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Following the pathway to successful lead management

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Many marketers know they need, and desperately want, lead management systems and processes, but are worried about their ability to implement them. Marketers are all resource-constrained, so the question is, “How can they start down the path of improved lead management without overhauling their entire operations in a lengthy three to six-month implementation?” The good news is that lead management can really be taken in steps. Yes, for maximum return you need to implement all components and processes, from website to close of sale. But you don't need to take advantage of all the features right at the beginning of implementation. Start out small, improving on what you are doing today. And be sure to lay out a well-designed and realistic path of steps to start reaping incremental lead-management benefits, while also understanding how to grow your systems and processes over time. Here are some guideposts along the way: Set realistic goals. The first step is to define your goals in the short-, mid- and long-term. By doing this, you can measure progress as you go and see the results you've made along the way. Short-term goals can be as simple as increasing click-throughs or conversions of e-mail marketing programs, or implementing a nurturing component within existing campaigns and seeing what effect it has on quality of outbound calls. Get sales buy-in. Working with sales is one of your first steps when implementing a lead-management system. Think of your mid-to-long-term goals in particular, and how to evaluate the marketing-to-sales process by defining what a sales-ready lead really is within your organization. Identify initial campaigns and steps. It's important to evaluate where to start—namely, where you can get some immediate value without consuming the entire marketing department or missing current targets/campaigns. This primarily depends on what you are currently doing and what you can facilitate moving forward. Some companies might start by segmenting and targeting their prospects with e-newsletters, whereas others might implement an approach to track and nurture in-bound leads from their AdWords campaigns. It's important to keep it simple and focus on the benefits you can realistically and quickly achieve. Lead-to-sales process considerations. How do you want leads to pass to your sales team? Some companies choose to keep their process the same, such as moving all leads to sales. Others might choose to implement basic scoring and move only those leads to sales that meet a basic set of criteria. The important factor is to start simple, measure and adjust. Metrics now and later. After the basics are accomplished, it's time to upgrade your thinking about analytics and your understanding of what's working and what's not. Here, you'll want to go beyond tracking just opens and clicks, and consider ongoing behavior and marketing effectiveness. You could perhaps start by tracking the increase in conversions by campaign. Later, you could track the number of sales-ready leads generated by campaign, and revenue by campaign. You'll need to test, measure and refine. It's imperative to drive value with your lead-management system, both initially and in the future, based on your company's resources, budget and needs. By doing this, and by taking the small steps outlined above, you can gain some immediate ROI as well as the visibility to increase your marketing effectiveness. Lisa Cramer is president of LeadLife Solutions (www.leadlife.com), a pro-vider of on-demand lead-management software. She can be reached at lcramer@leadlife.com.
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