To create a system for converting cold, warm and hot prospects into paying customers, a company must assemble all the right parts in all the right places. If even one of those parts is malfunctioning or was never added to the system, lead generation will be underwhelming at best and non-existent at worst.
Many companies don’t think about lead generation in this way and, as a result, leave important pieces out of their online marketing campaigns. This is why our agency, Straight North, a PPC agency created the Lead Generation Ecosystem infographic. The hope is by seeing how all the pieces of lead generation are connected and interdependent, in-house and contract marketers can better understand where they need to add parts — and just as important, where not to.
How things go terribly wrong for lead generation
Typically, companies focus on the second row of the ecosystem: the various marketing campaigns. If SEO is failing to produce leads, a company will shift to PPC; when PPC fails to deliver, it will scrape together an email campaign … so on and so forth, without ever seeing a significant uptick in leads.
In cases like this, the real problem could be lurking below, in the bowels of the ecosystem — otherwise known as analytics, reporting and conversion optimization. If a company fails to gather the right data, interpret it in a focused way, and test alternate strategic and tactical campaign elements, it will never succeed in any type of online marketing campaign. Instead of wasting years bouncing around from one type of marketing to another, all the company really had to do was install a good testing process.
This kind of error afflicts companies that take a touchy-feely approach to marketing; things can go the opposite way for technical-minded marketers who fail to appreciate the qualitative elements of the ecosystem. Companies with the latter tendency should pay special attention to the big hexagon in the center of the infographic: The company website.
The company website is where the content lives, content crucially important for turning cold prospects into warm ones, warm ones into hot ones, and existing customers into repeat customers. In addition, website content supports most all Internet marketing campaigns, and SEO in particular. Without valuable content, a company is doomed no matter how technically proficiently it handles all other elements of the ecosystem.
What is valuable content? Google’s definition is perfect for SEO, other forms of online marketing, and last but not least, actual human beings. Google defines valuable content as informative, more valuable and useful than other sites [in the same niche], credible, high quality and engaging.
If a company lacks valuable content, it’s like trying to start a car with bad spark plugs; content must be fixed in order for new inquiry forms, new database management systems, new CRM functionality, etc. to have any meaningful impact on lead generation.
One part that must be there
One part of the ecosystem that 9 out of 10 organizations miss entirely is that innocuous looking hexagon three rows up from the bottom: lead validation.
Lead validation is the process of separating true sales leads from non-lead inquiries. Most companies consider any form submission or tracked phone call as a 'lead' — which can be grossly misleading. Many so-called leads are actually sales solicitations, spam, customer service inquiries, wrong numbers, etc. When Internet marketing campaigns are tested or evaluated based on overstated lead data, mistakes are inevitable; companies will spend too much on campaigns that are performing worse than they think, and judge as winners split test variables that are in fact losers. Review this post by a colleague if you’re interested in a deeper look at lead validation.
Art plus science equals a healthy ecosystem
The bottom line: A healthy lead generation ecosystem requires qualitative and quantitative excellence. Great art with shaky science will not produce leads, nor will clumsy art when combined with rocket science. A strong marketing team consists of qualitatively minded and technically minded individuals. Getting them to work together in harmony is a real challenge — but that’s another story.