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Lead Qualification 101: How to Capture, Qualify and Close Sales Leads on Autopilot (Case Study)

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Everyone wants traffic, but few know how to get it. That was the hypothesis behind Growth Machine, the SEO-focused content marketing agency I started in September 2017, and have since grown to over $1m ARR.

Like Sleeknote, we’ve been using in-depth articles to acquire customers. After all, a content marketing agency can’t have weak content.

But I wasn’t particularly happy with the number of leads we were getting from our articles. They might be read by a few thousand people, but we’d only see one or two inquiries come from it.

I suspected that there were two things hurting us:

  1. People arriving on the blog might not know why they should contact us.
  2. Our calls-to-action (CTAs) suggesting they reach out were weak unless they went to our homepage.

Around the same time, I stumbled upon Sleeknote via their blog while researching e-commerce marketing content for our clients and one of our internal projects. I was impressed with how clean their popups looked, and how unobtrusive the teasers were, so I decided to give them a shot.

Over the next few months, the SleekBoxes I created led to over $100,000 in new revenue, and they continue to be one of the best lead capturing channels for our business.

If you run an agency or are involved in any kind of sales process, here’s exactly how you can set up an automated system like the one that’s been working so well for us.

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Get access to our free CRO toolkit and skyrocket your organic traffic, on-page conversion rate and more (includes resources not found in the blog post).

Finding a Compelling Offer

The first challenge was to figure out what I could engage readers with that would be interesting to them.

I didn’t want everyone to sign up—the goal was lead generation, not list building, remember—but I wanted the right people to go, “Oooh yes, I want this.”

The biggest problem we solve at Growth Machine is helping blogs get more search traffic from their existing articles. Starting a blog from scratch is a long, slow process, and we can get much faster results for clients that have already put some work into their site. They’re also more likely to see how difficult good content marketing is and appreciate our expertise.

So I focused our CTA on what I’d seen work for the homepage: telling people we can double their blog traffic. I plugged some basic copy into a SleekBox with fields for the user’s URL and email, and we were ready to go.

That’s not hyperbole, by the way. It’s our core offering, and we’ve more than doubled the blog traffic for many clients we’ve worked with, like this client we took from 1.3M monthly visitors to 2.75M in three months:

What’s great about setting up the SleekBox in this way is that all I need to do to quickly figure out whether a site could be getting significantly more search traffic is visit their URL, and then contact them if they qualify.

If they look like they could be getting much more from their articles, they’d be a great potential client. If they’re too early and it doesn’t look like we can do much with their content yet, I can redirect them to another product like our course.

I didn’t want to have to manually manage any part of the process, though, so once the SleekBox was designed and plugged into our site, I got to work automating it.

Automating and Managing the Lead Funnel

My goal with this kind of lead generation was to be able to quickly respond to new inquiries, see if they’re a good fit, and send them to the right place on our site if they aren’t.

To do that, I wanted an easy set of steps to follow whether or not they could be good clients for us, and that would let me talk to them as soon as possible while they were most interested.

The first step was to make sure I knew as soon as soon as a new lead came in. Sleeknote integrates with Zapier meaning I get notified immediately as soon as a lead arrives. Then I can email them within minutes if it’s during business hours.

I hooked my SleekBox up to Zapier, and set the new leads to get sent three places:

  1. Salesforce
  2. Slack
  3. Drip

Here’s how it works:

First, a SleekBox captures a new lead on our site.

Next, that lead’s information is created in Salesforce, with a task for me to reach out to them. This way I can keep all of their data in one places as they move through the funnel.

At the same time, I get a notification in Slack that I have a new lead, including a link to where I can see them in Salesforce:

And in the background, that new lead gets added to the Growth Machine email list in Drip, so I can send them future articles and other materials. Here’s what the whole Zap looks like:

Once I get one of those notifications in Slack, I can quickly hop into Salesforce and check out the site of the new lead to figure out if they’re leaving some SEO juice on the table.

If they are, then I can drop in an email template that I have saved in Salesforce:

Hey {{{Recipient.FirstName}}},

My name’s Nat, I run Growth Machine. Thanks for filling out the form on our site!

I took a look through your site and there’s a lot you could do to get more traffic to your existing content. You have [A FEW HUNDRED / A FEW DOZEN] pages that are close to being in strong first-page positions that could rank higher with the right tweaks, like your pages on PAGES HERE

Want to grab a time to chat about it in the next week?

[CALENDLY LINK]Best,

Nat

And if it looks like they’re too early in their journey, or they’re a bad fit for us, then I can easily send them one of our rejection templates, like this one:

Hi {{{Recipient.FirstName}}},

My name’s Nat, I run Growth Machine. Thanks for filling out the form on our site!

I took a look at {{{Recipient.Company}}} and it doesn’t look like it would be a good fit for our content marketing service. There isn’t enough traffic coming to the site right now for us to be able to do our best work.

But, if you wanted to explore content marketing more on your own, I’d recommend checking out our course: http://learn.yourgrowthmachine.com/p/content-machine. That’ll give you a great overview of how you could start publishing content that’ll bring you a lot more search traffic.

Let me know if I can be of any help!

Best,

Nat

In the first case, I’m very quickly following up with them about their interest and can usually get a phone call on the calendar for the next few days.

In the second case, I’m letting them know they’re not a good fit, but still offering to be helpful and showing them a way they can pursue this on their own.

Most companies that I tell are too early for us take the feedback really well, are curious to learn more, and in one case so far they’ve followed back up after six months when they were more able to work with us. And of the ones that don’t, some convert to buying our course, so even though they don’t make sense as agency clients, they can still be good customers.

Editors’ Note

To learn how to create a contact SleekBox for your site, watch the video below:

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Conversion Rate Optimization Strategies?

Get access to our free CRO toolkit and skyrocket your organic traffic, on-page conversion rate and more (includes resources not found in the blog post).

Results

We’ve been running this SleekBox experiment for a few months, and the results have been great.

First off, we’ve brought in an additional 86 leads that we might not otherwise have heard from. Conversion on our blog pages was always weak, but by adding the SleekBox we’re seeing around a 1.5% conversion rate to asking for a site audit.

That might seem low, but I only want somewhat qualified people filling out the form, so I’m fine with a lower conversion rate. Again, this is for lead generation, not list building, so you can’t compare your results to list building related metrics.

But most importantly, we’ve managed to close five different clients who first contacted us through Sleeknote, each of them for 5-figure contracts spanning 3+ months.

If you’re involved in sales for an agency or another business with a sales cycle, there’s almost certainly a way you could be using a similar method to rapidly qualify and reach out to new leads for your business if you’re not already.

Are you using an automated system like this to capture and engage new leads from your site? Let me know in the comments below!

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