The Digital Superfecta: Four Things You Need to Get Right

The Digital Superfecta: Four Things You Need to Get Right
Horse race shot a slow shutter speed to enhance motion effect

Part 1: Qualified Lead Generation

Every summer a group of long-time friends and I have a mini-reunion in Saratoga, NY at the race track. While I can’t claim to be a horse racing expert, it is fun placing $2 bets and hanging out for the afternoon. Early in the day, I place simple bets, like picking a horse to come in first.  As the day goes on, I get more exotic with bets. I’m risking my two bucks on complicated wagers like the “Superfecta,” in which the player must pick the first four finishers of a race in the correct sequence.

In the digital world, I’ve found there are four things that companies need to get right to maximize their potential – I call these four things the Digital Superfecta. Those four things are: qualified lead generation, e-commerce conversion, product management, and analytics. If your digital team is excelling along these four tracks, you are well your way to solid digital revenue growth.

Each week for the next four weeks, we will examine one of the four legs of the Digital Superfecta.

Before we get started, you might ask, “Why is advertising not one of the four components of the Superfecta?” Advertising is certainly a critical revenue stream in the digital world, but world-class digital departments do more than just amass clicks and sell page views. Much attention has been paid to digital advertising over the past twenty years. This has made the ad markets extremely efficient, making it tough to game the system or become smarter than the competition. The playbook for traditional digital advertising is pretty clear, such that advertising revenue should be viewed as a basic prerequisite for your digital department, rather than as an opportunity to drive a distinctive competitive advantage.

Assuming you’re up to snuff in digital advertising, the real opportunity comes from focusing on building your capabilities in the four Digital Superfecta areas. These are the levers than can drive real revenue growth.

Qualified Lead Generation

I once saw sales consultant Marc Wayshak give a speech on sales strategy. One point I’ll always remember was: your job as a sales person is to disqualify leads. While it may sound counter-intuitive—shouldn’t you be trying to qualify leads?—you don’t want to waste your limited time trying to convince people who will never buy anyway.

If your digital department can help your sales team disqualify leads, then you have a huge advantage over your competition. You’ll be able to close more deals, more quickly, and at a lower cost.

The typical way of using digital to qualify / disqualify leads is through content marketing efforts. That is, creating how-to guides, industry reports, whitepapers, etc. to capture leads, and then using subsequent campaigns (typically emails, blog posts, and social media activity) to better understand each prospect. Ultimately, the goal is to classify leads by their likelihood of buying.

Depending on how prospects engage with your content, you can bucket them into one of four categories. This works for both B2B and B2C companies.

Hot Prospects

These prospects are fully aware of what you have to offer and how your products will help them solve a known problem. They regularly engage in your content, opt in for more detail, sign up for consultations, etc. Focus on making the deal ASAP. Hand these leads over to your best closers. Send them direct sales materials with conversion-oriented copy (e.g., “buy now!” “special offer”). Unfortunately, probably only 3-5% of your prospects are “hot.”

Warm Prospects

These prospects are aware of the need to solve the problem you address, but may not know about your specific offerings. They pro-actively have signed up for some information, occasionally open emails and visit your site, but do not engage consistently. Focus on educating them on your points of differentiation. Continue sending them useful information on the problem you solve. If you are a B2B company, consider using an inside sales team to set up appointments with your sales consultants.

Cold but Qualified Prospects

These prospects are just starting to realize they have a problem, but they’re not yet sure what to do about it. Focus on highlighting the negatives if the problem persists, and paint a picture of how great life would be if the problem were solved. Your goal should be to provide enough information on the pain of the status quo and the pleasure of the future state, so that they become warm prospects. Don’t focus on your company or products too much on this segment. This group doesn’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. Start by lighting a fire – get them interested in the problem you solve.

Disqualified Prospects

These are prospects that don’t see or refuse to admit they have a problem. They ignore your ads and emails, and don’t visit your site no matter what you do. Life’s too short and resources are too constrained to focus on this segment. Let your competition spin their wheels (and marketing budget) on this group of customers.

So there you have it. Leg #1 of the Digital Superfecta: qualified sales leads. Next week we will take a deeper dive into leg #2: e-commerce conversion.

How the Sterling Woods Group Can Help

We work with clients to quickly assemble a strategy, technology platform, and action plan for using digital content to score and categorize their leads: hot, warm, cold by qualified, and disqualified. For one company, we reduced marketing expenses by $300,000 while growing sales. Interested in a free diagnostic? Contact us at

About the Author, Rob Ristagno

Rob Ristagno is the founder of The Sterling Woods Group and partners with companies to drive rapid digital revenue growth. Prior to creating Sterling Woods, Rob served as a senior executive for several niche media and e-commerce companies. Rob started his career as a consultant at McKinsey and holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College. He has taught Product Strategy at Boston College.
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