Last year at HubSpot's annual Inbound 2012 conference in Boston, Susan Cain delivered a keynote speech to complement her recent book titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. At the time, Susan's speech about the two different personality types in business today, introverts and extroverts, was probably my least favorite presentation, because I had trouble translating her deep knowledge of conflicting personality types to actionable inbound marketing practices.
Looking back almost a year later though, as I prepare my own presentation for Inbound 2013, I must admit that Susan's explanation of personality types has had one of the biggest impacts on our strategy for generating sales-ready leads for clients. For those of you that are familiar with the concept of an inbound marketing sales funnel, a "bottom-of-the-funnel offer" is one that is delivered at the end of the lead nurturing process, which is designed to result in an interaction between the sales-qualified lead and your sales force. The most common bottom-of-the-funnel offers are "free consultation" and "contact us," which trigger the real-world, "offline" sales process at your organization.
After a Year of Testing: I Learned Something!
For a long time, I have experimented with different bottom-of-the-funnel offers, trying to optimize the volume and quality of leads that make it past the bottom of the funnel. My clients expect leads that they can close as customers, and the bottom-of-the-funnel offer is the gatekeeper. Many of my clients have incorporated some sort of deliverable into the bottom of their funnels to increase the value of the offer.
For example, you could take a regular "free consultation" and make it into an "assessment and roadmap" offer by giving the prospect some deliverable of recommendations based on the assessment. At Innovative Marketing Resources, the deliverable we have incorporated into the bottom of the funnel, and our sales process, is the Content Marketer's Blueprint™—a prospect-specific guide for using content and technology to attract and nurture new business opportunities to a point of sale. The Content Marketer's Blueprint is loaded with value, and it generates a great deal of sales-qualified leads. However, I have learned that the prospect interaction at the bottom of the funnel is complex and entails more than simply loading an offer up with value.
Going off my traditional "more value, more conversions" premise, I expected that the inclusion of a deliverable would be the answer to all my bottom-of-the-funnel problems. What I could not understand after months of testing this theory is why high-quality leads continued to act on a BOFU offer of lesser value, such as a free consultation, in the face of a value-heavy offer like an assessment and roadmap. Furthermore, I noticed that in industries where the buying process was research-heavy, like our B2B enterprise technology and IT clients, the offers that included the deliverable performed much better compared to research-light verticals. Clearly, something other than a quest for more value was influencing the behavior of prospects.
There is no "optimal" bottom-of-the-funnel offer. Buyer personas are still at play at the bottom of the funnel, and Susan Cain's analysis of introverts and extroverts does apply to inbound marketing—right at the point when you are tasked with getting your buyer persona to be comfortable engaging with a member of sales. Buyer personas have personality types!
Extroverts are the leads that will pick up the phone to get information. They are not afraid of live, personal interaction. They actually prefer the personal touch, because they know they will get the most value in the shortest amount of time. These personality types react well to straight-forward BOFU offers like "free consultation" and "live demo," for the software space.
On the otherhand, introverts are terrified of picking up the phone; these individuals need to see enough value in the BOFU offer to overcome their fears. These analytical, "quiet" personalities (Susan's words), look at your value-added recommendations and think: "I really don't want to talk to anybody, but if I am getting this really valuable set of recommendations that will help me solve my problems, I guess I could give it a try."
After four months of using a "free assessment" offer with one of our IT-focused clients, I tested my introvert-extrovert buyer persona theory by modifying the offer to include a deliverable and changing the title of the offer to "Assessment & Roadmap." Below is a screenshot from HubSpot's landing page analytics tool that shows the submission rate of the offer before and after the modifications were made. Submission rate refers to the percentage of visitors on the offer's landing page who actually filled out the form, signaling that they are ready for a conversation with sales.
Organic Traffic Submission Rate
Although this next part may be a bit of a stretch, it does fit the theory. I believe that leads doing heavy industry research online are more likely to be introverts than extroverts. My thought is that extroverts would be the ones that search for some broad industry term and then pick up the phone and call every potential solution provider to see who knows what. That is what I do, and I am pretty sure that I am an extrovert. Introverts on the other hand—again just a theory—do more research online by themselves before speaking with potential providers. This theory supports the data below; organic search was most heavily affected by the changes to the BOFU offer.
Email Nurturing Traffic Submission Rate
Visitors arriving at the offer through email nurturing offer some additional insight. At Innovative Marketing Resources, our inbound marketing strategy ensures that each lead is exposed to the bottom of the funnel offer as soon as they are converted to a lead. If they do not take the BOFU offer initially, they are enrolled in an email nurturing workflow, also known as a drip campaign, which gives them additional opportunities to take action at the bottom of the funnel. Does the fact that these people needed additional time and information before they were ready to take action at the bottom of the funnel make them introverts or slow-to-be-convinced extroverts? Again, I do not have a concrete answer, but the screenshot below has me scratching my head.
The Simple Conclusion
There are different types of personalities for your buyer personas. Testing and searching for an "optimized" bottom-of-the-funnel offer is not the way to go. Instead, try to understand that different personality types can affect the behavior of leads in your sales funnel. Create BOFU offers for each personality type (Thanks Susan!) and watch for data indicators like the ones above to point you in the right direction. If you are interested in learning more about our inbound marketing sales funnel strategy or would like us to develop one for your agency (or your clients), this is a link to the landing page that will get you started.
If you have any feedback on bottom-of-the-funnel offers that you have tried in your own process or those of your clients, please comment below.