Managing your Marketing Agency
Digital marketing offers the compelling promise of accurate measurement and rapid time to market, but while increasing web site visits fourfold or delivering 100% more leads looks fantastic, the devil is in the detail. How many of these leads are actually driving sales?
The truth is most companies do not know. In reality, leads are not being tracked through the business and some have no idea how many are qualified out by the sales team; at what stage; and why? Without this information not only are the measures of campaign success irrelevant but the marketing agency has no information to use to refine the campaign to truly meet business needs.
Marketing attitudes and budgets have changed from focusing solely on traditional print advertising, public relations and trade shows, to activities such as inbound marketing, social media and Pay per Click (PPC), and an increasing number of businesses are turning to expert agencies to ensure they get in on the hype too. These agencies are, of course, great at demonstrating their value, using a raft of measurements to prove the quality of the campaign – from website visits to conversions and brand awareness. But what impact is this higher number of website visits having on the business’ top line revenues?
Marketing teams are failing to make the essential connection between leads generated and sales made. By going back to basic principles they will see the objective of marketing activity is to generate sales and provide the sales team with excellent, qualified leads that support an effective and productive sales process.
Marketers need to scrutinise in detail the ‘leads generated’ and determine whether the leads are within the company’s key target markets and geographies; whether they convert into the expected sales pipeline at the ratio expected; and ultimately into closed deals Essentially, companies need to measure, and not just estimate, the true return on marketing investment.
Tracking leads with CRM
The only way to determine an accurate ROI is to track the leads throughout the sales process. Using an effective CRM system a business can follow the progress of the unqualified leads that arrive at the web site. The first stage is typically Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) - those that meet the basic qualification criteria, such as geographic region or size of company. The next stage is usually Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) or Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), those leads that meet most of the normal BANT qualification rules - Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale. Most will then consider a conversion into an ‘opportunity’ for the sales team when all four criteria are met. But, finally, and most decisively, ‘closed/won’ which enables the finance team to generate an invoice – the ultimate proof of lead value!
Provided with accurate information about which campaigns generated the best leads, the marketing agency can immediately start to tailor activity and refine campaigns to deliver more of the same and drive up the overall value of investment.
Don’t just rely on Google Analytics
Today too many marketing departments are happy to measure on the basis of overall lead generation numbers not quality. But believing the information the agency delivers from Google Analytics or search engine result tools is not just short sighted, it is lazy. Marketers need to get real value from an investment in inbound marketing and that means understanding just how those new leads perform.
Given that many businesses are spending several thousand pounds per month on digital marketing – many on PPC alone - more companies should be actively exploiting end to end lead tracking to constantly challenge and improve the quality of digital marketing activity.
By failing to close the loop between marketing investment and sales, that opportunity is being wasted. Without an accurate understanding of the cost per lead, how can a business determine whether the agency is delivering value for money – or whether that investment could be better placed elsewhere?