Later, flaky leads! Improve lead quality and filter out spammy subscribers with these top tips from the experts.
Here you’ll learn:
- Why you need to work on your buyer persona
- How to use paid social media marketing (SMM) for better lead quality
- Which website aspects might need a second look
- How to change your content to improve lead quality
When it comes to leads, quality always trumps quantity.
Yet only 30% of businesses focus on the quality of the leads inside the ol’ customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Which is a shame, because investing time and money into inbound marketing doesn’t account for much if the majority of the leads don’t convert.
After all, each bad lead could cost more than you’d earn from a good one.
So, if your lead generation numbers look good, but the conversion rate leaves much to be desired, it’s time to improve that lead quality.
Let’s take a closer look at how to improve lead quality — and do it fast enough to prevent unnecessary expenses.
What is a “quality” lead?
A quality lead is someone who visits your website, completes one of your calls to action (CTAs), and has an interest in your product or service.
In other words, someone who is likely to buy.
But what separates a high quality lead from a low quality lead?
“A quality lead vs. an average or ordinary lead is internally defined and relatively subjective,” says Steven Dang, VP of Growth and Strategy at HawkSEM. “In general, businesses determine that a lead is high quality if it’s likely to result in some desired action or sale. For example, someone moving further down the funnel or that the sales team has some level of success with.”
We usually reel in these leads through online marketing efforts, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or social media marketing (SMM).
And while a quality lead doesn’t necessarily have to be sales-ready, there should be a very high level of interest or intent — enough that a little lead nurturing from an email marketing campaign or follow-ups from the sales team could turn them into paying customers.
How to improve lead quality for your business
Increasing lead quality is all about caring less about the number of leads you pull in and more about whether or not those leads move on down the sales funnel. If you don’t already, it’s time to include quality of your leads in your key performance indicators (KPIs).
But like all digital marketing efforts, there is no single way to make this happen.
There are, however, a handful of tried-and-true strategies we recommend here at HawkSEM:
- Create lead forms
- Keep your email list clean
- Segment landing pages
- Review your content
- Add localized keywords
- Improve accessibility
- Partner with influencers
- Work on GBP quality
- Use paid social media marketing
- Leverage AI tools (like ConversionIQ)
- Implement an inbound marketing strategy
- Use lead scoring and qualification
- Set and track key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Leverage marketing automation
- Optimize the buyer’s journey
- Enhance lead capture and landing pages
Here’s a closer look at each.
Create lead forms
While forms are a great way to acquire more information about your leads, they can also attract the wrong people (think spammy click farms — yikes).
The fastest and the easiest way to filter out lower lead quality is to polish those website forms.
Here’s how: Add additional required fields and a CAPTCHA to your forms. Instead of asking for the user’s email address only, include more in-depth fields like “occupation,” “full name,” or even the specific product or service they’re interested in.
Adding fields to your forms might make you nervous. What if you scare off leads when you ask for more information? But remember: this is exactly what keeps less interested candidates away while giving you additional information about potential leads.
The trick is to maintain the balance between requiring more information to deter uninterested leads and not overwhelming a higher quality lead with questions.
When in doubt, A/B test your forms to determine which ones work best.
Keep your email list clean
Low-quality leads tend to give nonexistent email addresses in exchange for lead magnets on your website.
To eliminate these low-quality leads from your email list, consider using an email list-cleaning tool like NeverBounce, ZeroBounce, or Jitbit. (There are plenty of others as well.)
These easy-to-use (and not-too-expensive) programs check your email lists for invalid addresses. The process only takes a few minutes. Some of them have options that allow you to check the email address while the lead is typing it into the form.
Segment landing pages
If your PPC campaigns send different segments of your target audience (using different keywords) to the same landing page, you could lose high-quality leads and generate unnecessary traffic.
The more relevant your landing page feels to the visitor, the more likely they are to become a new lead — and a higher-quality one, at that.
Take the time to (re)review your buyer persona and demographics. Perhaps it’s time to create several personas and design a landing page to match each one.
Create different landing pages for different services, or even pain points. Answer their questions before they even have the chance to ask. The best leads will be well-informed and ready to continue along the sales cycle.
Need help designing conversion-optimized landing pages? HawkSEM can help with that. We have a team of designers and copywriters to increase conversions for your products and services.
Review your content
Your content should make a sales-qualified lead feel seen, heard, and understood. Here are a few ways to make sure your copy speaks to the visitor and pushes them to convert:
- Use keywords that resonate with your target audience
- Keep the visitor’s pain point at the heart of your content: What is their problem? How could you help them solve it? What would their life look like after?
- Leverage lead magnets that provide real value — and CTAs that encourage immediate action (for example, “Get your free checklist now”)
- Ensure the copy is easy to read with lots of line breaks and images
While rewriting your content may take a while, you can repurpose information you already have to change length, format, and complexity.
Add localized keywords
Local businesses who advertise with Google Ads (or other forms of PPC advertising) can struggle to attract high-quality leads since they compete for keywords with companies from other locations.
To improve lead quality, work on long-tail keywords that include location.
You can also implement negative keywords to prevent users who live in other cities or states from seeing your ads.
Pro Tip: Negative keywords are search terms that appear for irrelevant audiences. Adding negative keywords to your campaign prevents your ads from showing to users uninterested in your offer.
A great example of this is what we did for one of our clients, CSUN (California State University Northridge).
“We qualified leads via careful positive and negative keyword selection, as well as strong qualification at both the ad copy and lead form steps of the funnel,” shares Dang. “It comes down to strong keyword selection, and using relevant and deliberate ad copy to qualify them at the ad, landing page, and lead form steps.”
- 50% increase in YoY SEM revenue
- 50% reduced cost-per-acquisition (CPA)
- Almost 2x conversion rate
This one is pretty simple.
If your website isn’t accessible to everybody, you could lose potential customers with high conversion potential.
Improving your website’s accessibility won’t just bring in higher-quality leads; it can also ensure ADA compliance, improve your SEO efforts, and is just the right thing to do.
Partner with influencers
The term “influencer” is now defined as a particular niche of individuals on social media who have a large number of followers. These social media celebs will often partner with brands to promote their offerings in exchange for a paycheck or free products and services.
And influencer marketing works. The industry has grown from $1.7 billion in 2016 to a whopping $16.4 billion projected by year’s end.
If you’re looking to pull in highly qualified leads, partner with an influencer whose followers resemble your target audience. Because followers trust (and often admire) the influencer they follow, their posts promoting the product feel more trustworthy than an ad from the brand itself.
Rather than partnering with a macro-influencer with a huge following, you can consider opting for micro-influencers, who have smaller — but, often, more engaged — following, and usually charge less to boot. Today, some micro-influencers can provide a 20% higher conversion rate than macro-influencers.
Work on GBP quality
If your company is local, you need to improve the quality of your Google Business Profile (GBP). The more effort you put into this profile, the more relevant leads will see your website.
Google uses GBP when ranking businesses in organic search on Google Maps, Google Search, or Google Shopping. The stronger the profile is, the more likely you are to get qualified leads.
Optimize your GBP profile for lead generation by:
- Adding consistent and accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information.
- Choosing the right business categories
- Allowing messaging
- Posting high-quality photos
If you already have reviews in your GBP profile, make sure to reply to all of them. This shows prospects that you care about your clients and it re-engages the existing audience.
Use paid social media marketing
Social media platforms have comprehensive targeting capabilities. Take advantage of what Facebook (aka Meta), Instagram, and others have to offer. By implementing precise targeting, you decrease the risk of attracting a low-quality lead.
Facebook Ads has excellent metrics (quality, engagement rate, and conversion rate rankings) that help you evaluate the relevance of your ads to your target audience.
You can also take advantage of lookalike audiences that bring in leads, which are similar to your existing customers.
Leverage AI tools (like ConversionIQ)
What if there was a way to round up all the data from your different marketing channels — your Google Ads metrics, organic traffic, email and social media campaigns — and get a holistic view of your buyers’ journey?
I’m talking about when users first engage with your brand to where you lose them (or convert).
What if you could pick up on trends, like which types of users turn into leads? And which leads turn into customers? Or why some users *almost* become leads — but fail to convert?
Well, that’s exactly what ConversionIQ does.
This proprietary software built by HawkSEM connects all your marketing platforms and organizes that data onto one easy-to-navigate dashboard, giving you a birds eye view of your marketing strategy.
With all that data in one place, it’s a whole lot easier to pick up on which strategies pull in higher quality leads. (Psst: You can learn more about ConversionIQ here).
Implement an inbound marketing strategy
Your goal isn’t just to attract more leads to your business, but to compel your target audience to click your content (and hopefully love it). Wouldn’t it be great if the majority of your leads came from the quality content you produce?
Well, it can when you implement an inbound marketing strategy. Here’s how you can drive more quality leads to your virtual (or physical) doorstep:
- Publish blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, and guides that your target audience will find highly valuable (like bookmark-worthy). For example, conduct original research on an important topic that only exists on your website.
- Capture leads that click on your amazing content and nurture them into customers. Build email sequences that are a mix of informative and promotional.
- Personalize your content using the data you gather about your leads. Then segment campaigns and posts based on the topics and formats that speak to your leads’ interests.
Use lead scoring and qualification
You’re the bouncer of your content club — there’s no letting just any ol’ body onto your lead’s list. Like nightclubs, you want to create criteria that identify the most qualified leads.
Your criteria may include things like demographic, job role, geographic location, product interest, lead magnet download, and other qualifiers.
Then score each lead based on how many factors match your criteria. Those with the highest scores are worth your sales team’s time and inclusion nurturing campaigns.
Pro Tip: Don’t ignore the feedback of your sales team. They often know what’s working and what’s not. Listen to their feedback and incorporate that into your marketing strategy. For example, if they’re saying leads in region X tend to convert to sales at a lower ratio than those in region Y, we may want to bid less aggressively for region X and ramp up our bids for region Y.
Set and track key performance indicators (KPIs)
Not tracking the right KPIs makes it difficult to know whether your campaigns attract the right leads. As a result, you waste a lot of time and money on leads that aren’t a good fit for your business.
KPIs you may want to look at include:
- Lead Quality Score: Develop a scoring system to measure the quality of leads based on specific criteria such as demographics, behavior, and engagement.
- Conversion rate by lead source: Analyze the conversion rates of leads from different sources. This identifies the sources that generate high-quality leads, so you can allocate resources accordingly.
- Lead-to-customer ratio: Determine the percentage of leads that eventually become paying customers. This KPI provides insights into lead quality and the effectiveness of your nurturing and conversion processes.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Assess the total value a customer brings to your business over their entire relationship with your company. Tracking CLV focuses on attracting leads that have a higher potential for long-term profitability.
- Return on Investment (ROI) by lead source: Calculate the ROI from your lead generation activities based on different lead sources. This identifies the sources that provide the highest-quality leads and ensures you invest in the right channels.
- Time to conversion: Measure the average time it takes for a lead to convert into a customer. This metric identifies possible bottlenecks in your lead nurturing and conversion processes, which may impact lead quality.
- Customer feedback and satisfaction: Regularly collect customer feedback to gauge their satisfaction levels. Positive feedback indicates you’re attracting the right leads and providing a valuable experience.
- Lead engagement metrics: Track metrics, such as email open rates, click-through rates, website engagement, and social media interactions. These metrics indicate the level of interest and engagement your leads have with your brand, which can be an indicator of lead quality
Leverage marketing automation
Personalized content is an expectation today’s consumers have (even if you’re targeting B2B customers). But manually segmenting, planning, and writing audiences and content is time-consuming.
Enter marketing automation.
Marketing automation segments leads based on specific criteria and sends tailored messages that resonate with your target audience. It also allows you to nurture leads with personalized content based on their stage in the buyer’s journey, building trust and credibility.
It even provides valuable insights into lead behavior and engagement, so you can identify the most interested prospects. You can optimize your marketing efforts and deliver more quality leads by focusing your efforts on high-potential leads.
Optimize the buyer’s journey
Understanding the buyer’s journey is like having a treasure map to success. Unfortunately, it’s not lying around for the common business owner to find. So you must map out each stage and align your efforts accordingly to attract and convert high-quality leads.
How do you do this?
Know your audience.
Identify their pain points, challenges, and desires to create targeted content and offers. For instance, if you’re a B2B software company, offer a free ebook on “5 Ways to Automate Your Business Operations” for leads in the awareness stage. Then, for leads in the consideration stage, you could provide a demo or case study showcasing how your software has helped similar businesses with this process.
Create engaging content.
Use compelling headlines, eye-catching visuals, and clear calls to action to entice leads to take the next step in their journey. Whether it’s signing up for a webinar or downloading a whitepaper, the goal is to capture their interest and keep them engaged.
Nurture those leads!
Instead of bombarding them with generic messages, create tailored content that speaks to their needs at each stage. For example, offer a free trial or a limited-time discount for leads in the decision stage to push them over the edge.
But don’t stop with lead-qualifying forms.
“We can qualify leads via the positive and negative keywords that we choose to bid on, like removing low intent keywords and creating a heavy list of negative keywords.”
Then you can also qualify leads at the ad copy level.
“If we’re only looking for “accredited investors,” we can deliberately say so in the ad copy so that those who don’t fit this criterion will hopefully turn away and not click our ad in the first place. The idea is to allow a self-selected audience to progress down our funnel.”
Pro Tip: Align marketing and sales teams to ensure shared goals and seek feedback from sales teams to understand the quality of leads generated and make necessary adjustments. So far, only 42% of businesses are prioritizing sales and marketing alignment.
Enhance lead capture and landing pages
Nothing’s worse for a website visitor than having to fill out an “application” to get access to free content. Don’t turn away quality leads because you’re asking for too much information.
Keep lead capture forms short and only ask for the essential information to qualify and nurture leads effectively. For instance, if you’re in the e-commerce industry, asking for a name and email address may be sufficient.
But capturing leads is just the first step. To encourage lead conversions, you need:
- Compelling landing pages with clear CTAS
- Visually appealing landing pages that also provide value to visitors (ahem…we can help with that)
- Persuasive copy to showcase the benefits of your offer
Then make it crystal clear what action you want visitors to take next. For example, signing up for a free trial or downloading a resource — whatever it is, makes the CTA prominent and enticing.
While there are several ways to improve lead quality fast, to achieve long-term results, you need to review your entire marketing strategy. The key points to review are your buyer personas, content, and paid advertising efforts.
Keeping the above quick fixes in mind can help you improve your approach to lead generation and streamline lead quality in the future.
This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2022.