Let’s say you have a target of bringing 4x revenue this year.

What will you do first?

Well, generate leads and build a pipeline.

After that?

You’d want to prioritize leads that are more interested in buying your products or services.

But how would you do that?

Our answer is— by lead scoring.

Let’s dive deeper into:

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is a method of assigning numeric values to the leads based on their behavior related to their interest in a company’s products or services. It is the way of qualifying leads commonly used by sales and marketing teams.

For example, a lead that has signed up for a newsletter subscription gets a lower lead score than the lead that has signed up for a free trial or product demo.

You may wonder why you should put effort into evaluating leads rather than generating more leads.

Let me answer that.

The importance of lead scoring

“Organizations that use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI, over organizations that do not use lead scoring.”

Marketing Sherpa

You don’t always know a good lead when you see one. Too often, it takes hours of conversations and emails only to find out that you’re wasting your time. While you don’t want to miss out on a good lead, you also don’t want to spend time unnecessarily on leads that will never close.

By scoring leads, you can realize the following benefits:

1. Identify the sales readiness of your leads and prioritize sales activities

Without any identifiers on lead quality, your SDRs will probably call each lead on a first-come-first-serve basis. The result—the one that’s more interested in your product/service will be called only when there’s their turn.

However, had your reps known the “hot leads,” they would have called them first. Lead scoring helps identify leads that match your customer profile and prioritize sales activities accordingly.

lead scoring crm automation

2. Identify up-sell/repeat sale opportunities from existing customers

Through engagement scoring, you can identify up-selling and cross-selling opportunities with your existing customers.

How?

Let’s see.

If you suddenly see that a 1-year-old customer has suddenly started accumulating engagement scores again, in all probability, they want to buy again and are looking for options. An email or a call from sales at this point would result in a quick closure.

“The odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes are 100 times higher versus 30 minutes. The odds of qualifying a lead if called in 5 minutes are 21 times higher versus 30 minutes.” 

(via Forbes)

3. Help marketers segment and target leads accordingly

Lead and Engagement Scoring can help marketers identify different brackets of engagement and create customized offers to push your raw opportunities to conversion. What’s even more interesting is that they would be able to identify the lead sources that get the most closures and advise you to allocate your marketing budgets accordingly.

For instance, say your marketing ninja John has identified Facebook as the source from where the engagement scores have recently been higher. Therefore, you can put more money into Facebook.

4. Align your sales and marketing teams

Sales and marketing must work together to ensure the right leads enter the pipeline. Having data-driven proof of lead quality can help marketers better understand who they’re attracting for the sales team, what the high-scoring leads have in common, and where adjustments need to be made to continue attracting better leads.

5. Make data-driven decisions

The entire scoring mechanism allows you to identify the percentage of engaged prospects at any given point. It thus helps you to devise strategies to increase engagement.

You can look into your existing data and identify what kind of offers have driven higher engagement in the past (like a survey/contest) and run a similar once again to reactivate your disengaged leads.

Finally, lead scoring and engagement scoring can also help you understand your audiences’ interests in your products or services. That is, by looking at the scores, you can identify popular products.

So, these are some of the evident benefits of lead scoring. Let’s look at the methods of lead scoring you can adopt.

Lead scoring methods

Companies generally score leads based on demographic, firmographic, and behavioral data. Below are some of the most popular methods of lead scoring.

  • Engagement scoring
  • Demographic lead scoring
  • Predictive lead scoring
  • Rule-based lead scoring

Engagement scoring

Engagement scoring is an advanced form of lead scoring that considers the recency of your engagement activities in addition to the lead score.

The engagement score is calculated based only on engaging activities and a timeline that you specify.

Let’s say you want to find out leads that are most engaged with your sales and marketing communications in the last 30 days.

Here, a lead that interacted with you last year will not be considered even if their score is higher.

“We use engagement scoring to automate our nurturing campaigns. Leads are nurtured with email campaigns over a definite period, and once the engagement score crosses the threshold, we pass them on to the sales team. Since engagement score is calculated for a specific period, we ensure we don’t pass cold leads to sales reps.”

Hiral Shah, Senior Manager – Growth Marketing, LeadSquared

How does engagement scoring work?

In this technique, you assign different scores to the types of interactions a lead or a customer can have with your brand.

For instance, if they are very active on your website and visit pages like your Product features, Pricing, etc., they would score higher on your relevance sheet.

However, if they are active on your website but visiting pages like Career Options, Work Culture, etc., then they sure are interested in your business but not as a prospective buyer. So visits to these pages should have a lower score to bring them off your sales radar.

All businesses are different, so there is no set formula for the kind of activities you would rate, but some things are a given. Any activity that gets a lead closer to closure in your sales cycle is a positive lead activity and anything that gets them away from your business is a negative lead activity.

You would typically assign scores based on:

1. The importance marketing and sales assign to an activity.

2. How an activity contributes to taking the lead forward and backward in the sales process.

3. Experience and anecdotal data. Look at your database, talk to your sales and marketing people, and identify which activities push the leads down the sales funnel.

Let’s take a few activities as examples:

Marketing Related Activities

a) Newsletter subscription form filled = +2

b) Product Inquiry form filled = +20

c) Unsubscribe or email bounce = -50

Sales Related Activities

a) Salesperson had an awesome conversation = +30

b) The prospect said not interested to buy your product or service = -100

As you can see, I have assigned scores based on the importance of the respective activities to the sales cycle. Even though a newsletter subscription is a positive activity, it doesn’t say much about whether or not the lead is interested in spending money with you. Therefore, the score assigned is comparatively less. On the other hand, an awesome sales conversation is a definite positive in the direction of sales closure, so a higher score has been assigned to that.

how to score leads

Demographic lead scoring

In this method, you qualify leads based on their demographic information. It is also referred to as lead quality scoring as it helps you identify the quality of leads that enter your sales pipeline.

For example, let’s say you own a car dealership in Denver. So, your target customers would be 25 to 70 years old people and those who live in Denver and nearby cities. Now, if you have a website, people from across the world can access it and drop queries.

Demographic lead scoring helps you segregate inquiries that you can serve.

Here, you assign scores based on a prospect’s demographic info such as age, gender, location, income group, past purchase with your brand, and more.

lead qualification to identify sales ready leads

Predictive lead scoring

Predictive lead scoring is a framework that uses an algorithm to analyze historical data within your CRM and tells you which accounts/leads are most likely to convert. Important attributes are automatically chosen based on common factors derived from deals that were won and lost. It basically identifies trends and patterns from the past and generates a prediction for the future.

How does predictive lead scoring help?

Even the most experienced sales and marketing teams are perplexed with identifying the factors that helped close a deal. Undoubtedly, they can summarize the events that led to the closure. But naming every element that contributed to attracting a prospect’s interest is a tough job. When done manually, it just elevates the possibility of manual error.

Predictive lead scoring will help you name these parameters by scrutinizing past deals. Since the entire process is automatic, you can ensure both reliability and accuracy. It will help you take a targeted approach and enable you to use customer intelligence to your benefit.

Pros and cons:

While it can work wonders after implementation, the process requires a huge chunk of data to be able to make a proper analysis. A small sample set wouldn’t do much justice. Hence, businesses that have just started or those which don’t have a huge database may not benefit from this.

One more pre-requisite would be to clearly mark accounts with tags (won/lost or customer/prospect etc.) so that the algorithm can effectively analyze all kinds of data and provide the optimum results to produce more sales-ready opportunities for your team.

Rule-based lead scoring

Contrary to predictive scoring, rule-based scoring works on a set of predefined rules.

In other words, predictive lead scoring works on an algorithm. Whereas in rule-based lead scoring, you set up your lead scoring workflow manually. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you have created a landing page for downloading an ebook. You would aim to capture leads. Now, while creating the landing page, you can define backend actions, such as:

  • Send an automated email with the ebook pdf link
  • Add leads to a particular list
  • Increase lead score by X

The users will not notice this, but you can observe the change in lead scores basis such activities in your CRM software.

You can use either or all of the above methods of lead scoring. Using only one method is called one-dimensional lead scoring. But if you use more than one method of lead scoring, you’d be using multi-dimensional lead scoring.

It is recommended to use a multi-dimensional lead scoring mechanism because it takes into account the recency and frequency of activities. Instances like leads switching jobs, changing phone numbers, etc., are common. If you rely on only one method, you might end up strangled in obsolete data.

“1-dimensional lead scores are a good place to start, but don’t confine yourself to a single numeric score. Using multiple dimensions for lead scoring will provide you with a clearer picture of your lead portfolio which in turn will lead to more effective marketing and sales.”

Colin Hung, Marketing Executive (via HITMC)

Lead scoring tools

In most cases, companies use CRM software for lead scoring purposes as well. It’s fair also because the CRM already has the data you need for this purpose.

Some of the best lead scoring CRMs available in the market are:

  1. LeadSquared: Supports quality scoring, engagement scoring, and lead scoring
  2. HubSpot: Supports predictive lead scoring
  3. Zoho: multichannel lead scoring
  4. Salesforce Essentials: Supports third-party lead scoring integrations
  5. ActiveCampaign: Suitable for lead scoring based on email campaigns

Apart from these, you’ll also find specialized tools for lead scoring. Some of the best ones are:

  1. Slintel: Utilizes data to analyze buyer journeys, technology adoption patterns, and more
  2. Infer by Ingnitetech: Best for predictive lead scoring and profile management
  3. Madkudu: Uses data science-based models for lead prioritization
  4. Breadcrumbs: Scoring based on recency and frequency of engagement
  5. SalesPanel: A specialized tool for lead qualification

The only drawback of using specialized tools is that they don’t have data of their own. You’ll have to integrate your CRM with these tools to get the insights. That said, these tools are great at what they do.

If you use a CRM that supports lead scoring functionality, we can help you set it up. Read on to the next section.

How to set up your CRM for lead scoring

As mentioned before, CRM software like LeadSquared provides three lead scoring mechanisms:

  1. Quality scoring
  2. Lead scoring
  3. Engagement scoring

You can utilize information from your customer profile to calculate the quality score. In this, you assign values to lead attributes like job title, company size, product interested in, and more.

Lead scoring and engagement scoring consider lead activities. However, they both differ in a way that leads score can be calculated for an infinite amount of time, whereas you define a specific period for engagement scoring.

Let’s look at how you can set it up in a CRM.

Step 1: Set up the criteria:

  1. Define the activity period. For this, your need to know your sales cycle duration. You can take this step further if you know how much time a prospect spends on a particular stage. Use this info to create engagement campaigns according to the stage of prospects in your sales funnel.
  2. Determine the lead stages you wish to include. You might not want to calculate the lead score for your customers. Since both lead and customer records are stored in your lead management CRM, it’s better to specify the lead stages in consideration.
  3. List down the activities you wish to include for calculating the lead score.
Set up engagement scoring in CRM

Step 2: Assign scores

Here, sales and marketing alignment is crucial.

If you’re a marketer setting up the system for lead scoring, consult your sales department about activities they check to understand the buyer’s intent.

On the other hand, if you’re a sales manager defining the lead scores, consult your marketing team once. It is because marketers give different weightage to different marketing activities. For example, in general, a lead captured through a PPC ad has more buying intent than the one who is exploring different systems through organic search.

Rule-based lead scoring

Step 3: Define a threshold

After a few closures in your new scoring framework, you would be able to identify the average score after which the leads are sales-ready. One of our clients from the real-estate sector shared that when a lead crosses a score of 200, it is ready for a serious sales conversation.

Step 4: Set up a lead distribution mechanism

The distribution logic completely depends on your sales process. However, you may also utilize the lead score to map leads to agents/sales reps. For instance, you may want to assign hot leads to your top reps.

“Lead and engagement scoring help us prioritize leads and distribute leads among our agents.”

Siddharth Gupta, Associate Director – Growth, Uni

Step 5: Run reactivation campaigns

Leads that show no activity for a long time are regarded as cold leads. Generally, such leads have a lower lead score. You can run targeted engagement campaigns to reactivate them.

One of our insurance clients utilized a lead scoring mechanism to reactivate their cold leads. And to everyone’s surprise, over a thousand leads engaged and entered the buying funnel.

You can read the complete story: A simple hack to reactivate dead leads

This isn’t a one-off. In the next section, we’d like to tell another story of how lead scoring helped a leading FinTech brand achieve its sales goals.

[Case study] How lead scoring helped Uni Cards onboard 4x customers

Uni is a new-age FinTech aimed at revolutionizing the B2C credit space in India. In the beginning, they used excel sheets for sales and customer onboarding. However, as the business grew, it became difficult for them to track the stages the leads are in. It resulted in chaos between the internal team members and several lost opportunities.

The lead scoring mechanism was a part of the solution LeadSquared provided Uni to manage their sales process.

They used lead and engagement scoring to prioritize high-intent leads. Further, they automated the lead distribution workflow, where high-priority leads were distributed to agents for follow-ups.

The entire solution resulted in 4X growth in terms of customers and increased sales efficiency.

Read the complete story of Uni’s journey of streamlining the sales and collections pipeline.

If you want to try software that suffices all your sales and marketing leads along with lead scoring, give LeadSquared a try. Our team is all ears to understand your requirements and propose an appropriate solution. Book a demo to consult with them.


FAQs

How do you calculate the lead score of offline leads?

LeadSquared’s CRM software allows you to calculate lead scores of offline leads.
All you need to do is create a custom activity beforehand. Let’s say you created an activity—Event attended—and assigned it a score of 50. After the event, once you add the event attended activity to the leads that showed up for the event, the lead score will be automatically updated. This can also be done in bulk.

How can we deal with leads with low lead score, to increase engagement score?

You can send them offers that are relevant to them, depending on the pages that they have viewed, etc. And if they are engaging with that, they might become more relevant for the sales call.

Is lead score useful for both B2B and B2C?

Lead scoring helps you decide how to take forward the sales interactions with prospects, and it is definitely relevant for B2B and B2C businesses. We are a B2B business, and we have been using lead scoring for qualification and prioritization. Our B2C customers like Uni use it for distributing leads to agents.

Social media has long broken its traditional role of brand awareness and engagement, and eased into the territory of lead generation and customer service. However, with the social ecosphere going berserk and growing at the mad pace of close to 40-50% every year, (both in terms of user and brand invasion), reaching the relevant audience is getting increasingly tough.

There was a time, when it was possible to reach a fair share of people organically, but we all know how hard that is now on Facebook. Twitter is more generous, displaying all the tweets sequentially, but this generosity is the bane here. With the constant stream of tweets flooding you, it’s really hard to look at anything in particular. So, what do you do to grab attention?

Keep_calm_and_strategize_001

Just to put things in context, social media traffic can be great, providing great conversion opportunity. I have evidence. Take a look at some statistics from LeadSquared’s own Analytics data:

1. The average session duration for visitors coming from social media is 48.08% higher than site average.
2. The bounce rate for these visitors is 80% lower than the site average.
3. Pages viewed per session are 31.96% higher than the site average.
4. Goal Conversion Rate is 39.05% higher than the site average.

This proves how amazingly well-engaged is the traffic coming from social media.

So, let’s talk about what social media tactics can you employ to generate high quality leads.

(A little heads up: This post is a little Facebook heavy – I would soon do a sequel including more social media channels)

Strategy 1: Have a strategy, complete with goal definition

1. Create an audience persona

The very first thing to do is to identify:

a) Who your target audience is (persona)
b) What are the social media channels they frequent
c) What devices do they use, and

d) What influences their buying decisions

This information would help you create a customized social media strategy as these preferences vary for different demographics.

i) For instance, take a look at the most popular social media channels overall, and the demographics using the respective channels by gender.

Social Media Demography

ii) Figure out what social media platforms your target age demographics frequent.

Age_demographics_and_social_media_channels

iii) Figure out what social networks are popular in the geography that you are trying to target:

Social Media Tactics for Lead Generation: Social_Media_preferences_by_geography

Now, I know that these stats are great, but they are also external. What if you are an outlier? What if your target audience varies slightly from all your industry trends?

For that, look into the Audience section of your Google Analytics report; it would give you detailed insights about the demographics of your audience as well as their interests, thus allowing you to create interesting social campaigns.

Audience_

This data would give you a pretty good understanding of your own audience, and create social media tactics accordingly.

2. Set your campaign goals

The second part here is to understand what your goals are; it’s pretty simple in this case – your goal is lead generation, i.e. to improve the number of conversions. So, define what a lead means to you.

Also, here are few examples of how social media agencies gain clients.

Hint: It isn’t a new like, or a new follow. You should aim at actual lead details (at least a name and email ID).  

Here you have to remember to shift your focus away from vanity metrics, like “No. of likes”

Yes, it’s awesome that your likes are increasing, but that should not be a success metric for your lead generation campaigns. Instead measure the number and quality of leads that you are generating.

To measure if your social campaigns are aligned, you can set conversion goals in Google Analytics. Here’s how the social conversion report looks for LeadSquared.

Social_Conversions

I quoted “quality”, because it is also important to make sure that the leads you are generating are

a) Not junk (abc@xyz.com), and

b) Fit your ideal customer persona.

If, for instance, you are trying to sell adventure travel packages for couples, and your campaign is attracting families, then something is wrong. Similarly, if you are trying to sell a high-end travel package, and you capture budget travelers’ details, it wouldn’t be much help to you.

Now, that you have your campaign metrics set, let’s move on to the different ways in which you can use social to generate leads for your business. Remember that the strategies would be relevant for you if your target audience is on the respective platforms.

Strategy 2: Invest on Facebook Ads (the right way)

Facebook ads in general make pretty good sense, as with all the targeting options available, you have the capability to generate highly qualified leads. And I speak by experience; we have run Facebook campaigns in the past, and they have worked quite well for us, both in terms of cost per lead and the quality of leads. It has been reported to work extremely well for B2C companies as well.

1. First Time Lead Generation Campaign

This can work really well, because of the amazing targeting options available.

Social Media Tactics for Lead Generation: facebook_targeting_options

a) So, basically you can closely target people based on all the demographic data you found about your audience:

i) age

ii) location

iii) gender

iv) languages they speak

v) advanced demographics, like financial details etc.

b) Interest targeting

c) Behavior Targeting: This includes everything from browsing behavior, to online buying behavior, interest in events to traveling behavior, which is pretty cool if you are a B2C marketer.

2. Repeat Sales

Now, if you are the kind of business, where repeat sales make a lot of sense, then you can use Facebook’s custom audience feature very efficiently. The kinds of business that would fall under this category are online retail businesses, travel businesses, health and beauty businesses and basically anyone else in services industry.

How can you use it?
Social Media tactics for Lead Generation: Custom Audience

In most cases, you would already have a list of people who have made a purchase from you in the past; you can upload this list onto Facebook, and create a custom audience to market a similar category of products. Examples:

a) If you are an online retailer, and someone bought ‘Lord of the Rings’ books from you in the past, you can show the ads for ‘Games of Thrones’ to only this audience.

b) In travel business, if someone booked a family vacation from you last year in June; you can start showing them packages for more family tours from April-May itself (research shows that a travel planner usually takes around 40 days to finalize a tour/package). You can target them during this phase. And, because they already booked a tour from you in the past, the credibility would be good.

3. New audience of the same persona

If you are able to upload a custom audience (that fits the perfect persona of your target audience – if they have bought in the past from you), you can create a lookalike audience as well.

Social Media Tactics for Lead Generation: Lookalike audience

Let’s take an example of how using Facebook Custom Audience can be used in addition to your traditional email campaigns to generate better business leads.

Example:

Business – A Private MBA Institute

General modes of lead generation

a) 3rd Party lead generation websites (Sulekha.com, Shiksha.com)

b) PPC Ads

c) Facebook Ads

d) Buying Leads (not a recommended practice, but still is one of the most widely used).

The leads generated from PPC, Facebook, and Organic are better quality leads, if you have done the targeting properly.

However, when the leads are being purchased, or generated from 3rd party websites, then the usual strategy is to spray and pray. You send a bulk email campaign, and hope to capture qualified leads from that.

Now, if you absolutely want to buy these leads (though we do not recommend it), creating a lookalike audience would be putting it to a better use, in addition to your usual email strategy.

(Note: Creating a lookalike audience would generally work even better, if your leads have been generated using targeted Facebook and Google Adwords campaigns, and through other organic efforts.)

Benefit 1 : Better leads at lower cost

Let’s compare the cost of an email campaign to that of a Facebook campaign:

Suppose, the cost of sending 1 email = 10 paisa

Your Target Audience (contact volume) = 10,000

Total Cost for 1 Campaign = 1000 Rs.

Quality Leads received / Campaign = 10 (on an average, maybe more)

Cost/ Relevant Lead = 100 Rs.

If you invest the same amount (1000Rs.) On Facebook

Offer – Apply for an MBA

Demographic Targeting – Age : 20 to 25

Interest targeting: #MAT,#CAT #IIM #MBA and many more

Suggested Bid that Facebook shows me: 6.25 Rs. To 11.25 Rs (per click)

So, no. of clicks I can get in 1000 Rs, if I choose the minimum, i.e. Rs. 6.25 = 160

Clicks Average Conversion % (if the Landing Page is good) = 20% = 32 Leads.

If you give an offer, like a free counseling session, the conversion rate can increases to 50-70%, which means at least 80 Leads.

And they are all good leads, because not only are you targeting by a lead list that you bought, but also by other filters, like age brackets, interests etc.

Cost Per Lead = 1000/32 = 31.25 Rs./Lead which is a good deal.

(Note: This data was for Normal Interest Targeting (without uploading a Custom list on Facebook) – because I didn’t have one.)

Tech Crunch reports that Custom Audience increases sign-up conversion rate by 43 percent and decreases cost per lead by 30 percent, compared to Standard Targeted Facebook Ads.

So, when you are doing Custom Audience + Targeting, the cost would go further down by 30% = Rs. 21.875

Benefit 2: Lesser drop-offs = More leads

There are few roadblocks in the journey of an email from your computer to the actual lead capture:

1. Email Sent
2. May go into spam
3. If it escapes spam, the email maybe opened/not opened
4. If opened, the email may be clicked/not clicked
5. If clicked, form filled/not filled

When you run Facebook ads, there once again are roadblocks, but their number is reduces:

1. Facebook ad displayed
2. Ad Clicked/Not Clicked
3. Form filled/not filled.

Now, more number of steps = more drop-offs (as the drop offs would happen at each step)

Benefit 3: Higher number of audience reached

In case of email

Social Media Tactics for Lead Generation : Email Reach

In case of Facebook

Social Media Tactics for Lead generation - Facebook ad reach

So, the audience that you can hope to target is much higher in case of Facebook ads than your email list.

Benefit 4: You are being “less” intrusive

Another consideration is that emailing people without prior consent is generally an intrusive practice, and is frowned upon.

Strategy 3: Use mobile-only campaigns + responsive landing pages

Facebook mobile

Now, with these amazing stats in favor of mobile, I am sure you don’t want to miss capturing leads. So use, responsive landing pages/website, and run this campaign.

In case you don’t know, Facebook allows you to create mobile-only ads, so you can easily determine how they are working out for you.

Strategy 4: Google Pages for Local Businesses

Who’s it relevant for?

All sorts of local businesses:

a) Health and Beauty Clinics

b) Fitness centers

c) Restaurants

d) Other local businesses

e) Multi-centered businesses

Google Local pages can be great for improving your direct store walk-ins; the reason being these results along with the reviews occupy the topmost real estate on search just behind the ads.

How to do it?

1. Claim your local business and verify it

2. Put everything on your local page, including your business address (verify it for it to show up in Google search on mobile), phone number, business hours etc.

Social Media Tactics for Lead Generation - Google+_Business_Page_for_restaurants_

3. Leverage Google Business View

Especially, if you are in a business, where the visual appeal of the locations is important. Example Salon and Spa Businesses.

When someone searches for your brand name on Google, they can get a virtual tour of your facility.

You can even link these images to your business website. But, it, of course, comes at a cost, and using this would be a business decision.

4. Leverage Google Reviews

Let’s face it; Google controls search – so to increase direct bookings/footfalls, you need to be on Google’s properties to occupy the best real estate. Google Reviews are one amazing way for you to do that, so if you are in an industry where you can ask customers for review, do that. It would really help, believe me. Look at all these hotels right below the paid ads, only because they have a Google Local presence, and a good number of reviews.

google business view

Hotels_in_goaIt helps enormously in mobile search as well

a) This is how the local businesses show up on Mobile . There is a Click to Call option there as well (direct lead generation method. Best part – it is free)

Google search on mobile

Remember, you have to verify your business, otherwise you do not get any of these benefits

Strategy 5: Facebook Custom Tabs

So, yea I have spoken a lot about Facebook custom tabs before, and they can be great to get you a few leads if people somehow land directly on your timeline, but the chances are pretty slim, especially now that the custom tab icons have been reduced to a row of navigation below your cover image.

But, you can still make the best out of it by using a cover image that has a directional cue and a CTA + custom tab. Take a look at this example from WishPond. You can check this post to find how to create a Facebook custom tab.

wishpond

So, these were a few social media tactics that you can deploy for lead generation. Your turn; what social media lead generation strategies are you using?

Our last webinar on “5 Landing Page Optimization Tips to Improve Conversion Immediately” raised a number of interesting questions. Due to lack of time, we were unable to answer all the questions then. In this post, we have included the rest. Here’s the webinar recording, in case you missed it:

LP-optimizing-Tips

View the Recording

Question 1

Is it necessary to add client information on the landing page or can I add social proof on that page? In case of social proof, would that divert the visitor’s attention from the target page?

It depends on the kind of business you are in and what is the value of social proof for the kind of audience you are targeting. Social proof is often mistaken for just testimonials. There are different kinds of social proofs, like images, videos, customer logos, etc.

Let’s say, if you are selling some high value product or service – it could be a few hundred thousand dollars – then social proof would work best if the testimonial belongs to a well-known personality or organization. Hence, if you say, IBM bought my product or IBM bought my service, that would be much more important in my opinion.

However, if you are selling to consumers, then client testimonial will actually have a very significant impact. I’m not saying it would be zero or nil for B2B. I’m just saying the kind of social proof you use would depend on your product or service.

Testimonials with images or social proof are far better than just a testimonial (with no image or social proof). Here’s an example:

Sunstone_Business_SchoolNotice how the testimonial is accompanied by the image of that person. Client information has also been provided. In some cases, that is represented in the form of a social proof (Eg. Link to his/her LinkedIn profile). Ideally, social proof would not divert the attention of the visitor because the visitor is on your page because they are interested in your product or service. Rather, it would act as a benefiting factor by adding authenticity.

Question 2

Do pop up inquiry windows actually help in SEO or lead conversion?

Pop up inquiry windows will not help in SEO. But as far as conversion is concerned, they do matter. If someone is trying to roam around on your website and if you have something cool to offer to them, which they would otherwise not look for, but you throw that in front of them and they like it, then they will actually take it. Which means, they will convert. So yes, it helps in conversions.

The important element here is the offer. A pop up with a high value offer can double conversions. Here’s a good example of a high value offer on a pop, from Quick Sprout.

Pop upsOn the downside, it can also be very disruptive. If that is the case, you can use slider forms instead.

Question 3

For online corporate training, what is the best position for testimonial and lead capture form?

There is no best position really. I’m assuming you are inquiring about where to position the testimonial on the landing page and not the website. Ideally it should be visible above the fold. If you are doing corporate training then your other potential corporate trainers would look for some sort of validation of your firm. For example, what kind of customers has this company catered to, and so on. In case of students, I would take a personal approach. If I was a student, I would really look for the preview of the program. If I like the preview, then I’d probably look at the testimonial.

Question 4

If landing pages are not part of the website, should we create a new page every time a new offer is rolled out and delete the previous page?

You don’t need to delete the older landing page because you would want to analyze the conversion rates for a particular campaign later on as well. However, if your offer is completely different from the first one, then it does make sense to create a new landing page for the offer. On the other hand, if the offer is the same, and you just want to use it on different channels, then you can use the same landing page everywhere, but use tracking URLs, so that you know where the lead is coming from.

Besides, if you use a landing page creation tool, then you don’t need to create the landing page from scratch every time. There are multiple templates available for you to choose from. You can even clone your older pages, if your new offer is somewhat similar to the older one, and edit the elements that have changed (like, the headline, form, etc.)

Question 5

Are landing pages used in email campaigns only?

No, landing pages can be used everywhere – on your PPC campaigns, Social media campaigns, website, blog, and everywhere else, where you can put a link.

Question 6

Where to redirect after the submitting form?

The visitor should be redirected to a relevant page, rather a page which is related to the form. For example, if the form submitted was an “E-Book Download” landing page, the person should be redirected to that E-Book’s “Thank You Page” where the E-Book can be accessed. You could also share links to other E-Books or resources that you may have, from that page. The aim should be to keep the visitor engaged with relevant content, as long as you can. Here’s an example:

1. Visitor lands on E-Book Landing Page and fills up the submission form:

2014-09-11_15322. After form submission, visitor is redirected to the E-Book ‘Thank You’ Page:

2014-09-11_1530Notice how the redirected page has links to other similar resources like Webinars, E-Books, and Blog (on the top right).

Question 7

What is the acceptable load time for landing page?

Less than 3-4 seconds is what you need to aim for. Studies have shown that in some cases there has been a double digit dip in conversion where the load time has gone down from 2 seconds to 4 seconds, and substantial dip beyond 4-5 seconds.

Page-Load-Speed-and-Bounce-ratesIf you can have a server which can throw the pages faster, use them. This becomes more important if you have high volume of traffic visiting your page. Make use of Google’s Page Speed tools to find what your page’s loading time is, and what are the elements increasing the loading time on each page. Here’s an example of how that would look:
Google_Page_Speed_Test1As you can see in the image above, Google shows not only the problem areas but ways to fix them as well (both for mobile and desktop). Also, it shows what you are doing right. You can use Pingdom for the same purpose as well.

Make use of Google’s Page Speed tools to find what your website’s loading time is, and what are the elements increasing the loading time on each page. – See more at: https://www.leadsquared.com/things-to-consider-while-going-for-your-next-website-redesign/#sthash.wb2nzGqQ.dpuf
Make use of Google’s Page Speed tools to find what your website’s loading time is, and what are the elements increasing the loading time on each page. – See more at: https://www.leadsquared.com/things-to-consider-while-going-for-your-next-website-redesign/#sthash.wb2nzGqQ.dpuf

Question 8

How can we calculate conversion rates?

You would need to use a tool for this or set up the conversion appropriately in respective places from where you are driving traffic. Here are three things you could use to calculate conversion rates:

Question 9

Is the photo of a person necessary  in the testimonial? Does it add more value?

I think it helps the cause because it gives the visitor a better perception of what you are trying to sell and definitely adds authenticity. If you are using photos, try to get high quality photos. High quality photos help you engage or retain the attention of the visitor for a longer duration. I would recommend you to even spend money on it, if needed.

Question 10

Is it necessary for the colour of company logo, to be the same on every page?

If you have a company logo, which most businesses have, you can use that logo in all the pages to make it consistent. We have used our logo in variety of colours and landing pages, but what we have seen is that the conversion is not a function of just the logo. It depends on so many other things. Yes, for aesthetics, and to drive a brand identity, you may want to be colour-conscious. But I doubt that has a substantial impact on the conversion. Let’s say if you are getting fresh traffic, the visitor doesn’t even know about you, so he/she wouldn’t have looked at your website in the first place, to know the actual colour of the logo.

Question 11

What is the correct place for testimonials on a website?

I think that’s a question for the website people to answer. It can be on the first page itself. Wherever it is, it should be visible.

Question 12

What are your findings on which methods of signup are working for Facebook / Google / Email?

It varies from business to business. For consumer-led businesses, social would be a good option. In case of B2B businesses, a lot of our customers have told us that social doesn’t really give them relevant leads. In Google Ads, you will find people looking for the stuff you offer, but the question would be, are you making enough out of whatever you are spending? If you are, that is a good channel to go for.

Question 13

Can we use pop up windows in landing pages?

You can use pop ups while somebody is exiting the page. That would be the last attempt for you to ask them to share their information. But if someone lands on your page, you would want them to actually look at what you are trying to tell them rather than show them a pop-up. Here, I’m talking about traffic which you bring in from ad sources and not somebody who is on your website and then you are showing them pop ups. They are two different things. I’m assuming you are referring to the first one, not the second.

Question 14

What is the appropriate image to text ratio in landing page?

If you can convey your message without any text, go for it. Nobody wants to read long lines. If you go to the old-style websites where the content is written in very small Times Roman font, which is barely readable, you would probably understand what I’m trying to say. The only thing you need to worry about is heavy-loaded images. There is no conversion because the image is not going to load. The image needs to balance with the landing page load time as well. To counter this problem, try not to use external URLs for images, and use tools like SmushIt to reduce the image size. This would improve your page load time.

What should be the bidding strategy for running Facebook ads?

– See more at: https://www.leadsquared.com/webinar-6-lead-generation-strategies-using-social-media/#sthash.HouUYzWG.dpuf

Oh, the places you’ll go travel marketers, with just a tad bit of steering in the right direction. Travel is an experience – it is exotic and it is compelling. And, it’s way past time all you travel entrepreneurs and businesses realize how powerful is the thing you are trying to sell – dreams, adventures, memories – experience all in all.

All businesses are creating content – but travel businesses have the advantage of being the cool kid of the lot. You already have your stories laid out for you – you just need to package them in the right manner and on the right channels. So, today we’ll talk about content marketing ideas for travel businesses, and how travel marketers can use the power of compelling story-telling in their campaigns to stand out.

Oh the Places you'll go


We are the first generation of both consumers and marketers seeing the gaps between human experience and technological advances bridge up close. And there is no industry better suited to use this to their advantage than travel and hospitality.

True, technology has given you the power of easy discoverability, with all the travel planners researching online for options before making a decision. But, on the downside, it has also given you far more competitors that ever. Now, unlike your times in physical offices, you have to compete with not just your neighboring travel agents, but with the bigger travel planning websites as well.

The competition is fierce – so what do you do to stand out?

Answer – Create better content than everyone else!

This answer may seem simple in theory, but is far more complex in execution. Therefore, this post.

Let’s Talk About the Travel Planning Paradigm Shift

You have brains
Travel-Stats-682x1024

I have said this before; no longer are we in the age where booking a tour package meant finalizing a travel destination or a resort on that family friend’s recommendation, walking into the agent’s office, and bam. Travelers have options now – such great options.
And indeed, they can! The decision to travel might be taken in a moment of spontaneity, but the time between the decision and booking sees an enormous amount of research. Consider these stats for a moment:
And they are doing all of this online. They have a plethora of options to choose over you. It’s not only your 100 other competitors distracting them away, but the omnipresent Google’s curated content as well, with the best real estate on the search housing them – after all they do own the property.

In such a competitive ecosphere, how long would you survive with mediocre marketing? Or, you would survive, but would you triumph?

Where’s the solution?

The solution lies in having a consumer-focused mindset, and everything else stemming from there – create content, a lot of it, but while thinking from customer’s perspective.

1. Single out your Audience Before you Create the Content

A consumer-focused mindset begins with identifying to whom you are trying to sell. You would broadly have 2 kinds of target market, and you have to package the same aspiration differently for these 2 segments.

1. The first are the traditional ones traveling with their families.

2. The second are the millennials and Gen Xs raised on pieced up dreams of seeing faraway places, and nurturing wanderlust rooted deeper than the generations before.

Besides the two, you would also have different segments based on the budget brackets. This classification would depend on your own offering as well – maybe you cater only to the affluents, maybe only the budget travelers.  The secret lies in creating content that would inspire your target audience.

People would say that this type of aspirational and emotional marketing is biased towards big brands, with big budgets backing them. No way! In fact, smaller startups are at an advantage, because they begin with a digital mindset, as opposed to their larger counterparts that have been doing traditional marketing for many decades.

Many smaller travel companies have used highly compelling, customer focused marketing to improve their revenue. No matter what line of travel business you are in – tour operators, hotels, travel curators, or whatnot, you have the power to tell compelling stories, which brings me to the focus of this article – story-telling in travel business.


2. Self-generated Content to Create Stories

If you have a business model where you or an employee (a guide) accompanies the travelers, you can very easily capture the “experience” as photos and videos and share it on your website and other social channels.

i) Photographs

Showcasing photographs of the destination taken while actually on tour, is one of the best content marketing ideas for travel businesses. WOW Club is one Indian company completely kicking ass at this. They have a very popular Facebook page, accounting to the interesting content that they share with their followers, and the fact that they share real experiences in the form of pictures. Their target audience (women travelling alone) seems to be completely taken by the idea, which is clear from the growing popularity of the company.

They of course have a “cool” factor aiding them as well (that it’s more a women travelers’ club than a regular travel company), which adds to their popularity, but there is no reason why fellow travel companies (especially smaller ones) cannot replicate their success.

This is what they are doing right:

a) Sharing travel postcards: They share tour photos or “postcards” on their Facebook page – which most probably are clicked by the WOW tour guide (also a woman) that travels with the group.

b) Using real people’s photographs on website: Their website is also personalized with pictures from their travel groups. Of course, they cater to a smaller segment – women, in a higher income bracket, but they are doing it perfectly right for their audience. Their posts are exciting, personal, and aspirational for women who would one day want to travel alone – thus enticing others with a similar mindset to join in, expanding their audience size further.

ii) Videos
GreatWideOpen_Videos

You can film some excerpts from the expedition and share them on their website. Many businesses are already doing that. GreatWideOpen, a travel company that connects travelers to local tour operators is an example. These videos show interviews with the travelers on the expedition, tour experts leading them on etc. People planning their trips can get an idea of how how the experience would be, and make a choice accordingly.


 3. User Generated Content to Create Stories

i) Photographs/Videos

People that love to travel, love to document their journeys in the form of photographs/videos, and share them as well. You can ask the people who bought the package from you to share these experiences with you. You can then showcase them on your website (and social channels), along with their testimonials.

Channels other than website to capitalize this on

Social Media: Instagram and Pinterest are great for sharing this content in addition to travel business’ favored Facebook, even though they are just growing in India.

The best part – it’s not really a whole lot of extra work for your marketing team – you already have the content (or the users have it), you just need to promote them on the right channels (and that becomes easier with this exhaustive checklist for content promotion). There’s more about Instagram and Pinterest as photo-content channels later in the post. 

ii) Testimonials and Reviews
Reviews and Testimonials
Thrillophilia_Review_from_TripAdvisor

Before people take a trip, they want to make sure of what kind of experience they can expect at a particular destination. Photographs and testimonials from fellow travelers affect their travel plans quite a bit because of this. Consider these stats:
Reviews on TripAdvisor and Google Reviews are especially helpful for you as Google pulls them in organic search results as well. Bangalore based activity and travel curation company, Thrillophilia is doing that right. They have TripAdvisor reviews embedded on their site, in addition to video and email reviews.

iii) Contests

If you have a decent social following, one of the best content marketing ideas for travel is a contest. You can ask your followers to share photos, and their experiences with your service. Not only is it a great way to source user generated content and engagement, but it can be used as social proof as well. Channels you can run it on:

a) Facebook

AirBNB (a network of accommodations offered by locals) ran a contest on Facebook, called Destination Honeymoon. 

Aim

To increase their brand awareness and drive traffic to their website.

What needed to be done

Couples had to share their photographs with AirBNB’s Facebook page and answer a few questions; the ones selected by a panel based on their answers to the questions, and general likes by Facebook users would win a dream honeymoon package.

Outcome

AirBnB's Photo Contest

The campaign was successful, and drove engagement in the form of 10, 299 votes (Source: Strutta). Here’s how the contest looked:

b) Instagram

This is a platform where you market for discovery. Instagrammers are the ones that would actually engage with your photo-contests, therefore you need to have a presence and a decent following there yourself, before you can run contests.

c) Pinterest

People that create travel wishlists, dream destination bucket lists etc. are on Pinterest, and so are travel bloggers. Beautiful user generated and your own photographs would do wonders here.

How would this help?

The people repinning or following you might not buy from you, but would definitely spread word about you, and be your brand ambassadors, as long as you keep sharing interesting swoon-worthy content.

Example Campaign

Hotel deals website JetSetter once ran an awesome campaign on Pinterest “Pin it to win it.”

Aim To improve traffic to the website and increase stickiness.

What needed to be done

People were invited to create “The ultimate destination pinboard”, across several categories, like escape, adventure etc, with relevant pictures. The winners would get to be JetSetter Curators, meaning they would be sent to dream destinations under the category of their choosing.

Outcome

Jetsetter

During the campaign, the pageviews on JetSetter increased 150%, the referral traffic via Pinterest increased 100%, and the bounce rate decreased by 10-15%. (Source: Mashable)
Yes, Pinterest is not yet enormously famous in India, but it is decently famous in the your business category, so you might want to try it out.


 4. Influencer Strategy

If you talk about famous travel bloggers, photo-bloggers and the likes on your own blogs, it would gain the attention of not just these influencers and their followers, but virtual tourists as well (people searching for travel related content on the web).

There is a strong possibility of these 3rd category of people to become your customers, if your content entices them enough. Many of the influencers’ followers would fall in this category as well.

Hotel Trident’s #tridentsocialhotel Campaign to Engage Influencers via Twitter

Hotel Trident, Hyderabad ran a 2-day campaign (last year, December) encompassing Twitter + Facebook + Instagram + FourSquare, and 2 travel bloggers battling it out across several challenges. Even food orders were taken via Twitter.

It created quite a buzz, with the engagement happening among Hotel Trident, their followers, the bloggers and the bloggers’ followers with the hashtag #tridentsocialhotel. And, that wasn’t a one-time campaign; Hotel Trident ran the same campaign in one of its Mumbai Hotels early this year, and trended nationally for it, and created quite a bit of engagement once again.

This “Case Study” would tell you what they did:

Learning from the mistakes

And, they did turn out to be pretty good social listeners as well. During their December campaign, they had shared the bloggers’ room numbers via Twitter as well. It was pointed out to them publicly that it invades privacy; they implemented the learning in the March campaign, by DMing this kind of private information, instead of tweeting it.

The campaigns not just created a lot of engagement but got them new followers as well. You can find out more about the campaign here.


 5. Blog Strategy

This is an extension of both your self-generated and user-generated content. Thrillophilia have been doing an awesome job at creating content on their blog. Of course, with the exercise they have built a good community of brand advocates as well.

Not only do they generate awesome content on their blog, with exciting topics like “21 Best Backpacking trips in India to add to your bucket list”, that have enormous sharability, but interview travelers and source guest posts as well.

Lead Capture Content on Blog

Everything we have discussed thus far were discoverability and engagement campaigns to a large extent. However, after driving traffic to your site, you have to try and capture the lead details as well, especially if the visitors are not immediate buyers. The first offer that you see on Thrillophilia’s blog is a “Travel Guide” in exchange for your email address and name (they subscribe you to the blog in exchange for these basic details).

Travel_Guides_Thrillophilia

This is a pretty good strategy, because the casual virtual tourists that would land on a post might subscribe to this, and the next time they are planning their trip, or an activity, Thrillophilia would be in their inboxes and on their minds.


6. Use Email Wisely

Email has been every smart direct marketer’s choice of communication for a very long time, and still remains so even with the advent of social media and other fancier content marketing channels. This is not without a reason. Email gives you the power to communicate one-on-one with your prospects, and you should not let this opportunity slide.

You can combine the power of technology and story-telling to create highly customized emails and strike a real chord with the prospect. See how Etihad Airways has used it.

Etihad Airways pre-flight upgrade email
Emirates flight upgrade


Now the email goes out to customers that are travelling long distance and travelling solo (so it is highly customized offer).

Travel marketers can use this in a very efficient manner. For instance, if someone booked a 2 adults and 2 children tour with you last year, it would not make sense for you to send them a solo or couples only adventure tour this year. Send them family offers instead.


7. Content’s Best Friend – Mobile-friendliness

People do most of their travel search on mobile, and if your website (where most of your own content is housed) is not responsive, you are not just losing immediate bookings, but you are losing credibility in their eyes for future bookings and recommendations as well.

Responsiveness in Travel

Consider these stats:
That’s way too many people looking for information on mobile, you do not want to miss out on them.


8. Never be Tempted into Taking the Easy Road – Content Spinning

Let’s face it, you have one thing to sell – the place (and the experience associated with it). You have 100 other competitors trying to sell the same place, a similar projection of experience, and not enough bandwidth to create content that is unique and enormously appealing.

The Wrath of Google Panda

You might, in these cases, be tempted to take the easy path – of taking content that already exists on the web, and spin it around to place it on your website. I have only one advice for you – refrain! This may seem like the easy option, and might even work for some time, but Google’s junk finders are getting smarter by the minute, and you don’t want to be in its path when the wrath unleashes the next time.


9. Be Data-driven While Creating a Content Strategy

This should be the very first point in any marketing strategy, but there’s a reason why I have kept it almost at last. I would use a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference, because this post is about travel, and because Hitchhiker’s is awesome.

“The Answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe and Everything… Is… Forty-two,’ said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” “Forty-two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.

Content Marketing Ideas for Travel Businesses - Know what you are trying to measure


Those that have read the book, would know what I am trying to reference. For others, according to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, the ultimate answer (to life, and universe and everything) is 42. The problem with the answer is that nobody quite knew (or knows) the question.

You can have all the metrics at your disposal, but you have to really know what it is you are trying to measure to make sense of the data.

You have to decide what your goal is – with any strategy. You have to be sure of what you want to do with your content – improve conversions, improve engagement, reduce bounce rates etc.

I quoted this point last, just to drive home the fact that just because all of these campaigns worked in case of the quoted examples, doesn’t mean it would work for you too – so define goals, run campaigns, create content – measure. Change strategy if it doesn’t give you ROI.


 10. Prepare to handle the Negative Impact of Easy Technology

a) First, try to provide the best experience

Super-connected travelers might really boost your reputation by giving you awesome reviews, but sometimes, things might turn the other way round as well. You cannot have dirty bed-sheets and expect that they would not tweet about that, if they can tweet about an awesome cocktail you served the last time they were here. People can be ruthless, and if they pay for an experience, they will not compromise.

b) If you do mess up, take responsibility, and make it right

In service industry, goof-ups happen; somethings are bound to go wrong, people are bound to get pissed off, but you cannot just ignore a negative feedback, and delete it off the website.

You can do that on  your own properties, but not on rented properties, like TripAdvisor, Google reviews and the likes. Not only would your reputation take a hit, if you do that (nothing can be swept under the rug, when people are so incredibly connected socially), but you would see the impact in the search rankings etc. as well, with Google now taking a head first plunge into the travel search industry as well. They display reviews from all of these external websites, and they would show up. You cannot hide them.

c) Monitor and Listen

Instead, what you need to do is keep listening; have your social mention monitoring set up using any of the tools like HootSuite, Mention etc. and listen for what people are talking about you.

d) Have an Appeasement Plan

If something backfires, have a compensatory back-up plan; appease agitated people with something like a complimentary travel kit (depending on the enormity of goof-up), and they would at least have the satisfaction that you are listening, and not ignoring customer grievances.

So, that’s it!

These were a few content marketing ideas for travel and tour businesses to create engagement, traffic, and new sales leads. What are your strategies – are you using content?

Lead Generation Strategy for Travel