While playing Monopoly with my daughter recently, I was thinking about a way to optimize a client’s lead lifecycle funnel. Yes, I should have been concerned with her recent acquisition of Boardwalk, but a sudden trip to Reading Railroad got my creative juices flowing. Finally, I had a great example for something we marketers must do to measure conversions effectively–the Reading Railroad strategy.

Let’s take a look at how Monopoly can help your lead lifecycle.

Developing a Funnel is Hard

Developing a measurable funnel helps businesses put predictability into the lead lifecycle. Do 1,000 leads turn into 50 deals? 20 deals? Which programs and campaigns are driving the most revenue? These answers help businesses gain clarity into what’s working and what is not.

Most organizations embrace the concept, but putting that concept into practice is usually the challenge. One common question I receive is, “how do I make my pretty funnel slide a reality?” You know, the one that you put up at executive meetings–the one where obtaining those numbers is almost impossible so you take an educated guess.

On April 15th, 2015, I spoke at the Marketo Summit on how to build a measurable lead lifecycle in 30 days along with Marketo guru Josh Hill. There were six or seven strategies that I covered, but today, I will dive into one of those. I call it the Reading Railroad strategy.

Fast Track to Reading Railroad

“Fast Track – A rapid means of achieving a goal.” – Memidex.com

In 1903, the game of Monopoly was invented. Besides buying all the properties, one of the objects of the game is to pass GO and collect your $200. As you may know, Reading Railroad is one of the properties on the board. In fact, there is a Chance card that sends you directly to Reading Railroad if you get it.

Besides fast-tracking to Reading Railroad where you skip everything in between, what else happens when you select this Chance card? You pass GO and collect your $200 bucks. You receive credit for passing GO even though you went directly to the Reading Railroad property.

Measure a Fast Tracked Lead through Your Lead Lifecycle

FunnelFastrack600 lead lifecycle

What happens when a lead shows major interest and skips stages? Let’s apply the Reading Railroad example to your funnel.

John Black just filled out a demo request form and becomes a marketing qualified lead (MQL). Usually, the next stage is for your phone rep to call John Black to qualify and accept the lead (SAL). However, what if the call goes great and John is ready to skip right through to an opportunity (Opp)? Like going to the Reading Railroad in Monopoly, John fast tracks through the funnel, rapidly achieving the opportunity status. The reporting question–what happens to the skipped stages in between since John Black went straight to an opportunity?

Just like passing GO and getting $200, leveraging the Reading Railroad technique ensures that all the stages in between get credit. Even though the lead technically skips all of the stages, all of those stages still get tagged for the pass through.

The Benefits – Insight

The Reading Railroad technique allows organizations to measure all the funnel stages just like passing through a turnstile at a baseball game. Once you go through one stage, you can never go back.

The technique provides organizations with true waterfall conversion analysis, which was made popular by Sirius Decisions. For example, we know that every lead that has gone through SQL has also gone through SAL—and every SAL has gone through MQL. Without this type of waterfall effect, businesses will have a difficult time measuring true conversion.

The technique also helps marketing executives see how quickly leads go through their system. Leads that fast track have a shorter time frame than leads that don’t fast track. For example, leads generated from sales may accelerate through the system faster than marketing generated leads. By using the Reading Railroad technique, we see the fast-tracked leads pass through in an instant.

lead lifecycle

The Reading Railroad Technique in Action

Now that you have the concept down, how do you execute? The Reading Railroad technique leverages a date stamping technique to track whatever lead is touched and changes stages.

The concept: Whenever a lead changes stages, the lead gets date stamped. The campaign will look at the dates of previous stages. If a previous stage’s date is BLANK, the campaign will stamp it with today’s date. In effect, each stage is like “GO” where the lead gets credit for passing through as it skips.

For organizations that leverage Marketo, marketers can use lifecycle campaigns to perform the Reading Railroad technique. This technique is required in every lifecycle campaign. In the below example, this TAL lifecycle campaign is listening for a change to Accepted. When that happens, all of the Reading Railroad date stamping occurs.

Developing a funnel strategy and then executing on that strategy is one of the biggest challenges organizations face today. The Reading Railroad strategy is one of several techniques that can help simplify your business’s lead lifecycle management.

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