Marketers spend a lot of time coming up with lead gen strategies, and we almost always spend less energy analyzing those efforts to see if they're actually working. That's a problem, especially given how expensive these strategies can be to execute.
I've worked with dozens of clients to build lead generation campaigns and then review those campaigns to measure their effectiveness. Here, I'll share some of the lead gen metrics and analysis techniques I've used, and talk about how you can make them work for you.
Why lead generation analysis matters
It's tempting to measure the success of your lead gen campaigns by counting the number of leads you get. But when it comes to lead gen metrics, quality matters as much—if not more—than quantity.
For example, which form do you think would get more leads? The first one, from Zapier, asking for just an email address? Or the second one, from Search Engine Journal, with nine fields?
There's no planet on which Zapier doesn't get more leads. But those leads aren't ready to be passed off to sales, are they? The form didn't ask for much information, so they have no idea whether the submissions fit their ideal customer profile. Those leads still need quite a bit of nurturing.
Search Engine Journal, on the other hand, will get way fewer leads—when's the last time you gave a company your phone number?—but the leads they get are really interested in what they have to offer. And at the very least, the form gives the SEJ team everything they need to qualify the leads.
Sometimes, the short form and nurture campaign is the way to go. Other times, the detailed form and immediate sales response is the right move. But if you aren't analyzing your lead generation efforts, you'll have no idea which way to go. That's why measuring matters.
5 strategies for analyzing—and improving—your lead generation efforts
Most lead generation campaigns track the number of leads and maybe lead quality. That's a good start, but here's how to take a deeper look at the long-term impact of your lead generation campaigns.
1. Review your lead scoring metrics
Lead scoring means ranking your leads based on their potential value. For example, a highly qualified lead that also indicates intent to purchase might be a 5, while a first-time visitor who signed up for your newsletter is a 1. This rating allows sales and marketing teams to focus more resources on leads that are more likely to convert, but it can also leave valuable leads hanging if it's not implemented correctly.
Most sales tools (think CRMs or lead-gathering tools) use an algorithm to determine which leads are valuable. But you're a unique snowflake, and the software default shouldn't be dictating which leads are your best bets. So take a look at the built-in metrics your lead scoring tool uses. Are they accurate? Do they reflect the current direction of the business? If not, change them.
(Note: if your software won't let you change the metrics, at least make sure you understand what your lead metrics mean, so you can adjust your next steps accordingly.)
2. Look at recently closed deals
The best way to see what will work is to see what's already working.
Look at recently closed deals (particularly for high-value leads), and analyze their path through the sales and marketing funnel. For example, where did they enter the funnel? How engaged were they? Did they read a specific blog post, download a lead magnet, or sign up for a demo? Are they more likely to be in a specific industry, at a certain stage of growth, or have specific interests?
You should be looking for similarities in areas like:
Time on page
Early-funnel conversions (e.g., downloads, webinar attendance)
Understanding shared characteristics of your top leads helps you see which lead efforts pay off. From there, it can be pretty simple. If a large chunk of your closed deals came from LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, you know that's a channel to continue chasing. No matter how many leads you're getting from a given channel, if you're not closing deals with them, they might not be worth the resources.
3. Compare marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads
To make sure your lead generation efforts are leading to real sales, you can compare marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). The goal here is to find out: are the marketing and sales teams on the same page?
Look most closely at these metrics:
MQL to SQL conversion rate (how many marketing leads become sales leads)
If you're not seeing a lot of MQLs turn into SQLs—or, when they do, they're not closing—it's time to reconsider if your marketing and sales teams are aligned. Which brings us to the next tactic.
4. Create a sales and marketing feedback loop
Creating alignment between Sales and Marketing isn't just about metrics—it also requires consistent communication across the two teams.
I recommend that sales and marketing teams should meet at least once a month. They'll review metrics, yes, but they'll use those metrics to dive deeper into specific campaigns. For example, if Marketing is launching a new eBook as a lead magnet, does Sales have specific criteria they want to filter leads for? Can they provide conversion metrics from the last eBook campaign? Do they have suggestions for improving the campaign?
You can also use this meeting to review your MQL and SQL definitions. Of course, not all MQLs become SQLs. But if numbers aren't where you want them to be, it might be more about miscommunication.
5. Automate your data collection
There are a lot of metrics to track when it comes to lead generation. The right ones will vary based on your business, target audience, and general market. For example, B2B SaaS companies will track churn rate, which isn't an important metric for most B2C eCommerce sites.
But regardless of which data you're tracking, it'll be a lot. You could be tracking dozens of lead generation metrics, including:
Partial form fills
Average customer lifetime value
MQL to SQL conversion rates
Average acquisition costs
Cost per acquisition
The point is, it's a lot of data. Gathering, normalizing, and turning that data into usable insights is time-consuming. Look for ways to streamline that process by automating data collection wherever possible. Here are some more resources to help:
Building an effective lead generation strategy requires continuous tracking and optimization. Even when campaigns seem to be bringing in valuable leads, it's worth digging deeper to ensure those leads turn into customers. Automating data collection and other lead management activity makes it easier to stay on top of important metrics and spend time on what's working best.