A discussion was recently posted out on LinkedIn, and it spurred this thinking.  The discussion, posted by Bob Scheier, was this:  "Profile Prospects Right or Don't Profile Them At All.  Scoring customers on one attribute, as Orbitz reportedly did with Mac users, annoys customers and misses a chance to delight them."  It had me think about my experience with different companies, including ourselves, and how you actually move forward from "batch and blast" which is proving more and more ineffective, to targeting and segmenting your leads and providing content that will interest them and build trust, relationship, etc.

I originally posted a comment that said:

I think scoring customers and/or segmenting them is something that more companies are exploring, which I say Kudos to them for moving in that direction. So many companies just batch and blast the same message to their entire list -- without ever segmenting at all. 

We've seen big results for customers that mix a newsletter approach with segmented follow-ups as one strategy for moving in the right direction here. In terms of difference, we have seen a 10% open rate move to a 41% open rate on the follow-ups when specifically targeted to an interest that's been exhibited by a lead.


So, what are the Six Commandments of Lead Generation?...

Taking my answer a step further, in terms of best practices that I've seen, and what we work on at Genoo, I've put together some steps that we've seen taken that starts at the lead generation end, where you're converting visitors into leads, and then migrating through the journey with them in ways that might help answer this more clearly (I'd love your comments and thoughts):

1. Do not ask for too much information in lead capture forms:  When initially asking visitors for information in exchange for something, don't ask for more than you are entitled to. For example, many lead capture forms ask for name, email, address, phone, organization, job title, and more. Doing this adds friction. The more friction, the less likely a visitor is to a) complete the form, and b) tell the truth. So, it shoots you in the foot. Ask for name, organization, and email. Max. Otherwise you end up with data that is suspect. Maybe include job title. (for more on conversion, watch this interview with Tim Ash).

2. Tracking all lead activity is important for success: i'm going to assume that you can track what had them complete a form on your site. Most small businesses cannot do this. But with tools like Genoo, you can know this. Pay attention to it, and give those people more of what they have exhibited interest in, rather than a lot of stuff they haven't shown interest in. This is tough if all they've done is complete a 'newsletter sign up' form on your site. Here's more informaiton on managing leads with an integrated system.

3. Use newsletters to help segment: if you've just got a newsletter sign up form on your site, then pay attention to what users show interest in. If you're a newsletter rockstar, you'll see about a 20% open rate -- so not very good - since it leaves 80% of people out of the engagement cycle -- but if you pay attention to what those 20% are interested in, and can then segment those along lines of interest that you know about -- now you can engage them -- with offers and eBooks, white papers, etc. that would likely hold their interest -- so that can help you move them along their buying journey.  For more information on how to establish lead nurturing that works, click here.

4. Earn the right to learn more about your leads: Here's where lead profile scoring can come in handy -- assuming you know your perfect customer profile, as you offer them additional content, ask them for 'progressively' more information that allows you to complete the important fields so you can assess how perfect of a customer they are. When you ask for this information as you gain trust, and pre-fill the information you already know, they will likely feel much more comfortable providing you the truthful information, and you're making it super easy for them. Now you can rank them from a profile perspective and know the sort of fit they are as a potential buyer of your goods and services.

It's not a one-field silver bullet -- it's understanding your perfect customer, and then building a profile of them so you know what you need to capture, and what different values tell you about them.  Then combine the attributes they tell you with their activity and how they engage with the content that you assemble allows you to better know when they're likely to be sales-ready.

5. Use scoring to identify sales-readiness: And that leads us into an activity scoring conversation -- this is what MOST organizations aren't yet doing at all. And thought must be given about what makes up your buyers' journey. For each stage in the your lead's journey, what might they want to engage with? What questions could you answer that will help them move forward? Having content that addresses those questions and issues is what will help you score their interest and activity in a way that lets you approximate where they are in their journey (and whether they are likely to be sales-ready).  Those items, as they exhibit interest, download them, etc. are what you want to assign a score to. Again, in order to score well, you need to be able to track activity. 

6.  Work with Sales to continuously improve your efforts: B2B and B2C companies might handle this part distinctly and differently depending upon your sales process -- but for B2B organizations with a considered sale, you might need to pow-wow with your Sales team and discuss at what point of engagement (as scored by activity discussed in point #5, would they like to contact a lead.  In other words, when should you consider that they might be 'sales-ready'?).  This will be a 'best first cut' answer - and will need to be revisited with sales on a continual cycle, so you can score leads more effectively and refine your efforts.

With B2C organizations that might also have eCommerce storefronts, then coupons, or offers made at the right time, might help tremendously with a sales event.  We've seen this occur in the continuing education market quite successfully - no coupon, but just an appeal to those folks who exhibited an interest in a type of class.  Following up with them specifically about only those types of classes that were currently available, quickly filled the class that up until that point, might have been cancelled for lack of interest.

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I'd also love your comments and questions!