Panning For Gold: Capturing the Sales Leads You Really Want

In 1848, people flocked to California in search of gold. They initially used the panning technique to separate gold from dirt and gravel found on the riverbank. But competition was fierce, and not everyone made money. In fact, it’s estimated that only 1 in 20 left with more than when they arrived.

Today’s marketers are faced with similar challenges to California’s gold-seekers. Marketers need to be able to quickly sift through incoming leads, identify those ready for sales, and have a plan in place to nurture the rest.

Also, marketers need to evaluate which techniques are producing the highest quality sales leads so they will know where to continue panning.

Start by evaluating lead generation sources to ensure you’re looking for gold in the right place.

You might be wasting your budget on traffic sources or keywords that don’t deliver marketing ROI. Or you might simply be allocating your budget in a less-than-optimal way.

When deciding how to prioritize lead generation sources, many marketers only think about quantity and conversion rates. Go beyond that and consider the following three methods to refine your lead generation process and discover more golden sales leads:

1. Traffic to Lead: Evaluate traffic sources to see which drive the highest percentage of qualified sales leads. A traffic source can send 1,000 visitors, but if only one of those becomes a lead that source, it isn’t as valuable as one that sends 500 visitors but yields 10 qualified leads.

SEOMoz’s Rand Fishkin agrees: “Getting 10,000 extra visitors wouldn’t be nearly as valuable as increasing our current conversion rate by 1/2 of 1 percent.”

2. Source to Lead Score: Some sources can drive top-of-funnel leads (good! Nurture them), while others drive bottom-of-the funnel leads (fantastic! Keep investing here).

But be sure you are monitoring average lead score from traffic source, so you can segment your marketing budget appropriately.

Lead scoring helps quantify the value of a lead based on: the profile of the prospect, behavior (online and/offline), demographics and the likelihood to buy within a defined time frame.” Brian Carroll, B2B Lead Roundtable Blog.

3. Monetary Value: Different lead sources will deliver different types of revenue. Make sure you’re considering the direct revenue and profit attributable to a lead source, not just the conversion rate.

You also can evaluate customers’ lifetime value based on referrals, repeat purchases and/or relationship expansion.

“A key meaning for measuring success is knowing which visits and conversions are your high-value ones. In other words, which visitors are the most profitable to acquire. This can be measured directly if you are a transactional site, or indirectly as new leads/contacts/advocates.” Brian Clifton, Measuring Success, the official blog for his book, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics.

Remember, panning was only the first method prospectors used to collect gold and other resources from the earth. As time went on, rockers, cradles and eventually hydraulic mining were added to the mix, making it difficult for those using outdated techniques to compete.

Like the prospectors of old, today’s marketers must employ the most up-to-date techniques to ensure they are delivering quality leads to sales.

Learn more about B2B Marketing best practices, including lead generation, lead scoring and Marketing ROI, by visiting the Marketo resource center.