When you create an advertising campaign, it’s easy to focus on the parts that generate leads: the ad itself, your landing page, forms, etc. But creating leads is only half the battle.
If you want your leads to actually convert and move down your marketing funnel or sales pipeline, you also have to have a solid follow-up plan.
There are lots of ways you could follow up with your new leads, but the important thing is to focus on what’s most appropriate for where they’re at—which depends on how you acquired those leads and how familiar they are with your brand.
Here are four methods you can use to follow up with your leads, along with some suggestions for using them wisely. Keep in mind, you can use these methods together, too.
1. An email drip campaign
For most digital advertising campaigns, email is the ideal follow-up method. You can automate it. You can use it to follow up with your leads almost immediately. And you can create an experience that fits with your leads’ expectations and drives them to the appropriate next step.
But the key is to create a drip campaign that fits with your lead generation campaign. Many brands make the mistake of throwing their new leads into an existing list without easing them into it. Also known as a lead nurture campaign, a drip campaign is designed to transition new leads into your ecosystem and guide them further into your messaging.
Here’s what that means. When someone converts in your lead-gen campaign, the first email they receive should acknowledge their previous interaction with you. It might touch on the messaging you used in the lead-gen stage or speak to the qualities you used to target them.
Are they a pastor? A church committee member? A married person? What were they looking for when they signed up? Your first email should build on the context you already have and set expectations for the future.
Since a drip campaign can be several emails long and span multiple months, you’ll want to think about where you’d like your leads to be by the time your campaign ends—and the stepping stones they’ll need to get there.
Maybe your drip campaign will end in a sales pitch. Or a free trial of your product. Or a white paper that primes them for a consultation.
2. A phone call with a real person
For many organizations, their most dependable conversion strategy is getting leads on the phone for a conversation. This is especially true of companies with products or services that require a big financial commitment, or where the pitch depends on the circumstances and takes a more personal touch.
Of course, you don’t want to waste your frontline staff’s time by putting them on the phone with unqualified leads. It’s also important that your leads are expecting a phone call.
Did they sign up to get a demonstration of your product or service? To hear how you can help them solve a specific problem or achieve a personal goal? To get a free consultation? Did you explicitly tell them they’d be receiving a phone call?
If your lead capture form asks for someone’s phone number, they may be somewhat prepared for a phone call, but you should also be confident that a phone call is the best way to deliver the promise made in your call to action.
If someone signed up to get a white paper, you definitely don’t want to call them until you know they’ve received what was promised. And if they just signed up for your newsletter list, you should probably use another follow-up strategy. Otherwise, it feels like a bait-and-switch, and the call itself will be off-putting.
Remember, context is what makes these calls different from cold calls. If your end goal is getting people on the phone, be sure your lead generation campaign sets that up—or at least starts an email drip campaign that does. You also need to make sure your team on the phones knows what a lead was offered, what’s been said to them so far, and how they found you.
3. Retargeted ads
It might seem strange to follow-up your ads with more ads, but they can actually make a great supplement to your other strategies, and they can drive people further down your funnel.
Say you sell parenting resources, and someone signed up to receive ideas for age-appropriate games to play with toddlers. This triggers a sequential email campaign that includes other tips for raising toddlers, and perhaps mentions some of your products and ways they benefit parents.
This would be a great list of leads to retarget with ads for those products or other toddler-related resources.
Retargeting allows you to advertise to a more relevant, qualified list of leads—which can dramatically increase your conversion rate—and to choose conversion goals that move those leads further along in your marketing and sales messaging. Plus, by exposing them to your brand in more ways, you’re creating stronger associations between your brand and their desire to be better parents, which makes your other marketing efforts (such as your drip campaign) more effective, too.
4. Text messaging
In some situations, SMS can be an appropriate follow-up channel. This can be especially valuable if phone calls are one of your primary follow-up strategies because you can text people a reminder about the call to increase the odds that they’ll pick up and be prepared.
A text message can also compliment your other messaging if you need more information from a lead and they haven’t responded. Or you can use them to deliver a download link for your mobile app.
Just be cautious. Use texts sparingly and intentionally. It’s not unusual to get text messages from an organization, but the vast majority of texts people receive still come from friends and family. If you don’t use text messaging in purposeful ways, it can immediately feel like an invasion of someone’s privacy.
Think beyond lead generation
Filling the top of your marketing funnel is important. But if you want leads to actually make it out the other end, you need to think about what happens when you acquire them. Are they going to receive consistent messaging that fits with their previous experience with you?
Whatever you send your leads needs to match the expectations created by your advertisement, landing page, and forms. And ideally, it should lean on the marketing and sales channels that have been most effective for your team.