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The True Story Behind Qualifying Leads Through Content

By Kelsey Meyer

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Not long ago, an adorably hilarious AT&T commercial taught us that more is always better. Although I hate to challenge a kindergartener, in this situation, I must. More might be better when you’re talking about cheesecake or compliments, but it’s not always the case with leads. More is only significant if you have more qualified leads.

The definition of a qualified versus non-qualified lead can be interpreted in many ways, so for the purpose of this article, I will define a qualified lead as a prospect who’s more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on his or her activity before converting. 

To put the process of qualifying a lead into perspective — and what it can mean for your company — let’s dive into the story of Bob Brand. 

The Journey of the Ideal Prospect Bob Brand 

Bob Brand is a new marketing director at a mid-sized IT company. He’s tasked with revamping the marketing process and has heard a colleague use the term “marketing automation.” Curious, Bob Googles, “What is marketing automation?” and finds an article HubSpot wrote on the subject.

After reading the article, Bob subscribes to the HubSpot blog to continue educating himself on marketing automation. After reading a few more HubSpot blog posts, Bob downloads a whitepaper on “Getting Started With Marketing” to learn more. 

After all of this reading and research, Bob finally fills out a contact form on the HubSpot site, asking to be contacted by a sales rep. The sales rep answers Bob’s questions about pricing and implementation, but Bob isn’t ready to pull the trigger yet.

Instead of simply checking in with Bob every week, the sales rep sends Bob an article or two each week with some notes on how this content is relevant to Bob and his decision on which marketing automation software to use.

Bob is interested, but he wants to be positive he’s making an educated decision, so he asks to speak to a current HubSpot customer. The HubSpot sales rep, wanting to respect his client’s time, sends over three different case studies detailing specific customers’ experiences.

Bob loves the case studies, decides to take the plunge, purchases HubSpot, and dives right in.

Because Bob had done so much research on what he needed and the concept as a whole, he understands how to make the most of his automation software. He’s also able to educate his entire marketing department and even shares some of the content he’s read with the rest of the team to gain buy-in faster.

The HubSpot sales rep continues to send Bob articles that will help him navigate the software and shows him the resource center where he can learn even more about how to use HubSpot. 

Bob loves all of these resources and shares them on social media and with his professional groups. By sharing these articles, Bob isn’t just a wonderful and loyal customer; he’s also a brand advocate for HubSpot.

Bob Brand is the ideal qualified lead. He went through much of the purchasing cycle before even contacting a salesperson. Once he decided to purchase, he had a thorough understanding of what HubSpot could do for him and didn’t just opt for the cheapest package. He was an ideal client, taking full advantage of the product and even referring friends.

Statistical Proof That Bob Brand Exists 

If Bob Brand sounds more like a mystical creature, take a look at these stats to bring your perspective back down to earth:

  • Bob (like 81 percent of consumers) searched online before contacting a salesperson.
  • Companies that nurture leads well generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost. The salesperson kept in touch with Bob by sending him links to relevant content in emails, which is a cost-effective approach. 
  • Nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. It’s not surprising that Bob opted for the larger HubSpot package that was a better fit for his company.

Basically, Bob Brands are self-informed potential customers who understand the value your product or service offers by reading informative content. The best part? You just have to put the guides in place, and Bob Brands will follow the path to purchase on their own. 

How to Attract Your Own Bob Brands 

There are a number of moving parts involved in nurturing leads through content, but if implemented correctly, you could see a spike in qualified leads while doing less work overall. Here’s what you need to do to get started: 

1. Develop a content strategy.

Content is your most powerful sales tool. But to deliver content that’s relevant and helpful to prospects, you have to identify the specific audience you’re targeting and understand the information they need. This is where your content strategy comes into play. This will guide your content creation efforts and should be a comprehensive document detailing the following items:

  • Attributes of your audience or personas
  • An in-depth industry analysis
  • Pain points your potential customers might have

Then, you craft educational articles that speak to the right audience and are unique from your competitors’ content. The information you provide should teach prospects about your company and industry and put their concerns at bay.

2. Set up an email marketing campaign.

Once you have your content ammo, your email marketing campaign will be the vessel that deploys it to the right people at the right time. We use HubSpot to automate our messages and segment our contact lists so we can deliver specific content to prospects at every stage of the buyer journey.

3. Create a lead-scoring system.

This is how you differentiate your leads and understand what stage of the funnel they’re in. Each time a visitor takes a specific action (e.g., fills out a contact form or downloads a whitepaper), use HubSpot to assign points to the action.

While the leads make their way through your content, educating themselves on your services and industry, look for the perfect time to reach out with a custom email. Define a magic number of how many “marketing qualified lead” points they need to hit before you start customizing emails. 

4. Switch to custom emails.

In the traditional sales process, salespeople check in with prospects every couple of weeks, usually to find that not much has changed. When you switch to custom emails, you’re reaching out to leads with a specific purpose: to provide relevant educational tools. In Bob Brand’s story, you saw the sales rep follow up with articles instead of generic “just checking in” emails. This reminded Bob of HubSpot’s service and gave him more opportunities to engage with the brand and uncover its value. 

5. Monitor your analytics.

Tracking your lead sources will shed light on how content is working behind the scenes to move prospects along the sales funnel. When our company publishes articles in external publications to begin the process of nurturing leads with content, something interesting happens in our analytics.

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Our top sources for visitors converting into leads in the past five months are “referrals” and “other campaigns.” In this instance, both of these lead sources refer to articles we published in external publications, but are simply tagged differently.

These leads usually read more of the content we send through our email marketing campaign, download one of our whitepapers, or even subscribe to our blog. The result is new customers who ultimately choose us because they understand what they need and what we offer, and they trust our company because we’ve guided them through the buying process with engaging educational content.

Once you put the processes in place, all the gears can work together to qualify leads naturally, leaving you with more educated prospects and loyal customers in the long run.

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Posted on January 15, 2015

About Kelsey Meyer

Kelsey is the President and cofounder of Influence & Co. She loves reading, learning, golf, orange Gatorade, and, most importantly, her amazing I&Co. team.

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