By Nicole Coons
Marketing Consultant
Frost & Sullivan

According to our 2019 Marketing Benchmark Survey, marketers are being measured by sales results—qualified leads and closed deals—as much as they are by marketing results. That is a tough reality for some. Marketers in our survey cited the biggest lead conversion challenge is engaging prospects so they respond to sales follow-up attempts. If you are being held responsible for the end result, your best bet is to focus on keeping those new leads hot.

What can marketers do to increase connection, engagement and conversion of leads that are generated?

Drawing on the psychology of persuasion, as well as keeping in mind the fact that average attention span of a person online is about 7 seconds, here are 10 strategies and tactics to implement in your prospect follow-up plan.

1) Recency—As soon as a new lead is received, use tools like email, chatbots, text confirmations (with permissions, of course) to show a new lead that you are responsive and accessible. Early communication sends the message that you are eager and ready to be of service. Communicating with your new leads right after they subscribe also makes the most of their attention on you—when you communicate through multiple channels confirming the connection, you are increasing the chances that they will recall your company and solution when you send the next communication.

2) Relevancy—Be sure that the information you send right after a new lead comes in is relevant to the topic they inquired about. Furthermore, be sure that all subsequent communication is relevant to the needs or interests they expressed. Nothing will turn off a new lead faster than sending them information or extraneous content that has nothing to do with the original reason they reached out to you.

3) Transparency—When a new lead knows exactly what to expect next and what it’s like to do business with you, their allegiance to your company and your process will be a lot faster than if you keep how you work a mystery. You can write a blog or vlog about what it’s like to work with your team or explain your process at a high level so they can learn early how great their life will be once they are a customer.

4) Reciprocity—As humans, we are wired to give back when we receive. Whether we are conditioned from childhood to always say thank you, or we simply feel instinctively connected to someone when we receive something of value from them, make sure to use the principle of reciprocity in your follow-up interactions. Continue to give value at every step of the prospect’s journey with your company. Furthermore, you can dial up the intensity of reciprocal feelings if you add some specifics and a “what for” to your call-to-action or request.

In a study written about in the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., he describes the impact of sharing what for. When two groups of research study participants asked to cut in line at a Xerox machine to make some copies, one group simply asked: “Can I cut in line to make some copies?” The other group gave a “what for” and more specifics, “Can I cut in line to make 5 copies because the printer on my floor broke down?” The line-breakers in the second group were significantly more successful in gaining compliance with their more specific request. You can do the same with your marketing and sales calls to action at every step of the process–add a reason why to your requests.

5) Swap articles for surveys and tools—One surefire way to increase reciprocity, and therefore engagement, during the follow-up process is to provide your content in increasingly more useful and personalized ways. Instead of sending content marketing in the form of articles and reports, provide insightful surveys, tests, ROI calculators, and other tools for your prospects to use to help them move along your process.

Once they have completed your survey or test or used your calculator, there’s a natural set of follow-ups that can happen which will be very customer-focused. Immediately you are in the position of being able to support them on their journey vs. you pushing them in any direction.

This tactic is so simple and you will be amazed at the interaction—both in quality and quantity—that can follow when you start using surveys and other tools instead of article downloads during your engagement marketing plan.

6) Ask a question—If you don’t have time to develop a full-on survey or ROI tool, you can still use the principle of surveys in your follow-up interactions with new leads. What you can do is be sure to ask lots of questions along the way. Use questions in your subject lines, use questions to open an email, use questions to close an email (not all at once!). Use questions in the P.S. of your email. Start conversations with questions.

A note of warning—don’t ask Yes/No questions. Start questions with “What” or “How” and you will create an open-ended question that your prospect will be motivated to answer.

7) Create multiple open loops—This copywriting strategy is a little more advanced, but if you are already in the practice of using stories in your marketing, you can bring the concept of open loops into your follow-up strategy.

Creating an open loop is when you start a story or a point, but you leave the reader hanging on the conclusion of the story until the next communication (or several communications later). Movies and sitcoms do this all the time, introducing characters, micro-stories and conflicts and waiting until the end to resolve the situation or close the loops. Creating open loops throughout your follow-up communication plan takes the skill of an experienced copywriter, but you can be sure that this detail will keep your prospects opening, reading and engaging with your interactions.

8) Calendar it—Sometimes we think we need to nurture a new lead for far longer than is necessary. Think about offering the ability to schedule a meeting with your team early and often. Putting the power of scheduling into your prospects’ hands keeps them feeling in control of the process. When they are in control, they are paying attention! People are far more likely to keep commitments that they actively signed up for than those that were given to them.

9) Remind them of what they will lose if they don’t follow through—Contrary to popular belief, it is OKAY to sell your prospect on what they stand to gain. Also, you want to tell your prospects directly what they will lose if they don’t follow through.

This does require doing a little back-end work on your side to figure out what is motivating your clients to sign on and brainstorming all of the things they will miss out on if they don’t take action and implement your solution. But helping them connect the dots is essential. You want to show your prospect that you are THE key to their success, and own it!

10) Capture the sale/Make it EASY to buy—Finally, are you slowing down your client sign-on rate by making it hard, scary or risky to sign on the dotted line? Can you remove extra hoops that trip up the process? Can you break a very large contract into a smaller getting-started commitment to make signing on less scary? Can you create a risk-free guarantee within a certain time-frame that allows them to jump in today and get started?

You may need to look at how you are delivering your solution and reorganize your customer on-boarding process to make sure they experience an early win. But if you know you get results early and often, give your prospects a lower-risk opportunity to get those results and not only will you win them over as a new client, you will have the foundation for a long-lasting, fruitful relationship.

So there you have it, 10 ways you can beef up your new lead follow-up process to ensure that you are keeping prospects highly engaged and eager to hear from your sales team when they follow-up.

If you’re looking for a partner to assist with engagement, please contact Brand and Demand Solutions today. We can help you to not only engage but to identify, validate and close.

Let us know in the comments which one of these you are going to try this month, or share your favorite nurture strategy or tactic.