B2B buyers are doing most of their research online, anonymously. They research your website, they research your competitors’ websites, and so it’s very important that when they do engage with you, you make a great first impression.
But how much information do you need to market effectively, and how much time do you have to gather that information?
The bad news: you don’t have a lot of time. By the time a prospect has filled a form on your website, he’s likely done a great deal of research already and might actually be almost sales-ready; and if he filled out a form on your website, he’s likely done the same on your competitors’ websites, so it’s imperative that you are the first to call.
The good news: You don’t need a lot of information before you make that call. The anonymous history collected by marketing automation, such as page views and downloads, gives you a lot of information about the prospect’s areas of interest, so you don’t really need to wait to get that information from them. In fact, burdening the prospect with long forms to fill should be avoided, as it is very damaging to the sales process.
Anonymous visitor data
One of the best features of a good marketing automation system is that it transforms anonymous web visitors into known visitors. Any time a visitor comes to your website, they are tracked. When the same visitor returns, tracking resumes. An anonymous visitor is converted into a known visitor by clicking on a link in an email or by filling out a form on your website.
This means that you have a very rich anonymous history – such as how many pages the prospect visited, what pages she looked at, what content she downloaded, how much time she spent on each page, even what company she’s with (via derived data). Once the prospect decides to reveal herself, you can tie her anonymous history to her email address. Now you can proactively market to her.
Dynamic progressive forms
B2B websites typically achieve a sad 10-15% completion rate, unless they use progressive forms – then completion rate jumps to 30%. In other words, asking for less data upfront can have a huge impact on your lead flow. Ask the same questions, but ask them overtime, and always ask yourself, do I really need all this information to market to the prospect effectively?
Never ask for information that you already have (via derived data, for example), and don’t ask the wrong questions – ask questions appropriate to the prospect’s engagement level and job title – the only way to do that is using progressive forms.
When it comes to forms, less is more. When a prospect first downloads content, just ask for their email, first name and last name. The less information you ask for, the more engaged prospects will be. You can dig deeper and ask more questions later, but the first form they fill should be as short as possible.
In fact, if you have an email address, first and last name and a short visit history that fits your criteria, that should be enough to make the first contact.
Real-time lead alerts
The next step, once you have enough information and once the prospect has achieved a certain lead score, is to alert your sales reps, using real-time lead alerts. Real-time lead alerts are important, because the odds of connecting with prospects are ten times greater if you call within 30 minutes of their visit to your website.
Even if you started out with very limited information on a prospect, with some very simple tools you can end up having a robust and fairly accurate picture of them and their needs. Don’t forget that B2B buyers do most of their research online, anonymously – so once they do fill out a form, even if it’s just email, first and last name, use marketing automation to append that information to their rich anonymous visit history, and get in touch. If you don’t, your competitors will.Google+