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Friday, July 10, 2009

Lead nurturing

Clay Posey
at sent me this email after completing my "spammy" survey seeking to understand if there is a way to convert initial inquiries from this blog to requests for special advertising-supported features within the Design and Construction Report.

(If you wish to see -- or take -- the survey, you can find it here.)
I read your blog post about the results - interesting. Yes, the survey you sent out tends to be on the “outbound” side of things. Emailed surveys are perceived as “spammy”. Even unsolicited emails to an opt-in list get bounces these days. Let me offer a couple of observations if I may.

First, in regards to the instrument design, your choices were very narrow (which can be good) but they were not inclusive. Regarding question three, your answers are restrictive. I would have included an option for “available at no cost to me.” Everyone knows that advertising pays for publication if they’ve ever done any advertising at all. The fact that you can create an advertorial piece at little or no cost to the client is really quite amazing. You could always explain the advertising in a marketing or sales conversation. And I’m sure you realize 15 is not a statistically valid number. Any given outbound campaign I do results in a 2 to 3 per cent opt out with the occasional spam. If your bounces were shown as SPAM and not just unsubs then I’d really have to think about why. I know Constant Contact's Spam check feature would have caught any obvious problems. That fact is disturbing.

Second, in regards to inbound marketing, it is anything but passive if done correctly. Your blog and your high Google rank are huge for lead generation. They are inbound tools at their best. Inbound, in a nut shell is about getting found (Creating interesting compelling content coupled with superior SEO efforts), converting (this is the "not passive" part of calls to action {step 1} leading to stunning offers {step 2}) that change visitors to leads) and then a solid LEAD NURTURING PROGRAM to convert leads to sales. You’re a pro so I don’t even want to begin to sound like I’m schooling you on marketing, but I’m betting that the gap in your program is related to lead scoring and lead nurturing. What you are doing so well with your blog and your SEO works so well that when coupled with the rest of the program, the results eclipse all other marketing efforts.

I have a client who is an architect. He was actually my first client. Last year he had two leads off of his web site. Every keyword he wanted to rank for was at least 100 pages deep in Google. I started working on his inbound marketing in earnest last March. In June, he was on the front page of Google for 15 of his keywords. For two of them, he ranks number two. He also had 17 leads off of his website. Zero from his outbound efforts by the way. It all boiled down to getting him found, giving folks a reason to stick when they got to the site, creating specific landing pages for specific personas, having a stunning offer for them to respond to and then tracking to analyze and improve the effort. It will only get better over time.
Intrigued, I have invited Clay to work with me to solve the lead nurturing problem with this blog. Can we redefine our methodologies to encourage more positive results, and relate more closely the lead quality and ranking to our sales efforts?

We discussed the best approach to take, and Clay recommended that we try out variations in the communication/copy and measure results with a/b testing. That is, we compare the existing/standard approach with an alternative, and see which one pulls greater responses. We may need to conduct several a/b tests over time, as we tweak the system, hoping to find a "home run" but regardless, seeing how the quality and effectiveness of the leads management system can be improved.

In the weeks ahead, I'll report on our progress. You'll see as the story unfolds how we develop new business and build a system for leads management and sales which can be effectively adapted to your own organization. If, as I think will happen, Clay succeeds in solving my challenge, he will rightfully earn the strongest endorsement possible (and of course validate some other marketing principals outlined in this blog, namely that respectfulness, sharing, and contributing without worrying about immediate results are far more effective marketing methodologies than conventional, irritating and intrusive advertising and sales practices.)

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