Ask any company owner what they want to get out of their online marketing, and chances are they’ll tell you the same thing: “Leads”.
What kind of leads?
What they generally mean is leads who are serious about buying, and easy to convert quickly – otherwise known as ‘hot leads’.
But is it possible that, if you have limited resources, these aren’t actually the best kind of leads to go for?
I know, it sounds crazy, so bear with me here.
Let’s take a step back.
When trying to attract new clients, it is important to understand just how they make the decision to buy your product or service.
Most of them don’t wake up one morning and decide, out of the blue, that today they are going to buy what you are offering.
Rather, they go through a psychological process (sometimes called a “buyer’s journey”), in which their awareness of their problem, and their desire to fix it, gradually increases.
At the bottom end, we have “cold leads”. These are people who are aware they have a problem and are disturbed by it, but are not yet looking for a solution. They don’t know what the solution is – they may not even know their problem has a solution! – and they certainly don’t know you.
A bit further down the line, some of these people might start looking into solutions. We call these “warm leads”. They are actively investigating a wide range of options and are interested in how they work.
They are probably aware of you, and may even be past clients.
At the very top of the scale we have “hot leads” – those who know exactly what solution they’re looking for, they just haven’t decided who is going to provide it. They are actively comparing providers, looking at prices, investigating availability and reading up case studies and testimonials about the companies they are considering.
Almost universally, companies tend to target “hot leads”. They talk a lot about the details of their product or service and why they’re best qualified to deliver it, try to rank for those services on Adwords and send their email lists heavily promotional messages, meant to elicit immediate sales.
The problem is that although “hot leads” are closest to making a decision, they are also spending a lot of time investigating other options – and so are very fickle. Add to that the fact that there are relatively few of them, that they don’t really know you and are being targeted by your competitors, and your chances of converting them are even at best.
In an ideal marketing system, you should find ways of targeting leads at all three levels of awareness.
But if you have limited resources, go for the warm ones, and nurture them until they become ‘hot’.
In fact, the biggest business opportunities lie with the cold and warm leads. If you can catch them early, before they have started comparing companies, your chances of converting them rise dramatically. They’ll never even look at your competition, because they’ve already developed a relationship with you.