I’ve seen incredible confusion from CEOs, marketing people and clients surrounding differences in Leads and what they mean to different people. I hope to clear up some things about what getting online leads looks like and how they are different from sales, as this seems to be a point of wonder.
The most frequent problem is lumping all “leads” into one bucket and assigning the same value to all of them. Leads have different fundamental aspects to them: how well qualified they are, how quickly they convert to sales, ROI, effort required to convert them into sales, and what the sales process looks like for all them.
A lead is a prospect that has responded in some way to show they have interest in what you’re offering or are interested in your category and want more information. The sales stage they are in or their ability to close is irrelevant at this point, as they need to be qualified.
These leads take a long time to cultivate and get going, but once you engage them, they have one of the highest close rates around. They include leads from organic SEO, public relations, local groups, social media and expert content referrals.
These leads come with a longer cycle and require more work on the back end, as they set customers up to engage when they are ready to buy. This doesn’t fit with impatient situations where “we need sales now”, but they work the best to sustain strong business long term and diminish sales fluctuations.
These leads are from “classic” marketing programs, like the ones many of our clients were using before we met them. They are expensive regarding return and often are the ones that frustrate sales people with low close rates and frequent multi-bid for price scenarios.
These types of leads come from casting a wide net around the web and seeing what you can drag in. These types of “interest” leads from email marketing, conferences, ads, and Paid Search Marketing. These leads rely on strong headlines with broad promises and are simply designed to get “everyone” to “do something”, whether they are qualified or not.
These leads typically involve direct business contact or more targeted types of efforts, like “our top 25 prospects we want” type campaigns. These leads are also expensive, but typically are attached to higher ticket sales and good ROI.
Every one of these types of leads needs follow up and a process for approaching them. Unless you are selling on Amazon and rely solely on price, a lead is not an instant sale. All leads take work to close, and it is up to you and who handles your marketing to develop the process to close all leads in the most cost-effective way.
Every one of these leads has a different value attached to them depending on what you sell. When you assign the same value to each lead, you are doing yourself a disservice regarding your ROI.
Talk to an online marketing professional to learn more about getting a better return on leads for your business.