Four Steps For Creating A Marketing-Sales Metrics Model That Drives Growth
This article originally appeared on Forbes, November 29, 2016.
If you’re in marketing at a rapidly scaling company, it’s essential to understand your metrics and how they directly impact the primary goals of your business.
As a chief marketing officer at a startup, I live growth marketing every day. My company offers a program that trains people to work in the innovation economy, so we’re teaching the very concepts I’m about to show you.
1. Reverse Engineer Your Target
Depending on your situation, whether it’s day one at a startup or you’re the first senior marketing hire at a rapidly scaling company, you’ll need to gather as much data as you can. At worst, that could just be your sales target and nothing more. At best, you should be able to determine the conversion rate of incoming leads and the conversion rate of your sales team.
Imagine you’ve been told your team has to support a sales goal of 125 for the quarter and you have no data other than a few people who say the sales team converts 20% of all leads. Let’s do some reverse engineering to determine how many marketing leads your team needs to generate to hit the goal.
To determine how many leads you need to produce in a given time period, divide your target by the known conversion rate.
125 / 20% = 625 sales qualified leads (SQLs)
The SQL is the benchmark for a secondary action, i.e. booked call, abandoned shopping cart, etc. Now divide your SQLs by an unknown marketing qualified lead conversion rate. Make an educated guess based on industry standards. For this exercise, let’s assume 12%.
625 / 12% = 5,208 marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
The MQL is the benchmark for a first-touch action, i.e., content downloaded, newsletter sign-up, etc. If you want to figure out how many incoming leads/website visitors you need to hit your MQL goal, you can continue the process, 2–3% is a typical conversion rate for web traffic.
5,208 / 2% = 260,400 website visitors needed
2. Optimize For Data Capture
Now, let’s optimize your marketing channels to capture potential customers’ information. Take some time to audit all marketing assets and adjust the design of your website, messaging and landing pages with one goal in mind: Add new contacts to your database.
First, optimize your website for conversion:
- Make sure there are multiple ways to capture visitors’ information (at least one call to action on each page).
- Create forms with three fields or less.
- Give people a reason to want to learn more (determine what information should be “gated” and what information is vital to understand your product offering).
Then, create gated content offerings behind landing pages. These could include:
- How-to guides
- Case studies
- E-books and white papers
- Videos/webinar recordings
Your ability to capture the right amount of leads at the MQL stage will hinge on how well your marketing assets have been set up. The first thing I did when I joined Startup Institute was turn our homepage into a giant landing page and my team created a robust content offering (our program guide) to be gated behind it.
3. Develop An MQL Nurturing Program
Now that you’re ready to have thousands of leads flowing into your database, you need to think about how you’re going to nurture them.
Marketo defines lead nurturing as “the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need.”
Your key objectives now:
- Clearly communicate your value proposition.
- Educate, inspire or assist leads in learning more.
- Provide clear calls-to-action (CTAs) such as “Learn more” and “Buy now.”
This is a significant shift from traditional “interruption-based” marketing and advertising; your primary objectives are focused on the needs and concerns of the consumer rather than the company.
To build an automated email lead nurturing flow, there are dozens of email service providers, from affordable solutions like MailChimp to enterprise-level systems like Marketo. You’ll want to select a system that allows you to segment leads based on key data fields, demographics and behavior.
Build an automated system that is:
- Targeted. Only send messages that are relevant. Don’t send “buy now” messages to a lead that just entered your system ten minutes ago.
- Focused. Keep each email focused around one key topic/value proposition.
- Progressive. Lead potential customers down a logical path of learning. It should feel like a conversation where you are answering their questions and concerns.
Finally, here are a few best practices for email marketing:
- Copy should never be embedded in the header image. This is not a good idea because many email clients (including Gmail) will strip out the image. Design your HTML templates on the assumption that images might not load.
- Assume no one will read your body copy. The heading, subhead, image and call-to-action button should all appear above the fold and be able to communicate what you want the reader to do without ever reading your body copy.
- Keep it short and sweet. Keep body copy to three to five sentences and don’t waste people’s time by telling them their time is valuable.
- Write the way you would talk. Unless you’re writing for a law firm or a bank, lose the “don’t hesitate to…” and “thank you for your consideration…” language.
In the past year, Startup Institute has implemented a robust lead nurturing program that has doubled our conversion rates from MQL to a started application. The message of the best performing email is: “Let’s build a career you love. Get the training, network, and mentorship you need to achieve your goals.”
4. Build Your Model Then Test, Integrate, Measure, Repeat
Your metrics model and acquisition channels will require constant testing and iteration. Don’t get frustrated when your first attempt fails. Failure is a huge part of marketing and it’s a necessary part of learning what works for your specific business.
Being in command of your data and learning growth hacking strategies (which we covered in more detail in this blog post) will empower you to make bold decisions that will drive serious growth for your organization.