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Set the Stages for the Inbound Marketing Funnel

Traditional prospecting and go/no-go practices take time to analyze.  During the prospecting phase, knowing which messages are on target and which need to be included in the boat is difficult.  At the go/no-go phase, you cannot quantify a prospect's interest level. Inbound marketing methods make it possible to determine which messages resonate with your audience and also gauge the level of interest. This post aims to help you set the stages for your firm's inbound marketing funnel.

Let's imagine how your firm’s inbound marketing funnel may look. Picture how marketing and business development will align their methods for effective collaboration, for example:

Inbound Marketing Funnel

Identify Quality Inbound Leads

The quality of a lead will vary from firm to firm.  Determining a lead's quality will help identify the point at which marketing hands off the lead to business development.  A series of attributes and levels of interest defines a lead’s quality. 

Some questions to consider when determining if the lead possesses the attributes that translate into being a "good fit" include:

  • Does the lead fit within your inbound marketing strategic plan?
  • How many years has the lead been in business?
  • What is the lead’s job title or role?
  • Do you or anyone in your firm know the lead already?
  • What are your firm’s points of interaction with the lead?

Also, reference Market Segmentation: An Inbound Marketer’s “Social” Bread and Butter to further develop your qualified lead definition. 

Let’s assume the lead is a good fit. Now you need to determine whether the lead needs further nurturing or is ready for a conversation with a business developer by evaluating their level of interest.  You will find leads generally fit into one of the four categories.

  • The lead is a good fit and is interested in your content.
  • The lead is a good fit but less interested in your content.
  • The lead is not a good fit and shows a lot of interest in your content.
  • The lead is not a good fit and not really interested in your content.
Annual Marketing Plan Outline by Colosi Marketing

Manage and Prioritize Leads with a Smartlist

Using a marketing software program, such as HubSpot, that captures lead data will help you and your firm determine the lead's quality and whether the lead is a marketing or business development lead.  With the marketing software program HubSpot, you can set up smart lists that capture “good fit” attributes and determine interest levels for targeted lead-nurturing activities. 

Manage Leads with A Smartlist

Identifying Behaviors and Trends

Once you’ve captured information about your marketing and business development leads, you can identify a lead's behavioral trends.   Essentially, you can identify a lead’s sweet spot by their content conversions, i.e., downloading a report, checklist, or eBook.  In addition, you will see activity patterns that signal whether a lead is likely to become a client.  A higher conversion frequency is closely related to increased odds of a prospect becoming a client.

Measure the Effectiveness of Varied Lead Interactions

Create different lead interactions that occur before becoming a client and analyze the effectiveness of the interaction by determining the close rate.  For example, if you decide to have a webinar, determine the effectiveness of the webinar by taking the actual number of webinar attendees and dividing that number by the total number of leads who originally registered. The result is the close rate for leads from that event or activity.

Optimize the Stages of Your Inbound Marketing Funnel

Once you’ve set the stages of your inbound marketing funnel, actively optimize each one of the stages by analyzing the associated metrics, including:

  • Prospect to Marketing Lead Conversion Rate
  • Marketing to Business Development Conversion Rate
  • Business Development to Opportunity Conversion Rate
  • Opportunity to Client Conversion Rate
  • Business Development Cycle Length

Measuring the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts at every stage will allow for a consistent stream of qualified pursuits.  Identifying when and where there is a weakness in your funnel and possessing the methods to respond to that weakness will ensure an effective and efficient marketing effort.