With the current troubled economy, many marketing departments are being forced to do more with smaller budgets, while still having to validate their impact on corporate revenue performance. Lead management systems can help marketers increase the value of their lead generation programs — but if you think they are only for big companies or those on the "leading edge," you're wrong.
Today's automated solutions are accessible to companies regardless of size or industry, and they are key to helping drive more and better-quality leads with fewer resources. This article will help you to understand what lead management systems can do, how they can be easily implemented and how they can help you maximize your marketing budget, especially now.
Lead management systems can help marketers increase the productivity of their lead generation programs by automating many processes, while also providing tools for tracking and measuring campaign effectiveness. By implementing lead management systems, marketers can gain huge efficiencies through things like automated landing page creation and lead scoring that identify those leads that are ready to be sent to sales. Such systems also provide automated nurturing processes that can help to develop leads into "sales-ready" prospects over time.
To explain more fully, inquiries or suspects that have not yet entered the buy cycle would be a waste of costly sales resources and would not be welcoming of a salesperson's phone call. Today's lead management systems enable marketers to more easily discern when leads are ready to be passed to sales and which leads can benefit from automated nurturing activities such as drip marketing until they are ripe to be worked by sales. This increases the likelihood of leads transforming into closed sales for greater revenue performance.
Now more than ever, it is essential that money spent on lead generation shows a solid return related to sales revenue or ROI. To this end, the success of marketing activities must be continually evaluated so that dollars are properly applied to the highest-yielding programs. Today's lead management systems track all interactions of a lead with marketing and where it goes through the sales cycle. Therefore, marketers have keen visibility into which programs worked to bring in the highest number of quality leads, delivering ROI. Additionally, the lead scoring process gives marketers an early insight into the success of campaigns before revenue is generated from them. Lead scoring helps to show how leads are progressing across the marketing pipeline — how many are entering the buy cycle per campaign.
Aberdeen Group's November 2008 research report, sponsored in part by LeadLife and entitled, "Lead Nurturing: The Secret to Successful Lead Generation," surveyed over 200 organizations on their lead generation and lead management practices, and examined the role of lead nurturing in helping companies to weather the economic downturn. The report revealed that companies identified as having "Best in Class" performance were twice as likely to use automated lead management technologies to monitor lead nurturing campaigns and automate delivery to sales.
Also according to the Aberdeen Group report: "Effective lead nurturing means organizations can reduce lead generation budget and maximize revenue by focusing on quality and not quantity of leads." Still, 56 percent of all survey respondents indicated that they lacked a formal lead-nurturing program to support and nurture longer-term opportunities.
With the current economic situation, it's clear that marketing efficiency and effectiveness are increasingly vital for companies of every size. Lead management systems give marketers tremendous insight and action into the life of a lead, helping to nurture leads, drive value and show accountability for the lead generation dollars being spent. As companies come to terms with less resources combined with heightened sales performance expectations, having the right tools and process in place is critical.
Implementing these systems and practices is something that can be done by virtually every marketing department — it's not just for large companies and can actually be more important for smaller marketing groups that are feeling the economic pinch. The goal is for lead management systems to deliver rapid return on investment in terms of more efficient lead generation spending and higher-quality leads that contribute to the bottom line.
Lisa Cramer is president and co-founder of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of on-demand lead management software that generates, scores and nurtures leads for B2B marketers.
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