Marketers nowadays are familiar with the concept of a ‘return-on-investment’, and indeed many are tortured by the phrase – beaten about the head with it by their superiors, even as they try to get to grips with how to measure it accurately in the first place.
Any marketing activity is geared towards generating a return of some kind. Whether it’s increased awareness, positive sentiment, engagement or profit, every campaign needs its objectives and every marketer wants to exceed them.
Digital marketing techniques – including lead generation – can bring ample access to a whole array of statistics that make measuring and illustrating return on investment easier. Impressions, clicks, conversions, revenue-per-visit, lifetime value; the level of transparency that marketers now enjoy is a double-edged sword, loaded with potential to boggle the mind.
Fundamentally, however, there is one simple question that marketers will (or at least, should) always be striving to answer: ‘how can I make my return increase?’
I thought I’d share three simple principles by which marketers can increase their returns through lead generation programmes. If you have more thoughts, or tips, then please share them in the comments below.
Imagine you’re on the local high street, shopping for some shoes. You head into a shop and find a pair that you like the look of, so you approach the nearest assistant to see if they have a pair in your size. The assistant heads into the store room to have a look, so you sit down to wait. And wait. And wait some more. How long do you sit around in the shop before you decide to go elsewhere?
Expressed interest has a shelf-life. Your lead generation programme may yield hundreds or thousands of prospective customers, but if you’re not quickly engaging with them once they’ve expressed their interest, then you’re likely to miss out on potential return as their interest wanes or they are seduced by your competitors. It’s a cliche, but you really must strike while the iron’s hot. If your lead generation partner supplies your leads in a weekly or, worse-still, monthly batch, then your campaign is structurally flawed and can never maximise the return on your budget.
You’re back in the shoe shop. You’ve taken your pair of beach-friendly holiday flip-flops to the assistant and he’s gone to take a look for your size. When he returns, he’s holding a pair of wellington boots. How likely are you to buy them? The chances are that you’re not in the market for that particular kind of footwear – and the assistant really could have worked that out for himself, right?
Digital lead generation enables you to collect data about your prospective customer, including precisely what it is they’re interested in talking to you about. Don’t ignore that information – it’s the key to successfully converting leads into sales.
Heard of the sales funnel? Depending on what it is that you’re selling it may be quite long, or quite short – crucially, you’ll will have one. At the broad top of the funnel, prospective customers begin to interact with your brand or business – perhaps through research, browsing, checking you out on Facebook etc. As you begin to find out more about them, and engage with them, the funnel narrows and some customers will drop out. By the end of the funnel – the transaction – you have fewer customers than you did at the start.
What’s key to minimising that drop-off, and also encouraging those who leave the funnel to perhaps come back to it in the future, is clear and compelling engagement. I’ve used the example before, but it bears repeating – you wouldn’t get married (generally) after a single date. Customers are the same – they seek a bit of engagement, experience, shared dialogue, and understanding before they commit. So give it to them. A lead is just that – a lead. It does not turn into a sale by luck or magic, but as a result of your work. So have a plan for engaging with your prospective customers in a clear, interesting and informative way.