Executive's Corner, Technology
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Lead generation at all stages of the sales and marketing funnel isn’t easy. There are many different approaches, strategies, tactics and techniques, and no one person has all of the answers.

However, the basic B2B formula online looks like what we call inbound marketing today. That’s all good, but with the plethora of businesses adopting inbound marketing, it’s never been harder to drive leads online. There is a silver lining, however. Inbound marketing can be augmented with acceleration-driving technology and tactics.

There are basically two ways a marketer can increase lead acceleration via inbound marketing and sales. The first is by minimizing barriers to consumption. That essentially just means you make it as easy as possible for someone to consume the strategic content you’ve created. The second way is by increasing the number of opportunities your content has to convert or nurture a consumer through promotion channels (paid, earned or owned).

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For those inbound marketing adopters still struggling to drive enough leads, the below list represents proven tools and tactics that will help accelerate your current lead generation activities.

1. Content Discovery

Many marketers associate content discovery with native advertising platforms like RevContent, Adblade, Taboola and Outbrain. While those are indeed content discovery networks, they represent the paid media channel.

The channel that most often gets overlooked for content discovery is owned media. Tools like Contextly and BrightInfo allow marketers to recommend like or similar content to website visitors. This keeps them on the site longer while potentially serving up ebooks, guides and whitepapers for conversion. These tools increase the likelihood of a conversion.

Most marketers are believers in the power of email as a content promotion channel that helps nurture leads down the funnel – and with good reason. However, many marketers aren’t aware that mobile push notifications have a 30x better opt-in rate than email. Companies like Roost have developed technology to empower marketers without mobile apps to leverage push notifications across devices, screens and user interfaces. This has the potential to help bloat your middle of the funnel with nurtured leads.

2. Conversion Rate Optimization

If you recall above, minimizing barriers to consumption helps accelerate lead acquisition. However, as marketers, we need prudent data and lead intelligence to properly nurture leads. This represents a problem for many lead generation departments. If they ask too many questions they won’t get enough conversions. However, if they don’t ask enough questions they won’t be able to work the lead.

This problem is easily solved with the Smart Forms solution from ReachForce. This solution bridges the gap between too many form fields and not enough. It’s able to use captured information like email and IP addresses, and augment it with all of the known company information in its database. It can literally take five data points acquired by a form and produce 23 or more additional data points. This will help increase your conversion rates.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention A/B and multivariate testing. This is the act of changing the look, feel, interface or message of a landing page to produce more conversions. There are whole books and blogs solely dedicated to this subject, so I won’t bore you with a synopsis. If you don’t have a landing page testing program I highly recommend you look into one. By the way, one of my favorite A/B testing newsletters is from whichtestwon.com. It delivers results from real A/B tests every week.

3. Progressive Profiling

Since we know that the number of form fields we use impacts conversion rates, utilizing a methodology like progressive profiling can help marketers gather robust amounts of information over time without negatively impacting rates of conversion. This can be accomplished by asking new and unique questions on future subsequent visits. This type of information gathering, coupled with email lead nurturing, can produce very robust lead intelligence over time.

4. MQL Optimization

Producing an MQL is not easy. However, today’s technology empowers marketers to build robust lead management programs. Generally, these systems include some type of marketing automation system and CRM. However, just having this technology does not produce a lead management program.

Traditionally, Sales handles the CRM and Marketing handles automation. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, Sales and Marketing tend to be quite separate and siloed in many organizations. This is where closed loop marketing comes in.

Many successful lead management programs have at least one individual that sits between Sales and Marketing that facilitates the free flow of lead intelligence and feedback through scoring, both up and down the funnel – from marketing automation to CRM and back again.

Having a program like this in place will not only optimize MQL generation, but will help you optimize all stages of your marketing and sales funnel.

For those of you struggling to keep your Sales folks busy with heaping mounds of inbound leads, it’s my hope that some or all of the insights, tools or tactics mentioned above have a positive impact. Lead generation isn’t easy, but with enough hard work, the right technology and proven processes, it can be a successful endeavor.

This article originally appeared on Social Media Today.

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