How to Measure the Value of a Lead in a B2B Setting

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.

Inbound Marketing Theory in Traditional Campaigns

Marketing has changed more in the last decade than in any time since the 1950s. The digital revolution has quickly modernized nearly every medium used to reach a target audience and the changes won’t stop any time soon.

One of the biggest changes is the concept of inbound marketing. Inbound or content marketing is different in a number of ways from traditional brand marketing or direct sales because it focuses on building a relationship with prospects and creating a path they can follow of their own accord to purchase services or products.

For those preparing to start a career in the marketing field or for those interested in moving up in their current position, this is the future of most digital campaigns, even for large companies that would otherwise throw money at channels with the largest audience like TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.

What Inbound Changes in Marketing

Nothing about inbound or the tactics it entails is new to marketing. The same psychological pressures are present to drive action from a prospect and the same channels can be used, but the methodology is different, and it’s all because of what digital channels allows us to do.

In the past, it was either incredibly hard or incredibly expensive to reach a target audience where they were most likely to be. You could define a demographic and match the magazines they read or the TV shows they watched, but if you wanted to only show your ads to 28 year old women in Nebraska, it wasn’t quite so simple. So you had to broadcast as much as possible about your brand as loudly as possible to make an impact. People needed to remember that brand when they hit the grocery story or picked up the phone to call a plumber.

Today, people proactively get information on the Internet. In fact, nearly 57% of the sales process is complete by the time someone enters a funnel, almost entirely because of the Internet. People research products, determine what they need, and then start looking for the specific product that will fit their needs, based on the research they completed.

Inbound marketing does two things.

  1. It provides that information when someone is researching a problem they have.
  2. It builds trust with YOUR brand so that when they are finished researching, they will think of you first.

But instead of selling your product or service proactively, pushing them to choose you over XYZ Co., you build a relationship. This requires a keen understanding of the individual you will market your product to, but also the problems they have and the solutions they are seeking.

How Inbound Is Changing Marketing Online

There is still a place for traditional marketing strategies. Businesses still spend millions on Super Bowl ads, billboards, magazine placements, and radio spots. But they also create Facebook Pages, produce YouTube videos, and run company blogs loaded with useful articles about problems they KNOW their audience has.

They do research about their target audience, identify key demographics, and create solutions that will fit the specific needs of those individuals where they are most likely to need them.

And they do it with less investment upfront, and a greater payoff down the line. HubSpot reported in their 2012 State of Inbound Marketing that more than 70% of companies with a blog that is updated weekly make a sale through that blog. This is the kind of payoff you couldn’t see in the past strictly with content like a company newsletter.

Using Inbound Methods in the Future

The importance of this methodology cannot be overstated, even as it just starts to make its way into the curriculum of most major marketing programs. Because the Internet is near instant and because we can interact with our prospects through so many channels at so many points during their day, it’s possible to build a real relationship with someone.

As a marketing professional, it will increasingly become your job to recognize how to create these relationships for your employer and use them to leverage into buying intent. If you can do this with blog posts, videos, white papers, eBooks, emails, and the occasional tweet, your skills will become that much more relevant in a 21st century marketing landscape.

About the Author

Featured on websites in more than a dozen countries, Anthony Chatfield has consulted with business leaders, Fortune 500 companies, and entrepreneurs for much of the last decade.

Anthony currently lives in Staten Island, NY and produces marketing and content development training on numerous websites.

For more information, visit his Google+ Page.