Introducing Business.com’s Small Business Pulse: Latest Survey on Lead Generation Trends for SMBs


business.com small business pulseI’m pleased to introduce our first Business.com Small Business Pulse report, a monthly, data-driven analysis of key issues related to small-to-medium businesses. Over the past several months, Business.com has been aggressively expanding both its content and its advertising products to target audience needs across all stages of the buying process – from awareness to research to purchase. Read the full entry


B2B Buyers: Drive Engagement with In-Depth Content


B2B Buyers: Content MarketingB2B buyers are using content to research products, services and vendors. Buyers want the content and marketers are delivering it. In fact, many are now spending more than 25% of their budgets on the development, delivery and promotion of content to drive business leads, influence markets and build brand awareness. A new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council found that 87% of B2B buyers said online content has either a major or moderate impact on vendor preference and selection (Tweet this!). If your business aims to use content to reach new audiences, influence current prospects and close sales, consider these facts, figures and fundamental practices your business needs to be aware of. Read the full entry


5 Steps to Stronger Lead Scoring


Lead ScoringLead generation programs are becoming more mainstream. In fact, 74% of B2B marketing professionals are participating in lead-gen practices, with 48% “very” or “fully” involved. While lead generation companies often filter through leads to ensure marketers are receiving high-quality contacts, not every lead will be in the same stage of the purchase process. An effective lead scoring system can help your marketing, sales and lead generation efforts be more successful. Here are 5 steps your business can take to a stronger lead scoring system. Read the full entry


Losing Out With Leads? Take a Real Look at Response Time


perception and realityMany studies have shown that the faster a company responds to a lead, the more likely that company is to close. One survey found that responding to a completed form within 5 minutes versus 10 minutes led to a 900% increase in contact rate (Tweet this!). In a recent study by InsideSales, companies were asked about how they respond to leads, focusing on lead response time, persistence, ratio between phone calls and emails, and what method companies use to make their first response. What this study found is that many companies are overestimating their lead response efforts. Here’s what the study found and steps your business can take to improve lead response contact rate and conversions. Read the full entry


The B2B Buyer Journey: Moving From Catalyst to Closer with Content


B2B sales cycleDelivering the right content to a buyer at the right time is becoming increasingly difficult for B2B marketers. Crain’s BtoB Magazine and Bizo surveyed  B2B marketers and found that the sales cycle has lengthened for 43% of B2B companies (Tweet this!). This increases pressure on marketing organizations to boost brand awareness to help deliver leads and then effectively nurture them through a prolonged buying process. In order to meet the needs of sale staff and buyers as they move down the conversion funnel, marketers are focused on creating content and delivering this content at the right time in the buying process. Read the full entry


Hipsters Beware: Lead Generation Becoming Mainstream


BtoB Online partnered with InterCall to reveal new insight into one online marketing tactic that is gaining ground: lead generation. Lead generation is becoming more mainstream as businesses are seeing potential and then success with this type of marketing tactic. According to this study, 74% of the B2B marketing professionals that responded are at least moderate participants in lead-gen practices (tweet this!), while 48% are “very” or “fully” involved. If your business wants to be more successful with lead generation programs, consider improving these three areas of your business.

Marketing-Sales Alignment

Lead generation efforts are the most successful when sales and marketing teams can work together effectively. On average, 66% of marketers are working relatively closely with sales. There is, however, a gap between those who are the most effective with lead generation and those who are not. 80% of highly effective marketers work closely with sales in the process of lead generation. Among the least-effective marketers, 57% work intimately with sales in developing lead-gen programs. Marketers and sales employees need to work together effectively, especially when it comes to lead generation. A lead can be more accurately scored when input is drawn from the different departments and both are able to create and deliver the right content at the right time. This brings us to the next point.

Lead Nurturing

Lead generation isn’t a one-step process. Leads need to be nurtured from the initial touch point up until they make a purchase. If you want that purchase to be with your business, become a thought leader and trusted resource. 74% of highly effective respondents from the study indicate that they use lead nurturing, compared with just 26% of low-effectiveness marketers. Among high-achievers, webcasts, email newsletters, white papers, thought leadership and videos are considered more valuable. With the low achievers, by contrast, sales calls, tele-prospecting, blogging and advertorial material are valued more highly. Different businesses and marketers will see different successes with the types of tactics they choose to use. If you’re unsure about what will yield the greatest ROI for your business, test different types of content and times to reconnect with each lead to develop the most effective lead nurturing strategy possible.

Overcoming LeadGen Obstacles

As with nearly every business process, there’s obstacles to overcome with the launch of a new program or the revamp of one that is failing. 67% of the BtoB survey cited a lack of resources as the biggest obstacle overall. This is followed by depth and accuracy of their customer database (40%). Without an accurate, unified database of prospects, it is very difficult to present compelling, personalized and timely content and offers, much less understand the meaning of responses and score prospects as leads. In order for a lead generation campaign to be successful, the entire company must be behind the process and participating in optimizing their lead generation and nurturing strategies with the best outreach, content, pitches and more. 55% of marketers who describe themselves as highly effective said they have “full participation” in lead-gen practices within their companies (tweet this!).

Lead generation programs offer small and large businesses the opportunity to connect with a new audience and prospects. However, in order for these types of campaigns to be successful, marketers need to work with sale to nurture leads effectively and efficiently. Not only that, as obstacles arise, marketers and sales professionals working on lead generation programs need to be able to count on their colleagues and be confident that they can reach out to the rest of the company for insight into how the business as a whole can be more successful with a lead generation campaign.


How to Nurture Leads with Auto Response Emails


A new study from Optify looked at the websites of over 500 of the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies and found that only 37% are using autoresponders to follow up on leads. Our research has found that there is a direct correlation between follow-up timing and conversion rates. Because a sales rep is not always available to reach out immediately to a lead, auto response emails are a simple and effective way for your business to communicate with a new prospect. There are four elements to an auto responder: a form, a “thank you” page, an email and cadence. Your initial and follow-up emails need to be branded, relevant and timeless. Our testing has found that emails sent from a person within the company, as opposed to sending from a generic company name, drive a higher response. Auto response email campaigns are a great way to stay connected with prospects after they submit a form and here are three ways your business can make the most of them.

The Thank You Page

A clear call to action can direct your customer further down the conversion funnel. The thank you page is an opportunity to upsell, cross-sell or deepen engagement with links to your blog or social networks. Focus on delivering content on your thank you page that helps the reader make sense of everything they just read and how they can put it into action to improve their business. You can even offer additional downloads. Turn your thank you page into a resource page and a way your business can continue to build its brand.

  • Optify found that 91% of the B2B companies analyzed displayed a “Thank You” page stating that the form was received
  • Only 18% of those with thank you pages displayed a call-to-action upon form submission. Be sure your thank you page encourages leads to continue interacting with your business.

The First Follow-Up

A fast auto response email places your business in the eyes of a potential customer again, before they have a chance to forget about your business and the form they filled out. Include trackable links to content on your site or blog. Sales teams are often reaching out to leads via phone calls. Your team’s first follow-up shouldn’t be a call or an email. It needs to be both. Timing is everything and when responding to a completed form within 5 minutes versus 10 minutes leads to a 900% increase in contact rate, your business needs to be reaching out to touch base quickly and through multiple communication channels if needed.

  • 70% of the companies that use autoresponders send the first email within 15 minutes of a form being submitted with the average response time for these companies being just over 3 minutes.
  • Only 58% of the immediate (within 15 minutes of submission) auto response emails were personalized.
  • Emails sent in between phone calls raise the chances of achieving contact by 16% (Leads360).

The Next Follow-Up

Play with timing until you find the best time to submit emails. One best practice your business can follow is the 3:7 schedule. While your first email is sent immediately, second and third emails can be sent 3 days after form submission and then again one week after submission. After the first email, your follow-up emails need to progress depending on where the person is in the purchasing funnel. Letting the user know what to expect provides an additional layer of transparency to your lead nurturing process.

  • 6% of the initial auto response emails contained an indication of a future email (Optify).
  • Most companies send more than one follow up email — the average number of follow up emails sent in the first week was 2.54 and the average interval between the first and second email was just over 30.5 hours.
  • The data from Leads360 reveals that the optimal number of email messages to increase conversion during the first month of a prospect’s lifetime is 5.

Combining the findings for phone calls and emails, the most effective contact strategy involves 6 phone calls and 5 emails, interspersed over 22 days. Use auto responders to make this process more efficient. An effective auto responder campaign generates a response. Give the prospect another opportunity to request additional information and connect with your business. An auto response program collects additional information about each prospect that your company and sales reps can use to prioritize follow-up. You can use your auto response efforts to nurture leads and guide them through the conversion funnel for greater optimization and success.

Has your business seen success with the use of auto response emails? How so?

(Image: Optify)