Growing a digital marketing agency requires discipline and organization. The transition from a one-person operation to one with dozens of employees means you need to standardize your marketing strategy, and that includes your lead generation.
Every new lead your agency gets must go through a process. Google Sheets and hand-written notes won’t cut it anymore: you need CRM.
A CRM will bridge the gap between your lead generation and your sales efforts. Everybody in your team will know who’s managing which lead and how they are performing. You will be able to track your performance and make improvements with ease.
But to get the best results from it, you need to learn how to use a CRM properly. In this article, you will see how your digital marketing agency can set up a CRM to increase its sales.
Enrich Your Leads
Your leads are more than an email address and a name; they are people with unique attributes. It’s your job to reveal them because the more you know about your leads, the more effective your sales will be.
The process of discovering the human face behind every new lead is called “lead enrichment.” Thanks to it, you can acquire public data from your leads, including their:
- Personal social media accounts
- Personal phone number
- Job position and title
- Business address
- Website address
Thanks to lead enrichment, you don’t have to build long sign up forms where you ask all the mentioned information upfront, which can cause a low conversion rate. Instead, you get this data automatically.
Since Nimble automatically gets a big part of this data for you, this isn’t so much of an issue for those who use it as their CRM of choice.
If you use another CRM that doesn’t come with built-in lead enrichment capabilities, you may have to use a separate—and costly—tool for this purpose, like Clearbit and FullContact.
After you have enriched your leads, use the data you have acquired to engage with them. Consider following the leads in social media, liking, and commenting on their posts. This is especially true if the lead publishes content on LinkedIn, where many influencers publish personal short posts regularly.
As an illustration, if Grammarly’s Founder Max Lytvyn was a lead for your agency, you could use the following opportunity to engage with him.
This work takes some time to work, but it can enhance the relationship with your leads. By the time you approach them with an opportunity, they will be more inclined to communicate with you.
Also, look beyond the data you acquire. Aim to understand the lead’s responsibilities and clout within their organization.
- Who is the lead accountable to?
- Who do they manage?
- What are their goals?
Use this data to position yourself as their trusted advisor, as David H. Maister calls it in his famous book. You want to be someone who looks after them, someone they can trust as if they knew them personally.
Build and Customize Your Sales Pipeline
The design of your sales pipeline—the process that defines how you handle each new lead—plays a critical role in your sales strategy.
All CRMs come with a pre-defined sales pipeline, which often looks like this:
Most sales pipelines work the same—they visualize the steps leads take from the early stages where they show little interest in becoming clients to the point before signing up a contract.
For a digital marketing agency, a sales process will most likely look like this:
- A potential client realizes they need more website traffic.
- They become educated about how they can solve this problem and start evaluating potential agencies to help them.
- They compare agencies focusing on their budget, location, and other factors.
- They ask for proposals.
- They start working with an agency.
To translate this generic sales process to a CRM, a digital marketing agency could organize their pipeline in the following way:
- New opportunity: The lead has signed up for a free gated content piece—e.g., ebook, webinar—or could be a potential target for your outbound sales team.
- Lead qualification: The lead has openly expressed interest in your marketing services, most likely after an introductory call.
- Presentation: Your team has presented a proposal.
- Negotiation: Your sales team is discussing the details of a contract.
- Won: The lead has signed up a contract, officially becoming a client.
After you develop such a pipeline, you need to add each step in your CRM, like in the previous image. While the name you give to each step is unimportant, it does matter that your pipeline adjusts to your own needs. Without a customized sales pipeline, you may undervalue a critical step in your sales process, thus building bottlenecks that lower your sales effectiveness.
Start by breaking down your sales cycle, reviewing the typical process your customers go through. Better yet, analyze past successful sales—what worked, what didn’t, and what patterns erupt from them. From this analysis, you can then deduct the most optimal pipeline for your agency.
Nurture Your Leads with Email Marketing
A digital marketing agency, like many small and medium-sized businesses, needs its sales and marketing teams to work closely together. One way to do so is through the power of email marketing.
A targeted email marketing campaign that answers common questions and delivers value at each stage of your sales cycle will increase your sales team’s effectiveness.
This type of campaign, also known as “lead nurturing,” is within reach of every digital marketer. All it takes is a strong collaboration between your sales and marketing teams.
One DemandGen report found that nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. Another Forrester study found that companies that use lead nurturing campaigns generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.
In order to run a lead nurturing campaign, you need to link your email marketing service provider with your CRM. Some CRM tools already come with email automation capabilities, so if this is the case of your provider, connecting both tools won’t be an issue.
If your CRM provider doesn’t have these capabilities, then you need to connect your email marketing provider with your CRM either through a built-in integration or through an API.
Whatever your case, what matters is that you start creating lead nurturing campaigns.
For each stage, you have defined in your sales cycle, consider adding an automated campaign that answers the most common questions and issues that arise. This will reduce friction and move your leads forward in your sales process, especially in the early stages of your sales cycle where trust is an issue, and FUDs—fear, uncertainties, and doubts—abounds.
Soon after I filled a quiz for a strategy session—i.e., an introductory sales call—from a leading Australian digital marketing agency, I got the email below.
The sales rep followed up with me using a short and concise email. He even used scarcity to push for me to take the next step. This type of email is what a digital marketing agency can use to persuade each lead to move along the pipeline.
Here are some ideas you should consider for your lead nurturing campaigns:
- After downloading an ebook, send a sequence that expands on the topic, remarks your value proposition, and explains how your digital marketing agency solves the problem explored in it.
- After sending a proposal, follow up when you don’t hear back, adding scarcity in the way (e.g., tell them you can only take a certain number of clients per month).
- Before signing up a contract, send case studies and other data that prove the value of your services.
Your CRM is like the quarterback of your lead generation efforts. As a digital marketing agency owner, you can’t allow yourself to misuse it.
With the ideas shared above, your productivity and sales effectiveness will rise, putting your energies in generating more leads and closing them.