SalesTech Star

Getting More out of your Lead Generation Tactics During a Pandemic

By Matt Buchanan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct

When times are good, it’s easy to live high on the hog. Record unemployment, all-time stock market highs, and cheap money are recipes for business success. Marketers look like geniuses when the new customers continue to flow in and the top line keeps climbing up and to the right. But the downside to success that comes so naturally is that it’s easy to lose sight of the key components that dictate successful marketing campaigns. Key executives stop asking difficult questions and a degree of accountability is lost.

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Then, in a moment, everything changes. The business climate shifts dramatically and all of a sudden the faucet slows to a drip. Many companies completely lose their footing and panic. Others get back to asking the tough questions and making sure every dollar they spend on marketing has a measurable return that ensures business profitability and sustained success through challenging times. For those that do survive (and even thrive), when the storm passes they’re left with a stronger company and greater market share.

So how can your local service business weather the storm and gain an advantage over your competitors during these unprecedented times? When it comes to lead generation and getting new customers during a time like this, the name of the game is figuring out how to keep your pipeline full of opportunities without spending a dollar more on marketing. Let’s dive into some best practices and strategies that you can try to help keep the leads flowing, your employees busy and the lights on without spending more on marketing.

In a nutshell:

  • Know Your Numbers
  • Invest In Your CRM And Tracking Tools
  • Lean On Your Existing Customer Base
  • Build Targeted, Personalized Remarketing Campaigns
  • Optimize Your Sales Process

Know Your Numbers

These seem so basic, most marketers will roll their eyes and say ‘well, duh!’, but we speak with dozens of local service businesses every day, totaling thousands upon thousands of conversations annually, and virtually none of them know these basic statistics. That data gap makes decision-making fraught with challenges in the best of times, but it’s typically fatal during difficult times.

Value of a Customer

How much is a customer worth to your business? It’s a factor of the value you are able to charge for your services, and the average number of times a customer will purchase your services. We’ll speak more on how to improve this metric later, but if you don’t know what a customer is actually worth to your business, you don’t won’t know what constitutes success from a marketing perspective, specifically as it relates to key metric #2:

Cost to Acquire a Customer

How much does it cost you to acquire a customer for each marketing channel you utilize? Again, it seems like such an easy question to answer, but when you actually dive into the numbers with local service businesses, you start to realize that whatever data they think they have isn’t accurate. Why? Tracking remains a challenge for most businesses Despite a plethora of tools available to get better tracking on both online and offline marketing, very few businesses invest in these tools, so whatever data they capture is frighteningly inaccurate. And as we mentioned above, too many businesses are making critical decisions based on flawed data.

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Invest In Your CRM And Tracking Tools

If you don’t have a CRM – get one. If you do – make sure you’re getting the most out of it with marketing automation or lead management tools. In a recent study we conducted for local service businesses, we were surprised to learn that 82% of these businesses were using manual methods (pen/paper and spreadsheets) to manage their leads.

If you think about the relationship between a car and its driver, a car has specific capabilities and the driver is going to take stock of those capabilities and decide what to do and where to go based on the needs of the driver. The car alone is valuable, but has no direction or purpose without the driver. The same goes for your CRM, lead management and automation tools. The Car is your CRM, and the Driver is your Marketing Automation and Lead Management tools. Your CRM is meant to capture all interactions and data points from leads and customers at any point during the customer journey, and your lead management and marketing automation tools use that data to help turn it into a platform for profitability.

Here are some of the main benefits we see from investing time and resources in our CRM and tracking tools.

  • Track all critical data points and interactions across teams in one place. Your CRM is only as good as the information you tell it to track and store. Without this part, the rest doesn’t matter. You can set up all the fancy automations you want, but if the data in your CRM isn’t reliable, neither can the automations or management processes you have in place.
  • Understand and invest in what is working in real time. Look at the performance of your marketing channels and determine where budget should be best allocated. It all comes down to volume of leads, and the win rate of those leads turning into customers. Invest more in channels with steady volume and a lower cost per acquisition.
  • Ensure every qualified opportunity is worked. The worst feeling is leaving an opportunity on the table, solely because it got lost in the clutter. Configure your CRM to identify and alert a new opportunity and create a task for someone to action it.
  • Keep sales focused on what matters. All leads are not created equal so leverage the power of your CRM to identify new opportunities that are high priority and more likely to turn into a customer, rather than just taking the calls as they come.
  • Eliminate costly time vampires’. Thi can include things like hunting for contact information, updating incorrect contact data, cleaning up duplicate contacts, digging through contact history for last interaction, having to go ask someone about the last convo they had with a prospect, accidentally calling the same contact as another sales person, and the list goes on…

Lean on Your Existing Customer Base

When we discuss lead generation marketing efforts, most mindshare (and spend) is focused on new customer acquisition. But the reality is that for most local service businesses that have been in business for at least a few years, existing customers make up more than 50% of their annual sales, with well-established businesses seeing 70-80% of their annual sales coming from existing customers.

But despite this reliance on existing customers, very few local service businesses are laser-focused on remarketing to their existing customer base in order to generate leads for additional services. But by leaning on your most valuable asset, happy customers, you can intentionally drive up the lifetime value of a customer and make referrals an even bigger part of your growth.

Build Targeted, Personalized Remarketing Campaigns

When it comes to outbound remarketing, the extent of those efforts is typically a monthly email newsletter. According to Oberlo, 80% of SMBs utilize email marketing for customer retention, but these canned messages don’t really scratch the surface on what’s possible when it comes to driving consistent demand generation from existing customers. Your customers are varied, and each has their own preferred method of communication. But one thing almost all of them have in common is a propensity to respond to marketing that is personalized to them.

Optimize Your Sales Process

Fundamentally, many local SMBs mis-understand what lead generation is and what it isn’t, and because of that, lose sight of their role in the success of any lead generation tactic they employ. As an example, our company generates phone leads for local service businesses. The product we are selling to our clients is a phone call from potential customers, yet 35% of all calls we generate for our clients go unanswered. Yikes! Imagine a pizza restaurant that dropped 1 out of 3 pizzas that came out of the oven onto the floor before it reached the customer’s table. But that type of inefficiency exists in virtually every local service business, and it has profound effects on the efficacy of any lead generation services they are using.

Regardless of the lead generation platforms you’re currently utilizing (or ones you have used in the past), there is a truism to those services:

Some companies have experienced tremendous success with those platforms, and others have struggled mightily. For those in the latter category, it’s very easy to write off that service without any thought as to why competitors see so much success. Remember, lead generation, by definition, is an opportunity for you to convince a potential customer that you are the right choices for their needs. Inherent in that definition is that it’s up to you to close the deal. Some companies are obsessed with doing that better, while others put no thought into what is required to take opportunities and turn them into money. Guess who is going to come out of this pandemic with greater market share and who is likely to go under water?

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Bringing It All Together

These concepts I’ve discussed here aren’t revolutionary, but they are things that can quickly fall down the priorities list when you’re “too busy” to spend the time and resources to make them a priority. If anything, the pandemic has forced us, at Service Direct, to really take a look and focus on what impacted the business the most, and gave us zero margin for error. This lazer focus ultimately helped us prioritize the right things in that moment. We hope to take a rigorous focus and criteria for priorities with us into the future in all aspects of the business. Hopefully this article can help you identify the gaps that your business can focus on during the quarantine, and ultimately create new best practices, tactics and identify new channels that you’ll be able to use to get the most out of your lead generation, regardless of if there is a pandemic or not.

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