One of the fundamental principles of successful agency marketing and business development is to attract qualified leads and eventually get them to know, like and trust you. Solve this equation and you’ll create a pipeline of new potential accounts and a strong referral network for new business.
Top agencies can improve new business development success by accelerating the leads captured online through the know, like and trust cycle by leveraging four essential steps. Each step builds upon the previous one, creating a chain reaction that helps trigger growth. Follow these steps and you’ll rapidly turn your online presence and thought leadership into a business development machine.
1. Create awareness and drive prospects to your website
The first step to establishing your business in the minds of prospective clients is to create awareness of your agency and the digital presence of your organization. By consistently committing to using traditional digital marketing tactics such as search engine optimization, paid advertising, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, your objective is to expand awareness within the right audiences and attract visitors to the one digital channel that you own, your website.
The principle of 3 touches: A quick way to accelerate awareness is by reaching a contact across three different marketing channels – both online and offline. Potential channels could include a guest blog post on another website, a shared social media post or a traditional PR campaign. An individual that comes into contact with you via three different channels will quickly build up a level of familiarity and trust that will make them more willing to open your emails, take your phone calls and ultimately expand their relationship with you.
2. Identify your visitors to optimize highest ROI potential
There are three primary visitors to your agency’s website. The first is the person who says, “Yes, I want work with your firm right now.” These people have completed the know, like, trust cycle and have determined that you can provide them what they need right now. This group has a clear agenda and are at a point in the buying cycle where they trust you and your ability to satisfy their needs.
From a marketing perspective, your mission with this audience is to remove as much friction from the potential request for proposal. Whether it’s offering them a link to the appropriate person in your firm for an email conversation, a phone number to talk to someone directly, or the ability to have an immediate online chat your job is to make their interest in a proposal as simple and easy as possible.
The second type of visitor is the person who somehow made it to your site but will never need service. They may have found your site through search or clicked on a link, but mistakenly have arrived at your doorstep with no current or future need for anything that you can offer. The best alternative for both of you in this case is to limit the time and resources spent to extend this relationship.
The third and largest group of visitors to your website is what we call “the Maybes.” These folks know you, and possibly like you, but they aren’t yet ready to buy and need more. They may need to learn more about your work. Maybe they need to learn more about your organization. Maybe they need more time before their campaign budget is approved. Or maybe you need to earn their trust.
The Maybes make up the overwhelming majority of people who visit your website. That’s why it’s essential to put the primary focus of your marketing efforts on winning over the Maybes.
3. Convert the Maybes into leads
Step three is to convert the Maybes into leads. We’ve identified that the Maybe visitors to your website are potential clients, but they’re not yet ready to buy. Therefore, it’s your job to make sure that the Maybes don’t come for a visit and leave without identifying themselves.
If someone clicks on a link to your website and is a potential client, allowing them to leave without learning anything about them is a major loss for your agency. It also doesn’t help the Maybe who could use your assistance.
To convert Maybes to leads through online marketing involves three primary tactics. Firstly, use landing pages to exactly align each visitor with their desired service or need. For example, if your agency offers brand strategy and a visitor is looking for information about creative and tactical outreach, your goal is to immediately get them to your brand strategy thought leadership.
Secondly, use forms to capture visitor information. Learning who the Maybes are, by gathering their email address at the very minimum, is the best way to help this potential customer and assist them in finding what they need. However, if they visit your website and leave without identifying themselves, the chances that they’ll return are poor, despite their new found familiarity with you. Potential clients have an enormous number of options at their fingertips, so once you have someone “captive”, you can’t afford to let the connection falter before it gets started.
The third step in converting Maybes to leads is to use a valuable thought leadership offer or “lead magnet” in exchange for their contact information. Lead magnets come in the form of a free report, white paper, workshop or a free consultation, and help attract relevant potential customers to your website.
It’s imperative that your lead magnets provide a tremendous amount of value in the eyes of your potential customer so that they’re willing to exchange their email address for what you’re offering. A best practice in creating and managing your lead magnets is to test multiple offers to see which ones potential customers find valuable. Once identified, you can leverage these offers throughout your site to help attract and turn more Maybes into leads.
For best practices download a copy of our whitepaper “Harnessing the Power of Inbound Marketing for Growth“.
4. Nurture leads into sales
The fourth and final step requires turning the leads that you’ve captured into sales by building like and trust through lead nurturing. According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at 33% lower cost.
The first stage of nurturing a lead into a sale is identifying who they are, what they want, and what they know. By finding out this information you can begin to identify and establish the topics and types of information that might be of most interest to this lead, and allow you to begin building a relationship with them.
The second stage of lead nurturing is to build segmented and highly customized email workflow tracks or drip campaigns, which consist of a group of emails sent over a period of time, that help educate and build the relationship with your potential client. The goal in this stage is to build a two-way conversation by leveraging engagement data to identify what stage of the buying cycle they’re in and by providing value every step of the way.
The third stage of this process is to build a relationship, establish trust and convert these relationships to sales or sales ready leads. A typical email lead nurturing campaign consists of anywhere from four to ten emails that are sent every few days and help enhance your credibility with the lead.
It’s important to realize that just as building a relationship in a face-to-face or real-world manner takes time to establish trust, the same is true for digital communication. As an agency providing high value, consultative services, you can’t jump steps or try to shorten the process because the relationship has to evolve at its own pace. That said, you can certainly speed up the process by having a proactive lead development process, and paying attention to the feedback and buying signals of your audience and aligning our efforts to earn their trust.