How to Use Marketing Automation to Find Your Hottest Leads First

By Mathew Sweezey

The moment you get into marketing automation, your scenario is as follows: You have a database, but you do not know who is sales ready and who is not. Making this determination is the first thing you should tackle. Identify the most sales-ready leads and get them to the sales team. This is the fastest way to prove the value of your new tool.

Figuring out sales-ready leads should be your first campaign. Identifying those sales-ready leads will help you to quickly show value with your new marketing automation tool as well as help you reach your goal of generating more leads with your new tool.

When you first get your marketing automation tool, work on your hottest leads first and then make sure that you can get them to the sales team:

  • Finding your hottest leads first. Finding the hot leads is easier said than done. To send a targeted email to your hottest leads, you first have to know who the hottest leads are. To find them, use the stage-based marketing approach. You craft different content for each stage of your buyer’s journey. Next, send the email to your entire cold database.

    When sending your emails, be hypertargeted. You send one email to an entire database. This is very similar to email blasting, but you must understand the difference. The goal here is to send hypertargeted communication based on a buying stage to help you identify a prospect’s buying stage. After you identify that stage, you change your communication to nurture the prospect’s specific interest.

    So, if you send an email to your database targeted to the first stage of the buyer’s journey, and ten people open that email, you should realize that those prospects are in stage 1 and take appropriate actions. You move those leads on to a nurturing campaign designed for prospects in the first stage of the buyer’s journey because you now have a context in which to communicate with them.

    Make sure that you present clear differences between your communications in your stages. This technique is a way to fish for information when you do not have any to start with. People engage with emails that are relevant to them.

    A recent study conducted by Mathew Sweezey highlighted the need to send fresh, relevant content. Of the 500 survey responses, 76 percent said that they want different content at each stage of their buyer’s journey. By sending a series of emails targeted to each behavioral persona, you get some people to engage and tell you which behavioral persona they are at that time.

    To find your hottest leads first, you can easily target your first email to your database to the last stage of the buyer’s journey. For this example, the three stages are identified in the buyer’s journey, so this first email should be targeted to the third buyer’s stage

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  • Passing leads to the sales team. This campaign differs from the same campaign without automation in that you can do two things. First, you have a clearer picture of sales readiness because of a combination of lead scoring and email tracking. Many leads may open the email because they find the subject line appealing.

    For example, a lead who reads the stage-1 subject line “Thought you might like this” and actually enjoys the stage-1 content you sent may be a stage-3 lead, even though your email was not a stage-3 email.

    However, because you have lead tracking tied to your website, if the lead chooses to continue engagement with you and searches around on your website, your lead scoring can identify that lead as sales ready.

    The second major difference that comes with marketing automation is the ability to get hot leads into the hands of sales instantly. After a prospect engages with your most sales-ready content, you can have an automation rule quality and pass the hot lead to sales in real time.

    This removes the need for you to do lead triage, or sift through an email report trying to pass on the leads who opened your email manually. As part of the campaign, you can also set the task of having the salesperson follow up with his new hot leads. This can happen through automation.

There are no silver bullets. If you think you can have 100 percent engagement by using this stage-based approach and a perfect piece of content, you are wrong. This campaign will help you to find leads faster, but it will never find them all.

It will have much better engagement rates than any other type of email blast campaign, but you’ll need to continue to run a campaign like this one when you have a database of cold leads. Remember that you won’t find all the hot leads; you’re just stacking the odds in your favor to find more than you would have before.