As a marketer, how do you rapidly identify your sales-ready prospects?
Picture this: you just wrapped up your booth at your industry’s annual conference. Everything is sunshine and rainbows. There were zero last-minute snafus. Your swag was a huge draw and you had a steady stream of interested attendees. Now you have a shiny, massive (and opted-in) list of new prospects.
Now, you’ll use stage-based marketing to move your new prospects through a traditional lead journey. In other words, you’ll send a series of qualifying emails to warm up your prospects. The content of these emails moves in tandem with the prospect, from Stage 1 (Cold) to Stage 2 (Warm) to Stage 3 (Hot.) Once the prospects receive the hot content, a subset will identify themselves as marketing-qualified and you’ll send them over to sales. Then your sales colleagues will close those deals and everyone will bestow glory upon you and the marketing team. Right?
Well, not exactly.
Only 13% of new leads convert to an opportunity — and those leads take an average of 84 days to convert. You can’t afford to wait. Yet, you’ve sent your shiny list of prospects down an inefficient marketing funnel.
Stage-based marketing works wonders when you know the stage of the prospects:
- Hot: Ready to buy and should talk to Sales
- Warm: They know they have a problem your service would solve, and need to be nurtured on a frequent cadence to get them to be Hot.
- Cold: Don’t know they have a problem that you would solve. They need to be educated about why they should consider spending money with anyone, let alone you.
But what about when you’re not sure? You absolutely met people at your booth who were already hot (or warm); you just weren’t aware of their stage. But you treated them as cold out of the gate. At best, you wasted time by sending them content irrelevant to their stage. At worst, you’ve lost their interest forever.
There’s a better way to identify your sales-ready leads. Flip your strategy. Go from 1-2-3 to 3-2-1. Send your hot qualifying email first, then your warm email (to those that didn’t act on the hot content) and then your cold email (to those that didn’t act on the warm content.)
Instead of Cold → Warm → Hot, take the bull by the horns and go from Hot → Warm → Cold.
Why does this work? Simple. You ensure that you’re not late to the party for those of your prospects who are already hot. Then, the people that aren’t quite ready will self-identify by not acting.
Pardot’s new Engagement Studio makes executing this strategy easier than ever. You can add nodes to do the heavy lifting for you and even put it all together in a single Engagement program.
Here’s a simple example of how this might play out in Engagement Studio:
Here’s a quick overview of what happened in the above:
- Send the first email “3 – Hard Hitting CTA”, targeted to Hot Leads
This email would focus on them buying your product, perhaps offering a time to connect with a sales rep.
- Wait a short period (i.e. 7 Days)
- Send a followup email “2 – Medium CTA”, targeted to Warm Leads
This email would be targeted at them reading some thought leadership on your service (say, the importance of your value proposition)
- Wait a slightly longer period (10 Days)
- Send a followup email “1 – Soft CTA”, targeted to Cold Leads
This email be more generally targeted, helping potential leads understand that they have a problem that you solve
If they reach the bottom without ever clicking a link, you know they are very cold and not worth your time.
By stepping outside the box and using the 3-2-1 strategy, you will quickly identify your sales-ready prospects, without sacrificing the ability to nurture your warm and cold prospects. This quick identification will help you rapidly convert more MQLs and increase the opportunities that your marketing team is responsible for.
Learn more about the 3-2-1 strategy and how to get started with stage-based marketing.