An interview with GA Creative’s campaign strategist Karen Axtell: For more than 20 years, Karen has developed lead generation strategies for local, national and global companies, helping them refine efforts to achieve more cost-effective acquisitions over time.
Today, buyers do research online, finding a variety of educational resources through search engines, social media and other online channels. With these content resources, today’s buyer can learn a great deal about a product or service before ever having to even speak to a sales person. So, businesses must make sure that they have a robust digital presence to build trust and capture the interest of prospects. That’s why we asked our campaign strategist, Karen, how to use content marketing to generate qualified leads who will turn into sales faster.
If a company wants to ramp up their lead generation efforts, where should they start?
Companies need to understand their buyer personas and the buyer’s journey. Then they can put the tools in place to attract, convince and close leads. The secret formula is a smart mix of tactics that will help build awareness, educate and prove your solution to buyers.
What are some best practices in nurturing leads through the funnel that companies should follow?
It starts with mapping lead nurturing content to each stage in the sales cycle. If you’re reaching cold prospects, you should speak to what’s on the mind of your prospects before you talk about your own product features. The content for the top of the funnel should be industry thought leadership or practical tips—not product-driven content.
In addition to posting your content on your own website, it’s also really useful to tap industry publications or content syndication platforms to host your content in trusted environments where more prospects might encounter it.
Once a prospect has expressed more interest, that’s when demos can be used to showcase your solution. And case studies can be used to prove it works.
What skillsets are needed to ensure an end-to-end lead generation effort succeeds?
As they say, it takes a village. It’s starts with strategy, so a campaign strategist should map out a targeted plan. And then copywriters and designers need to work hand in hand to gather information from subject matter experts to create white papers, eGuides, videos, webinars and other nurture content. They can also develop ads to drive interest in your content offers. A social strategist can oversee a blog and social efforts. And someone skilled in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) should oversee optimizing your site for search and paid search advertising. Marketing operations should be in place to build automated nurture campaigns, making sure the CRM is functioning as designed, and capture the results in reports. Making sure the sales team is aware of all marketing efforts helps with a smooth transition of marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads.
How can sales and marketing best work together to see results?
Sales and marketing need to work together—not in silos. Meeting to agree on goals at the start of any lead generation campaign is a critical first step. Generating high quality leads is one of the biggest challenges cited by sales orgs. If marketing is aware of sales goals up front, it can use them as a guidepost for campaign activity. In addition, use marketing automation tools to shuttle leads generated through marketing efforts into the sales funnel seamlessly. Sales teams can follow-up in a timely manner and marketing teams can focus on continuing campaigns to bring in qualified leads.
How do you recommend that companies track and measure ROI on their lead gen efforts?
This is consistently one of the biggest challenges companies face. Tracking a lead from the first time they interact with a piece of your content through to a sale is not always easy if your technology stack isn’t integrated and doesn’t enable you to easily pull reports that show this type of data. Many companies track various statistics to gauge the results of their lead generation efforts, including:
- Web conversion by traffic source
- Quantity of opt-ins year over year
- Cost per opt-in: Campaign costs/quantity of opt-ins
- Cost per opt-in by content offer
- Quantity of trials year over year
- Cost per session from social
- Email unique opens and clicks, often viewed as an open/click rate against the total delivered