Sales methodology

A sales methodology is a set of principles a sales team should follow to understand how to perform their roles no matter what situations they may face during the sales process.

Each sales organization needs a sales methodology to guide them on how to work together towards the same goal ― winning more customers and closing more deals. It answers the questions “What to do” and “How to do it” within a sales process, which makes it the backbone of successful selling. 

Importance of a sales methodology

Today’s business trends change with the speed of light. A sales methodology allows keeping pace with these changes by providing each sales team with:

  • Necessary tools for analyzing challenges and finding the best solutions.
  • Effective strategies on how to adjust to a new business environment and still achieve top results.
  • A possibility of finding best practices to guide a sales team to success.
  • A common language for sales reps to move together towards the same sales goals. 
  • Constant identification of top performers who can motivate other sales representatives to show better results. 
  • Effective ways of coaching sales reps, which may improve their performance on average by 20%.
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Sales models examples

The best sales methodology is the one that breaks the sales team’s goals into measurable steps. There are several sales methodology models. We will consider five examples you may start implementing in your organization right away:

Challenger sales methodology

The Challenger sales methodology boils down to:

  • Teaching the prospect
  • Tailoring the sales process to their needs, and 
  • Taking control of the conversation with them. 

Used by 40% of high-performing salespeople, this approach is not complicated for learning, provided a sales rep gets the right training.

Challenger selling behaviors
Challenger selling behaviors (Source: Gartner)

What businesses can use it: The Challenger sales methodology better suits companies that have enough experience in selling, not startups. To implement it, your sales team should have an incredible amount of domain knowledge and some support from marketers who will explain how the market works.

Inbound sales methodology

Being tightly connected with marketing strategies, the inbound sales methodology presupposes attracting customers with highly personalized messages that motivate them to engage with the seller’s company. Instead of direct pitching, inbound sellers analyze the prospects’ buyer persona and slightly lead them to the purchase.

This methodology consists of four steps:

  1. Identify: The sales rep identifies potential leads to start a deal with.
  2. Connect: The sales professional connects with prospects with a personalized message, which they prepare based on the information they’ve got about these prospects (their social media accounts, blog, and so on). 
  3. Explore:  The sales rep explores potential customers by asking about their goals and challenges to understand whether a sales offer is a good fit for them. 
  4. Advise: The salesperson helps potential buyers understand why a sales solution may be valuable for them and advises them to try it. 
Inbound sales methodology
Inbound sales methodology (Source: DMD)

What businesses can use it: This methodology is a good fit for sales organizations that have a good deal of inbound marketing resources to find prospects and are experienced in contacting decision-makers. For startups, using it wouldn’t be a wise solution. 

Sandler sales methodology

The Sandler sales methodology represents a low-pressure, consultative approach that puts a salesperson in the position of an adviser who is in control of the process.

The methodology presupposes seven stages:

  1. Bonding and rapport: The sales rep communicates with the prospect to build a relationship.
  2. Up-front contracts: After a successful communication with the prospect, the sales professional creates a roadmap of all further conversations.
  3. Pain: This is where lead qualification starts. The salesperson asks a lot of critical questions to identify the prospect’s pain points.
  4. Budget: The salesperson asks the prospect about a definite budget. If it fits the sales offer, the deal moves ahead.
  5. Decision: This is the last point of lead qualification. The sales rep looks through every conversation from top to bottom and cross-checks if the offered solution is suitable for the prospect.
  6. Fulfillment: At this stage, sales closing starts. The sales representative makes sure that every decision-maker is satisfied with the solution. Once the approval comes, both parties are ready to sign the contract.
  7. Post-sell: This is the final stage. The sales professional continues to provide support and help to the customer to ensure they have chosen the right product/service.

Due to the non-visible and low-pressure approach, the Sandler sales method is often illustrated as a seven-step submarine.

Sandler sales method
Sandler sales method (Source: Sandler)

However, with this methodology, salespeople have certain concerns, such as budget and time, which they need to solve proactively so that they won’t spend lots of resources on a prospect if the latter appears not to fit the ideal customer profile

What businesses can use it: This methodology is versatile as it can help solve most selling situations. This is why sales organizations often use it no matter how experienced they are. 

SNAP selling

This methodology is based on four principles a salesperson sticks to:

  • Keep it Simple: The sales rep is to make a proposal that is simple to understand and adopt.
  • Be iNvaluable:  The salesperson must be an expert who can solve all issues the prospect has at the moment. Potential customers should rely on the authoritative opinion.
  • Align: The sales rep should get prospects to purchase by linking the offer with their objectives, challenges, and needs.
  • Raise Priorities: The sales representative should concentrate on what prospects are focused on.
SNAP selling
SNAP selling (Source: Salesmate)

What businesses this methodology suits: It fits companies that sell inside a big competitive market and deal with transactional B2B selling. That’s because the SNAP sales model allows them to operate quickly, precisely, and efficiently, so they stand out from their competitors.

N.E.A.T selling

Designed as a sales methodology for SaaS, this new approach is a blending of BANT and ANUM methodologies. 

  • BANT is based on a prospect’s Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe. 
  • ANUM is based on a prospect’s Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money. 

N.E.A.T selling boils down to:

  • Need: The sales rep should determine the prospect’s needs by identifying their main challenges.
  • Economic Impact: The sales representative should explain the economic benefit and perks the prospect will get from purchasing the solution.
  • Access to Authority: The sales professional should engage prospects who can influence decision-makers when it’s not possible to contact them directly.
  • Timeline: The sales rep needs to set a timeline within which the prospect is to make a final decision of buying the product or service. 
N.E.A.T selling
N.E.A.T selling (Source: Lucidchart)

What businesses can use it: This methodology best fits fast-moving SaaS B2B companies with indefinite sales cycles

How to implement a sales methodology

No matter which sales methodology you’ll use, the first thing you should do is to articulate your needs and goals. Next, you are to study the options of each methodology ― e.g., of those mentioned above ― and choose the one suitable for your type of sales. 

Once you have selected the sales methodology:

  1. Create and make records of the tactics it involves. 
  2. Conduct sales methodology training for your team.
  3. Incorporate sales methodology training into the onboarding process for newly hired sales representatives.
  4. Continue periodic training for your salespeople to ensure a chosen methodology works and is used correctly.
  5. Be ready to implement another sales methodology if your sales process undergoes any changes with time. 

Wrapping up

All sales organizations need to be guided on how to improve their sales capabilities and achieve the set goals. A sales methodology represents such guidelines, so choosing the right approach for your sales ambitions should be one of your top priorities. 

And if you are a sales leader, be ready to take the responsibility for incorporating a working sales methodology into your company’s selling process and communicating it to the sales team.

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

Almost all marketers use content marketing to generate demand at every stage of the buyer’s journey – top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). However, their attention is mostly focused on TOFU, which deals with raising awareness and provoking interest in the product. 

Statistics show that 50% of marketers are generating content at TOFU, and only 14% are making BOFU content. Therefore, they miss a chance to convert their leads into sales.

To paraphrase the great comedian Jerry Seinfeld – it’s not enough to gather the attention of a new prospect. You have to hold it as well.

Robert Rose, CMI Chief Strategy Advisor

BOFU meaning 

The bottom of the funnel (BOFU) is the last stage in the buyer’s journey when a lead makes a purchasing decision. 

After getting through the TOFU and MOFU contents, prospects search for more particular information to decide on a purchase. They may be interested in how the product works, what benefits they should expect, etc. 

Your task at this stage is to hold your leads and encourage them without trying to brazenly sell your product. Another purpose here is to prove how your company is better than competitors and to raise confidence in the buying decision. 

TOFU, MOFU, BOFU

Types of BOFU content to create

The content at this point is specifically targeted. Broad topics covered at previous TOFU and MOFU stages should be limited now. Instead, concentrate on your brand’s uniqueness. Make it simple, personalized, and effective for your leads to convert. Such content helps customers analyze everything and make the right choice.

It’s essential to know your target market and share the content your audience will be eager to engage with. The success of any content you create, particularly BOFU content, depends on an accurate, thorough understanding of your clients. Only this way, it will satisfy their needs.

In general, BOFU content aims to build a conversation with prospects, gain trust, and inspire them to choose you. At this point, you need to emphasize on product or service more specifically. 

BOFU content

Email campaigns

Email drip campaigns are effective at each stage of the funnel. While creating BOFU content, focus on sales and add a call to action (CTA). You may insert a link for a demo or a sign-up form for a new beta, depending on what you are offering.

Email drip campaigns

BOFU email content has to be optimized for your future buyer. Make them passionate about your solution to their problem.

Consultations

The purpose of consultations is to discuss all the details of the issues prospects face and offer the best solution to them. During consultations, give good feedback to your future customers, emphasize their strong and weak points, and show how your service or product can help them. 

Highly-personalized articles 

Articles give practical advice for BOFU leads who are searching for a particular sort of information. Make sure there are no general items; your articles should be highly-personalized to convert readers. Choose an important topic for certain customers and add CTAs, such as links to a demo or special offer.

For instance, how-to articles can be a great idea to educate your prospects on how to use different tools and features of your product. 

Free trial

Who doesn’t love free products? Free trials are a perfect opportunity to get leads closer to converting with no financial liability. You’ll never know unless you try. After testing all tools and features, they are more likely to upgrade to premium if your product is worthy and helpful. 

Discounts

You may also consider offering discounts. This is helpful when buyers want to become familiar with the product before making a long-term commitment. Discounts on the first buy will increase customer traffic and enhance sales. 

Demos

Show your audience how your product actually works. On-site or in a video, demonstrate your features, advantages, and show how you beat your competitors. The more your leads understand how your product works, the more confident they will be about purchasing it.

Besides, demos are a great way to introduce the company culture that may put your best foot forward and influence the buyer’s choice.

Middle of the funnel (MOFU)

TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU stand for three different stages of the buyer’s journey: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel. During each stage, specific content is shared to move the prospect further through the sales funnel and close the deal without being too intrusive.

TOFU, MOFU, BOFU

MOFU meaning

In marketing, MOFU refers to the next stage in the buyer’s journey after TOFU. Similar to other steps, it involves the use of the special kind of content that is distributed to move the customer further through the funnel to make them buy a product eventually. 

MOFU is the point where your leads are midway to make a purchase. They have admitted their problem and are now evaluating their options for the best possible solution. Potential clients go on to interact with you and explore your product or service more thoroughly. The fact is, they are still not ready to close a sale. Your goal is to unobtrusively make them buy. 

As you already know something about your leads and their needs, it will be easier for you to show them who you are and how the service or product you offer can be helpful.

Types of MOFU content to create

MOFU content intends to educate and entertain just like TOFU content. However, it presents more information about solutions. Marketers share the following types of MOFU content at this stage:

MOFU content

Whitepapers

A whitepaper is a persuasive report on a particular topic that shows a problem and a solution to prove that your brand is worthy of the client’s attention. It’s a great possibility to educate your leads and share the products or services you offer. You can add whitepapers to email drip campaigns. 

To create an effective whitepaper, make sure to focus on your research. Don’t say a word about why people need to purchase your product right now. Your leads read your whitepaper to get new information, not to buy. 

Email campaigns

An email campaign is a good way to get your leads to accept problems they are facing and realize that you have a solution. Remember, MOFU content is made for consideration and evaluation. Make your lead believe that you understand their concerns and have a workable solution for them. Draw the attention to new blogs, whitepapers, etc. – anything your potential clients can download and learn from.

email drip campaigns

Case studies

Case studies are real examples of how your solution has changed business at an existing client’s company. They demonstrate how people can achieve successful results by purchasing your brand’s product or service. 

The aim is to explain why your solution is better. In your case study, you should cover the main points – the problem, the solution, and results – to prove your value to a lead. 

Webinars

A webinar is a live event where subscribers sign up to get particular information, usually via a 30-90 minute presentation. It’s an excellent way to have a live conversation with your prospects. Educate your leads on how to solve their problems and let them ask questions in the end.

Webinars’ audience is already aware of your brand and aims to find solutions to their problems. This allows you to win their trust and help them at the consideration stage.

Comparisons

While your leads are in doubt to buy, prove that your brand is a definite choice to solve their pain points. Comparing your company to others can enhance the interest in your product or service. On average, the reading of efficient comparisons leads to an increase in buying intent by 22%.  

Still, don’t concentrate on comparing the product or service. Instead, compare types of solutions, costs, and results.

Free templates

Create templates for your leads: checklists, tracking sheets, etc. It’s the perfect piece to send to your potential clients via email drip campaigns and make them feel like they are getting something helpful and practical. 

FAQs

The audience interested in the service or product often has further questions. Make a FAQ section to fulfill the leads’ requests. Once they collect more information about your solutions, turning into qualified sales leads becomes far simpler.

Successful MOFU content will move participants onto the next stage – bottom of the funnel – and help you finally convert them.

Discovery call

A sales discovery call is the first call sales reps make after connecting with a potential customer. It’s a crucial step in B2B prospecting because it determines your further stages of the sales process. 

Discovery call benefits are the following:

  1. It sets the relationship between a salesperson and a prospect
  2. It’s an essential element of lead qualification. A discovery call helps determine whether a prospect fits your ideal customer profile and has a high chance of becoming your customer.
  3. It makes an opportunity for bringing value. That’s what prospects appreciate most of all: in fact, 65% of B2B clients find value in discussions with sales representatives.

SPIN model of sales discovery call questions

Every discovery call is based on the SPIN selling model. It allows salespeople to understand what questions they should be asking to create effective communication.

The SPIN abbreviation break downs into the following elements:

  • Situation. Sales professionals ask questions to uncover the background behind the solution the prospect’s company is currently using. 
  • Problem. Sales reps ask open questions to unearth the prospect’s needs and pain points
  • Implication. Salespeople ask implication questions to make a potential buyer realize the importance of the problem at hand, without explicitly telling it to them.
  • Need payoff. These discovery call questions are bound to highlight what the prospect may gain by choosing the solution that sales professionals offer.
SPIN selling
Source: Hubspot

How to do a discovery call based on the SPIN model

Every discovery call is a step-by-step process that consists of several stages:

1. Research

Before you call a prospect, you should be well-prepared. Do research about a person you are going to communicate with. For example, you may look at their LinkedIn profile to find out more about their company, position, and interests. 

A good rule of thumb is to do research in such a way so that, during a call, you won’t ask for information you could’ve found yourself. This is important for building trust, as you’ll show the prospect that you’ve taken the time to study the data about their business thoroughly.

2. Qualification

This stage marks the beginning of the discovery call. At this step, you should ask your prospect qualifying questions, which will help you identify their company and personal goals.

Say, if you offer lead generation solutions as Snov.io does, you may ask your prospect discovery call questions about how they run the process of lead generation at the moment. For instance:

  1. How does your company generate leads?
  2. What makes you choose this way of lead generation?
  3. How much impact does your current lead generation solution have on your business?
  4. How much budget do you have assigned for your lead generation solution?
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3. Identification of pain points

Very often, prospects don’t understand their pain points, so it’s a salesperson’s job to explain them during a discovery call. The best way to do this is to ask prospects open-ended critical questions, which will get them to arrive at their pain points on their own. Therefore, it will be easier for them to understand how your solution may add value. 

Here are questions to be used at this stage, which you may add to your discovery call template:

  • What’s the biggest challenge your company is facing now?
  • What may prevent you from achieving your goals?
  • If you have a problem with [your prospect’s current solution], will you be able to solve it?
  • How important is it to quickly solve the problematic issue with [your prospect’s current solution]?
Uncovering problems
Source: SalesLoft

Don’t forget that 69% of buyers prefer salespeople listening to their needs. So, be ready not just to ask, but listen to the prospect’s answers without interfering.  

4. Intensification of pain points

When you have identified your prospect’s pain points, you should intensify them to ensure your prospective buyer realizes how serious their challenges are. At this stage, critical questions in your discovery call template may be the following:

  • How many opportunities have you missed as a result of the [pain point]?
  • How much money are you wasting due to this problem?
  • How disappointing will it be if you don’t meet your goals this year?

5. Optimistic vision

Now you have got your prospect to understand their pain points and drawn their attention to the problem they encounter. It’s high time to create a positive picture of the future connected with trying your solution. Link the benefits of your offer with their goals. 

You can add the following need payoff questions to your discovery call script:

  • If you could [imply one of your product’s benefits], how would it change your company’s operations?
  • If you could [mention one of your product’s benefits], how closer would it bring your team to achieving your goals?
  • If you could [imply one of your product’s benefits], how much money could you spend on other important projects?

For example, if you offer a marketing automation solution, you may ask the following discovery question: “Provided you could automate your marketing efforts right now, how would it change your company’s operations?”

6. Next step recommendations

At the end of your discovery call, recommend your prospect to take the next step. For example, send them a follow-up email or offer to watch a product demo. You can add the following statement to your discovery call script: “Based on your story, I recommend [offer the next step].”

Besides, remember to thank the prospect for the time they have dedicated to you and tell them you will be willing to continue cooperation with them. 

To sum up, here is the checklist to map out your sales calls:

Discovery call checklist (SPIN selling)

Wrapping it up

A discovery call is a turning point in the buyer’s journey. It determines what your further steps in the sales process should be. To ensure its successful outcome, you should outline your discovery call strategy and research information about your prospect beforehand. 

Conducting your discovery call in accordance with the SPIN selling question sequences will allow you to unearth the prospect’s pain points. Then, you’ll gradually get them to understand how your product or service can solve their challenges. 

May the discovery call templates and a checklist provided above help you build rapport with your prospective customers and bring more conversions

Critical questions

One of the main problems in sales nowadays is the insufficient knowledge of customers’ needs that salespeople demonstrate. This is why 71% of B2B customers aren’t engaged. Still, it’s possible to improve the situation if sales reps understand the necessity of asking leads right critical questions.

What are critical questions?

Critical questions are questions that salespeople ask leads, commonly during discovery calls. They help sales reps uncover leads’ needs and pain points, build rapport, and clearly articulate their offering’s value.

Sales critical questions allow contacting your potential customers personally, learning about their buyer persona, finding out what is important to them, and moving them smoothly through the sales funnel

Characteristics of critical questions

On the surface, critical questions don’t have much structural difference from standard special questions. However, they have some meaningful, distinctive features:

  • They require critical thinking, hence the term.
  • They are open-ended, usually starting with How or five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. 
  • They are conversational, meaning that they provoke a dialogue.
  • Although they aren’t based on a particular formula, they are usually well-thought-out beforehand.
  • They are personal, i.e., based on personal experiences and feelings rather than factual information.
Characteristics of critical questions

Why are critical questions important?

They prolong your phone conversation with a prospect

Prospects differ. Some of them aren’t willing to dedicate their time to sales reps. As a rule, the average successful cold call lasts 5:50 (compared to 3:14 for unsuccessful calls). 

Asking open-ended critical questions, you have a chance to prolong the conversation and get more valuable information from a prospect. However, remember that you shouldn’t keep it too long and tiring. 

They allow prospects to express their needs

Critical questions get prospects to verbalize their wants. As a result, both your potential customers and you have a better understanding of what they need. This gives you the green light to demonstrate your readiness to help them make a decision.  

They help derive information

You may adjust your questions when you offer your prospects possible options as a kind of a hook. For example, let’s take one of the Snov.io products — Email Finder. If our sales rep contacted a potential customer, they could ask, “How do you usually find your clients? Via LinkedIn, Google, referrals, or any other channel?” 

Even if neither of the alternatives fits, the prospect will most likely tell our salesperson the right answer, and they will know what turn their sales strategy should take next. 

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They help deal with objections

It’s not unusual when sales reps get ‘No’ from prospects. Many salespeople fall out at this moment, but it’s not the end. Critical questions can help a sales rep understand whether the objection is real or just an excuse and turn ‘No’ into ‘Yes’ in the future.

Critical questions examples

To gain the best results, sales professionals should prepare such critical questions that will help them smoothly direct a potential customer to make a purchase. Here are six types of critical questions with examples to enrich your sales approach. 

Rapport-building questions

They help you establish a personal touch and build trust with potential customers.

Examples:

  • What’s going on in your business these days? 
  • How do you feel about recent changes in your industry?
  • What company values, in your opinion, help you develop your product?

Buyer-history questions

Asking them will let you understand the potential clients’ past experiences and make a better picture of their buyer behavior. You can also find out more facts about the history of their current relationship with one of your competitors.

Examples:

  • What was your past purchase experience with the product/service of this type? [mention your product/service].
  • What do you think about the relationship with your current service provider?
  • What do you think made you buy a product from this vendor?

Needs and goals-based questions

A lot is said about discovering a prospect’s pain points and needs as the cornerstone of the effective sales process. But it’s not enough. You should forecast what needs your potential buyer may be having in the future. To find it out, concentrate your critical questions on their goals as well. 

Examples:

  • What, in your opinion, could or should be improved in your current product/service?
  • What goals and objectives do you have concerning the solution you are using now?
  • What’s preventing you from achieving your goals?

Benefit-driven questions

To turn a prospect into a customer, you need to be ready to demonstrate your product’s or service’s benefits in such a light that will get them to make a purchase. Benefit-driven questions will help you understand what features your prospects value the most and then use them to describe the positive impact of your product/service on their business.

Besides, at this point, you may also ask about other solutions your prospect may be considering to communicate a competitive advantage of your product/service. 

Examples:

  • If you don’t solve this challenge [the one your prospect has mentioned before], what difficulties may it bring your company in the future?
  • If you solve this problem right now, how will it influence your position in the market?
  • How do other solutions you are considering compare with this offer?

New reality questions

You should ask these critical questions for your prospects to draw a positive picture of their business and then connect it with the solution you offer.  

Examples:

  • If you had no restrictions on budget and time and concentrated all authority in your hands, what would you change about your current system to see your company’s considerable growth in two years?
  • What challenges will you overcome first if you use this solution?
  • What would you want to achieve next year provided you give this solution a try?

Objection-based questions

They will help you get prepared for the prospect’s objections before they arise.

Examples:

  • Objection: “I am not interested in your product or service right now.” 
    Question: “When do you think we can return to the question about how we can save [insert %] of your budget with this product/service?”
  • Objection: “It is not affordable now.”  
    Question: “What budget have you allocated for the similar solution?”
  • Objection: “I need to discuss it with my colleagues.” 
    Question: “Who else is involved in the decision-making?”

You may also find information on how to react to email objections in this post

Wrapping it up

Sales critical questions allow you to reach potential buyers, smoothly engage them into the conversation, and ignite their purchase decision. Unlike direct pitching, critical questions are an implicit mechanism of involving a prospect into the sales process. 

Even though they are not based on any formula, you should think them over while preparing your sales strategy. We hope our critical questions examples will help you come up with the ideas you’ll successfully use in your sales routine. 

Firmographics

Firmographics are a collection of descriptive attributes used by B2B organizations to segment their target market and discover their ideal customers. 

Such data helps categorize companies according to geographic location, industry, customer base, type of organization, technologies used, etc. With this information at hand, you can build a more effective lead generation strategy and improve your marketing and sales campaigns. 

Firmographics vs. demographics

Both firmographics and demographics are used to build ideal customer profiles. The difference between these terms is that demographics are used to segment consumers, while firmographics are applied to target other businesses representing potential clients. In short, demographics are concerned with people, while firmographics are related to organizations. 

Demographic data includes:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Profession
  4. Income
  5. Family status and structure (married/single, kids/no kids, etc.)

And here are firmographic data examples:

  1. Industry
  2. Location
  3. Size
  4. Status or structure
  5. Performance
Firmographics vs. Demographics

Why use firmographics

Using firmographic segmentation in your business can bring many benefits. Here are several reasons this is a great idea:

  • It reveals business insights into B2B marketing. Firmographics help answer such questions as what companies exist in the market, what products they launch, where they are located, and so on. 
  • It helps understand trends. Evaluating firmographic information, your business can recognize trends in data, which will help you build your marketing strategy.
  • It enables you to save money. Implementing firmographics into your marketing process is a relatively low cost, so you can reach set marketing goals without having to invest tons of money.
  • It saves your time for better leads. Indeed, you will spend some time analyzing your metrics in the beginning. But in the long run, using firmographics will allow you not to waste hours on ineffective leads. Instead, you will focus your time and effort on more qualified prospects.
  • It helps you better engage your customers. 84% of clients say that being treated like a human is the key to making a deal. Firmographics will help you develop a more personalized approach to your customers, which will allow you to gain their attention. 
  • It helps you retain your clients. Understanding what types of businesses purchase your product or service allows you to predict their buying behavior. You can then suggest other solutions that may cater to the needs of certain customers.
  • It keeps you from losing opportunities. Supporting your marketing and sales strategies by firmographic data reduces the risk of missing out on opportunities. It will allow you to see the scope of the market and find your potential customers.
  • It boosts your marketing ROI and sales. All the factors mentioned above make up another reason for using firmographics for your business. In particular, it will help you come up with an effective marketing strategy aligned with your sales efforts. This will increase your sales and revenue.
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Firmographic data in detail

Let’s look through the main firmographic data businesses use as variables in their marketing segmentation.

Industry

Most companies are naturally constrained to certain industries due to their core product or the customers’ demands. Thus, the industry is a common category for segmenting the market. It’s reasonable to put companies that offer similar products to the same group. This allows businesses to adjust their campaigns to the needs of companies within the specific industry. 

As a result, instead of building communication with different organizations across all industries, a company can narrow its targeting, increasing its chances of getting more conversions.  

Location

Location firmographics presuppose categorizing organizations based on where they are situated. As such, companies may be segmented according to such variables as a city, state, region, and so on. 

Yes, e-commerce grows rapidly, and e-retail sales are expected to reach 22% of all retail sales worldwide in 2023. But the geographic location shouldn’t be considered a blurred variable for segmentation. For many companies, proximity to the customer still determines the likelihood of a purchase. For example, climate may play a significant role in a particular business’s interest. 

Segmenting the market by the companies’ location allows organizations to see in which geographical regions their marketing campaign is the most successful and to which regions they should dedicate more time and effort. 

Size

Size firmographics define how big the business is. It’s clear that the marketing campaign addressed to small businesses won’t be as effective when directed toward a large enterprise-level company. That is why successful organizations segment customers according to their size. 

The most typical indicators of the size of a business are its revenue and the number of employees. According to these two parameters, enterprises are classified into: 

  • Micro-companies 
  • Small companies
  • Medium-sized companies 
  • Large companies 

You may find various classifications. Let’s take a look at one of them:

Classification of businesses by size

Take into account that grouping companies by the number of employees vs. annual revenue brings different results. So, the more specific segmentation will be, the more closely it will match a company’s marketing and sales goals.

Status or structure

Such firmographic data as status or structure is about the relation of one company to another, or the legal status of the organization. For example, individual firms may be categorized as:

  • Independent businesses
  • Subsidiaries of larger companies
  • Standalone entities
  • Franchises of franchising companies
  • Limited liability corporations 
  • Partnerships
  • Privately-owned companies
  • Publicly-owned companies

If you know for which type of organizations your product or service is of the biggest value, you can significantly increase the effectiveness of your sales and marketing campaigns. 

Performance

The company’s profits and losses can indicate that it may need your product or service. So, grouping organizations according to these criteria can help make your marketing and sales campaigns real success.

Once you segment your list by the above-mentioned firmographic data, you will be able to develop your ideal customer profiles. In other words, you’ll identify those businesses to which you will direct your targeted marketing efforts and sales campaigns via various communication channels. 

Firmographic data

Wrapping up

Firmographics are a great way to segment your prospective businesses based on similar attributes and make your targeting narrower and more efficient. Instead of the one-fit-for-all approach, you will be able to offer companies what they need, which, as a result, will bring you higher ROI and increase your sales.

If you still feel this path is too complex to try, Snov.io will help you segment your potential and existing customers around firmographic variables you’ll consider necessary. 

Buying signal

Understanding whether a prospect is willing or ready to buy can be a real challenge. Luckily, there are basic standards that define how likely a person is to make a purchasing decision. 

These standards are called buying signals. They are useful in sales and marketing and help identify who to focus your efforts on. Noticing buying signals is key to a better understanding of prospects’ needs and pain points to improve your sales process’s efficiency.

What is a buying signal?

A buying signal is an action indicating an opportunity for a sales representative to make contact with a prospect. It helps determine how much a person needs the product or service so that a sales rep can concentrate on those who are most likely to buy. With buying signals, you may define when a prospect needs your offer. 

For B2B sales and marketing companies, buying signals are of great importance, as they can help track the most promising leads, saving time and closing more deals. You can find them at various steps of the buyer’s journey. Some buying signals may occur when prospects visit companies’ websites. Others may happen during conversations between leads and sales reps.

Email drip campaigns

Examples of buying signals

Buying signs depend on what your company is offering, as well as on your sales methods. Here are the main buying signals that occur during the meetings (both online and offline) between the company and prospects:

1. The prospect has an interest in one particular thing

When people are interested in a specific product or solution, it means they’ve done the research and are now serious about buying. This signal can be identified either in the course of discussion between a sales rep and a prospect or on your website. Frequent visits to a product web page show a growing interest.

2. The prospect is interested in case studies

People who are looking for case studies on your website or asking about your other customers’ success stories think about how they can improve their business in the same or better way. Provide them with case studies close to their issues to illustrate how you may help them with a solution. 

3. The prospect signs up for a free trial

Signing up for a free trial or another beneficial offering is a strong indication that someone is interested in the product or service. Lead generation tools can track this action, which makes your life much easier and helps you generate leads at scale.

Example of free trial sign-up form
Example of free trial sign-up form

Prospects may not use the trial right away, and it’s OK. They can be uncertain of how to use it. Make sure you’ve prepared an automated email campaign with the provided tutorials or tips on how to work with your product or service to increase the prospects’ interest in your solution. 

Onboarding email example
Onboarding email example (Source: Asana)

You can also offer call meetings with customer success managers who can walk your clients through the trial. The more personalized experience prospects get, the higher the possibility they move to another step in a buyer’s journey.

4. The prospect asks about the price

Asking about the price during a meeting usually means that the prospect is at least considering a purchase. Still, some sales reps get afraid of the questions like, “How much does it cost?”, “What’s the best price you can give me?” or “Are you giving discounts?” They think their price can discourage people from buying. 

But you don’t have to worry about that. Prospects are inquiring about the price because they are trying to figure out how your solution fits their budget. So if they give you this signal, move towards closing a sale. 

5. The prospect asks the ways to pay

When the questions like, “How can I make the payment?” or “When do I need to make the payment?” enter the game, be sure the prospect is ready for making a purchase. Be prepared for such questions and provide the most convenient options.

6. The prospect asks about terms and conditions

Prospects who are asking for a warranty and policy of your company are close to decision-making, and cutting a deal is around the corner. This is the step where you can make them trust you. 

Buying signal is identified, what’s next?

Identifying buying signals is useless unless you interact with your prospect and make an offer. Make sure you have a clear plan on how to move from buying signals to sales actions, ideally within 24 hours from receiving a lead.

When you interact with a prospect based on an actual reason, you have all the info to provide a personalized offer. Don’t miss this opportunity. Customize your sales pitch according to your prospect’s interests and the situation. People you are reaching out to shouldn’t doubt why you are talking to them now. They should also realize that your offer is what they need. 

If you already have a long list of prospects, use buying signals to prioritize which prospects to focus on first.

email finder

Wrapping it up

Buying signals increase the opportunities for B2B sales professionals. Identifying prospects’ intentions to buy help build the right sales strategy to close a deal. By tailoring your sales to buying signals, you automatically prioritize your prospects and succeed in sales. 

Bad leads

When it comes to lead generation, higher quantity doesn’t mean better quality. The biggest mistake marketers make is getting hundreds of leads, whom salespeople will further estimate as ‘bad.’ 

Who are bad leads?

Bad sales leads are low-qualified prospects who have a low likelihood of buying from a company. Often called ‘tire kickers,’ they have no clear understanding of their needs and no particular interest in a business’s offer.  

Qualities of bad leads

There are certain traits that make a portrait of bad leads and differentiate them from qualified ones. As a rule, they:

  1. Don’t understand what the company offers to them.
  2. Can’t draw a parallel between the value of the business’s offerings and their needs.
  3. Have low decision-making power.
  4. Have inadequate expectations about the price of a product or service. 
  5. Aren’t motivated enough to buy from the company.
Good lead vs. bad lead

Why do you have many bad leads? 

Bad sales leads may get into the company’s prospect list due to various reasons. Here are the most widespread causes of why it occurs:

Buying email lists

Some companies that use email marketing for their sales campaigns resort to finding a shortcut to growing their list ― they start buying email lists. As a result, what they receive is low-qualified leads who have no interest in their content, never open their messages, or, worse, mark them as spam.

Poor landing page experience

Aimed at getting more traffic to their website, many businesses care much more about its call-to-action parameters than the real value their landing page brings to leads. Consequently, people who have managed to get to the call-to-action are poorly informed about the company’s real offerings. 

Improper lead qualification

Another problem why bad sales leads may end up in the company’s list comes from the conviction that brands should and can sell their product or service to anybody. Such companies can’t qualify their leads properly and, as a result, don’t segment and target their customer base. The truth is that while they are trying to sell to anyone, they are selling to no one. 

Aggressive prospecting

Sometimes pursuing a goal to get as many leads from cold-calling as possible, companies choose to be too pushy. Meanwhile, 61% of buyers dislike the aggressive outreach strategy.

Prospects who can’t easily withstand it might agree to the second contact not being interested and not understanding what they are agreeing to. Therefore, when a company sends their leads a follow-up or a “promised” demo, they turn out to be confused or even irritated. 

email finder

Solutions to “bad-leads” problem

Not to waste time on bad leads who will never buy from your brand, you should be ready to take some clear steps, most of which come out from the above-mentioned reasons:

Don’t purchase email lists

The success of your campaigns starts with getting emails of prospects to whom your offer will be of interest and value. By purchasing email lists, however, you might send emails to completely irrelevant or invalid addresses.

Use other ways of growing your list, for example:

  1. Create subscription forms for different pages of your website.
  2. Use a double opt-in to make sure your email list is clear from bots and spam traps. 
  3. If you use a single opt-in, do remember to put the explicit consent checkbox on every form. 
  4. Use lead magnets by offering prospects helpful resources in exchange for their email addresses.
  5. Rely on the Email Finder tool to scrape emails from relevant websites and social media pages.

Check out other options of how you can avoid growing your email lists by simply buying them. 

Do lead scoring

Before making a call or sending an email to your leads, gather information about them to identify:

  • What company they work for and what position they hold there.
  • How long and how often they interact with your website. 
  • Whether they fit your buyer persona.

Based on this research, companies may score leads in different ways: by assigning points, implementing rankings, or using terms. Lead scoring will help you identify those leads who have little interest and thus don’t need your attention. Besides, you will know which prospects are ready to move to the sales stage and which of them need further nurturing. 

Qualify leads properly

No matter how your leads joined your mailing list, proper lead qualification will allow you to analyze all of them and weed out those leads that will never close a deal. While on the phone, ensure you ask them correct qualifying questions. 

Don’t be too insistent and direct. Avoid asking too many general questions that often have an effect of putting pressure on leads, which makes them unwilling to continue cooperation.

Examples of qualifying questions

Follow-up without delays

Even leads who seem interested may lose motivation if nobody contacts them right after they have made an inquiry on your website. Be sure to follow-up on your new prospects at the moment they show interest in your product or service. Catch them hot by prompt calls or emails from a real person. 

Don’t be afraid of a ‘No’ word

If you hear ‘No’ from any of your bad leads after multiple attempts to achieve efficiency, it’s a signal that there is no need to waste your time on those who will never buy from you. Instead, you should find other leads who will be more interested and thus likely to convert. 

Wrapping it up

This is natural that some people don’t fit your ideal customer profile, so whether you want it or not, a few bad leads will seep into your list. However, if you let too many unqualified prospects pile up in the sales funnel, you will waste your time and resources on people who are cold to your offerings instead of concentrating on good sales opportunities.

Clever lead management will help you avoid the problem. Learn how to score your prospects, as well as build proper qualification processes and effective follow-up system to ensure you target qualified leads who are more likely to bring you long-awaited sales wins.  

Buyer behavior

Buyer behavior refers to the decision and acts people undertake to buy products or services for individual or group use. It’s synonymous with the term “consumer buying behavior,” which often applies to individual customers in contrast to businesses.

Buyer behavior is the driving force behind any marketing process. Understanding why and how people decide to purchase this or that product or why they are so loyal to one particular brand is the number one task for companies that strive for improving their business model and acquiring more customers. 

Types of buyer behavior

Buyer behavior is always determined by how involved a client is in their decision to buy a product or service and how risky it is. The higher the product price, the higher the risk, the higher the customer’s involvement in purchase decisions. Based on these determinants, four types of buyer behavior are distinguished:

Types of buyer behavior
Source: Geektonight

Complex buying behavior

This type is also called extensive. The customer is highly involved in the buying process and thorough research before the purchase due to the high degree of economic or psychological risk. Examples of this type of buying behavior include purchasing expensive goods or services such as a house, a car, an education course, etc.

Dissonance-reducing buying behavior

Like complex buying behavior, this type presupposes lots of involvement in the buying process due to the high price or infrequent purchase. People find it difficult to choose between brands and are afraid they might regret their choice afterward (hence the word ‘dissonance’). 

As a rule, they buy goods without much research based on convenience or available budget. An example of dissonance-reducing buying behavior may be purchasing a waffle maker. In this case, a customer won’t think much about which model to use, chousing between a few brands available. 

Habitual buying behavior

This type is characterized by low involvement in a purchase decision. A client sees no significant difference among brands and buys habitual goods over a long period. An example of habitual buying behavior is purchasing everyday products.

Variety seeking behavior

In this case, a customer switches among brands for the sake of variety or curiosity, not dissatisfaction, demonstrating a low level of involvement. For example, they may buy soap without putting much thought into it. Next time, they will choose another brand to change the scent. 

email verifier

Buyer behavior patterns

Each consumer may have unique buying habits. Still, there are typical tendencies, which allows distinguishing the following buyer behavior patterns:

Place of purchase

If customers have access to several stores, they are not always loyal to one place. So even if all items are available in one outlet, they may divide their purchases among several shops.

Items purchased

There are two things to consider: the type of the product customers purchase and its quantity. As a rule, people buy necessity items in bulk. In contrast, luxury items are more likely to be purchased in small quantities and not frequently. The amount of goods people buy is influenced by such factors: 

  • Product durability
  • Product availability
  • Product price
  • Buyer’s purchasing power 
  • Number of customers for whom the product is intended

The analysis of a buyer’s shopping cart may bring many valuable insights about buyer behavior.

Time and frequency of purchase

With the development of e-commerce, purchases have become only a few clicks away. Anyway, marketers should understand how often and at what time of the year or day people tend to buy more goods. The product purchase frequency may depend on the following factors:

  • Product type
  • Customer’s lifestyle
  • Product necessity
  • Customer’s traditions and customs

Method of purchase

People buy goods in different ways: some go to the store, while others prefer ordering items online. Some pay cash, while others use a credit card. Among customers who buy goods in online stores, some pay on delivery, while others are ready to pay right after they place an order. The way customers choose to purchase products tells a lot about their buyer persona.

Model of buyer behavior

The buyer behavior model is a structured step-by-step process. Under the influence of marketing stimuli (product, price, place, and promotion) and environmental factors (economic, technological, political, cultural), a customer understands the need to make a purchase.

The decision-making process they undergo afterward is affected by their characteristics, such as their beliefs, values, and motivation, resulting in the final decision to either buy or not to buy. 

Decision-making process

Most buyers go through several stages when making a purchase decision:

1. Need recognition

At the first stage, the buyer recognizes that there is a need for a product or service. For instance, they might realize that, since their company is growing, manual email outreach is no longer effective, so they need an email automation solution.

2. Information search

After understanding the need for a product or service, the buyer starts looking for information. They might obtain it from different sources (friends, commercials, mass media). For example, a prospect may start browsing email automation solutions, read reviews, etc.

3. Evaluation of alternatives

Once all the necessary information has been gathered, the buyer starts to evaluate a choice. They might compare key features and pricing, looking for advantages of one tool over all others.

4. Purchase decision

After evaluation, the buyer makes a purchase decision. For example, they start their free trial or purchase a paid plan. 

5. Post-purchase evaluation

After purchasing the product or service, the buyer assesses whether it has met their expectations. At this stage, they might also leave an online review about the purchase or share their feedback with subscribers, colleagues, or friends. 

five step decision-making process
Source: Inline Manual

There are cases, however, when some stages of the decision-making process are skipped. For example, the customer already knows a lot about a product and does not need to search for information. Another situation is when the buyer might see a product in the store and decide to buy it impulsively. Besides, there are situations when, after evaluating alternatives, the customer goes back to the information search step.

Buyer behavior analysis

To offer relevant products and services to the target audience, marketers should analyze what and how people buy. Companies adhere to several ways of monitoring buyer behavior:

Using computer software

Computer software provides companies with valuable information about the customers’ purchase experience. This allows analyzing what products or services are preferable among certain groups of buyers, how the customers’ location influences their purchase habits, etc.

Analyzing customers’ reviews

Another way of analyzing buyer behavior is to study the customer’s feedback. Online reviews can often reveal more than just people’s feelings about the purchase. They might also share some information about how they choose items or the way they prefer buying goods. 

Customers' reviews

Conducting online surveys

Some companies also conduct online surveys, which gives them an opportunity to research the buyer behavior at any angle they need. Surveys allow requesting direct information about what people like to buy, what product qualities they value the most, what determines their purchase decision, and so on.

The analysis of buyer behavior tendencies will help companies find the right marketing strategies to attract potential customers and convert them.

BANT

When it comes to sales marketing, it’s necessary to focus on finding prospects with higher chances of converting into customers. And to help you filter through potential leads to find the best ones, there several lead qualification frameworks, including BANT.

What is BANT?

BANT is a marketing qualification approach. It lets sales reps determine whether a lead is a good fit based on their Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeframe.

Leads to customers

BANT meaning and origin

BANT was formulated by IBM to identify an opportunity during a conversation with leads or clients about their business and solution needs. According to the IBM guidance, an opportunity is marked as confirmed if the prospect meets three out of four BANT criteria. Inside sales reps and sales managers may use either a stricter or more flexible form of BANT.

BANT stands for:

Budget – What is the lead’s budget?

Authority – Does the lead have the power to make decisions or do they influence policy-making?

Need – What are the lead’s business needs?

Timeframe – In what timeframe will the lead be fulfilling the solution?

BANT principles
Source: SOCO Selling

How NOT to use BANT

BANT has fallen out of favor lately, but it’s not just the approach — it’s also the way you use it. The method fails when sales representatives use it as a control list, that is, they ask leads a series of routine questions without truly hearing their answer or working on adding value.

Let’s check an example of the incorrect usage of BANT:

  • Sales Rep: “Do you have resources set aside for this?”
  • Lead: “Not yet, but it should be settled on Friday.”
  • Sales Rep: “Great. And who will approve this deal?”
  • Lead: “My supervisor Mary.”
  • Sales Rep: “And you’ll arrange promo events around the state, but you do not have software for this so far. It looks like your existing system is hard to operate and scale.”
  • Lead: “Yes, that’s true.”
  • Sales Rep: “Is there a particular time you’d like to have this settled?”
  • Lead: “Maybe in two months.”
  • Sales Rep: “Okay, excellent. I think the next step is organizing a demo — what do you think?”
  • Lead: “I’d like to study this a bit more first… I’ll email you my decision in a week or two.”

The sales representative will never hear from this lead again.

BANT mistakes to avoid

What exactly went wrong during the conversation? Could the call have been more productive?

Interrogation. The conversation in the example looked more like an investigative interview, not an equal two-sided discussion. No one likes being interrogated. Sadly, sales reps often practice BANT in the wrong way and adhere to a fixed list of questions rather than asking additional logical questions.

Superficiality. The sales manager dropped several chances to dig deeper. They didn’t ask anything about the person responsible for making decisions (the supervisor), the budget ratification process, or the reason for the service approval.

To use BANT successfully, think of it as an idea rather than a checklist. You want to qualify based on all four components, but it’s not necessary to do them in a precise way. Instead, you should adjust your strategy every time to meet the needs of the contact.

email verifier

How to use BANT to qualify prospects

Here are some examples of BANTquestions for lead qualification:

Budget

  • How much do you currently invest in solving this issue or in satisfying this need?
  • We’ve assessed that your organization is losing X amount per [month, quarter, year] on this issue. How does that correlate with the resources you’ve put aside? Who will be covering that budget?
  • How expensive is it to build the system by yourself?
  • We’ve made calculations and assume that your company could potentially acquire X amount per [month, quarter, year] by performing this [action, change, investment]. How does that correlate with the resources you’ve put aside?
  • How much will your company lose if you don’t fix this problem in five years?
  • How heavily will the expense influence the decision?
  • Have you estimated a budget span for this investment?
  • What’s the ROI you’re anticipating to see?

Authority

  • Who will be using the product/service?
  • What was the last time you purchased a comparable product/service? How did the decision-making process go?
  • This is usually the step where my customer invites [the financial manager, the stakeholders, their president, etc.] to [consider X, get their vision on Y]. Would you like to bring them to our next appointment?
  • Who else is going to take part in this arrangement?

Need

  • When did you notice the opportunity/problem?
  • What efforts have you already made to approach it?
  • How critical is solving this issue to your individual goals? Professional goals? Your department?
  • What are your most important focus areas at the moment? Where is this issue on that list?
  • What occurs if you don’t approach this?

Timing

  • Are there any forthcoming meetings/deadlines that you’d like to have the arrangement in place by?
  • Are you planning any related project, e.g., lead gen campaign, headhunting, program revision, etc.?
  • What’s your [income, lead gen, retention, etc.] goal for [next month, quarter, six months]? Will you be able to reach that aim without some transformation?
  • Looking back from the given date, we’d need to settle our arrangement by [earlier date]. Does that sound feasible?
email drip campaigns

Advice on the BANT sales process

Winning By Design CEO and founder Jacco Van der Kooij suggests some difficulties with practicing BANT in today’s business world.

1. Don’t view finance as a blocker

The budget probably isn’t a limitation for most organizations that use the subscription. Long ago, when sales managers were promoting licenses, it was necessary to fit within financial boundaries.

However, nowadays, most SaaS firms charge from several dollars to $10,000 per month. Your clients will pay the required price if you guarantee them a good ROI. Of course, this depends on the niche, like real estate, pharma sales, etc.

2. Outline who’s engaged

Another difficulty with BANT is that most settlements are now made by a team rather than a single person. The average number of participants involved in each deal is 6.8. Even if a single person signs the agreement, you need to persuade the major part of their group.

Determine everyone who takes part in the process: their job positions, preferences, role in decision-making, and how you can access them (asking to arrange a meeting, direct contact, etc.) The more connections you have, the more power you’ll have — and the less risk to lose this deal.

3. Understand the significance of the issue

Rather than discovering the lead’s budget, estimate how significant this problem is to them. Are they strongly motivated to resolve it? What occurs if they don’t? Is there another initiative they worry about more that will consume their focus, energy, and resources for decision-making? Readiness to act is sometimes a better sign of support than budget.

4. Determine how fast their organization makes decisions

You know the importance of their demand and who the decision-makers are, but how fast does their company make decisions? Discovering whether you’re standing before long weeks of signatures and approvals or a quick one-pitch-and-a-close agreement can help you organize your process and get ready to close the deal.

Wrapping it up

The BANT system has survived decades because it’s practical (if applied correctly), easy to memorize, and suitable for a wide range of products, pricing solutions, and sales funnels. Modify it to your situation and use it whenever you need to close an important deal.

Opt-in

Top marketers consider email marketing as a great way to nurture leads, convert them into customers, and drive traffic. In fact, email can yield an ROI of up to 4400%, which means that every dollar spent on email marketing results in $44 back. 

But since it’s so profitable, the competition is stiff, and getting someone to give up their personal information and opt in to your email list becomes extremely difficult. On average, a person gets 121 emails every day, and they probably don’t want any more letters! 

People are getting overwhelmed with email after email, full of offers, coupons, and promotions for so many different sources. But it being hard to gather opt-ins doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

What is opt-in?

In email marketing, opt-in means that a person permits a company to send emails to them, for example, by signing up at a web site or via a special ad banner. These emails inform recipients about specific topics, promotions, or events that may be interesting to them. Opt-in emails also usually contain newsletters, promotional information, product information, or special offer deals.

Opt-in example

Common opt-in types

Single opt-in

This one-step method is simple and requires a single action to sign the person up to your email list. All your users need to do is put in their email address in the relevant box to sign up for the company’s emails – there are no follow-up actions or confirmation needed. 

Once their email address has been entered, they’re instantly signed up and will start receiving marketing emails from the company. It’s simple to do, but there are cons to go with the pros.

Pros

  • People spend less time and take fewer steps while opting-in, which means your email list will grow much faster. After all, what’s easier than just entering your info, clicking once, and moving on?
  • Since there’s no confirmation email (like the one required in double opt-ins), you won’t lose any potential subscribers in the middle of the process.

Cons

  • There’s a higher chance of your emails being marked as spam. The lack of confirmation that they ever subscribed to your list might make people wonder why they are getting your emails in the first place. Or, in the worst scenario, they can change their mind about receiving your emails and mark them as spam.
  • Misspelled emails hurt deliverability. Confirming an email with double opt-ins promises correct addresses. Submitting your information once does not. Trying to send to misspelled email addresses doesn’t help anyone and will make your bounce rate look bad.
email verifier

Double opt-in

In the double opt-in method, instead of just putting in their contact info and that being the end of it, a person will then receive an email or text to prove it was indeed them opting-in. If they click through from the email or text, they will be marked as someone very interested.

Pros

  • You’ll have a much cleaner, more engaged email list. It’s safe to say that people completing the extra step to confirm are much more interested.
  • Sending emails to legitimately engaged users will improve your deliverability and enhance your sender reputation. 
  • Your emails are less likely to be reported as spam. If people have taken the time to confirm their addresses, they probably won’t be surprised when your marketing emails show up in their inbox.

Cons

  • The human practice of getting distracted can translate to unclicked links. Tons of emails come in people’s inbox every day, so it’s easy to lose one in the shuffle. Missing this email would make their initial form sign-up worthless.
  • Having extra steps makes extra work for the customer. Everyone wants the easiest process possible. And while to email marketers, it’s just a small extra email click – to customers, it’s like scaling a sheer cliff face.
  • List growth can be slower with double opt-in. Having more steps to subscribe means more time to grow the list.
Source: Litmus

Opt-out

Also called unsubscribing, opting-out is when a person no longer wants to receive email marketing emails, so they remove themselves, usually via a link in an email. While opt-in starts the relationship, opt-out is when a user becomes uninterested and ends it. Fortunately for you, opt-out helps keep your mailing list healthy, reduces spam complaints, and maintains the sender reputation.

Wrapping it up

Single opt-in is highly valuable when you’re just starting out or can’t afford to miss short-term leads. It’s also still the standard for most companies, though there has been a lot of migration to double opt-in. 

When it comes to double opt-in, it’s beneficial on a long-term basis, especially if you’re experiencing a lot of hard bounces from incomplete or incorrect email addresses from a single opt-in list. So, your choice between the two only depends on your business’s specific needs and goals.

But remember that building a quality email list is much more beneficial to you than just building a big list of whoevers. In fact, a large list can hurt your results if it consists of people who are unengaged with your company. Regardless of which method you prefer for getting your company an email marketing list, a highly-engaged email list is among the most powerful tools you can use in your email marketing efforts.

Top of the funnel (TOFU)

TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU stand for the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel and depict different stages of the buyer’s journey. Every stage engages particular content that is shared to move the customer further through the sales funnel to close a sale without being too intrusive.

On average, 50% of qualified potential customers are not ready to convert into paying customers. They often need more time to think it over. Thus, to make a long process short and finally provoke interest in the product, marketers refer to TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU to stay in touch and keep their leads involved.

TOFU, MOFU, BOFU

TOFU definition

Top of the funnel marketing or TOFU is the first stage of the buyer’s journey. It refers to strategies that are concentrated on the awareness about the product and help to attract leads that may finally become your customers.

At this stage, marketers have to search for as many leads as possible since their number is going to be reduced as they move through the funnel. Those who are genuinely interested in buying your products or services will continue to discover more about your offers. Those who have no interest in your products or services will leak out of your sales funnel.

TOFU goal

The purpose of TOFU marketing is to familiarize the audience with your product and demonstrate its value. Investigate and analyze what sort of content your viewers want. 

At this stage, prospects already understand their problem and search for relevant information on how to solve it. They may look for useful blog posts, find your article on Google, read it, and click on your landing page. Then they might read everything about your products and services and become your customers. 

Your prospects may also run into your content on social media or see one of your videos on the web. If your content is worthy and your products and services are useful for the audience, future customers are in your pocket! 

But don’t focus your forces on selling your product just now. You’ll be able to do it with your MOFU content.

Types of TOFU content to create

TOFU content has little to do with products and services; it is focused on your buyers’ interests and needs. Show that you are useful. To reach a wide number of potential customers, you can use the following types of content:

TOFU content

Blog posts 

A blog is a great way to educate website guests and inspire them to learn more. By creating blog posts on a particular topic, you make your leads come back next time they have any questions.

What you should pay attention to while using blog posts at the top of the funnel is ensuring that you provide SEO content. Make sure you’ve optimized the keywords searched by buyers to make your articles easy to find.

Social media posts 

Publish your content on LinkedIn, Telegram, Facebook, or wherever your target leads are. Find out your buyers’ channels and direct your forces accordingly.

The main task here is to maintain the frequency of posting. Make it regular and high-quality. A good first impression by social postings will move your audience further through the sales funnel. 

Online ads

Invest in advertising on paid platforms to reach new leads and scale quickly. As Blair Nordstrom, Demand Generation Manager of Vendasta, said: 

Advertising transcends the whole sales funnel. You could use it to generate interest, or you could use it to retarget and nurture leads.

Infographics

Information is always taken easier when it’s visualized. Provide infographics to help customers better understand the problem or question they’re facing. They are a creative way to expand your brand’s authority on a given subject. 

You can use infographics as a microcontent for a blog or video or as an independent content. In both cases, such TOFU content can quickly attract a wide audience. Remember to use your brand theme and logo on your infographics. 

Videos

Videos have proved to win more views than just text and pictures combined. You are more likely to watch a 2-minute video than read a thousand-word article.

What is more, Google loves videos and if you optimize your video content for SEO, you can reach an even wider audience and improve your views. Choose an interesting title and description and add a link to your website and product for further contact. 

eBooks 

An eBook is an electronic book usually stored as a PDF file that can be read via reader applications. Just like a printed book, it allows you to bookmark pages, add notes, highlight sentences, etc. Furthermore, eBook readers also have embedded dictionaries, as well as changeable font sizes and styles. 

Take a chance and share profound knowledge. Cover the most worthwhile information your leads can be interested in. Remember that your goal is to attract new leads, don’t be focused on selling.  

email drip campaigns

Wrapping it up

If your TOFU content succeeds, customers will want to get more info about your business and how it can help them. As a result, they will move onto the next stage – middle of the funnel. In the end, they will reach the last stage – bottom of the funnel – and finally convert and buy the product

Ideal customer profile

Ideal customer profile is a hypothetical description of a perfect customer that would benefit from your solution and provide you with significant value in return. It helps improve personalization and overall customer experience, leading to more successful deals, when all the parties are satisfied in the end.

Progressive profiling

Nowadays, interested potential clients mostly find out about products and services on the Internet before contacting a manufacturer or a seller and make a request through the website. Marketing teams must adapt to this and offer the interested parties relevant information and added value related to their situation. The higher the relevance of the information, the better the conversion rate.

Сustomer profiles

The marketing team should develop an ideal customer profile together with the sales department. They need to jointly define the most important information that should be available for a prospect profile and set it up as mandatory fields for the customer database.

At the same time, these fields should be queried in every web form, and not as mandatory, but as optional fields. The method of progressive profiling can help gradually fill out a prospect profile without deterring prospective customers with long and complex forms.

Web forms that adapt to the customer

Progressive profiling makes it possible to query only those fields in your website forms that should be displayed depending on the existing customer profile. This way, web forms remain short and manageable, guaranteeing a high conversion rate. For example, you can only ask about a position in the company if the first name, last name, company, and email are already in the customer profile.

The following information is part of an optimal customer profile:

  • Lead source: Where do leads come from? A conference, online advertising, webinar, phone call, etc.
  • Behavior: Activities on the website, email clicks and opens, reaction to certain offers, participation in events, and more.
  • Willingness to buy: Where are prospects in the sales funnel? Have they just started to show interest? Have they already been interested in further content? Has there been contact with the sales department? Have they already received an offer? Have they made a purchase?
  • Persona: Decision-maker, head of the department, purchasing manager, etc.
  • Demography: Position, industry, company size, origin, and more.
  • Purchase history: What was bought and when? What else can you offer to the customer? 

The more information you have about prospects, the better the profiles, the segmentation strategy, and the relevance of the information or content. Use your customer data to optimize the customer experience. 

Creating an ideal customer profile

When we pick up the phone at home, we usually speak quite differently with different groups of people: friends, colleagues, doctors, and so on. The adaptation of the tone and the choice of words is common, mostly unconscious human behavior. 

This enables your conversation partner to understand you better, which ultimately makes communication more effective. In marketing, we deliberately use the same approach to build a better relationship with our prospects. As part of segmentation, personas are an excellent way to make your customer relationships more efficient.

email verifier

Depending on the company’s position, business area, or individual decisions, people react to your campaigns differently – and in case of doubt, they don’t react at all. Each person has different information needs, basic knowledge, and goals. So, if you send the same message to a marketing director, a sales representative, and an IT employee, you probably won’t achieve much. It is preferable to address the interested parties and their needs directly and individually.

How to use personas?

You need to define the type of content that will be made available to the interested parties in various stages of the purchase decision. Personas play a crucial role in lead nurturing.

It’s like the development of a character for a novel or a film. However, respective buyers already exist, so it’s a question of defining those who are specifically geared to your offer among existing prospects.

To simplify the development of personas, there are many useful ideal customer profile templates that guide you through the process of creating a buyer persona and help you describe the ideal buyer. You can adjust the complexity of these tools according to your needs.

What points need to be defined in the ideal customer profile template?

Profile overview

Imagine you are telling a friend about some person. Is it a man or a woman? How old are they? What position do they have in the company, and what does their working day look like?

Depending on which product or service you offer, you can also ask about different characteristics. The goal here is to build a solid profile of a person with whom many people can identify themselves.

Key requirements/motivators

What are the issues that are important to this person? What influences their decision making? Always refer to these definitions with a special focus on the topics that relate to your product or service.

Pain points

What are your prospect’s business concerns? What do they want, where do they feel unhappy with your product/service, what should be changed? Where do they need support? Be sure to write your list from the perspective of this prospect.   

Ideal client profile
(Source)

Effective influences

What content and information is most useful when communicating convincingly with this person? Are there certain types of information they would like to receive? Are they particularly responsive to a particular medium? Will they take advantage of any offers?

Role in the purchase deal

Is this person a decision-maker or someone who has influence? Who could influence this person?

Wrapping it up

Now that you know your ideal client, you can use this info to attract and convert high-quality leads with qualities that match your vision of ideal relations with customers. You can also formulate user personas to help your company further optimize your marketing and lead generation strategies.

Comparing the ideal customer profile to the rest of your clients’ base, existing leads, and new prospects to see if any relevant patterns appear is also a useful practice.

Marketing qualified lead (MQL)

Getting the right leads that have higher chances of converting into sales is a necessity. Before becoming a client, your prospect goes through several qualification stages in the sales cycle. Some companies qualify leads in multiple stages, for example, marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads.

What is a marketing qualified lead?

A marketing qualified lead (also known as MQL) is a lead who is more likely to convert into sales and become a customer as compared to other leads but isn’t in the buying stage yet. This qualification is tracked based on the level of engagement with the business’s content and specific behaviors, e.g., what websites a person has visited and what they’ve downloaded. 

Common behaviors that determine MQLs include but are not limited to:

  • Downloading case studies, white papers, or other web content
  • Signing up for email marketing campaigns (newsletters and product catalogs are perhaps the most common)
  • Signing up for webinars or e-learning courses
  • Requesting a product demo
  • Putting items in shopping carts, even if a purchase didn’t occur
  • Clicking on advertisements that typically take the visitor to a landing page or contact form

Lead scoring

Of course, every business has its model for assigning value to score their leads. Still, one of the most common ways to do it is by creating the lead scoring system based on the data from past leads. In the lead scoring model, you mainly assign numerical points to each lead you generate for your company. Higher scores indicate a lead who is more likely to buy. 

You can score your leads based on numerous attributes, including their engagement with your website and the professional information they’ve submitted to you. With the help of lead scoring points, it’s possible to model the buyer’s process, prioritize leads, respond to them appropriately, and improve the rate at which these leads convert into customers. 

email finder

Many businesses score leads based on such basic components as:

Demographic information

If you aim for a certain demographic, score leads who fit into that demographic highly. Other leads outside your demographic should score low or even have a negative score. A good way to filter leads is by having them fill out questions in the web form on your landing pages. 

Company information

If you’re a B2B company, you might be more interested in selling to companies of a certain size, type, or industry. You can ask company-related questions on your landing page forms, too. This way, you can give points to leads who fit within your target audience and take points away from leads who aren’t what you’re looking for.

Online behavior

How leads use your website can show how interested they are in buying from you. Analyze the behavior of your leads who eventually became customers: What did they download? How many offers did they download? Which pages and how many pages did they visit on your site before becoming customers?

Email engagement

If someone has opted in to receive emails from your company, you can’t be exactly sure how interested that person is in buying from you, but there is a solution for that. This is when checking open and click-through rates can help you out and give you a much better idea of the leads’ interest level.

Social media engagement

How engaged a person is with your social media presence is another way to find leads. Do they interact with you on Twitter, or do they follow you on Facebook? Do they have many followers themselves? 

Spam detection

Last but not least, it can be useful if you give negative scores to leads who filled out landing page forms in ways that could indicate they’re spam. For example, if the first name, last name, and company name are not capitalized, take points away from such leads. Besides, you might also need to consider which types of email address your leads are using compared with email addresses of your customer base. For example, if you’re a B2B company, you might take points away from leads who use Gmail or Yahoo instead of corporate email addresses.

email verifier

Marketing qualified lead vs. sales qualified lead

Other profiling details like pain points or budget can also be relevant when qualifying a lead as a marketing qualified lead or a sales qualified lead (SQL). 

SQLs often show immediate interest in the company’s products or services, and it’s best practice for sales teams to act on such leads within the first 24 hours of discovery. By contrast, MQLs may require more information and follow-ups to be converted. 

Since MQLs take more time to be converted, marketers often use automation software to create email nurture programs. In plain words, the software automates the sending of emails to MQLs via a predetermined schedule. The leads are then scored based on email opens, link clicks, website visits, and other factors.

Marketing and sales teams tend to have different approaches, but it is of utmost importance that they cooperate to determine the place of each lead in the buyer’s journey. The rejection rates between MQLs and SQLs can be as high as 90% because they were wrongly identified as MQLs too early in the buyer’s journey.

In the sales funnel, an MQL would be at the wider, middle part. An SQL would be closer to the narrowest. Ideally, an MQL nurtured via one-to-many promotional emails and many-to-many social media marketing efforts will eventually gain enough lead points to become an SQL. 

Sales funnel stages

Wrapping it up

Conversion rate, ROI, and other metrics that matter in marketing and sales start with lead generation and qualification. With a strong understanding of MQLs and SQLs, you have the means to filter out the prospects that don’t have enough value, focus your attention on the leads that truly matter, and adapt your marketing messages to convert more of them into customers.

Lead qualification

When it comes to sales marketing, focusing on finding prospects that have higher chances of converting into customers is a necessity. The process of filtering through hundreds of potential leads to find the best ones is called lead qualification.

Lead qualification definition

Lead qualification is determining whether a lead fits your ideal customer profile (ICP) and has a high chance of becoming a long-term customer. Marketing and sales teams work together to determine the likelihood that a lead will want to make a purchase. But even with nurturing campaigns, only a fraction of these leads will become customers as they pass through the sales funnel.

Lead qualification in the sales cycle

The lead qualification process is part of the sales cycle. First, the marketing team members gather potential leads’ contact information, including site visits, email subscriptions, and social media, to decide if they meet their ICP. 

Then they make the first contact via email, phone call, or face-to-face meeting. During it, sales reps find out about the leads’ needs, project timelines, purchasing authority, and any budgetary constraints.

Finally, the information gathered helps determine if leads and the business have a mutual fit. If yes – the team can move on to drafting a proposal.

sales cycle
(Source)

Qualified leads vs. unqualified leads

To qualify leads, you should know as much as possible about them and effectively gather data and insights to determine the perceived value each lead represents to the company. This way, you will prioritize the top potential customers for your product or service. And without proper qualification, you will spend equal time on all leads, even though some of them might not be a good fit for your business. 

So, what are some of the traits of qualified and unqualified leads?

Qualified

  • Are educated on your company and the solution that you offer
  • Have a clearly defined budget to work with and afford the product or service you offer
  • Are in control of their buying cycle, completing their educational research
  • Have either completed or are in the process of completing the sales deal
  • Have low churn rates after becoming customers because they closed the deal on their terms

Unqualified

  • Are often not confident about what your company offers how it could potentially benefit them
  • Are unable to afford the level of service that you offer
  • Don’t know what solution they need
  • Have not been nurtured enough to successfully close the sales deal
  • Have sky-high churn rates even if you managed to convert them into customers
Email drip campaigns

Lead qualification checklist

It would be useful to go through the process of lead scoring before making a call or sending an email to your leads. It lets you assign a point value to each lead based on the information you’ve gathered about them, for example:

  • Buyer profile – Does your lead fall into your target industry and fit your ICP?
  • Company – What is the size of the lead’s company, and what is its contact information?
  • Online behavior – How much time does your lead spend interacting with your website? You can track page views, downloads, length of visit, and frequency of visits.
  • Social media engagement – Are there any Facebook or Twitter likes, shares, retweets, and click-through rates from your posts?
  • Spam detection – Are there any red flags? Using Gmail and Yahoo instead of corporate email addresses might indicate that leads don’t fit your buyer profile. Besides, the use of lowercase letters when filling out website forms might be a sign that your leads are bots.

Of course, information for lead scoring differs from one business to another, but it usually covers behavioral, demographic, and sales components. 

Lead qualification frameworks

As you finally move on to the discovery call, there are several frameworks created to help you qualify leads.

BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing). Devised by IBM, this go-to lead qualification framework is still used widely today. 

BANT lead qualification framework
(Source)

GPCTBA/C&I (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences, Positive Implications). Developed by HubSpot, this framework is a bit more detailed.

CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization). Devised by InsightSquared, it starts with more important questions about challenges. 

Moving prospects forward

After the initial discovery call, you’ll have to make up your mind whether to continue with the lead or not. Good signs that prospects want to move forward are as follows:

  • Pain Points – They clearly articulated what challenges they had and talked about it at length, showing that it was a priority to solve them as soon as possible.
  • Specific Goals – They were definite on measurable goals and outcomes, which demonstrates that they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the challenge and will be receptive to solutions that help to meet these goals.
  • Knowledge – They know the ins and outs of their project like the back of their hand, which shows that they likely have sway over the purchasing decision, even if they’re not in charge of it themselves.

Now, there are red flags that may tell that particular prospects are not the ones you want to keep under your wing:

  • Short Answers – Whether it’s because they don’t have the time to talk, they haven’t thought much about their challenges, or they don’t have a pain point you can address, this is a clear indicator that prospects aren’t interested.
  • Inconsistent Answers – Inconsistent or confusing responses are an indicator that they probably don’t have much influence over the project, or it’s not enough of a priority that they’re willing to find a solution just yet. 

Wrapping it up

It may feel risky to throw out any leads, even unqualified ones. But in the end, by focusing on qualified leads only, you can save time and focus on prospects who are most likely to buy your product and have a high chance of closing.

Sales cycle

Businesses that have a formal sales process can have 18% more revenue growth than companies without one. It means that you might need clearly defined sales cycle stages and goals for your salespeople team to succeed.

What is a sales cycle?

The term “sales cycle” describes all the steps of a sales process, starting from the first customer contact to closing the deal and follow-ups. Simply put, it’s a potential client’s journey from recognizing they need a product to making a purchase. And since the sales process is a journey for a prospect, it’s a roadmap for a salesperson.

Sales cycle organization chart

The sales cycle can be seen as an organizational chart, where the entire sales process is divided into specific, purchase-relevant phases. Depending on these phases, the associated activities and organizational processes are determined.

How the particular sales cycle and its phases look like is defined by specific products and services. But typically, there are 5-7 sales cycle stages. 

Sales cycle
(Source)

Prospecting for leads 

In this sales cycle stage, define your target groups and evaluate whether potential customers can afford your offer and how they can be reached. This step also involves researching the market and creating a list of potential leads. If you plan to contact your prospects via email, you can use Snov.io tools to verify the accuracy of your email list.

Initiating contact

There are a few ways you can make the first contact with your clients: via email, phone call, or face-to-face meeting. Be as relevant as possible. Your prospects should see the value that you can provide.

Qualifying leads 

During your initial email conversation or phone call, ask qualifying questions to discover, clarify, and understand your clients’ pain points and needs. After that, you can establish if prospects and your business have a mutual fit and move on to the next sales cycle step.

Presenting an offer

In this crucial phase, customers should be convinced that the product offered is a solution to their problems or satisfies their needs. During the presentation, previous experience within the sales cycle can be used to increase the chances of conversion.

Handling objections

Before making a purchase, your customers might have plenty of questions to clarify. Many salespeople drop out after one rejection (around 44%). Still, it’s better to be more persistent, as 80% of sales require follow-ups. 

Closing the deal and follow-ups

After the concerns are cleared out, create a proposal, negotiate the details, and move on to signing the deal. But this is not the end. Active post-processing helps find out whether customers are satisfied with their purchase decision. If yes, further offers can be proposed.

email verifier

Why is the sales cycle important?

To ensure their selling process is efficient, businesses should keep track of the length of their sales cycle. Most marketing teams are aware that they go through similar sales cycle steps. But not many of them outline and systematize the cycle, leaving it up to particular sales reps to determine what actions to take and when. 

Keeping a record of the sales cycle gives a company insight into the effectiveness of their sales processes. The length of this process can be traced, examined, and compared to the regular length across the business niche. If your cycle is shorter than the average of your niche, it could mean that your company’s sales team is more productive than that of your competitors’.

Besides, by analyzing your sales cycle, you can see which steps you move through slower and improve on them. Looking at the process of closing deals step by step makes it easier to identify actions that lead to successes or problems.

How to optimize your sales cycle?

Regardless of whether your team already achieves sales goals or not, you should continuously optimize your sales techniques and improve the sales cycle. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Reduce work with little added value

An average salesperson spends only 36% of their time selling, while the rest is wasted on administrative tasks. To improve your sales cycle, your employees can easily outsource their service tasks and focus on sales. 

2. Carry out follow-ups carefully

Unfortunately, lead generation can be quite tedious. And, as we’ve mentioned before, most sales require follow-ups before a deal is closed. That is why your salespeople need to develop a habit of going through their activities with persistence. 

3. Ask for small commitments

To establish a stronger connection with your prospects, you can use a foot-in-the-door technique. With this tactic, you ask them for one small favor after another before getting them to agree to close the deal.

Start small, for example, by asking for the clients’ phone number when you contact them via email. And after going through a product demonstration, ask to introduce the product to their purchasing team.

email drip campaigns

4. Use social proof

Case studies are ideal as social proof. Your employees should actively share them with their leads to get a little closer to the purchase. You can also use case studies to counter your leads’ objections. 

For example, they may be concerned that your product may need an intensive familiarization process. Use case studies from other customers to show them how quickly the tool can be put into operation.

5. Train your team

Make sure you create all the sales documents to guide your team through the sales process. Keep an eye on the metrics of each team member. You may find that certain employees have problems at certain sales cycle stages. If so, offer them additional resources and support from high-performing salespeople.

6. Supplement a sales cycle with a service cycle

More and more companies are beginning to add a service cycle to their sales cycle to meet the growing importance of service and customer care. In this case, the cycles must be coordinated or synchronized.

Wrapping up

A sales cycle is extremely helpful, as it structures your processes so that you always have an overview. It ensures planning security and also highlights weaknesses in your planning. A sales cycle is an indicator of the extent to which you have achieved your sales goals. And thanks to it, you always know how many leads are at which level in your sales funnel.

Call to action (CTA)

On the web, you most certainly have seen many shiny buttons and requests to take some action. For example, when registering on websites like LinkedIn or Facebook, you might have encountered a call to action that urged you to like, click, read, sign up, or log in

What is a call to action?

In marketing, a call to action (CTA) is any statement intended to stimulate an instant reaction. It usually uses imperative verbs such as “find out more,” “call us now,” or “visit the store today.” 

The most apparent call to action examples are the ones that urge the user to buy a product or to give contact information. But it can also be a non-pushy suggestion like “choose a color,” “watch this video,” or a more specific request. 

CTAs aren’t just used in digital marketing: brochures, catalogs, and flyers also take advantage of calls to action. Such commands are designed to show customers what next step they have to make and to create a sense of urgency around the offer.

To push the idea of urgency, a CTA can be related to a special promotion with a time restriction: “Purchase before 00.00 to get a personal gift with your order”, “Three for the price of two for the first 100 visitors”, etc. A call to action aimed to persuade users to instantly buy the product or service can be backed by an additional motivator “Your offer expires soon” or “Limited number available.”

email drip campaigns

How does a call to action work?

We know the basic principle. However, few understand exactly how the psychology behind a compelling CTA works. What makes it successful? Why do users click on it at all? How important is the wording?

There is a simple reason hardly anyone can put this into words in short – the effectiveness of a CTA is not limited to a simple button, banner, or picture. The entire context of a website and the storytelling around a CTA help close the deal.

One thing is certain – the success of a CTA is not conjured up by the magical combination of a few words. Website visitors will only click on the CTA button if the following three elements are used correctly:

  • What your visitors already know about your brand (past)
  • What impression visitors have when browsing your website (present)
  • What your visitors expect by clicking the button (future)

How to write a call to action?

As explained in the beginning, a CTA is much more than just a simple button. It should be seen as part of a larger overall impression. This impression is made up of a strong start, a successful company presentation, a strong presentation of your product, and a final recommendation or appeal.

In fact, the success of your CTA is directly related to the strength of your sales funnel. So ask yourself: Where do my users come from? How can I interact with them? What steps are necessary so that they ultimately follow my CTA?

If you already know the answers to these questions, there are some smaller tips that can help you increase your CTA’s conversion rate:

Visual appeal 

An appealing picture is essential. Use images that correspond to the image of your brand or the mood of your company. Avoid images that are too sales-heavy. A video format is also an option. 

CTA visual appeal
(Source)

Wording

Keep it short, clean, and convincing – less than five words is ideal. Always adapt your wording to the target group. Digital natives, for example, want to be addressed differently than other age groups.

Emotional triggers

Use emotional trigger words to ignite curiosity and boost the click-through-rate

Verb choice

Use specific action verbs that create a sense of urgency. Point out a time limit and increase the pressure to act.

Placement 

Put your CTA where it makes the most sense in context. It is not always advisable to include it at the top of a page. The user must first have the opportunity to get to know or understand your product. Ask yourself: When would I personally be ready to take action for the first time?

Colors

To make your CTA stand out, use a different color than the rest of the page. In terms of design, it shouldn’t be in conflict. Here you have to find the golden mean – collect feedback on this from test users. Alternatively, there is a lot of inspiration on the Internet for color combinations and color palettes.

CTA colors
(Source)

Size

Your CTA should be easy to spot. But remember: more is not necessarily better. Your CTA shouldn’t make browsing on your site cumbersome or distract customers from important information.

Clarity

Your promise of performance should be clearly communicated. Clarify the advantages that a click on the CTA has for your users.

How to test the productivity of a call to action?

A good way to test the productivity of a CTA is by performing an A/B test. For example, several different banners or messages can be displayed to users, and the message with the highest success rate will be selected as the default one. Remember to always A/B test one thing at a time for accurate results.

Digital marketing can use analytical feedback to improve both the style and number of CTAs. Print media and other conventional means of marketing, on the other hand, suffer from a shortage of feedback instruments that can provide an immediate response.

But in all cases, regardless of whether you use digital or traditional media, it is hard to convert the public into clients if your ads lack a distinct and clever CTA.

Warm call

A warm call is a call made to a prospect with whom you have had prior contact and may or may not have already shown some type of interest in your company, product, or service. 

How warm calling works 

Warm calling works best on prospects that check off all the customer suitability boxes, even if they have not explicitly expressed any interest in your company, product, or service yet. Warm calling is the opposite of cold calling, in which prospects are solicited without any prior interaction. 

Warm calls are generally more casual and personalized in nature, as you have specific jump off points such as “Hello Ms. Stevens, we met at the expo last week” or “Ms. Stevens, I saw you left a comment on our blog post on LinkedIn.” Those icebreakers open up the warm call to further discussion.

Warm call guidelines

Before you get into scripts, there are some guidelines you should follow to have more successful and effective warm calls. 

Target prospects with a profile most similar to your average/most loyal customer. 

Research the target’s needs and values in order to tailor your offer to them.

Respect their time by getting to the point quickly and keeping your pitch brief.

Stay human. Don’t be afraid to be casual, humorous, and just you during your call. This is not a formal meeting and the goal is to connect.

Prepare. Know what it is you want to say so you are not floundering during the call. That is a huge turnoff for prospects.

Keep the call under 5 minutes. The goal is to open communication, not do a complete data dump of everything about your company, product or service.

Make effective use of all communication channels. Use email to provide more information or assistance, or leave a voicemail if they do not pick up, then follow-up with an email.

Make a second (or fifth) warm call if need be – you want to talk to the prospect, so make sure you talk to them!

Warm call scripts

There are literally thousands of examples of warm call scripts out there on the internet, it is almost overwhelming (ok, really overwhelming) and it’s hard to choose where to start. 

The first thing you need to remember is that most prospects are going to feel a little trepidation when a salesperson contacts them. Warms leads do not necessarily equal “I want to buy whatever you’re selling right now.” Warm calls are really only a few degrees above a cold call, for the most part. 

As for scripts, I am going to go with an example of the most basic bare bones, which can be built upon and personalized to your specific situation and prospect. (This very generic script actually would work well with cold calls too – a word to the wise.)

  1. Get their attention. Use their name when you say hello. Be warm and welcoming. Then hop to step 2 because a question like, “How are you?” could derail your whole reason for calling.

  2. Introduce yourself. “I’m Amanda from Snov.io.” It is that simple.

  3. Let them know why you are calling. The reason you are calling is not to throw a sales pitch or make a sale. It is to get their attention and to set up the next meeting; to connect. Jumping right in shows you are serious and professional, and you know a lot of small talk is for after you’ve begun to create a relationship with the prospect.

  4. Bridge. This is where you tell them a little about your product and why you called them specifically. It’s also where your previous research comes in handy, as you can say, “I know you need [this] and I can provide you with [that] to help.”

  5. Tell them what you want then listen. Ultimately, your goal is to set meetings with prospects because you are calling a more targeted list. Listen to what they have to say and work based on that.

  6. Improvise if you have to. Calls don’t always go as you want them to – you can’t be so locked into a script that you get flustered when the call goes off script. 

It’s important to save your scripts within your CRM to make sure you can use them over and over if they are successful.

Email drip campaigns

What else can you do with a warm call?

This part is very important, in my opinion. Just calling a warm prospect is technically all a warm call is, but there is so much more you can do to mix it up. Let’s take a look at three examples of such mixed approaches.

Method #1

  • Send a welcoming package to get to know the brand
  • Send an email as a follow-up to the gift
  • Make the warm call

Method #2

  • Send a cold email as an introduction
  • Send a follow-up email with free resources and ask to schedule a call
  • Make a warm call asking whether they liked the resources or not

Method #3

  • Find your lead on LinkedIn and invite them
  • Comment on what they likes, share their posts
  • Make a warm call

There is no wrong way to approach it. You can use all of the above methods in any mix. You can even send 5 emails if that’s what you feel is a reasonable amount to warm up the lead before making a call. The point is always to begin building a relationship between you and your prospect. 

After the warm call

You may be wondering, “But what is the goal of warm calls? What is the next step?” 

That is up to you, but some examples would be: 

✓ scheduling a phone call or coffee meeting to further discuss your company, product or service

✓ getting the prospect to want more information sent to them

✓ begin an email conversation to continue your discussion, etc.

Like I said, it’s up to you exactly what you do, but the goal is to make the big first step in turning a warm lead into a hot lead.

Triggers

Informational technologies use special commands that initiate different actions automatically. These event-driven procedures are called triggers

Triggers are used for different purposes and are in particular demand in online marketing campaigns (email triggers, lead generation triggers). Trigger-based solutions help to create innovative automated processes for a range of activities.

The term “trigger” is associated with the DBMS (Database Management System) activities. It is worth noting that triggers cannot be changed, deleted, executed or managed without DBMS permission. Database Management System is responsible for the triggers as the special SQL procedures

In simple terms, triggers are specific versions of different actions that happen in response to an occurred event. Triggers help automate specific predictable actions and make reactions faster and more targeted. 

A classic example of a trigger would be a link click: when an email campaign recipient clicks a link in an email, they activate a trigger and will now receive a follow-up specific to their trigger action that will be different from the one they’d receive if they ignored the email.

email drip campaigns

Database triggers: classification and features

The concept behind all triggers is the same – to launch some outlined action in reaction to a specific event. Each database has a range of tables that makes it possible to attach triggers there. According to the type of event, triggers can have different logic of information modification. The main operations that triggers respond to are: Insert, Update, and Delete.

According to IBM research, the principal classification of database triggers is based on the timing aspect. Here are three main groups of triggers:

BEFORE triggers: used for data modification and information checkout procedures.

AFTER triggers: are responsible for data transformation (when the Insert, Update or Delete operations take place).

INSTEAD OF triggers: a special form of notifications when some events pointed out in the table occur.

Considering all the performance features triggers facilitate, they can be explained as a special filter for planned transactions (with the help of triggers it’s possible to launch actions or cancel any forbidden operations). That is why trigger-based solutions are a great option for business representatives and marketers.

What can be achieved using triggers?

The main area of trigger application is database management. Using these special SQL procedures, various database operations can be performed quickly and easily. For example, some commercial projects or banking applications can use a triggered program to implement new business rules, create an audit trail and realize other important solutions and plans.

As we’ve mentioned, another popular range of trigger use is online marketing. Trigger-based solutions make sales activity more effective and access to relevant data easier, resulting in improved KPI. Triggers are widely used for lead generation and email marketing. The main idea is to automate key business activities and get better results via triggered messages and trigger-based email marketing automation.

Lead generation triggers: definition, motivations, advantages  

Lead generation triggers are special commands that initiate sending of automated messages to potential customers

Often cold and hot leads are still not ready to order goods or services. In this case, a range of triggers is created to convert all the leads into consumers. These special SQL procedures are used for:

  • Pop-out windows – a trigger can fire a pop-out window right after the lead opened a page or added some new position to their wish list.
  • Chatting – an automated message may be sent in reaction to any specific question the website visitor asked in the online chat window.
  • Push-notifications – triggers can initiate web push notification sending after any new opt-in procedure on the site. For example, new visitors can get a short informative message as a part of a lead generation campaign.
  • Email – one of the most efficient marketing tools with an incredible ROI also uses triggers; trigger-based email messages help convert qualified leads into paying customers.

Triggers make the lead generation process easier if the marketers decide to count on automated trigger-based solutions for online marketing. However, it’s important to monitor trigger performance – for example, If the triggered messages end up in spam, it will harm the lead generation process.

This talk gives a great explanation on why some triggered messages work and some don’t, and how to use data to create good triggered messages that improve your KPI:

Triggered email marketing: automation and triggered mailouts

In 2020, most companies try to automate most of their marketing processes to improve efficiency and efficacy. One of the ways to accelerate email marketing and improve its efficiency is to use triggered email marketing solutions – according to Webfx research, companies using automated mailouts earn 53% more conversions. Other positive aspects are shown in the following infographic:

Triggered emails statistics
Triggered emailing statistics (Source: Webfx)

As triggers are event-driven actions, it’s not a surprise they are widely used for digitally-driven email marketing campaigns. Email marketing automation is built on trigger usage and allows to provide potential and existing customers with helpful information in a timely manner. Moreover, the possibility to add a touch of personalization makes triggered messages look personal, individually crafted, and special-made.

Triggers in behavioral marketing automation

Marketers are also successfully using triggers for behavioral marketing automation. 

First comes the website visitors’ behavioral research during which marketers create a list of common actions on the website. Next, marketers decide which triggers will be used for each category of leads:

New visitors who passed the opt-in procedure can receive newsletters with valuable information about special offers for new clients, announcements, educational content etc.

Lukewarm leads should be tended to with triggered messages that show a personal approach. Additionally, it is possible to add these users to an automated drip campaign about discounts and offer nurturing content.

Hot leads (almost ready-to-buy leads) should receive emails that can live up to their expectations and address their barriers – behavioral marketing automation allows suggesting appropriate goods, reasonably priced to induce a purchase. For example, a potential buyer likes a silver chain in the online jewelry shop but the item has been on their wish list for more than 3 months; that shows that the website visitor has some barriers.

As you can see, the content offered through triggered messages depends heavily on the lead’s position in the sales funnel. To find out more, check out our guide on what content to use to convert at each stage.

Other meanings of triggers

Triggers can also refer to words that induce a psychological or emotional reaction. In marketing, they are commonly used in copywriting to create a copy that expresses an idea, describes a product, or calls for purchase most effectively. Check out this list of emotional trigger words for examples and deeper explanations behind how trigger words work.

Prospecting

Prospecting is the process of identifying potential customers, finding them, and creating a base of leads with the goal of further communicating and converting them into paying customers. 

Prospecting is sometimes defined as lead generation. However, while lead generation includes both inbound and outbound approaches, prospecting deals with outbound only. In the sales funnel, prospecting, as well as lead generation, represents the first stage. 

sales funnel and lead's journey

Importance of quality prospecting

Prospecting is an active search for leads. This opens up new possibilities compared to attracting leads, but also introduces new difficulties. To improve the results of prospecting, you need to have a clear idea of who your target audience and buyer persona are. 

When you don’t take shortcuts, quality prospecting can help with the following:

✔ Better targeting
Prospecting gives you full control over lead collection and lead sources, letting you analyze which sources and channels perform best. Prospecting also helps you focus on and pick the leads that are most likely to become your customers, so you can fine-tune your search to collect prospects with the highest potential LTV (based on current customer base analysis).

✔ Improved conversion rate
When you take your time with targeting, conversion rate reflects that. Cold (outbound) leads can even show higher conversion rates than warm leads, but only when carefully picked. So once again – pay attention to your targeting. Quality over quantity.

✔ Higher ROI
If you invest in a high-quality affordable prospecting tool, you will see your prospecting ROI rise. How important is such lead gen optimization? 40% of sales reps state that lead generation optimization is their top priority for better prospecting.

✔ Quicker replacement of churned customers
Churn is normal. But to grow revenue, you need to make sure your customer base is growing, not shrinking. Prospecting will help fill your sales funnel with a consistent flow of fresh leads that will compensate for the churn and grow your base. And don’t forget about onboarding when do address that churn.

email verifier

How to do prospecting

A lot of work goes into quality prospecting. But overall, it can be divided into 2 major steps:

Step 1. Identify

Before you proceed with any kind of lead generation, analyze your best customers and define your target audience. Create the perfect buyer persona to help in further lead search. Knowing your buyer persona’s needs, desires, and pain points, you’ll be able to develop a strategy of how to find and convert them. To start, answer the following:

  • Who are your happiest customers?
  • Who likes your product the most (e.g. CMOs, sales reps, tech enthusiasts, etc.)?
  • What industries are using your software/service?
  • What is the average income of your best users?
  • What are their pain points that you help solve?

Check out these 11 buyer persona questions to see examples of buyer persona profiles and more tips.

Step 2. Prospect 

Prospecting is an active search for leads. In general, you have three main prospecting options: purchased lists, lead generation directories, and email finders. 

  • Purchased lists: these are lists of email addresses that you can buy from third parties and use them for your marketing. However, these are not just unreliable (as you never know where the email addresses were taken from and whether they are valid), they are also extremely costly and might be breaching your country’s email marketing laws.  
  • Lead directories: a perfect solution for B2B, these directories make it easy to find qualified and segmented leads for your particular niche and industry, with detailed contacts most often provided by the lead itself. Some of the most famous directories are Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s List. Here’s our list of top 20 B2B directories for lead generation.
  • Email finder: with 80% of buyers choosing email as the means of communication with sales reps, a good email finder is essentially all you need to organize your prospecting. They are much more affordable and efficient than any other option. And, of course, no one knows what kind of leads you need better than you, and with this tool you’ll be able to take total control. Check out our comparison of the best email finder tools on the market. 

Make sure to also check out our guide to lead generation to find out about other lead gen strategies, including content marketing, SEO, PPC, and social media.

email finder

How to approach prospects

When you’re satisfied with your prospecting efforts, your next step will be contacting them with the intention to convert. For this, remember a couple of tips:

  • Personalize and segment: personalization is the key component in your communication, and it’s not only about mentioning the prospects’ names but also addressing their problems and pain points. Use our guide on segmentation and personalization for more actionable tips and examples.
  • Help first, sell second: no one wants to talk to a sales rep who’s only got their eyes on the conversion. If you want to convert better and faster, address the lead’s pain points and needs first, and then show how your solution can help in solving them. This will help you build a strong relationship with the lead.
  • Try a more casual approach: just like in real life, casual language lets the lead relax and open up easier. Start with a simple conversation, don’t be pushy and do not force a sale.
  • Automate outreach as much as you can: to save time and effort, use automation tools like CRMs, email drip campaigns, lead generation and enrichment tools, and integrations etc. This saves you time that you can spend on closing deals and addressing other issues. 
  • Be supportive: your dialogue with the lead shouldn’t read as a sales pitch. Instead, frame it as help in resolving their problem. 

In the end

Prospecting is the first and key step in the sales funnel – without good leads, your sales copy or conversion techniques don’t matter. Choose a prospecting technique and lead sources that work best for your niche and deliver the best-converting leads.

Happy prospecting!

Buying intent

Buying intent, also known as buyer and purchasing intent, is the probability, the degree of willingness and inclination of consumers to buy a product or service within a certain period of time. 

To evaluate buying intent, marketers use predictive modeling to help identify the likelihood of future results based on previously obtained data. In general, the modeling uses an essential set of variables that include factors like demographics, activity on the website, former purchases, reaction to marketing messages, etc.

“Successful marketers must use messaging that speaks to the consumers as individuals, addressing their immediate personal circumstances and shopping intent.”

Experiential Marketing: A Practical Guide to Interactive Brand Experiences

Intent marketing is becoming a fundamental strategy for any brand to engage buyers in the most productive way. Research from Millward Brown, released in December 2015, showed that as many as 70% of potential mobile purchasers could be missed if companies failed to identify their intent

In contrast to personalization, which is based purely on profile, intent marketing is the method of distinguishing and then targeting exact signals of interest in a service or product. 

Intent assessment

Assessing buying intent requires collecting data from various sources to know which factors have the maximum impact. This data is then used to drive marketing strategies and also to improve messaging across various communication and marketing channels.

An important goal of estimating purchase intent is to gain insight into how practical an offline or online marketing campaign is and whether the money invested in marketing activities has a fair return on investment (ROI). The ultimate intention of analyzing buying intent is to present the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Intent predisposition analysis can also reveal when a consumer has a strong inclination to buy from a specific vendor, with practical applications varying from lead generation and nurturing campaigns to account-based marketing (ABM) and programmatic advertising. When applied effectively, purchase intent evaluation can increase conversion rates, boost sales agility and create more powerful synergies between marketing and sales.

What is Buyer Intent data?

Intent data relates to the browsing activity of a person or a company rep whose interests can be obtained via caches or a recent online footprint. Buyer intent data includes online research of actual buyers’ journeys and defines a purchase intent signal from the noise of normal activity. As a result, it creates the most precise way to predict who’s in the market for your product. Companies apply intent data to enhance the performance of account-based marketing, demand generation programs, targeted advertising, content marketing and more.

email drip campaigns

How it works

The potential purchaser could be looking for a product or a service suitable for their company usage. For this, they can go online, as well as even just explore some basic information on items of private interest. While the person is browsing, they see a series of re-targeted ads that appear in the browser window. These are indicative suggestions or related products that the person can click on when exploring the topic.

Marketers try to identify what is being researched by individuals, at which location, and when the query rises above the usual noise and shows the intent to purchase. It is researched through:

✔ Tracking of millions of daily network interactions
✔ NLP-indexing keywords for every page and mapping to product categories
✔ Prognosticating buying intent through machine learning of buyer journeys

How can buyer activity be interpreted?

Awareness / perception

Marketers perform quantitative analysis of target buyer awareness, comprehension, and perception relative to competitors on key choice criteria. Otherwise, these companies will be flying blind as they allocate their marketing investments and measure the impact of various programs.

Direct estimation of awareness and perception is provided through questionnaires of relevant prospects. The results guide product positioning, market segmentation, content agendas, and marketing campaign strategy. After this, an automated mechanism is implemented to track the consideration index as a KPI to continually assess marketing performance.

Buyer journeys

Marketing analysts provide clarity of the buyer journeys by tracking the on-site activity and across the web. They start with the business’s wins and losses and look back over the annual buyer behavior index to determine the individual buyer journeys. It is possible to define the levels of active inquiry ahead of sales opportunity creation, win-rate variations based on delays in getting involved and more. Based on this study, they then calibrate intent signal limits to maximize win-rates.

Buyer pressures and performance

Marketers need reliable assets that align with the demands of today’s buyers, highlight achievable business results, and implement best methods on how to move forward. The best solution is to optimize your marketing by focusing particularly on buyer pain points and pressures and the best techniques to achieve results.

email finder

Scientific background behind buying intent

To better understand the scientific principles behind buyer intent, we need to take a closer look into human behavior.

In scientific research, attitudes behavior hypothesis is the hypothesis that attitudes determine human behavior. Due to the speculations about the nature of the relationship between attitudes and behavior, the expressed intention of consumers to buy is often used as an indicator for the purpose of behavior prediction

The attitude measurement research proves that the purchase decision process should be viewed sequentially and is more likely to lead to purchasing behavior than basic attitudes.

The degree of purchasing probability is also measured by interviews. For example, a consumer is asked whether he intends to buy a particular product. The prerequisite for this procedure is the determination of an assumed purchase situation. However, this can often be unexpected and changeable

Although the purchase intent indicator we’ve mentioned before already includes more influencing factors than the attitude indicator, it still depends on the purpose and the circumstances of a forecast whether one uses consumer attitudes or purchase intentions to predict behavior

If the action situation is difficult to anticipate or if the action situation changes frequently, the behavior can be better explained and predicted with the help of attitudes. It is different if the consumer can foresee what awaits them in the purchase situation. If the behavior has limited cognitive control, such as impulsive choices, then both the purchase intent and the attitude have little explanatory power for the behavior.

Development and future of intent marketing

Data is the lifeblood of all modern marketing endeavors and strategies, so segmentation assets such as demographics alone will no longer meet the needs as they used to. Monitoring buyer intent data with buyer signals will help marketers be more productive and achieve better results in the new decade. 

And while analyzing intent data may be complicated, it pays off when implemented, helping to generate individualized marketing strategies and grow revenue, therefore being the future of B2B and B2C marketing efforts.

Conversion

By definition, a conversion is a change. In this case, it’s a change from a purely interested website visitor to one who carries out a certain action. This type of transformation, which moves the person down the sales funnel, is called a conversion

Examples of conversions

There are many different types of target actions and, correspondingly, conversions:

✔ A user signs up for a newsletter
✔ A website visitor clicks on a link
✔ Content is shared by the user on social networks
✔ A website visitor buys a product
✔ A visitor carries out a download
✔ The registration for a customer account/profile takes place, etc.

What is the purpose of tracking conversions?

Since each website page has a specific goal, you can use the conversions to track how often you achieve them. Steps to the final goal – the so-called micro-conversions – can also be measured. 

In most cases, the final major goal of websites is to sell products and thus generate profit. In this case, conversions also serve as a measurement of the website’s ROI.

If the design, content structure and user guidance of the website are correct with regard to the intended goal, conversions will occur. The conversions are shown as scalable criteria for the individual success measurement of your website.

How do you measure conversions?

There are three ways to get the data on the visitors’ website behavior to evaluate conversion.

1) Log analysis on the web server
The records of your web server provide information about the number of hits per page. However, this method of evaluation is not very meaningful for further conversion optimization.

2) Script tracking via internal means
Content management systems offer scripts that collect important data about the user’s behavior on the website. Depending on the provider, the numbers recorded are then shown in the back end.

3) Third-party tracking
Third-party services offer scripts you can integrate into the website. When activated, they record all relevant user data on the Internet presentation. This data is then evaluated on the website of the script provider. These scripts are sometimes complex and under data protection law. Their use must be disclosed to the website visitors through the Privacy Policy.

email verifier

Conversion rate in marketing

The term conversion rate is mainly used to control online marketing activities – it determines how many website visitors ultimately become the buyers of the product or service. To calculate the conversion rate, you need to know the number of visits and the number of transactions in a certain period:

Conversion rate = Number of transactions / Number of visits x 100.

This calculation gives a percentage – and the higher your percentage, the better. However, what was not taken into account in this simple conversion rate formula (and thus slightly distorted the result) is the fact that multiple visits or transactions by a single user are possible. 

In order to receive exact undistorted results, only unique visitors should be used for the calculation, meaning each visitor is only counted once, regardless of the number of visits. Therefore, the more precise formula for the conversion rate looks like this:

Conversion rate = Number of transactions / number of unique visitors x 100.

Here’s an example:
An online store makes handmade jewelry for sale. In order to find out whether the recently carried out marketing campaign resulted in an increase in sales, the owners of the website get the following data: 200 (number of purchases) / 5000 (number of unique visitors) x 100. As a result, the calculated conversion rate is about 4%. This, in turn, is a good outcome for a company of this size.

What affects conversions?

On average, the conversion rate in online marketing is between 1% and 5% and depends on factors such as the level of brand awareness, item prices and the size of the offer. Some other factors that influence the conversion rate are:

Visitors/target group
If the visitors do not belong to the target group of a website, they are more likely to leave the page and therefore not act, i.e. convert, which will have a negative impact on the overall conversion rate. Reversely, if more visitors belong to the target group, the conversion rate will grow.

Website offer
The quality of the website’s offer is also important for a successful conversion. If the website is not appealing or of poor quality, the conversion rate will remain low. This also includes whether the visitor’s expectations of the content are met: Are all the important statements present? Is the message in the copy and images what the target group expected? 

For example, the content on a reputable financial consultancy website must provide certain statements about savings, services, location, and prices. It shouldn’t be just a plain-text offer overloaded with keywords, solely because those fit the target group and the conversion goals.
Here are some examples of what a quality offer must contain:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Delivery times
  • Product quality
  • Payment methods

User experience
Another important factor is the user experience (UX), which is the usability of the website for the user. This includes:

✔ loading times
✔ placement of texts and images
✔ structuring
✔ use of buttons
✔ website functionalities etc., to name just a few.

Additional factors here are user-friendliness, user guidance, and communication of the website’s offer. If the visitors of the website belong to the target group and the offer is of high quality, the conversion rate will be mainly influenced by the user experience. Conversion rate optimization can, therefore, mean adjustments to the layout, simplification, and creation of quality content.

email drip campaigns

What comes after a conversion?

Even after a successful conversion to a paying client, you shouldn’t drop contact with the user. A successful conversion can be the start of a long-term loyal customer relationship, which is then built through onboarding and great customer support.

Even after a conversion, such as a successful purchase, the customer needs to keep getting wooed. Therefore, it makes sense to use the data collected for newsletters, offers, or discounts that are specifically personalized to their interests for post-conversion marketing.

A micro-conversion, such as a click on the next page, can also be tracked and show you if there’s room for improvements in the user guidance in the purchasing process. As you can see, every conversion can lead to further steps in creating a perfectly optimized website.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization? (CRO)

Of course, every business wants to achieve the maximum possible conversion rate. Conversion rate optimization is a practice created just for that.

The first step is determining the current status of the page, its functionalities, and its efficiency. The page is also checked with regard to usability, user guidance, and goal orientation. Once you make the necessary changes, use A/B testing to check if the changes result in more conversions. 

Conversion rate optimization should always be viewed as a long-term process covering UX, content, design, etc., that will also ensure long-term success.

Onboarding

Onboarding is the process of acquainting new clients or users with your product to reduce churn rate, grow engagement, build long-term return customer relationships, and improve LTV. Through it, you can educate clients on how to get the most out of your product, improve customer loyalty, and have a higher chance of gaining brand fans.

Why onboarding is a must

To grow, a business needs both great customer acquisition and customer retention strategies in place. Onboarding is just that. When done right, it helps clear up any questions or concerns customers may have about your product or service. When unaddressed, these questions usually go towards your customer support team or, in the worst-case scenario, stop the user/client from seeing your product as a solution at all, contributing to high churn rate and low customer lifetime value

Onboarding is especially necessary for complex SaaS solutions, where customers are most likely to struggle when using the product. Your job is to give them all the necessary information, guides, and resources to help them through the learning curve.

Comprehensive onboarding results in:

  • Increase in customer lifetime value:
    When customers are satisfied with the product, know how to use it, and don’t feel abandoned by the company once the sale is closed, they are much more likely to stay and repeat the purchase, increasing the average CLV. This results in…
  • Higher revenue:
    Clients that go through onboarding process are not just less likely to churn, they are also more likely to become loyal clients for years to come, bringing in consistent revenue. And let’s not forget about…
  • Higher ROI:
    It is 16 times more expensive to attract a new client and lead them through the sales funnel compared to retaining an old one. Establishing the onboarding process will help you maintain a high retention rate.
  • More clients:
    Word-of-mouth works better than most thought-out campaigns. With high-quality onboarding, your solution will turn many clients into loyal brand fans, making it likely to be recommended.

Main onboarding types

Customer onboarding is an inevitable step in the success of your customer retention efforts. There are three major types of the onboarding process: website, emails, and in-app onboarding.

Website onboarding

Organize website onboarding through sign-up forms and case studies, FAQs and tutorials, push notifications and pop-ups. 

  • Make the sign-up form valuable both for you and the user and ask for as much information as you need to later offer high-quality personalized onboarding. 
  • People trust what others say about you. So get in touch with your most allegiant customers and ask for reviews and case studies. 
  • Easy-to-find FAQs, knowledgebases and tutorials are all things that set apart companies that care about their clients from the rest. 

All these are the website onboarding practices that help retain existing and convert potential clients. Knowledgebases are particularly popular and easy-to-organize.

In-app onboarding

If your product is an application, you need to implement onboarding directly into your app. 

With in-app onboarding, your application is the place where customers learn your product and its features on-the-go. Your app is the perfect place to teach them – all tips and lessons can be implemented and tested right there and then. There are two main ways to organize in-app onboarding.

  • Video tutorials to your app and its features are a great way to make sure users know how to use the service, especially anchored right under the header or popping up when a certain feature is opened. This way, they will always be easy to find and hard to miss.
  • Then there’s interactive onboarding through pop-ups that lead the user through the processes by encouraging them to perform certain actions. In-app onboarding can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. The goal, however, always stays the same – to make sure your user learns how to use the service and has help available if they have any questions or issues.

Onboarding emails

Onboarding emails are the simplest and most common way of organizing your customer onboarding efforts. The four main types of onboarding emails are welcome, re-engagement, educational, and evaluation emails.

Welcome emails

The welcome email is the first email (or a series of emails) that your customer receives from you. This type of email always shows high open and click-through rates (according to a study by Experian, on average 57.8% and 14.4% respectively). 

The first welcoming email(s) help you set up a connection with clients and make sure everything is going well. Welcome emails are used to:

  • confirm a sign-up or purchase
  • present details about your service/product that will highlight your main selling point
  • offer useful resources to help the client make the most out of your product
  • assure clients that their needs are your priority
  • explain how the client can contact you with any questions or issues
  • push them towards an action

Here are some great examples of welcome onboarding emails from IFTTT and AppSumo:

Re-engagement emails

Though it’s impossible to have a 0% churn rate, onboarding re-engagement emails will help you minimize it, especially when you create one for each specific case. Most often, re-engagement emails are used to push clients to finish incomplete actions and to win inactive users back. 

onboarding email example zapier

To gain dormant clients back, you can send relevant and informative onboarding content to show that you value them and rekindle their interest in your products or services. It’s not uncommon for these to include personalized discounts and special offers.

Educational emails

People may get overwhelmed about a new product and have questions regarding some features. To prevent those questions and misunderstandings, set an email sequence of onboarding educational emails with video guides and/or articles that will give answers to the questions your clients have most often. 

Here are some examples of educational onboarding emails from Canva and WordPress:

Just don’t insert all and sundry into one email: one email should answer one question. 

Evaluation emails

Evaluation emails are the messages that encourage active clients to take another step towards the next stage of your business relationships – conversion. In the email, you can offer them to upgrade to a paid plan, ask them to refer their friends, book a demo, etc.

How to improve your user onboarding

The good onboarding process is necessary to show the clients that you care and appreciate them. It can be done (and improved!) by constantly working on a few things: fast follow-ups, human support, relevant content, focus on relationships (not sales), and communication. 

Fast follow-up

A common misconception is that fast follow-ups damage the reputation of professionals, and customers will soon leave because of such frequency. On one hand, that can be true; on the other hand, they won’t if you do it right. 

To follow-up at the right time think of what the recipients are supposed to do to get to the next stage of the sales funnel and how much time they need for this action. This way, you will define your perfect onboarding email frequency depending on your goals.

Human support

FAQs and relevant content are a must for onboarding, but those, as well as bots, won’t always answer the questions your customers might have. You need a highly-qualified team of human support.

This support team should cope with all the customer inquiries, questions, and issues fast. Slow support is straight-up annoying – no one wants to wait long hours for a simple answer. Make sure the support team is available via a variety of channels – live chats, email, and phone. 

Among the less obvious things, your support team shouldn’t only answer questions. They should also ask them. When you ask questions, your customers feel the individual approach and care for their specific needs. In turn, you receive extra information about your users/customers and can use it to perfect your buyer persona and analyze the customer base.

Relevant content

Educational content is the key element of good customer onboarding. Besides articles, posts on social media, and human support, you can hold webinars, record video guides and vlogs, publish glossaries, organize knowledge bases, and offer to download the best content as PDFs. All this valuable content is created to welcome customers aboard, nurture them, and lead them to conversion. 

Focus on relationships, not sales

Though the final step is always a conversion, the way to it is through building relationships. Hire a team of professionals who will take care of this: connect with leads and customers on social media, send onboarding emails, make calls, conduct demos, etc. Communication with a real person is what will make a customer feel valued. 

Onboarding checklist

Onboarding is the process of nurturing and educating customers about your product, and its success fully depends on the components of your onboarding strategy. Think of the onboarding strategy in advance and implement it to the fullest of your abilities:

  • Use popups and advanced signup forms on your website
  • Create sequences of onboarding emails
  • Take care of in-app onboarding
  • Hire a support team to provide timely answers
  • Publish relevant content
  • Build a knowledge base
  • And concentrate on human communication first.

Decision-makers

Decision-makers are people within a company who have the power to make strategic decisions like acquisitions, expansion, or investment.

Some of the types of decision-making may include tactical, organizational, policy, operating, personal, programmed, and non-programmed decisions. In B2B sales, the most important types of decision-making are financial and purchasing decisions about what to buy, at what price, and from whom. Often such decision-makers are the business’s head buyers.

Determining who is the decision-maker is one of the first things you need to do, as contacting the company without knowing who you’re supposed to be selling to is equal to going in blind. This results in wasted time and resources as you’re likely to approach the wrong person, especially when selling to large organizations.

So how do you find out who decision-makers are (often there is more than one in any given company), and how do you approach them? There are no strict formulas for this, and it often comes down to doing some sleuth work.

How to find decision-makers

LinkedIn is a great place to start this search. If you are connected to someone who works for the company you would like to sell to, asking them can be as easy as that. Often, even if they are in a different department, employees know who’s in charge of corporate decision-making, and they won’t mind telling you. 

Another way to use LinkedIn is to browse employees of the company, paying attention to their titles. Chances are you can identify who has what power.

A third option is really simple. Call the company and say you are looking for the person to talk to regarding whatever your product or service is. More often than not, the person who answers will know who you are looking for and will point you in their direction. If this doesn’t work, try changing up how you word your request or reconsider whether your targeting is right.

The decision maker’s title is going to vary from company to company. As a very general rule, you can make an educated guess based on its size, which you can find on LinkedIn itself.

0-10 employees:
The decision-maker is usually the CEO unless the company has co-founders in the vertical you are selling into (e.g., CTO for the product, CMO for marketing) or has already hired experienced VPs.

10-50 employees:
Look for VPs, as generally, they have buying power in small companies.

50-500 employees:
Look for specialized roles, such as Sales Manager, Business Development Manager, etc.

>500 employees:
Look for the regional, specialized role, such as East Coast rep, Northern Europe rep, London rep, etc.

Gatekeepers

Once you have identified decision-makers, you need to make an offer aimed specifically at them, and of course, get it in front of them. The thing is, many decision-makers are going to have gatekeepers, whether they be secretaries or executive assistants.

And you want them on your side. While you’re more often than not are not going to be presenting your offer to the gatekeeper, they have the power to keep you from making one to the decision-maker.

The best tactic would not just get past the gatekeeper, but to befriend the gatekeeper. This way not only will you be able to get through to the person in charge of corporate decision-making, but you will also already have someone on your side in the eyes of the decision-maker.

Don’t be tempted to seem arrogant or presumptuous if your offer is big or important. You are a human interacting with another human, and it’s important to never forget that. 

Approaching decision-makers

Once you’ve identified decision-makers, take a moment to confirm your choice. While everyone usually wants to talk to the CEO (which we’ve already established, isn’t always the best strategy) your actual decision-maker depends on the size of your offer. Check out this video for a simple example of how to reconfirm your guess.

As you now know who you need to speak to, you will need to decide how best to approach them. This can vary widely based on the decision maker’s age, the company’s politics and climate, and especially individuals’ personalities. 

Make sure to take detailed notes as you go along, including anything you learn about these individuals and their preferred approach. After all, if you dislike a challenge, sales may not be for you.

Once you start, use well-placed questions to help you figure out the answers you need to move forward with your sale. Always keep in mind that being helpful and resourceful makes the best impression. Find out what they need from your product, as well as what they need more broadly, and help them get exactly that. That is the quickest way to the next step: negotiating a sale.

Two main negotiation tips

Do your research. 
No decision-maker wants to waste their time watching a salesperson fumble and flit through their sales pitch, not quite sure what they’re after. Have your goals ready, know your product inside and out, know exactly how your product can help this particular company. 

Build a relationship with the decision-maker (and the gatekeeper).
Yes, you are selling to the company. But you are talking to a person who happens to be the decision-maker. Make your offer personal and take into consideration the needs and values of that person. And never forget about the gatekeeper.

Decision-makers are not that hard to spot

Everyone wants to sell their product or service. To do so, you have to make sure your efforts are not sabotaged by failing to prepare. Take the time to identify who’s in charge of the corporate decision-making, find their contacts on the web, and make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Lead nurturing

Marketing is replete with strategies and models, one of which is the sales funnel. Lead nurturing is responsible for each stage of the sales funnel conversion, aiming to develop mutually beneficial relationships between the company and purchasers, centering around the main needs of the audience.

The core task of lead nurturing is to provide future customers with a range of solutions and answers they require to start making purchases.

Lead nurturing helps to increase the efficiency of sellers’ marketing efforts and to make the lead generation process more rewarding. That’s why this focused activity is often multi-channel – marketers work out different lead nurturing tactics for each funnel stage.

Sales funnel stages and lead nurturing

A marketing funnel is often explained as a journey of a buyer. This process has the main purpose – to turn a cold lead into a paying purchaser. It promotes the progress on each stage of the conversion funnel, starting from the top and to the bottom.

marketing funnel graph
The Funnel Stages (Source)

To turn your leads into a hot audience, it is necessary to take them through the following stages:

  • TOF (top of the funnel) – at this stage lead nurturing concerns the call-to-action content that is created for brand awareness and effective traffic generation. Marketers must develop lead magnets for this stage to attract more targeted visitors with the help of valuable content.

  • MOF (middle of the funnel) – here lead nurturing concerns the purchasing decisions. The main purpose of lead nurturing at this stage is to achieve customer engagement: it is possible to do that with credibility-oriented data (tripwires, communication with the warm audience in confidential tone using newsletter, mail-out actions, etc.).

  • BOF (bottom of the funnel) – lead nurturing sequences form brand loyalty while creating qualified prospects. Here, the main task is to go into an issue of hot audience requirements. This last stage should bring paying clients to the company, so the BOF lead nurturing is focused on the conversion of potential buyers into real purchasers.

Why nurtured leads are better than non-nurtured ones

According to the comprehensive analysis performed by Marketo, nurtured leads bring about 47% larger sales than non-nurtured ones. It means that lead nurturing strategies can convert nearly 50% not-ready-to-buy customers into willing clients who order services and purchase goods without any issues. When marketers put effective lead nurturing tactics into work, the total quantity of paying clients increases

The main lead nurturing tactics  

There are 4 main strategies to nurture leads efficiently.

1. Targeted content creation – all your offers are based on your unique buyer personas. So, the first step for targeted content formation is to develop all possible purchaser personas (taking into consideration all the interests, aims, requirements of the audience). Email campaigns can help deliver this targeted content to potential clients.

2. Multi-channel lead nurturing strategies – this tactic includes not only email marketing, but also takes into account other efficient strategies like paid retargeting, social media campaigns, direct sales outreach, etc.

3. Timely follow-ups – lead nurturing is impossible without timely email responses and calls to potential buyers. All follow-ups should be done as soon as possible, and can be automated without losing personalization. In fact, marketers often prefer using automated lead nurturing to make sure every lead is accounted for and contacted exactly at the right time.

4. Personalization – efficient lead nurturing strategies are focused on personalized email letters. According to statistics, personalization in email marketing campaigns helps convert leads into real buyers faster.

As it was mentioned before, many successful lead nurturing tactics rely on email marketing. Personalized email newsletters and targeted content mail-outs are the key actions in any lead nurturing strategy; this is why email marketing is very important in getting nurtured leads.

And 65% of marketers agree.

How to nurture leads
Source: CoSchedule

Email marketing and lead nurturing – how to engage leads to sales   

There is a range of effective tips on how to organize lead nurturing more productively via email campaigns. Besides personalized email letters and targeted content sending, marketers can implement other hot-topic ideas, test them, and create their own strategy to nurture leads:

✔️ To-the-point letters – it is possible to help visitors to come back to the company’s website with the help of a special command line. This way, marketers can add a “Return to the cart” button to their newsletter or “Revisit the website” to make potential buyers check out the site one more time and continue their journey along the funnel.

✔️ Visual email letters – visitors pay more attention to bright content full of colorful pictures, helpful articles, visual content like videos, GIFs, promo-videos, etc., and information about discounts. Carefully done visualization can bring more warm leads that will be easier converted to the next stage.

✔️ Triggered email messages – these letters are aimed at showing potential buyers special offers just at the right moment for maximum conversions. It can be a limited range of goods, short-run discounts or free meeting invitations. Leads also enjoy free downloadable content. These letters are sent once a certain trigger has been activated – for example, visiting the pricing page, a landing page, or clicking an ad. All in all, triggered email letters push the audience towards an action.

✔️ User-centered content – some messages can contain a little bit of everything that your customers might be interested in. For example, one newsletter may consist of a hot promotion, a meme, and some news.

✔️ Acquaintance-letters – the company has an opportunity to introduce its audience to a brand in a variety of lights, depending on the audience (and their needs) and the purpose. It is another way to nurture leads and increase brand awareness among potential buyers.

✔️ Trial promotions – most visitors may not know about a free trial a company offers. Newsletters can help all target purchasers to stay on board using free-of-charge services. The message can be designed as personal (i.e. crafted specifically for that lead) – one more way to make visitors feel special.

✔️ Timely announcements – it is important to send promotions beforehand. Potential buyers need time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages before making a purchase. This also concerns training invitations, webinars, and other events. Give people time to ruminate over decisions if you don’t want them to regret compulsive purchases.

Note that lead nurturing is one of the most crucial marketing processes. By running a lead nurturing email campaign (paired with other multi-channel techniques), any e-commerce project or retailer can significantly increase sales.

Head buyer

A head buyer, or purchasing manager, is the senior-most buyer in a company. A junior buyer is someone who researches products, goods, and services the company may be interested in, and the head buyer, who is in charge of these junior buyers, calls the final shot in opening a sales exchange with the companies selling those products, goods, and services. 

Knowing and researching head buyers of target companies, as well as creating attractive offers, is one of the main responsibilities of B2B sales reps.

Head buyers are responsible for buying the best products, goods and services at the best, most competitive prices. Head buyers often work in a wide range of sectors depending on the organization. The job responsibilities may be the same as those of a junior buyer or purchasing agent, but also may include supervisory or managerial authority.

Head buyer responsibilities

The head buyer usually has more responsibilities than a junior buyer. They seek out or are contacted by potential sellers, vendors, and suppliers, and pick which have the best goods and services, the best prices for their products, as well as determine the amounts and timing of the delivery. This requires building relationships with the sellers in order to be able to haggle and negotiate agreements for the best prices. Head buyers often negotiate contracts, as well. 

A big responsibility is anticipating future needs and demands, too, by analyzing trends and market data. Without this forward planning, a company can find itself stuck without the things it needs to function. All products, goods, and services must be kept up-to-date, and the head buyer is ultimately responsible for that.

Head buyers can also spend a lot of time traveling to attend conferences, where they meet with sellers and scout for new sourcing opportunities. These conferences are the sellers’ opportunity to court buyers.

Overall, the main head buyer responsibilities can be outlined in this list:

  • Research, choose and purchase quality products and services
  • Build relationships with reliable suppliers and negotiate with them for the best pricing
  • Ensure that stock levels are kept at appropriate levels to facilitate business performance
  • Arrange transport of goods and track orders to ensure timely delivery
  • Analyze market trends and apply this knowledge to make insightful buying decisions
  • Provide leadership, coordination, and coaching to the team, ensuring they are trained to achieve the operational and financial goals

Head buyer persona

Being a head buyer requires specific qualities that are worth mentioning. A head buyer is going to be strong-willed but amiable in order to deal with sellers day in and day out, a capable leader, a highly critical thinker, a skilled negotiator and networker, and an experienced buyer. One cannot walk into a company and hope to immediately become a head buyer without experience, education, and a personality that gets things done.

Creating a head buyer persona is similar to, and just as important as creating a buyer persona when it comes to B2B sales, as most B2B company sales reps will be dealing with either junior or senior buyers when trying to sell their product. Selling to B2B buyers is also more complicated than B2C buyers. The whole process is conveniently outlined in this slideshow:

When searching for head buyer contacts, it can be useful to establish personal contact at conferences or use email finders to find the exact email address of the head buyer directly on the company website.

Buyers and SaaS

When choosing which software as a service to use, buyers take a lot into account, especially the value of the service for its price. They also must take into consideration what exactly the company needs and if one service can cover all bases instead of having to buy multiple services to cover it all.

A SaaS company generally takes the first step in the selling of their service. They contact potential buyers, consult them on their service, and convince the buyer they need the service. From there, the buyer collects more information by researching the service, considers the costs in comparison to its value and usefulness, sometimes schedules demos to analyze the ease of implementation, etc.

Sales funnel

A sales funnel is a series of steps a lead goes through before they reach the point of buying. It’s called a funnel because out of the many people who take the first step and enter the funnel, only a few will make it through to conversion.

Putting in consistent effort in carrying your prospect from the beginning to the end of the funnel will increase your conversion rate and, subsequently, your revenue.

A sales funnel can be depicted in many ways, with the number of steps a lead goes through varying depending on the sales model. However, the idea remains the same: at the beginning of the funnel your goal is to let a lead know you exist and are offering your product/service; and by the end of the funnel, this lead, already informed and committed to purchasing your product, converts. 

Sales funnel stages

Here are the most commonly defined stages of a sales funnel:

  • Awareness – people have to be aware of you in order to even consider buying from you. At this step, you should invest time into content marketing, email outreach, social media campaigns, SEO, and online advertisement to get your brand out there
  • Interest – This step takes awareness to the next level. Once someone’s heard of your brand, you need to capture their interest. You need to make them realize you can provide something they need, even if they did not know they needed it. Drip campaigns, social media campaigns, and useful content such as ebooks and videos is key. Many potential customers bail at this step, so it’s important to really present your product as a solution to their problems.
  • Consideration – At this point, the prospect is collecting as much information about your solution and your competitors to decide whether you are the best choice and whether they want to buy from you, if at all. Again, providing videos, how-tos, testimonials, reviews, trials, and even webinars will boost the chances of them making it to the next step. 
  • Decision – You’re close to a conversion and you do not want to lose this sale. Only about 5% of prospects from the awareness step make it this far. This is where you offer trials, demos, new customer discounts, anything that will make the prospects put your product in their cart and press checkout.
  • Purchase – You did it! Now give your customer personalized attention, providing helpful emails, good customer service, and regular newsletters (aka nurture them) so that they don’t feel abandoned after the sale and continue buying from you. Good customer onboarding will help you not just reduce the churn rate, but also improve your customers’ CLV by acquiring loyal brand fans.

Think back to any of the online purchases you’ve made in the past, on Amazon or elsewhere, and you will see how you yourself took all of these steps before making a purchase. 

Sales funnel stages

Sales funnels follow a natural flow of human behavior, but as you can see, there are definitely things you can do at each step to encourage customers to the next one. These steps will apply whether your business is in goods, services, SaaS, or any other of the myriad of business models. 

Why analyzing your sales funnel is important

Analyzing your results at each step can help you see where you’re making mistakes and losing valuable leads.

If you are not getting enough leads at the awareness stage, you might want to work on your SEO and content marketing to improve your lead generation.

If people are bailing at the consideration stage, work on the content that explains your solution and see how you can stand out among your competitors; testimonials and case studies also work great at this step.

If you are not getting enough repeat purchases, and you know your solution works great, look into how you organize your onboarding.

How to convert better

There are many ways to convert from awareness to consideration to decision stages, but it’s important to remember a few basics.

  1. Realize you are not marketing to every single person ever, you are marketing to a niche audience of people who would be interested in your product. These people have specific needs, desires, and pain points, usually described in a buyer persona. Analytics can give you a lot of information about who the people you want to reach are, so you can build your buyer persona and define your target audience based on that.

  2. Your content must be relevant to your target audience and their stage in the funnel. A lead at the interest stage doesn’t want to go through a demo in the same way a person at the decision stage may not need an ebook. Prepare content for each stage and distribute it accordingly.

  3. Don’t slack. Make sure your landing page is welcoming, your UI/UX design is great, your content is well-written, and your customer care team is prepared. Most importantly, make sure your product is at its best. You want it to be attractive and understandable.

Creating and maintaining a sales funnel is not easy but it is necessary. Take the time to improve and fine-tune it to get more sales, retain more customers, and nurture brand fans.

Market segmentation

When you want to reach customers with your marketing message, you need to make sure it’s optimized for a specific market. Otherwise, if you aim too broadly, you’ll reach a lot of people not interested in your solution. This is where market segmentation comes into play.

What is market segmentation?

Market segmentation stands for the act of dividing your target audience, clients, or users into subgroups based on their similarities. These can include demographics, behavior, needs, pain points, interests, industry, paying capacity, and other metrics. It’s essential for companies of all sizes as it helps business-owners build more targeted campaigns.

Segmentation is an ongoing process as you need to constantly review customers’ actions and characteristics and divide them into smaller groups or transfer them from one group to another.

What is a market segment?

In its turn, a market segment is a subgroup of users or clients who share one or more common characteristics. Each market segment is unique and should be approached differently, taking into consideration their lifestyles, needs, and personalities.  

Importance of market segmentation 

Segmentation is a way to personalize your approach. Though it’s a time-consuming task, the perks of it are immediately seen in the results through both KPIs and, more importantly, ROI

When you understand pain points and problems of your target audience and segment it into smaller lists, catering to each group individually, your sales and marketing teams can: 

  • Find out which leads bring the most revenue:
    By segmenting groups and monitoring them, you will learn which ones have the highest values and which underperform. This will let you know in which way you should approach this or that market segment of leads or clients.
  • Organize more effective spot-on targeting:
    Market segmentation lets you realize highly personalized targeting: leads who are looking to buy a new laptop won’t get an offer to buy a new chair.
  • Offer better solutions to leads’ problems:
    Having a bright idea of what kind of leads are searching for what, you can offer your solution to them. If it’s exciting and affordable, it will soon become a lead’s frontrunner solution to their problem.
  • Nurture better and maximize conversions:
    Segmentation lets you create and share relevant content with your segments, both educational and promotional, depending on their stage in the buyer’s journey. In its turn, such precise nurturing lets you improve your conversion rate.
  • Improve your product:
    Communicating with different segments of your customer base, you will know what can be improved to turn your clients into dedicated fans and even brand ambassadors.
  • Decrease churn rate:
    When you approach every lead in a unique way, reflecting their interests and desires in your offer, they feel special. This increases your chances to lower your churn rate.

All the above-mentioned points lead to what you as a professional are seeking most of all – better sales, higher revenue, and improved ROI. Here’s a handy infographic on market segmentation: 

Segmentation statistics

Types of segmentation

The more you segment, the more targeted your campaigns will be. You can segment leads and clients however you deem best. However, there are five main market segmentation examples, and you can use them as the basis to start your segmentation process. 

Demographic segmentation

This type of market segmentation is the most popular and can be used as the basic one. To segment clients according to their demographics, you need to know the following:

  • age
  • gender
  • ethnicity
  • job position
  • education
  • marital status, etc.

Geographic segmentation

This market segmentation example is based on your lead’s physical location. This will help you avoid any cultural faux pas, use country-specific peculiarities in your favor, create campaigns that address location-specific needs, and send them on time. Here’s the data you’ll need:

  • country
  • region
  • city
  • area type (urban, suburban, rural)
  • time zone, etc.

Behavioral segmentation

Analyze the way your customers interact with your brand. This will help carry the lead to purchase easier, as well as reduce the churn rate. Many characteristics can count as behavioral, here are some of the most popular:

  • purchasing barriers
  • past purchases
  • purchasing frequency
  • cart abandonment rate
  • favorited items
  • product characteristics sought
  • price range
  • usage
  • brand dedication
  • time the user is most likely to purchase
  • customer satisfaction
  • type (B2B, B2C)
  • special status (e.g., white whale, long-time brand fans, critics, etc.)

Psychographic segmentation

This type presupposes categorizing customers and audiences by their personality traits and characteristics. Here are some psychographic market segmentation examples:

  • lifestyles
  • values
  • interests
  • opinions
  • attitudes
  • beliefs
  • priorities
  • motivations, etc.

Customer journey-based segmentation

Divide all leads and clients into smaller groups based on the stage of the buyer’s journey they are at now and their status for your company overall:

  • user status (lead, first-time buyer, regular, defector)
  • stage of the customer journey, etc.

Market segmentation tips

The best way to figure out what leads and customers want and how to segment them is to take a good look at your current clients. The answers to the questions below will help you. 

  • Who are they? 
  • What problems do your customers have? 
  • What are their pain points?
  • Can you help them and how?
  • What do your customers need from you? 
  • What are their buying concerns?
  • What motivates them to make a purchase?
  • What influences their decisions?

Once the answers are given, split all the clients and customers you have into groups. These tips will help you in market segmentation: 

  • Create advanced signup forms. Use as many fields with relevant questions as you can; the data you collect will later help you segment subscribers and clients into groups.
  • Pay attention to the stage of the customer’s journey the prospects are at because each of them is characterized by specifics unique to that stage.
  • Use time zones. If you want to be at the top of, let’s say, the recipients’ inboxes, you need to know the best time for sending emails and your lead’s location. This information will help you schedule your email sequences for maximum conversions.
  • Take the recipients’ interaction with your emails into consideration. Set triggers in your email sequences and then divide all the recipients into groups: those who ignore the emails, open them, click the links, reply, etc.
  • Do not add one person to multiple groups. This is highly likely to cause a lot of misunderstandings. Create groups that won’t overlap.
  • Avoid creating tiny groups (less than 1% of the overall number of your clients). Such groups are economically irrational. Combine those people with some other groups instead. If you absolutely need to address a specific type of important clients (e.g. your “white whales”), address them individually.
  • Pay most of your attention to segmentation based on previous purchases and experience. Purchase history, subscriptions, what they are searching for on your website, etc., gives you the most important answer – which group brings in the most revenue for your business.
email drip campaigns

Through market segmentation to better sales

Segmentation is a major part of your sales and marketing and no successful business can ignore it. You can segment leads, prospects, clients, and users depending on any information you have on them: this can be demographics, geographical or behavioral data, their stage in the buyer’s journey, their previous experience or their interaction with your emails, and so much more. Segmenting your audiences can increase your ROI by up to 450% and clear up the picture of your target market.

Lead enrichment

Lead enrichment is the collection and analysis of data about a lead or a client in order to relate to their needs and improve the sales process. Even more simply put, it is knowing more about a lead to “enrich” the chance of a sale. Lead enrichment gives you a detailed insight into your lead, providing you with actionable information that lets you interact more effectively.

The lead enrichment data – what to look for and why

Deep knowledge of your client’s pain points, needs, and interests helps you build a stronger relationship with the client, and good relationships lead to bigger and faster sales. What’s more, the more information you have on your lead, the easier it is to recognize what affects their decision making, making your sales team’s job much more efficient. That is the main purpose of lead enrichment.

The data you are looking for can vary based on your industry, business type, product, etc., but the overarching goal is information that identifies the suitability of a lead. The gathered data can be broad or specific based on your and/or the leads’ needs, but either way, the goal is to find the most relevant information. This can include data like the number of company employees, physical location, revenue, etc. It’s imperative that the data is kept up-to-date and accurate, otherwise, it will be untrustworthy and even harmful when used for communication with the lead.

How to find data for lead enrichment

There are many ways to find data, but the three key factors of usefulness are: 

  • Accessibility
    Is it readily available and can it be directly associated with a specific lead?

  • Reliability
    What are the quality of the data and its source?

  • Ease of transfer
    Is the data easily transferred in order to be used for any specific purpose?

Professional social networks such as LinkedIn are a go-to resource for many B2B sellers collecting data for lead enrichment. For B2C the most commonly used sources are social media like Facebook and Twitter. 

You can only really achieve large-scale lead enrichment through automation. There are simple ways to automate parts of the process, using integrations with systems such as web forms, CRMs, and email finders along with incorporating enrichment data from multiple other sources, tools, and programs. Lead enrichment can be done manually, but at mostly any scale, large or small, it will be necessary to use automated systems.

There has been a lot of focus on data mining and big data in the media, but in reality, most of the useful data used in lead enrichment is found within business operations. The data needed for lead enrichment is generally more specific than the large-scale broad range of data mining can provide.

Why you need to enrich leads

The point of all businesses is to make business. Lead enrichment raises the chances of making business by helping you make the right decisions regarding your leads. It helps you understand the people you are selling to, which in turn helps you understand how to sell it to them. Through lead enrichment, you will be able to find data about the decision-makers that will help appeal to them with surgical precision, instead of making uninformed guesses and trying to convert with generic offers.

It is possible to organize and incorporate lead enrichment into almost any business through:

  • Integration of internal data sources to make data available to all other processes
  • Integration of external data sources to automatically add data to contacts
  • Offering user interface elements that allow and encourage users to add, update and correct data as a matter of course while performing other tasks
  • Automating data cleansing activities – validating and cleaning at the point of entry or flagging for cleaning at the earliest possible time

In the end

Taking the time and effort to find out more about your leads gives you the upper hand when interacting with and choosing leads.

After all, for the lead you are approaching, it is refreshing (and frankly much less annoying) to communicate with someone who is knowledgable about their pain points, needs, and desires. This makes the lead feel more catered to, which leads to easier conversion.

There are many programs and tools available for organizing lead enrichment that you should absolutely take advantage of if you want to get the most out of every lead you collect. Having an organized cache of enriched leads only works to your success. 

Lead generation

So, you want to know the answer to the question, “What is lead generation?” Or maybe you’ve heard about the effectiveness of lead gen campaigns and want to try them?

Search no more! We will go into all things, starting from what a lead is to how to generate leads, what lead gen trends there are, and how you can find your first leads by yourself.

What is a lead?

A lead is a person or a company potentially interested in your product or service. Every lead consists of information that you have on them. For example, a basic lead would be a name, contact details, and company name/location/job title. 

Now let’s have a look at how to categorize leads. We’ve defined three main ways you can do it: 

Lead type 1: Based on the interest

Interest is the first point that helps you define leads and split them into two large subgroups:

  • Warm or inbound leads are the ones who showed their interest by themselves and found you on their own (for example, they came across your blog and subscribed to your newsletters).
  • Cold or outbound leads are a subgroup of leads generated by you thanks to your targeting strategy and a lead generation tool.

Lead type 2: Based on enrichment

The second type is based on the information you have on your leads. Depending on the amount of data you have, you can divide them into two subgroups: 

  • Non-enriched leads are thin on information. Most often, they only have the name and email address or phone number (one contact method).
  • Enriched leads come with a set of additional information you can use for personalization and multi-channel marketing: secondary contact details, company name, location, job position, pain points, etc.

Lead type 3: Based on qualification

This last type helps define leads based on the their qualification and stage in the sales funnel:

  • Marketing qualified lead (MQL) has a slight interest in you but is still not ready to communicate. Let’s say, they’ve subscribed to your blog newsletters or signed up through your lead magnet, leaving their contact information in exchange. 
  • Sales qualified lead (SQL) has expressed actual interest in your product and is one step closer to becoming a paying customer. For example, such business leads leave their contact information to get in touch with your sales team to learn some more details about your product.
  • Product qualified lead (PQL) has taken action to become a paying customer. They are similar to SQLs but with a slight difference: PQLs are typical for companies that provide a free trial (like Snov.io). These leads may be using your free trial but are asking you about some of the features available in paid plans only.

What is lead generation?

Now that we’re done with the leads meaning, let’s dive deeper into lead generation definition and what it entails.

Lead generation is a process of searching for people who may be potentially interested in your service and getting in contact with them to communicate further and convert. It coincides with the first step in the buyer’s journey – the awareness stage.

Purpose of sales lead generation

The main point in generating new leads is filling up the sales funnel. The more leads you generate, the more potential customers you have. The lead to customer conversion rate is never 100%. This is why turning leads to prospects to customers is of the utmost importance for any business trying to grow.

sales funnel and lead's journey
A typical sales funnel

Who uses sales lead generation?

Every business generates leads. Whether you are a company, an entrepreneur, or a sales rep, you aim to generate as many new leads as possible and convert them into paying customers with the primary goal of growing revenue

Generally speaking, leads are generated for further use by two groups – sales and marketers:

The sales group includes sales specialists, sales development representatives, and sales departments. Salespeople usually focus on generating cold leads to fill their task lists and then use them for cold calling, cold emailing, and cold marketing campaigns. They go for quantity first, score and filter leads out, and then work closely with the most engaged ones. 

The marketing segment consists of marketing specialists, marketing departments, and marketing agencies. Marketers usually focus on generating warm leads. First, they acquire business leads through different marketing channels, warm them up with relevant approaches, and then forward hot leads to the sales department or make the sale right away.

Sales and marketing have quite different methods and needs, but the goal is always a client, a deal, a sale.

So, how do you generate leads?

It’s time to discuss how to generate leads and quickly review inbound and outbound lead generation.

inbound vs. outbound

Inbound lead generation strategies

Warm leads can be effectively captured after visiting a page with engaging content relevant to their problems. The sources of such leads vary depending on the niche (most common being blogs, search engines, and social media), and so does the content.

Content marketing

Blog posts, freebies, and infographics are only the tip of the content marketing iceberg – your imagination is the limit. Depending on your goals and buyer persona, different content types will work better than others, so analyze and focus your efforts on content that attracts the best inbound leads. Here are some examples:

  • Articles and guides. Creating high-quality blog content is one of the best opportunities to generate business leads because it brings people to your page and positions you as an expert. Do thorough research before you write any article, optimize texts, and share only relevant content. 
  • Lead magnet. This can be any downloadable content you’re willing to give away for an email or relevant information. It can include e-books, cheat sheets, studies, examples, etc. Once verified, collected emails can be used to send highly personalized and targeted campaigns.
  • Videos. People perceive information better through videos. Create videos based on the same ideas as for any written content, as long as they solve the lead’s questions. Don’t forget to insert a link that will lead your viewers to an opt-in form, lead magnet, landing page, etc.
  • Podcasts. They are a great way to generate new leads, as they have become an integral part of our drives to work and professional self-development. 1/3 of adults aged 25-34 listen to podcasts monthly and 1/5 – weekly. So, if your business niche allows, try involving them in your inbound lead gen strategy.

Social media

Social media is getting its own section even though it could be lumped in with content marketing. Whether you like it or not, there’s no denying a well-produced and maintained social media presence means marketing power. 

Using social media, you can combine blogging, targeted ads, and more onto one platform and spread the word of your business far and wide. Each platform has its style, positives, and negatives, but inbound leads will find you there, especially if you engage in targeted sponsored postings and ads. 

SEO

SEO content and pages that drive organic traffic are possibly the best long-term sales lead generators. When people are looking for products, services, and solutions to their problems, you want to make sure your lead generation website is the first thing they see. For that, fill your content and pages with keywords and phrases that correspond to these search queries. 

Outbound lead generation strategies

Leads that are found can be harder to convert because they have not taken an interest in your offer voluntarily. However, using specific targeting and personalization, the so-called cold leads can be converted just as easily. 

Outbound lead generation includes two main strategies: pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and lead sourcing. PPC is a paid option, while lead sourcing can be both paid and free, manual and automated.

PPC advertising

Before we get further into PPC, I want to address how more and more marketers refer to PPC advertising as an inbound marketing technique (that’s targeted ads were also briefly mentioned in the previous section). I believe that PPC fits better into the outbound for its interruptive nature. Still, it’s important to note that it can be used to enhance your inbound marketing.

If you know your perfect buyer persona and target audience, then paid lead generation can be a key to massive sales. You can run paid ads through Facebook, Google Search, ad networks, and many other paid sources that can provide lots of targeted traffic.

Usually, such leads are captured on custom landing pages created specifically for every campaign. Paid lead generation marketing campaigns also have more detailed lead capturing forms. This is done for a simple reason – you pay money for traffic, and you want your business leads to be as targeted and enriched as possible from the beginning.

This is a great method if you know your perfect target audience, have a budget to spend, and have sales resources to process many warm leads.

Lead sourcing

Lead sourcing is performed by extracting leads manually, semi-manually, or automatically from various sources with lead generation tools. It’s a great chance to test the waters and define your lead gen approach

Many lead generation companies offer solutions that can suit any need and price. As a result, lead sourcing can cost you nothing when performed manually or with the help of free email finder tools. But it can also eat up a good chunk of your budget if you go with lead generation companies with overpriced solutions.

Before you start sourcing, choose the lead source. Try a few and analyze which leads convert best. Diversify your lead generation if you can – having a couple of lead sources that work for you is always a plus. Here are some options:

Define your target audience, find the right company, decide on whom you need to get in touch with, and use an email finder to generate leads. 

email finder

Lead generation techniques

As you might’ve already understood, sales lead generation is a sophisticated process demanding lots of analysis and work. But it can be made easier (and more efficient!) with a few tips:

Use a tempting CTA. Your whole landing page should always look amazing, but your CTA must be extra alluring to motivate the lead to sign up. Use the potential buyer’s fears and desires when composing the CTA.

Optimize your website and landing pages for mobile. Almost 60% of users would never recommend a website that isn’t mobile-optimized. Make sure all elements are displayed correctly, and your lead can sign up from mobile.

Create evergreen content. Evergreen content is like a quality car – it may take more effort to create, but it will last so much longer and pay off much quicker than content built of fleeting trends.

Don’t forget about email marketing. According to numerous research, email marketing is still the best choice for business in 2020. Take advantage of it to nurture leads, onboard, share updates, and, of course, sell.

Be regular with your newsletters. When people subscribe, they expect something more than just one email. Create an email drip campaign with valuable content and choose the optimal email frequency to always be on your leads’ minds.

email drip campaigns

Create a referral program. Word of mouth works great in any business. So, let your clients share a referral link to bring you new targeted leads for a small bonus or reward.

Create a consistent stream of leads to fill your sales funnel. Lead generation companies can offer you various tools capable of providing you with thousands of targeted leads every day. If you see that inbound marketing isn’t bringing you as many leads as you need, take matters into your hands.

Lead generation examples for 2020

In 2020 try the following lead gen methods:

  • Chatbots. Among a wide range of features, they now offer lead generation. You can insert any question into the chatbot, from “What are you searching for?” to “Leave your email address, and we will send you a freebie.” They are a great choice for small teams as they are fully automated with no human oversight.
  • Video guides. Use them to divert traffic to your website, for onboarding, or for social updates.
  • Segmentation + personalization. When you segment leads, you can reach them easier and faster, and personalized content will help you convert even more.
  • Influencer marketing. Influencers are your shortcut to reaching a wide audience in your niche while also boosting your brand awareness and image. A few years ago, only B2C companies used influencers. Not anymore – B2B micro-influencers can help you score your white whale!

Wrapping it up

Generating leads can be a lot of work, but it pays off. There are many solutions on how to get leads; all you have to do is try to find lead gen channels that are best for you and your business.

We recommend you start with a lead sourcing method, as you can run such lead generation marketing campaigns at no or low cost and get high quality targeted leads. But don’t be afraid to use email finder tools too.

Go and launch your lead generation campaign today! Generate business leads consistently, experiment, optimize based on lead quality, and you will see your revenue grow.

Prospect

A prospect is a potential client, someone who is in the market for your product and has the resources needed to buy it but has not purchased it yet. Once the prospect buys the product, which is always the end goal, they become a customer. So how do you find and court prospects to turn them to a customer?

Sales prospect profile

You have to know what kind of prospect you want to find. Creating a buyer persona (B2C) or an ideal customer profile (B2B) is the first step, as it helps identify the person/company you want to sell to. For example, if you’re trying to sell cat toys, your buyer persona will be based on a cat lover, as you’re not going to put your efforts into researching what dog lovers like.

Knowing your intended audience helps target, find, and reach prospective customers. You want your focus to be on those who need or want your solution and can afford it. Searching for people outside of that qualification is a waste of time and resources that are best spent on converting qualified prospects.

Sales prospect profiles can be specific and are best determined by the characteristics and actions of existing customers. All of your clients were at one time prospects. The way you interacted with them worked, and you have successfully sold to them. So, use this experience and information to create a prospect profile. 

Start by asking simple questions (edit them to fit your niche):

  • Who are your customers? 
  • What business are they in? 
  • What is the size of their business?
  • Who are the customers who have stayed with you the longest, and what do they have in common?

Answering these questions will help you see who you are selling to and aim your attention to qualified prospects, which greatly increases your chances of turning them into long-term customers

Finding sales prospects

Now you know who you’re looking for, but how do you find them? Will lead generation be like panning for gold during the Gold Rush, or will it be like finding a needle in a haystack? Well, that depends on how much effort you put into it, and yes, lead generation takes effort. Use all the lead generation tools you can, and you’ll end up with a handful of gold. Only use one, and you’ll be sifting through the hay forever. 

There are many lead generation methods you can use. The most common ones are sourcing from LinkedIn, email and social media marketing, networking, referrals, conferences, and conventions. 

Not everyone who fits your sales prospect profile will become your prospect. But putting yourself out there and letting your potential customers know what makes you special and worth their time and money will lead to more interest. 

email finder

Building a relationship

Even if your sales prospect is a company, it’s made of people, and people strive for relationships. 

You can fill their needs or desires with your product. Listen to your prospect, be genuine, and promptly answer their questions to build trust and position yourself as helpful. Don’t forget to ask questions to make sure you understand what the prospects want. These interactions will determine if your product is what they need and if your company is the one they want to work with.

In a lot of ways, prospect marketing is like any other interaction. Learning their interests, needs, and fears, and always finding time for conversations instead of simply sending hard sales pitches is the only way to achieve good conversions. 

Prospect marketing is impossible without lead nurturing – share articles you think they’d be interested in, make your interactions easy, and most importantly, be patient. No one likes to feel pushed to make a decision – or pushed into a business relationship. Go with their flow. 

Prospect pushback

Sometimes a prospect is not on the same page as you. Maybe they don’t have the budget, maybe they don’t have the time, maybe they already use a similar product by a different company. 

You have to decide if that sales prospect is worth the effort and time. If you think they are, you have to take a step back and determine if maybe they are saying no without saying it. If that is the case, it’s best to move on to your next prospect. Don’t chase a dead lead at the expense of other viable prospects who could be turning into paying clients.

From prospects to customers: what’s next

You created your prospect profile, did your research, put yourself out there, crafted a business relationship, sold the idea of your product, and sold your product. You have a customer! Pat yourself on the back because that’s a lot of work.

But you’re not done yet. To keep that customer, continue to follow-up. Your goal is not just to turn 1 prospect into 1 sale. So while you search for more prospects, make sure to work on minimizing your churn rate, as 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.

All in all

There are a lot of prospects for any business out there – it’s all about knowing what you’re looking for and reaching out. Understanding your current customers is the easiest way to find your sales prospects. 

To turn prospects into paying customers, you have to reach out; you can’t just sit back and hope they find you. There is an infinite number of tools that can help you with prospect research and lead generation – it only takes research to find your most converting lead source.

Buyer persona

A buyer persona is a profile that depicts your ideal customer based on real data of your existing customers and market research. Buyer personas help humanize the ideal customer you are trying to attract, which helps you understand them better and pick the right marketing strategy to convert them.

Buyer personas are built using demographics, prior purchases, behavior patterns, motivations, and other quantifying attributes. The goal is to be as detailed as possible, as thorough buyer personas can shine a lot of insight into where you should focus your time, money, and development. With the correct focuses, you will attract the most valuable leads and clients.

How to create a buyer persona

A lot of data goes into creating the perfect buyer persona, but the more detailed your perfect buyer persona profile is, the better. 

This requires deep market research, as well as insights into your existing customer base through surveying or interviewing. Knowing your existing customers will strengthen your ability to attract similar new leads that will turn into clients easier. So what details exactly should you include in your buyer persona profile? Here are some:

  • Personal demographics – age, gender, location, education, income level, marital status, number of children, etc.
  • Professional demographics – industry, job title, company size
  • Specific professional profile – career path, special skills, typical day’s routine, management role
  • Goals – personal and career goals, priorities, challenges, how do they seek solutions
  • Values – values in personal and professional life, what do they see as important when looking for products and companies, what do they not want in a product or company, what is the driving force behind their decision-making process
  • Personal preferences – what media do they consume, how do they prefer to communicate, do they go to conferences or events, do they belong to any associations, how and where do they spend their day, what are their hobbies, are they active on social media (really any tidbit you think could be important should be considered)
  • The negatives – this is all the characteristics you don’t want your ideal customer to have, like being extremely demanding, not able to afford your product, being in the industry you don’t work within, etc.

As you begin to mash together all of these attributes, your buyer persona will begin to emerge and you can get started putting it down on paper.

What does a buyer persona look like? 

Generally speaking, a buyer persona should be a one-sheet mockup of a fictional customer who would be your ideal client. There’s no set-in-stone correct format, but most buyer persona profiles include several key parts using the information gathered.

  • The Buyer – In order to have a buyer persona, you have to come up with the buyer. Often this includes a name, job title, and even a picture to make them more human and relatable.
  • Behaviors – Based upon demographics like age, location, and education, a profile’s targeting can become more specific.
  • Day In The Life” – Constructing what your persona’s day may be like can help you understand their habits, motives, needs, and how they spend their limited time, which will greatly help you figure out where your product plays into all of that.
  • Pain points – Figure out your persona’s challenges and what they need to get their job done.
  • Goals – If you know your persona’s goals, you can better cater to them. You want your content, services, and product to bring them success.
  • Objections – Think of any objections a customer could have and pre-plan your answers to them. You don’t want to be caught off guard and potentially lose a customer because you never considered any negative feedback.
  • Information search process – Knowing how and from where your customers come to you can help you build your persona’s buying habits. There are many ways of advertising, including word of mouth, so it is good to know what platforms you should consider for advertising.
  • “Tie It Up In A Bow” story – Take all the aforementioned parts and write a short story about your persona. Make it realistic and humanize this persona. Use this story as a guide when creating content and while communicating with leads and customers.

Buyer personas are not definitive, nor do you have to create just one – you can add more personas and change existing ones as your company’s goals and services grow and you learn more about your customers. Here’s an example of a buyer persona from Optinmonster:

buyer persona template

Buyer profiles are just guides to help you see the humans on the other side of the transaction and understand them better to improve your strategies. Understanding leads to success.

Negative buyer personas

Buyer personas have an evil twin and that is the negative buyer persona, or the profile of the people you do not want to spend time and effort on. 

When creating a negative buyer persona, pay attention to things like:

  • high churn rate
  • low likelihood of repurchase
  • engaging with your content but not buying the product
  • “difficult” clients who require a lot of time/effort but don’t bring little revenue

You are here to do business, not waste your time, so making plans for what you do not want from a potential client is smart.

How to use buyer personas

First of all, buyer personas help you tailor your content to the customer. If you have more than one buyer persona, you can confidently create specialized campaigns that will cater to the specific needs of each group with content you know will work best for that specific customer type. 

Secondly, buyer personas can help your company more easily develop customer interaction strategies, as the profile is literally a practice sheet for your team. It also can help guide the content creators to better understand their audience. 

And, of course, having a buyer persona profile helps detect your customers’ pain points and desired. A complete, detailed profile is a goldmine for any marketer. It’s best to hang your buyer persona profile on the wall for your marketing team to always have a reference nearby when planning the next campaign. 

Create your own buyer persona

Research is the most time-consuming part of creating your buyer persona. Remember, it does not have to be long, it just has to be specific and based on real data. You can use any buyer persona template available online, as long as you fill it with your own data. A buyer persona will help you understand and empathize with your customers better than before.

Targeting

Targeting, also known as multisegment marketing, is a marketing strategy that involves identifying specific personas or markets for specific content. Companies use target marketing to learn more about their consumers and thus create advertisements for specified groups to maximize response.

This strategy is much more effective than mass marketing, as it targets the consumers most likely to interact with the brand or product, based on a buyer persona. There are many key targets, these are the most common:

Demographic targeting

These targets are based on age, gender, ethnicity, race, income, education, religion, economic status and more, and are extremely commonly used in all types of marketing.

Using demographics is a tried and true marketing technique, a foundation for target marketing. By combining different segments, say age and gender, specific consumers can be targeted for specific products in a myriad of ways, from ads to product placement and more. 

A common known trick using demographics is the selling of kids’ cereals. The cereals will be advertised on tv during children’s show using exciting cartoon characters, then when taken shopping, the cereal boxes are placed lower at eye level of a child (as opposed to where an adult would be looking), so the child asks for the cereal they saw on tv, and the parent buys it for them. Knowing the age and interests (and height) of kids leads directly to sales. Demographic targeting at its finest!

Knowing demographics also helps push sales if a certain product is not performing as well as wanted. If a product is selling great in the 25-40 male demographic, but isn’t in the 25-40 female demographic, ads specifically targeted at those women can be created to boost sales. Conversely, if a product is for women aged 25-40, the ads will focus on just women 25-40. An example of this is birth control commercials, which are often shown during shows popular with women in that age range, so as to reach the target audience.

Geographic targeting

This targeting is based on a certain location and can be as broad as a country or region, or as specific as a city or neighborhood.

Also known as geo-targeting or geofiltering, gathering geographic information (such as city, state, IP address) and then targeting consumers within certain locations has proven to be a very effective marketing strategy, as it results in ads being sent to exactly the right people in the right place. 

An example of this would be sending ads out for a local-to-the-consumer car dealership vs ads for the brand in general. The general ad may entice interest, but a local ad will have a greater chance of resulting in a sale.

Geographic targeting also uses the information on where the consumer goes on a regular basis or has been to in the past to create interest and habit profiles, which can be very valuable in choosing what group the consumer belongs in. On a more practical level, knowing the consumer’s geographic location ensures they are within the area of the product or service you are offering.

Psychological and behavioral targeting

This targeting uses personality traits, previous purchases, favorite places, shopping habits, “Likes” on Facebook or Twitter, opinions, etc.

Knowing the consumer’s personality can greatly enhance the efficacy of a marketing campaign. Are they introverted or extroverted? Depending on which, word choice can be everything. Are they an impulse buyer or someone who makes thought out decisions? Think about how to best pitch a sale to them. Have they already bought the product? Time to sell them that product a second time or offer something related to it. 

Using data gathered about the user’s psychological and behavioral patterns using website cookies gives more than a one-up in figuring out how to sell a product to them, as you can also influence them and predict their response better. Facebook Ads algorithm is perhaps the best-known use of behavioral targeting. It seems sometimes the second you even think of a product, that product suddenly shows up in your Facebook feed. By examining your previous interactions, interests, and personality, their program can match ads to their target audience almost perfectly. Who hasn’t bought something you totally didn’t know you need until you saw it in a Facebook ad? 

Taking into consideration a person’s opinions is very important too. Political views, entertainment preferences (even something as simple as tablet reader vs. paper book), what types of blogs they follow can all make a big difference in how a marketing initiative is received. Targeting the correct group or not is the difference between a hit and a miss when opinion is involved. People hold their opinions, preferences, and beliefs very dearly and it will cost you very dearly to not respect that.

Targeting comes in many shapes and forms – any group you can put people in is a potential target group. Using one of the above is a sure way to improve your marketing, but there’s still plenty of opportunities in areas like brand awareness and loyalty, in which you target people who are already your customers differently than the potential future customers

Ultimately, demographics, geographics, psychological and behavioral tactics are at the root of success in target marketing. Knowing who you want to convert and then aiming your content at the specific consumer can carry you a long way towards successful marketing endeavors. 

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