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The Simple Reason Why Your B2B Lead Gen Conversion Rates Are Completely Wrong

If you spend $1,000 on a lead gen campaign and get 250 leads, that’s a cost per lead of $4, right?

So wrong.

And, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s a bullshit clickbait title, Oli.” Thing is, not only is it completely true, but the impact of this mistake is countless ROI calculations that are totally incorrect. A quick LinkedIn search for roles in marketing and advertising produced 2,282,979 results in the US and Canada alone. How many of those people are presenting the wrong numbers to their bosses and clients?

To understand what’s happening, we first need to consider how it’s happening—and why.

The Three Levels of Marketing IQ

The theme of this year’s CTAConf in September is Marketing IQ, and one of the concepts I’ll be talking about in my keynote is the three levels of marketing intelligence—each of which manifests its own version of how lead generation is done and measured.

Low IQ Marketing

This is spammy marketing that chases leads at all cost—”hacks” and “tricks” that deliver a really poor experience and produce results that aren’t useful. These are techniques that have no business in the operations of a respectable marketing team or an organization with strong core values.

Fixed IQ Marketing

This is marketing that’s good, but doesn’t go deep enough. You might have a great landing page, but you’re only measuring success by the conversion rate or the number of conversions—both of which are great metrics that are unfortunately incorrect. This leads to the inaccurate ROI calculations I mentioned earlier.

High IQ Marketing

This is marketing that takes things to a new level, going past surface-level findings to understand the true value of your generated leads. High IQ marketers apply a more intelligent method to calculating their ROI, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Get 15% off your tickets to CTAConf 2019. Want to raise your marketing IQ with insights from some of the top minds in the industry? Use the code MarketingIQ during checkout and save a bundle.

What Does Marketing IQ Look Like?

Here’s what I mean. All B2B lead gen campaigns will produce two types of leads that aren’t actually leads.

  • Spam email addresses from form-filling bots.
  • Fake email addresses from people who don’t want to be put on a list.

With this in mind, if you don’t go through your leads list and clean out the bad data, your conversion rate calculations (and hence your ROI calculations) are incorrect. You may have software to do this, which is great—but often you’ll just be working with a spreadsheet. That means you would need to manually go through to calculate how many of your leads aren’t real.

For instance, I recently ran a campaign (let’s call it Campaign X) in which 3% of the leads were spam and 8% were fake. Worse, another 36% were personal Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! email addresses, which don’t represent the ideal type of leads for marketing B2B products.

In this scenario, a low IQ marketer wouldn’t even notice (or care, frankly) that a third of their leads are junk. A fixed IQ marketer might remove the 11% (3% and 8%) of bad form fills and recalculate their conversion rate—a step in the right direction, but we can do better.

We need to think like high IQ marketers. We can improve the way we optimize our campaigns by going beyond conversion rates and considering micro metrics.

High IQ Marketing: Using Micro Metrics to Optimize Smarter

Micro metrics are a more nuanced look at what’s happening in the campaign experience. They provide us with alternative ways to measure performance—beyond the top-level conversion rate.

In Campaign X, we can consider the following three values as micro metrics that can be individually optimized:

  1. The percentage of spam email addresses entered by bots.
  2. The percentage of fake email addresses entered by humans.
  3. The percentage of professional or branded email addresses.

In regard to the metric #3, a branded email address is one that includes the company you work for (like oli@unbounce.com), as opposed to your personal email address (such as london_oli@hotmail.com, my first and long inactive email address). This is important, because having someone’s branded email address means that you get to see which companies are signing up. Plus, when you do your follow-up email marketing, you know you’re contacting someone when they’re thinking about business (rather than sitting on the toilet checking their personal email).

If you wanted to optimize the landing page in Campaign X, you’d go through some of the normal steps of doing research coupled with ideation around possible improvements—but you might not have a strong starting position in terms of focus. By zeroing in on the micro metrics, we know exactly which aspects of behavior we’re trying to influence.

High IQ Marketing: Micro Metrics in Practice

Using micro metrics, I’ll walk through some of the optimization ideas that I implemented in Campaign X (and how they performed in an A/B test).

Optimizing Micro Metric #1: Spam Emails

In this instance, you could add a CAPTCHA or honeypot to try to prevent the spam bots getting through, but I decided to focus on optimizing metrics #2 and #3 as they presented larger opportunities.

Optimizing Micro Metric #2: Fake Emails

The goal of Campaign X was to gain access to a free landing page course, but people were entering fake emails hoping that they would get access regardless. (They did—it redirected them to the course after the form was submitted.) To fix this problem, I added a simple statement beside the email field that stated: “Enter the email address you’d like us to send the course link to.” People felt that they had to add a real email address in order to continue.

Impact: The number of fake emails dropped from 7.9% to 5%—an improvement of 35%.

Optimizing Micro Metric #3: Branded Emails

For this one, I leaned on some experimentation I did a few years ago where I tested changing the label on the email address field. In my research, I found that by rewriting “Email Address” to say “Business Email Address,” the number of branded emails went up by almost 60%. (I guess you get what you ask for.)

Impact: When I leveraged this research and applied it to Campaign X, it helped increase the number of branded emails from 66.4% to 80.8%—an increase of 21.7%.

What Can We Learn from Micro Metrics?

Earlier in my career, I’d look at a page and try to find things I could make “better” (which was largely subjective, even though it was based on 20 years of web experience) and it limited my number of successful A/B tests. By following a micro-metric approach instead, I’ve been able to learn faster and win more because I’m focused on behavior rather than perceived motivation.

If you want to improve your marketing through a better understanding of your true lead gen conversion rates, I’d suggest the following:

  1. Do the manual labor of clicking through every lead you have—then count the percentage that are spam, fake, or personal (rather than branded).
  2. Adjust your conversion rates and conversion counts accordingly.
  3. Compare your new results to what you were previously reporting and communicate the correct numbers to your stakeholders.
  4. Set up some micro metrics based on your observations and try to optimize specifically for them (rather than making the whole page “better”).

The simple but arduous task of manually inspecting your leads can provide a ton of insight that will inspire (or depress) you, depending on what you find.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 Top B2B Brands Maximizing LinkedIn Engagement

Group of businesspeople image.

Group of businesspeople image.

With more than 645 million users in over 200 countries, LinkedIn* has increasingly grown as a platform for both B2B and direct-to-consumer brands looking to creatively and effectively showcase products and services.

LinkedIn has released scores of new features over the past several years that have helped it remain the foremost social media platform for professional business users.

It's also increasingly become a destination for all manner and size of brands, and users looking for an experience markedly different from that offered by Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Since LinkedIn has rolled out so many new tools for brands to maximize their engagement on the Microsoft-owned platform, let’s take a look at how five large primarily B2B companies are connecting with audiences through the myriad of page, group, and showcase page options LinkedIn now provides.

#1 — SAP

SAP LinkedIn

LinkedIn profile: SAP
LinkedIn tagline: "Our purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. #TheBestRun"

Listed as number 26 on the LinkedIn Top Companies to Work For list in 2019, SAP* has successfully utilized LinkedIn to engage with its audience of fans, using a wide variety of message post types, including many that incorporate innovative use of video.

From a recent New York Fashion Week post about the firm’s “Runway by SAP” live-audience feedback app using the Internet of Things (Iot), machine learning algorithms, and beacon technology, to news of its partnership with Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, SAP keeps its LinkedIn messaging both entertaining and relevant to the more than 1.6 million people following its page.

SAP Example

Whether it’s a post featuring company chief executive Bill McDermott interviewing Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at an industry conference, or a “Hastag Holiday” message that combines honoring #WorkingParentsDay with promoting careers at the firm, SAP creatively and enthusiastically wields its LinkedIn page.

SAP has also featured LinkedIn messaging surrounding a variety of company goals, including its efforts to have at least 28 percent women in leadership roles by 2020, and 30 percent by 2022 — goals that far exceed the present 11 percent of women who are technology executives.

#2 — Pitney Bowes

Pitney Bowes LinkedIn

LinkedIn profile: Pitney Bowes
LinkedIn tagline: "We are the craftsmen of commerce."

Pitney Bowes uses a variety of engaging techniques to connect with its sizable LinkedIn audience.

From using visually engaging posts highlighting positive company initiatives such as its "Global Early in Career Development Program (EiC)" leadership program, which targets high-potential millennial talent, to informative messaging spotlighting free webinars featuring company experts, and video posts exploring customer experience and relationship-building in business, Pitney Bowes offer a strong and compelling LinkedIn presence.

Pitney Bowes Example

#3 — Xerox

Xerox LinkedIn Image

LinkedIn profile: Xerox
LinkedIn tagline: "Think of all the possibilities. We do. #MadeToThink"

Xerox uses video, images, documents and other digital assets to enhance its LinkedIn customer and fan experience.

During the most recent U.S. Open tennis tournament Xerox used its LinkedIn account to feature an event-specific video post examining how tennis balls became the color they are now known for, part of a sizable campaign that occupied many of the company's LinkedIn posts during the event.

Xerox Example

Xerox also regularly uses its LinkedIn profile to offer helpful online guides, links to in-depth research on data protection and security, and messages with informational product overviews.

#4 — Dropbox

Dropbox LinkedIn Image

LinkedIn profile: Dropbox
LinkedIn tagline: "Keep teams flowing with Dropbox."

Spotlighting teams and offering behind-the-scenes glimpses into life at a company is a time-tested tactic for engaging with customers, and Dropbox has used this approach effectively on its active LinkedIn page, recently sharing fun image-heavy messages detailing how its "Dropboxers" from around the world participated in various events such as scavenger hunts and Secret Garden parties.

Other Dropbox messages from its LinkedIn profile feature more in-depth pieces about Dropboxers.

Dropbox Example

Dropbox also utilized LinkedIn to spread news about new corporate executives, such as its recent announcement post about the appointment of Asha Thurthi as vice president of Dropbox Paper, the firm's collaborative document-editing service.

More brands are also now using some of the newer LinkedIn features, such as the ability to tag people in photos, post video in private messages, and easier use of PowerPoint and PDF files on the platform.

#5 — Siemens

Siemens LinkedIn Image

LinkedIn profile: Siemens
LinkedIn tagline: NA

Siemens has used its LinkedIn profile to highlight live video broadcasting efforts such as a message detailing one it recently conducted at the 24th World Energy Congress, featuring the firm's CEO of Power Generation Karim Amin.

Siemens Example

Siemens also recognizes relevant hashtag holidays to engage with its LinkedIn audiences of more than three million followers, such as a lighthearted recent image post celebrating Programmers Day with a visual look at the Python programming language.

Helpful community engagement from those managing Siemens' LinkedIn presence serves to enforce the firms' dedication to making social messaging a two-way street, by answering customer questions in a timely manner.

With a global presence, Siemens also takes advantage of LinkedIn's built-in translation features to publish messages in multiple languages when appropriate.

Building a Solid & Sustainable LinkedIn Strategy

It’s clear from the varied examples we’ve looked at here deftly implemented by SAP, Siemens, Pitney Bowes, Dropbox, and Xerox that there are many successful methods for building a solid and sustainable LinkedIn brand strategy.

LinkedIn itself has had an ongoing effort to help brands with content creation on the platform, including it's helpful Getting Started with Content Creation on LinkedIn guide.

It's also expanded its Campaign Manager features for brands, implemented new features for small-to-medium-size businesses, launched greater audience insight initiatives, and published a checklist for B2B technology marketers.

With enough time, staff, and dedication most brands can build their own successful ongoing LinkedIn strategy, while others may find it more efficient and practical to partner with a professional marketing agency highly skilled in LinkedIn-specific efforts.

TopRank Marketing recently had the honor of being named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in its latest “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.”

Finally, here are five recent articles we've written that relate specifically to either LinkedIn or to the process of creating engaging B2B content marketing:

* LinkedIn and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 5 Top B2B Brands Maximizing LinkedIn Engagement appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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