“I don’t care how much a lead costs. What matters to me is Quality!”.
Not too long ago I had a client say these words to me with such an intensity that it made an impact on the way that I approach B2B advertising. Further, assessing the quality of the leads that our teams provide to our clients.
When thinking about B2B and B2C campaigns there are two primary differences. The sales cycle and the partnership that must exist between the marketing and sales departments. Companies spend their entire marketing budget driving opportunities for their sales team. Often, unfortunately in our experience much less time is spent analyzing and optimizing lead quality. This is one of the driving forces in most organizations’ endless war between sales and marketing.
Why quality B2B leads matter
When working to understand the importance of quality of B2B leads it’s important to remember:
If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve sat in a meeting with a marketing department while they shared grandiose plans for all of this really “cool” content. Only later to have me ask the question “How does this add to your bottom line”. To ultimately be met with dumbfounded faces.
Let me say this clearly: You can drive thousands of leads to your website every month but if none of those leads are qualified and put your sales team in a position to close a sale then you are wasting your money.
Having great content that drives a lot of traffic is a great thing and should be considered as part of the process. However, if that traffic doesn’t drive a user down the sales funnel, then it can hurt more than help. Nothing is worse than a qualified user gaining all the information about your industry from your site only to convert to a competitor’s site because it’s easier for them to do so.
Be your sales team’s ally, not their scapegoat.
Walk into most organizations today and you’re likely to see the same scenario. The company isn’t meeting its sales goals. The marketing team is blaming the sales team. The sales team blames it on the quality of leads being sent over from the marketing team. It’s one of the longest-running battles in business.
Instead of going down the “blame game” path we encourage our clients to partner with their sales team. Collectively looking at their lead generation efforts is both part of marketing and sales goals. Remember we are all part of the same company here. The goal should be to increase the client base of that company. Understanding the objections your sales team faces on a day-to-day basis and doing what you can to incorporate answers to those objections and drive the highest quality leads possible can hugely impact overall business goals.
One of the biggest indicators of success vs. failure in our team when evaluating our performance for B2B clients is a simple question “Is your team excited to see the leads that we are sending over?”. If the answer is yes then great let’s keep getting better. However, if the answer is no then that tells us there is some serious work to do. We all know that human beings are going to take the path of least resistance in most cases. If the marketing team is consistently sending over low-quality leads how quickly do you think the sales team is going to jump on getting a hold of those prospects…… yeah it’s going to be a while.
Tactics that positively impact quality B2B leads
So I think we’re all in agreement that we should be paying extra attention to the quality of leads we are driving for our partners on the sales side. Below you’ll find 3 tactics that we’ve found can make a huge difference in the quality of B2B leads.
#1: Start with what you know
There are very few audience bases more qualified than users who have already gone through your sales process and came out on the other end as a customer. Take the time to understand your customer base. Are there any trends that stand out in terms of demographics or personality profiles? Do they all have similar job titles senioritis at their companies? Do they have similar education? If so great, this is all information that you can use.
LinkedIn remains one of the best platforms for B2B advertising and we encourage almost all our clients to take advantage. One of the most effective ways to start building a qualified audience is to upload a custom audience of your current customers. Afterward using that custom audience to create a lookalike audience within the platform of those that most closely resemble your current customer base.
Additionally, talk to your sales team and understand the profiles of their best customers. Later using LinkedIn’s native targeting to create a prospecting audience of users who match most closely to those profiles. This can be a huge help to make sure your budget is being spent to increase the likelihood that leads driven by those campaigns will have the highest quality.
#2: Get the most out of your investment for quality B2B leads
Driving high-quality B2B leads can be an expensive endeavor. It’s important to get the most out of your investments, especially in those areas where you can target more specifically. One of the keys to a successful omnichannel campaign is to use learnings from one channel in another.
One of the most effective ways to get the most out of your investment is to utilize UTM codes in your ad campaigns. These are sets of parameters that are added to the end of destination URLs that allow you to track what users are doing on your website. Even going back to the campaign that drove them there in the first place. You should already be using these parameters in campaigns to assess performance. Further, they provide a great opportunity to create retargeting audiences in other channels based on the targeting methods used on LinkedIn.
For instance, if I create an audience of CMOs at companies with over 5,000 employees on LinkedIn I can use the UTM’s from the ad campaign. This will create a retargeting list on Facebook or Google that would contain the same users that we don’t have the same ability to target.
Utilizing this tactic allows you to spend your budget more wisely. Instead of joining every auction in Google ads for instance I can instead use bid modifiers to focus my budget only on users who might have engaged with our content on LinkedIn that are now doing additional informational searches on Google. This becomes especially important when considering the cost per click for some industries.
#3: Think beyond the click
The advances in machine learning and bidding automation have been both a blessing and a curse in digital marketing. While they allow us to save time and hopefully get the most out of our budget if relied upon solely as our primary form of optimizations we can leave a lot on the table, especially when it comes to driving quality B2B leads within search channels.
Most bidding algorithms will allow you to optimize for conversion events such as form fills or content downloads. Unfortunately, they do very little to help us understand the quality of those leads. Additionally, most of the channels have conversion minimums (50 conversions per week for instance in Facebook) before they are fully optimized and driving the best performance.
So what do marketers do in smaller markets or niche services where the volume isn’t there to achieve the 50 conversion minimum and they are forced to optimize further down the funnel to metrics like clicks? In these situations, we tell our teams to look beyond in channel click metrics and compare those to what is happening post-click on the website through tools like Google analytics. Again it does your company very little good to optimize and drive hundreds of clicks if none of them are qualified. It becomes just another case of wasted spending.
We look at metrics like Time on Site, and Pages Per Session to determine if traffic coming from a specific keyword is quality or just driving clicks because the algorithm is optimized towards it. While neither of those metrics is a perfect optimization tool and we’d never hang our hat on those metrics solely, we do use that data to help paint a picture of keyword performance along with other in-channel metrics like Click Through Rate, Cost Per Click, and Impressions.
There you have it, friends. Remember driving traffic to a website or getting users to fill out a form should be the goal of any marketer. More importantly, making sure that the quality of those leads put your partners in the sales department in a position to close business should always remain a top priority.
Budgets can be hard to come by, especially in very competitive markets. Driving the highest quality leads possible, developing agile marketing strategies, and contributing positively to your company’s bottom line is a great way to not only get the most out of your current budget but also put yourself in a great position to get more come budget time.