In theory, the process of converting inbound leads into customers seems pretty simple. When someone downloads something they liked it’s an indication of interest.
So if you can generate more leads, all you have to do is hire low-cost business development reps (BDRs) to do the follow-up and nurturing so that when the lead meets a certain level of qualification they can hand them over to a closer.
That process of Predictable Revenue worked well--at least until buyers figured out what we’re doing. They’ve become more reticent to download whitepapers and take demos because they know they’re going to get a call within five minutes from a sales rep and they’re not ready for that.
In addition, inboxes are overflowing with crap (especially after the pandemic when it became the primary tactic for hitting people working from home). And now, not only do you have buyers that won’t download your whitepapers, they will also ignore, delete and unsubscribe from your marketing dribble and non-targeted sales outreach.
It’s finally time to change this model with a newer, more impactful collaboration around customer acquisition (and not just marketing and sales) to develop a stellar customer experience all the way through the customer journey.
In diagnosing where SaaS companies can make changes now towards a better overall customer journey, start by seeing if you’re making any of these common mistakes.
#1 - Your BDRs Aren’t Adding Enough Qualified Prospects to your CRM
Locating and securing qualified prospects is a never-ending battle. It’s a lot like trying to fill a bucket of sand with a hole in the bottom--and COVID made the hole bigger. Because the average database suffers from at least a 25% attrition rate you have to always be filling it back up--and not with targets that meet demographic triggers--they’re must be a reason or trigger. That’s a lot of research, and it starts with your BDRs and marketing team.
#2 - Your Content Is Not Helping them Solve a Problem
For content to generate leads, it has to speak to a business problem that they’re likely to have. If you can demonstrate early on that you understand their problem and have a solution it may generate actionable sales intelligence where the sales rep can use it to reach out and probe to see if there’s commitment to solving it.
#3 - You’re Not Thinking About The Entire Buyer’s Journey
When developing top-of-funnel content like blogs, not only do you have to think about the prospects' problem, you also need to consider where they are in their journey.
Too many blog posts include decent information but fail to understand what to do next.
They either lead to a dead-end and force the reader to leave without taking action or they skip over to booking a sales call or demo.
Use your content to nurture the lead along until they are “sales-ready” (ready to book a call or a demo).
Research the background on the lead and send them more useful content based on potential triggers you found (i.e. they received funding, they’re hiring, the person is new in the position, etc.)
Done well, you’ve got several pieces of content at the ready based on the triggers that will lead them down the path.
#4- Your Website Is Not Optimized For Lead Generation
Your landing pages must be created for the primary purpose of converting a visitor into a lead. This requires the page to include only relevant information and refrain from providing too much text at once.
The form on your page should ask for as few things as possible--name and company email should be enough for a BDR to research them and figure out whether or not they are qualified.
Lastly, be sure to have a clear call to action and links to other related content that helps keep them engaged.
#5- Too Many Gated Resources
More than you realize, your website visitors are deciding not to download that piece of content they were interested in. This is because when you request their information, they assume you are going to contact them immediately to set up a demo call.
Those that do move forward may give you a fake email or ignore your outreach attempts altogether. The best way to avoid this roadblock to only gate only your most valuable resources.
All other content should be free to download and lead to other pieces of content in order to nurture your lead.
#6 - You Are Not Consistently Pushing Prospects To Your Gated Content
Your ungated content should solve the problem the reader was searching for when they found your post. Then, it should guide them to another piece of content that provides more information and potentially solves another pain point.
At some point, you need to push the reader to a gated piece of content that collects their email address. This is where you can attempt to schedule a demo call because you have already spent the time nurturing the lead.
#7 - You Are Not Finding Leverage In Content Distribution
Valuable content will not do much if it cannot be distributed at scale to your target audience. Email campaigns and social media posts are a solid foundation but they are the same tactics your competitors and other brands are using to vie for the same set of eyeballs.
To make this work, you must get creative in the way you distribute your content including guest blogging, public relations, influencer marketing, paid advertising, and content distribution platforms.
#8- Your Prospecting Efforts and Marketing Content Are Not Aligned
Your sales team sets up a conversation because they are selling a product that they believe can solve a specific problem their prospect has. Therefore, your content must be speaking to that specific issue.
It must include some type of trigger to get the prospect to say “Hey, that sounds like the problem I am having” and motivate them to take action. The most common triggers include growth, hiring, going through a merger, launching a new product, or forming a new partnership.
#9- You Are Focusing Too Much On SEO Keywords
The old way of content creation focused on producing blog posts stuffed with relevant keywords to be found on Google. In today’s market, it is nearly impossible for a brand to end up on the first page of Google with this strategy.
The good news is, you don’t have to. As long as you are focused on solving your customers' key problems, you will attract the right type of prospects.
Remember, the goal is audience engagement not search engine ranking--so a better strategy is to use tools like Buzzsumo that show you relevant topics that are being shared and then develop superior content with your solution.
That way, you’re using the abundance of content in a particular niche to your advantage because you already know your audience cares about it.
#10- You Measure The Wrong Things
Marketing tools have given us access to hundreds of different types of metrics. While some of this data is valuable, it can be easy to get lost measuring things like link clicks or time on page.
The only metric that matters is number of qualified meetings that your content is driving to your sales team.
To figure it out, measure how many content downloads converted into sales calls, and then you need to determine how many of those calls were considered qualified leads that led to proposal.
BONUS: You Are Not Following Up On Inbound The Right Way
Once you attract the lead, you must follow up in a way that maintains their interest without pushing for a meeting or demo when they’re not ready.
We wrote a great blog post about this last month that will walk you through the art of the follow-up and help increase your number of closed sales.
Back to Basics
There are no easy answers or silver bullets when it comes to crafting an effective inbound strategy.
The landscape changes so often, it can be incredibly difficult to stay on top of new trends in consumer behavior and marketing tactics.
But if you go back to fundamentals of sales and marketing (valid research, engaging content that helps solve problems, and outreach that is contextual and customized) you’ll be able to stay ahead of the competition.
Need help driving opportunities from your website? Get our inbound lead generation self-assessment.