How can you hit your lead generation out of the park?
"If we pull this off, we change the game. We change the game for good." So says Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) in the baseball movie Moneyball. Beane, the famous general manager of Oakland Athletics baseball team, applied a highly numbers-based, analytical approach to try and improve his cellar-dwelling MLB team. And it worked.
The Moneyball story is increasingly reflected in the way we market products, especially in the space of B2B tech marketing. There is a scene in the movie where the old school scouts are arguing with Beane, advocating the importance of feel and intuition in selecting talented baseballers. Beane is having none of it, insisting on focussing on the data.
Sometimes modern marketing feels a bit like a battle between those old scouts and their brash General Manager, i.e. the old school marketers focussed on the brand and message; as opposed to the trend towards data and analytics to power marketing.
To take the theme a little further, another classic baseball movie is the Clint Eastwood vehicle Trouble with the Curve. Eastwood plays an ageing baseball scout whose eyesight is failing but can still ‘hear’ how good a swing is. He defeats a brash young executive who is all about the numbers and the money. It’s a contradiction of the Moneyball approach, where feel and experience is valued over a slavish focus on ‘sabermetrics’ i.e. applying statistical analysis to baseball.
Digital marketing with all its automation and analytics can feel like a purely Moneyball approach - all about dry numbers and little about that emotional connection with potential customers i.e. your brand. And of course you need a little bit of both.
The problem in many ways with digital marketing, and marketing agencies are some of the worst offenders, is focussing on the wrong numbers. The insight from Billy Beane in Moneyball was to focus not just on numbers, but on the right numbers, those that really helped with decision-making.
Tools like Google Analytics provide a rich resource of information, for nothing. But what digital marketing numbers should you focus on as a B2B technology company?
Firstly, don’t worry too much about statistics like bounce rate, how many visitors you are getting from Russia or whether they are using mobile or desktop. Focus instead on a few key data points:
- How many people are coming to my website every month, is this growing and how does it compare with comparable companies? We have clients with anywhere from 1,000 to 85,000 visitors per month depending on their market focus and business model.
- Where are they coming from? That is, by finding you on Google, clicking through from a LinkedIn post, reading about you on a news site etc. It should mostly come from organic (Google etc) and direct (entering your URL or using a browser bookmark); but social media, email, referrals from other sites and paid search all play a role.
- How many of these visitors are being converted into raw leads (i.e. new contacts to your database)? Industry averages are 1-3%, although a better target for B2B tech companies is 4%+.
- What proportion of these new contacts become real prospects, i.e. marketing qualified leads? Again this varies depending on your industry and your focus, but anywhere north of 20% is a good target.
Those are the basic numbers. What you can also add for the long sales cycle typical of B2B tech is what we call ‘prospect engagement scoring’. Basically, how many people from a target customer are interacting with you digitally over time at what intensity – this is an important metric when you are selling to large organisations where buying decisions are typically made by a group of people.
Google Analytics and your CRM should be able to give you most of the numbers. We use HubSpot, as it gives us a complete view of a person from first touch (e.g. click on a LinkedIn post) through to closed sale.
‘’If you build it, he will come,’’ said 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson in that other classic baseball movie Field of Dreams. It might have worked for Kevin Costner in that film, but it doesn’t work for B2B tech marketing.
Digital marketing for B2B companies is about having a programme of lead generation activity to drive traffic to your website for conversion, as boring and unromantic as that may sound. Or to borrow from a golfing aphorism, in marketing you ‘’do branding for show, but generate leads for the dough.’’