The fast integration of advanced technologies and digitalisation into our lives has been disruptive to the business world, especially after Covid-19. With almost everything being digital, cyber threats have increased and become more complex than ever. According to the Accenture report, indirect attacks against weak links in the supply chain now account for 40% of security breaches.
The same report states that the number of leaders spending more than 20% of IT budgets on advanced technology investments has doubled in the last three years. While this means that there are many prospects that are still untapped for cybersecurity businesses, persuading and impressing the decision-makers can still prove to be a tricky task.
Cybersecurity lead generation and management is a niche area, involving a wide range of target customers who are dealing with highly sensitive data and are responsible for their brand’s reputation. In addition to unique tactics, we will be discussing lead generation and management as a part of an end-to-end and sustainable growth marketing strategy that focuses on all stages of the sales funnel. So what does it take to build an effective lead management strategy for cybersecurity businesses that cut through the noise?
A common mistake we witness is that most cybersecurity businesses assume their personas* are CISOs or CSOs; these people don’t need to be communicated with differently.
*A generalized and hypothetical representation of target customers
However, depending on the industry and company size, these personas can be extended to CEOs, CTOs, Head of IT and Director of Business Development and Sales. Moreover, if you also aim to create a partner network and run channel marketing activities, the founders and managing directors of distributors, MSSPs, system integrators and resellers will also be included in your personas - and they all need different communication strategies.
Therefore, creating personas for each product/service based on data is essential for your future lead generation & management activities. In order to gain data for persona creation, you can:
1. Run an internal check-up, covering the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion): At this stage, you should analyse your business model, cost structure, distribution channels, sales process, operating markets and target markets, etc. In addition, you will need to analyse your promotion operations and marketing activities.
When you complete your internal analysis, you may end up with an umbrella brand and sub-brands, or different solutions under an umbrella brand, catering to different demands.
2. Run top 3 to 5 competitor analysis covering the 4Ps in the same manner as the internal check-up
3. Gain insights from current, potential, or lost customers such as understanding their demographics, business, purchasing preferences, pain points and goals, etc.
This step is crucial because every persona’s pain points and goals differ, and all of your marketing activities will vary accordingly.
For instance, a CISO’s goals involve a bigger perspective and vision, such as achieving business continuity and operational resilience. On the other hand, the Head of IT’s concerns includes more operational issues such as managing the deployment, development, and maintenance of organisational IT systems. So, even for the same product/service, it will be important to tailor your communication to these personas and create powerful personalized messages that resonate with them.
The segmentation doesn’t end here. The challenges and goals of the decision-makers for your cybersecurity business will vary according to their industry or location. You might want to focus on one industry or location more than another. For instance, if you have a limited marketing budget, you can take advantage of digitalisation, especially in the eCommerce industry, which is accelerated by the pandemic. You can allocate all your growth marketing operations to decision-makers operating in emerging markets in the eCommerce industry.
Image: A sample strategy matrix for a cybersecurity business
That’s why at this step, you should focus on identifying each persona’s goals and challenges based on the question: who are my target buyers and why do they need my solution?
Marketing funnel (or growth funnel) stages start with brand awareness (traffic and lead generation); and end with conversion, including either the purchase or post-purchase activities. So, breaking down the customer journey and tailoring your lead management strategy according to growth funnels is crucial in your lead management strategy. And here is why:
At this brand awareness step, your potential customers try to identify their problems or needs. Therefore, the main purpose of your lead generation activities at this stage should be to show them that you are providing a benefit. If you highlight your product’s details or features, this can be irrelevant for this stage, even though your persona has some know-how of your service/product.
On top of this, your personas can have different levels of knowledge when it comes to your solution, so you might also need to educate some of your potential buyers. Unlike a CSO, a start-up founder might be looking for “how to detect complex threats” instead of searching for “the best SIEM solution”. Therefore, avoiding industry jargon and focusing on how to solve problems is the most successful lead generation tactic for the personas at this stage.
Image: Growth Funnel Stages
At this stage, the focus should be prioritising qualified leads and transforming potential customers into actual customers. Additionally, the communication should cater to the personas who are aware of their problems.
Like most B2B businesses, closing deals can take a long time for cybersecurity businesses unless there is an urgency like a company being under a cyber attack. Moreover, cybersecurity is a highly technical industry with personas doing serious research before they make their purchase decisions. As your leads move down the funnel, they will look for more detailed information. And in return, you can collect more precise data from them for lead scoring, based on their actions.
Whether you are promoting your solution through an automated sales email sequence, a remarketing ad, or on your website, provide your leads with higher-level, more in-depth content such as ebooks, white papers, case studies (where they can actually understand how your solution works).
BOFU usually includes both deals that are about to close and the retention phase of current customers. At this stage, impressive success stories, testimonials from current clients, instructive content for product features, easy implementation processes, and encouraging promotions are the most successful ways of shortening the sales cycle.
Another common mistake we encounter with our cybersecurity clients is that many focus on the top stages of the buyer journey. However, if we are talking about sustainable growth, increasing the satisfaction of existing customers and turning them into loyal customers is equally important, if not more.
To ensure sustainability, it is important that clients use your product more effectively to continue using your services. For current clients, effective lead nurturing activities can include providing them with product guides, tutorials, case studies, special discounts, webinars and podcasts.
Image: An example of different funnels for different products/personas
The personas you create at the beginning of your lead management strategy serve as a basis for identifying qualified accounts. In a sustainable cybersecurity lead management strategy, you should be able to determine which leads to prioritise and nurture further in order to allocate time and resources more effectively.
Lead scoring plays a pivotal role in optimising your growth marketing activities. Even if you generate a great amount of traffic and leads to your website or landing pages, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are really interested in your brand or they have the budget to afford it if you are catering to big entities.
Lead scoring helps you to rank leads according to the interest they show in your product/service, their relevance, and their purchasing power, etc. You can score leads via various methods either manually or with CRM tools such as HubSpot.
Last but not least, in an end-to-end lead management strategy, all the teams involved in the lead generation and nurturing processes should work in coordination with each other and provide real-time feedback. And this is only achievable by tracking and measuring data, which are the key metrics such as Lead Sources, Number of Leads, Number of Qualified Leads, Cost per Lead, Conversion Rate, Return on Investment (ROI), etc.
Based on the information gathered by analyzing these KPIs you can review your lead management strategy and allocate your efforts accordingly.