Ah, the eternal lead source questions a marketer must answer. We’ve all been faced with the following questions:
- What is our list of lead sources?
- How do we measure ROI on a particular source?
- What if the original lead source is from a really long time ago? Should the subsequent lead source matter more than the original lead source?
And, don’t even get me started on secondary lead sources – the choices are endless!
Here at Salesfusion, we are marketing to marketers and sales teams, using our own marketing automation platform. To be honest, it’s a marketer’s dream! While we wait for the first carafe of coffee to brew in the morning, we can collaborate with the engineers that have developed our platform for the last eight years about innovative ways our technology is shaping our process and vice versa. On Fridays, our all-company lunches are spent chatting with the UX teams about upcoming releases and the roadmap.
Even with our own product and incredibly bright engineers at our fingertips, the marketing team still scratched our heads as we sat at the big board room table to refresh our lead source structure.
Shoot. What’s the best structure for our primary lead sources?
At Salesfusion, we’ve always been great at using our platform, but like many other teams out there, we haven’t always been great at consistently adhering to our own lead source creation best practices (Uncle Ben was right!). We’ve also developed more sophisticated lead channels, so it was definitely time for a lead source makeover.
After multiple sessions and healthy debates about what works best for our business, we evolved our own lead source model and are reaping the benefits of even easier reporting on ROI through the sales funnel.
After completing the overhaul, what did we learn?
1. Think first of the reports you need most and how you will make decisions going forward. Then work your way back into the lead sources:
- It’s easy to come up with what appears to be a balanced list of ways that we think of generating and growing new leads – events, demo requests, webinars, etc. We had to ask ourselves as marketers, what does it mean to say this lead came from a webinar? If we run a quick report on the lead source ‘webinar,’ does that tell me who drove the leads? What was the content in the webinar and how does that factor in to the source? How and where was it promoted?
- All good questions, but once you start packing in format (webinar), source (perhaps a paid third party) and content (topic of the webinar) you come out with a list of lead sources that’s too long to provide meaningful reporting. By first thinking about the end report and understanding the ROI of our investment in the webinar, we needed to set up a lead source that would clearly present this.
2. Smart assignment of primary and sub lead sources set us up for better reporting going forward:
- Even in our efforts to keep the list light, alas, we settled on 13 primary lead sources and just a couple multiples of that for subsequent lead sources.
- There is a lot of commentary out there about the difference between ‘sub lead source’ and ‘secondary lead source.’ You’ll notice that I use both in this blog post and figured I should share how we define them. A subsequent lead source is a lead sources that’s always attached to a primary lead source. A secondary lead source refers to the the next combination of primary and sub lead sources. In other words, there is the original set of primary and sub lead sources (how you can best map the ROI of your spend!) and the secondary set of lead sources is what helped move the lead through the funnel.
- Not as minimalistic as we set out to be, but still not bad considering how vast our marketing efforts are – from paid to organic, webinars to trade shows, and many vendors and partners to account for in these quick ROI calculations. It’s key to our lead source strategy to be able to report at a high level on the source of the lead and of slightly lesser importance, in what format did these efforts take form. In that process we keep the two sources joined, or yoked as we call it here. In other words, every primary lead source has a finite amount of combinations with possible sub lead sources.
3. A static single lead source is not the way to go:
- We are fortunate that our platform allow lead sources to be updated as a lead continues to engage with us throughout the funnel. We maintain the ability to report on the original lead source while still being able to report on the other primary and secondary lead sources as they evolve over time.
- So, the hot lead that came in from the Integrated Marketing Week event we sponsored earlier this year, but needed some time to be nurtured, won’t be solely attributed to just one event, while neglecting the other engagements along the path to creating an opportunity with that lead. If it were, we would simply choose to repeat the same kind of event over and over without giving any ROI love to the assets and calls to action that the very same person interacted with on the way down the funnel to SQO (Sales Qualified Opportunity). By keeping primary and sub lead sources yoked and recording each change of that lead source combination, we can easily report by what impacts lead sources over time and even measure the amount of time at every stage down the funnel.
Whew! Who would have thought something as seemingly simple as lead sources could be so strategic. This, for us, is the magic and the power of a robust marketing automation platform. As marketers sitting amongst some of the worlds best software engineers who are engineering the way marketing platforms evolve, we’ll continue to be faced with questions that bring the power of our platform face to face with the real life questions of a marketer.