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Beyond Best Practices: 3 pillars of lead generation

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If you're like most marketers, you've probably been caught up in the "best practices" phenomena.

Sure, we all have limited time and it can be enticing to sneak a peek at what others deem important. Who doesn't want to go after the new bright and shiny object or save time by just taking someone's word for it, right?

To be honest, none of us should settle for best practices. Not that they are bad per se, but oftentimes, we put too much stock or rely on what others are doing instead of taking a holistic view at our lead generation programs.

For example, it helps to borrow a best practice and create a more effective lead capture form. But, if those leads are sent to Sales too early and don't receive the nurturing they need, you wasted your time and resources, and likely frustrated what could have been potential customers.

And yet, according to research from the MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report, a staggering 75% of those surveyed had either no guidelines or an informal lead generation process. Without a formal strategy or process, many of us are left relying on individual best practices.

Chart: Lead Generation Maturity

Q: What best describes the process your organization uses to plan, execute, and measure the performance of lead generation programs?

Source: ©2012 MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Survey Methodology: Fielded January 2012, N=1,915

So, when we created the agenda for Lead Gen Summit 2013 in San Francisco, we were careful to take the key pillars of the lead generation process in mind to help you learn what works from your peers, but think of it in a structure manner that will ultimately work for your company. It's our attempt to help you go beyond best practices and learn more about the three pillars of lead generation that enable you to develop an effective strategy for generating high-quality leads, and excel against the competition.

Pillar #1 - Lead Capture

In order to impress today's buyer, you need to provide relevant, important and interesting content. This means the information you offer is something they want and need. Your landing page should include a clear call-to-action (only one, if possible) with little or no clutter. You don't want any unsupervised thinking – it should be obvious what you want them to do.

To optimize your lead capture strategy, identify your goals early and prioritize based on your resources, budget and other contributing factors.

Pillar #2 - Lead Qualification

Finding the perfect balance between lead quantity and quality is an ongoing challenge and always will be. To distinguish between sales-ready leads and unqualified prospects, you must learn how to effectively manage the flow of leads entering your system. As you know, not all leads are created equal and the sales team hates nothing more than "bad" leads. There must be a Marketing-Sales alignment. However, many organizations still struggle with this obstacle.

The selection and prioritization of form fields on a landing page can also dramatically affect volume andquality of conversions. There has to be a delicate balance between deciding what information is critical to get now versus a later follow-up conversation or progressive profiling.

Pillar # 3 - Lead Nurturing

What happens when you have leads that aren't ready to interact with a salesperson? These leads should be placed in a lead nurturing campaign until they are ready to speak with the sales team.
According to the MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report (pg. 52), the top five most effective nurturing tactics are email newsletters, sales calls, white papers, leadership articles and webinars.

Testing your messages to deliver relevant content to the right people at the right time can provide the necessary feedback for continual improvement.

For additional tips and insights, please join us for Lead Gen Summit 2013, in San Francisco, September 30 through October 3.

Justin Bridegan is senior marketing manager at MECLABS. (parent company of MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments, and the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog). He can be reached at justin.bridegan@meclabs.com.

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