<< by on May 28th, 2008
If you’ve been a marketer for a while, I’m sure you’ve faced the age-old debate that rages between marketing and sales — achieving quality leads vs. quantity of leads. Believe me, some days, it’s the bane of my exisitance! While marketers cannot always control the quality of every lead that comes into a company via various marketing tactics, marketers in all media can take some small steps to better target their audience and possibly influence the quality of leads coming in.
The same is true for PPC advertising. From the very foundation of PPC, a simple act of selecting the right keywords, for example, has a profound affect on the quality of leads. But how do you measure and judge quality of leads coming from PPC? It starts with the right foundation.
CRM (customer relationship management) software is typically mostly used for sales purposes, but marketers have embraced CRM over the past few years as a way to evaluate lead quality and further market to non-converted leads. If your focus is on lead generation, such as for a B2B company, its imperative that you have CRM software capturing the leads you receive via the web, if for nothing else but to act as a database repository for those leads.
Many CRM systems have simple to generate web-based forms that you can easily incorporate into your PPC landing pages. This allows leads from PPC to be entered directly into the CRM system, ensuring that you don’t lose any lead data. Most CRM tools also allow you to add custom fields for tracking other types of data in the lead’s record, such as keyword, lead source, and more. By tracking those fields, you can later run reports to see which advertising media are sending the best or most leads.
Ensuring the Salesforce USES the CRM Software
While implementing a CRM tool with your online advertising tactics can provide valuable insight into the results of your efforts, marketing’s implementation of CRM is only part of the equation. To be truly effective, CRM software must also be adopted by the salesforce.
While data such as keyword, lead source, and more are valuable to a marketer to fully understand what elements may have brought the lead to the company, data added by the salesforce provides information to marketers that helps them better judge if these elements (keywords, lead source, etc.) are providing the most overall value and ROI. Thus, it is the marketer’s data coupled with the salesforce’s data that allows for the best overall information to judge quality leads.
Case Study: Lifetime Value
About three years ago, I was working for an online survey company. Online advertising, particularly PPC, were essential to our business and was the leading source of leads and sales for the company. I was running PPC ads in the three major search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN), and I began to question if MSN advertising was truly worth the effort it required for me to manage. Using our CRM system and sales data from it, I took a look at the amount of the initial purchase that customers from PPC advertising made versus the the lifetime value of customers from PC advertising (purchases over several years) and separated this data by search engine.
The results I found astounded me. While Google was clearly the winner on the amount of initial purchase, customers from MSN had a higher lifetime value. In other words, MSN customers seemed to stick with our product over the long haul and, eventually, spend more money over time with the company than Google customers. Was MSN worth the effort to manage? You better believe it.
However, I would have never had access to that type of insight had the salesforce at the company not updated the CRM software with customer sales data over time. Thanks to the partnership between sales and marketing, I was able to have a clearer understanding about my customers and how to market to them, thus also helping the salesforce get higher quality leads.
Lead Scoring Software
One of the latest trends in marketing is taking CRM to a whole new level. Lead scoring software, such as Eloqua, helps sales and marketing better define the quality of a lead by more than just the basic record information like email address, company, etc. Lead scoring systems track other information about site visitors, such as number of downloads, website page visits, etc. to provide further insight into a lead’s value. Imagine if you could couple your analytics data about each individual lead with his/her record. Wouldn’t a prospect seem sweeter if you knew that he/she took five key actions on your website as opposed to one that only took one action?
Lead scoring systems couple this key performance indicator data with leads in the CRM system to provide a “score” for the the salesforce, allowing them to prioritize leads better.
Many times, I’ve seen salespeople “disqualify” true quality leads for a simple reason. Maybe the lead has a gmail or hotmail email address. Or maybe the lead was generated over the weekend. Or perhaps, the lead entered bogus information in the sign up form about him/herself. In the past, those leads would often be automatically disqualified. However, there may be many reasons why a lead isn’t always 100% forthcoming about his/her identity. Perhaps the lead doesn’t want you to call or wants to eliminate spam marketing emails. Whatever the reason, the initial data provided by a lead can be misleading.
Recently, a client of mine realized this was true when she landed a huge new contract from a major corporation. The lead signed up using a gmail email address and did not list her company because she had to be highly secretive in the bid process. Once my client signed an NDA, she was able to find out who the lead company was, and she communicated to me that it was a very large company and a very solid prospect.
With a lead scoring system, other criteria, unbeknownst to the lead, can be added to his/her CRM record — allowing marketers and salespeople to make a better informed decision about the quality of the lead.
Coming Up Tomorrow…
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the next level of improving lead quality — using data from the CRM system to various elements in PPC that can affect lead quality.