Every business wants to generate more leads. More leads means more sales opportunities, right? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. A marketing team can generate hundreds of leads over a set period, but in the end, sales might manage to turn only a fistful of them into clients.
The problem with the mass approach in lead generation is that the leads are often far from qualified. A large percentage of them are impossible to nurture and will never become clients. This might put into question the ROI of marketing efforts, lead to disappointment and frustration in both sales and marketing teams, and ultimately, cost businesses precious revenue.
There are, however, strategies like pipeline marketing, that take on the matter from a different perspective.
What Is Pipeline Marketing?
Pipeline marketing is a sales-oriented marketing approach with a focus on qualified lead generation and nurturing. While traditional strategies draw an invisible line between marketing and sales which divides the funnel between the two departments, here the goals are shared and aligned.
This type of strategy turns the scales in favor of quality over quantity, in order to optimize marketing ROI and maximize revenue.
Pipeline Marketing Effectiveness
What makes pipeline marketing such an effective strategy, is that it is highly personalized and relies on rock-solid data.
How pipeline marketing works:
- Lead Segmentation
- Conversion Measurement
- Nurturing Existing Clients
This approach eliminates inefficient marketing channels and enables marketers to focus their efforts on mid-and bottom-funnel highly-qualified leads. Since the potential clients are either, at the very least, interested in the topic, or already at the consideration or decision stage of the buyer journey, their passage through the digital marketing pipeline is accelerated and results in more sales.
While pipeline marketing is a powerful strategy that allows you to unite sales and marketing and optimize the funnel to perfection, it’s not something every business can leverage.
Read on to find out if pipeline marketing is the right choice for your company and how to use it to build a solid strategy that will grow your business revenue.
Pipeline Marketing Management Strategy
Before you bet your money on any marketing strategy, you have to make sure that it is the right choice for your business and that it can help you achieve your goals.
1. Is Pipeline Marketing Right for You?
While pipeline marketing can, theoretically, work for any business, there are a number of prerequisites that narrow down who can benefit from it the most:
- A sufficient lead database to analyze
- Experience with different marketing channels
- Understanding of the marketing funnel
- Clearly defined buyer personas
- Deep knowledge of the customer and their needs
- Experience, expertise, and credibility
Covering the top three conditions is a sign that you’ll have enough data to analyze. Leveraging this information you can optimize the ROI of marketing channels. It can also identify how it affects the different steps in a buyer’s journey, what content delivers results, and where.
The bottom three conditions will let you know if you are familiar enough with your customers to know how to target them with a unique, personalized message that will convert them.
In a nutshell, pipeline marketing is a great choice for established businesses that already have a sufficient database of generated leads. Targeting their efforts towards the bottom of the funnel, a.k.a the pipeline, they can refine their strategy and focus on the best leads and clients that are a long-term investment and can generate more revenue.
Although startups should also consider a more targeted approach to lead generation, their lack of experience and data can be a major setback for pipeline marketing. However, it can be a smart next step in the evolution of their strategy once they have a grip on where their business goals meet their clients’.
2. Set Realistic Goals
As with any given strategy, to achieve measurable results you have to first set goals.
Consider starting with identifying how you want to improve your current statistics and set realistic goals for a predetermined period of time:
- How many sales do you want to make?
- Which products need a boost in sales volume and how much?
- How much do you want to improve marketing ROI?
- How many new customers do you want to close?
- How many existing customers do you want to up-sell to?
Having clear targets to follow enables you to monitor the performance of a strategy and determine whether it works for you.
Also, answering some of these questions and analyzing the results will help you determine what kind of leads you want to focus on. Leveraging this data, you can design your content and messages to meet customers at the exact point of the journey they are at.
3. Pivot Your Concept of KPIs and Metrics
In a traditional lead-generation marketing strategy, your key objective is to generate more leads. In pipeline marketing, the quantity of leads doesn’t matter, what’s important is how many of them become paying customers.
As a result, your priorities and the KPIs that matter when running a successful campaign may shift and differ from what you are generally used to.
The core metrics of pipeline marketing are the following:
- ROI of Lead Sources – Monitors the revenue each lead generation channel delivers.
- Cost Per Opportunity – Tracks how many leads become opportunities.
- Customers Closed – Identifies how many opportunities become paying customers.
As can be seen, since pipeline marketing is a revenue-oriented strategy, the focus is on what you make for every marketing dollar spent.
To be able to successfully track these metrics, you should first focus on identifying the right leads and monitor which channels they arrive from.
4. Invest Time in Lead Segmentation
The qualification of leads is a key step in building an effective pipeline marketing strategy. Analyzing your leads to determine where they are in the funnel, enables you to align sales and marketing efforts to achieve better targeting.
Lead segmentation includes the following stages of the customer lifecycle:
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
- Sales-Accepted Leads (SALs)
One of the methods to implement lead qualification and determine whether a lead is worth pursuing is the so-called BANT method. The acronym stands for budget, authority, need, and timeframe. Leveraging this approach can help you analyze the attributes of a lead, and estimate the resources nurturing it will require.
Ultimately, the goal of pipeline marketing is to create more opportunities that can be turned into sales.
5. Track Conversions and Build Attribution Models
Once you’ve identified and segmented the different types of leads in your database, you can re-track their steps to find out what channels bring in the kind of leads you need.
Attribution modeling enables you to monitor marketing channel performance and track conversions to see what touchpoints your customers have with your business before they make a purchase.
By tracking and measuring conversions, businesses can estimate the ROI of every digital marketing platform they use. Channels that underperform or generate large numbers of leads who don’t convert, should be eliminated in order to save time and resources and optimize results.
Attribution modeling is vital for pipeline marketing because it shows you the weak links in your lead generation strategy, thus enabling you to focus on high-performing channels that create more opportunities and bring in revenue.
You can learn more about marketing attribution modeling from DevriX’s comprehensive guide:
6. Nurture Leads With a Personalized Campaign
In pipeline marketing, your focus is on SQL, SALs, and opportunities. The leads are either already aware of your business and what you can offer, or you are aware of their pain points and needs. Further studying a company and how they can benefit from your services, will enable you to craft an individual strategy to convince them to become clients.
Leveraging this information, you can target the leads with personalized messages showing exactly how your services can solve their problems.
Some lead nurturing strategies you can consider exploring are:
- Creating compelling mid-funnel content such as case studies, whitepapers, and demos, showcasing the features of your product and the quality of your work.
- Adding testimonials and reviews to the mix to show yourself as reliable, and confirm that you are up to the task.
- Sending personalized emails with details on how the customer can benefit from your services.
The goal of highly personalized campaigns is to show leads that you’ve made an effort to become familiar with their business and know that you can give them exactly what they need. If you play your cards right, the chances of making a sale are significant.
7. Refine Your Strategy for Optimal Results
After the initial period of time that you’ve set for your goals is over, you’ll have a better understanding of how pipeline marketing works and how efficient it is for your enterprise.
Depending on the results, you can adjust and refine your strategy to reach your targets and maximize performance.
Also, constantly monitoring how different channels perform over time and how your approach works for the types of leads you target, will allow you to adjust your strategy in real-time and optimize your efforts.
Pipeline marketing requires a large investment of resources and dedication exclusive attention to every client. Thereby you can not rely on automation and you have to single-handedly craft every touchpoint with the lead. This, of course, is not only time-consuming but suggests that making mistakes can cost you significant losses.
However, with accurate tracking, smart data analysis, and an on-point marketing message, the benefits of pipeline marketing significantly outweigh the risks.
This strategy can deliver a much higher ROI on your marketing efforts, boost revenue, and result in happier and more loyal clients.