We drive a fairly significant volume of leads through a "download a whitepaper" call-to-action - which has a great conversion rate, but generates leads a bit further up the funnel than a "request a demo" or "free trial" call-to-action. (I've written about the trial vs. demo call-to-action previously.)
Whitepaper leads can be tough to qualify - they haven't indicated any direct interest in our product, just the contents of the whitepaper. As a result, our sales reps are very direct in their email follow-up. Here is an example email we send to our whitepaper leads:
I saw that you downloaded one of our whitepapers, and thus I have a question.
Which one of these categories do you fit into?
A. You're just checking things out and there is no way you want to talk to me about Argyle.
B. You're maybe interested and may want to talk b/c you're learning and have questions.
C. You're dying to talk to me and couldn't wait for this email to arrive to your inbox and you are ecstatic that it's finally here.
Let me know which bucket you're in and I'll act accordingly!
This approach works really well! We make it very simple for the lead to qualify itself. If the answer is "A" - then great, we don't waste any time on the lead. If the answer is "B" or "C" - then we spring into action. The anecdotal response rate is significantly higher than the usual boring, email follow-up stuff. And prospects get a teensy glimpse into the friendly way we like to do business at Argyle.
Hat tip to Brad McGinity from Windsor Circle for recommending the format.