Lead Qualification 101: How to Identify the Best Sales Leads

Lead Qualification 101: How to Identify the Best Sales Leads

Pop culture would have you believe that the most important part of any sales journey is the art of closing a deal. Equally important, however, is how you open it. Pursuing only the most viable prospects with the need, authority, and budget to purchase your product is a winning recipe for securing new accounts.

Lead qualification is an essential part of this recipe. But what exactly is it, and how do you do it?

In this article, you’ll learn how to qualify a sales lead from the moment they first visit your website all the way through to after an initial discovery call. With the information you gather, you’ll be able to effortlessly determine which prospects are worth pursuing and which aren’t, saving you time and money.

Use the links below to navigate to each section:

  • What is lead qualification?
  • Why lead qualification is important
  • How to qualify a sales leads using lead scoring
  • Lead qualification frameworks and questions
  • When to move prospects forward

 

What is Lead Qualification?

Lead qualification is a process of marketing and sales teams working together to forecast the likelihood that a prospect will ultimately make a purchase. It occurs at every stage of the sales journey and ultimately decides if the prospect will be funneled down the pipeline.

 

The first step of lead qualification happens during the inbound marketing stage. At this stage, your company’s marketing team captures contact info via site visits, email subscriptions, or social media, then decides if the lead fits the profile of your company’s ideal customer.

This qualifies the prospect to move on to the next step, which is a discovery call from a sales rep. The sales rep leads a conversation that reveals the prospect’s needs, project timelines, purchasing authority, and any budgetary constraints.

Information gathered during a discovery call further determines if the prospect is viable of the time it takes to craft a proposal, or if you’re better off pursuing someone else’s business.

 

Why Lead Qualification is Important?

Lead qualification is important because it saves you time, energy, and ultimately your bottom line. It occurs very early in the pipeline, ideally when you’re making initial contact or even beforehand. It helps you determine:

  • If the prospect is in the right industry and territory to benefit from your product
  • If they have a need your product can solve
  • If the person you’re talking to has the budget and authority to make a purchasing decision
  • If there is some way you can provide value over your competitors or the prospect’s current vendor

If the lead doesn’t meet your criteria for what makes a qualified prospect, then you can disqualify them. Disqualification may sound like a bad thing, but in reality it saves you time and allows you to focus on more promising contacts.

Bottom line, lead qualifications allows you to quickly assess whether or not you’re talking to a person that has any real intent in buying what you’re selling. This can also help make sales reps more efficient, productive, and motivated. Without it, you could waste time talking to people who will never close, and no one wants to feel like they’re just spinning their wheels.

 

How to Qualify a Sales Leads Using Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a process of assigning a point value to a prospect at or near the beginning of the sales pipeline. It often happens before a sales rep ever makes a discovery call. In fact, it may inform whether or not a call is worth having in the first place. This ensures that reps spend their time talking to only the most promising leads.

Before you can calculate a leadscore, you’ll need to gather the following data about a prospect:

 

Buyer Profile

Does this prospect fall into your target industry and territory? Do they fit the profile of your ideal customer?

To find out, you’ll need to include fields in the forms on your landing pages that gather the relevant information. Anyone tasked with this level of qualification — be it a sales rep or a marketing team in charge of identifying prospects — should always keep the company’s ideal customer profile in mind.

 

From there, you’ll be able to award points to leads whose answers align with your buyer profile and take away points for those who don’t. You can also award points for those who fill out fields that were otherwise listed as optional on the form, as this demonstrates additional interest on behalf of the prospect.

 

Company Information

If you’re a B2B organization, then knowing the size of the prospect’s company and its contact information is essential to qualify the lead. You can add or take away points depending on how the size of their company relates to your ideal customer profile.

 

Online Behavior

The more time a prospect interacts with your site, the more likely that they’re interested in your product. Tracking page views, length of visit, downloads, and frequency of visits over a 30, 60, or 90 day period are all good data points to start with.

 

Email Engagement

Just because someone signed up for to your email list does not necessarily mean they’re ready or even interested in buying from you. Open rates and click-through rates are a more meaningful indication of interest.

 

Social Media Engagement

Tracking Facebook or Twitter likes, retweets, shares, and click-through rates from your posts are all ways of tracking social media engagement. The more engaged a prospect is, the higher their leadscore should be.

 

Spam Detection

Using all lowercase letters when filling out website forms is a red flag that the prospect may be a bot. The use of a Gmail or Yahoo email address instead of a company email address may also indicate that they don’t fit your buyer profile. These indicators can subtract points from the prospect’s leadscore if it doesn’t disqualify them altogether.

Now that you have a set of data, you’ll need to interpret it in a way that immediately communicates how qualified a lead is. To manually calculate an actual point value or leadscore, follow these steps:

 

Step 1: Set Your Benchmark

To do this, divide the number of new customers acquired by the number of all leads generated. This conversion rate is your control, which you’ll use to compare to other characteristics.

Step 2: Choose the Most Valuable Characteristics

Which characteristics did your highest quality leads exhibit? In addition to going with your gut, consult your sales reps, marketing team, analytics, etc. for their insights.

Step 3: Calculate Close Rates

As with setting your benchmark, divide the number of customers acquired by leads generated that exhibited certain qualities. Do this for each characteristic.

Step 4: Compare Characteristics

Which characteristics showed significantly higher close rates to your benchmark? Assign higher point values to those characteristics. For example, if leads who downloaded a certain whitepaper have a close rate of 25%, you might assign that characteristic 25 points on future leadscores.

Once you decide how you’re going to calculate leadscores, you can save yourself time and energy by investing in a lead generation and sales tool. Many will capture all the data you need, then automatically calculate it. Software dashboards are usually visual, easy to reference, and quickly identify who is the most promising prospect to pursue.

Here’s a look at how you can customize different characteristics or information in LeadBoxer to automatically calculate a lead score for potential prospects:

After a lead has been gathered and qualified with a leadscore by the marketing team, it’s time for a sales rep to step in and make a discovery call.

 

Lead Qualification Frameworks and Questions

At this level, sales reps determine whether or not the prospect has any real need or desire for the product. This is done by asking the right questions during a discovery call.

Several thought leaders and top sales reps have spent decades developing multiple frameworks for their lead qualification processes. The method you chose to follow will ultimately depend on your industry and the average size of accounts you typically work with. Your personal conversation style and comfort zone might also play a role in what framework you reference.

These questions have the added benefit of encouraging potential leads to open up about their needs, frustrations, and pain points. Should you decide that the lead is qualified to move forward in the process, you can use this information to tailor your pitch and deliver a more effective proposal later on.

 

BANT

BANT stands for budget, authority, need, and timeline. Although the brainchild of IBM, it’s the go-to framework for qualifying leads in a variety of markets and companies. Some relevant questions to ask during a discovery call would include:

  • Budget: How much of the budget is set aside to address this challenge?
  • Authority: Are you in the position to make a purchasing decision to address this challenge?
  • Need: What challenge are you dealing with and why hasn’t it been dealt with before?
  • Timeline: How soon do you hope to solve this challenge?

Strengths: BANT is simple and straightforward. For anyone with a low-stakes or lower priced product with no existing qualification framework in place, it’s a good option to start with and develop from there.

Weaknesses: BANT’s questions don’t follow a logical order. It would be a bit daring to open a discovery call by jumping straight to a question about money. Plus, according to CEB’s research, 5.4 people are involved in B2B purchasing decisions. When considering authority, the answer is likely that multiple people are involved and should therefore be brought into the conversation.

 

CHAMP

CHAMP was developed as a solution to the seemingly backward sequencing of BANT so that the more important questions are asked first for both the buyer and the qualifier.

  • Challenges: What problem needs solving in your business? What challenges are you still faced with that your current solution still does not solve or address as effectively as you would like?
  • Authority: In addition to yourself, who else is involved in this purchasing decision? Should we bring them into the conversation? What are the organizational relationships that influence the decision?
  • Money: What are your expectations for the investment necessary to purchase the solution?
  • Prioritization: When do you plan to implement a solution to your problem? Are you looking at any other possible solutions?

Strengths: The ordering of questions follows a more natural trajectory of conversation. For those just beginning to explore qualification frameworks, this may be the easiest to keep at the back of your mind during a discovery call.

Weaknesses: As far as conversations go, CHAMP is still a little shallow. For one, it doesn’t get into how a prospect would measure the success of the project. This leaves the sales rep ill-prepared to fully demonstrate value further down the pipeline during the proposal stage.

 

GPCTBA/C&I

Hubspot developed what is certainly the longest acronym in sales, but they swear by it. Although they break down their framework into more detail than this, in a nutshell GPCTBA/C&I stands for:

  • Goals: What’s your top priority right now?
  • Plans: How do you plan to achieve that goal?
  • Challenges: What difficulties do you foresee with your plan?
  • Timeline: When do you hope to solve this? If you don’t buy at this time, what remedial actions do you plan to take?
  • Budget: What have you spent on achieving this goal so far? What additional funds can you allocate towards it?
  • Authority: How does your company purchase products of this type? Who else is concerned with this buying decision and what are some of their concerns? What ego or ownership issues come up that need to be managed and respected that I need to be mindful of?
  • Negative consequences: What happens if you don’t reach this goal? What will it cost you and your company if you keep things the way they are today?
  • Positive Implications: What can you achieve next if you do reach this goal?

Strengths: In an era when multiple solutions to a person’s problem are just a Google search away, it’s more important than ever to get clear on how relevant your product is to their needs and how closely they fit into your niche. This framework gets into the nitty-gritty and can quickly indicate if a prospect is truly viable. Plus, it was developed by a SaaS company, so it likely translates well to other SaaS providers.

Weaknesses: Sales reps unfamiliar with this framework will likely need to practice holding a conversation that touches on all these topics in a natural way. Otherwise, you risk hosting a discovery call that comes off as more like an interrogation.

 

MEDDIC

Dick Dunkel and Jack Napoli developed MEDDIC in the mid 90’s while at PTC corporation. The framework was developed for enterprise-level B2B sales. It stands for:

  • Metrics: How would you measure the success of a project?
  • Economic Buyer: Who’s in charge of the budget for this project? How would they define success?
  • Decision Criteria: What are the technical criteria for making a purchase decision?
  • Decision Process: How does your company make the decisions to buy? Who else needs to be brought into this process? What’s the timeline for making a decision? How does the process differ for larger purchases?
  • Identify Pain: What needs fixing? Why haven’t you fixed it yet?
  • Champion: Who has the most vested interest in solving this problem? Do they have influence in the decision process?

Strengths: MEDDIC is ideal for companies with accounts that are in the range of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. These accounts likely jump through significantly more hoops during the decision process. A qualifier needs to be clear on the criteria to meet before moving forward with a proposal.

Weaknesses: The line of questioning posed by this framework might feel clunky to a sales novice. Practice or drafting questions tailored to their specific offering is likely necessary to hold a more natural conversation.

 

ANUM

ANUM assumes that the most important thing to know first is whether or not the person you’re talking to has any real power.

  • Authority: Are you in charge of making purchasing decisions? Who are the people typically involved in this decision making process?
  • Need: What’s the biggest hurdle you hope to overcome?
  • Urgency: How soon to hope to overcome it?
  • Money: What funds are available to allocate towards overcoming it?

Strengths: ANUM attempts to make sure you’re talking to someone with spending privileges from the get-go, presumably saving you time and energy.

Weaknesses: Sometimes the case is that different people within a company are in charge of making different purchasing decisions depending on the function of the product. The person you’re talking to might not know if they have the authority to make this particular decision until it’s clear what challenge needs addressing.

 

Other Questions

It’s possible that there are questions relevant to your product or industry that aren’t covered by any of the frameworks above. In that case, you’ll want to tweak your approach so that you’re covering all your bases.

Some additional questions worth considering are:

  1. What are the concerns or roadblocks that could come up down the road and get in the way of us working together?
  2. What are the timely and relevant issues that are going on internally?
  3. What is the overall mood of the company and its leaders towards this problem?
  4. What internal resources can you leverage to try and resolve this issue on your own?
  5. How will your current vendors react to the possibility you’ll buy from us?

Whatever framework and sets of questions you go with, don’t overload the person you’re speaking with by asking them too many. The idea is to engage them in meaningful conversation, not convince them that you’re an interrogator.

 

When to Move Prospects Forward

After making a discovery call, you’ll need to make a decision about whether or not to continue the sales process. Some good signs that prospects are ideal candidates for moving forward include:

 

Pain Points

The prospect clearly identified what challenge they have and talked about it at length. It’s clear this is an issue that is a top priority and needs to be solved soon.

Specific Goals

During the conversation, the prospect was certain on measurable goals and outcomes. This shows that they’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the challenge and will be receptive to solutions that propose to meet those goals.

Knowledge

Overall, the prospect knew the ins and outs of the challenge or project like the back of their own hand. This shows that they likely have sway over the purchasing decision if they’re not in charge of it themselves.

However, if you encounter some of these signs during your discover call, you might want to consider stopping the process:

Short Answers

Whether it’s because they don’t have the time to talk, they haven’t thought about their challenges in detail, or they don’t have a pain point you can address, this is a clear indicator that the prospect isn’t interested.

Inconsistent Answers

Conflicting responses are an indicator that the prospect might not have that much influence over the project, or it’s not enough of a priority that they’re willing to find a solution just yet. In either case, you’ll want to save your time and pursue other business.

 

Qualify Leads and Close More Sales

An optimized leads qualification process serves two main functions: to forecast whether or not a prospect is worth the time and effort of a proposal, and to help reps tailor that proposal for maximum effectiveness.

The first step to qualifying a sales lead is to generate a leadscore based on their engagement with your website, emails, and social media posts. The second step is to make a discovery call to determine their needs, purchasing authority, and budget.

While this may seem relatively straightforward, there’s a lot of data and elements that need to be taken into consideration in order to calculate a leadscore. Thankfully, there are several different kinds of lead generation software out there that can gather, analyze, and calculate that leadscore for you. In no time at all, you’ll be filling your pipeline with qualified prospects and winning more accounts.

MQL vs. SQL? What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter?

MQL vs. SQL? What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter?

Our world is full of acronyms. And while there’s no shame in asking a colleague to define terms, few of us feel comfortable raising a hand in a crowded meeting and asking a speaker to unpack a sentence.

Consider MQL and SQL. You may know that the “L” in these terms stands for “Leads.” If you’re in sales or marketing, you may even be tasked with increasing MQLs or SQLs.

However, that is a basic understanding. Digging in a little deeper about the similarities, differences, and uses of these two terms can help you to be even more effective. Let’s learn more about both.

Defining Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

The acronym MQL stands for “Marketing Qualified Lead.”

In the shortest definition we could find, courtesy of Hubspot, an MQL is a person that is more likely to become a customer when compared to a typical person.

Think of it this way: Many people may connect with your company. They may visit your website, attend your webinars, or chat with you at a trade show.

For some of these people, the goods and services you offer are exactly what they’re looking for. But for others, your product or service is not a good fit. They may never be in the position to buy anything from you at all.

The people in that first group — those who are interested and have the potential to buy your product — are your MQLs.

Separating MQLs from unqualified leads typically involves using a lead-scoring program. You’ll assign a certain set of points to actions people might take, such as:

  • Reading an email message you sent.
  • Chatting with you on social media.
  • Downloading an ebook.
  • Filling out an online form.

Once people have amassed enough points, due to all of the actions they’ve taken over time, they can be considered MQLs.

They’ve shown enough interest that it seems likely they are ready to deepen the conversation with someone — typically in sales — within your company.

Defining Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

The acronym SQL stands for “Sales Qualified Lead.”

This person has not only shown a deep interest in your products and services, but they have also shown some sort of intent to purchase. They not only like what you offer, but they actually need to buy what you sell. They also may need to make that purchase in the near future.

While defining an MQL can be done through automated software that assigns scores, defining an SQL is a little trickier. Typically, this is something that involves a conversation between someone in sales and the potential lead.

A SQL:

  • May have specific questions about how your product works or how much it costs.
  • May not understand how your product fits into the other products they’re using.
  • May not be entirely sure the solution is right for them.
  • May not be able to find the answers they need in the marketing materials they’ve seen so far.

People like this need to have a discussion with sales.

At the end of that discussion, if the salesperson senses a real opportunity, this person moves into the SQL category.

Why Does Knowing the Difference Between MQLs and SQLs Matter?

You may be wondering why it’s so crucial to understand whether someone is an MQL or an SQL. After all, a lead is a lead, right?

Not quite.

Understanding where your leads fall into these two categories can help you understand who should be in charge of that next conversation. This could mean the difference between making or losing a sale.

For example, we’ve long been told that people move through a traditional sales funnel in which they become aware of a product, consider options, make a decision, and then become an evangelist for the brand.

While this simplified form of a sale might still make sense in some industries, others consider their sales moving through more of a “tornado”.

In this model, users are consuming a great deal of information throughout the entire journey, and they may bounce back and forth between channels.

They may use social media posts in the awareness phase, for example, and then leap back to social media to evaluate solutions and understand usage. They may swing far away from the product before purchase, rolling out to e-commerce before finally deciding to look at a product catalog.

Consumers are doing a lot of the heavy lifting here, and they’re relying on marketing resources to guide the conversation.

Pushing a savvy consumer to sales at the wrong time could cause a sense of pressure, and that could derail the sale. These people are doing their own homework. They’re not ready to talk yet.

Similarly, connecting a consumer with sales too early means sales must inform the consumer about the product’s ins and outs — and that’s a task best left to marketing.

On the flip side, sending a lead to sales too late might lead to missed opportunities. By the time these people get to the sales team, they may have made a decision and chosen a competitor.

When you have a firm understanding of the typical steps a consumer takes in order to become marketing qualified, and when you know what sorts of behaviors seem to suggest that a purchase is right around the corner, you’ll be well positioned to guide and shape these crucial conversations.

The Transition from MQL to SQL

By now, it’s probably clear to you that an SQL begins life in the company as an MQL. But this move from one state to the other isn’t spontaneous and organic. It requires an ongoing nurturing and communication process. It’s here that many opportunities are lost.

A handoff meeting between marketing and sales can be vital.

The marketing team can offer up a list of all of the resources the person has consumed over a period of time, typically pulled from marketing automation software program, which can help to guide the sales process.

For example, if the prospect has been almost exclusively researching one specific type of product, the salesperson knows the product that should open up a conversation.

Similarly, the salesperson can walk in the customer’s footsteps and read back through all of those resources, looking for knowledge gaps that the consumer might have. Those are ideal conversation starters that can pull the sale forward.

What happens if the sales call didn’t go as planned? This could be a sign that the MQL isn’t so “qualified” after all, but all hope isn’t lost.

When marketing teams are aware of this issue, they can add the person back into the content marketing program.

Maybe a series of follow up email messages about key features, or an invitation to a webinar, could help encourage a deeper level of comfort with the product. In a few weeks or months, that person really could be marketing qualified, and the next sales call could be a touch smoother.

 

Putting Theory into Action

While defining an MQL and an SQL is vital — it’s also personal. That means there’s no handy template you can download in order to sort your leads. Instead, you’ll need to have some in-depth conversations within your sales and marketing teams. You’ll need to discuss your:

  • Customer personas.
  • Typical time to close projects.
  • Marketing resources.
  • Customer/prospect lists.
  • Lead scoring method.

You’ll need to think about how each persona interacts with your company during each buying phase. You’ll define what steps are meaningful and signal a deeper commitment.

You’ll also identify the assets you’re missing that could compel action. Those are the decisions that will help set up your lead scoring method. You’ll use them to understand how an MQL is passed to sales — and what comes next.

When you have a theory in place, sales and marketing will need to keep that conversation going. It’s vital for marketing to know more about the leads that sales finds easiest to convert.

How long have these leads been in the pipeline? What assets did they touch? What sorts of companies are they from? What are their titles?

Sales teams may encourage their marketing colleagues to lock MQL rules down tight. That way, the leads they’re given almost always convert into SQLs and sales.

Unfortunately, a system that’s calibrated too carefully can lead to very empty, loose sales pipelines. And that can leave sales teams with little — or nothing — to do all day.

Meeting regularly to discuss opportunities won, opportunities lost and lessons learned can help the entire group to come up with a plan for the future.

 

Ready to Get Started?

Identifying MQLS and SQLs starts with capturing the right data. We can help you grab that data.

Use LeadBoxer to track activity from all of your leads at all stages of the purchase cycle. Try it for free to get the data you need in real time. Or, schedule a demonstration. We’d love to show you how it works.

 

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: A Breakdown of Both

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: A Breakdown of Both

The difference between demand generation and lead generation can be confusing. Both share similar traits, however, the goals and specific tactics behind each method are different. Thus, having an understanding of both can help you to create a more effective marketing strategy. In this post, we’ll define both demand and lead generation and how they differ from one another. We’ll also discuss specific tactics that each method uses and talk about when to use demand generation vs. lead generation. Let’s get to it:

What is Demand Generation?

Demand generation, or “demand gen” for short, is the process of creating awareness and demand for your company’s product or service. In short, demand gen aims to bring new visitors to your website or business in order to introduce them to your company. The end result is to build your target audience, establish trust, and to spark interest in your company. Types of demand generation content include:

All of this content is provided for “free” in order to attract new potential customers. At this stage, they shouldn’t have to provide their email or other contact information in order to access this content.

Demand Generation Ideas:

To get you started, here are a few demand generation ideas you can use:

Create SEO-Driven Content

One way to create awareness is to create content that your target audience is already searching for. There are many ways to identify keyword opportunities. For one, you can look at Google related searches. Simply search a keyword in Google and then scroll to the bottom of that page:

Here you will see a list of related keywords that people are searching for. You can also look at the types of questions people are asking in Quora or use a tool like Ahrefs for keyword research.

Guest Posts

Guest posting is the process of creating a blog post for another popular blog in your industry. This is a great way to reach your target audience and “piggy-back” off of the traffic that the established blog already receives.

Create Industry Expert Roundups

An expert roundup is a blog post where you gather quotes from experts in your industry on a particular topic that you know your target audience will enjoy. This type of content is often shared well. Not only that, contributors will typically share the blog post with their own social networks once it’s published. One way to find experts in your industry is by Googling your chosen topic and finding people who have already written on the topic or have provided a quote. You can also use a tool like HARO to help to collect responses. For a great example of an expert roundup, check out our blog post, “19+ Lead Generation Tools from the Experts”.

Advertise on Industry Blogs

Running display ads, investing in a sponsored post, or purchasing a sponsored email slot from an industry blog that you know your target audience already visits, can be a good way to take advantage of a site that has a larger viewership than yours.

Run a Viral Contest

You can create a viral contest by creating a contest where you allow participants to earn more entries by referring new people to the contest, sharing it on social, commenting on a post, etc. This increases the likelihood that contest will be shared, making it a good way to increase awareness. Three options for running a viral contest include:

For more demand generation ideas, we recommend the following resources:

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation, or “lead gen” for short, is the process of converting potential customers into qualified leads (ie. someone who has a genuine interest in what you have to offer). In short, lead gen is a way to funnel-in eventual purchasers of your product or service down the path of buying. The end result is to find qualified leads for your company so that they then be added to a lead nurturing process or so that a salesperson can follow up. Lead gen typically involves creating “gated” content and then asking for someone’s contact information in order for them to receive that piece of content. Types of lead generation content include:

  • Any type of gated content (such as an eBook, PDF, checklist, cheat sheet, whitepaper, etc.)
  • Courses
  • Free-Trials
  • Product Demos
  • Viral Contests (where someone needs to enter their email or other contact information to enter)
  • Email Subscriptions
  • Events

In order to receive access to this content, the person must enter in their email and/or other contact information that the company wants to collect. To learn more, this guide breaks down the basics of lead generation and why it’s so important.

Lead Generation Ideas:

To get you started, here are a few lead generation ideas you can use:

Create an eBook

If you have yet to create any type of lead magnet on your site, an eBook is a good one to start with. Most eBooks tackle a broad topic in your industry, thus you can promote it across multiple blog posts on your site.

Create a Content Upgrade

A content upgrade is another type of lead magnet that is there to entice people to enter their email and/or other contact information in exchange for the content upgrade. Rather than an eBook which is typically more general, a content upgrade is typically specific to a particular blog post. This increases the conversion rate of signups since the content is more closely related to the blog post the person is reading. Examples of a content upgrade might include:

  • A PDF version of that same blog post
  • A checklist
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • A cheat sheet

Host a Webinar

Hosting a webinar with experts in your industry can be another way to collect contact information from your audience by requiring them to sign up in advance for the webinar. Software such as WebinarJam and Demio can help you get this set up.

Use a Lead Analytics Platform

While collecting contact information from potential leads via lead magnets and webinars are viable lead generation tactics, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Not everyone is willing to fork over their email or phone number. This is when a direct outreach approach can be helpful. For people who don’t submit contact information but still might be qualified leads, a lead analytics platform like LeadBoxer can help you to identify these people and find their contact information so you can reach out directly. For more lead generation ideas, we recommend the following resources:

 

What’s the Difference Between Lead Generation and Demand Generation?

Lead generation is a subset of demand generation. Demand generation is used to create awareness and attract new people to your business, while lead generation is used to qualify those people into “leads” and get them ready for the next step in your marketing or sales process.

A simple way to understand the differences is to take a look at the different types of content each method uses. Demand generation uses free content (such as blog posts, articles, videos, etc.) in order to create awareness and to attract your target audience. Lead generation content is typically “gated”, meaning a person has to provide their email and/or other contact information in order to receive that piece of content (such as a PDF, whitepaper, checklist, etc.).

This allows sales and marketing to continue the relationship and nudge that person towards a purchase. You don’t need to choose one or the other. Both lead gen and demand gen can be used effectively within your overall marketing strategy.

When creating content, you want to consider the goal behind that piece of content. Is the goal to generate awareness or to increase leads? For example, if you create an eBook and the goal is to generate awareness, this is demand generation. In order to maximize your results, people should be able to download the eBook freely without needing to input any contact information.

This will make it easier for people to share it with their friends and colleagues. However, if the goal is to find qualified leads, this is lead generation and that piece of contact should be gated. As you can hopefully see, it’s nearly impossible to go with one without the other.

An effective marketing strategy will include both lead generation and demand generation. Demand generation is used to attract new customers and lead generation is used to identify qualified leads.

 

19+ Lead Generation Tools from the Experts

19+ Lead Generation Tools from the Experts

Effective lead generation is more than using a specific tool. However, tools make our lives easier and allow us to generate leads at scale. Knowing which tools to use and how others use them successfully can save you a lot of time trying out each solution.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of lead generation tools straight from sales and marketing experts who use these tools everyday.

Our question was simple, we asked these excerpts “What is your favorite lead generation tool and why?”.

Here are their responses:

 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite Chrome Extension

My favorite lead generation-related tool that I’ve been using for years, is the LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite extension for Chrome (formerly Rapportive). Once installed on your Chrome browser, the extension populates a nifty little sidebar full of useful prospect information to the right of your inbox within Gmail, like so:

When you hover your cursor over an email address, all of this information will pop up (if the recipient’s email address is connected to their LinkedIn profile).

Now, while this tool alone doesn’t generate leads for me, it’s been useful beyond measure in helping me scale my extremely valuable B2B client base since my outreach approach is so high touch and my contracts often run into the six figures.

I use the extension to both verify that an email address is correct before hitting send, and to properly research a prospect with the goal of personalizing my cold emails before reaching out. 

If you want more, I also recently wrote an epic guide breaking down several of my most successful lead generation tactics that I would recommend checking out.

Ryan Robinson
www.ryrob.com

Ryan is a writer and content marketer for the world’s top entrepreneurs and startups. He teaches over 200,000 monthly readers how to start and grow a profitable side business on his blog and podcast.

When it comes to collecting leads, it’s all about casting a wide net and using tools that will get people to respond to you. One tool that’s underutilized, but extremely powerful is an online form. Online forms are great for lead generation because they’re simple to set up, fully customizable, and integrate with many third-party apps.

My favorite lead generation tool is a combo of an online form builder and Callingly. When these two tools are integrated, calls will start immediately after a new lead is submitted to your form. I love it because your salespeople will automatically get on the phone with incoming leads—it’s efficient and effective!

Annabel Maw
www.jotform.com

Annabel is a Marketing Communications Specialist at JotForm, a popular, easy-to-use online form building tool based in San Francisco. Annabel’s marketing role focuses on generating leads for press.

I’ve recently started using Voila Norbert, and it’s the most effective lead generation software I’ve used. It’s simple: you type in someone’s name, and their company’s URL, and it finds the email associated with that name. I use Linkedin for sourcing the leads, and Voila Norbert for quickly finding the right email.

For a complete list of email tracking tools, check out this list of the best email tracking apps for Gmail and Outlook.

Carter Grieve
www.northone.io

Carter is the Head of Growth at NorthOne, a mobile first banking platform.

My favorite lead generation tool is Leadpages. There are two very important reasons why I use Leadpages:

Reason 1 – Leadpages Host The Landing Pages On Their Servers Since

Leadpages hosts all the landing pages I create on their server, I don’t have to worry about my website going offline due to my own web host issues. I remember once when I was self-hosting my landing pages and sent paid traffic to it, my web host suddenly had problems and my site went down for a full day. That cost me lots of money. Ever since then, I have switched to use reputable software for my landing pages like Leadpages.

Reason 2 – Easy To Create High-Converting Landing Pages

I have a pretty tight schedule as most of my time is spent coaching my clients. Hence it’s important for me to find a software that is easy and straightforward to use, without having to spend lots of time on it. Hence I use Leadpages because I can easily create a highly-converting landing page (which they have already determined from their own tests) and create one in 15 – 30 minutes.

Overall, when determining a good lead generation tool to create my landing pages, I look for reliability (in terms of their site being up) and ease of use. And on both fronts, Leadpages has done a good job for me so far.

Davis Lin
www.clientacquisitionlab.com

Davis is the owner of Client Acquisition Lab, a site that helps businesses generate leads and find new clients.

The one tool we’ve seen that everyone could benefit more from is any kind of lead quiz platform, like Lead Quizzes or Qzzr. With enough creativity, you can think of a quiz (personality or test-your-knowledge) that will fit your audience. Prospects find these interesting or fun in both B2C and B2C. To get their results, they have to first give up their email.

The lead quiz approach to simultaneously creating engaging content and opportunities can lower your lead costs because prospect interest in quiz outcome boosts your conversion rates, reducing the amount you need to spend to get each lead.

More educational content that sells will naturally suggest itself from the quiz you create. For example, with a test-your-knowledge quiz, how do they improve their score? Does their score indicate the need for your product or service? With a personality based quiz, what should each personality type do or buy? If you give valuable info, they’re more likely to remain an agreeable lead and not unsubscribe immediately.

Before trying lead generating quizzes, our best lead magnet for our ad agency had cost us over $29 a lead. But when we created a personality based quiz: “Which Celebrity Do You Market Most Like?” those leads averaged $1.87. That’s a dramatic improvement in cost because quizzes are so fascinating to people.

You definitely have to look at lead quality and nurture your leads as always, but with this approach, you drive a ton of visibility and lead volume. And that can translate into interest if your quiz fits the need or problem your business addresses in your customer. In other words, don’t make the quiz so fun and tangential that it doesn’t fit what you’re trying to sell.

When I was researching my Content Marketing World talk, I did some research on 11 lead magnet types across multiple social networks via Buzzsumo, and quizzes were the most shared kind by far.

So, if you want some viral effect from your lead gen piece, quizzes are a great way to go. They definitely do best on Facebook and Twitter- not as well on LinkedIn, where whitepapers and case studies reign. But it is possible to come up with professional quiz topics that fit the B2B mindset. Or you could tie a whitepaper or case study into a lead quiz, linking one to another, and promoting both on all three social networks.

In a B2C context, we created a lead quiz for a self-help author who wanted to reach women on relationship topics. An ebook lead magnet yielded leads that cost more than $3.00, while her quiz leads cost only $0.44 each.

As you can see, lead-generation quizzes are both highly interesting to prospects, and highly profitable for marketers. The lead quiz is the one tool I would recommend more lead gen practitioners explore.

Brian Carter
www.briancartergroup.com

Brian Carter is a popular digital marketer and keynote speaker with clients like NBC-Universal, Microsoft and Humana.


 

Hubspot

My favorite lead generation platform is HubSpot. I like it because of its comprehensive ability to track behavior and touch points across email, social media, website, landing pages, and calls to action. It’s an integrated system that provides all of the critical elements for lead generation and lead nurturing under one roof.

From its built-in CRM, you can see how your leads interacted at various points. You can even setup alerts for lead revisit notifications to alert the lead owner of critical activity.

As an example, a visitor may land on a blog article on your website via organic traffic. There is a HubSpot call-to-action (CTA) button in the blog article that takes them to a landing page with a lead magnet. You can get data on the call-to-action button that shows you how many impressions you’ve had as well as the click-through rate.

This helps you identify CTAs that are performing well and those that need improvement. When the visitor clicks on the CTA, they are taken to a HubSpot landing page. Similarly, you have data on the landing page performance and can look for what’s working and what’s not working. You can also A/B test landing pages to drive incremental improvements.

Once they complete the form on the landing page, they are entered into a HubSpot marketing automation workflow. This places them in a nurturing program and you can track when they meet campaign objectives or not. You have tracking on emails they open and when they visit your website.

You can setup automated tasks and alerts for the sales team to react to behavior that shows a high intent to purchase. All of your lead’s behavior is in the CRM, so the sales team has context when they reach out to them. Again, everything is measurable in the system so you can see what is working and what isn’t working.

Craig Andrews
www.allies4me.com

Craig is the founder and owner of the digital marketing agency, allies4me.


My favorite lead generation tool is Hubspot’s CRM.

The free version has a number of excellent tools to help you capture inbound leads:

1) You can sync an existing form on your website to both the CRM and your email provider. This allows you to seamlessly integrate people that visit your website into your lead generation pipeline and/or set up an automatic drip marketing campaign.

2) One of my favorite tools that comes with it is the ability to sync the CRM to your calendar. You can put a link on your website that allows people to book meetings with you. I think it’s a really great feature and I’ve actually gotten a number of new leads and clients this way. Here is an example of what it looks like after an inbound lead clicks on the link in your website: https://app.hubspot.com/meetings/maryclare

You can also use their Sales CRM. It is completely free and has tools to help you move leads through your sales pipeline. It has some excellent email templates to help you build and maintain a relationship with leads, qualify your leads and even close deals.

Finally, their Hubspot Academy is excellent. It has a number of free tutorials. This one is excellent: https://academy.hubspot.com/courses/inbound-marketing

Mary Clare Bland
www.bespoke-digital-solutions.com

Mary is the founder of the digital marketing agency, Bespoke Digital Solutions. She works with a number of small and medium size businesses to drive traffic to their websites.


Out of all of the lead generation softwares I’ve worked with, I’d be quickest to recommend HubSpot. Unlike tools developed by other notable companies, HubSpot consistently stays up to date on everything they offer.

HubSpot offers a wide variety of features that are relevant to lead generation, but some of the features that save me the most time are: contact creation automation, form sniffing, and the easy-to-use CRM.

The real reason that HubSpot sets itself apart from other options is the user experience. Just learning the ins and outs of a similar program could require extensive training and would require careful implementation, but HubSpot can be useful from day one.

Eric Johnson
www.techwaremn.com

Eric is a Digital Marketer for Techware – a Sage software partner. He has experience with a wide variety of lead generation tools and software – from Salesforce to Leadpages and Hubspot.

My favorite lead generation tool is MailChimp because it streamlines so much of the lead generation process (forms, landing pages, marketing automation, email), and it’s free. Now that marketing automation is included in the free plan, it really seems to good to be true. But it’s true.

I use MailChimp for companies who want to start generating their own leads, but aren’t ready to make a huge investment yet. Then when they are ready to scale, they are able to decide whether they want to start paying for MailChimp or migrate to a more robust tool like HubSpot.

Roy Harmon
www.advertoscope.com

Roy is a digital marketing professional with over 8 years of experience generating leads in multiple industries. He’s also the owner of Advertoscope, an online digital marketing publication that covers paid lead generation strategies.

I’d have to say my favorite tool has been Wix ShoutOut.  Primarily because I was paying to use an email lead service before I learned that my website builder and hosting solution Wix provided a similar service at no extra cost to their website clients.

My package only includes 3 shoutouts a month for up to 5000 emails, but that’s fine given I was using the other service twice a month for about a total of 1500 emails. I use it to find insurance brokers that have an interest in offering my health benefits membership as well as a way to generate leads for my health insurance agency.

I get the email addresses for the brokers for free using public information and I get the email addresses for potential health insurance clients from leads I’ve purchased online in the past.  So the whole process doesn’t cost me anything additional.

Larry C Medcalf
www.medcardmember.com

Larry is the owner of MedCard, an health benefits membership website. He also runs his own health insurance agency, IndyHealthAgent.

I would answer: Unbounce

This tool allows you to create and publish landing pages in a very simple and fast way. It has a great variety of templates adaptable to all devices. It is usually more focused on objectives such as registration or downloading information.

I would see it useful in your case if, for instance, you want to send the traffic of an advertising campaign to a page that is highly optimized so that for example the user registers, subscribes to your newsletter, etc. In the case of an e-commerce, the normal thing is that you send the traffic to the product page to generate the purchase.

Sophie Miles
www.calculatorbuddy.com

Sophie is the the VP or Marketing and Co-Founder of CalculatorBuddy, a website for comparing loans and insurance policies.

I’ve been using CallRail for about 6 months now to generate leads through my site, and so far I’m finding it incredibly simple to use and I’m also finding the reports within the dashboard very insightful. My favorite type of lead to generate is calls because I truly believe that if you can get someone on the phone, you have a much better shot at getting them to convert into a buyer.

CallRail helps me by providing detailed reports which include recordings of the calls that I’ve generated for the business I work with. Plus, CallRail has loads of other ways to customize the calls by adding messages which only the caller can hear etc.

Max Robinson
www.fishtankbank.com

Max is the owner of FishTankBank. He builds websites to generate call leads for local businesses.

The tool we have seen the most success with is Facebook’s Lead ads. We knew that using a platform such as Facebook where we can specifically target certain audiences would be the most effective for our clients, and this ad-format works perfectly alongside any Lead Gen strategy.

It allows you to show consumers an advert, from which a form pops up that is already pre-populated with the contact information they’ve shared with Facebook. From there it’s only one ‘Submit’ click and you have a qualified lead from a user who has positively engaged with your ad-content!

The key here is that we don’t ask the user to leave Facebook to convert on a website. Social media is a very personal space so conversion rates will always be higher when the user is able to convert directly in their news feed.

On average we have seen 2x more leads generated through this tool compared to using traditional Facebook advertising methods.

Although on its own this strategy proves very effective, pairing it up with an Auto Responder such as LeadSync is the secret to our conversion success. This tool emails you the lead information in real time, which is often crucial for our clients as peak interest can drop if left 1 or 2 hours before a callback.

Being able to get consumers information sent directly to the call team means we can often follow up with leads within seconds of clicking ‘Submit’. This particular tool also gives you the option to send an automatic response out to the lead (which is handy if advertising out of hours), add their information straight into your CRM and many more useful features.

Lauren Beales
www.haystackdigital.co.uk

Lauran is an Account Manager at the digital marketing agency, Haystack Digital. She has been with the company for 2 ½ years focusing solely on managing and optimising Haystack’s largest lead generation campaigns.

Right now, the best lead generation tool we use is Webinarjam. Why? Because it powers our main marketing webinar and fuels our email lead capture strategy.

Every week we use Webinarjam to run an informational webinar that shares with students tips they can immediately use to score better on the SAT or ACT, along with how to successful search for scholarships and get into the school of their dreams.

Through both email drip campaigns and targeted social ad spends, we use our webinar marketing funnel to capture leads, make sales, and also gauge general interest during our various seasons throughout the year.

In the year since we’ve started using it, Webinarjam is responsible for driving hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to us that would otherwise go untouched and grow our lead lists by thousands of people.

Shaan Patel
www.prepexpert.com

Shaan Patel is the Founder and CEO of Prep Expert, a Shark Tank-funded test prep company based in Las Vegas, NV. His company helps high school students prepare for the SAT and ACT, using the latest online educational tools.

One of my favorite lead generation tools is Intercom. Our member registrations are the lifeblood of our service, and Intercom helps us connect with our target audience in a meaningful way, helping users connect with our panel of doctors in minutes based on primary health questions.

Intercom is user friendly for both consumer and brand, making it a powerful lead solution that nets results.

Stephen Seifert
www.yourdoctors.online

Stephen is the Director of Marketing at Your Doctors Online, a website that connects doctors with people who have health questions. The site currently generates around 2,500 member registrations per week.


Our favourite lead generation tool has to be Intercom.

From using various lead generation tools over the years, Intercom has always been the one that stood out. Not only is it highly customizable, but it also seems to capture the user’s attention much better than a standard email pop up. I also like the fact that different messages can be used depending what page a user visits which really helps with targeting.

In addition to this, all the messages are sent from a person’s profile so it looks like a real person is talking to the user. This greatly increases response rates and gives people a personal connection instead of just entering their email and waiting for a reply back.

The software is also really powerful in its report and analytic abilities. Not only can you see what pages users are viewing in real time, but it also helps you collect data and information about the user. Why just collect an email address when you can collect lots of other juicy information that will come in useful in the future?

Overall, compared to a simple email sign up form, Intercom has plenty of cool features which makes lead generation a breeze. The only downside about the software is it can get a bit technical and it takes a while to learn how to use everything. Overall, it’s certainly helped us improve our number and quality of leads.

Sam Carr
www.ppcprotect.com

Sam is the marketing manager at PPC Protect with years of experience generating high-quality leads for startups and small businesses.


Intercom works best in its category and that is why I use it successfully for my coupon business.

Intercom allows you to establish direct communication with the audience who visits your website. It enables you to send direct display messages to the person when certain criteria are fulfilled.

Suppose a person stays more than 45 seconds on your product page of your website on his or her second visit, Intercom enables you to flash any product related message on the screen of the visitor.

If the visitor responds against that message, your sales executive can directly start a conversation with the visitor through text, chat, or even video chat channels.

Andrei Vasilescu
www.dontpayfull.com

Andrei Vasilescu is the CEO and sales head of Don’tPayFull, a renowned money saving platform.


 

Hunter

Hunter (hunter.io) is by far, my favorite lead generation tool.

When I first started sending out cold emails, I would have no idea how to generate my own leads with the targeted company. I asked my CEO for help, and he told me about Hunter.

Finding emails only require the company’s domain, and Hunter does the grunt work by finding possible email addresses. A great feature they have is the ‘Hunter for Google Sheets’ extension.

The extension allows me to manage all my leads without switching back and forth between too many tabs. All in all, Hunter is a great tool that every company should use, if they have a need for it. Best of all, they include 100 free requests per month if you do not wish to sign up.

Jonathan Kong
www.growthok.com

Jonathan is the Product Manager at GrowthOK, a lead generation solution company.

For a deeper look at email tracking, check out our guide: “Email Tracking: The Complete Guide for B2B Sales Teams”


 

Data

As a digital agency in business for more than 10 years, we’ve used a variety of lead generation tools, platforms, and services at SEMGeeks. Our core preference for lead generation starts with a combination of Data.com (a Salesforce product), SEMRush, SpyFu, and a few others.

These tools help us scope out specific companies that we feel need help from a digital standpoint, with Data.com even providing core information about the decision maker so that we can make direct contact and educate them on what we do and how we can help grow their business.

Next, we utilize Infusionsoft (marketing automation tool) to capture contact form data and automatically bring it into the platform, which then triggers a series of drip emails that educates the consumer about our agency, what we do, and how we do it.

Lastly, we use Salesforce to manage all of our leads/opportunities/accounts and keep track of our prospect pipeline. This unique combination of tools has been invaluable to our company and has helped us to become a leading agency in the tri-state area.

Pete Schauer
www.semgeeks.com

Pete is the Marketing Director and a member of the business development team at SEMGeeks. He has been working on lead generation for clients and the agency for more than five years.


 

Quora

Quora is a fantastic site when it comes to lead generation. In recent years, it has become as popular as Yahoo Answers once was for myth-busting, fact-finding and general advice; questions pour in from users from all over the world.

All a business needs to do is search for questions that are relevant to their industry and they are likely to find countless inquiries. This gives you the opportunity to submit insightful and well-informed responses to these queries (even giving you the chance to link your products/services if the person is looking for recommendations).

Doing this is a subtle and helpful way of promoting the knowledge and experience of your company, which then helps to drive potential leads to your website.

James Nuttall
www.cuuver.com

James is a Content and Outreach Specialist at Cuuver, a car insurance quote website.

I prefer to use a “hands-off” approach to our lead generation and only capture leads that want to be contacted. We’ve found that most SaaS clients do not want to have to provide their email or contact information when they are in the decision phase.

So we removed all roadblocks that require any information in exchange for content. We’ve found that clients who voluntarily give us their contact information have much higher open and engagement rates.

I use Google forms to capture leads on our company website and blog. It’s very simple to setup and easy to style your own forms and embed them on your website.

We also use Zapier to automatically add new leads to our CRM and add potential clients to our mailing lists. We recently started using a chat application to help nurture leads at the top of our funnel, with great success.

Blair Mckee
www.constellix.com

Blair is a digital marketing professional and website developer with 3 of years experience managing lead generation campaigns for two high-tech startups.

Interseller.io is a hidden gem in the sales world, and the best tool I’ve ever used to generate leads. It combines prospecting and outreach into one simple (but powerful) platform, automates Salesforce integration, and uses 7 methods to verify emails.

My bounce rate is consistently under 4%, down from 10-20% using other tools. When you’re reaching out with personalized, thoughtful messaging, ensuring that your emails don’t enter a proverbial black hole can make the difference between hitting quota and falling short.

Sitora Serverova
www.alloy.ai

Sitora has 6+ years of sales experience in SaaS and advertising. She’s currently in an outbound, full-cycle sales role at a Series A supply chain company (Alloy.ai), and previously led a team of SDRs at a F&B SaaS startup (Partender).

My favorite tool to use to generate leads is autoresponders from Zoho CRM. Throughout our website, we have forms users can fill out to download free guides on software development, IT support, etc. After they fill out the form, they are enrolled in our “drip campaigns.” An autoresponder is sent to them every few days.

These autoresponders sound very personal and conversational, to the point that users think they’re from an individual and not scheduled beforehand. We’ve found these autoresponders to be very successful in garnering leads because of their conversational tone. We’ve found them so successful that we’ve started using them to re-engage cold leads or lost deals with follow-ups as well.

Autoresponders from Zoho CRM allow us to save time by not following up with every lead or contact individually. Instead, we write one email and let the CRM keep track of when contacts can use a little push.

Keri Lindenmuth
www.kyledavidgroup.com

Keri is the Marketing Manager at KDG, a web and tech solution company. Keri works with lead generation every single day and is always looking for new ways to garner leads.

We’ve found that building landing pages for newsletter posts on Nextdoor to be an effective form of lead generation. Hyper local social media platforms bring credibility since those interacting with the forums are locals. In the home buying industry, many sellers want to work with someone who’s local because they are more likely to understand the true value of their home and can often make the most competitive offers.

Products like LeadBoxer allow us to track response rates for our newsletters and email campaigns so we get a better idea of what content connects best with our audience.

Evan Roberts
www.dependablehomebuyers.com

Evan is a local home buyer with Dependable Homebuyers in Baltimore, MD. His expertise is in generating buyer and seller leads.


 

Our Favorite Lead Generation Tools

As a platforms that helps companies and salespeople generate new leads, we’ve seen and used quite a few different lead generation tools ourselves. To complete this list, we thought it would be helpful to list a few of our favorites:

 

Buffer

Buffer is a dead simple way to share and schedule posts to social media. You can schedule posts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

If you opt to use the Business version of Buffer, you will also get detailed analytics that allow you to better understand your social media return on investment. This tool is important for lead generation because a strong social media presence is a simple way to drive qualified traffic to your website, while strengthening your brand.

 

LeadBoxer

LeadBoxer is a Customer and Lead Data Platform that allows you to see who visits your website, what company they work for; lists that person’s contact information and more.

With this information, you can pinpoint the “warmest” leads and find the perfect time to follow up with leads.

Free E-Book: Click here to download LeadBoxer’s free E-Book, “7 Things to Consider in an Email Tracking App”

FREE E-Book: 7 Things to Consider in an Email Tracking App

Download our free E-book and find out exactly what to look for before deciding on a email tracking app.
Download
close-link

 

Callmaker

Callmaker adds an automated calling service on your website. It allows you to collect more phone numbers from sales prospects and call them back almost immediately. It’s a great inbound tool that has the potential to help you start more sales conversations.

 

RightHello

RightHello allows you to solve the problem of not having enough customers coming to you. The tool allows you to easily create a list of thousands of potential customers, pick the companies that appeal to you most, and then send a qualified contact at the company a personalized email message.

 

Colibri IO

Colibri IO allows you to find conversations about your products, brand, and competitors. It gives you the tools you need to discover quality websites where you can build influence and get valuable mentions.

 

Reply

Reply is a method for automating the way that you do email outreach. It allows you to create cold email campaigns that feel like warm emails. This service puts your email outreach on autopilot and is a valuable addition to your lead generation and prospecting stack.

Conclusion – Get Started

If you want to up your game, generate more leads and track your lead’s entire customer journey (including email activity, website activity, and more), we recommend you take a look at LeadBoxer.

 

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.

Free E-Book: Click here to download LeadBoxer’s free E-Book, “7 Things to Consider in an Email Tracking App”

FREE E-Book: 7 Things to Consider in an Email Tracking App

Download our free E-book and find out exactly what to look for before deciding on a email tracking app.
Download
close-link

 

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.

Get Ready-to-Buy signals from your email list

Get a steady stream of qualified leads from your email list. Which of your recipients are ready to be contacted and closed.

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. Touchpoints 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.

 

LeadBoxer can help you safely generate more leads

Get more insight into your online visitors and behaviour, and turn this data into customers.

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