If you’re looking to expand your horizons as a marketer, inbound marketing is an excellent tool to master. Marketing is equal parts art and science and now more so than ever before. In a digital environment, the tactics you learn in school and that you will apply in your future career (or your current one if you are just starting) are increasingly inbound.
Instead of blasting a message as loud as you can to every prospect in a database, you will carefully craft website content, blog posts, social media updates, and more that provide real value to those prospects. The concept isn’t new but the execution and our ability to measure the results is revolutionary in the field of marketing.
Yet it can pose a problem for a lot of marketing teams that are accustomed to measuring lead value in terms of their readiness to buy. A lead traditionally was someone who had shown very real interest in purchasing a product. It was a rare thing and a very valuable thing, often quantifiable down to the penny based.
Inbound marketing changes that by adding more steps to the top of the funnel and requiring a much larger output on behalf of the marketing team. Instead of blasting a message about the benefits of a product you sell to a list you bought from a third party broker or in a newspaper or magazine that matches your target demographic, you will now create authoritative content with little or NO selling points. Instead of convincing someone to call you, you build a level of trust in them that will eventually lead to that phone call.
When entering the marketing field or studying its continuing evolution, this can make lead valuation more complicated than it once was, and it can be a real stumbling block when starting a new career.
Measuring Value in an Inbound Environment
But despite the challenges that an inbound strategy brings to assigning value to any one lead (let alone determining when it’s okay to finally pitch your products or pass the lead to a sales rep), leads are still very much a quantifiable commodity.
While the philosophy behind inbound marketing and the new school of digital thought leadership in general forces you, to some degree, to think about value offered first and lead scoring second, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a rubric that will break down what each of those leads you generate is really worth.
Here are some things to consider when doing this:
- Activity – How active is the lead in question? While a single “contact” form submission related to a product request is a big deal, is that the only contact the lead ever made? If it’s been six months and they haven’t responded to emails or returned to your site since, lead value is lower than if they continue to return daily to read your new blog posts, tweet at your company’s profile, and download new eBooks you release.
- Position in the Funnel – As soon as possible, at least loosely define the funnel your company’s website uses to move a prospect into the lead cycle and closer to becoming a buyer. From offers that provide legitimate value to useful tools that solve problems for your prospects, know where someone is located and how likely a lead at that level is to convert to a buyer.
- Decision Making Power – If a lead has downloaded five eBooks and contacted you twice, it looks pretty good on paper, but take into consideration the decision making power of that lead. Is it someone with purchasing authority at another company, or is it an intern doing research for their boss? You can’t always tell the difference, but when you can, it will impact the resources you expend to chase a lead.
- Reach of the Lead – One of the best parts about inbound marketing is that a good lead doesn’t even have to buy something from you. Someone might download four or five of your eBooks and never once place an order or hire you for your services. But they might also share those eBooks with colleagues or recommend you to someone who WILL purchase from you. If this happens, that lead, regardless of their own buying behavior becomes a golden opportunity.
When you take these five things into consideration, you will start to understand how leads are assigned value and how you can create new opportunities when you take a new position or are studying the field of marketing.
There is no hard and fast formula and even within one company or one demographic, you might see some leads that shouldn’t be worth anything become massive opportunities. Never let yourself be blinded by the numbers on a page, but at the same time, teach yourself to see these patterns and you’ll be better suited to target and capitalize on the right leads coming through a website.
About the Author
Featured on websites in more than a dozens countries, Anthony Chatfield has consulted with business leaders, Fortune 500 companies, and entrepreneurs for much of the last decade.
Anthony founded two companies in content development and marketing. Anthony currently lives in Staten Island, NY and produces marketing and content development training on numerous websites.
For more information, visit his Google+ Page.