By Will Schnabel, VP and General Manager, Silverpop VTrenz
When it comes to lead generation, it’s applicable to revisit the old Post Office motto: “The mail must go through.” But in order to make sure this happens, three things are critically important. B2B marketers must consider these when integrating their email marketing into lead generation activities. In a tight economic climate, no sales leads can be allowed to go fallow, even hot leads can grow cool, and now more than ever, you must be able to prove the worth of your marketing campaigns.
Let no lead go to waste. To ensure leads move through the sales pipeline without falling through the cracks, marketers must work to understand their marketplaces better than ever before. By implementing automated marketing programs that can intelligently identify where leads are in the buying cycle and engaging prospective customers early in the sales cycle, marketers are more likely to favorably influence them toward the company and its products. An organized process can help move leads that are ready to buy on to sales while ensuring that those with the potential to become qualified leads are nurtured, using timely and relevant email communications, along through the sales cycle is essential.
Today’s longer buying cycles can cause hot leads to cool. It’s important to remember that, even with the best nurturing program, people don’t always move through the process exactly as planned. Even “hot” leads can get stalled. A budget gets cut; a timeline extended. To address the inevitability of hot leads suddenly going cool, you have to make sure your lead management program allows sales to send formerly-qualified leads back to marketing for further nurturing. Similarly, marketing must be able to easily alert sales when prospects sent back for nurturing become re-engaged and are ready to be worked.
Measuring the ROI of Lead Management. Marketers are under increasing pressure to demonstrate the effectiveness and worth of their programs. Simply measuring the number of leads generated by a marketing campaign won’t give you enough insight to determine the ultimate effectiveness of your marketing program and its impact on the bottom line. To evaluate marketing ROI, you need to calculate:
- The percentage of marketing-qualified leads accepted by sales
- The percentage of sales-accepted leads that become sales-qualified
- The percentage of marketing-qualified leads that ultimately result in closed business
To show how marketing contributes to the bottom line, get together with your sales organization, carefully define and agree on what you mean by a qualified lead and ROI, thereby aligning your objectives. Make sure you understand your company’s revenue and sales goals. Determine the number of sales-qualified leads that marketing needs to deliver and how many new leads are generally required to meet that goal. These calculations vary widely by industry, company, and competence of both the sales and marketing teams.
In fact, analysts at Aberdeen Group find that companies with the highest lead qualification rates and lead-to-sales conversion rates are twice as likely as less successful companies to leverage formalized lead metrics that manage the flow of leads from marketing to sales and back again when warranted.
This year looks to be filled with challenges, but marketers who are ready to fully engage with prospects and utilize the technologies that enhance their efficiencies will be in a better position to succeed.
Will Schnabel, Silverpop's VP of international markets, oversees strategy, product direction and operations of Silverpop's Vtrenz solution, a leading demand management and lead scoring/routing technology. Prior to Silverpop's acquisition of Vtrenz in May 2007, Schnabel served as its president and CEO, where he guided the company's growth as an innovative thought leader in the (SaaS) and marketing automation industries. He also has served in an executive capacity at Accenture, a leading management-consulting firm.