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19 Reasons Why Your Business Is Losing Leads

Nov 17, 2021 | 14 minutes

A business pipeline is shaped like a funnel for a reason. At every stage of the buyer’s journey, people are naturally going to bow out. Your product or service isn’t for everyone.

However, when your funnel starts developing holes and losing leads at a disproportionate rate, it’s time to plug them. Here are 19 reasons why your business is losing leads and how you can recoup them.

1. You’re chasing vanity metrics

Attracting more views doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll generate more leads.

Setting aggressive goals for views and impressions can incentivize your team to hyper-optimize content for algorithms and churn out stale, cookie-cutter content that’s sole purpose is to hit those numbers instead of resonating with your audience and providing value to them.

Vanity metrics might be easy to measure and move the needle on, but being in tune with an audience is what will actually make them fill out a form and turn into a lead.

Our advice is to start measuring the metrics that indicate resonance, such as:

  • Scroll depth

  • Email subscribers gained per blog post

  • Engagement rate on social (views to likes ratio and views to comments ratio)

As the old saying goes, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

2. You’re not talking to your customers

At the end of the day, you want more people who are similar to your current customers in your pipeline. After all, they all turned into leads and bought your product, so why not ask them about the following:

  • Where they spend their time

  • What sources of information do they trust

  • What platform they found you on

  • What they want to learn

  • What piece of content got them interested in your brand

  • Why they liked it

Secondary forms of market research like a competitive content analysis are easier to complete but they’re ultimately not as insightful or accurate as talking directly to your customers.

For instance, when Joe Lazauskus, Head of Marketing at Contently, started doing empathy interviews with customers and prospects, it made him rethink his entire marketing strategy.

“For the first time, I spoke to my clients without an agenda. I wasn’t trying to subtly influence a purchase decision or create their content strategy. I was just listening in an open and empathetic way,” Lazauskus writes in a blog post about empathy mapping. “These interviews were the greatest gift I could have gotten. I had two dozen spreadsheets on my computer that told me who our clients were. But these conversations told me how they feel. And suddenly everything — our messaging, positioning, content strategy — became so much clearer.”

To pluck these valuable insights from your customers, sit down with your power users and interview them about their buyer’s journey. Find a pattern between the channels they discovered you on, the types of content they prefer, and the topics they geek out on. You can also send a survey to each of your customers asking them the questions listed above.

3. You rely too much on attribution software and don’t know what your buyer’s journey actually looks like

With over 87 attribution software solutions on the market, most brands believe that the product they buy for this purpose is 100% accurate. Whatever buyer’s journey their software spits out ends up as the unquestioned truth.

However, according to a study conducted by Refine Labs (a demand generation agency for B2B SaaS companies) attribution software isn’t foolproof. It’s actually far from it.

Refine Labs added the field “How did you hear about us?” on one of their high-intent conversion forms and compared it to their attribution software’s data. Their findings were astounding:

  • Only 21% of high intent conversions matched between what the customer reported and what the attribution software reports. And only 7% of sales qualified opportunities matched.

  • Attribution software reports that 72% of high intent conversions are sourced via organic search or direct traffic. But only 15% of buyers self-report finding them that way.

  • 82% of high intent conversions self-report that they discovered them in social media, podcasts, community, or via word-of-mouth.

  • 53% of total qualified opportunities self-report discovering them in podcasts (30%), community (13%), or word-of-mouth (10%). Absolutely none of this is captured by software-based attribution.

  • Social media is their top contributor to high intent conversions (44%) and qualified opportunities (44%) as self-reported by buyers, but attribution software under-reports the impact of these channels by approximately 75%.

This tells an interesting story: Many of the channels where people research, discover, evaluate, and purchase products - organic social, podcasts, non-conversion paid social, YouTube shows, communities, word-of-mouth, third-party events, PR - aren’t trackable.

As a result, most brands have no idea how leads and customers are finding them.

Not all is lost when it comes to understanding your buyer’s journey, though. To do so, Refine Labs recommends:

  • Sifting through your CRM and finding all market-sourced opportunities that closed won

  • Reverse engineer the buyer’s journey path to conversion. If your CRM didn’t track something correctly, reach out to the customer directly and learn what happened

Once you know the main paths that your customers take, you can optimize your marketing for them.

4. Your brand isn’t building enough affinity

As humans, we make decisions based on emotions.

There is a concealed message in this fact: If you can’t make an emotional impact on your audience, then they’re unlikely to take any action with your brand.

Ideally, the goal is to build so much affinity with your audience that you become their favorite brand. And when they actually go into purchase mode, they’ll look your company up first.

To build an emotional connection with your audience, you first need to know what they’re truly passionate about and interested in (see section above). Then you need to craft marketing materials about these topics with creative, eye-catching angles.

According to neuroscience, novelty instantly grabs our attention and then triggers the release of dopamine in our brain, which prompts us to pay our undivided attention to it, vividly remember the experience, and come back crawling for more.

So don’t just take the same angle as the content on page one of Google so you can rank first on the search engine. Take a thought-provoking stance so you can rank first in people’s minds. 

Image Source: Animalz

Another way to build affinity is by doubling down on storytelling. Stories are scientifically proven to be the most effective way to grab and hold attention, teach people lessons, and resonate with them.

With this in mind, try to find the most innovative thinkers in your industry and your most inventive customers to tell stories about how they approach their work.

5. You’re not tapping into word-of-mouth marketing

When it comes to shelling out their hard-earned money to buy something, people don’t trust marketing campaigns the most (sorry marketers).

They trust people the most.

Psychologically, we know we can count on our family and friends to give us good advice. And the more buzz a product has, the more likely it is to catch our eye and pique our interest.

But how do you craft content that can circulate entire networks? You optimize it for dark social.

Dark social is when people share content on social media messaging apps, email, text messages, Slack, and social media groups. Attribution software can’t track any of these shares, hence the word “dark”.

Image Source: Econsultancy

People only share content with their peers that is exceptionally educational, inspiring, or controversial, so consider writing thought-provoking social posts, launching a stimulating podcast, or crafting a compelling video series.

Remember, attribution software can’t track dark social, so measure and optimize your word-of-mouth marketing through self-reported attribution on high-intent forms like your “Request a demo” page by listing out the dark social channels mentioned above.

6. Your brand messaging isn’t clear

Odds are, you’re probably up against some stiff competition. And with only 10-20 seconds to grab a user’s attention online, you need to immediately clarify what you do and why it’s worth its salt. If you don’t, your website visitors will just bounce to the next option - your competitors.

To craft clear brand messaging, use simple, succinct language that your grandmother could instantly understand.

Also, avoid all business or industry jargon at all costs. CEOs can’t even decipher that kind of bloated language.

You should also aim to tell a story by identifying your customers’ pain points, offering a solution, and showing why it’s the best product available.

For instance, in the content marketing and freelance marketplace platform space, Contently and Skyword are usually duking it out for the first place. However, one of the many reasons why Contently always seems to come out on top is because they’ve nailed their messaging, while Skyword still has some work to do.

Image Source: Contently

Contently’s brand messaging might read a little long, but it’s clear, compelling, and narrative-driven. After reading their copy, you immediately understand their customers’ most pressing problem, the proposed solution, its value proposition, and the results that you could see with their platform.

Image Source: Skyword

Skyword, on the other hand, touts a rather cliche tagline and vague messaging. You can’t instantly understand what they do or why you should partner with them. Are they a content marketing agency or a content marketing platform?

You wouldn’t know at first glance, which is, unfortunately, the maximum amount of attention you’ll get from most consumers nowadays.

7. You’re gating too much content

It’s 2021, and everyone’s tired of filling out forms just to get a piece of content. In fact, according to Contently, 75% of people will refuse to fill out a form to access the content.

So, ask yourself: Is the benefit of collecting 25% of an audience’s contact information worth the cost of turning away 75% of your audience from your most valuable content?

Also, the more content people read, the more likely they’re going to convert into a lead. So why make your audience fill out lengthy forms to access your best of it? It’s defeating the purpose of content marketing. You’re just making it less likely that they’ll convert into a lead later down the road.

8. You’re not responding to leads fast enough

According to ChiliPiper (a scheduling and routing software for sales teams), the odds of connecting with and qualifying a lead plummets by 80% just five minutes after they press the submit button on a form.

With this in mind, it’s paramount that you immediately reach out to your leads. The probability of them responding to you literally drops by the second.

In Make, you can build an automation with Salesforce to automatically email a new lead once they’re added to your CRM.

9. Your leads are siloed

If you have leads in another place like your live chat software and don’t move them into your CRM, you could miss out on reaching out to them as soon as possible and striking while the iron is hot.

As we just mentioned in the section above, the odds of connecting with and qualifying a lead plummet by 80% just five minutes after they press the submit button on a form.

So start building automated workflows that will immediately move them into your CRM like the one with Intercom below.

10. Your sales and marketing teams aren't aligned

If marketing gets leads and sales close them, then it’s crucial that they’re on the same page about the leads that come into their system.

There are few things worse for a salesperson than realizing that the overwhelming majority of their inbound leads are useless. It’s even worse when marketing hits 150% of their lead goal and sales only hit 50% of their quota. That means both teams likely never even talk to each other.

To align your marketing and sales teams, make sure they sit down, discuss the personas and audiences to target, and come to a mutual agreement about them.

If you are keen to improve some processes along the way, here you will find a tutorial with three solutions to automate lead routing with Make.

11. You send too many emails to subscribers

Sending too many marketing emails to your subscribers can not only hurt your brand but can also diminish your email deliverability.

When your engagement rates bottom out, ISPs see that as a red flag and will limit the number of inboxes they’ll deliver your email campaigns to. This can cause a snowball effect, where your emails will get sent to fewer inboxes because fewer people are seeing and engaging with them.

To avoid this from happening, run a test to see how frequency impacts your email engagement rates.

Rule of thumb: The more engagement lowers, the fewer emails you should send.

12. You're not personalizing your website for specific visitors

According to First Page Sage, the average conversion rate for a website in the SaaS industry is a mere 1.1%. That’s lower than expected but it’s not too surprising because most websites attract so many visitors that their conversion rates will always be watered down...right?

Image Source: First Page Sage

Well, when Drift, a conversational marketing software, used A/B testing software Intellimize to create over 25,000 personalized variations of one of their most important landing pages, they saw a 322% lift in qualified leads. Talk about a boost in website conversion rate.

Nowadays, with every brand screaming for anyone’s attention, marketing needs to be hyper-personalized. Static, one-size-fits-all experiences won’t cut it anymore.

You need to craft dynamic, customized experiences in order to catch people’s eyes, especially when you only have 10-20 seconds to grab a user’s attention online.

13. You go for the hard sell too soon

No one likes getting rushed into anything, especially in B2B. According to Sirius Decisions, the average B2B executive buyer consumes 17 pieces of content throughout the buying cycle. And according to Rain Sales Training, it takes an average of eight touchpoints with sales to scheduling an initial meeting with a new prospect.

Needless to say, you need to be patient with your leads.

They’re used to taking their time over the course of a long sales cycle. So make sure to reach out to them when they indicate that they’re ready to talk, like when they fill out a high-intent form (such as a “request a demo” one).

14. Your forms are asking too many questions

Back in 2011, HubSpot ran an experiment where they analyzed over 40,000 of their customers’ landing pages.

The goal? To see how the number of form fields on their landing pages impacted conversion rates.

They tested three types of form fields:

  • Single-line form fields

  • Multi-line form fields

  • Drop-down form fields

The results were not exactly surprising, but still very insightful: The more form fields on the landing page, regardless of their type, the lower the conversion rate. 

This was happening ten years ago, so imagine what a landing page riddled with form fields would do to an audience now.

When building your landing pages, make sure to add as few form fields as possible. However, if you want to take a shot at collecting some more information from your leads, make those fields optional.

15. You're not retargeting website visitors on social media

According to Convince & Convert, only 2% of website visitors convert on the first visit, but if they see a retargeting ad, they’re 70% more likely to convert.

Marketing is all about repetition. The more people see your brand or offer in a positive light, the more they’ll remember it and the more likely they are to engage with it.

With Make, you can automate your remarketing efforts by sending Shopify data to Facebook. Having that data in Facebook Offline Conversions will allow you to target those customers on Facebook, or create lookalike audiences based on their profiles.

16. Your website lacks the appropriate touchpoints

Consumer interest can be fleeting. That’s why it’s crucial to lay a clear path for your website visitors to turn that interest into action.

For instance, on all of your content, make sure that there are CTA buttons that your audience can click to subscribe to your blog, download an asset, or request a demo. Advanced website popups like Poptin can do the trick as well!

The last thing you want to do is craft a top-performing blog post, only to squander the overwhelming majority of the attention it has attracted.

If you are interested in automating data collection from popups, here’s a template that will do that for you.

17. You’re not providing good enough customer service on social media

According to Sprout Social, a social media marketing platform, one out of three people use social media to learn about or discover new products, services, or brands. This includes reaching out to brands through messages, comments, and posts.

54% of people have more favorable views of brands that respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media, so it’s crucial to follow up with them thoroughly and promptly. Otherwise, it could bore a big hole in your funnel.

18. You’re not scoring or qualifying your leads accurately

There’s nothing worse than realizing that you’ve let qualified leads collect dust in your CRM.

Whether it’s on the marketing or sales team, make sure that you avoid this by developing a sales and marketing SLA that determines both teams’ lead qualification criteria.

19. Your sales team didn’t get enough training or doesn’t have enough resources

If you’re losing leads, one of the potential causes could be that your sales team didn’t get enough training to accurately qualify them.

They could also not have access to advanced enough tools to prospect and qualify leads effectively either.

Plugging the holes in your funnel

Every business will eventually develop some holes in its funnel. However, if you’re armed with these 19 reasons and strategies, you will be able to plug them and possibly generate more leads than ever before.

There’s a lot of information packed in this post so If you need help getting started on recouping lost leads, we consider talking to your customers first. They’re ultimately the type of leads that you want in your pipeline so it’s crucial to understand where they prefer to consume content, what types of topics they geek out on, and, most importantly, who they are as people.

Clifford Chi profile

Clifford Chi

Content marketing writer at Make. Passionate about storytelling and creativity in B2B marketing. In my free time, I love to surf, play guitar, and watch baseball.

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