The excitement of starting inbound marketing for your business can lead to initial eagerness to get things rolling. But in that sprint to kick-off your marketing and see success, inexperienced inbound marketers often find themselves missing a step or two. The use of content to gather leads is without a doubt a main focus of inbound. Therefore, many marketers spend their time emphasizing content strategy and website optimization to generate those leads. However, optimizing your content without optimizing your lead strategy defeats the purpose of inbound altogether. Instead, marketers should spend much of their intro to inbound process on lead and business strategies to guarantee their content is meeting their objectives.
What’s in a Form?
Nearly every website these days has a form on it. But the effectiveness of those forms depends on a number of factors. This can be everything from the type of form, the page it’s on, what is being offered, or the question that’s asked. Another factor? How that information is being used.
Have you ever been interested in a new apartment complex or shopping center around town? Maybe you had a specific question while they were in development. So you filled out the website contact form. And waited. And waited. And no one got back to you. Yet chances are you gave a decent amount of personal information on that form — Name. Email. Phone Number. You did so willingly because it was an exchange you found reasonable: your contact information for information you wanted. Understanding this exchange is the key to forms.
In short, a form is a means of gathering information—the level of which is dependent on what you’re offering on the other side of the form. In inbound, forms are also a means of progressive profiling, (i.e. qualifying your leads by asking for a little more information, or different information), each time they fill out another form. This progressive profiling is the purpose of any form. It’s meant to get more and more information that qualify leads by lifecycle stage, and determine their point in the buyer’s journey.
Knowing What Questions To Ask
Now that you know the importance of your form fields to lead qualification, the next issue becomes, “What questions should I ask?” This is where your lead/business strategy comes in. If you’ve done your inbound strategy correctly, the management team, marketing team, and sales team have all come together to identify your buyer persona and the ideal buyer profile. Doing this also should’ve resulted in defining what your lead lifecycle stage looks like, knowing what information makes a lead versus a marketing qualified lead and so on.
If you haven’t done this, go back and do it now, because this information is vital to your progressive profiling.
Let’s say you’re a tenant representative for a large new commercial office building in downtown. The project isn’t complete yet, but it has generated a lot of buzz, and companies are showing interest. You want to be sure you lease-up before opening, however, you also need to make sure the companies you bring in are a good fit. This is where progressive profiling comes in.
Your first form, the awareness form, will always cover introductory information. This includes the basics: Name, Email, Phone, Company Name, and maybe Job Title. If you’re using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, you have the opportunity to add smart fields that will populate if you already have this particular contact’s information. This can help expedite the lead qualification process, by letting you ask additional relevant awareness level information.
This also makes things easier for sales down the line if the lead becomes Sales Qualified. The same process is followed for each offer, with the questions becoming more in depth for consideration or decision offers, in which the lead is further in their purchase path.
Gathering your teams together for your business/lead strategy would be pointless if you don’t have a process by which to direct them. Thankfully, that process is fairly simple. Early in the inbound process, your team should have come up with an ideal buyer profile and a buyer persona, as well as SMART goals for the year to determine what type of leads you’re hoping to attract. At this time, you get to bring all that information together. By using lead and customer goals, persona information, and sales data, your team should be able to determine the necessary lead information to qualify leads, and at what point to ask it.
Back to the Tenant Rep example. You know the office building in question has a specific number of spaces with an anticipated rent range. You also know the amenities that the building does and does not have. Given the nature of the building, along with your business goals, you know you will likely need to build a large awareness funnel in order to meet the occupancy goals by open.
While your awareness questions are simple enough, the information you need in the consideration and decision stage is much more in-depth and specific. For one, the type of business and business size is important to determining fit, as certain businesses may not be supported to their needs in the building. If the building is high-end, questions around “current rent” or “monthly revenue” may be important to help you discover if the company is a good fit from the affordability standpoint. By gathering this information early on, when it comes time to start leasing, the Tenant Rep’s job should be fairly simple in picking sales-ready leads that met the requirements of the building.
An Exercise in Segmentation
While the ultimate benefit of progressive profiling is to shorten the sales cycle and end up with more qualified, valuable leads through the information gathered, there is a secondary benefit that can help your business long-term. List segmentation is the act of separating contacts in your CRM by various criteria. If you run a multifaceted business, e.g. MARKETING, with a lot of different services and verticals, list segmentation can be a lifesaver. If you have a new offer for clients in the senior living space for example, you don’t want to send it to the people in economic development of mixed-use, for fear of irrelevancy. Furthermore, people interested in your ad services probably aren’t interested in what you offer in branding. By gathering this information from leads, and early on, you can use it to segment your marketing for a more streamlined and effective message.
For marketing success, a form is much more complex than slapping a few fields on a page and expecting answers. Forms require a certain amount of business strategy to be used to their optimal effectiveness. Forms are a powerful tool that can improve the life of your team and your sales cycle, while requiring little more than some upfront strategy on your part. All it takes is asking the right questions.