There’s no denying the importance of lead generation for business growth and unfortunately, no matter how much work it takes to capture them, 98% of all Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) never buy.  This news might seem dismal for print partners working hard to generate revenue but it’s not a complete loss. When leads are categorized and nurtured strategically, the odds are much easier to beat.
The journey to becoming a lead: The buyer’s journey in today’s digital world is far from linear. It typically begins with a search engine query followed by self-serving information on websites, blogs, and social media. However, just because prospects are becoming more educated doesn’t guarantee a sale. In fact, there’s a good chance they’re merely thinking about the possibility of buying and aren’t classified as leads until they make themselves known.
MQLs vs. SQLs – what’s the difference? It’s entirely possible that 98% of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) don’t end up as closed deals because sales and marketing are disconnected when it comes to the definition of a lead. Here’s why:
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are prospects that trigger a marketing goal by expressing a deeper level of interest in your offerings. MQLs are marked by a prospect’s willingness to exchange their email address for information; for instance e-book downloads and newsletter sign-ups.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) happen when a prospect signals an intention to buy. They may or may not already be marketing qualified. The triggers for sales leads typically include taking advantage of an offer, requesting a demo, or filling out a “contact us” form.
Turn MQLs into SQLs: Sales qualified leads are what we ultimately want but surprisingly it takes an average of six to eight touches to make that happen.  The first few touches are through marketing awareness campaigns on social media and email plus advertising, blogs, videos, word-of-mouth, and website copy before the buyer is known. Then once you have their contact information, it’s the lead nurturing process that facilitates the transition to sales-ready.
Lead nurturing 101: Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with potential buyers over time through email. The premise is that when leads are nurtured over time, with relevant information, a relationship between the lead and your brand occurs and the conversion to sales-ready happens more naturally.
Define common language: Before action comes agreement. Look at the triggers that signal MQLs vs. SQLs and ensure sales and marketing teams are in agreement before nurturing begins.
Marketing automation: Lead nurturing is easiest when marketing automation software such as Hubspot and Marketo or email workflow enabled platforms such as MailChimp are used. With tools and planning, when a prospect fills out a form, a carefully crafted nurturing email drip campaign automatically begins based on the type of content downloaded.
For example, a prospect downloads an e-book on how to select the best printer. An assumption can be made; they’re interested in printers not copiers and a print focused drip campaign is executed whereby targeted information is delivered at timed intervals. Over time the prospect moves closer to a buying decision – all thanks to you!
Read more on automation: How European Xerox partner Document House is successfully nurturing leads with Hubspot
Content development: Content transforms a looker into a lead and it’s the most effective tool for assisting leads to become buyers. Blog content consumption will tell you what type of products and services leads are interested in. Downloads help segments prospects by interest and when a form is used to capture email addresses, it can also capture job roles, industry, and company names all of which help inform marketers in the nurturing track development process and inform sales that the lead is a decision maker or influencer.
Read more on content topic development: How Xerox Partners can Find Blog Topics – That Will Get Read
Read more on how to develop buyer personas: How Buyer Personification Drives Demand Generation for Xerox Partners
Lead nurturing tip: If an email isn’t driving leads through the funnel or recipients are unsubscribing, it’s time to evaluate the copy, your offers, and the subject line in order to make changes.
Remember: Every Xerox partner’s business has unique differentiators, solutions, and offerings. In addition, regions elicit unique buying behaviors so, it’s important to understand your audience and analyze and adjust lead nurturing campaigns as needed.
For more marketing tips and tricks and to find out what’s working for other Xerox Channel Partners, join and participate in our exclusive partner-only LinkedIn group.
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