customize your Privacy statement – which should not be generic boilerplate, but needs to be tailor-made for your business.
3. Assign a person responsible for communications

 

What is the GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation

In this article we try to explain and what it is, and how to comply.

If you use LeadBoxer, click here for a GDPR compliant-Privacy statement, which includes a specification of the data we collect.

The GDPR regulation was adopted in April 2016, and takes effect in May 2018. It replaces the previous Directive, covers all EU member-countries, and does not require individual countries to implement, interpret, etc.

The GDPR applies to the collection and storage of data regarding people residing in the EU, even if your organisation is outside of the EU

Definitions / roles

Any tool or service that collects and stores data from your online customers, leads, prospects, visitors, etc (on your behalf) is called the data processor, and your organisation is defined as the data controller.

 

What does it all come down to?

In terms of communication with people in your database, two things:

As a company that collects data from your online users, you are the Data Controller. As such you have the following main responsibilities;

  1. Make it clear what you are collecting and why.
    According to the European Commission “personal data is any information that can be used to identify an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a home address, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information”, or even a computer’s IP address, if it can be used to identify an individual.
  2. Grant the person rights to control their personal data
    Give people the opportunity to file a complaint, have their data removed (deleted), stop tracking this person and provide a point of contact to a real person who can be contacted through your company website.In other words: the public now has the right to ask you – what information do you have about me?, and to request that you delete the information. Therefore, you need to appoint people to communicate with the public (within 72 hours) and process “right to forget” requests. The public may ask or communicate things such as  –

    • what information do you have about me?
    • i want you to delete me from your system(s)
    • i don’t want you to store my data – going forward
  3. Secure your data
    Additional (important) aspects: encrypt personal data, and have data in a format that can be exported. Put consent documentation in place, and ensure that you are able to quickly announce breaches.

 

GDPR in depth

The General Data Protection Regulation is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. Click here to read about GDRP in wikipedia.

Informing the public what data is collected.

Article 13 of the GDPR specifies what information must be provided to the public when their personal data is collected. Similarly, Article 12 states that you need to provide:

an “easily visible, intelligible and clearly legible….and meaningful overview of the intended processing”.  In other words, as we mentioned above, no blanket Privacy principles. Everybody has to be able to read and understand your Privacy statement.

In short, The GDPR increases the scope of information required in your Privacy notice while demanding that the notice be “concise” (detailed).

Telling the public how & why the data is collected and processed

The question you are expected to answer on your website is: what are the purposes and legal basis for the processing data (for example, for purposes of lead generation). You (also) need to explain why the data is processed. For example, the purpose is to improve communication with customers. There needs to be some legal basis meaning, for example, that the processing is based on legitimate interests, details of which should be explained.

To repeat; this needs to be present in you publicly visible privacy statement

See our GDPR compliant Privacy Policy paragraph for LeadBoxer Customers

Meet your new Data Protection Officer (DPO)

You will need to appoint (identify) a person in your organization who can be contacted directly by a member of the public, and who can provide and delete personal data upon request. This is called ‘right to forget’ – it is the right for consumers to have their data erased.

  1. you need to provide the identity and the contact details of the controller (your company) and
  2. the (contact) details of the data processor – being LeadBoxer if you are a client of ours

The point is you need to provide details of persons whom the public can contact

Data protection

A key element in being GDPR compliant, is making sure your data is protected properly. This includes but is not limited to:

  • The storage of your customer data
  • The transfer of this data between servers, computers, browsers, etc.
  • The encryption of this data
  • How long will the data be stored for
  • Where is the data stored (geograpically)
  • How customers can obtain the data.
  • etc.

You don’t have to publish these in the policy, but make sure they are being taken care of.

 

Conclusion – Plan well and Avoid Stiff Fines

As a company specialized in B2B lead qualification for Sales and Marketing, we take the GDRP very seriously.
We recommend that you plan well do not underestimate the amount of time / resources needed to properly assess and implement your responsibilities. In terms of time – you will probably need 40 hours to completely research and document your tasks and requirements. Do not wait – begin planning as soon as possible.

Fines for GDRP non-compliancy are serious, from  a lower level of €10 million and 2% of last year’s annual revenue, to an upper limit of €20 and 4% of last year’s annual revenue.

 

Data-driven Lead Qualification

Why LeadBoxer Is The Best Choice For Automating Lead Generation

 

happy sales team

 

Q: As briefly as possible, what has LeadBoxer done that is so valuable for business websites?
A: Developed a way of applying Search Engine technology to qualify leads.

We started with visitor website tracking a number of years ago, and have evolved into a system which uses big data technology to identify interesting leads. Currently we’re working towards full automation of the process of lead identification.

Calling it AI or artificial intelligence would be wishful thinking, but we’ve definitely made enormous strides in the process of automating lead qualification and audience segmentation.

How have we done this? Basically, moving on from MYSQL to NOSQL using Elastic and Cassandra, we’ve built a system that can filter, in real-time, through website traffic, and create notifications based on a lead score. Click here to read how (technically) LeadBoxer’s lead score formula converts clicks into prospects via an algorithm.

What does this actually mean?
It means that now, as of December 2017, we provide the framework to organize Marketing and Sales data on the following traffic values:

  • FILTERS:
  • Company
  • Country / Region
  • State / Province
  • City
  • Industry
  • Company Size
  • Utm Tags (PPC-traffic, Adwords, LinkedIn, Facebook campaigns)
  • URL
  • Exit Link
  • Referrer
  • Lead Tags (competitor, customer, partner, prospect)
  • Identity Fields (Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name)
  • Visits
  • Page Views

 

Letting smart algorithms do the heavy lifting

In conclusion, in order to succeed, a software product needs to add value. The value we are adding is machine learning. You tell our machine what a valuable lead looks like, and we use algorithms to find these leads for you. Our goal is to automate the process, so that letting LeadBoxer loose on a website will provide a list of all activity, prioritized by lead score. To increase the efficiency of the system, and reduce the burden of logging in to (another) software product, we push email Notifications to your team’s mailboxes.

 

List of Filter Notifications in LeadBoxer

How to turn your (new) website into a lead generation machine

How to turn your (new) website into a lead generation machine

Our Hypothesis – get smart – get started

In our opinion, it makes sense to put a lead pixel in a (new) website as soon as possible, as opposed to waiting “until everything is in place”. Any web designer / developer or agency should be able to put the pixel in your site within an hour or less, and once the pixel is in place we will measure all activity on your site, and this will build up the history and touchpoints needed in order to to start qualifying your leads and turning your website in a lead generation machine.

From the moment you start measuring, we will show you the businesses visiting your site in real-time, providing you with qualified leads and sales intel on a daily basis. And why is this important? Current thinking as demonstrated by Lean Methodology techniques which tell us that constant iteration (change & improvement) is a key to success.

A definition of Lean: being a customer-centric method which seeks to continuously improve based on feedback mechanisms. In this case, the feedback mechanism is: which companies are visiting your site, and are they finding what they need?

Succeed with a plan

It happens on a regular basis that companies get in touch with us to talk about lead generation and then tell us that they’ll (re)-prioritise lead generation once their website is up and running. Our advice is to put the horse in front of the cart. Your website is, in fact, a lead generation tool. Therefore, you should plan to keep the (potential) pain of trying to generate new business front and center.

Getting a new business  website up and running is a labor of love, among other things. Another important ingredient is ‘smart working’.
Many people place lead generation as a second or third priority. In this article, we argue that Lead Generation should be an initial priority. Measure what’s happening, even if you’re not seeing good news – this should be your warning system that things need to change.

When you first put up a new site – this is the time to closely monitor who is coming, and who is not coming, paying particular attention to which Companies are taking a look (firmographic information).

Use smart technology to identify leads

How does LeadBoxer help you identify relevant lead activity? We have a Filter (email notifications) for example, which segments traffic based on Industry category (automotive, tech, health, etc) and can include Employee Size, 1000+ employees, among a long list.

Why should you be concerned about this? Because you are probably trying to sell something – and you need to pay attention not only to who is looking at your site, but how long they look, if they come back, and especially interesting if your site is not sticky (interesting) enough. Now that ‘search terms’ have all but disappeared – you need to pay extra attention to which of your pages attract people. At this point, conversion becomes interesting – which pages and traffic sources deliver conversion.

Improving a website

Launching a new website business is a multiple-step process. There is complexity involved.

In our experience, launching a new site can be an exciting project, often involving multiple people or teams, putting together the best of their expertise to include strategy, design, copywriting, technology, SEO, etc. It involves significant communication, planning, coordination, teamwork, etc.

Unfortunately, for these exact reasons, the process of launching a new site almost always takes longer than expected. And even if you launch your new site on schedule, it is not going to magically bring a surge in organic traffic or leads.

It takes time before the search engines pick up the new site and index all the content and start listing your pages. Most likely you will need some additional rounds of SEO and content marketing before the desired persona’s are able to find you.

Of course, you can work around this with search engine marketing (SEM) and purchase traffic by advertising on Google/Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

This is a good approach; almost all successful organisations have a healthy mix of organic and paid traffic. However, a quality Ad campaign usually works with dedicated landing pages to optimise the conversion of these paid visitors. So you will need to ask your team to iterate these pages once an analysis has been made and even more time will pass.

Plan ahead – how will you reverse engineer leads

Last but not least – do not wait until your website is online to consider your lead generation strategy.

Another aspect to keep in mind is forward planning – in other words – we get requests on a regular basis to incorporate lead capture into an existing site. Planning is the better option – plan (reverse engineer) how you want to capture leads- what types of leads you want, what you want to know about them (literally) and how you want to manage this information. These decisions should accompany the design + build process of your site.

What does this actually mean?
Well, for example, there are about 20 tried & true touchpoints, meaning different ways of getting information from your leads. We use the Free Trial method, because we are a SaaS Software-as-a-Service company. So we use a sign-up form. We also use a Demo Please – Contact Form. Here is a list of potential touch-points.

Conclusion and take-homes

  1. Your first site should go through several iterations as your value proposition pivots and you fine tune your message.
  2. The main function of your digital assets (website, app) should be to generate leads (clients, users, trials).
  3. Old adage: fail to plan – plan to fail. This is relatively easy to avoid – by asking the right questions early on.
Understanding “Warm Leads”

Understanding “Warm Leads”

Freelance Writer Alex Levitov

In one of our previous articles we discussed why warm leads are better for your business but we realised we got ahead of ourselves. So, we decided to double back and try to understand what are warm leads.

Every company needs to follow up and nurture leads as part of its sales process. Warm leads are nothing more than individuals who have expressed an interest in your company in the past or people with whom you wish to establish a relationship. It could be something as simple as a person filling up an online form and asking for more information on a certain product, or making connections with the staff of a particular organisation. When these people get a visit or a call, it classifies as a warm lead. warm-leads-leadboxer

Whereas cold leads are taken by surprise and often turn negative, warm leads are formed out of a pre-existing relationship or expression of interest. This makes it a lot easier to approach a potential sale, and places warm leads on top of cold leads in the sales cycle. Warm leads result in more effective sales talk.

Why are They Beneficial?

Think of it this way: Would you like it if someone tried to sell you something within the first five minutes of knowing you? Of course not! The same applies to your customers as well. They hate it when your company tries to push a product/service on them, and are more likely to walk away. Even worse, they will probably remember your company in a negative light.

This is exactly why warm leads are preferred. Businesses, especially small ones, rely on warm leads to establish a certain level of trust with possible clients until they are ready to purchase from them. Establishing trust is an integral part of the sales process because the warmer the lead, the higher chance there is of converting it to a sale. Sizeable companies have systems in place for a formal sales process, and these involve introducing the brand to a potential customer, referred to as the lead.

The more the lead becomes exposed to the name and message of the brand, the more it begins to trust the brand over time. Warm leads are primed in such a way that closing sales becomes easy. In fact, companies boasting of solid, well-thought-out sales processes are adept at monitoring calls, messages, emails, and outreach so that each lead understands precisely where every person is in the process.

The Thing About ‘Warm Leads’

The term “warm leads” is quite flexible. For example, any prospect that has been referred to a business website also qualifies as a warm lead, even though the organisation did not contact that prospect directly. Just the fact that the referrer recommended that particular company to the prospect means that an indirect connection has formed between the company and the lead. It is not necessary that the prospect know the business; simply knowing the person who referred them to the company is enough. In this case, the referrer serves as a sort of middleman, which means that generating warm leads is not a linear process.

There is a flexibility associated with warm leads that is missing in others. This makes them all the more lucrative. When a prospect reaches out to the business looking for information, they usually try to find out the contact number or fill out a form on the website requesting a call back. Such prospects are intrigued to go through all the effort to reach out to the business by themselves, without knowing anything about the company. This shows just how easy it is to work with warm leads rather than cold leads.

Warm Leads Mean More Conversion Probability

Though there is still some amount of rapport building to be done on your part, warm leads are simpler to convert into sales than cold calls. The fact that the business had previously established a connection or contact with the prospect is indicative of the fact that they already had some amount of trust between them. This is the reason why the prospect will actually read or listen to whatever you have to say. They will be willing to invest time, and will not be as quick to walk away from the product or service as a result.

Warm leads are actually quite pleasant from the standpoint of the salesperson. They find it easier to distinguish between warm leads and cold leads and interact with the former; all it requires is a little bit of common sense and practice on their part. In the end, what matters the most is the way the prospect views the interaction, instead of how the business classifies it. While interacting with a warm lead, the company should always make it a point to introduce itself and then immediately raise the topic of their pre-existing association with the prospect. The way they respond should be an indication whether the sales team should pursue this lead for conversion or not. The moment you get some sort of acknowledgement about your connection with the prospect, you need to move forward with confidence.

A business is better of investing all their efforts on warm leads rather than cold leads due to the higher probability of conversion. You might have ten cold leads in hand, but compared to them one warm lead is always a better use of your time. Firstly, it is difficult to try and monitor tend cold leads. A person who is familiar with your name or the name of your company and has taken an interest in your services or products will be easier to pin down, rather than the phone numbers of people who have never even heard of you.

How to Generate More Warm Leads?

Some companies resort to paying for long list of email addresses, phone numbers, and data packs. But this cold approach is a hit-and-miss, and less effective than building and nurturing existing relationships with customers. Your time and money is better spent elsewhere, namely creating new relationships and links with interested parties. Such a process can be time-consuming, but the payoff is always greater. Cold calling isn’t something that their sales people enjoy, but they need to do it as part of their job. The trick is converting the cold leads into warm prospects, thereby increasing the chances of a successful sale by the sales team. Some of the most effective methods are given below.

Forming a Blog

If you have an expert sales team on your payroll, chances are you won’t have to work too hard to reach out to customers who know nothing about your business; instead the leads will come to you. It becomes possible through the creation of a website that also hosts a blog offering good content. This, in turn, forms a lead nurturing process that sets your company up with warm leads. All you need to do is research, create a blog with the help of one of platforms for business and share good content on your blog. The blog creates a platform to help attract prospects to your business. This not only improves the SEO but automatically alters the feel of the conversation. The tables are now turned in your direction, and prospects understand that you have valuable insight to provide them before they even engage you directly.

Using Lead Capture Techniques

Get your prospects to visit your website by setting up a well-aimed blog. However, you should make it a point to know who those site visitors are before they leave. Otherwise, it would all be in vain. Use lead capturing to get the details you require about your visitors. Lead capturing involves creating helpful content that solves the problems of your personas. You need to link your blog readers to a specific landing page that requests them to fill up a quick form. As soon as the form is submitted, allow them to access the content for free. Now it is up to the reader whether they share the content you sent with co-workers or friends. What matters is that you have managed to catch their interest and are on your way towards building a relationship.

Using a CRM System

It is best if your company uses CRM software. This ensures that none of the information you gleaned from your leads go to waste. You will find lots of different tools on the Internet that not only monitor who visited your website, but what they looked at, when they visited, and what offers they downloaded as well. The purpose of this data is to provide you with a clearer picture of your lead and initiate a conversation. Once you are able to determine what attracted the lead to your website in the first place, it’s easy to work out the issues they are trying to solve. Your sales team can help you with this.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media

It is important you know how to use social media for the benefit of your company. Simply opening accounts on social networking sites is not going to help; you must know how to get the most out of them. It helps if you begin by thinking long-term. You will be able to generate the initial interest via a clever post or a giveaway. New business is always appreciated, but you should also have a plan on how to plan on building on that foundation. Otherwise, you are going to lose any business as soon as you get it. Social media metrics are a great way to become familiar with your audience and their needs. However, you should first determine the market you wish to cater to. Also, it is important to link your company’s posts, tweets, and updates with the landing page. This will give visitors the chance to know your company even better.

Cross Promotions and Referrals

Warm leads aren’t always the tricky affair that people make them out to be. For instance, customer referrals are a great way to generate business-to-business leads. Customer referrals are built out of trust. Another great option is cross promotions with other businesses. This method provides a cost-effective, easy and quick way to reach new customers; customers who you otherwise would never have been able to gain access to. This is a highly exciting prospect. Planning cross promotions carefully is a great way to tap into an audience base that has high interest in your product.

Webinars and Face-to-Face

Despite the rise of social media techniques, the old-fashioned approach is long from dead. It works wonders, especially in the form of executive events and webinars, where it is possible to interact directly with the lead. Due to the overwhelming focus on technology in the current digital age, the old ways are easy to overlook. But, these methods were used for a very long time and with good reason – they were effective. So your company could try this out. Even telemarketing is capable of providing positive results if forearmed with the right sort of information.

Email

Generating a warm lead through email is possible if you email one of the higher-ups in the organisation and ask for a referral down to the correct individual, or email the decision maker directly. Irrespective of your approach, a lot rides on the subject line of your email. It needs to be interesting enough for the lead to actually read it and open the mail.

There is a particular way to develop effective cold email subject lines. Use the names of the leads in the subject line only if it makes sense. Keep the subject as specific as possible. Make the subject line as personal as you can so that it appeals to the lead, and turns it warm. Make sure that the email doesn’t sound too much like a marketing email. Try to keep it casual yet professional. You could try experimenting with a question format for the subject line of the email. Always make sure that you deliver what was promised in the subject line in the actual email.

Customers are no longer the same, and sales and marketing are trying to keep up. The rise of search engines and social media, businesses and individuals do not have to wait for sales people to approach them. They themselves can go looking for the things they want and choose whichever company offers the same. Sales and marketing work together to bring in warm leads. This helps create more business than cold leads ever could.

Stay Ahead of the Game: Effective Lead Generation Strategies in 2017

Stay Ahead of the Game: Effective Lead Generation Strategies in 2017

Contribution from freelance writer Jackie Wills

Lead generation, like almost everything in the business world, is a fluid and ever-changing paradigm.  Sticking doggedly to strategies that worked in 2015 may result in a business seeing a depressing decline in lead generation numbers in 2017.  Staying ahead of the game is crucial to quality lead generation in a competitive marketplace, and in order to do so, it stands to reason that a business should be constantly analysing the range of lead generation strategies that are available to them, in order to ascertain which are the most successful, and which will suit their business model most comfortably.

In order to analyse which lead generation strategies are going to be the most useful and profitable for a given business, it is necessary to break down which strategies tend to be the most successful.  There are numerous channels used by B2B marketers to generate leads, including online directories, re-targeted adverts, rented lists, live events and affiliate marketing, but there are four channels which stand out as being the most efficacious.  A number of different surveys have been undertaken, and top spot tends to differ based upon which institution organised the poll, but there are four channels which consistently register as the strongest: Email Marketing, Search Marketing, Social Marketing and Content Marketing.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing has been a mainstay of lead generation for two decades now, but the proliferation of email sign ups and heavy spamming means that there are diminishing returns for traditional email marketing techniques.  However, new advances in marketing automation mean that many businesses have had great success in using this refined version of an old technique.  Marketing automation software allows email marketing to be both automated and, crucially, targeted and personalised to each potential client, by using data from the business’s CRM and metadata from their website and landing page.  Instead of ‘spamming’ thousands of emails to every person who has ‘signed up’, i.e. entered their email address into your system, each person will receive a marketing email that seems to anticipate their needs.  A fine example of this is the case of Paper Style, a business that sells wedding cards and invitations.  They created a dual marketing sequence, split by whether the potential customer was buying for their own wedding, or for a friend’s. Each sequence had its own order, which was devised based on an analysis of their previous sales data.  Brides-to-be, for example, would require different products than Maids-of-Honour; the former purchasing wedding invitations, for example, and the latter bridal shower invitations.  The order in which they purchase products also tended to be sequential, with, for example, wedding invitations first and ‘Thank You’ cards last.  By devising these two parallel marketing sequences, every potential customer who had entered their details could be, by way of an initial email, sorted into the appropriate marketing sequence.  This then allowed the automated marketing system to send personalised marketing emails which seemed, to the customer, to anticipate their needs every step of the way.  The results for Paper Style spoke for themselves, with, among others, an impressive 330 % uptick in revenue-per-mail.

Search Marketing

Search marketing is a product of the paradigm shift in marketing and sales that has occurred over the last two decades due to the monolithic growth of the Internet, and in particular Google.  The fact of the matter is that, for many people, the first point of call when looking for a new service or product is a Google search.  This being the case, achieving and maintaining optimum organic SEO rankings on Google is one of the key channels for generating leads. The ever-evolving complexity of Google’s ranking algorithms means that it is a great deal more difficult to achieve high organic rankings than it was a decade ago, however, that can also be a plus point: it is much more difficult for businesses to ‘game’ the algorithms, which means that a well-conceived and executed SEO strategy can pay dividends. The reality of search marketing now is that it is inextricably linked with our next topic: content marketing.  The SEO strategies of a business need to be aligned with their content strategy, and achieving a symbiosis between the two is crucial to achieving the first-page ranking that is needed to deliver good quality business leads.

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is increasingly important in an age when people are used to being on the receiving end of a great deal of information.  Whether B2B or B2C, potential clients and customers expect it.  This presents its own problems, but also its own opportunities: with so much information and content out there, much of it becomes, at worst spam, and at best nothing more than background noise.  However, this creates a space for companies that can make their content stand out from the crowd, and deliver information that is both targeted and, most importantly, helpful to the prospective customer.  This dichotomy of problem-and-opportunity is a theme within Content Marketing, as the sheer range of possible content means that is possible to waste time and money on creating content that will have no demonstrable impact upon ROI rates, but likewise the opposite is true; a judicious choice and deployment of content can generate a huge amount of interest.  Content can also act as what is known as a ‘lead magnet’, in as much as they can offer an incentive for potential customers to provide their email address.  Many people are wary of doing so because of the proliferation of spam messages and mailing lists, and are much more inclined to enter a company’s email system if they ‘get’ something before they ‘give’.  Content can be deployed in such a way with superb results: offering a free E-book, or webinar, access to interviews or even a free trial are often very successful in generating leads, as well as beginning a process of engagement between the potential customer and the business.  Furthermore, content such as blogs can perform a dual function: working in tandem with Search Marketing strategies to improve Search Engine Optimisation, while also engaging the potential customer in a personal way, leaving them feeling like they have tangibly benefited from their experience.

Social Marketing

Social Marketing is a slightly different animal, in that it can be broadly seen as an off-shoot of both Search Marketing and Content Marketing.  Of course, there are leads to be generated by using a business networking site such as LinkedIn, particularly because, aside from networking, it can also provide a lot of data. EKA, a risk management software firm, used LinkedIn in this way – profiling network prospects, mining data to provide both market analysis and individual data profiles for companies, and mapping networks to identify viable connections- and created a $2 million sales pipeline in a matter of a few weeks.  However, it is more common that a company’s social marketing amounts to little more than spamming promotional announcements on Twitter.  In the case of social media platforms such as Twitter, it is more strategically useful to utilise Social Marketing as a tool of Content and Search Marketing, in so far as it can be a useful medium for directing people towards the high-quality content that will boost SEO rankings and engage the potential customer, both of which will, if done correctly, be effective lead generation strategies.  It can also be a useful tool for establishing and promoting business brand identity, something that is crucial to standing out in a crowded marketplace.  If your brand identity is established then it can make generating leads that bit easier, as potential customers can already be at a certain level of engagement before they have even hit a business’s landing page or explored their content.

Integrated and Reactive Approaches

In essence, successful lead generation strategies have to be flexible, reactive to customer-habits and realistic about changes in those habits.  Flexibility means the innovative combination of aspects of each of the four major lead generation channels discussed, using data driven analysis to discover what works best for a given business.  Being reactive to customer-habits is also a data-driven practice: for example, customers today, whether in the B2B or B2C sectors, are distrustful of what can be termed ‘traditional advertising’, and this can be seen by the fact that up to 80% of potential customers ignore paid ads on Google.  They’re just not interested.  As the old sales adage goes, people don’t like being sold to but they like to buy.  This is why moving away from ‘traditional’ advertising or marketing methods, and into an integrated method that seeks to promote customer engagement and personalised promotional marketing emails is proving to be a more successful model.  This is why a channel such as Content Marketing is so important – 80% of decision-makers surveyed, from a wide range of businesses, preferred to imbibe information about a company through articles and other content, as opposed to ‘traditional’ adverts.  Adverts, in that sense, have lost their power to engage, and offering people content which they feel educates them and allows them to make an informed choice is now a far more successful model.  This may not always be the case – re-activeness, remember, is crucial to successful lead generation strategies, but it is certainly the case in 2017.

Another aspect of this reactive approach, for example, is creating a scoring system for leads, such as awarding a numerical points score for acts of engagement, such as opting-in to an email system or downloading an E-book, and subtracting a numerical points score for acts of disengagement, such as unsubscribing from an email list.  A system that scores and ranks leads allows a company to respond in real-time to the reaction of customers and potential customers to their marketing strategies, as well as identifying potential customers who are primed to take that step into becoming actual customers.  This streamlining of lead analysis can also help to save time and money by efficiently deploying their lead follow-up resources.

Invest in Strategy

Effective lead generation strategies require just that; strategy.  Throwing money at out-dated models of marketing and lead generation is only going to waste both the initial marketing investment and the time and effort of the staff who are responsible for turning cold leads warm.  For lead generation success in 2017, willingness to be adaptive, flexible, analytical and innovative will give a business a far greater chance of staying ahead of the game.