No doubt your Q4 is going to be busy, who’s isn’t? But is it going to make or break your year’s lead generation and funnel building efforts? You can busy yourself (and your company’s sales teams) with the right – or the wrong – type of work. Here’s a lead generation checklist with 5 key points to ensure your Marketing and Lead Generation is geared up to provide the best possible results for the final quarter. If the idea of having only 3 months left in the year to make a difference fills you with dread, read on:
Lead Generation Checklist Point 1 – Do you have the right content lined up?
Your lead generation checklist shouldn’t just feature any type of content for Q4. It has to perform in a certain way. Compare it to the last quarter of a race. A lot of the hard work has been done earlier in the race (or the year, depending on which way you’re looking at this), but you don’t want to undo all the good and hard work by finishing slowly. You need to have additional reserves to finish strong and cross the line with a good result. You had a (race) strategy for laps 1, 2, and 3 – now it’s time to implement your strategy for the final lap.
Think about what your Q4 leads should look like. Should they drive additional booking and revenue for this year? Or should they pave the way for Q1 of next year? Perhaps both? Either way, make sure your content and targeting reflects these requirements.
Is your content aligned with what went before it? Does it tie in with your overall content strategy? If you are only dragging up what hasn’t been covered before, or what hasn’t yet been done, or even worse, re-running existing content, you may be on the wrong track. It should be cohesive with previous content. If it isn’t, you’ve got only a few weeks to do it (but it’s not too late).
Make sure you haven’t left the core corporate messaging path over the course of the year. You don’t want to be the marathon runner who took the wrong turning a few miles back. You’ll not make the goal line if you discover this too late.
Lead Generation Checklist Point 2 – Is your Database up to date?
Every database deteriorates over time. You’ll have a percentage of inactive users, i.e. those who haven’t engaged with you, who have changed jobs, companies etc. Your lead generation checklist should ensure your marketing automation or CRM tool allows you to identify these inactive users and run a campaign to either re-engage them or to rule them out of future campaigns.
Doing this will give you more accurate reporting numbers and a better response rate. How? If you have 1000 contacts and 10% are inactive, your percentage response rates are lower than if you started with a clean list of 900 contacts. It’s simple maths. Yes, you may have a smaller database, but wouldn’t you rather have better and more accurate reporting? Give your truly inactive users the option to opt out if they really want to. It’s much better for everyone involved to have a database of contacts who actually want to hear from you. Anything else is a vanity number.
Now that you have an accurate and engaged contact database, make sure your content is targeting the right segments of your database. Define accurately your keyword filters and target your content at each of your target audiences. If you haven’t got content for certain parts of your database, create it. If you don’t, you’ll be underutilizing your database and missing out on opportunities to fill the funnel.
If you do have gaps and you can’t create content in time, check to see if you can adjust some of your more generic content to also appeal to the segments you don’t have specific content for. Thought-leadership content can appeal to a wider audience and has a tendency to be shared with your target audience’s colleagues and social/professional networks.
Lead Generation Checklist Point 3 – Are your response rates better than in Q1?
Content marketing and lead generation aren’t just a creative exercise, they are increasingly about numbers and performance. Make sure response rates for your Q4 content outperform your response rates for Q1. There are a couple of different aspects at play here: In Q1 your audience may have been in research mode (early sales cycle phase), while in Q4 your audience may be in implementation mode (adoption/purchasing/budget-spending stage of the sales cycle). If you’re not addressing the right needs, you may see your response rates suffer. But you need to know your audience’s requirements – for example, in your market Q4 could be the research phase for next year.
Database cleaning from the Check list’s Point 2 above also comes into play. A couple of adjustments on who is in your database can help you get more accurate response rates.
All in all, if you are able to take your subscriber database on a well-planned and executed year-long content journey, you have the opportunity to educate some of them along the way and nurture them into new customers. This is largely governed by a solid content strategy for the year.
Lead Generation Checklist Point 4 – Are your internal systems integrated with your content marketing?
Content Marketing is key to good lead gen activity. But warm leads cool down quickly, so do ensure that your internal systems (CRM, Marketing Automation, Email etc) are integrated with your campaigns. If you generate leads, but the “sales-ready” ones don’t reach your sales team in time, they WILL go elsewhere. There’s simply too much competition in the market for you to be lax on this point. It would be tragic if you had great response rates, but no one to follow-up with these prospects. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Many still don’t get it right.
When you plan your content marketing, ensure that you use systems which integrate with each other. Many of the solutions you are already using will allow for mutual integration. If they don’t, you may want to reevaluate the systems you are using. It should be as seamless as possible. It’s a simple point and quite easy to fix. But overlooking this point could cost your business dearly.
Lead Generation Checklist Point 5 – Do your sales teams know about what’s coming?
No department should work in isolation, especially not Sales and Marketing. Ensure that the Marketing Leadership in your company is regularly aligning with the Sales leadership and vice-versa. They may not like it, but it is crucial for the company’s success.
As part of this alignment, the Sales teams should be fully aware of what leads are coming through the pipeline. I don’t mean just passing along demographic information (Name, job title etc), but detailed information about what campaigns these leads responded to, what assets were used in these campaigns and ideally whether these leads had had previous touch points with your other content. This will help the sales team to build up a better picture, which in turn will allow them to adjust their approach and pitch to these leads.
On the flip side, if your sales teams are flying blind, they will roll out a generic approach, which at best will start their conversation off from zero, but at worst will frustrate the prospect to a point that they think the sales person has no understanding or appreciation of their needs. Either way, it’s not a great starting point for a fruitful sales cycle.
Follow tihs Lead Generation Checklist and aim to finish the year strong and support your sales team in building the funnel and closing deals. Not just for Q4, but also with the coming year in mind. Your content marketing and lead generation should have a Q1-Q4 strategy, but also its own strategy specifically for Q4. Use the right assets – and type of assets – to attract the audience you need to finish the year strong. Whitepapers may be good, but may be too cumbersome for a quick Q4 “Pitch & Win”. Consider using webinars, which are easier to digest and interact with. Webinars provide you with immediate insight and reporting on your prospects, with more data points to hitch your pitch on than a ‘passive’ asset that is stored and consumed somewhere locally on your prospect’s computer. Speed and insight is important. If your marketing automation and CRM systems are not setup to feedback insight and lead data to your sales teams in real-time, you’ve got to get that setup – or risk your leads going cold or worse… going to the competition.
It is not too late to make Q4 great. Involve your stakeholders, define a clear strategy for Q4 and drive that marketing engine! You’ll have deserved a great Christmas break by the end of it!