5 Ways to Make Your B2B Inbound Leads Work Harder

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

B2B Inbound Lead Data

Capturing a potential customer’s contact information is a key step in any content-driven inbound strategy. But once a prospect’s basic information is in the system, many marketers pass up the opportunity to go deeper.

Making your inbound leads work harder sounds like a powerful idea, but how do you actually do it?

Here are 5 ways you can get more out of your B2B leads after they inbound.

1. Fill in the blind spots

Inbound leads are warm, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to close. According to a report, less than 25% of new leads are sales-ready. The other 75% that are sitting in your marketing automation database or CRM need additional nurturing, education, and relationship building.

So how do you efficiently get the right content to the right people at the right time?

Marketing automation software is the engine for analysis, segmentation, and message personalization, but individual data points are the fuel that makes that engine run.

In order to maximize the value of inbound leads captured with strategically gated content, marketers should actively enrich customer records for data not captured through web forms. As soon as a lead inbounds, that’s when either your marketing development rep, sales team, or third-party lead enrichment service should get to work.

2. Target additional decision makers with outbound email

An account based strategy is similar to “enterprise sales”, but can be used to target a company of any size. Instead of messaging only to inbound leads, in an account based strategy, sales and marketing teams work together to simultaneously target multiple decision makers within a company.

Depending on the transaction, decisions are not made by a single individual, but rather by a decision-making panel. Anywhere from three to ten people will likely evaluate your product or service before the deal closes.

The influence of someone on a decision-making panel could be as informal as an opinion voiced in a weekly meeting, or as in-depth as a formal cost-benefit analysis. In either case, the entire decision-making panel needs to be aware and educated about your product or service.

To increase sales velocity, as soon as the first contact for a new account inbounds, identify additional decision makers at that company and target them with personalized outbound emails.

Account-Based Strategy Matrix

3. Increase sales velocity with custom data points

NetProspex recently reviewed over 61 million B2B customer records and found that 88% lack basic data such as revenue, job title and industry fields. If your customer records are missing basic demographic and firmographic information, then they are almost certainly missing the data necessary to create truly personalized messaging.

Emails with personalized subject lines have 26% higher unique open rates than emails with generic subjects, yet 70% of marketers are still not sending personalized emails. 75% of marketers say “dynamic, personalized content” across channels is very important, yet they remain stuck in planning stages.

So, what’s the problem? The tools are there. The technology is available. What’s missing? The quality in the data.

Many marketers think to themselves, “If I don’t ask for a field, I’m never going to get the data, right? And if I ask for too much, my form submission rates will tank.” But this doesn’t have to be the case. High quality lead data can still be gathered after a contact inbounds.

For example, custom data points for the solar industry include more than just customer contact info. Data points such as regional cost of a kilowatt-hour, utility rate structure of a certain county, and recently enacted green tax incentives add depth and purpose to future interactions a solar company can have with its inbound leads. Similarly effective custom data points exist for every industry.

You’re not going to capture this information when an inbound lead downloads a piece of content, so you need to have a scalable process in place to go out and get it. These highly specific data points are not only used for targeting and audience segmentation, they’re also used to  deliver highly personalized emails on a large scale.

Custom data points are game changers when it comes to getting positive responses. According to Marketo, a 10% increase in lead quality translates to a 40% increase in sales productivity.

4. Give old leads new life

Gathering dust in your database are formerly warm leads that have since run cold. The prospects were interested at one time, your sales team worked them, but for whatever reason, they didn’t close.

Remember, there is still a lot of life (and money) left in that old pipeline. Don’t let the time and resources you spent initially getting those people’s attention go to waste. Marketers can use strategic emails to revive many of those ice-cold prospects. Budget, timing, competition, authority… a lot can change in a year.

However, before trying to breathe new life into your old pipeline, you need to make sure you’re talking to the right person. Account contacts frequently change.

B2B contact databases naturally decay at an average of 3% every month. This means if you launch an email campaign to engage prospects from 12 months ago, over half of those contacts could be out of date.

Pull a last touch report from six plus months ago, then make sure to update those accounts with accurate contact and company information before setting up your campaign. You might be surprised how many contacts you can re-heat.

5. Turn one lead into many

Inbound leads can teach, then multiply. Data-driven marketers are able to analyze inbound trends to inform and iterate on their overall marketing strategy.

Look at your inbound customers and ask:

  • What job titles (personas) is your content resonating with?
  • Which industries are eager to try out your product?
  • Which types of customers are likely to churn?

Look at the accounts that make it all the way to the opportunity stage in your pipeline, then build outbound email campaigns to target  their competitors. Chances are, those companies experience the same pain points. You can then reach those companies through social media, targeted online ads, or emails.

Actively improve lead quality

Conventional wisdom says outbound marketing is active while inbound is passive. This shouldn’t be the case.

Marketers can take steps to actively improve lead quality all the way through the buying process. Better customer data means smoother marketing automation, faster sales cycles, and more deals closed.

Learn more ways to make your inbound leads work harder in our Marketing Automation Hacks webinar series.

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