When using automated marketing software, there can be a tendency to use the traditional "it's a numbers game" approach and as soon as a lead comes in, it's forwarded to Sales, leaving Marketing feeling like they've done their job. But you stand to alienate prospects these days with tactics like that.
Just like homegrown tomatoes, you want to pick them at the right time at their peak for readiness. This takes some nurturing and patience along the way, so consider these four things when ripening your leads:
- Lead Scoring - Most platforms allow you to create your scoring criteria to best suit your particular industry or company. Repeat visits within so many days, number of pages visited, form conversions and location can all create a scoring system that puts your best prospects at the top of the list to call.
- Timing - While this is part of the scoring equation, I wanted to pull it out to highlight the "patience" aspect. Give your leads some breathing room at the beginning and send them useful information via email or text to see what they do with it. Likewise, if the lead ages out of your initial contact cycle, but comes back to visit 6 months later, be prepared with a lead nurturing campaign targeted at them as they become re-engaged.
- Content - This is where you build the trust with your prospects. If they give you their email address and you send them unhelpful or poorly written content, they quickly turn cold and you stand to end up on the spam pile. While this is the 3rd item on this list, it should be where you start before launching any campaign.
- Wash-Rinse-Repeat - Regular review and analysis of your lead nurturing campaigns will help you fine-tune each of these areas so that your sales funnel has "perfectly ripened" prospects for your team to convert to customers.
One last tomato reference: at the end of a growing season, when only green tomatoes remain on the vine, we make fried green tomatoes. Sometimes, when all you have for leads are these "green tomatoes", you have to do the best with what you have.
But given the choice, wouldn't you much rather have those tasty, fully-ripened tomatoes? I would, and I enjoy putting the time and effort into cultivating them to get my desired ripeness.