The turn of the calendar is often a good time to review your marketing plans and make sure every thing is on track for success. Platitudes, sure, but without regular reviews of all parts of your marketing funnel and technology set-up, you can’t be sure that you will continue to meet your goals.
Even if your company operates and reports on a fiscal calendar that is different from the calendar year, it is still helpful to look at a calendar year wrap-up to see how you did.
As a marketing organization you may have tracked things like audience building and engagement, but we are going to focus on some harder numbers that directly lead into your marketing funnel. Specifically the MQL, or marketing-qualified leads.
For the sake of this conversation, let’s assume that you have a marketing automation system. If you don’t, 2017 is definitely a good time to explore your options.
Once a prospect fills out a form to download a sparkling ebook, join a brilliant webinar, or attend a fabulous event, and they get into your marketing automation system, the goal is to convert them to an MQL.
A marketing-qualified lead is defined as a prospect that marketing thinks is likely to become a customer. We know this based on explicit and implicit data that we can gather about the prospect.
The explicit is based on what the prospect gives you, also known as profile fit. These are things like title, company name, pain point / need / interest, and any additional details you need related to what you are offering.
The implicit tracks a prospect's level of engagement. Examples of these are what emails they opened, what pages they visited on your website or blog, what ebooks they downloaded, and even their social media activity.
Once you set up your marketing automation system according to these criteria, it is the system that determines the marketing-qualified leads. Hopefully this was all determined in conjunction with sales, so they agree with the definition of an MQL. If you don’t have sales buy-in of your definitions, this is a good time to get it.
You need to work backwards from closed sales and determine how your marketing attributes actually aligned with those prospects who became customers. This is often an eye-opening experience.
It is also worth looking at this the other way. What are the attributes of prospects who never become customers? If someone downloads five ebooks, for example, are they more or less likely to become a customer? They could just be educating themselves. And that's okay, as long as you understand that.
When you are looking at the customers who closed, don’t ignore those who didn’t come to sales through your marketing automation system. This could be through cold calling, or other sales-driven initiatives. It’s really important to understand the profiles of these new customers too.
Let’s get back to the details of lead scoring. In addition to having all of these inputs, some of which may be relevant and some of which may not, you have the ability to weigh the importance of each. This lets you collect something that might not be the most important today, but could be useful in the future.
And as with all data on prospects and customers, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Just because you can collect something, but you know it’s never going to come up, consider leaving that one aside.
If you are selling to consumers, a customer’s birthday is a piece of data worth having. A birthday coupon is a simple idea to implement. But when selling to other businesses, this request is an intrusion because you’re never going to send a birthday coupon. Keeping this information in a CRM might be worthwhile so the salesperson can send the birthday wishes directly.
Now is as good a time as any to review your lead scoring based on this past year's results, and the Lead Scoring Guide for Modern Marketers can give you more details on how to improve your setup.