Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the Kapost blog here.
Content plays a growing role within organizations as marketers create content that’s more targeted and effective to generate new interest, nurture existing prospects, and ultimately improve conversions.
Not surprisingly, Kapost’s recent Content Strategy & Operations Benchmark found that marketers’ number one marketing priority is generating new leads, followed closely by improving conversion rates.
While creating a high volume of leads and pushing them down the funnel is crucial to marketing organizations, this thinking of quantity first, quality second is leading marketers to pile their funnels with as many leads as possible, leaving sales reps further down the funnel to deal with the poor-quality leads.
What are the Risks?
Generating lower quality leads is problematic on multiple levels. First, if you are generating poor leads, what does that say about the quality of content and engagement that brought them in as a lead to begin with?
If marketers are creating content that is impacting unfit prospects and leads, then perhaps they should reconsider whom they’re targeting and with what content. Marketers need to focus on creating content that’s going to pique the interest of potential customers, not just someone willing to fill out a form.
Additionally, when poor-quality leads are brought into an organization, not only are the chances of them turning into an actual customer lower than a high-quality lead, but the chances of keeping them as a customer are also much lower.
Sales reps’ time shouldn’t be wasted on building relationships with prospects that simply don’t fit the customer profile. Not to mention, an organization with poor-quality leads/customers can expect retention rates to decrease.
The Value of an Ideal Customer Profile
The first step to understand what a high-quality lead looks like is being able to identify what attributes an organization’s ideal customer should have. The key to increasing lead quality: actually holding true to these standards.
This criterion can be based on a number of different contexts in which your prospects live such as industry, revenue size, employee count, region, persona, or any other number of factors. Almost every business will have a different ideal customer profile (ICP) because every organization caters their products to customers based on these contexts.
Once an organization defines its ICP, the marketing team can execute a plan to gather these highly-targeted leads rather than casting a huge net over as many prospects as possible.
There are many benefits that come with targeting leads that fit a business’ ICP. For example, as I mentioned before, high-quality leads are much more likely to realize the value of a product—especially a complex solution—than a low-quality lead that might have been sold on false promises.
With realized value comes other perks for suppliers. Customers that have seen serious productivity gains from a product are much more likely to renew a contract, increasing retention rates from the supplier’s perspective. Taking this line-of-thought a step further, this positions reps to increase deal sizes and gives them opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell to a high-quality customer.
Using an ABM Approach
Account-based marketing (ABM) is another great tactic when it comes to finding not only high-quality leads, but high-quality accounts.
What is account-based marketing, you ask? ABM is an emerging approach to marketing that’s based on identifying qualified companies and connecting with key people within those accounts to build a personalized connection through the delivery of custom content at the right time. By leveraging an ABM strategy, organizations can ensure that both these accounts and the people within them are of high quality.
Contrast this customer-centric approach with a product-centric approach that aims to herd as many leads and/or accounts as possible, regardless of the quality. So how do you engage these high-quality accounts within an ABM framework? With high-quality, highly-targeted content! An organized content operation will ensure that content will appeal to these ICP accounts and the various people that live inside them.
A critical component of a content operation is developing a taxonomy, or complex tagging system, that identifies the exact context an asset is intended for. That means each and every piece of content is labeled with persona, buying stage, and other necessary fields to get the right content, to any given account, at the right time.
Managing the Shift to High-Quality Lead Goals
There are a few hurdles marketing teams can expect to run into when shifting their lead strategy from quantity to quality.
First and foremost, marketers need to have realistic expectations. Inherently, there will be a lower number of high-quality leads within any organizations’ total addressable market than lower quality leads. However, it’s safe to say that the conversion rates among this smaller group of leads will be greater than that of low-quality.
This is why understanding your organization’s ICP and which accounts meet that criteria can be a daunting, time-consuming task. But it’s well worth it to see the increase in retention rates and sales-accepted leads.
According to a blog post by KelloggInsight, “while there may be short-term costs in terms of efficiency and optimization, the resulting data have the potential to teach the company going forward.”
Equally as important as understanding who falls within your organization’s ICP and what content to hit them with, is setting realistic lead goals that reflect the (likely) smaller number of high-quality leads you hope to bring in.
While moving to a strategy that prioritizes lead quality over quantity might not yield results overnight, it’s important to bend the bar and innovate to achieve better results for the long-term success of an organization.
To learn more about ABM and how ICP should affect your funnel activity, subscribe to the Marketeer and get weekly updates on all things marketing.