For the past few years, many companies have taken advantage of Google AdWords and other pay-per-click (PPC) platforms to generate sales leads. The barriers to entry are low for these services, making PPC advertising a relatively easy and cost-effective lead-generation strategy for smaller businesses.
Popular PPC platforms typically generate quality leads thanks to highly targeted content developed by marketers. Unfortunately, in smaller organizations, the marketing and sales team may not have time to follow up each and every one of these leads, so many fall through the cracks. The overwhelming influx of leads often means that precious resources are wasted.
So, how can a smaller business take advantage of the potential customers coming from paid search campaigns without going into overload? The answer lies in automation, beginning with targeted ads and a nurturing track, and then closing the loop by tracking which campaigns are the most successful.
The Perfect Campaign: Killer Keywords and Landing Pages
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when choosing keywords for a PPC campaign is selecting terms that are too broad, in which case marketers may end up with a flood of nearly useless leads. Marketers must take care to choose keywords that appeal directly to their target audiences. The result may be fewer total leads, but the leads will be more qualified and have greater potential to provide a return on the marketer’s investment.
Marketers should also pay close attention to the quality of their landing pages, so that the person searching will find what they’re looking for and not feel duped. Targeted landing pages help improve an ad’s quality score, which leads to better treatment by the paid search platform. It also betters the chances that when a prospect arrives on a landing page, they find relevant content and are more likely to fill out a form. Since at any given time a company is likely juggling many keywords and campaigns, it is essential that the marketer has a solution that allows for the quick and easy customization of landing pages, ideally without the need for heavy coding from the IT team.
Segment, Segment, Segment
Successfully automating the lead-generation process requires a keen understanding of customer behavior and the buying cycle.
Let’s say that a marketer is promoting a number of different products through paid search campaigns. By understand the type of prospects who are clicking on their ads, a marketer can automatically trigger appropriate responses. Persons who download a high-level white paper, for example, might be placed on a lead-nurturing campaign, where over time they will automatically receive additional educational materials. The individual who requested a buyer’s guide might go directly to the sales team for an e-mail or phone follow-up.
Sales reps, driven by quota, focus on the low-hanging fruit. If they call on a lead a few times without immediate success, they’ll likely toss the lead aside in favor of a hotter prospect. Those leads, which a marketer has already paid for with his or her marketing budget, may wither on the vine. Don’t forget that a cool lead could become a hot lead several months down the road.
Marketing should segment inbound leads so that warm leads don’t linger in the CRM system and waste sales reps’ time. Direct those leads into the automated nurturing track until they “raise their hand” by responding to an email or taking additional actions that would alert sales to reach out.
Sending warm or even cool leads a periodic, educational message ensures that when they are ready to buy, the marketer’s company is top of mind. Such automatic drip nurturing campaigns require minimal effort from already busy sales and marketing teams yet preserve the value of hard-earned prospects for the future.
Measure Campaign Success
A huge number of inbound leads doesn’t mean much unless they are real prospects. That’s why measuring the number of qualified leads from campaigns and the number of leads that turn into paid customers are the metrics marketers should pursue.
Unfortunately, the built-in paid search analytics from PPC sites sometimes fall short and don’t give marketers the full picture. They provide simple metrics like the number of clicks, but may fail to track which of those clicks actually resulted in sales. The best way to determine which campaigns are working is to track a prospect’s journey through the entire sales cycle, from their first click to the day the deal closes. This requires companies to utilize their inbound marketing platforms like Google Adwords with their CRM system to track opportunities through completion. Marketing automation software is a natural bridge between PPC platforms and CRM systems, allowing users to create integrated marketing and sales pipeline dashboards.
Using the marketing automation system to compile information from inbound sources (like Google AdWords) and sales data from the CRM allows marketers to pull reports and see which PPC campaigns led to the most closed deals. By understanding which campaigns are the most effective, the paid search strategy can be refined to focus resources on the ads that correlate to the highest number of qualified leads, eliminating wasteful spending.
Online marketing is all about efficiency. No company can afford to spend a disproportionate amount of time qualifying leads — although technology can help in this regard. As well, marketing and sales must work together as a finely tuned machine, despite any history they have of working independently. Through collaboration, refined processes and information systems, marketing can spend more time bringing the best prospects to their sales partners instead of weeding out the junk.