In football, the distance between the 20-yard line and the goal is called the red zone. Similarly, leads enter sales and marketing’s red zone when it’s clear that they are evaluating a product or service and are very likely to purchase.
Investing disproportionately in such lower-funnel leads is a powerful way to increase sales, take business from the competition, and improve sales and marketing productivity.
Heating Up Leads In The Red Zone
For this analysis, let’s assume red zone leads have an 80% or greater likelihood to close as a win for you—or slide to a competitor. When you stop and analyze leads that have reached this stage, you’ll find that you’ve made a substantial investment in campaigns, media, content, and sales resources. If these leads don’t convert, that investment is wasted, and the cost needs to be absorbed by the leads that do close. For a B2B lead, this cost could be hundreds of dollars.
Many consumer categories, such as furniture, auto insurance, computers, and fashion have high costs as well. Ecommerce leads are often time-sensitive, so reacting quickly to those stuck leads is equally important.
The way to improve lead conversion in the red zone is to deeply understand the customer journey and remove the barriers to a purchase. Engaging with highly meaningful, relevant messages on a timely basis is the key.
Here are five ways to improve red zone lead conversion:
1. Content in context: You’ve invested in world-class content; now’s the time to take advantage of this asset. Think about evidence that confirms to customers that they are making the right choices. Testimonials, case studies, independent reviews, customer reviews, offers, quality, and feature articles are persuasive and authentic ways to engage and tip the scales in favor of your product.
2. Predictive analytics: Use prior sales data to identify the best leads in your pipeline and invest in one more sales touch, remarketing, or trigger-based campaigns to convert these leads. Don’t ignore the group that falls below, however; here’s where win/loss analysis provides you with the insight to deliver a targeted message to these groups. For a price-sensitive prospect, make a compelling offer or propose a product bundle to preserve margins. If you are losing sales to the same competitor, send a hard-hitting message with your product benefits.
3. Simplify the transaction: Ecommerce merchants know the products that existing customers have bought, plus the shipping and payment data. Be sure customers know how easy it is to complete that online order: let them know the product is in stock, etc. That last push can be a tipping point. Review shopping cart data frequently.
- Path analysis: This is an invaluable tool to understanding a red zone lead. Tag your site well and know when the customer is signaling an imminent purchase. Design the user experience to bring customers to that conversion spot.
- Online chat: Alert the prospects that you are there to help them navigate the last mile of this transaction.
4. Know the B2B buyer unit: Knowing the economic buyer is important, but many a deal is delayed or lost when you don’t fully understand the buying cycle. Most business purchases involve multiple stakeholders. Line of business leaders, IT, finance, and procurement all weigh in on a deal. Ensure you have a purchase contract, that you’ve covered payment terms with procurement, and make sure that you’ve armed your internal champion with case studies, pricing, a clear SOW with specific deliverables and expected ROI. In the red zone, RFPs, pricing, and clarifying terms give sales the best opportunity to win the deal.
5. Personalize the appeal: Use every bit of insight that you have to personalize your message. By the time a customer is in the red zone, you have data that can be used to aid the buyer in her journey. Tone and manner are important; authenticity is the key to delivering a message that encourages someone to buy without being heavy-handed.
Digital marketing, analytics, and personalization are tools for the modern marketer to win the hearts and minds of your sales partners. To maximize impact, start by prioritizing leads in the red zone for results with both short- and long-term benefits.