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.

 

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