Professional service marketing leaders often become frustrated when they look at the conversion rates of leads who have accessed their content. Here is what I mean. The marketing function will produce and provision all sorts of content in a given month. This might include blog-posts, infographics, articles, webinars and videos. Smart professional service organizations are using marketing automation tools now to track what happens with people who access this content.
But the tracking results can leave you disappointed. When we run these analyses with our clients, we often find a very low percentage of leads who convert in any given month. This is something I have come to call the 95/5 rule. This means that 95% or more of the people you are marketing to at any given time are not ready to engage in serious dialogue.
So this raises an important question. Should you keep producing all of that content? Should you continue marketing to a larger number of people when only a small percentage will close? The answer, I believe, is yes.
The 95/5 rule holds that most people who you are marketing to have no need right now. But over time, the vast majority will have a need.
Touch points on the journey
Another important finding we have discovered about those who do close in any given month is that they have been touched consistently over time. In many instances, they have been sent a dozen or more emails, registered for more than one webinar and even downloaded several different types of content.
When we follow-up with these people and ask them – why did you buy – a lot of times they cannot provide a specific answer. We’ll ask if one particular piece of content pushed them over the edge. But usually the answer is more subtle than that. They’ll say things like: “oh I don’t know. It just seemed like you were really interested in helping me. You kept sending me things that caught my attention.”
This hearkens back to a principle that B2C companies have known for a long time. Some B2C marketing executives will tell you that it takes 8 or more impressions for someone to convert. In the professional services world, I have found that to be equally true. Most people will not convert after consuming one or even several of your content pieces. Why?
The buying cycle
The simple answer is that they don’t have a need right now. I’ll give you a quick example. I’ve spent a lot of time in meetings with senior executives over the years. I cannot count the number of times when, at the end of these meetings, the senior-most decision-maker will say this. “You know what, that’s a great idea. We need to do this. Who do we know who can help us get started down this path?”
Usually someone in that room will be tasked with going out and finding providers to guide the company on their journey. This is the first stage of their buying cycle. In fact, here are the stages of the buyer’s journey that we most consistently see:
- Awareness: Prospects become aware of a goal, opportunity or challenge they must address.
- Criteria: Prospects put forward their best ideas to address the goal, opportunity or challenge and assign an initial budget figure.
- Search: Prospects conduct a search to find partners who fit their criteria and help them.
- Evaluation: Prospects evaluate who they have confidence in to help them achieve their goal, opportunity or challenge.
- Selection: Prospects accept a proposal and move to next steps.
This is the buyer’s journey. So this begs the question – how does your content impact this journey and compel that decision-maker to say yes to your company?
Nurturing when there is no need
The 95/5 rule holds that most people who you are marketing to have no need right now. But the interesting thing is that over time, the vast majority will have a need. At some point they will walk out of a meeting with a charter to accomplish a goal that you can help them with.
If you’ve been dripping great ideas on them, you make the short list of people they want to call. More importantly, if you’ve been consistently talking about strategies to achieve the goal they were just tasked with accomplishing, you’ve shaped their notion of how to be successful. This not only makes you the expert, it makes competitors have to play on your field, by your rules.
A specific example
I know of a business development executive at a coaching firm in the financial services space who had been trying to get a deal going with this certain company. My client had reached out to decision-makers at this company on several occasions. He never got a call back. But did he give up? No way.
We worked to keep provisioning great ideas to those decision-makers over time. We invited them to webinars and to my client’s blog-site. We dripped new videos on them. And about a year later, they reached out to my client. They actually apologized for not getting back to him.
After he closed a deal with them he asked why they eventually reached out to him. As it turns out, they had received his inquiries and certain people inside the company wanted to engage. But others did not. They felt like the money spent on coaching should be put into other initiatives. Once those people moved into other positions at the firm, the champions got their way and a coaching deal was signed.
The point is this. You never know where an organization is on their journey until they start talking to you. If you keep in front of them over time, the likelihood that they’ll reach out to you when they are ready, in their time, is very high.
How to get started
To help you achieve these types of results, I have a free resource for you. It’s called 7 Steps To A Lead Nurturing Program That Keeps You In Front Of Prospects. It contains 7 videos and downloadable tools that you can use to nurture leads over time. It’s free and it’s available right now.