In the world of SEM B2B lead generation, one word stands out above all others: communication. While this might seem cliché, effective communication between lead qualification teams and the person (or persons) in charge of SEM is critical to driving sales.
Through CRM integration, click and call data can be leveraged as parts of a tight feedback loop – telling lead qualification what their leads care about and SEMs who to target. This cannot happen if the two groups are not speaking to one another.
The first step in all of this is capturing pertinent information. This can be done through a variety of ways – customized URL parameters or even direct integration into AdWords (eg: SFDC’s AdWords App). SEM’s can select pertinent campaign information and pass it to lead qualification as additional fields in a lead’s profile. This valuable information can be captured passively (no additional forms) and reveal important information about the lead.
This could include:
- Creative info (ID or theme)
Typically, these values are used by SEMs to measure performance and optimize bids but, when used by lead teams during the qualification process, they can reveal useful insights into users which can then be translated into actionable information.
The use of a specific query can help measure a user’s sophistication and, most importantly, intent. (eg: “CRM best practice” vs. “CRM reviews”). A good lead qualification rep can use this data to change the tone of the conversation and adjust their approach to the lead. In addition, this can help a lead qualification rep pick out the best leads and get after them quickly.
If lead qualification is not aware of this and not instructed to use this data, all leads will be treated the same and, in all likelihood, the program will fail.
Similarly, knowing what message drove the user is valuable to the lead qualification team’s follow-up process. Ideally, the product you are trying to sell has many benefits. Ad testing should revolve around the product’s different value propositions; specifically, how these values compare to your competitors.
As is always the case with SEM, your message will run alongside your competitors. Strong, direct, competitive messaging can open doors for your lead qualification team. Sharing space with competitors that are both up and down market can be very challenging (especially for broader, head terms).
If, for example, a cheap alternative pushes price as a differentiator (and you cannot compete), embrace their message and tell users there is more to this software than price. Shutting out people looking for a low price alternative will save you on clicks and save your lead qualification team valuable time!
Messaging becomes increasingly important as leads turn into full-fledged opportunities. Certain messages might have tremendous appeal at the lead level but yield no sales. This may work for some companies willing to gamble; however, SEM is better suited to drive users that are already in the consideration phase. User searches are loaded with intent and your campaigns should capitalize on this.
The impact of a new ad message should be measured each step of the way. Lead qualification teams should relay recurring themes of conversations and, feedback on your current positioning, along with emerging trends in the user base. As users look for different things, your message should evolve to fill their needs.
Ultimately, communication breakdowns between sales and marketing are an old problem. However, with more lead qualification teams falling under the umbrella of marketing, having conversations around lead quality and messaging should be standard to your lead generation program. Reps should be shown how to interpret the keyword and creative info attached to a lead in the same way they review the content used to drive that lead.
While the quality of the content offered (demo or whitepaper) can make or break your reps the first time they connect with a lead, ad messaging (the key concept of which should be expanded on your landing page) will dictate whether a user becomes a lead in the first place. Closing the loop and using lead info to refine your message will lead to higher quality leads, better conversations and, undoubtedly, more sales.
Sean Marshall has over four years of online marketing experience – specializing in SEM since 2008. In this time, has worked with leading B2B and B2C clients to maximize ROI on their SEM campaigns (ExactTarget, Microsoft Store, Dickies, Mass Mutual and many more). Prior to working in SEM, Sean was a Program Manager at Tippit (now Focus.com), driving high quality leads for leading VoIP and IT security companies including Ironport, Nortel, and Avaya. Sean is a proud California Golden Bear (UC Berkeley) and avid sports fan.