Leads: the goal most B2B marketers optimize towards relentlessly. Hitting lead generation targets is key to increased budget, more headcount, and greater freedom to run more experimental campaigns. If marketers succeed and supply their sales team with enough leads, they’ve proven the value of the campaigns they’ve chosen to run.
But if you’re a B2B marketer and you’re only optimizing for lead quantity, you’re missing half the picture. Read on to learn which conversion metrics you need to monitor, which lead attribute you may be overlooking, and techniques to address the gaps.
The Optimization Opportunity for B2B Marketers
Optimization is the strategy that amplifies B2B marketing campaigns across all channels. By testing, personalizing, and integrating the digital touchpoints of the buyer’s journey, marketers can not only generate more leads, they can ensure that they’re delivering a best-in-class experience to their prospects and customers. (Learn more about how website optimization fuels the demand gen engine by downloading the Complete Guide to Optimizing Demand Generation.)
Tactically, website optimization is a critical strategy for ensuring that demand gen marketers are able to deliver more and more leads white maximizing the investment in customer acquisition.
In the context of a B2B marketing strategy, optimization might include techniques like:
You might even be experimenting with presentation of pricing on your website, or optimizing the free trial offer that you use to introduce prospective buyers to your product. (Looking for more lead generation ideas? Check out these 50 tips from B2B marketing experts.)
Each of these website optimization techniques might drive incrementally more leads, bringing you closer to hitting your monthly lead goal. Marketing has done its work, the Sales team is happy, more deals close, and the business grows.
The Metrics that Matter Besides Lead Volume
If you’re maniacally focused on hitting lead goals, you’re missing half the picture. Demand generation in B2B is about more than just filling a funnel with leads at the top. Lead volume doesn’t mean anything if your conversion rates down the funnel don’t rise as well.
What other conversion rates should you be concerned about? A website visitor becoming a lead is the first step. But once a visitor becomes a known lead in your marketing automation and CRM systems, make sure you’re tracking the following conversion rates as well:
- Lead to MQL (marketing qualified lead) conversion rate
- MQL to SQL (sales qualified lead) conversion rate
- SQL to Opportunity conversion rate
- Opportunity to Closed Deal conversion rate
A lead at the top of the marketing-sales funnel does not equal closed business—there are many more conversions and hurdles to jump before a lead becomes a new customer. For this reason, striving to hit growing lead targets may not actually be the best thing for your business.
As a conversion-oriented marketer, you need to focus on experiences that will not only bring prospects into your marketing-sales funnel, but on optimizations that will drive them through it.
For instance, here’s a series of conversion rates for a typical B2B software product:
If the website conversion rate were to increase from 7% to 8%, would the lead qualification rate hold at 36%, or dip below that? In that case, your new leads aren’t making it through to opportunities, which means you’re supplying your Sales team with lower-quality leads.
Conversely, if you were to tighten the requirements on leads you collect from your website, maybe your conversion rate dips to 6% or even 5%. But if your qualification rate rises, or better yet, your close rate increases, you’ll be in a much better situation of being able to hand over highly sought-after sales leads, even if the quantity is lower.
When making decisions about how to increase conversions and generate leads, you must consider the customer lifecycle holistically. A win at the first step of this process might cause problems later on. Ask yourself questions like:
- If asking for less information on forms increases my conversion rate, will my Sales Ops team be able to enrich the lead with data from other sources, or score the lead so my sales team have enough information to effectively follow up with the new leads?
- If visitors convert to leads as soon as they visit my website, are they ready to evaluate my solution and become a customer? If not, what is the best way to continue engaging and nurturing them over time?
- Am I showing visitors content which is relevant to them, or am I deliberately making information more difficult to find so they’ll engage with a salesperson?
At each stage of the funnel, consider how you’ll be able to translate leads into successful customers. While generating more leads may be the initial goal, think about the tradeoffs you may make in lead quality, or other characteristics of customer fit that determine how successful they’ll be once they are a paying customer. These are all considerations that can be navigated through testing, and informed decisions can be made based on data that you collect from your own visitors, leads, and customers.
Of course, there are few strategies that can help optimize both lead quality and volume. To uncover these win-win tactics, you’ll need to download the Complete Guide to Optimizing Demand Generation to learn more.