In the old days, we had a phone. And a fax machine. If you were in marketing, you had media kits and circulations statements. Rate cards were actual cards. Flow charts were designed on paper with markers and rulers. Budgets determined using Texas Instruments’ calculators. Then computers came. Wordperfect and Lotus123. Then Compuserve and Prodigy… You also had Thomas Register and mailing lists to find leads…
I could go on, but I won’t. Nowadays there are hundreds and hundreds of online tools and platforms that assist us in generating, converting, and nurturing leads into sales. Leads are now email addresses, conversation is written dialog and content, and the phone is saved until later in the sales process. So let’s review the tools needed to manage an inbound marketing and conversion optimization campaign.
Pre-Funnel: Attracting audiences before they have determined need
SRDS. Standard Rate and Data. SRDS probably fits in the first paragraph as well, but still is the best source for researching consumer and b2b media information, covering print, digital, and direct marketing/list research. SRDS
Digital Audience Research. A number of tools exist to measure traffic and demographics of websites, in order to determine options for a targeted display advertising plan. Google’s Doubleclick Ad Planner, Compete, and Quantcast are three of the most popular tools for site research.
Funnel Entrance: Targeting audiences who are exploring solutions
Search engines are called that for a reason- your prospects are searching for information or resources that may help them with a business need. Search engine marketing is the strategy of being visible on these engines by offering answers to the questions raised in the search queries.
SEO. The best SEO tools encompass a number of modules that cover the entire process, from keyword research, and identifying site code issues, to blog and directory research for backlink management. Raven Tools and SEOMOZ are our favorites.
Paid Search. Where SEO connects prospects to websites for further research, paid search connects prospects to specific landing pages and microsites, designed specifically for lead generation. Managing paid search campaigns can be done easily through Google’s Adwords platform or Microsoft’s Adcenter. For more comprehensive management, we showcase some tools that help us, including favorites Marin Software and Clickable.
Social Media. Well, as you know, everywhere you look there’s a new social media tool to help post, monitor and track social media efforts. From a NuSpark Marketing standpoint, we like tools that combine tasks within a handy easy-to-use dashboard. Here’s a link to our favorite social media management dashboards.
Funnel Conversion: Convert that website/landing page visitor to submit their email address because they want your content or demos
This area is one of the most crucial, but often misunderstood elements of lead generation. Large firms spend over 5 figures in website development; with pages and pages of solutions and resources and other propaganda. Much of it is poor storytelling toward prospect pain points. We love web designers, but a web designer doesn’t mean he/she is a web marketer. That’s where the disconnect usually occurs. A great site plan and look/feel is useless unless the message is clear, and the navigation to action is compelling.
Landing page usability testing is critical. Likewise, proper conversion architecture, A/B testing, and website form management is a must. Besides Google’s website optimizer, we work with firms such as Ion Interactive and Wider Funnel, but also utilize Demandbase and ReachForce to further improve conversion optimization efforts.
Funnel Management: Qualify and nurture leads until they become real sales opportunities.
To separate good leads from less-engaged leads, and to guide those good leads closer to a business decision, good content needs to be the driving force, then once those leads become clear opportunities, pipeline sales management occurs.
Marketing Automation is the conduit between funnel entrance and funnel exits. Similarly, marketing automation is the link between inbound campaigns and CRM platforms. By strategically managing the lead scoring and nurturing process, sales people engage with better quality prospects, and that means shorter sales cycles, and increased win rates. Our favorite marketing automation tools that we recommend are linked here.
Content marketing is the fuel that runs the entire lead management funnel; and without a proper message strategy, prospects will leave your funnel and buy from competitors. It’s that simple. Feel free to download our content marketing template book; templates we use to prepare and optimize our clients’ content and demand generation efforts.
Now, back to the typewriter.