Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Visualizing Success: Getting a Holistic View of Lead Generation Programs
By Lisa Cramer, President, LeadLife Solutions
We work with a lot of companies that spend so much time trying to generate leads for sales that they forget to envision their success. They neglect to ask: What if this all works? The focus on generating responses, conversions and hits can’t be truly successful until a company understands what to do when that data becomes actual business.
At some point, you realize that your lead generation programs are working and – presto – leads are coming into the company. But the aftermath is a total scramble. You’ve probably used spreadsheets to track leads for each campaign – that’s if you were fortunate enough to capture all of them that came through. This often required manual intervention and that’s where things most likely started to fall apart. Over the course of my career, I’ve had leads generated by many different types of marketing campaigns but I couldn’t take the actions I needed from a marketing perspective to get the full value out of them before they got into the hands of sales. And you know what happened then – the sales guys complained. The leads, they said, were dead ends.
It became apparent to me that unless I had an effective marketing system, I would generate leads but lose track of everything else. I wouldn’t know where the leads went, which leads should be sent to sales, which ones should be nurtured, which campaigns performed and which we should never do again. I needed visibility through the life of a lead to see which campaigns performed. Today, lead management systems provide this visibility and tracking far before the final ROI is calculated. In today’s economy and ever-expanding sales cycles, that’s key to maximizing marketing dollars.
The Value of Lead Management Systems
Lead management systems simply provide a place where all leads from all campaigns can be deposited, tracked, scored, prioritized, and nurtured. They can gauge the success of marketing programs, and analyze metrics throughout the lead’s life cycle – not just the beginning (the number of clicks) and not just the end (revenue produced by campaign). Lead management systems provide a holistic view into the leads produced from each campaign and how successfully they move through the system. This provides an indicator of the general success of the campaign – specifically, which one is going to produce the largest number of “sales ready” leads. And assuming that the definition of “sales ready” was determined in collaboration with both marketing and sales, it should be a good indicator of success.
Lead management systems also create a great sense of how leads are interacting with your company. For example, an email campaign directing people to download a whitepaper from your site, should allow you to see who downloaded that whitepaper. But can you also see if they interacted with your company before? Did they click on an AdWord, see you at a tradeshow, or click on a previous email? It’s critical to see those interactions to sense if a lead is gone past the research stage and is starting to engage in the selling process. This could happen over several months. It’s difficult to track that manually and it isn’t something sales will spend their time on effectively.
Lead Scoring Helps Determine How Leads Are Moving
Determining the interactions/behaviors or demographic information that is important to my company (remember that of course I’ve sat down with the head of sales to create a shared definition of “sales ready”), makes it much easier to accomplish lead scoring. With lead management systems, develop rules that score different behaviors of the lead and/or different demographic information. In this way, evaluate how leads are moving. Is their score increasing? If so, I can assume that they are interacting with my company more and that means they are more interested in what I have to sell.
Of course, this needs to be mapped back to where the lead came from in the first place. A lead management system should provide visibility into each campaign, how many are progressing and how many are dormant. This kind of information gives you great insight into the marketing you are doing – long before sales actually sells. We all know that revenue is king, but often getting a precursor can adjust the course of marketing campaigns.
Many of us have been asked to generate quality leads, yet never given the tools to do it. We’ve tried to make do with spreadsheets, whiteboards and CRM systems. But lead management systems now exist that provide more than strategy and line items for budgets, they give marketers tremendous visibility and action into the life of a lead. And with this holistic view of leads across all campaigns, marketers can now easily gauge success and failure early in the process and make adjustments accordingly. These adjustments, along with the ability to score and nurture leads, provide the greatest impact to driving value for the lead generation dollars you are spending.
About the Author
Lisa Cramer is president of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of on-demand marketing automation software that generates, scores and nurtures leads for B2B marketers. For more information, go to www.leadlife.com, or call 1-800-680-6292.