I find that the more I write for the CleverFunnel blog, the more I reflect on my previous marketing roles. That is to say, I think about the way I used to do things in previous marketing positions, and I just roll my eyes at how absolutely ridiculous a lot of it was. It’s like, of course we weren’t all that successful. The mindset we were expected to have isn’t one that aligns with actual revenue success for a company and was not growth marketing focused — at all.
Every meeting we’d have with the head honchos revolved around one central question: how many leads do we have? If the answer was anywhere near “Not enough,” then the next question became “How do we get more?” Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with chasing after more leads. Salespeople need their pipelines full of opportunities to get some fat commission checks, and the only way to do that is to keep giving them at-bats. On the other hand, will throwing all sorts of people down the funnel to your sales team solve revenue problems, or are you just creating more problems where there previously weren’t any?
There’s A Reason The Term “MQL” Exists
This should be obvious, but lead generation is not just a quantity game. You want a whole lot of people clicking on your ads and filling out your forms? Sure, we can do that. Hell, if you’re only going after names of people to go after, we could source some questionable email list online and spam the ever-loving shit out of them until they agree to listen to what we have to say. No problem. However, if a strong majority of these leads are trash, what good does that do for you, your sales team, and your business?
Ask any salesperson, and unless they’re an overconfident moron, they’ll tell you they’d rather not waste their time with trash leads (Although, I have had to deal with the sales fucks that believe they’re the next Zig Ziglar who say they can sell the product to anyone, no matter what, throwing in cliche nonsense about selling water to whales. That’s a whole different tangle of problems to unravel, however). So, why do we keep setting up our marketing programs with a focus on quantity, and not quality? Because the fact of the matter is, more leads do not necessarily translate into more sales. So, how do we ensure the leads that we do deliver to our sales counterparts are actually worth talking to?
Enter the marketing qualified lead, or MQL if you’re into acronyms. In short, an MQL is a prospect who completes some activity that would mark them as “sales ready.” Some examples of these activities include downloading an eBook, requesting more information via form fill on a website, visiting a booth at a trade show, and so on. These activities, combined with a prospect’s demographic and firmographic information gives us a sense for who our ideal customers are, and which people, on average, will move through the marketing and sales funnels faster. In a perfect world, this equates to happier and more productive salespeople, who are no longer wasting their time on garbage, which then translates into more revenue for the company at large.
Where Do Quality Leads Live?
One hundred years ago, if you were a dude who made saddles, and you were selling them to dudes with horses, how would you find these dudes? Rather than standing in the middle of New York City, hoping that someone would gallop by riding bareback on a horse saying, “Gee, you’re right, I sure could use a saddle for this here horse,” would there be a smarter approach to finding dudes with horses? Could you go to where these dudes all hung out (at a rodeo, or whatever), and hawk your wares there? Could you stand in the middle of Denver, knowing that someone would gallop by riding bareback on a horse? I mean, that approach would probably work in Denver until, say, 1996.
Fortunately, we have a lot more data to play with in order to find the right people for our products. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. Chris, the CEO of CleverFunnel, refers to this as the busiest cocktail party in the history of cocktail parties, and everyone wants to sell something. Through this data, we can (hopefully) find the right people to chat with, and through testing, we can find the right way to talk to them.
This is a theme that we come back to pretty much any time we talk about growth marketing but identifying who you should be talking to needs to always be the first step. Start with who you think you should be talking to, and test, test test, until you find an audience who resonates with what you’re selling. Then the fun begins.
After you have an idea who you’re talking to, you need to start figuring out where to talk to these people. Where do they spend their time online? Where are they most likely to interact with your brand? Are these the type of people who legitimately click on ads on Facebook? What about LinkedIn? What about AdWords? What about programmatic ads? What about email? What about Twitter? Actually no, forget about Twitter. The rest of the world has.
You get the idea. There are plenty of different strategies available in a digital marketer’s arsenal, and while you should be doing a bit of work across various channels, the task becomes finding the people who will not only interact with your ad, and not only convert on whatever form you have set up, but will also spend their hard earned moolah on your product or service.
Read That Last Part Back Again, Slowly
Is counting the number of MQLs a marketing team delivers enough for a true growth marketing strategy? Remember, we are in a game of exchanging a service for cashola. And, if your marketing efforts are just attracting a bunch of tire kickers, then you’re not being successful. It is important for marketers, when they’re determining how to spend their marketing budgets, to consider the bigger revenue picture.
Is your marketing team’s performance graded around how many MQLs they can deliver? If so, then you can only logically expect a marketing team to care about the quantity of leads they deliver, and not the quality. “But Max,” you might be saying to your computer screen, “If they are MQLs, doesn’t that mean that they’re qualified, implying a certain level of quality?” Fair. However, if you find that you are delivering a whole mess of leads that aren’t converting to sales, how quality are your leads after all? No, your team needs to be considering the revenue impact every single lead that comes through delivers. If your marketing team isn’t using revenue as its measure of success, then they’re simply missing the big picture.
In short, find the people you want to be talking to, and judge them based on their willingness to actually put revenue in your company’s coffers. It’s that simple, right?