The overall leader of a business has a key responsibility for allocation of resources to achieve the best outcome, and significant pressures on their time. Marketing and Lead Generation have to compete with other departments for their share not only of money but also to get attention and to ensure they are recognised as a high priority (when the MD may not have expertise or experience in this area).
What is (or should) the MD be considering when shaping the strategy for the business and approving or refusing resources and funding requests for Lead Generation.
Is Lead Generation actually a priority?
Sales and Marketing will almost always consider Lead Generation needs more investment. It is also likely to be a key priority for the overall business and have the attention of the MD if one or more of these situations apply:
- Growth or recovering from customer churn is a key objective
- The business has spare or easily scalable operational capacity
- Highly skilled Business Development resource is under-utilised or is trying to prospect and do Lead Generation themselves – therefore they are not as effective as they could be.
- There is a significant window of market opportunity that can be capitalised upon
The level of priority may also impact the type of Lead Generation activity that is appropriate – a strategic medium-term investment may need to be balanced with tactical short-term activity to create immediate sales opportunities.
Does it fit with what we already have in place?
Where there is already activity being undertaken there may be opportunities for the Lead Generation to compound the effectiveness of existing marketing and sales assets or activity.
Examples may include:
- If the sales team attend events or trade shows then lead generation activity targeting attendees both before and after the event is likely to compound the effectiveness of both elements.
- If there has already been a significant investment in creating guides, research, blogs and web content then driving additional web traffic and wider distribution with email may be very effective in increasing awareness and the number of new business enquiries.
In B2B markets the target audience is typically limited – customers are often businesses that are a particular size, in a particular location or sector. Only some of the job functions within a business are likely to be relevant to buying decision making. Common to many Lead Generation activities is the need to build a database of relevant individuals and their contact information. An up-to-date and comprehensive marketing database can become a valuable asset across many different marketing channels and nurture and lead generation activities.
What is the expected outcome and how will it be measured?
Overall marketing Return on Investment is an important measure but in B2B environments it is not easy to use effectively over the short term or for narrow marketing activity. This is due to the often extended sales cycles in B2B purchases, and the difficulties of accurate attribution of leads to particular marketing activity when the audience interacts across multiple channels over time.
Of greater importance than ROI for making decisions about whether a particular Lead generation approach is proving effective in the short term is measuring it at each stage.
The measurement of an email marketing programme would not just be how many leads are generated but should be evaluated across a number of metrics in order to improve it. Consideration will need to be given to open rates, click through rates, where the clicks are made, web traffic and various A/B testing of subject lines, message, images, or layout. The performance should also be tracked over time to give enough scope to build awareness, learn from the experiences gained, and optimise.
All this notwithstanding the MD is of course still going to want to understand the expectations for how changes to the marketing mix may impact overall marketing ROI. This should be anticipated based on the value, volume, and conversion rates of leads generated. The predictions can then be monitored and assessed over time.
Is the necessary infrastructure in place for it to be effective?
Where marketing activity is closely integrated and prospects interact across multiple channels over time we should consider carefully what else needs to be in place for a new Lead Generation project to be most effective.
The infrastructure necessary to support the Lead Generation could consist of:
- Human resources such as a telemarketer to reach out to prospects, marketing resource to manage data lists and email sending, or an available sales person to follow up leads. For a small business even ensuring the phone is always answered professionally to sales enquiries may be an important consideration.
- Technology such as web tracking, email sending, or sophisticated marketing automation.
- Collateral such as case studies, whitepapers, guides and a professional website that matches your marketing and sales messages.
We should consider step-by-step the interactions a prospect is likely to undertake to ensure that all of the elements work effectively together.
There is inevitable uncertainty about how a Lead Generation project will perform until it is under way. Where possible it should therefore be undertaken initially at a limited scale for a pilot period to evaluate and gain insight into how it performs against expectations. Most Lead Generation in B2B markets has limits to the scale at which it can be undertaken without limiting performance (limits may be for example the number of available searches in Pay per Click marketing, or the size of the available database for email or telemarketing projects).
Scalability and the incremental costs of scaling the activity should be understood at the planning stage of a Lead Generation project since scaling up a successful pilot project may significantly lower the effective cost per lead.
Lead Generation can be a significant investment of time and resources and requires careful consideration by the MD. This assessment must include the project’s level of priority within the wider business environment as well as its likelihood of success, integration with other activities and assets, what needs to be in place for it to start, and how it can be measured and scaled up if successful.
For a Head of Sales or Marketing that is proposing Lead Generation to a business leader and looking for investment considering these 5 elements will enable them to assess the value of it and make a compelling case for their project.
For an MD who is evaluating whether Lead Generation investments should be a part of their overall strategy considering each of these areas will help them to make this important decision with both realistic expectations and the best chance of making it successful.
Growthlabs is an integrated marketing agency that helps customers to plan and deliver effective Lead Generation projects across a range of channels and marketing disciplines.