Measure, Optimize, and Repeat: The Key to Lead Generation Success

By Patrick Spalding, Vice President of Customer Success at True Influence

I love to ride bikes and train everyday. Recently I stopped getting better and looked into the data to find the reason why. Was it my diet? Was it how fast was I turning over pedals? Was I maintaining the right heart rate? How could I be more power efficient? This is my personal passion. It’s when we evaluate meaningful data that we are able to improve on anything imaginable.

Data-driven B2B demand generation is all about measurement and optimization. Brands monitor the performance of their demand gen efforts, and then they optimize results by putting resources behind what’s working. But “what’s working” isn’t always a simple question of how many raw leads were generated from a company’s latest email campaign.

Here at True Influence, our knowledgeable customer success team tracks the full range of critical campaign KPIs including lead qualification progression and the lifecycle of top performing content assets. This analysis goes well beyond basic click and download numbers on a single campaign. When coupled with our team’s decades worth of experience and knowledge, it’s a powerful resource for strategic planning and marketing ROI optimization.

In this article, I’ll describe some of the performance reviews and insights we help surface to our customers and some of the best practices we employ in order to get there. I can say with confidence that our reporting, based on True Influence’s extensive contact database and intent-driven market intelligence, is comparable to what veteran marketers should be looking for as they evaluate their own first-party demand gen campaigns. So, if you don’t have this level of visibility about your demand gen programs either in-house or with a third-party provider, you should consider incorporating this type of goal-setting and reporting into your operations.

Set Clear Lead-gen Performance Baselines Upfront

Put simply, if you don’t know what to measure, you can’t measure it. Success looks a little different to every customer and even different from campaign to campaign. We begin every demand-gen campaign by learning exactly what results a customer wants. They may only be looking for MQLs that progress and close at a standard rate based on criteria such as the following:

  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Competitive technology install
  • Purchase intent 

In addition, we encourage specificity in establishing goals for several reasons. First, it’s important to understand what success looks like in order to properly measure it. Second, surprisingly, some customers don’t fully think it through. For example, we’ve encountered instances where a customer tried to jump-start the sales pipeline with the intention of helping sales achieve their end of fiscal year targets. But, the customer’s average sales cycle extended well beyond the end of the year. Although they  may have been successful in generating the quantity of leads necessary to meet an arbitrary target, their ultimate revenue goal was unattainable with the campaign criteria they had set. 

Whereas, in some other cases, customers want to drive downloads of a certain piece of content for long-term education or brand awareness even if those leads ultimately convert at a lower rate. Keep in mind that top of the funnel content has a time and a place even in your outbound efforts. We often receive this type of information from an RFI / RFP, but we also hold a kick-off meeting to ensure that we understand exactly what success looks like for each customer. It all starts with a clear understanding of what we are trying to accomplish from the outset.

Use All the Relevant Data In Your Reporting

In addition, as you probably already noticed, I’ve mentioned lead progression and conversion rates as important KPIs that we track for our most engaged lead-gen customers. This requires them to close the loop s and provide data on their down-funnel marketing and sales efforts. We effectively accomplish this at True Influence through a variety of integrations.

I bring this to your attention only to emphasize that clear visibility into the full lifecycle of a prospect is the way to create a 360-degree view of your revenue pipeline. At this point, most B2B marketers have visibility into how the MQLs they generate perform down-funnel. However, there are still major gaps in attribution and follow-ups in many organizations, and important information remains trapped in silos or just plain overlooked.

In the end, we need data to fully optimize our third-party demand gen program, and that’s true of your first-party efforts as well, which leads me to another key point.

The Virtue of Real-time Insights

I’d be remiss here if I did not note that the insights our customer success team uses to build audiences and identify new opportunities are all available in our True Influence Marketing Cloud™ for any and all demand gen customers. 

By using the cloud and its array of capabilities, customers can build segments, investigate purchase intent trends across their markets, and manage details of their campaigns in real-time. They also have access to the kind of metrics that’ll be discussed later via closed-loop integration with a CRM or marketing automation platform. To top it off, our easy-to-use interface can bring these capabilities and insights to marketing teams instead of only a few select power users.

It’s safe to say that we’ve built long-term, successful relationships with demand gen partners who prefer to work directly with our customer success team to place and optimize demand gen programs. We’re also happy to deliver intent and contact data that drives the process in the format that best fits the way your marketing and sales teams operate.   

Demand Gen KPIs and Metrics to ROI Optimization

Provided below are some examples of lead generation campaign metrics that we track and use to optimize our operations and improve ROI. Of course, you should have the basics like geo, cost per lead, overall spend, and recognized revenue as additional dimensions attached to your campaigns for complete analysis and optimization purposes.

Demand Gen KPIs and Metrics to ROI Optimization

We build audiences that span across several different verticals to include markets our customers don’t view as core or essential. The performance of such campaigns can provide insights into look-alike models and additional audiences you may want to consider adding to your Total Addressable Market (TAM). There’s also a great deal to learn about the portability of your key content assets from such campaigns.

Leads Per Company

Furthermore, the amount of leads that are generated at a company is among the best indicators of an account’s overall movement toward a purchase decision. Multiple leads within an account or a specific location should trigger further analysis regarding how these leads fit into an organization’s buying group model and ABM strategies. (Yes, we can do that too, and it’s built into the True Influence Marketing Cloud).

Leads By Job Title and Job Level

Overall, there’s a meaningful distinction between leads generated by job title and leads generated by job level. Job level infers spending authority and influence in the purchase decision even if they aren’t in your company’s core buying group model. Whereas, job title is more specific, and it likely maps directly to your buying group, especially in highly targeted campaigns. A lot can be learned about the status of an account by evaluating these two metrics, especially if you gauge overall interest by adding adjacent personas to your lists.

Creative Performance

What are your top performing assets, and how do they resonate with your more desirable personas? How have response rates for these top assets trended over the past quarter? Are certain types of content showing signs of fatigue while others are beginning to gain traction? Fortunately, our in-depth creative asset analysis breaks down performance by both purchase authority level, job title, and targeted vertical. We also provide observations about what these numbers reveal about the market for your product and/or service.

This is an area where you can derive an enormous amount of market insights, and not just from what contacts are reading, but also what they aren’t reading. If your down-funnel whitepapers aren’t resonating with readers, this could be due to the buying cycle expansion for your product and your need to reinforce value and high-level education for a little while longer.

Lead Progression to Conversion By Source Campaign

Lead Progression to Conversion By Source Campaign

In addition, evaluating major or unexpected gaps in leads’ progression across all stages can indicate either a need to tweak your campaigns or that the wide net you are casting is paying off.

For our most collaborative clients, we track the rates that leads advance into MQL, SQL and closed business. We also can dig into key wins, in order to find look-alike audiences to add to a brand’s target mix based on intent, content preferences, and demographic factors.

Key Response Data By Lead Progression

 Answers to profiling questions or other qualifying questions are essential when evaluating the progression of leads to closed business. It’s important to map your responses against leads that result in closed business in order to find MQLs you can accelerate to sales for quick revenue wins.

Key Response Data By Lead Progression

Apply Your Lessons and Takeaways to Improve Next Quarter’s Results

Our customer success team presents our most engaged customers with an overview of last quarter’s results along with recommendations for the next three to six months. These reports include many of the insights I’ve just discussed, as well as the following:

  • Possible options if ABM lists are beginning to show fatigue.
  • Market-wide intent trends to suggest new verticals or industries to include in exploratory campaigns. We also can suggest new intent topics to monitor as core verticals evolve.
    For example, the report above tracks leads that are generated by intent signals and used as segment criteria in addition to the aggregate intent displayed in the monitored verticals. Flattening interest over two quarters may very well indicate the need to refresh or widen the intent monitoring net.
  • Highly responsive personas at closed accounts that may indicate tweaks to your buying group model
  • Optimizations we made to improve the performance of in-run campaigns and how they may translate to your programs in the upcoming months

It’s crucial to measure everything, analyze what worked, and then modify your plan accordingly.

 Based on the details and examples shared above, hopefully you now have a better understanding of how True Influence uses campaign results and intent data to help our demand generation customers meet and exceed their goals while also offering several ideas for effectively measuring and optimizing campaigns. Whether you engage with first-party audiences or work with a partner, complete data and comprehensive reporting is the foundation for improving ROI on your lead generation programs. For me, It’s just like cycling. Hone in on the data that matters. Practice what needs work and constantly evolve and improve. Get fast. Get Better. Win. When you are ready to ride on to success with True Influence, reach out to us to share this data driven philosophy.

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