22 Jun

5 Ways Lead Scoring Can Increase ROI & Produce Better Customers

Lead scoring is one of the most popular — and valuable — marketing automation features. Despite being a little time-consuming and difficult to setup, the potential it has to improve your business is virtually limitless.

If you’ve never heard of lead scoring before, here’s the basic idea:

Once you recruit a new lead, it enters a system that basically ranks the prospect based on its likelihood to perform a specific conversion. The score the system gives each lead is usually founded on a set of guidelines drawn up by you, which are based off of the characteristics of your highest-performing leads from past conversions.

The scores given by the system, if you draw up the guidelines correctly, are often very accurate reflectors of whether or not a lead will convert. These scores are therefore incredibly useful to your sales team, and can be used to accomplish several other things in your business (as we’ll cover later on in the post).

It’s a neat marketing tool that’s pretty much indispensable to any small business with a significant inflow of leads. Thankfully, it’s also a rather common feature that’s available in nearly all marketing automation tools, like Marketo, Ontraport, Infusionsoft, and most others.

If you want a detailed guide to setting up and using lead scoring, Marketo has produced an excellent one here. This post, however, is focused mainly on the different ways scoring leads can improve a business, and the many benefits it brings to the table.

Let’s get into it.

1. Find the Right Leads to Focus On


Image credit: Mark Hunter

Once you’ve setup lead scoring, every new lead that enters your system will now be scored based on the qualifications you have set. After your lead has interacted a bit with your website, the system will be able to gauge how likely they are to convert into the next stage of your sales process.

This allows you to instantly see which leads, based on their scores, are actually worth your time. Then, you can concentrate your marketing efforts and follow-ups on those particular leads, rather on cold, uninterested leads that are unlikely to convert.

Another thing you can do is setup automation flows specific to your highest-scoring leads.

For instance, if your best leads normally exhibit serious intent towards becoming a customer, you could setup an automation flow for your highest-rated leads that cut out a couple of the lead nurturing steps that are reserved for more lukewarm prospects. This could bring your hot leads much closer to the first sale in much less time.

By focusing your time and effort on the leads that are most likely to become an actual customers, you’ll skyrocket your team’s productivity and ROI.

2. Identify the Origins of Your Hottest Leads

Once a decent amount of new prospects has passed through your lead scoring system, you’ll begin to notice trends and patterns peculiar to your highest scoring leads.

One important trend to consider is the origin of the leads. By comparing the scores of leads recruited from various sources, you’ll determine the traffic channels through which your most valuable leads find your site.

Lead scoring will allow you to determine things like the following:

  • quality of leads from Google Adwords vs. Yahoo! ads
  • quality of leads from your blog vs. referral content sources
  • quality of leads from Pinterest vs. Facebook

Let’s take a look at another example.

Suppose that leads generated from links to your website on high-traffic blogs in your industry receive much higher scores relative to ones that come through your own blog content. This tells you that you should focus on building relationships with those high-traffic blogs, so that you’re able to channel their targeted, high-conversion audience to your own site.

The result: more leads of high quality, and fewer of low quality.

3. Decrease Campaign Costs

Since you can use lead scoring to determine the traffic channels that are sending you the most qualified prospects with high conversion rates, by the same token you can also use it identify the channels that send you low quality leads with low conversion rates.

You can sift away the “bad” traffic channels and limit or even completely cut off the amount of money and time you invest in them.

Plus, when you cut spending on less productive traffic sources, you’ll find yourself with more funds to infuse into the channels that do produce high scoring leads. Soon enough, you’ll be maintaining your desired level of quality lead generation or even surpassing it, with just a fraction of the initial cost.

4. Find out How to Best Nurture Your Leads


Image credit: D Sharon Pruitt

Another benefit lead scoring can bring to your business is showing you how your high quality leads interact with your site.

Once you recognize your most valuable leads, you can track how they move around and engage with your site. You can answer questions like:

  • do quality leads interact with my business more on social media, or on your blog?
  • are they more likely to use email, chat, or phone to get in touch with us?
  • on which social networks do they connect with my business the most?

This information will tell you what works for your marketing and what doesn’t. You’ll be able to determine what content types, support channels, social networks, etc. your target audience is most keen on.

You can then use that knowledge to restrict your focus and funds into the content formats and networks that your best-performing leads actually want to engage with.

5. Align Marketing & Sales

Marketing and sales departments are notorious for constantly being at odds with one another. Quite often, you’ll find that your marketing folk will advise you one way of a lead’s quality, while your sales personnel will have a completely opposite opinion.

Cara Hogan from Insight Squared words it perfectly in a succinct quote:

Without lead scoring, a rep will decide a lead is garbage and refuse to work it, but marketing will argue that the lead is perfectly good and the rep should keep working it.

Such squabbles between marketing and sales are rather silly when you think about it. After all, the two departments both have a singular goal: increase revenue. So why the quarreling?

In short, it’s usually because marketing has one opinion of what makes up a quality lead, and sales has a completely different opinion.

So when marketing recruits on a high quality lead (scored according to their own standards) and passes it on to sales, there’s a strong chance that sales won’t be as enthusiastic about the probability of the conversion because they have their own grading system to evaluate leads.

The solution is, once again, lead scoring.

Bring your marketing and sales departments together and get them to put forth their ideas as to what a quality lead does and doesn’t look like. Then, combine the ideas to produce a set of well-defined parameters for lead quality that both parties are happy with. Use the criteria to setup your lead scoring system, and voila. No more arguing. Marketing & sales are now happily working in tandem, focused on the right leads.


There’s no doubting that lead scoring systems are often time-consuming to setup. Not only do you have to first come up with and implement scoring guidelines that both your marketing and sales departments are happy with (as we covered above), but you also need to already have a database of quality leads to look at so you have a basic idea of what makes up a quality lead for your business.

But once you do get a system in place, there’s no end to the improvements it can bring. Any one of the five benefits of lead scoring I’ve outlined above will significantly improve your business efficiency and work to bring you better, higher quality customers that are worth more in the long run.

So, how do you use lead scoring to improve your business? What kinds of boosts have you experienced as a result? Share in the comments below!

Featured image credit: Stuart Miles

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29 May

Content Marketing & Automation – 5 Reasons Why It’s A Match Made in Heaven

It was a long time ago that content acquired its place as a pillar of every online marketing campaign. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, and it doesn’t even matter what audience you’re targeting: in this day and age, if you want your marketing to succeed, you need content.

Something that’s become far more recent, however, is the integration of content with marketing automation. Marketing automation really only took off in the late 2000’s, and for the most part the whole idea was reserved mainly to upgrade customer management, sales cycles, and email.

Your everyday marketing content — blogs, white papers, infographics, etc. — was never really a very important part of the plan.

The past few years, however, have proved that everything is changing.

You see, in the years before, content was less evergreen. It was viewed as more of a one-and-done type of thing. You put out some content, allow it to have its day in the limelight, then watch it slowly plummet into the abyss of the oversupply of information that is the Internet, just as soon as you publish your next piece.

Today, the process is completely different.

Each piece of content you publish has so much more potential. Social media, syndication, search engines, and an explosion in the number and types of distribution channels have unlocked a whole new set of possibilities.

So now, your competitors are realizing that their content can get them a lot more bang per buck than ever before. If you want to outdo them, you need to use every available tool to maximize your content’s potential.

And what’s the best way to do that?

Marketing automation.

The two are a match made in heaven. Behind every successful marketing campaign is content, and marketing automation will help you leverage the potential of each piece of content to the utmost.

Whether it’s a blog post, a how-to guide, or a research report, marketing automation will help your content to attract more visitors and convert more of your leads.

Not yet convinced?

To prove my point, I’ll give you 5 ultra-specific ways that you can combine content and unique marketing automation tools to get more leads, more sales, and ultimately more revenue.

1. Incentivize User Information Submission

User information is the lifeblood of any marketing campaign. It’s currency. It’s the gold standard. Gaining customer information is pretty much THE goal of any piece of content you’ll ever publish.

The only thing you want visitors to do really after going through your content (besides directly becoming a customer) is to hop on to a landing page, give you their info and join your email list.

Marketing automation will help you to achieve that goal more efficiently than ever.

There are several different ways it does so, but the dominant idea behind the majority of them is giving users an incentive to give you their contact information.

One company that truly rocks such a strategy is KISSmetrics. On their blog, KISSmetrics regularly releases comprehensive, super-detailed marketing guides. Their most recent one is on Facebook marketing. Before you can download the guide however, you’re required to fill in a short form (pictured below) that asks a few questions about your location.

Content Marketing Automation

Ordinarily, if you’re a new up-and-coming startup, this landing page isn’t likely to be very effective, because few people will be willing to take the time to fill out an entire form just to access one piece of content.

However, KISSmetrics has already built up a marketing blog with a legendary reputation. As a result, their visitors are often already familiar with the value of KISSmetrics’s content, so the have absolutely no problem with spending the few extra seconds necessary to gain access to more of it.

It’s a perfect example of content and automation working together to acquire more user information.

2. Segment Content Based on User Tastes

A second way marketing automation will improve your content’s effectiveness is through segmentation.

While it’s highly important that you try to focus your content as much as possible to your target audience (or better yet, your buyer persona), it’s unrealistic to assume that every piece of content you put out will be relevant to every visitor it attracts.

That’s why you need to try your best to ensure that your leads get redirected to the content that they are most likely to find useful.

The best way to do that?

Segmenting your content.

One company that does this extremely well is Wishpond (check out a full rundown on their dynamic content strategy here).

Wishpond blog flow

Wishpond’s blog traffic flow.

One way they segment their content for their users is by sector. After their leads submit info about what sector they are in, the leads are then plugged into a flow of content, case studies, and landing pages personalized to their industry until they convert.

All this happens completely automatically. The system brings Wishpond more conversions and brings them ever closer to maximizing the effectiveness of their content.

Another popular, completely hands-off segmentation strategy is self-select. Instead of putting your visitors through a pre-determined funnel, you allow your users to carve their own path through your content (with aids along the way that allow them to pinpoint exactly what they want to view). Over time, the content they’re shown becomes biased towards the browsing trends they’ve previously displayed.

3. Built-in SEO

When crafting your next piece of content, it’s pretty easy to forget the optimization stage in the process. Most marketing automation vendors, such as Hubspot and Marketo, offer features that basically build SEO right into the writing process.

Hubspot, for example, gently reminds you to mix in keywords and internal links as you type.


Hubspot’s as-you-type optimization.

Marketo takes it a step further and peruses your written content, compares it to that of your competitor’s, and lets you know about potential inbound link opportunities. That way, not only do you not forget the outreach stage of your promotion process, but you’ll also often be able to pick up a few extra links, adding substantial weight to your content’s rankings in the SERPs.

4. Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is an important indication of the quality of a lead. Every now and then, it can produce an unrepresentative/errant view of the virtue of a lead, but more often than not, it’s still an effective way of identifying the hottest prospects with the most potential.

When you combine content & marketing automation, you can really begin to take lead scoring to the next level.

You can go far beyond generic scoring criteria — like job title, budget, demographics — and begin to score leads based on the actions they take.

For instance, the amount of time they spend viewing your content, the variety and quantity of content viewed, the amount of engagement they’ve shown (social media plugs, comments), and other user activities can all be taken into account.

Incorporating these measures into your scoring system will help you to evaluate the value of your leads more accurately.

5. Measure Content Performance — then Capitalize on What Works

Tracking your content’s performance is a huge part of your marketing. It basically tells you whether or not what you’re doing is working.

If you don’t track your content, the most likely result will be an overexpenditure on creating content that simply doesn’t resonate with your audience. You also run the risk of building up your brand image to the wrong audience; an audience that simply won’t convert.

When results are a priority, tracking is a must.

However, the performance metrics I’m talking aren’t simply the number of visits your content generates, or even the number of conversions it does. Those metrics by themselves, while they have their value, are far too basic to get any comprehensive overview of the performance of a single content piece.


Image credit: Blue Fountain Media via Flickr

Instead, get into more of the nitty-gritty stuff: visitor geography, heat/click maps, visitor flow, conversions, social media shares, comments (including the positivity/negativity of the comments), keyword rankings vs. competitor content, etc..

After publishing and comparing enough content, you’ll begin to notice visitor patterns and trends that will inform you about your audience’s tastes and preferences.

For instance, you might find that white papers are more appropriate for your industry than eBooks. Or, you might discover that leads acquired from case studies are generally closer to the ultimate sales conversion that leads obtained from blog posts.

Whatever your analysis reveals, use the results to guide your content strategy.

Achieving Content Marketing Nirvana with Automation

Automation is truly the future of content marketing. Not only will it bring you closer to 100% maximization of content ROI; but automation will also do the following:

  • help you to obtain information about your hottest, most sales-ready leads that you can then apply in other areas of your marketing/sales strategy
  • help you to identify what content works for your brand and your industry
  • make a significant portion content promotion process hands-off, saving you huge amounts of time in the long run

So basically: more ROI, more time to work on other areas of your business, and more marketing potential. Win-win-win.

With automation, content marketing nirvana is a lot closer than you thought.

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24 Apr

12 Ways to Grow Your Agency or Consulting Service Using Marketing Automation

Through running Venture Harbour, I’ve experienced many of the challenges that come with running a consulting agency.

Whether your biggest challenge is generating new leads, converting them, managing clients, or retaining them, there are plenty of ways that marketing automation software can take some of the weight off of your shoulders.


In this post I want to share twelve specific ways that you can use marketing automation to streamline your consulting service. First of all, though, you need to have the right tools for the job.

Which tool is best for agencies & consultants?

While most marketing automation tool vendors claim to serve all types of businesses, the reality is that some tools are better suited to certain types of businesses than others.

As an agency or consultant, you’ll want to be particularly mindful of:

  • How much will the software cost for your current number of contacts, and the number of contacts you expect to have in one, two, and three years time.
  • Will the software integrate with your existing CRM, accounting, and project management software?
  • Will you have the ability to create sub-accounts for clients?

While our free tool finder can help you narrow down the right tool for your business, there are likely to be three options worth considering:

  • Ontraport – By far the most affordable and scalable marketing automation tool. With no setup fees, and the ability to have 100,000’s of contacts for a fraction of what other tools would charge, Ontraport’s one of the most popular choices for consultants.
  • Infusionsoft – With over 15,000 clients and 50,000 users, Infusionsoft are the most popular marketing automation provider for small businesses. Their platform is beautifully designed and has better integration with third-party tools than Ontraport. With similar pricing to Ontraport, they’re also a very affordable option for agencies and consultants.
  • Hubspot – Hubspot are perhaps the best-known vendor in the small business automation space. While their product is very well-designed, I find it rather expensive compared to the two options above. While their entry package costs $200/month, this is only for a maximum of 100 contacts. To put it into comparison, Hubspot charge $2,400/month for 10,000 contacts, while Ontraport charge $297/month for 25,000 contacts.

With an idea of which software might be best for your agency, let’s move on to how automation can help you scale and grow your consulting services.

I’ve divided the following twelve tips into four sections: attracting clients, converting clients, managing clients, and retaining clients.

Attracting Clients

Marketing automation software is no silver bullet for opening the floodgates on client leads, but it can free up a lot of time by automating parts of your lead generation strategy.

1. Automate your content marketing strategy

Most agencies and consultants plug away by sporadically posting blog posts and the occasional white paper, in the hope that potential clients will stumble across them and get in contact.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but imagine the following scenario:

  • A potential lead reads a blog post on your site on how to generate press coverage.
  • They leave a comment, providing you with their name & email address.
  • An automated (personalized) email is sent to them about your PR services.
  • They explain that they’re not ready to become a client for another 3-4 months.
  • The automation software puts them into a ‘nurturing sequence’ that sends bi-weekly emails educating them on the benefits of an external PR service, what to consider, and other tips on generating PR coverage.
  • After 3 months, an automated follow-up email is sent asking if they’d be ready to arrange a call to discuss your PR services.

If you also offered social media marketing, content marketing, and SEO services you could create custom nurturing sequences for each service. Whether you had 5, 50, or 500 leads in the pipeline, they would all be dealt with in this way.

This laser-targeted approach means that content is re-purposed in an intelligent way to increase the likelihood of leads converting with you.

2. Automate social media posting

One of the easiest and most obviously automatable aspect of your online marketing strategy is your social media posting strategy.

I won’t go into whether social media should or shouldn’t be automated here, as that’s an article for another day. Assuming that you are open to the idea of at least automating certain aspects of your social strategy, how can it be done?

Social automation tools

One option is to use a combination of tools like IFTTT, Buffer, and Feedly to automatically gather potential blog posts to share and schedule them. You could even throw Snip.ly into the mix to add a call-to-action from any articles you share, driving traffic back to your site.

Certain marketing automation tools offer a more elegant approach, whereby you can set up automatic alerts for things you might want to share, and then automatically share / schedule them through your various accounts.

3. Make your blog content dynamic

Last week, James Scherer from Wishpond.com wrote a great post about how Wishpond.com use marketing automation software to display dynamic blog content to their visitors based on each user’s previous history on the site.

For example, when a visitor downloads a whitepaper on the Wishpond website they have to fill out which sector they’re in. If someone mentions that they’re in the real estate sector, a cookie will be dropped onto their computer, which ensures that when they revisit the Wishpond site they will see content related to real estate marketing.

Wishpond blog flow

Needless to say, this increase in relevancy results in an increase in leads.

For an agency with several different services, you could replicate this strategy by only showing content relevant to what a visitor is interested in, or for where they are in the buying cycle.

Converting Clients

Having a constant stream of leads is not always as good as it seems. If your leads are low quality, you can end up wasting valuable time trying to qualify them.

One of them most valuable aspects of automation software for agencies, in my opinion, is in automating your lead qualification process, as it enables you to remove human error and time wasted on low-qualify leads.

4. Automate drip campaigns for lead nurturing

What do you do when you receive a lead that isn’t sales-ready, but could be in several months? You put them into a drip campaign.

Drip campaign

As the name suggests, drip campaigns work by sending your leads a pre-built sequence of emails over a certain time, with the aim of nurturing them to become sales-ready.

5. Reduce your response times

A study from Harvard found that companies are seven times more likely to qualify a lead when they respond to enquiries within an hour, compared to those that responded even an hour later — and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.

Response times

Despite this, most companies are unintentionally slow to respond. This is another instance where automation can make human error obsolete, by creating sequences that respond to all leads that match certain criteria within an hour of receiving an enquiry.

6. Don’t waste time qualifying leads

Most leads are, sadly, a waste of time. The difficulty is in knowing which ones are wasteful and which ones aren’t.

Using lead scoring, you can pre-qualify all of your leads to ensure that your team only spend time on the leads with the highest value or likelihood to convert.

Lead scoring

Managing Clients

In this section, we’ll walk through some of the ways that marketing automation can help with the day-to-day operations of running an agency and managing clients.

7. Automate client payments & late paying follow-ups

Where possible, you should aim for prevention over cure with late payments.

One of the best preventative measures for this is to simply use a recurring billing service that sets up an automated direct debit agreement with your client’s bank or credit card.


Recurly is a great service, and integrates with most marketing automation providers.

If, on the other hand, you’re invoicing your clients manually using a service like Freshbooks or Xero, you can create automated email sequences that automatically follows up with clients if invoices are still unpaid after certain time intervals.

8. Automating the client on-boarding process

When a new client comes on board, you’ll likely need a number of things from them to get up and running.

Whether it’s Google Analytics access, brand guidelines, or details of your point of contact, these things can eat into time that you could be using to get some early momentum. So, how can we automate the on-boarding process?

After speaking with a friend who runs a large digital agency in London, I discovered the client on-boarding survey.

Using SurveyMonkey, this agency would send every new client a survey that asked for all of the important information the agency needed, along with a checklist containing points such as ‘Have you granted Google Analytics access to the following email addresses’.

Client survey

By asking each client to complete the survey as soon as they signed the contract, they were able to reduce client onboarding time significantly, while also eliminating the need to send tens of project kick-off emails back and forth in the early stages of the project.

Thanks to SurveyMonkey’s API integration, they were also able to automatically store all of the survey data for each client into their CRM. It would be very easy to then use this data to set up automation sequences designed to educate and nurture clients.

9. Automate regular contact

It’s important to check-in with clients once in a while to ask if there are any events coming up that would be useful knowing about, or even just to see how happy they are with your services.

Sending these ‘check-in emails’ is easy with three or four clients, but what about when you get to 10, 20, or 50 clients? Once again, automation is the answer.

Retaining Clients

If you ask any agency or consultant what the number one reason for losing clients is, they tend to say the same thing: poor communication. Below are some of the ways that you can use marketing automation to reduce losing clients due to communication issues.

10. Automate NPS / Survey Data Collection

Several weeks ago I came across an interesting case study by Mention.com, explaining how they reduced user churn by 50% using an automated sequence that gathered Net Promoter Score (NPS) feedback after a free trial ended:

NPS email

Then, based on the user’s feedback, they triggered another set of automated emails depending on the user’s answer.

NPS automation

What I like about this case study is how it makes NPS feedback actionable. Many companies send NPS surveys to find out how satisfied their customers are, but too often this survey data is not acted upon.

For agencies and consultants, you could easily recreate a similar process to identify which clients are happier than others, and what actions need to be taken to nurture unhappy / neutral clients.

11. Automate contract renewal

When it comes to improving client retention, the best long-term strategy is to deliver more value and ROI to clients. That said, it helps to have contracts in place that are built with retention in mind.

Contract clause

While auto-renewing contracts aren’t particularly revolutionary, they are important. Where you can get a little bit creative is in using automation to set up internal reminders about upcoming contract renewals.

When a client is reaching a contract renewal point, you’ll want to make sure you have project plans and results to hand to convince clients to stick around.

12. Automate the personal touches

I want to wrap this post up with something quite controversial and counter-intuitive; automating the personal touches. Let me explain with an example.

Isn’t it nice when you receive a handwritten letter or note with something you ordered online?

What if you could automate handwritten notes?

A company called MailLift, who integrate with all major marketing automation tools, offer this exact service – with every letter being handwritten by a real person on beautiful cotton paper.


What about automatically sending client’s a gift on their birthday? At Venture Harbour, we experimented with this by adding a ‘birth date’ field in our client on-boarding survey, which automatically updated our CRM and sent alerts two weeks prior a client’s birthday.

While it may seem contradictory to automate these things, the reality is that if we don’t create nudges to ensure that they happen consistently, human error gets in the way. As your schedule gets busier, where do you think sending your clients birthday gifts will fall on your to-do list?

Eliminating human error in consulting

In Peter Drucker’s famous book ‘The Effective Executive’, he says that companies should embrace technology that makes existing processes more efficient.

Marketing automation has the potential to distract you with fancy features, or help you grow your business by eliminating human error, improving consistency, and increasing the amount of communication with leads and clients – without the need for extra staff.

I hope this post has helped you identify how marketing automation might be able to help you grow your agency or consulting service. As always, if you have any questions feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.

Image Credit: Philippe Lewicki

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14 Apr

How Wishpond.com Automated Their Marketing Blog for Extra Conversions

The most valuable part of a lead’s identity isn’t their name or email address, it’s what they care about.

Over the past couple months, we’ve been implementing a content-focused automation strategy at Wishpond, enabling us to show personalized blog content to each visitor based on what they care about.

Wishpond marketing automation

We all know that being able to deliver content that our leads are actually interested in is the basis of intelligent marketing and an optimized nurturing strategy. While many businesses are already doing this with email by integrating their CRM with email automation funnels, few are doing it elsewhere.

Let’s start simple

Everything in this article is built off a simple understanding: because of the developments in Javascript, Liquid, and cookie technology, our blogs (and websites) can be altered for each visitor based on information automatically delivered to the back end.

Who they are, what they care about, and how they prefer to consume content affects how our readers interact with our blog. Their actions and the information they give us are also used to affect how our blog interacts with them in return.

A quick breakdown to remind all of us how this works:

  • Someone visits our site for the first time and a cookie is automatically attached to their browser.
  • Our CRM collects the data from that cookie and creates an identity for them.
  • As they interact with our site their identity is updated based on pages they visit, information they give us, and any number of other actions/events which they take.
  • We can manually influence the labelling of leads/traffic by specifying certain actions/events which we deem important (the visiting of our pricing page, for instance).
  • We can manually influence the identity of our leads based on a specific series of actions/events they take (heading from specific blog articles to our product page to our pricing page, for instance).


Their individual cookies trigger changes in the script of our website and blog, which can affect the look of it, the things we offer, and the way in which we promote our content and brand.

How Wishpond labels site traffic, leads and clients to automate lead nurturing

To illustrate how Wishpond labels traffic, leads, and clients, let’s take a quick look at Wishpond’s site traffic from 7 minutes ago:

labeled traffic

This is a list of nine people on the Wishpond.com website. Five of them are new to our site, though one of those has already been tagged with a ‘landing page’ label, as they’ve gone to a URL reading ‘landing-page’.

The others have more updated identities with names and email addresses. We know that three are English speaking (as their browsers are set to the English language). We know that one of them is interested (or has already engaged) with a photo contest, and three others are interested in landing pages, popups, and sweepstakes. Two are power users.

All of these people will eventually also be labeled with their sector (once they’ve provided us with that information) and have automated, personalized paths to conversion or retention.

Isn’t this just fancy lead-scoring?

Yes, but with a small caveat related to content. Lead scoring is awesome, but it is limited by targeting communication and nurturing leads based on their score. What we’re doing is different: it takes into account a lead’s score but also recognizes their individuality beyond that single number.

This gets back to what I was talking in my introduction: the ability to deliver content and lead nurturing communication based on what someone cares about.

For instance, not only will our marketing automation platform know that the blurred-out lead above has a score of 10, it will also know that this lead is in the real-estate industry. This knowledge allows us to specifically cater to this lead, both with intensity of communication and the content of that communication..

The key automation characteristic for Wishpond is the sector of our leads, as we’ve found it to be the best indicator of what they’re interested in (better than subject matter, for instance). That said, you could structure your content automation flows (see below) based on any criteria you choose.

Building Wishpond’s Sector-Segmented Content Marketing Strategy

As soon as we learn the sector of our leads and clients we segment them into a content flow – something like this:

Real estate automation flow

This is the flow of CTAs a lead classified under ‘real-estate’ might see on our blog. A visitor would, initially, submit lead information for one of our generic pieces of content. As soon as they tell us they’re in the real estate sector, however, they enter this flow (green arrow).

  • The next time they arrive on our blog they see, instead of a generic banner, a prompt to download the Adwords ebook for real estate.
  • Once they do so (or, once 72 hours has passed, whichever is first) they will start seeing a prompt for the landing page template for real estate.
  • Once they’ve downloaded two ebooks (or 10 days have passed in which they’ve gone to the blog’s URL at least three times) they’ll start seeing a prompt to sign up for a VIP demo of our tools.
  • If they register for a demo, we view that as a conversion from this funnel, at which point they enter our demo conversion flow, which converts them from a demo to a subscription (primarily through email).
  • If they don’t convert for the demo they are put back into the continuous flow of lead nurturing (it goes without saying that any piece of content they’ve already downloaded won’t be shown again – thus the need for a large amount of content to optimally nurture leads in this way).


Our site can also recognize visitors who have already provided us with all the lead information we need, and so won’t keep prompting them for more. Instead of the full form on the right, our leads and clients would simply see the left-hand example, reducing barrier of entry and increasing value of engagement:

Lead forms

This content automation flow is paired to an optimized email automation funnel as well, which works to drive a lead towards a final conversion with personalized communication (but that’s a topic for a different article).

A fully-automated content flow:

Wishpond blog flow

The Challenges With Sector-Segmented Content Strategy

You may have noticed that this campaign structure requires a huge amount of sector-based content, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

Creating content flows for your business’ top sectors is a serious task, and shouldn’t be taken on lightly. But, luckily, this doesn’t all have to be rolled out at the same time, and much of it can be recycled.

For Wishpond, since we finished creating our generic content (e.g. a series of ebooks, templates, image libraries etc.) it’s been relatively straight forward to follow the same pattern for each of our top sectors. Once we’ve completed the content for each flow we create the label, scripts, and route each lead will take, working closely with our email automation and sales team throughout.

While it may seem intimidating to begin with, once you get into it it’s more straightforward than you might expect.

The Next Phase of Automation For Wishpond

There’s no end to personalization and automation, as the paths that our leads take can be constantly optimized and tested for more conversions. New content and flows needs to be created, as we mirror the paths of our leads step-by-step.

For the main flow that I shared above, for instance, we’ll be constantly tweaking asks, CTA copy, timing and content. At the moment, our primary blog conversion is a VIP demo with one of our sales people, but we will be A/B testing it against an immediate free trial offer to determine which provides a better ROI.

But the heart of it all remains the same: maximizing our ability to anticipate our lead’s movement and personalizing (as much as technologically possible) their interaction with our business and our content. As yet, only 5-10% of SMBs have adopted marketing automation, but that number is increasing steadily as cheaper, simpler, and more intuitive platforms pop up. Want to stay ahead of your competitors? Get into it, or get left behind.

About the Author:
James Scherer is content editor for Wishpond.com, a SaaS startup providing lead generation, CRM, and (soon) marketing automation tools designed for SMBs. He is the author of The Complete Sales Funnel Guide for Real Estate.

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