Efficiently and consistently generating qualified leads should be one of the core objectives of any marketing endeavor. New leads are the key to business growth, and without a continuous influx of fresh opportunities, even the most elite sales teams can fizzle out.
With how integral lead generation is to an organization’s success, it comes as no surprise that 61% of marketers say that it’s their top challenge. If you’re struggling to consistently generate actionable sales leads, here are five reasons you might be falling short.
You’re Focusing on Quantity vs. Quality
Traditionally, marketers have prioritized lead volume over lead quality, and while this wide net approach may still be effective in some scenarios, most modern marketers now view lead quality as their primary main focus. Because of their likelihood to engage and convert, qualified leads result in more closed opportunities than their top-of-funnel counterparts, and ultimately provide a higher lifetime value and better ROI, which we’ll talk about later in this post.
But what makes a lead “quality?” Generally, measurements of quality are dependent on your organization’s specific lead generation goals and should be agreed upon by both marketing and sales. One common factor of lead quality regardless of business goals is the lead’s intent, or how likely they are to engage with your company and convert into a customer. Intent can be measured in a variety of ways, like by how often a lead opens an email or downloads a resource from your website. If a lead exhibits numerous buying signals throughout their ongoing interaction with your brand and content, chances are that they are a quality lead.
Another important factor that contributes to overall lead quality is the quality of data. A robust suite of rich, validated data ensures that the lead is both valid and marketing qualified, enabling it to be passed to sales quicker and more confidently. Basic contact information like name, email, phone number, and company are fundamental, but contextual, intent-based data like the lead’s behavior on your website and history of engagement with your brand are becoming increasingly more valuable. The more data a lead has, and the better that data is, the higher chance that lead has of resulting in a sale.
Ultimately, lead quality is the eye of the beholder; because of different buyer’s personas and organizational goals, what some companies define as “quality” might not be the same as yours. Regardless of your definition of quality, focusing on generating quality leads instead of generating as many leads as possible should be one of your goals.
You Aren’t Segmenting Your Content Strategy For Different Audiences
In marketing, if you’re trying to talk to everybody, you won’t reach anybody. So even if your organization has created the perfect blog post or whitepaper, it won’t meet it’s marketing goals if it’s not delivered to the right audience at the right time. Conversely, putting irrelevant content in front of even the most engaged audience might scare off otherwise great opportunities.
Consider the stages in the standard buyer’s journey below; leads in the Awareness stage of this process are typically most interested in solving a problem and are purely looking for information, so it would make sense to serve them an ebook or piece of editorial content so they can learn more about your business. Someone in the Decision stage; however, might be more interested in detailed pricing information, competitive comparisons, or a live a demo since they are considered “ready to buy.”
In order to start providing content for every level of your funnel, you will first need to better understand your audience at a segmented level. Common types of data to consider when segmenting include:
- Psychographic information, such as a groups’ interests, personalities, values, attitudes, common activities, lifestyle, etc.;
- Geographical information, such as where a group of people lives, ranging in scope from country to neighborhood;
- Demographic information, or things such as income, age, race, occupation, family size, religion, language, culture, gender, etc.; and
- Behavioral information, such as what the customers’ needs are and how they react to those needs in regard to a product or service
Once you’ve established your different segments, you can begin curating your content to appeal to the various groups and different buyer’s personas. While it’s important to always consider a leads intent when building content strategies, it’s also important to keep in mind the above segmenting criteria in order to provide the optimal content experience and ultimately, the most conversions.
You’re Not A/B Testing Your Landing Pages
A/B testing is a sure-fire way to know whether or not you’re getting the best results from your landing pages. When done correctly, you’ll get insight into which version of a page is getting more clicks, better conversions, and lower bounce rates, allowing you to continually optimize for peak performance.
Different from split-testing, A/B testing refers to the comparison of two versions of the same piece of content, with only a single variable changed on the variation. For example, a variation of an existing landing page might contain a form that asks for an additional piece of information compared to the first. After the variation is prepared, both versions of the page are shown to an equal half of your visitors, allowing you to see which version resonated the most with your audience based on specific metrics like click-through-rates or time on page.
The first step in A/B testing is collecting benchmark data; in order to know what you want to improve, you will need to know where you performance currently stands. If you’re just getting starting, it might be helpful to start with some “low hanging fruit”, like pages with exceedingly poor conversions or high bounce rates. After you’ve identified the pages to test and established a clear goal, you will want to generate a hypothesis on the outcome of your testing – what do you think will happen if this change is made? Finally, create your page variation, and run your experiment. While the test is live, it’s important to ensure that you’re sending enough traffic to both variations of the page in order to get optimal data. For example, 1000 visitors will produce statistically more significant data than only 100.
A/B testing enables marketers to make specific and continual changes to optimize the user experience and increase performance, collecting valuable data along the way. While helping to achieve specific goals like more conversions, A/B testing also helps garner a better understanding of users’ behavior. For example, testing call-to-actions can tell you what compels your audience to do a specific action, while testing depth and length of content shows you what your audience is most interested in. If you’re not currently engaged in any A/B testing, it’s an easy but impactful way to optimize your lead generation efforts.
You’re Not Nurturing The Leads You’ve Already Generated
Believe it or not, over 75% of generated leads never convert into sales. While some leads may be inherently illegitimate, not currently ready to buy, or otherwise a poor quality lead, typically the most common reason for this high-drop off rate is lack of lead nurturing. Lead nurturing is the ongoing process, usually through marketing automation, of enhancing your relationship with your prospects throughout their entire buying journey, providing them value and information at every step along the way.
Lead nurturing is no easy task as it requires a sustained effort over a long period of time to be successful. Assuming you already have a lead management process in place, you will need to make sure both sales and marketing are aligned in regards to what’s classified as a marketing qualified vs. sales qualified lead. After that, you can begin mapping out your buyers’ personas and content for each segment (see below). Remember, your goal is to help prospects achieve their objective, so it’s important to not only understand what that objective is, but to also provide relevant content and messaging to satisfy their needs.
Once you’ve established your personas and created the appropriate content, the simplest and most effective way to begin nurturing is with email marketing. Some examples of email content for nurturing purposes include, but aren’t limited to:
- Educational email content– demonstrates the value your company can offer by providing links to whitepapers, blog articles, or videos
- Newsletters – keeps your business “top-of-mind” with the prospect and provides company updates or editorial content
- Product specific emails– while high level educational content is great for leads in the earlier stages of a nurturing funnel, information about specific products is great to push prospects further through the process
- Events– let your prospects know if you’re exhibiting at a trade show, attending a conference, or hosting an upcoming webinar
When it comes to email marketing, one thing to keep in mind is the frequency and cadence of your nurturing. Sending too many emails in a short period of time will create friction between you and your prospect, and not sending enough emails might cause you to lose out on valuable opportunities.
Creating and maintaining great relationships is the “new normal” for modern sales processes, and lead nurturing is the most effective way to improve and maintain on these relationships. Not only that, but lead nurturing produces a vast array of contextual data that should be used for segmentation and personalization. Since lead nurturing can generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% the cost, it should be an essential component of every lead generation strategy.
You Aren’t Measuring Your Leads’ Return-On-Investment
One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is that more often than not, results can be measured in real-time, providing marketers the opportunity to swiftly adapt and optimize on the fly. But as the saying goes, you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and many marketers struggle to define a clear return on their lead generation investment.
There are two fundamental metrics to measure when calculating your lead generation ROI. First, cost per lead (CPL), is the tangible dollar amount associated with a visitor becoming a lead. For example, if you spend $5,000and generate 1000 leads, your CPL is $50.The second factor, lead value, is little trickier to quantify. If your sales cycle involves singular, one-off transactions, then you may want to use average order value (AOV), while if your business involves multiple transaction over a period of time, lifetime customer value might be a better metric. No two leads are identical – one lead might have an LCV of $20,000, another $50,000 – so establishing averages for these values are important when making ROI calculations.
Now that we have our needed metrics, how do we actually calculate ROI? Take the above example – we know that if spend $5,000, we can generate 1,000 leads, resulting in a CPL of $50. For the sake of this example, let’s say that 25%of our leads convert into paying customers and have an LCV of $500. Using the below formula, we know that the return on our $5,000 lead generation investment is $12,500, or 250%.
Once you’ve defined your lead generation ROI, you can begin to take actions to improve it. As we discussed earlier on in this post, quality is often more important than quantity – if you’re spending $5000 dollars and generating 1000 leads, but those leads only result in a 5% ROI, it might be worth spending the same amount of dollars to generate higher qualified leads. Scenarios like this are all too common, and it’s extremely important for marketers to understand their ROI in depth – in fact, marketers that calculate ROI are 1.6 times more likely to receive higher budgets.
Effective lead generation doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated. By following long-established best practices and the tips here, even the smallest marketing team can consistently fuel their pipeline with new opportunities in a cost-effective way. If you’re making any of the lead generation mistakes described in this post and want to make a dedicated change, I recommend the following for further reading:
- Lead Quality vs. Lead Quantity: Which Is Better?
- Segmentation 101: A Complete Guide To Marketing Segmentation
- Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing
- A/B Testing A Complete Overview of What, Why & How
- Reducing Your Cost Per Lead With Negative Keywords
- Marketing ROI Formula – Return on Investment Calculator
Do you have any other mistakes that you or other marketers you know are guilty of making? Share them in the comments below, or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.