Thursday, February 11, 2010

Puppy Training Your Leads

I recently got an 8-week old Great Dane puppy. My family and I had to train her as quickly as possible, since she was already getting really big, really fast.

Top on the training list (other than potty training) were things that would likely ruin the relationship: like, no jumping on people, no dragging us around while on the leash, no sitting on us (Great Danes are the world’s largest lap dog).

Luna is now 6 months old and already weighs 81 lbs, on her way to 140 lbs. While the training continues, she has done very well. The techniques used to train her turned out to be remarkably similar to the techniques we recommend when nurturing (training) new leads.

#1: Don’t Overwhelm Them
Puppies have very short attention spans. Trying to teach them to sit, stay, heal and lay down all in one training session is too much. Focus on only one concept at a time.

The same holds true for leads. I’ve seen nurturing emails that offer 4, 5, even 6 or more multiple offerings all in the same email.. Focus on one concept at a time, one Call to Action at a time.

#2: Use Rewards, Not Punishment
Like all animals (and most humans too) dogs seek pleasure while avoiding pain. Luna made much more progress when the training was kept both fun and rewarding, Try and make things as much fun as possible when nurturing your leads.

For example, avoid lengthy forms that cause pain. Instead keep them short and as pleasant as possible. I’ve seen some very creative (and even funny) ways to ask for (and get answers to) form questions. For example,

Change "Job Title" ___________ to
“What Your Boss Thinks You Do”:____________

Change "Job Role" ___________to
“What you Really Do”________________

Change the picklist values for "Purchasing Timeframe"

Old picklist:

0-3 months
3-6 months
6-9 months
9-12 months
No plans to purchase

New picklist:

-My problem is keeping me up at night. I’ve got to get some sleep
-While annoying, I’ll probably have to wait a few months
-I’m just checking you out. So far so good, but don't call me yet
-I’m just not that into you yet

(try and make the picklist answers relevant to your target segment)

#3: Don’t Bore Them
I noticed that Luna got bored with the treats I was giving her during our training sessions. She began to spit out even her favorite treats after 4-5 offerings.

Create plenty of variety when offering treats to your leads. Don’t just offer white paper after white paper, or case study after case study. Mix it up, keep things different.

Even the look of the emails should vary. I’ve seen many nurturing emails that all looked exactly the same, no matter what the offer was.

You can keep your general branding intact and still provide plenty of visual variety. Maybe create one template for white papers, one for case studies and one for webinars, all looking very different, yet keeping the overall branding elements intact.

#4: Be Very Clear About What You Expect
My trainer told me never to repeat a command more than once. In the beginning I was telling Luna to sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, SIT. Most of the time she just stared at me. Each time I would say sit even louder hoping for a response. Nope. Wrong.

Say it once. Then if they don’t do it, show them what you expect them to do and then reward them after they do it.

You’ve seen emails that offer 8 links to the same whitepaper sprinkled throughout the message. Additionally there is a DOWNLOAD NOW button and then a few more links that all click to the same white paper. (See how annoying this is?)

This is like saying sit, sit, sit, sit, over and over. If you are including this many links, your emails are way too long to begin with.

By highlighting your link (command) once you keep things much simpler and make it blatantly obvious what you expect your lead to do.

The only caveat is to make sure the link or button is VERY obvious. Don’t hide it. The more links, the more indecisive we get. Make the ONE link to the whitepaper big and bold.

I think it's actually harder to train leads than puppies. Why? Puppies are only getting lessons from us. Same teacher, same lessons.

Leads are getting multiple lessons from every nurture program they are a part of; ours, competitors, other sites of interest to the lead, etc. It’s no wonder they are already overwhelmed.

This makes the techniques above even more important to implement. Your leads will greatly appreciate all your efforts and might just reward YOU with a sale.

Updated 5-8-12
Visit my brand new website and learn more about form optimization best practices.

Steve Kellogg

-Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
-Eloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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