Image of sales funnel qualifying sales leads by moving them through the buying process

How your website can help qualify leads for your sales funnel.

One of the best things your website can do for you is ease the burden on your sales department from having to follow up on dead-end leads. When used correctly, your website is your most important sales tool. This will become increasingly important the more we rely on the Internet for connection to real-life needs. Even if you are a small, locally-run company that operates out of a brick-and-mortar store, many of your customers will be accessing online data to find out information about you. They could be:

  • Searching for local businesses online
  • Using GPS to navigate to you store
  • Hoping to see images of your products and shop space before driving to your location
  • Looking to book an appointment
  • Trying to find a pricing guide or menu
  • Comparing your website with your competition

If your website isn’t representing your business well, it’s likely costing you business in invisible ways you aren’t even aware of. If you’re in this situation, here’s how you can turn your website into one of your best tools for drawing in new prospects and qualifying sales leads.

SEO: Attract the Right People

SEO can be such a buzz word these days that not everyone connects the dots between it and sales lead qualification. This is why you can sometimes find people writing about topics that are wildly divergent from the clients they want to attract. But good SEO is all about knowing who you actually want on your site, and then being savvy about your keyword research.

Research your target keywords, particularly long-tail ones. The more specific the search terms are that you can rank for, the more qualified the visitors will be who find you through those terms. In short, you’re not just trying to boost traffic: you’re trying to boost qualified traffic.

Content Creation: Market to Your Personas

One of the reasons content marketing works so well is that it gives your prospects plenty of opportunity to get to know you and your business. They can hear you talk about your services, learn about your process, and how you think through your business decisions. There are all kinds of subtle ways in which you can communicate through your content the kind of business you are. You should write with a strong voice, and not shy away from voicing your opinions about industry practices. Share how you approach certain situations, advice you often give to clients, or your answers to FAQs.

Your marketing team should work with your sales department to create the messaging that will resonate with your ideal client. You’ll do this by building personas that describe the prospects you want to target. You want your customers to know right away if you’re a hair salon specializing in alternative cuts, an old-timey barber shop with excellent recommendations for mustache wax, or a children’s stylist that can keep your 3-year-old happy during their first haircut. Don’t write content that tries to be all things to all people: write the content that will attract the people you want to work with.

Gated Content: Who’s Actually Interested?

Eric touched briefly on this theme in his last video on gated content, but the basic idea is this: You use gated content to qualify leads. The higher the value of your content, the more rigorously you can qualify leads by increasing the barriers to entry. For example, we know that the more form fields you include, the fewer people will fill out your form. This is why we often counsel clients who are struggling to attract leads via their form to simplify the number of items they have on it. However, some people have the opposite problem? They’re getting lots of leads, but very few of them are the kind they really want.

This could be for several reasons. You may have created a piece of content that misses your target audience, or you may have written something of exceptional value and you aren’t asking enough for it. In this case, you have two options: create a new piece of content that better targets your prospects, or you can ask more for your content. This latter strategy may drive down the number of leads downloading your content, but it should result in more qualified leads—or at the very least, at bringing you more information about those leads so that you can judge their qualifications for yourself.

Landing Pages: Target Your Advertising

With all the advertising data we have at our disposal, we have nearly limitless opportunities to hyper-target audiences. You can run advertisements so specific, that the only people likely to find them and click through are your most qualified prospects. Furthermore, analytics can show you where your advertisements are succeeding or failing, and how you can improve them to be more effective.

There’s also no limit to the number of landing pages you can run. You can have different ones based on your various personas, services, or store locations—or combinations of any of these. And you can experiment with A/B testing to see if a certain headline or a different image is more likely to bring you the qualified leads you’re looking for.

Automated Marketing: Qualifying Sales Leads via Email

Once someone has downloaded your content, you can use an automated email workflow to nurture and further qualify that lead. You can base your workflows on which piece of content your prospect downloaded, or on which landing page they downloaded it from. Most of this can also be done without your sales team having to do a thing. Instead, you can monitor how your leads interact with your email workflows, and only reach out to them once they’ve expressed a qualifying level of interest. Use your automated emails to direct prospects toward further information that will either move them along the sales funnel or disqualify them for a follow-up.

Your Sales Team Still Has Work to Do.

None of this will eliminate the work your sales team has to do. Instead, it should help them refocus their attention on the sales leads that pass your qualifying process. And with the right focus on your content marketing, you will be bringing in even more qualified leads to occupy their time.

Published 05/25/17 by Laura Lynch