Whether they’re enticing potential buyers with an intriguing blog post, a comprehensive educational white paper or a handy online calculator, the best marketers always know exactly who they’re looking for -- and who they aren’t.
In exchange for enjoying any of the above content marketing assets, for example, businesses usually make sure to set up some kind of landing page or form that allows them to capture basic information about who the interested party is, their company, their role within the organization and so on. These kinds of details can help those running a campaign through tools like Marketing Cloud get closer to “intent data” about why they’re interested in the content (besides the fact that it’s well-produced or somewhat compelling). When the filtering process begins, this intent data becomes a critical part of determining which names get passed on to the sales team as leads, and which ones get scrapped.
For the most part, there are usually a few categories included in the reg form that make it clear who the sales team won’t be calling. There could be debates, for example, over whether the key decision-maker at a prospect is the manager who downloads the white paper versus the director or vice-president, but unless you’re in the education space, you’re probably going to ignore anyone who checked off “student.”
During the campaign reporting process, there is always a period of “scrubbing” the leads so that the team can only focus on the strongest possibilities in terms of potential customers. There will be a number of leads, for instance, that don’t even include a business e-mail address, which is often a sure sign that you won’t be able to connect the intent data to a real buyer.
There may be occasions, however, when some of those scrubbed leads deserve a second look. They might never be your highest priority, but one of the benefits of marketing automation is being able to free yourself from some of the more onerous aspects of lead generation in order to pursue higher-level opportunities or experiment with things that could bring extra value. These are a few ideas on where some of that time could be reinvested.
Consider some of the following lead “rejects,” for example, and you may see them in a new light:
Market research firms develop a lot of their expertise by conducting surveys about what buyers in a given market are doing, or how they feel about a particular trend. Another aspect of staying relevant, however, is knowing the latest news or thinking from the sector’s main vendors. That’s why analysts may routinely download content, like white papers or eBooks, that were primarily designed for buyers.
Bear in mind, though, that while an analyst won’t be making a purchase, they could be a strong influencer to those who do. Or, more specifically, they could be among those who influence your influencers -- the people within an account who don’t make the final buying decision but offer their input and feedback during the selection process.
Reaching out to an analyst who has downloaded an asset may reveal that they’re compiling a buyer’s guide or comparative report, in which case your firm might want to offer a briefing or additional resources to make sure they fully understand your value proposition and competitive differentiators. Or you might discover that the analyst downloaded the asset because they’re hearing more from their own clients about interest in your category of products and services. This could be a highly useful way to learn about common pain points or challenges that informs the next set of content assets you produce.
Sometimes when leads aren’t well-scrubbed, a sales rep winds up calling the editor or reporter of a newspaper or trade publication in an ill-fated attempt to pitch them. Like analyst firms, the media frequently turns to eBooks or other content marketing assets to learn more about a story they’re developing, which may or may not be a profile of your firm.
In this case, the value might be in looking at your firm’s corporate communications or public relations strategy. If these kinds of assets were sent directly to journalists rather than having them dig around, for instance, how might that translate into more or better coverage of your firm’s products and services? Like analysts, journalists may also be worth approaching for a conversation about what they’re hearing from customers, or even what they think of your content. After all, these are storytellers by trade -- if they find what they’ve downloaded to be irrelevant or poorly done, they could give insight into what might drive better engagement.
This isn’t usually an option you see on a reg form, but it’s a category of scrubbed leads all the same. All you have to do is scan through and see some very familiar names and email addresses, for instance, and you’ll know which portion of your list are from your own team.
In some cases, those downloading marketing assets internally might be from the sales side, who want to understand what messages customers are hearing. In other cases it might be less clear: why would someone in accounting or HR want to look at your latest white paper, you might wonder.
Take time occasionally to do some detective work on these “useless” leads. Those in another department may be connecting with your customers or the market in ways that you never expected, leading to alliances and partnerships that didn’t exist before. In other cases, you might simply discover some communication gaps, where employees didn’t know they could request content marketing assets directly without downloading, or access them on a shared drive or other internal repository.
The point here is to be open-minded and creative about how you use data from your lead generation programs. Even those who check off “student” might offer learnings about what the next generation of your buyers are focused on. Those who choose “other” may simply be too small to qualify as customers today, but they could grow quickly tomorrow. The data in Marketing Cloud is powerful -- and the companies that make the most of it become powerfully good at building a stronger brand.