Close the Lead Conversion Gap By Answering These 5 Questions

Did you know that 53% of marketers spend at least half their budget on lead generation? Despite how much marketers spend on lead generation, just 12% of digital marketers are satisfied with their lead conversion abilities.

This is called “The Lead Conversion Gap,” and it might be the biggest challenge marketers face in 2022 and beyond.

Think about it like this. Previously, it was easier to start a conversation with a stranger at a party than to deepen and develop a relationship with a person. Those initial contact points are being started in virtual spaces, but the idea is the same.

What is more valuable, dozens of loose, new connections or a series of deeper, more established connections?

That answer is obvious. New leads don’t make you money, just like surface-level connections don’t provide you the value that deepening connections and relationships do.

How can marketers effectively close the gap between lead generation and lead conversion?

This is a topic of a survey by Ascend2 and Verse, which reveals 4 key findings of the lead conversion gap:

  • Companies need more lead qualification data.
  • Companies struggle to establish immediate initial contact with leads.
  • Companies need to initiate 2-way conversations, not single-sided broadcasts.
  • Effective follow-up by sales is a massive challenge.

The survey represents the opinions of 244 marketing and sales reps working within B2B and B2C markets. These findings reveal that while many marketers understand the theoretical concepts of lead qualification and nurture, they don’t succeed at them in practice.

Let’s shine the light on this gap to close it.

What does it mean when a lead is “quality”? 

“Mutual understanding. The more a person knows about your company/product/services and the more you know about them and their needs, the more efficient and effective your communication becomes, and as a result, both parties are satisfied,” said Ascend2 CEO Todd Lebo.

More than three-quarters (78%) of marketing and sales professionals say they screen their leads for quality. And 86% of marketers say they have some sort of criteria for “quality,” though only 39% use it to screen leads every time.  But do they meet the standard that Lebo states?

Part of closing the gap between lead generation and conversion is a lead screening process that is used on each lead generated.

Here are some questions sales and marketing can ask when establishing a lead screening process:

  • Do sales and marketing agree on a specific minimum field requirement a lead must have?
  • What processes do you have in place to remove leads that have junk or test data?
  • Is there defined information that immediately disqualifies a lead?

Mutual understanding ensures you’re focusing on leads that can be converted. That mutual understanding is between three groups. The lead, sales, and marketing must be on the same page.

You need clean, hygienic data. And that’s before you even start sending leads to sales. These are the minimum requirements that occur toward the top of the tunnel. Without the proper fields in your database, you don’t know that leads have the proper company size, industry, etc., for what you’re trying to sell.

How do you get the data you need for proper lead quality screening?

“First, validate the contact data as it is collected,” said Lebo. “Second is ‘assigning data quality responsibility’ followed by ‘integrating sales and marketing data.’ If you start with these three tactics, you will see a dramatic improvement in the quality of your data.”

Getting the right amount of data on a lead (especially linked with behavior signals of interest) can be one of the bigger obstacles companies face as they screen leads for conversion potential.

43% of those surveyed said that collecting enough data on leads is their greatest barrier to successful lead conversion.

There are a handful of ways to ensure you collect enough data on leads to screen, then nurture and convert them properly. Some of these tactics include:

  • Buying leads pre-qualified from quality 3rd party vendors.
  • Creating quality lead magnets that provide value for data.
  • Matching data from third-party sources with inbound data and behavioral data.

Why is rapid follow-up so important?

“Channel is important, but having fast-initial contact with a lead is even more critical. If you can contact someone within 30 minutes, you will dramatically improve conversion,” said Lebo. “That requires 24/7 availability. Why is speed so important? When you don’t follow up quickly, prospects start to lose interest, seek out your competition, and feel unappreciated by you.”

Most marketing depends on a series of micro-yesses that lead up to the big yes (the buy). If someone gives your brand one of those yeses and you don’t immediately start the process of garnering another yes, you have the potential to lose steam toward the final yes.

Immediacy is important. If you don’t follow up fast, prospects start to:

  • Lose interest or leave their device
  • Seek out the competition for answers
  • Feel unappreciated or under-wowed

Speed to lead is important for both moving qualified leads down the pipeline and then all the way to the sales process. Increasing speed to lead is accomplished with good-quality data, automation, and more.

What is the best way to reach out to leads for initial contact?

“The research reveals that phone and email are the most common formats used for initial contact,” said Lebo. “An underutilized channel is text/SMS. 89% of consumers prefer to communicate with businesses via text/SMS. With an opportunity as clearly defined as this, it may be wise to re-examine your communication strategy and add text/SMS to the mix.”

It turns out there’s a sequence and timing to contacting leads just right to get them from initial exposure to the buy. That mix is tailored to not just your brand but also each lead.

How can marketers make initial (and continued) contact feel personal?

“Think one-to-one as you are crafting your content. Be sincere in your communication and provide a specific reason why you are communicating with them,” said Lebo. “Dig deep with your customization and personalization to show that you understand their specific needs. There are art and science to striking the right balance between professional and personal.”

Today’s leads want to feel like they’re communicating with other human beings. To close the lead conversion gap, marketers need to engage quality leads in conversations that matter.

Even when many of these solutions rely on automation (and your prospects know it), it’s still possible to craft communication that meets a lead’s hyper-specific needs.

This requires a two-sided dialogue and a hyper-personalized, ever-shifting strategy.

Let us know what you think: 

  • Are you aware of the lead conversion gap? 
  • How do you tackle the lead conversion gap?
  • How do you make communications with prospects feel more personal?

This blog post was originally written by Acadia Otlowski on November 5th, 2020.

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