Lead Generation: Tips for Staying on Target

lead generation strategyEach year Beloit College publishes its annual College Mindset List detailing the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of incoming freshmen. It’s an eye-opener that reveals profound differences in the lives of the latest generation. For example, the class of 2016 has never needed an actual airline “ticket” and they prefer to watch television on anything but an actual TV set. To them, the Sistine Chapel has always been clean and bright.

What a difference a few years makes. While the College Mindset List is an interesting read, it provides professors with cultural context. It also has implications as far as lead generation goes. While you may not be targeting college students, all markets change, making it important to revisit your “ideal customer profile” frequently and modify it as needed.

Identifying your ideal customer is crucial. This allows you to target your marketing materials to the right people and ensure that your messages resonate with them. It also helps you understand and take advantage of opportunities. Here’s how to identify your ideal customer:

  • Create a list of five to ten of your best customers. Write down the qualities that make them your best customers. For example, do they have large budgets, are they profitable, do they send lots of referrals your way, or are they a joy to do business with?
  • Do the same for your five to ten worst customers. Write down the qualities that make them undesirable?
  • Analyze each group to see what qualities they have in common. In some cases, you may find that a single “persona” describes each group as a whole. Several personas may appear.
  • Classify the various customers by SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes detailing industry type, number of employees, annual revenue, and so on.
  • Identify why these customers chose to do business with your company. For example, was there a change that prompted them to switch providers? New regulations that required an investment in products like yours?
  • After looking at what each customer has in common within both groups, you should see distinct differences between your best and worst customers. Focusing on acquiring new customers with the same qualities as your best customers is a sure-fire way to attract more of the same and fewer of those with less desirable qualities.

Creating ideal customer profiles is an important initial step in any marketing endeavor, but marketers often fail to revisit their profiles and adjust as needed. Imagine marketing to this year’s crop of incoming college freshmen using the same messages you just used a few years ago. Not only could your products and services be irrelevant, the media that you use to deliver those messages could be completely wrong. Just a few years ago, social media was in its infancy. Today it’s the go-to destination for reaching many markets. Tomorrow may be a completely different story.

Not only must you continually revisit and refine your ideal customer, marketing messages, and marketing channels, it’s important to look for signs that your target market has shifted. For example, are your customers extremely loyal? As they age and their lifestyles change, they may still be attracted to your brand. However, the same ads that appealed to them as 20-somethings won’t be quite as appealing when they’re in their 30s and 40s. It’s important to recognize changes related to loyalty so that you can continue giving your most loyal customers a reason to return while attracting more of the same at the same time.

Lead generation is an ongoing process that requires your constant attention. Markets can change in as little as a few months, making it crucial that your campaigns reflect those changes.

Conducting a Video-to-Lead Funnel Audit

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the video-to-lead funnel and how you can use online videos to engage, convert, and nurture your site’s visitors. Your website may already have Web videos working diligently on these tasks. However, without first understanding how the video-to-lead funnel works, it’s possible that your current online video strategy doesn’t conform to the funnel’s structure. For example, your site may contain dozens of engaging videos but few designed to convert prospects into leads. Similarly, your site may have many nurturing videos, but few engaging ones. In either situation, gaps should be identified through a video-to-lead funnel audit.

Online Video Audit Step 1: Identify All Web Videos on Your Site

You’ll need a notebook and a block of uninterrupted time for this step. Go through your entire website and list each Web video featured. Watch all videos and identify which phase of the funnel (engage, convert, or nurture) the video falls under. Keep in mind that some videos may have elements from each phase. At this point, focus on the primary purpose of the video.

While you’re at it, write down where the video appears and how viewers get to it. For example, is the video on your home page? Is it on a landing page accessible from an advertisement? Is it on a page your email campaigns point to?

Online Video Audit Step 2: Identify Online Video Gaps

Now that you have a list of web videos and have identified each video’s purpose within the video-to-lead funnel, it’s time to see if any gaps exist. You should have a nice mix of engaging, conversion, and nurturing videos. If your site is filled with conversion and nurturing videos but lacks engaging videos, your online video strategy may not be effective because you haven’t earned the right to jump to those phases yet. Likewise, if your site lacks conversion videos and is heavy on those that engage, you could be missing an opportunity.

Online Video Audit Step 3: Analyze the Progression from One Online Video to the Next

Finally, consider how viewers interact with your online videos. Is there a natural progression leading from one phase of the funnel to the next? For example, after viewing an engaging video, is the user directed to additional options? Is there a call to action to view additional videos or sign up for a newsletter (where you can later send links to additional videos)? Are additional videos easy to locate and well organized?

The Web video audit should show you areas that could use improvement. Whether you need to produce additional Web videos or rearrange navigational elements so that users can easily move through the video-to-lead funnel, taking the time to audit your existing efforts can help you to optimize it for success.

The Nurture Phase of the Video-to-Lead Funnel: A Detailed Look

Okay, your prospects have moved through the video-to-lead funnel. Having first been engaged through informative Web videos and then converted after watching video overviews, demonstrations, and testimonials, they’re now ready to move into the final phase, the nurture phase.

When leads enter the nurture phase of the video-to-lead funnel, you’ve earned the opportunity to make a connection, send follow-ups, and show your solutions. At this point, you have positioned yourself as a knowledgeable expert that understands your leads’ problems.

Web videos in the nurture phase take many forms. For example, you can use Web video to introduce yourself to a lead and invite the lead to meet with you in person. A short video message emailed to a lead is a non-threatening way to introduce yourself and quickly reinforce the benefits of your offer. Your lead can quickly get a taste of your offer’s benefits without meeting with a salesperson just yet. This technique can also overcome a lead’s resistance to talking with a salesperson. After seeing you on video and understanding that you’re a real and caring person, objections to speaking with you on the phone or meeting in person may be eased. Web videos designed to make a connection are an excellent choice when you have accounts that have been previously impossible to penetrate.

Video demonstrations at this phase can be even more detailed than those presented during the convert phase. For example, video demos are effective at converting prospects during the convert phase while in-depth video tutorials further demonstrate the benefits of your product or service.

Following up with leads is crucial. Regular exposure to your message continues building trust, reinforcing benefits, and positioning your product or service as the solution. While there are many ways to follow up, consider using Web video. For example, you could send a video link in an email message when a lead requests information; you could send a video link in a thank you email after a lead has contacted you or ordered a sample; and you could use “special video reports” to encourage leads to sign up for a newsletter and then send regular newsletters (incorporating video links, of course) at specific intervals.

The nurture phase of the video-to-lead funnel provides you with the strongest opportunity yet to close the deal. After all, your prospects have been engaged and converted into qualified leads with a genuine interest in your offerings.

How have you used Web video in the nurture phase? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t worked? Share your thoughts below.

The Convert Phase of the Video-to-Lead Funnel: A Detailed Look

Continuing our discussion about the three phases of the video-to-lead funnel, let’s explore the second phase: convert. As you know, prospects move through the video-to-lead funnel from the top at the “engage” phase, move down through the “convert” phase, and finally enter the “nurture” phase.

Once you’ve engaged your prospects with videos that help solve your prospects’ problems, present tips and best practices, expand upon an event, or otherwise engage your prospects and build trust, the next step is to convert them from casual visitors with a passing interest into legitimate leads with a genuine interest in your offer.

The convert phase provides you with the perfect opportunity to showcase your company, product, or service as well as prove that you can deliver upon your promise. Videos well suited for this phase of the video-to-lead funnel fall into the following three general categories: overviews, demonstrations, and testimonials.

Video Overviews

Video overviews are short Web videos that show case your company, product, or service. Remember, your prospects have already been engaged by viewing earlier videos. At this point, you may have solved a problem, shared interesting ideas, or interviewed a key leader; in short, you’ve earned a degree of trust with your visitors. They’re now much more open to learning more about you and your offerings. A video overview showcasing your company, such as a company tour, or your products and services typically increase prospects’ time on a website by four times over baseline. Not only that, your customer is now much more informed when entering the sales cycle.

Video Demonstrations

Engaged prospects may actively seek additional information as they begin forming their buying decisions. For example, if you’ve discussed a problem in a Web video and mentioned that your product was designed as a solution to this problem, an engaged prospect may look for a demonstration video to see the product in action. Demonstration videos educate and inform prospects about the product or service, reinforce benefits, and serve as proof of concept. Sure, you can say that your widget sets up in less than 10 seconds, but the real proof is in actually seeing the widget being set up – in less than 10 seconds as promised. Web video can do that. These video demos also position you as an expert who understands the challenges and problems prospects face, and they show that you have the best solution.

Video Testimonials

Video testimonials are particularly powerful. Again, you say how wonderful your product is all day long but your word isn’t nearly as trustworthy as that of a prospect’s peers. Video testimonials show proof that your product or service has served others extremely well. For example, which of the following is more credible: “Our widget will save you $1000 per year in utility bills” or “This widget paid for itself in the first month and saved me over $1000 last year on my electric bills”? Video testimonials serve as an accelerated, and effective, form of word-of-mouth advertising.

The video-to-lead funnel’s convert phase is an important phase where you can build upon the trust you’ve already earned with your prospects.

The Engage Phase of the Video-to-Lead Funnel: A Detailed Look

Earlier, we talked about the “video-to-lead funnel” with its three phases:Engage, Convert, and Nurture. This funnel represents a strategy for using Web video to guide and convert prospects. The broadest part of the funnel is the Engage phase. In order for a prospect to convert, that prospect must first be engaged. How do you use video to engage prospects? Let’s explore.

In general, videos that add value engage your site’s visitors. Examples of engaging videos include:

  • Interviews with thought leaders on topics of interest to your site’s visitors. This type of video typically increases engagement by two and a half to three times over baseline.
  • Videos consisting of tips or best practices of interest to your site’s visitors. These videos typically increase engagement by two and a half to three times over baseline.
  • Videos that contain solutions to your prospects’ problems.

Promotional videos can also engage your site’s visitors. For example:

  • A video spokesperson that guides your visitors to specific Web pages is much more engaging than a text link.
  • Videos embedded in reports and white papers can bring the material to life and engage your prospects.
  • Video links in newsletters add interest while also driving your prospects to specific pages on your website. In addition, video links in newsletters have been shown to reduce opt-out rates.
  • Videos positioned on landing pages increase landing page conversion rates by one and a half to two times over baseline. They also encourage follow through on your call to action by reinforcing the benefits of your offer.

Videos related to an event are another terrific way to engage your prospects. In fact, you can use videos before, during, and after an event, adding value and engaging prospects each step along the way. For example:

  • Before the event – Use video to promote your event and increase attendance. This strategy typically results in an improvement of two to four times over baseline.
  • During the event – Video displays during the event engage attendees and add another dimension to your presentation while recording the event itself ensures that you have footage to share afterward.
  • After the event – The possibilities for using video after an event are vast. You could post highlights from the event on your website for those who couldn’t attend, thereby engaging prospects after the fact. You could edit the footage to include detailed excerpts from speakers and post it on your website. You could use excerpts from the event as you promote the next event in the series. You could create an event follow-up video with a special offer which typically results in a follow-up response of 22% to 35%. Each of these post-event videos allow you to keep the conversation going and reach attendees and non-attendees alike. They also strengthen your position as an expert.

What do all of the above videos have in common? They engage prospects.

How have you used Web video to engage your site’s visitors? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Video-to-Lead Funnel: Guide Your Prospects to the Sale

Leveraging Web video to generate sales leads requires more than glitter and technology, you need a strategy to guide your visitors through the process. First, visitors must land on your website. Once, there, you’ll need to shape their buying decisions. One of the best ways to transform your prospects into qualified leads is to use the “video-to-lead funnel.” Here’s a look at what it is and how to leverage it.

video to lead funnelWhat is the Video-to-Lead Funnel?

Like a traditional funnel, the video-to-lead funnel is wide at the top, tapering down to a small spout.

Prospects fall into your video-to-lead funnel at the top where you’ll have the opportunity to engage them through informative videos, promotional videos, event videos, and other videos that add value. Video content that adds value, encourages follow through on calls to action, or adds interest is ideal in this phase of the funnel.

As prospects move down the funnel, you’ll need to convert them to qualified leads with videos that educate prospects about your company, products, and services. Typical videos that aid in the conversion process include demonstrations, product overviews, and testimonials. Because prospects have experienced engaging videos earlier, they know that you offer something of interest to them. Now, they need proof of concept in order to convert. Videos such as company overviews, product or service demonstrations, and video testimonials accomplish this vital task.

After going through the engagement and conversion processes, your prospects approach the spout of the funnel where the nurture process begins. At this point in the funnel, you have the opportunity to make a connection with your prospects, send follow-ups, and present solutions. All along, your videos have been preparing your prospects to get to this point: the point where they’re no long prospects who happened by your website but qualified leads who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Your videos at this point can arrive after requests for information, as email follow-ups, or through deeper links within your site.

What Can the Video-to-Lead Funnel Do for You?

When successfully implemented, a video-to-lead funnel improves conversion rates and shortens the sales cycle. At the top of the funnel, engaging videos can increase conversion by 20 to 200 percent. In the middle of the funnel, conversion videos increase engagement two to four times. As these prospects progress through the bottom of the funnel, you’ll likely see an increased close rate and a shorter sales cycle.

Putting the Video-to-Lead Funnel to Work

Simply embedding a few YouTube videos on your website or blog isn’t a strategy and knowing that the video-to-lead funnel exists isn’t enough. You must actively plan, implement, and manage your funnel. This involves the production of professional, well-crafted videos and effective calls to action for each section of the funnel. Like water moving through a funnel, prospects go through the video-to-lead funnel from the top to the bottom. Plan your strategy so that each section (Engage, Convert, and Nurture) logically leads to the next and you’re sure to see improvement in conversion rates.

Creating an Effective Call to Action on the Web

The Web has become a marketing bonanza with the potential to reach a massive audience. However, you may only have one chance to make an impression with a site visitor, so make sure to take full advantage of it by including an effective call to action. Calls to action are simple prompts that tell the visitor exactly what they need to do next. For example, “Click get started to schedule your free initial consultation” is a call to action. Calls to action can be used in all of your Web marketing efforts including: on webpages; in 60-second promotional Web videos; and in virtual spokesperson Web videos.

Creating Effective Calls to Action
buy buttonIn order to be effective, calls to action must be simple, beneficial, and positive. This is true regardless of where you ultimately place the call to action.

  • Calls to action must tell the user what action you want the user to take. If your webpage has been created to sell a product, then the call to action needs to tell the user to take an action that will lead to a purchase such as “click for a free quote.” If a Web video is informational, a call to action prompting the user to visit your website for a free information report containing additional information may be in order.
  • Calls to action must be simple. No one wants to jump through hoops simply because they watched a Web video or visited a website. Users may be willing to fill out a short survey, comment on your blog, sign up for a newsletter, or order a product, but they may not be willing to write an essay, watch a three-hour presentation, or perform a series of complex tasks just because you say they should. Keep your calls to action simple, and they’ll be more likely to be acted upon. In addition, limit your call to action to just one. Otherwise, if you offer too many calls, your visitors may opt not answer any of them.
  • Calls to action must be beneficial to the user. Few users blindly follow calls to action without knowing what’s in it for them. If you want to collect email addresses for marketing purposes, that’s not good enough for most users. On the other hand, users might respond if they’ll get a free report or access to informative articles. Make sure to tell your users how they will benefit by taking the action.
  • Calls to action must be positive. While chain letters may work focusing on fears and negative consequences, Web marketing generally doesn’t. Use positive language, ideas, and concepts. For example, which of the following two phrases, “Avoid prison by reading this book” or “Become a better citizen by reading this book,” is positive? While avoiding prison is certainly worth doing, it carries with it a negative connotation (that the user is a potential criminal). Becoming a better citizen is positive and applies to everyone, not just criminals. When crafting your text or dialogue, imagine your users nodding along in agreement. Wouldn’t you rather set your users up to say yes rather than no? By using positive language and keeping your calls to action positive, your users will be more likely to agree with you and follow your lead.

Whether you’re creating calls to action for webpages, 60-second promotional Web videos, or for virtual spokesperson Web videos, tell your users what they need to do and how it will benefit them while also keeping the calls to action simple and positive. Use these techniques in all of your Web marketing efforts and you’re sure to see improved conversion rates.

What are your favorite calls to action? What has worked for you? Join the discussion and explore this in greater detail in the comments section below.