Turning a Lead Into a Customer: a Simple Checklist

It's hard to find a good balance between asking leads the right questions and being creepy; still, you've got to try.
Turning a Lead Into a Customer: a Simple Checklist
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In the world of marketing, what you know is just as important as whom you know.

Related: 39 Quick Ways to Increase Your Website's Conversion Rate

If you don't know anything about whom you're trying to sell to, then you don't have the resources you need to craft a marketing strategy that directly appeals to your customer. In other words, you're simply throwing strategies at the wall and waiting for something to stick.

While some businesses will be lucky enough to get it right first time around -- without any helpful data steering them in the right direction -- most companies will simply waste time and money on a host of marketing solutions that do nothing to transform their leads into sales.

According to CSO Insight, about 42 percent of sales reps surveyed said they feel that they don't have enough information before making a sales call, and many online businesses say they're facing the same problem. Companies are jumping straight into pay-per-click strategies, social media marketing and content strategies without any evidence to suggest that that their process is actually going to work.

For instance, you could find out whether your content strategy needs to be geographically targeted, or whether you'd benefit from inserting keywords into your social media hashtags. After all, converting a lead into a sale is the most important part of running a successful business, and that conversion can happen only when you know how to interact with your customer.

Below is a a simple checklist of all the information you're going to need when you search for ways to boost your conversion rate, and adapt your strategies for stronger lead generation.

An email address

Although it may seem like an outdated strategy to some, the truth is that email marketing is still alive and well, and kick-starting companies across the digital landscape.

More than 200 million emails are sent into the ether each minute. What's more, 72 percent of adultshave said on surveys that they prefer their favorite brands to communicate with them through email, while 91 percent would like to receive promotional emails from the companies they do business with.

Today, email represents the biggest channel for all digital marketers in search of leads and conversions. Some 73 percent of companies agree that email marketing is an essential aspect of their business presence; but how do you get started when you're new to the online world?

Most budding businesses struggle when they begin their online marketing efforts because they don't have a reputation to build off of. In fact, many don't even know where to begin in building an email list.

Before you can work on optimizing your emails to include relevant information, valuable content and plenty of links to social media, you need to generate more emails. That means that when you send people to your website, perhaps from your Instagram page or PPC strategy, you need them to enter your email into a contact form.

Related: Increase Your Conversion Rates With These 7 Landing Page Must-Haves

Remember, when you're asking for personal information from a lead, make your request as simple as possible, and avoid anything that might make your customers feel uncomfortable or uncertain about your brand. Let them know that they're providing you with their information in exchange for something valuable, like free features, regular weekly blog updates or a free ebook.

A job title or business

You can use job titles to segment your leads, by finding out whether they're decision-makers, whether they control budgets or whether they just want information from your business.

Getting job-title information can be pretty easy too: You can always add a drop-down of titles for people who are st likely to visit your website or sign up for your newsletter; these might include "account manager," "CMO," "CEO" or "sales and marketing team."

Once you've got job-title data, you can organize the information you send out to connect to the relevant information of each person you interact with. For instance, if you have a CEO receiving your emails, you could try personalized emails that you write from scratch in order to make a good impression.

While you don't really want to lose any leads, proper segmentation should help you to figure out which ones are the most valuable, and ensure that you're not sending unnecessary information to your customers. After all, most businesses (no matter what their background), aren't catering to a single type of customer -- even if they have only one service or product to sell.

There's no one-size-fits-all customer out there, so your email and marketing strategies shouldn't be one size either. Knowing your prospect's job title means that you can segment your marketing efforts further for that extra "personal touch."

In other words, if you know that certain people on your mailing list are marketers, you can reach out to them with blog posts about marketing solutions, or discounts on marketing software. Alternatively, those things might not appeal to other people on your email list who are, say, sales managers.

Personalizing your marketing approaches with segmentation makes your organization more valuable as a company. It ensures that when you send an email to your leads in the future, they'll be more likely to click on it and see what you have to say -- rather than send your communique straight to the spam folder.

A phone number

It can be easy for some customers to ignore the annoyance of a few pesky emails -- but it's way tougher to ignore a ringing phone. Plus, you can always follow up your phone calls with further emails to help you improve correspondence about important business topics.

Another thing that makes getting your customer's phone number so appealing is the fact that you can now use it to send SMS messages.

As brands become more focused on the mobile market, ahort message service (SMS, a.k.a. texting) is becoming a more popular aspect of multi-channel marketing. Not only is it quick, but SMS marketing is effective, too: Consider that a mere seven seconds elapse between the time you send and receive a text. In addition, texts have a read rate of approximately 99 percent (according to SinglePoint).

This means that you can rest assured that your most critical messages will get to your customers wherever they are.

The most important thing to remember about SMS marketing is that you can only send messages to people who actively "opt in" to receive those messages.

A lot of email marketers send routine promotional messages to people who fill in their landing-page forms, but this isn't how SMS marketing works. Instead, you need to ask someone to opt-in, then provide an "opt-out" option at the bottom of each text. While this makes lead acquisition tougher, it also means that the leads you get through SMS are often of a higher quality. After all, you know for a fact that these people want to hear from you.

Remember, no matter whether you call or text your customers, it's important that you make sure you don't use these number to harass these leads.

So ensure that the information you provide is valuable, and give these people a chance to get off your calling or texting list if they're sick of hearing you. Too much unwanted communication, and you could quickly end up earning a reputation for being a pest.

Business goals

The best way to leave a good impression on leads is to show that you can fix a problem that they already have. If you're addressing pain points that your customers have never experienced, they're not going to care much about whatever you have to say.

In this regard, one of the best ways to learn about them is to ask what they're hoping to get out of subscribing to your email or becoming involved with your company.

For instance, if your lead comes to your website to download an ebook, ask what this person wanted to learn from that ebook, so you can offer information about upcoming blog posts that address the same topics. This will make you more valuable as a company, and ensure that you're segmenting customers appropriately according to their interests.

At the same time, understanding your customers' goals can help you to generate a more comprehensive image of what your audience actually looks like.

In other words, it can give you the power to see whether you're targeting your marketing strategies to the right people, and why people are coming to you in the first place. The more you learn about your customers, the more you can adjust your marketing strategies to appeal to their interests, target their pain points and address their concerns.

A good way to make sure that you actually get an answer to this somewhat complicated question is to not leave it open-ended.

So, don't leave a box for people to type in, open-ended style; instead, brainstorm a few of the most likely goals your target market is bound to have and offer them in a dropdown menu.

Learning more about your leads

At the end of the day, finding opportunities to generate traffic is important, but it's also crucial to make sure that you know what you're going to do with that traffic when you get it.

One of the best ways to improve your chances of conversion is to learn as much about your new leads as possible. Ask them questions, and make sure that you gather data that can help to make your future sales campaigns and marketing efforts more successful.

Related: 25 Ecommerce Conversion Hacks to Make Your Website Profitable (Infographic)

Whether you're gathering information on a landing page, pop-up or form, it's hard to find a good balance between asking the right questions and being creepy; but the more you test out your forms and see how people respond to the questions you ask, the more likely you are to get great results.