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In today’s ever-changing market, your customers have options. Lots of options. So, how do you attract them amongst all the competition? And when you do, how do make sure they stay and remain loyal customers? Well, lead generation can help with that.

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In this article, we’ll dicuss the basics, by learning how to set realistic business goals, and KPI’s for your lead-gen program showing you how to define lead, attract qualified leads, transform them into customers, and then create loyal customers who will advocate for your business through:

  1. Publishing content,
  2. Leveraging your website,
  3. Social media, and
  4. Search online, and
  5. Engaging your customers to build a consistent pipeline of leads.
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What is lead generation?

You may already know what lead generation is. But just to make sure we’re all on the same page Lead Generation, or Lead Gen, is a great way to attract people to your business marketing. It’s getting a customer interested in the products or services your business has to offer. Lead Gen is about identifying and managing prospects throughout all stages of their decision journey, from unqualified customer leads to satisfied repeat customers, to advocates. Lead Gen has changed a lot over the years. It used to just be sales people attending events and conferences, sitting in a booth at a trade show, or making cold calls.

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Websites, social media, and search have totally changed that. There’s so much information available online. And customers do a ton of research as part of their decision journey, especially in the beginning. The great thing with Lead Gen is people will feel like they’re starting the conversation with you instead of you chasing after them. And that means you can focus efforts on qualified customer leads who are genuinely interested in your business.

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Define your key goals and metrics

One of the most important aspects of lead generation is properly defining your key metrics and goals. So, regardless of the marketing maturity of your organization, all lead generation strategies must be crafted with key goals and metrics in mind. But keep in mind, a strategic lead generation plan does not stop after lead acquisition. So you need to look beyond getting that lead into your sales funnel and also look towards conversion. One of the things that marketers often mistakenly think is that they can generate customers, once a lead gets in the funnel, then all communication stops and that’s all that marketing specifically has to worry about.

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However, since the buyer’s journey and the sales journey has really changed, marketing owns more of the sales funnel than ever before. So it’s really important that once a lead gets into your sales funnel that you have a whole additional set of activities that helps move that lead into your funnel towards conversion. So, again, lead generation does not stop with lead acquisition. Lead generation goes beyond that to lead acceleration. So one of the first steps when you are determining your lead generation plan is to measure your benchmarks.

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So a benchmark is determining where you are today and this will help you set your goals properly. So determine where you are now by measuring the following. So what does your current lead volume look like? What’s your MQL volume? And what are your opportunities look like that are generated per month, per quarter, per year? What are you doing now to generate these different customer leads in the different stages of the funnel? What are your current conversion rates for lead to MQL to SQL to opportunity and to close? So, by conversion rates, How many customer leads that come into your funnel convert to MQLs? How many of those MQLs convert to SQLs? How many SQLs convert to opportunities, and so on.

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If you’re finding that you’re generating a lot of customer leads but a not of them are converting to marketing qualified customer leads, then you know that you might have an issue with lead quality. By really looking into these conversion rates, you can determine where you should be spending your time. What is your current conversion velocity? So, how fast are things moving through your funnel. So once you have a lead into your system, how many days, weeks, months does it take for that lead to hit the other stages? What are your current successes by program and by content? So what are the different types of lead generation programs that you’re running today? What type of content do you have today? And how are those programs and content performing? What are the current recycle rates from sales back to marketing? So of all the customer leads you’re handing off to your sales team, how many of them are they recycling and sending back to marketing? What are your current lead sources? So where do your customer leads come from? Definitely sit down and make a comprehensive list of all of these sources.

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And then what is your current marketing-attributed pipeline, if you can currently measure this. So how is marketing influencing your current live pipeline or closed revenue? If you do have measurement in place, either with a tool or through spreadsheets, you might be able to calculate this. If not, don’t worry about it. We will be talking about this later in the course but, if you can benchmark it, make sure you’re benchmarking it now. So what are some common lead generation goals? So more high-quality customer leads..

What marketer doesn’t want more customer leads and what marketer doesn’t want more high-quality leads? Moving leads faster through the pipeline. So, another common goal is once a lead does get into your funnel, making sure that they are moving faster from lead to close. The faster those leads move through your funnel, the more sales your team can close. Improving branding or supercharging your inbound. So, while lead generation inherently means generating leads for your business, improving branding can also be a large goal when it comes to lead generation.

Even though branding sometimes doesn’t have a direct measurable impact, branding does have an impact to how people outside the organization views your company and so that will automatically supercharge what you’re doing for inbound marketing. Focusing on program optimization. So, you are spending money on marketing programs. If you’re not spending money now, you will hopefully be after this course. And are you focusing on program optimization? Making sure that you’re spending money in the right places and you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Improving sales and marketing alignment and communication. Again, this is a goal of lead generation because you want to have that really, really solid and smooth lead to sales and marketing handoff. Increasing close rate and deal amount. So this is just table stakes here, the better and the more leads that you can generate for your sales team, the more you can increase close rate and deal amounts, especially if you have more high quality leads in your funnel. So what are some common lead generation metrics? So what should you be looking at as far as measurement? So, some common metrics that I’ve seen in the past that people will measure, number of leads generated, number of MQLs generated, and number of opps generated.

So these are more activity-related metrics but still very important to understand how many leads are generated by marketing, how many MQLs are sourced by these marketing programs, and how many opportunities, again, are sourced by these programs. And these are often the numbers that a CEO or your board might want to see. They want to look at these volume numbers. Conversion rates per program.

So, how are your lead generation programs converting? So, are you seeing that you’re spending a lot of money on a particular event but none of the leads that you’re generating through these events are actually converting to various stages in the funnel? Conversion rates per funnel stage. So, this is out of every lead that’s being generated, how many are converting to MQLs?How many converting to opps ad so on. You want to make sure you’re looking at how things are converting through your funnel to identify areas that might be a little bit leaky and that might need you to spend your time optimizing.

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So these are cost metrics. Cost per lead, cost per MQL, cost per opp. Out of all the money you’re spending on your lead generation programs, you should be able to dial down into these metrics per program. So determine if this is actually the right course of spend. Lead conversion velocity. So, again, how things are moving through your funnel and what the rate is. You might find that certain programs like, say, a trade show, when you generate a lead from that particular trade show, you might find that lead coverts through your funnel a lot faster as, say, a lead that you generate through a content download.

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It’s very important to determine how these different programs affect velocity. And then, finally, marketing attribution to pipeline and bookings. And for me, this helps you to build your budget. This also helps for marketing to be shown as a revenue driver instead of a cost center. Ultimately, this is what you should be really focusing on when it comes to your higher level metrics and this should be a goal metric for you to track. And so here are a few examples, depending on the maturity of your marketing program that you can implement.

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So track your important metrics in a spreadsheet per program, per month, and per quarter. This is really the most basic, basic way that you can track these things. You can track them on a per program basis so you can know for all the programs that you’re doing how many customer leads each program generated, how many SQLs this program sourced, how many opps this program sourced. If anything, if you don’t have any other method of tracking make sure that you’re putting this down into a spreadsheet. Use an attribution platform that helps track marketing success.

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An attribution platform will help you connect the dots here and do the math for you. Also, attribution platforms have a lot of really cool visualizations that will help you report out to your CEO and to your Board. Set up bi-weekly or monthly metrics meetings with your team and with sales. So it’s not enough to just say you’re going to track these metrics, you really need to make it part of your sales and marketing culture and your team culture. You want to make sure that you create reports for your teams and executive reports to bubble up the status of your programs.

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This may often take the form of some type of executive dashboard. Many CRMs have dashboard functionality available or you can do it an attribution platform. An attribution platform also often has those dashboards or different report outs that you can send to your executives. The bottom line here is that you want to make sure that you’re reporting out your successes to the people in your business that matter. So when you’re thinking about setting up your lead generation programs and as you’re beginning to map out what you need for lead generation success, the initial setting up of measurement, metrics, and how you’re measuring these things is a critical part of any lead generation program.

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