A current debate that I’m following — and would love your perspectives on — is whether and when to require a prospect to complete an online lead qualification form in exchange for content, such as a report, e-book, recorded webinar or white paper. I find that traditional marketers and social media marketers disagree about the use of forms or landing pages that appear when a prospect clicks on a link to offered information. Generally speaking, social media marketing professionals claim that the new culture of selling requires open sharing of information (“conversations”) to create trusted relationships. Therefore, in the social and mobile world, the general consensus is that required forms can be an instant turn-off for customers. On the other side of the debate, most traditional direct marketers — and sales managers — suggest that if a prospect isn’t willing to share some information about themselves, their companies and their buying processes, they aren’t qualified and are wasting sales people’s valuable time.
In the Sales 2.0 world, where marketing and sales are closely aligned functions, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with and share ideas with some of the best lead generation marketing thinkers and practitioners. One of them is online marketing manager Dave Ewart, whom I met when we at Phone Works were assessing and improving his company’s inside sales team. Dave’s Twitter campaigns have been a success in terms of generating interest; he knows his message, audience and offer are relevant because of his click rate. But he’s testing several new approaches to improve his rate from click to conversion (to qualified sales opportunity and through the sales cycle to close):
1. Instantly delivered summarized content, tailored to the medium
Dave has created a “social-brief” content format: a mobile-friendly template for all his marketing assets, from white papers to webinars, consisting of about 300 words of high-value content — not marketing speak. This provides immediate value to prospects by instantly delivering what they clicked on. And through invitations to “Share This” embedded in these briefs, he’ll expand his reach even more (and track those referrals).
2. Full content in exchange for an e-mail address
To receive the full content (such as a PDF or recorded webinar), Dave’s prospects will be asked for one thing on a form: an e-mail address. Since the content will be provided by e-mail, he’ll be able to verify the e-mail address is valid. Dave says, “I didn’t give up on demand generation, just optimized it.”
His view is that this gets the prospect into his CRM system and gives him the ability to develop the opportunity through lead nurturing (“drip”) campaigns. His theory is that when qualified prospects revisit his site, they’ll be more inclined to provide additional demographic information, and he’ll have more behavioral data to score.
By removing “friction from the conversion cycle,” as Dave calls it, he is expecting to see ROI by generating more leads, more re-tweets (RTs) and more followers who should engage additional prospects.
What is your view of using lead qualification forms in social media campaigns? Is it a valid assumption that the most qualified prospects are those willing to fill out lead qualification forms?
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