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Why You're Struggling to Generate Enough Marketing Qualified Leads

Posted by David O'Sullivan

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image credit: sarah buckley/flickr cc

If you feel like you’re constantly fighting to generate enough marketing qualified leads, you’re not alone.

The single biggest challenge B2B marketers face is generating enough qualified leads to pass to sales.  Many marketers are faced with tough lead generation performance metrics which lead to a quantity-focused mindset. This can lead to frustrated sales teams and poor lead-to-customer conversion rates. However, as HubSpot’s Alison Savery highlights, generating fewer leads could yield more revenue. The trick is ensuring that your leads are marketing-qualified and ready to purchase as soon as you perform the sales handoff.

What is a Marketing Qualified Lead, Anyway?

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is defined by Sam Kusinitz as a lead that’s most likely to become a customer based on existing customer intelligence.

In order to effectively qualify your leads, your business needs a few critically important marketing technology tools:

  • Closed-loop analytics reporting
  • Buyer persona profiles
  • Lead scoring criteria

By understanding the behaviors, demographic and firmographic factors that your best customers share, you’re able to predict a lead’s likeliness to buy. Perhaps your most valuable customers share a job title of “Operations Director,” or spend a lot of time engaged with your pricing page before they’re ready to pull the trigger. The demographic and behavioral significators of a marketing qualified lead can vary significantly among B2B brands.

Building a lead-scoring program to ensure that every prospect your marketing team passes to sales has a decent chance of closing requires marketing intelligence. However, you can also take some important actions to shape your marketing campaigns to attract qualified leads. In this blog, you’ll learn some ways to attract your ideal customers through targeted inbound marketing communications.

Create Data-Driven Buyer Personas

Research indicates that brands too often fail to really understand their customers. According to the Edelman group, 51% of consumers believe that vendors don’t understand their needs. By creating vivid, data-driven profiles of your best customers, your marketing department can gain the ability to create marketing materials that are filled with value.

Buyer persona profiles should include the following attributes:

  • Behavioral motivations
  • Common objections or obstacles
  • Demographic characteristics
  • Firmographic (company) characteristics
  • Buyer’s journey overview

New brands or companies just beginning to implement marketing analytics and CRM technologies can build baseline buyer persona profiles through customer interviews. Your sales and customer service teams are also a trove of insights into your customer’s most frequently-asked questions and objections.

Remember, first drafts of your buyer persona profiles are ultimately just a hypothesis. You may believe that your best customers are “Directors of Sales” who are motivated by a competitive personality and desire for a promotion, but your marketing analytics could prove you wrong. It’s important to take a continual improvement-inspired approach to creating and maintaining buyer personas. Use real customer insights to update these segment profiles on an ongoing basis.

Establish Behaviorally-Driven Lead Scoring Criteria

Marketing and sales teams have traditionally scored leads through application of “BANT,” an acronym used to describe “budget, authority, need, and timeline.” While these are critical lead qualifiers, they’re not the only factors brands should include in their marketing lead scoring.

Perhaps a lead has the authority (job title) and the budget, but they’re just not that engaged with your product pages. Maybe they’ve failed to return to your website since the first time they downloaded one of your free eBooks three weeks ago. Behavioral factors are a critically important component of understanding your lead’s readiness to be passed to sales.

HubSpot software and other marketing platforms provide marketers with the ability to establish lead scoring criteria that include web analytics. By tracking how your prospects engage with your brand on social media, your website, and in lead nurturing emails, you can gain a better understanding of who’s most interested

Understand Your Buyer’s Journey

50% of leads are qualified but just not ready to make a purchase. Additionally, on average, 75% of your leads are just engaged for your free eBooks and have little intent to make a purchase. Creating lead nurturing workflows for your marketing campaigns can allow your brand to remain top-of-mind for prospects who’ve converted on your website, but just aren’t ready to engage with a member of your sales team.

An effective lead nurturing campaign requires understanding of your brand’s unique buyer’s journey. Perhaps your average customers spend 6 months researching before they’re ready to talk to sales. These insights are best gleaned from customer interviews and marketing data, so you can optimize your email communications to fit your prospects’ journey through awareness, comparison, and making a final decision with relevant content.

Personalized web content is another way to “progressively profile” your leads and determine exactly who’s marketing qualified and ready to engage with sales. By presenting new, targeted content offers each time a lead visits your website, you can continue to educate your leads and nurture their interest in your brand.

Generating perfectly-qualified leads isn’t simple. However, with a deep understanding of your ideal buyer’s needs and journey towards purchase, you can deliver relevant content resources to educate them along their journey.

Does your brand struggle to generate enough marketing-qualified leads? Share your experience in the comments!

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Topics: inbound marketing, buyer personas, pain points, content marketing

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