As a media buyer, with clients mostly in the B2B IT space, I have bought well over 50,000 leads in the past 10 years using a variety of tactics and media partners.
But how many of these 50,000 leads have resulted in tangible sales opportunities for my clients? As that is the end goal, it should be an easy question to answer. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Once leads are delivered they often go into what many marketers refer to as a sales “black hole”. Essentially, leads are entered into a client’s lead nurture system, CRM or the inside sales team but limited information is returned on the quality of the leads as measured by conversion to pipeline. Most feedback is anecdotal and staggeringly unreliable.
A poor closed loop process devalues content syndication and allows blame to be pushed back onto marketing team by frustrated sales professionals. This is often unfair and unjust. In one recent instance, a sales representative kicked back leads due to “poor quality”. Further investigation determined that 100% of the leads were accurate and valid, but that the process the sales team had been taking was inefficiently matched to the end goal or even the assets the users had been consuming. No scripting, no sales training aligned to the campaign, no real coordination between sales and marketing in campaign construction. This is shockingly common but relatively easy to correct.
So, why do lead generation at all? Because lead generation programs can produce an incredibly efficient ROI and are a superbly effective method of filling our top of funnel needs.
Here are a few tips that can help improve lead gen campaign performance:
- Understand it is not a sprint, but a marathon: Simply because someone downloads a whitepaper does not indicate they are ready to purchase your product at that time, but it does indicate they are interested in what you have to say (and possibly interested in starting a conversation). Work with sales to develop a strong lead nurture program – calls and content, which fosters strong long term relationships with prospects.
- Remember the 6 degrees of content downloads: An analysis done by one client found that 18% of all closed deals could be tracked to content syndication, however, in almost 100% of the cases the person who signed off on the purchase was NOT the person who was the original lead. It is important to remember that the person who downloads the asset and becomes a lead may not be the end purchaser but still play a large role in the purchase decision.
- Keep it simple: By focusing on a few trusted partners for lead generation efforts, I have more flexibility to test different tactics, funnel alignment strategies and narrow in on the exact audience I want to reach. Once that is done, expanding to more suppliers can add critical scale.
- Avoid optimizing towards cost per lead: The best leads are not defined by cost. Vendors want to sell premium leads at a higher cost but they may not convert. Only a conversion analysis can really tell you what leads are worth the most to your business.
- Hold your vendors accountable: As we deploy our lead management solution across multiple clients we consistently see lead quality compromised by incomplete leads, those that fail to meet filters, etc. Check leads and return quickly to vendor partners for update/replacement.
- Never stop asking your sales team for “meaningful” feedback: According to a blog written by Howard Sewell, “2 Mistakes that Cause Content Syndication to Fail”, disconnect between sales and marketing occurs when proper expectations between the two teams are not put into place at the beginning of the campaign. If you find yourself in this situation, one way to get back on the right path is to get very detailed feedback regarding the quality of the leads and what specific issues they are encountering. If you don’t know if something is broken there is no way to fix it, and the only way to know if something is broken is to ask.
If these fundamental best practices are followed then the results of your programs will be very much improved, as will the relationship between sales and marketing who ultimately have the same interests in mind – creating better business opportunities and closing more deals.
Just Media, Inc.