How to Overcome 3 Painfully Common Lead Gen Mistakes

Most lead generation training programs start with discovery, one of the most basic tenets of sales. But how far can a marketer dig into discovery questions before going too far? Forms with only three fields have a 25 percent conversion rate, but that rate drops to 15 percent for forms with six or more fields. Asking too many questions in a gated form before a prospective partner shows interest in your product is a lead gen mistake—just one of the many that marketers consistently make.

The most effective way to generate leads changes over time and is different for every business. Even some of the lead generation strategies most often employed by marketers can lead to problems if executed incorrectly. Salespeople and marketers are taught certain techniques for a reason, but it doesn’t take much to blur the line between being an outstanding lead generator and asking for too much information.

Mistake #1: Not collecting the right info

Collecting the right information from prospects requires a delicate balance. If marketers ask for too much, prospects will likely abandon your form. Alternatively, asking for too little brings its own concerns; a lack of information makes it difficult to classify leads and market to them after the first download.

Marketers often overlook a simple rule: Only ask for information your business intends to use. If you follow up with every prospect via email, then there’s no reason to ask for a phone number. And if your business can collect locations via IP addresses, then don’t ask for a mailing address—doing so will reduce your conversion rate by 4 percent.

So how do you decide what information to ask for? The obvious information, such as names and email addresses, is universal and should be collected by everyone. Since it’s common for gated forms to include these fields, prospects won’t be scared away. But when you ask for more, readers wonder what you’ll do with it. Consider these options:

Job title: You can use the information to decide if this person is the right contact at the business and understand how to talk to them based on their status in the company.

Industry: Does your business operate in multiple verticals? Ask leads to identify their industry so the leads go to the right salespeople. Use a multiple-choice layout to get clear responses.

Questions: Dig into a prospect’s intentions by asking clarifying questions before your sales team even gets involved. Ask questions related to your content. This technique will help sales and marketing decide whether the prospect is right for your business. For example, if your prospect is downloading an e-book on common lead generation mistakes, you might ask a question tied to how their businesses generate leads, or how many pieces of information they try to collect during their first engagement with your content. Again, make sure you give a multiple-choice answer to make answering easy as possible.

Collecting the right information from prospects requires a delicate balance.

Also think of questions that address pain points, which can shape the entire sales conversation. But make sure these questions are specific so they don’t scream “sales pitch.” Instead of asking “How many new sales leads does your business capture each month?” try “On average, how many readers choose to provide contact information to access your content in a given month?” A slight change in phrasing makes a big difference.

Some readers won’t even know they are struggling in an area; your question will get them thinking about whether there might be a better approach. Once a prospect indicates they struggle in a particular area, it opens the door for sales to call and start discussing how they can help.

Mistake #2: Treating every lead equally

All leads are not the same, so for marketers and sales teams to go after each one in the same way doesn’t make sense. Marketers should tailor their messaging to what interests and engages each individual prospect. Savvy salespeople are then able to understand the messages that have already resonated with the prospect and hit those pain points again.

Keeping track of what interests a prospect can be done in a multitude of ways—from compiling a list of what stories a prospect downloads to the nitty-gritty details of what the prospect reads (or doesn’t read) within an individual document. Being able to hand sales more than just download data is key to deciding which leads should be kept warm and which should be acted on immediately.

Lead scoring, which involves systems that assign a ranking to leads based on how qualified they are, goes hand in hand with tracking. Leads should be scored in a way that makes the most sense for your business. One common tactic involves assigning points to different interactions that a prospect has with your business. For example, if a lead downloads a piece of content, he receives one point; if the lead is a decision maker, two points. Then, go after the leads with the highest scores first to increase the odds that sales has success closing deals.

Mistake #3: Gating all content

Gating content with a lead form is one of the most common lead generation tactics marketers rely on—and also one of the most common mistakes. Gating some content is appropriate, as long as it’s the right content and is gated correctly.

Exactly how valuable is your content?

Exactly how valuable is your content? Gated content should teach the prospect something important. Marketers sometimes make the major mistake of gating material that plugs their business. This content does not belong hidden behind a form. Prospects shouldn’t have to “pay” for information about your business.

And when they do pay, give something valuable back. Has your company produced reports or other research that correspond with the topic of your content? If so, offer these documents to prospects in the lead form. They’ll be more likely to submit other valuable information if they believe they’re getting something important in return.

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