Marketers often talk about the buyer’s journey. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the marketer’s journey? Who is looking out for your needs? How can you get the information that will help you help your customers more effectively and generate better qualified leads?
Buyers are expected to ask a lot of questions over the course of a sales cycle. Experienced sales people are asking good questions all the time. So what keeps marketers from doing the same?
The marketer’s journey
Your ideal journey might look like this: Ask the buyer a few questions. Listen to the answer and based on that, provide relevant information and ask a few more questions that go deeper into the customer problem. Repeat as necessary until the customer feels you really understand his needs and is interested in learning more about your solution.
In many cases however, the life science marketer’s journey looks like this: Publish content. Ask respondents if they are ready to talk to a sales person. Repeat. If you were face to face with your prospect, it would be considered rude and annoying.
And it’s not really helpful for either of you.
Many companies qualify their web prospects with BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing). Given that most of the buyer’s journey is complete before a prospect requests a quote or asks to be contacted, this may be too late. So it makes sense to develop a process that helps you learn more about the customer earlier in the buying cycle.
Web forms on landing pages, as impersonal as they may be, are an opportunity to have “a conversation” with your prospect and ask those qualifying questions. With more information, the leads you send to sales could be better qualified. Just as importantly, the questions you ask can help you nurture the unqualified contacts more effectively.
If you aren’t planning what you’d like to get out of the conversation, you are missing this opportunity.
Develop a form strategy to improve lead qualification
The underlying problem is that forms often present the same questions on every landing page or they are customized ad hoc without thinking about all the information you’d like to know about your prospects in advance and how you would use it.
Of course, you can’t ask for everything on a single landing page. But you can make a plan to collect that information over time. There are tools that can help you do this very effectively.
The first step is to make a list of things you’d like to know about your prospect that can help you provide them with more relevant information.
Beyond a name and email, it might be useful to know a prospect’s title or job role. Knowing whether someone is a student, post-doc, PI, core lab manager or a purchasing agent would help you target the right content to them in the future.
What industry? How many people are in the lab? Is there a unique application challenge?
Be aggressive in your brainstorming about the questions you could ask. Don’t worry about going too far because the next step will be to prioritize the information you collect.
Keep it “conversational”
Just as in real life, you wouldn’t ask someone you just met for their entire life story. Order the questions from top to bottom. Landing pages for top of the funnel offers should have forms that ask for the minimal amount of top priority (essential) information.
As prospects move through the funnel, you can collect more detailed information that will help you segment your prospects and learn about their needs. For bottom of the funnel offers, you can ask for very detailed information.
New marketing automation tools allow you to progressively profile your prospects. Form fields that have already been filled out by your prospect are not displayed. New questions (from your prioritized list) populate the form automatically.
This strategy will save you a lot of work
This is a long term strategy. It will take time to produce results, but it will save you the effort of customizing forms one at a time and collecting information that you may or may not use in the future. Without an effective plan for gathering prospect information, you’ll end up having to create more new offers to generate more unqualified leads and repeat the cycle yet again.
Keep in mind my “First Rule of Data”: Don’t collect data you have no intention of using. Don’t segment your prospects without at least a plan to produce content for those segments. Collect information you can act on or use to help improve your marketing in some way.
Topics: Content Marketing