Most digital marketing campaigns — SEO, Pay Per Click (PPC), display advertising, and others — fail to validate conversions. This puts an extra burden on the sales force, reducing productivity and close rates. Adding a validation process into your campaigns will make your sales team much more efficient.
Lead validation is the process of reviewing conversions to separate true sales leads from other types of inquiries. (See this infographic for a visual representation of the process.)
A typical digital marketing campaign tracks conversions. When a person clicks on your link in Google organic search results, an SEO conversion is recorded. When someone phones your office using a phone number displayed on your Bing Ad, a PPC conversion is recorded. At the end of the month, a report is generated showing how many conversions were recorded. Sales and marketing personnel review these reports and make decisions about whether to ramp up or scale back campaigns and how to adjust them for better results.
The big problem: Many conversions are not sales leads.
A conversion could be a sales opportunity — or it could be a customer service inquiry, a misdialed phone number, a personal call, spam, or one of a hundred other things.
If you think this is a minor issue or a marketing nuance, think again. Our lead validation experience has revealed something surprising: As many as 45% of all conversions are NOT sales leads.
Two bad things happen when all conversions are lumped together:
From the salesperson’s point of view, these are very unhappy consequences. Not only does the stream (trickle?) of leads from digital marketing campaigns remain consistently modest, but also the salesperson may have to spend valuable time following up on non-leads rather than working on the real ones.
Lead validation is laborious but worth the effort. To validate leads, someone must listen to every phone inquiry and read every form inquiry — website contact forms and so on.
The validator or validation team separates legitimate sales leads from everything else, and passes them along to the sales team as quickly as possible. This simple action has three big benefits:
When leads are validated, digital marketing campaign reporting becomes more transparent and accurate. Managers see how many leads their campaigns are producing, not merely a vague number of conversions. This level of precision enables them to make better strategic and tactical decisions, both of which result in continually improving lead generation.
Strategically, companies accurately know if their campaigns are producing leads — and then can do something. Let’s look at a simplified example.
If a company saw (without validation) that every month its SEO campaign yielded 500 conversions and its PPC campaign yielded 300, it would invest more heavily in SEO. However, if the company saw (with validation) that SEO yielded 500 conversions and 100 leads, and PPC yielded 300 conversions and 200 leads, its investment decision would be to put more into PPC. Over a year’s time, this better decision produces 1,200 more leads — maybe more.
Actually, “maybe more” should be “definitely more,” since validation enables companies to continuously improve campaigns. In our hypothetical PPC campaign , let’s assume the company has set up accurate call tracking. Now it can do more than merely identify leads — it can also determine what specific PPC ad generated the lead, what time of day it was generated, what keywords were used, and more. This granular lead data tells PPC campaign specialists which ads work, what times of day are best to display ads, and which keywords generate the most leads. As the campaign progresses, it gets smarter — generating more leads more efficiently.
Very few companies validate leads, which is unfortunate but understandable. Validation is tedious, time-consuming and never ending. But interestingly, very few companies rave about the quality and quantity of their online leads, and very few feel they are getting the most out of their digital marketing investment. Why? Validation is the missing element. Add it to your marketing and sales strategies and reap the benefits from your more focused marketing and sales teams.
Brad Shorr is the B2B marketing director of Straight North LLC, an internet marketing agency near Chicago that helps middle market firms drive and validate leads. His writing has appeared on Forbes, Moz and Carol Roth.