As the holiday season is in full swing, I imagine all the Halloween candy, Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and stuffing, and Christmas cookies; followed by a New Years resolution to be healthier. As many people do when trying to lose weight, we often use other goals to help us get there. We count calories, track physical activity, and then check weight periodically.
Similarly, lead generation businesses use leads as goals, but ultimately look at MQLs or sales as their real metric of success. Similar to the frustration of lowering calories and working out regularly and not losing weight, businesses can be getting conversions and leads, and still not see their sales increase. When this happens, you should dive into lead quality to see how you might get more value from your marketing efforts.
Start With Campaign Review
When you first run into a lead quality issue, it may be easiest to start with reviewing your campaigns. When I am notified of a lead quality issue, I look into the channels we are running on, the targeting options we are using, the ad messaging, and how leads are captured.
If we are running on multiple channels, is the lead quality issue across all of them, or just one? If it is just in one channel, I typically recommend reallocating some budget from this channel to other ones until lead quality is improved. If it’s across multiple channels, is there a pattern to what channels have lead issues?
For example, many clients will see higher quality leads in Search (a channel that shows the user has an intent) compared to Social, where users are generally in a browsing mood and have not shown intent in that moment.
If you see a pattern in the channels that perform compared to the ones that don’t, I recommend evaluating those channels and reallocating budget away from them until a new strategy is determined.
Who are you targeting? Do your targeting options truly align to your ideal lead? Each platform has many targeting options, and knowing what to target takes time and testing. If you aren’t getting the right leads, I’d recommend reviewing your targeting and seeing if there is a way to narrow it. Narrowing your targeting often increases the cost-per-click. But if your leads aren’t qualified, the increase to get better lead quality is generally worth it.
One of my home improvement clients was marketing an event on Facebook, but wasn’t getting people to respond to the event. They were using Facebook’s interest targeting like “interested in golf,” as many of their customers were golfers. However, this was too broad, and was targeting everybody in the local area who liked golf, even if they didn’t own a home. When we took over, we started testing different interests specific to home ownership, and saw an immediate increase.
What message are you sending your audience? Does this align with your ultimate goal? For example, if you run ads to attend a webinar, these leads will take a lot more to convert to a sale than a lead from a product ad. Running the right creative is a balancing act. You have to find creative that’s engaging, but also run ads that align to the stage in the purchasing cycle you need leads to be in.
How Leads are Captured
How are you capturing leads? Are you using a form on your landing page? Are you driving calls? Are you using in-channel lead forms (like Facebook lead gen forms)? All of these leads will behave differently. In general, I have found that as the difficulty to contact you increases, the lead quality increases. For example, most of my clients get high-quality leads from phone calls, but may have lower-quality leads with Facebook or LinkedIn lead gen forms.
Improve Your Business Processes & Communication
While there are many campaign changes you can do to increase lead quality, not everything can be fixed through digital marketing. And while it’s important to find any issues in your campaigns and get them fixed, there are also things on the business side that can improve lead quality.
One of the first things is deciding on what a qualified lead actually is. Many companies have an idea of what a qualified customer would be, and making sure that your marketer knows who that customer is can help. For example, if only businesses of a certain size are qualified leads, your marketer can adjust their targeting to make sure ads are not being served to people who are employed by a business that’s too small to afford you.
Another way businesses can increase lead quality is to integrate their CRM and advertising data. This is a process and can take a lot of work, but being able to link your marketing and sales data can give you huge insights into what is working and what needs to be adjusted.
If your CRM has the ability to link to your advertising platforms and your business has the ability to do it, I would recommend doing so. If you do not have the ability to link them, I’d recommend manually reviewing the data periodically. This can help you find optimization opportunities that could lead to higher quality leads.
Review Your Lead Process
When looking at lead quality issues, you may need to review your lead process. Was the lead unqualified, or were they not ready at the time? What does your lead nurturing process look like? What channels are you using and how often do you reach out to customers? Does your process differ based on the source of the lead (for example, a lead from a customer referral will be much different than a lead from a Facebook ad)?
There can be a lot that goes into this process, but having a solid process in place can help you convert even more leads.
A Real-World Example
One of my clients recently changed their MQL definition, which was a great time to start tying our leads back to MQLs. When we initially started with them, our goal was simply to get as many conversions as possible, though internally they had a specific goal of MQLs. When the MQL goal was shared with us, we started to align our work with their MQL target.
During this process, they also gave us access to their CRM. Using the data from the CRM, we were able to calculate a MQL rate (percent of leads who were qualified). Using this information and their monthly ad spend budget, we were able to calculate a conversion and CPA goal for each month. Additionally, we used this data to optimize our campaigns, including our budget, bids, and ad schedule. Having this information has allowed us to prioritize budget towards efforts that are working and pinpoint opportunities for optimization.
Note: When doing these optimizations, we did not work towards statistical significance, as we did not have enough data to do so. For many businesses, this will be the case. Because of this, I recommend making gradual changes, which will allow you to evaluate if the change you made had the desired effect, or not.
In conclusion, getting leads but not sales can be frustrating. However, when this happens, digging into your lead quality data can tie your digital marketing campaigns to your desired business outcomes even more effectively.