More than ever, executives are demanding accountability for marketing expenditures. It’s not an unreasonable expectation. Companies devote significant resources to marketing, and one of our roles is to demonstrate those resources are sound investments that generate demand for your company’s products and services.
There are multiple ways to gauge marketing success. The top three measures for industrial companies are sales attributed to marketing campaigns; customer acquisition; and customer satisfaction, according to the IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions’ 2015 Industrial Marketing Trends research report.
For that top measure—sales attributed to marketing campaigns—you might be underreporting the value marketing is delivering to the business. That’s because when you attribute sales to marketing campaigns, you should be looking at two different types of marketing leads that can turn into customers: the marketing qualified lead and the marketing influenced lead.
1. The Marketing Qualified Lead
This is a lead that marketing has generated through one of its campaigns and passed on to the sales team after qualifying it. Qualification may come from any number of processes, depending on how you’ve established lead handling practices. It could be from survey questions, telemarketing follow-up, or a lead score based on attributes such as company size, industry, need, buying time frame or other criteria.
Qualified leads are gems. Marketing should be proud of them. You’ve generated interest from a potential client, and routed that prospect through your lead qualification process. And your sales team wants qualified leads that require less effort and are more likely to convert into customers. Qualified leads are the glue that binds marketing and sales. There’s no diminishing their importance.
2. The Marketing Influenced Lead
The marketing influenced lead is sometimes overlooked because this lead hasn’t gone through the qualification process and been handed off to sales. It’s less visible than the marketing qualified lead.
However, the marketing influenced lead is any person who engaged with your marketing content before becoming a customer. For example, they downloaded a white paper, watched a webinar, interacted on your social media accounts, subscribed to your newsletter, visited your website or performed some other engagement activity with your company due to your marketing efforts.
Marketing influenced leads likely far outnumber marketing qualified leads. That’s because in the early research phases of their buy cycle, engineers and technical professionals are often quickly gathering information from a variety of potential suppliers without yet making any formal contact. According to the 2015 IHS Engineering360 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector research report, the majority of engineers and technical professionals don’t make contact with a potential supplier until the latter stages of their buy cycle.
If these future customers haven’t filled out a form (such as a registration), you may not even know about them yet—but they know about you, and they are being influenced by your marketing content. When they eventually make a buying decision and become a customer, your marketing efforts helped define their path and contribute to their decision, and marketing should get credit for this marketing influenced lead.
Putting the Leads Together
The distinction between these two types of leads is important when trying to demonstrate marketing’s value to the business, and both must be counted. The distinction also has several other implications for your marketing efforts:
• Diversify your digital marketing presence as much as possible to expose your company to more potential customers who can be influenced by your content
• Content marketing has a crucial role to play in any industrial marketing strategy
• Track interactions with your marketing content: clicks, views, downloads, shares, comments and more
• Work with your sales team to document effective processes to qualify leads and pass them to sales
Next time you’re asked to communicate the value of marketing to the business, be sure to mention both qualified and influenced leads.