Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation


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Thirteen page E-book (PDF) on the top 10 tips for using outbound marketing for your online lead generation campaigns.

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Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation

  1. 1. [Title Goes Here] An Informative E-book from the Marketing White Paper Series Sponsored by WinGreen Marketing Systems Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation An Informative E-book from the Marketing White Paper Series Sponsored by WinGreen Marketing Systems
  2. 2. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 2 Contents Introduction....................................................................................................................... 3 Online Lead Generation Definitions...................................................................................... 3 Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation.............................................................................. 5 1. Work closely with sales to define “the perfect lead”........................................................... 5 2. Communicate campaigns to salespeople.......................................................................... 6 3. Never “sell” during the lead generation phase.................................................................. 7 4. Offer fresh, relevant content........................................................................................... 7 5. Use a mix of marketing assets ........................................................................................ 8 6. Don’t stray outside the target segment............................................................................ 8 7. Stick to a consistent schedule.......................................................................................... 9 8. Don’t mix objectives......................................................................................................10 9. Use multiple waves in every campaign............................................................................11 10. Comply with CAN-SPAM...............................................................................................11 Conclusion........................................................................................................................12
  3. 3. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 3 Introduction By now, everyone knows that online lead generation can reach a much broader audience, deliver many more leads, and improve sales conversion rates, all at significantly lower cost per lead when compared to conventional direct marketing methods. Companies are paying more attention to their web landing pages, their search results, and their content marketing, and seeing good results. Still, very few companies have created integrated systems of marketing that include original marketing content (papers, blogs, webcasts, podcasts), software systems (mass emailing, de-duplication, CRM), and well-honed methods and procedures, all operating together as a synchronized lead generation machine. This paper will provide the top ten tips for creating your own lead generation machine and getting the best possible results from it. Online Lead Generation Definitions Let’s start with some definitions. When we say “online lead generation”, we mean the process of using Internet outreach (typically email) along with content marketing to deliver interesting offers to members of your target segment in order to create enough interest on their part to self-identify themselves back to you (typically through a Web landing page). Here are the common terms used in digital marketing and online lead generation. Content Marketing: Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action1 . Marketing Assets: These are the “premiums” used to attract the interest of a potential buyer or influencer from within your target market segment(s). Examples include webcasts, web seminars, white papers, surveys, email newsletters and articles, podcasts, video, animations, and teleseminars. (Live seminars, “lunch-and-learns”, and roundtables might also be considered as marketing assets, but exist in the physical world, and so are considered separately from digital marketing.) Campaigns: A campaign is the release of the offer of the marketing asset to a mass audience from within the target segment. The release of the offer is typically through bulk email. Inputs to campaigns include marketing assets, email addresses, email content, and custom landing pages. Outputs of campaigns are leads, opt-outs, data, and reporting. Target market segment: The entire segment to which the marketer targets their product or service marketing. Segments are usually defined by geography, industry, company size, and/or lifecycle stage (early growth company vs late- stage company, for example). 1
  4. 4. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 4 Campaign members: The subset of the target market segment who will receive the campaign offer. This could be 100% of the target market or any subset. Marketers often sub-segment their targets into smaller campaigns in order to test different subject lines and marketing assets. Landing page: Recipients of email offers are typically asked to click a link within the copy of the email to receive their offer (e.g. “Click here to request your copy of the new white paper”). A landing page is a web page specifically set up to be the page that people see first upon clicking the offer link. Landing pages typically include a registration form for people to fill in their names and email addresses, and an area of content for people who may wish to learn more about the subject, the company, or other information on the website prior or subsequent to filling out the form. Mass email (or “email blast”, or bulk email): Mass email is the usual method for distributing the offer of a marketing asset to the members of the campaign. Because opt-in and member lists often number in the tens of thousands, email blasts require specialized emailing software and hardware. De-duplication: Incoming registrations on campaign landing pages often include people who have registered in the past, or are already prospects or even customers. Most CRM systems have some level of de-duplication built in (e.g. the “Find Duplicates” button in However, they do not do well with duplicates that have different spellings, or other “fuzzy” differences. Specialized de-duplication (or “de-cloning”) software utilizes deeper matching technology to recognize duplicate records that CRM software might not find. In massive email marketing and large-scale CRM, integrity of data is critical. De-duplication software plays a key role in ensuring that databases are clean and accurate.
  5. 5. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 5 Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation 1. Work closely with sales to define “the perfect lead” All lead generation efforts must start with true collaboration between marketing and sales. Far too often we’ve seen organizations where the marketing and sales groups operate entirely separately from one another. Marketing conducts campaigns or other efforts unilaterally. Sales ignores leads provided by marketing, or conducts its own “lead generation”. This division between the two organizations leads to underperformance in sales, overspending in marketing, and a company that is left with not enough in the sales pipeline to meet financial objectives. It’s critical to get the marketing and sales leadership and rank and file together on a regular basis to discuss what’s going right and what’s going wrong in lead generation. The most important thing to do at the outset of setting up an annual or quarterly lead generation plan is bring sales people and marketing people to a common table and create the definition of the “perfect lead”. Salespeople bring their years of experience with hit-and-miss prospects to the table. Marketing brings research and a scientific rigor to determining what target markets might look like. Together, the two groups of professionals need to come to a common definition of precisely the right type of leads to go find. What size company? What geography? What vertical industry? Fast-growing “sunrise” company, or late-stage “sunset” company? What are the titles of the people we seek? Once the “perfect lead” is described on paper, the marketing organization can do its research and go about creating the target market segment for lead generation campaigns. As leads come in, the entire organization can compare them to the desired profile to understand the quality of incoming leads. Salespeople will have an accurate expectation of the types of leads they’ll receive and what level of further interest and qualification they should expect when they conduct follow-up calls. With common definition of the perfect lead, the days of marketing throwing leads of unknown or poor quality over the wall to sales, and sales ignoring them, or dismissing all efforts with the all-too-common “The leads are garbage” refrain will come to an end.
  6. 6. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 6 2. Communicate campaigns to salespeople Another part of the essential collaboration between marketing and sales is communication of plans. It may seem self-evident that marketing should provide an overview of their campaign plans to sales prior to launching anything, but in our experience, it has been the exception rather than the rule. Prior to launching a lead generation campaign, the marketing organization should communicate the following to all sales people: • Date of the campaign launch • Date of the event (if there is one, e.g. a webcast that will follow three weeks after the email invitations are sent) • Name of the campaign • Short description of the campaign (e.g. “White Paper, `Virtualization for the Data Center’, 40,000 recipients”) • Key message of the campaign’s assets (e.g. “This white paper will educate IT managers and directors on the economics of virtualizing Linux servers in large-scale data centers.”) • URL for the landing page • Marketing asset(s) being used. If the campaign utilizes a white paper as a premium, then the paper should be emailed directly to all salespeople ahead of the launch. If a webcast or teleseminar is being offered for a future date, salespeople should be provided the abstract, and if possible even the slides for the event • Talking points about the campaign. Some salespeople prefer to directly contact existing prospects and contacts ahead of the campaign launch to add a personal touch to the offer. Marketing should provide sales with bullet point summaries of the papers, webcasts, podcasts, etc., so that they can intelligently make a personalized invitation on the phone or in person
  7. 7. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 7 3. Never “sell” during the lead generation phase Lead generation is just that: generation of leads. It’s not a sales call. It’s not even an advertisement. It’s a function designed to identify people in your target market(s) who have some level of interest in what your products or services can do for them. Time and time again we’ve seen lead gen campaigns fail because the urge to change a mass email from an offer into a sales pitch is too strong to overcome. As a generalization, the desire to use mass email to deliver tens of thousands of “sales pitches” or “advertisements” originates in the sales department. It is critical that all organizations – sales, marketing, management – understand that the use of mass email to sell rather than make an offer will (1) fail to achieve any sales or new prospects, (2) damage the credibility of the company and severely reduce the effectiveness of all future campaigns, and (3) potentially set up the company to be blacklisted as a spammer. For the purposes of lead generation, all outbound communications should be informative, educational offers of content or premiums (e.g. white papers). The marketing leadership should make sure to reinforce this throughout the communications and collaboration with the sales department noted above. 4. Offer fresh, relevant content Before setting out your three, six, and twelve month plans for lead generation campaigns, take time to find out what content is already available from your competitors and others. Offering the same or similar topics and content as others won’t hurt your efforts in the early going, but over the course of months of multiple campaigns, your opt-in recipients will start to notice that your offers are repetitive or unoriginal. Finding fresh, relevant content is yet another area where the collaboration between marketing and sales can yield terrific results. After all, every time marketing delivers a new white paper or webcast to 200 people, it’s the salespeople who make 200 follow-up phone calls and get direct feedback on the value of the content. Sales follow-up scripts should contain explicit requests to the contacts for their input on what topics they’d like to see in the future. A solid pipeline of ideas directly from the target market back to the marketing campaign planners will set your campaigns apart and yield better results. (This isn’t to say that the repurposing and re- use of marketing assets shouldn’t be done. In fact, using common content in multiple formats is a great tactic for reaching more people in the manner they prefer. For example, a white paper on “Virtualization in the data center” may also have a companion webcast two weeks later. Each type of vehicle can and should reinforce and promote the others.)
  8. 8. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 8 5. Use a mix of marketing assets Different people absorb and understand information in different ways. There are three types of people: (1) verbal people, (2) visual people, and (3) tactile/experiential people2 . People who learn verbally prefer to absorb information in words. They understand best through reading or listening. Visual people prefer to take in information as pictures or graphics. They understand best through graphical depictions, icons, video, etc. Tactile people take in information best through how they “feel”. These types of people will often talk in terms of how they feel about something. “I feel that virtualization will save us big money.” They are best reached through emotive words and pictures, and concepts that appeal to the idea of touching or experiencing something. Because people are spread out across these preferred information absorption types, the best marketing plans address all three. It’s best to use a mix of marketing asset types. For example, in the case of the “Virtualization in the Data Center” topic, the marketer might create a white paper, a webcast, a podcast, a Flash animation, and a video all from the same core content. By spacing out the use of each medium over time, each offer can promote the next or the past offers. In this fashion, the 300 people who want to learn about virtualization by reading about it can receive a paper. The 200 who prefer to learn about virtualization through pictures 2 htm and visuals can attend a webcast or download a Flash animation or short video vignette. And the tactile/experiential person might respond best to a free software demo that she can experience, or she might prefer the white paper because she can print it and feel the pages as she reads. 6. Don’t stray outside the target segment It can be tempting to add more and more contacts to your campaign lists in order to get bigger numbers of leads coming in. However, the effect of this will simply be more “leads” coming in that will only be disqualified later in the process. Adding contacts to an emailing list that do not satisfy the attributes of the target market segment that was created when sales and marketing worked together to define the “perfect lead” just adds time and frustration to the salespeople’s efforts. Sales has the job of winnowing through the hundreds of “interested” leads generated by the campaign to find the 10 to 20 percent that will be “pre-qualified” and the subsequent five to ten percent that will become “qualified”3 . Adding dozens or maybe even hundreds of people who appear to be “interested” leads, but turn out to be from companies that are too small, or too large, or too far away, or in the wrong industries will simply frustrate the sales force and waste precious time. By promoting campaigns exclusively to the target segment, as defined mutually between sales and 3 Most sales methods define “qualified” as a prospect that has Budget, Au- thority, Need, and a reasonable Timeframe to make a purchase. This is known as “BANT”.
  9. 9. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 9 Very few organizations can keep up with writing, editing, and releasing 12, 24, or 36 orginal white papers per year. Every company finds scheduling challenges for executives or other people required to participate in live webcasts. These fire drills get in the way of the schedule for campaigns, and inconsistency in campaign releases will have a negative effect on results. It’s extremely important to publish a schedule and stick to it. Creating a rhythm for campaigns helps all constituents get into the schedule and understand the importance of it. Many successful marketers set specific days for campaign releases. For example, a white paper offer will go out every third Thursday of every month. A webcast will be held on every first Tuesday of every month. The third Wednesday of every month might be held for rich media offers like podcasts and videos. Putting together a repeatable, consistent schedule in this manner helps keep internal contributors on time, every time, while also creating recognition and anticipation in the external world. Contacts who are not ready to become qualified prospects might start looking forward to each month’s new webcast, and stay “connected” and interested until such time as they might be ready to consider purchasing. Of course, the simplest way to ensure your company’s lead generation campaigns stay perfectly on schedule is to outsource the function. marketing, you’ve injected quality control directly into the process at the very first step. 7. Stick to a consistent schedule Here is another tip that appears rather self- evident. Obviously, we all know we need to run our campaigns and promotions to a set schedule. But reality tends to be different and distractions get in the way. We’ve all experienced the monthly newsletter that turns into the “every 6 or 7 weeks newsletter”, and finally the “Do we still do a newsletter?” newsletter. It’s common for the marketing department to occasionally be called upon to create a new Powerpoint for the CFO, or edit the graphics in the sales collateral overnight, or update web pages immediately.
  10. 10. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 10 One of the biggest benefits of outsourced lead generation (in addition to cost, quality, and quantity benefits) is that an external agency can never be distracted or worse by the fire drills that an internal marketing group routinely faces. We’ll explore outsourced lead generation in a future paper in the White Paper Series. 8. Don’t mix objectives As noted earlier, there is often a tendency to want to leverage marketing campaigns, and particularly mass email capabilities, for more than the goal of receiving self-identifying, interested leads. Additionally, it is tempting to try to accomplish more than one objective within the campaign’s emails and assets as they are released to the targets. It’s critical to keep the entire team focused on the single objective of each campaign and avoid the temptation to try to get more out of the campaigns. The typical objective of a lead generation campaign is to receive some number of new, interested sales leads to provide to the sales organization for follow-up. We recommend ruthlessly defending this objective and keeping all distractions and potential dilutions out of all campaigns.
  11. 11. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 11 9. Use multiple waves in every campaign Modern email marketing technology allows the marketer to set up email blasts and subsequent “waves” of follow-up emails to target contacts based on certain actions or lack of actions. For example, some bulk email systems can be programmed to release 50,000 emails at a specific time and date, then release a second, different email at a designated time (perhaps three days later) to all those original recipients who received the email but never opened it. A third, different email may be programmed to be sent to all recipients who opened the first email, but didn’t click through, and a fourth email can be set up to be sent to all recipients who opened and clicked through, but didn’t register on the landing page. In this manner, all recipients receive multiple offers for each marketing asset (with, of course, each email containing a clear opt-out or do-not- send option within, as described in the next tip). At a minimum, each campaign should be set up with waves of emails to address the statuses of “did not open”, “opened, not clicked”, and “clicked, not completed”. In the absence of a bulk emailer that can automate multiple waves, the marketing team should use the reporting functions in their software to manually set up each new wave. 10. Comply with CAN-SPAM The United States enacted federal law in 2004 to protect consumers and business people from junk email, or “spam”. Official information can be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s website at ecommerce/bus61.shtm. The major points of the law are: • Don’t use false or misleading header information • Don’t use deceptive subject lines • Identify the message as an ad • Tell recipients where you’re located • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you • Honor opt-out requests promptly • Monitor what others are doing on your behalf Non-compliance can put a swift end to your online marketing efforts. In addition to the legal ramifications (up to $16,000 in fines for each separate email), companies found to be spamming will be blocked by ISP’s and their domains can be blacklisted by Internet authorities. Blacklisted email domains can send no email, so the price for being a spammer is far larger than the benefit one might perceive when considering breaking the CAN-SPAM rules.
  12. 12. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 12 Modern marketing techniques are delivering significantly higher volumes of sales leads, at significantly lower cost, with higher quality and conversion rates. Still, as a relatively new practice in marketing, online lead generation has not yet built up a critical mass of practices, documentation, training, or experienced practitioners. We hope that the ten tips presented in this paper will help you get your online marketing machine up and running and delivering new leads to your sales force. Make sure to stay up to date with the other papers in WinGreen’s white paper series. Check back at each month to see new titles are they are released. Conclusion
  13. 13. Top Ten Tips for Online Lead Generation The Marketing White Paper Series from WinGreen Marketing Systems Page 13 WinGreen Marketing Systems is a content marketing agency specializing in inbound marketing, outbound marketing, and high-impact lead gen- eration programs for technology companies in the United States and Canada. Headquartered in Downingtown, PA, the company was founded in 2009, and is a business partner of, Microsoft, Ringlead Inc., and Predictive Response. WinGreen’s content marketing services include authoring and publishing of client- branded content in all digital forms, including white papers, e-books, articles, blog posts, social media posts, webcasts, videos, and podcasts. WinGreen delivers compel- ling content that attracts target buyers and influencers across the entire spectrum of buyer personas and buying phases. The company’s inbound marketing services utilize WinGreen-authored content in its many forms to attract and engage target buyers and influencers to its clients’ websites. WinGreen uses Hubspot’s world-leading inbound marketing automation to manage content, campaigns, and analytics. The combination of content published by WinGreen and inbound marketing supported by Hubspot tools is unbeatable for building prospect pipeline and revenue growth. WinGreen also provides outbound content marketing services for predictable, reliable, cost-effective lead generation. In addition to author- ing all required content, WinGreen also builds target email databases, delivers mass email marketing, plans and executes regularly scheduled campaigns, and utilizes its own commercial-grade, cloud software infrastructure for all marketing automation. WinGreen’s outbound content marketing is the perfect way to get immediate lead generation results while building long-term inbound marketing engagement. Contact WinGreen at or call (650) LEAD GEN (650-532-3436). Learn more at About the Sponsor © Copyright 2009-2013, WinGreen Marketing Systems, LLC. All Rights Reserved. This document and its contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of WinGreen Marketing Systems. WinGreen Marketing Systems, The WinGreen System of Marketing, and The WinGreen Systems Architecture are trademarks of WinGreen Marketing Systems, LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.