The spam funnel for 'Marketing Qualified Leads' (MQL) in B2B
Why am I calling this a 'Spam Funnel?'.
Before answering your doubts, let me tell you some very interesting things.
1) I have created four different email ids (that I never use to communicate) so that I can register those email ids while downloading ebooks or to avail any gated content. I am sure that I will get a sequence of emails and calls from that company immediately. I download the content and they will start following up.
2) The first job I do in the morning is to block unnecessary mail so as to reduce spam. Thanks to MS Teams, where I can go to the 'others' section and block spam email senders.
3) Being a marketer, since I am also on the hunt for MQLs, I do not want to be an MQL in the spam funnel.
Why am I using the term 'Spam Funnel'?
Because it is really annoying to receive tons of emails. Be very honest and let me know how many times you enjoyed cold calling? The experience of receiving cold calls is more horrible than cold calls.
Why do marketers do spam?
Let us understand why this (spamming, cold calls, etc) is a phenomenon in the industry? The performance of the marketing department is measured by MQL. The definition of MQL completely differs from company to company in the B2B industry. The whole idea of MQL is nothing but someone who showed interest in our product because of our marketing activities.
If I get your email, then you are an MQL for me.
When someone shows interest in our product and gives email id, we add them in MQL list as prospective customers and send the details to Sales
The question is whether downloading content is 'engagement'? Whether attending a webinar and giving the mail id is showing interest? The question is, what is the intention of giving the mail id. The customer might have downloaded the ebook just out of curiosity.
I have experienced that so many students take up quizzes on our website just for fun with no intention of buying. If I start following up with them a hundred times, I am wasting my time.
In the pursuit of numbers, what we are doing is we are literally spamming and annoying our prospective customers. The moment the person gives his email, id, or phone number, we start bombarding emails and start calling them again and again. Call centers are like our 'Karma' and once they get our number, either we get a call from different persons or different numbers. They will never allow us to live in peace and will not delete the contact number.
We marketers give weightage or some sort of crazy numbers to MQLs on CRM. If you ask me, I always give higher numbers to MQL even without talking to the customers, even without knowing any details of the lead.
The problem is that we want to go ahead with 'time-tested' 'already proved' methods and hacks. We want to adopt the funnel approach in B2B and forget to assess the real sense of B2B marketing.
What is there that we can do?
I am not against sending follow-up emails, but I am against sending hundreds of automated emails. I am not against calling the customers, but I am against calling the same customers again and again.
Send emails or call customers in the B2B segment only if
1) You have done proper research about the company.
2) Buyer's persona.
3) Stage of the buyer journey.
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I really admire companies like HubSpot. I had started using their trial access and I just got one call, and after I conveyed my intent, I never got any more calls.
Unless the prospect finds value in our product, even if we call them thousands of times, the lead will not convert as customers. The fundamental question is at which stage the buyer is in the buying process. It always makes sense to educate and engage the prospect during the awareness stage.
How do you find out which prospect is in the 'awareness stage?'. This can be ascertained when the prospective buyer starts interactions or tries free trial access or shows some sort of search intent or keyword search.
Otherwise, we start communicating the wrong messages to the wrong customers. We have to call or send the email sequence to the buyers when the buyer is in the consideration and decision stage. This is the stage when we have to engage B2B prospects with proofs, case studies, and white papers.
Why am I writing this?
In the name of digital experience and in the name of digital touchpoints, we create a 'bad digital experience' for our customers. This creates a bad image for us in the market. In the B2B scenario, customers google and do proper research about the product they are intended to buy. 70% of B2B buyers get through the buying process, not even talking to the sales reps. (https://www.millerheimangroup.com/resources/news/study-half-of-b2b-buyers-make-up-their-minds-before-talking-to-sales-reps/).
B2B buying is 'group buying' even though one person owns the entire process. The team members are going to contribute to the decision-making process.
What can we do?
1) Let us try to understand the context, background of the lead, type of industry, size, and problems that we can solve. This helps us to make communication more customer-centric and problem-specific.
2) Redefine the digital experience for the prospects with no spam.
3) A thoughtful approach to looking at MQL can save energy for our employees.
Why is this important?
B2B companies that have transformed their customer-experience processeshave higher client satisfaction scores. 10 to 20 percent reductions in cost toserve, 10 to 15 percent revenue growth, and better employee satisfaction.
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