How to Ensure Your Lead Generation Programs Yield a Positive ROI

In the B2B marketing world, leads are held with just as high of a regard as drumming up demand that will ultimately contribute to revenue growth.

And in many cases, lead gen is the go-to execution because it will yield quicker results than demand gen does.

The argument against lead gen is that you end up funneling a ton more unqualified leads that are not yet ready to be converted into paying customers, which then frustrates sales reps.

On the other hand, I believe that the expectation that every single lead who comes in is going to be ready to buy is unrealistic and unreasonable.

In fact, here are a few stats to know:

  • 50% of marketers consider lead generation a top priority in their marketing campaigns
  • Organizations generate 1,877 leads per month on average
  • The mean cost per lead across all industries is $198.44
  • 97% of people ignore cold calls
  • 76% of marketers use content to generate leads
  • 68% of marketers say social media marketing has helped them generate more leads
  • 44% of sales reps are too busy to follow up with leads
  • 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn

With that in mind, know that lead gen isn’t created equal. The results vary depending on creatives, industry, messaging, etc. However, here are some benchmarks:

Getting your funnel down to a science

Anyone can create a funnel to strategically visualize what the lifecycle stages are, expected benchmarks for each stage, and ROI.

A common misstep I have encountered with clients is that they will have a funnel as part of their marketing strategy, but don’t have the executions in place to really make it as impactful as possible to their company.

However, the execution behind this is what’s going to really matter.

Here are my top tips for creating a funnel that isn’t just fluff:

  • Look at historical data and the story it’s telling.
  • Clearly define and align the buyer’s journey to the funnel. 
  • Identify processes, tools and resources needed to foster the buyer’s journey.
  • Identify content that will support buying decisions, starting with ICP to personas and then users.
  • Identify the specific channels you will use to drum up the leads.

Know that your marketing funnel should push to mimic the buyer’s journey as much as you can while explicitly highlighting the exact marketing metrics that will impact business objectives.

Know which metrics matter most to growth

In my experience, marketing always has company-wide eyes on their implementations, especially the money that is being spent. That makes sense because businesses need to understand how the money that’s allocated to marketing is being spent and where it is driving the best results.

One of the biggest challenges in marketing is that there is a high level of impatience when it comes to driving results. However, I view marketing as the ability to – at scale – broaden the scope of pushing executions that will collect data. 

This data is invaluable such that once you have enough, you can clearly see which creatives, messaging, offers, landing pages, etc. are driving revenue.

And I’ve said this over and over again, but I wish more companies gave marketing the same patience for yielding revenue as they do sales. 

Here’s a simple framework to consider when looking at how you can measure success:

Marketing metrics:

  • Net new leads
  • MQLs
  • SQLs
  • Pipeline opportunities
  • Avg. marketing cycle from lead to closed
  • LTV per channel
  • Highest revenue per channel
  • ROAS
  • Marketing ROI

Sales metrics:

  • New Inbound Leads
  • Lead Response Time
  • Lead Conversion %
  • New Qualified Opportunities
  • Total Pipeline Value
  • Lead-to-Opportunity %
  • Opportunity-to-Order %
  • ACV
  • Average Sales Cycle Time
  • Sales Volume by Location

Business metrics:

  • Growth in Revenue
  • Net Profit Margin
  • Gross Profit Margin

Have a reporting dashboard readily available

You need to show the impact marketing is having through the data you’re collecting with your lead generation programs. This is the only way that you can continue on with a good collaboration across the entire company, and also sustain leadership buy-in.

Your reporting dashboard needs to be centered around the metrics I identified in the previous section of this blog, and also tell a story about ‘how’ your target customers are finding you, engaging with you, and ultimately buying from you.

Mapping out the buyer journey to match up with your reporting dashboard tells a story deeper than just reporting on new leads that have come in the door. Put a clear qualitative spin onto your lead generation programs, so you know where the gaps are, where improvements are needed, and what is working well.

Finally, make sure that your reporting dashboard is up-to-date in real time where possible, but that you have a monthly cadence where anyone can access it. 

This is about being proactive. Don’t wait until you’re asked before presenting data. Be forthcoming with what you’re doing and how it is impacting the business.

My go-to reporting tool is: Google Data Studio.

Wrapping it up

Lead generation alone isn’t going to cut it when it comes down to building sustainable marketing programs that will contribute to revenue. Make sure you couple up your efforts with other initiatives – pushing for an omnichannel approach. 

More specifically, you should absolutely incorporate demand generation into the mix. The reason for this is that it works great with lead generation. On top of that, you have more opportunities to generate the awareness, site traffic, leads, and pipeline opportunities that have a higher likelihood of becoming paid customers.

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