Lead Generation Metrics — The Basics and Beyond

Lead generation metrics should help you understand not only what parts of your digital marketing are working, but what parts are generating the highest quality leads.

There are basic lead generation metrics that you must to be tracking in order to evaluate the success of your lead gen efforts. You’ll likely have to go beyond the basics to mine truly valuable insights about your efforts.

Here’s a list, that’s by no means comprehensive, of my favorite basic and more advanced metrics.

First, the basics.

Impressions

How many people are seeing your ad, your content or whatever it is you’re using to attract that audience? This is, to use another term, your reach. Your tracking and evaluation here should be on a per-channel basis, with an eye toward finding the channels that you are able to grow most cost-effectively.

Clickthrough Rate

CTR is the number of people who interact with your content. Typically, that means they click the ad or the link in your social media post, etc. (You might also want to track other types of engagement, like subscriptions.) The critical element of this metric is breaking it down to individual ads or content, including individual issues of your newsletter campaign. You want to know what is resonating with your audience and what is driving them to take action.

Conversions

A conversion can be many different things, depending on the goal you have for your lead generation campaign. (e.g. marketing-qualified leads, sales-qualified leads, etc.) Whatever action you deem to be a conversion, it’s generally a “state change” along the buyer’s journey. That can be a move from a member of the target audience who’s never heard of you to a website visitor to a prospect to a MQL to an SQL and finally to becoming a client. Each of those state changes is a conversion that should be tracked separately.

Conversion Rate

This calculated metric is a function of conversions divided by impressions. It’s worth tracking on its own, of course, but should also be evaluated with some latitude. That is, as you expand your reach and your impressions rise, you may have a less tightly targeted audience. Of course, you’d like your conversion rate to always rise. But if it falls while the total number of conversions rise, that’s not necessarily a bad trade-off.

With these data points solidly represented in our dashboard, we can move on to additional (and increasingly useful) measurements.

Cost per Lead

What does it take to move a prospect through a stage in the funnel? How does the cost compare with other methods? (Direct mail, trade shows, etc.) How do costs compare across the various digital channels you’re using? These are the metrics that will guide your spend going forward.

Leads per Channel

Another calculated metric worth adding to your dashboard. Here, you compare how many leads a channel is generating against all other channels. It’s an analog to conversion rate in that a channel with more leads generated from a smaller audience (impressions) might be a channel worth exploring more deeply.

Time to Conversion

This metric typically takes some aggregating of data across platforms, as you’ll want to note when each state change occurs. It’s valuable to know how long it takes a typical prospect to proceed through each stage. It’s even more valuable to know this on a per-channel basis. And more valuable still to know average time-per-conversion for those prospects that become clients. You can then tailor your programs to pay more attention to those prospects who appear to be on that “golden path.”

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

CLV should be calculated across the board and broken down by channel. A channel with a slightly higher cost per lead but a 10-time increase in CLV is a great channel!

Conclusion

You may find the able list of metrics daunting to consider, especially if you’re not gathering and reviewing any of them now. If so, there’s no reason not to start small. As you become more comfortable with the data, you can expand your dashboard to include a broader range of data points and a broader possibility of action points.

Marketing to Millennial Business Buyers

The Millennial generation has been out in the workforce for a while now, and this cohort is now entering the stage of their careers where they are part of the business buying process. Much has been written about Millennial preferences as consumers. But how about them as business buyers? Let’s take a look.

The Millennial generation has been out in the workforce for a while now, and this cohort is now entering the stage of their careers where they are part of the business buying process. They may not all be decision-makers quite yet, but they are certainly important influencers. So we B-to-B marketers must consider how to appeal to Millennial business buyers effectively. Much has been written about Millennial preferences as consumers. But how about them as business buyers? Let’s take a look.

Millennials were born in the range of 1977 to 1995, more or less — some researchers put it at 1980s to 2000s. So they range in age today from around 20 to late 30s. As consumers, they are tech dependent, they value authenticity, and they are attracted to brands that think and act like them. Here’s what this means to B-to-B marketers.

Broaden your communications media channels. Millennials prefer mobile text, and IM networks like WhatsApp for direct messages. For advertising, use social media like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Streamline your lead gen. Make it effortless. Use auto-populate techniques for forms, where possible. Ask for minimal data elements (but fill in the company profile using an outside provider like ReachForce).

Mobile-enable all communications. This means mobile-friendly website and email formats.

Ask for referrals. Millennials are very loyal, once they establish a trusted connection with a brand. So they are likely to refer, especially if you ask.

Avoid marketing speak. Be real, authentic and truthful (they fact check). Get to the point, fast (but make plenty of information available if they want it). Don’t be too serious — make them laugh.

Don’t sell too hard. Not only do they fact check, they’ll also look at reviews, comments and other online validation.

Be active on social media. The B-to-B value of social has been proven again and again. But if you’re still not convinced, the behavior of Millennials should be enough to put you over the top. This generation expects you to be tweeting, blogging, posting on Facebook, and participating in LinkedIn groups.

Tell stories. These buyers respond to emotion. Use case studies, testimonials.

Treat them uniquely, not as a member of a group. This translates into taking full advantage of personalization techniques, like dynamic web page serving and data-driven customized messaging.

Talk about efficiency, and results. These are the themes that interest Millennials. They want to operate faster, cheaper, better. And they want their efforts to change the world. If you can help with those missions, say so. These are the product positioning angles that are meaningful to the new business buyer.

Any other ideas to add to the list?

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Mistake or Clever Test?

As marketers, we know that consumers are accustomed to providing personal information in exchange for something free. As business-to-business marketers, we know that gated content is one of the best ways to build a database of prospects. So the email I received recently from MarketingSherpa really surprised me

Several years ago, I started subscribing to MarketingSherpa—a research institute that provides case studies, benchmark reports and articles on what’s working in marketing today. I find their practical approach and clear and concise writing truly helpful in my ongoing quest to stay on top of marketing best practices.

As marketers, we know that consumers are accustomed to providing personal information in exchange for something free. As business-to-business marketers, we know that gated content is one of the best ways to build a database of prospects. So the email I received recently from Pamela Markey, Senior Director of Marketing at MarketingSherpa really surprised me.

There was nothing unusual about the email itself. Typical MarketingSherpa subject line, and typical MarketingSherpa email format. The purpose of the email was to advise me that the Quarterly Research Digest with insights from Q1 2014 was now available. But what caught me off guard was the language they used to make their offer:

I would like to share a complimentary digital copy (no lead gen form required) of the most recent edition with you.

No lead gen form required? Really??

In case there was a doubt in the reader’s mind, the offer was repeated again, underneath the call-to-action button: “Get a Complimentary Digital Copy”…. “(no lead gen form required)

My first reaction was, “Wow. I guess they know their audience!”—those of us sick and tired of filling out a form just to read a whitepaper or “10 tips…,” knowing that it might prompt a follow up phone call.

(As a side note, I’ve found this even more annoying, especially after I received the offer of a download via email. Surely they could track that it was ME who clicked and downloaded? But I digress …)

When I shared the email with a colleague, her reaction was totally different. “I think it’s a mistake,” she stated. “I think the copywriter intended it as ‘direction’ to the art director or programmer.”

Hmmm … those MarketingSherpa folks are pretty savvy marketing people, who I doubt made that kind of mistake … or did they?

Perhaps they’re trying to learn if more people will click on the link when they know (in advance) that there won’t be any form to fill out. And when you think about it, that’s a great thing to test. We’re all looking for ways to increase clickthroughs and downloads, and I’m sure the research folks at MarketingSherpa already know that those forms are a barrier to completion.

I, for one, would like to know the outcome of the test (if this is one). Or, if it’s not, I’d like to know the copywriter that suggested this strategy. Because in my opinion, it’s brilliant.