Brian Carroll

Tracking ROI From Web Generated Leads

Iceberg The number one priority for B2B web sites is lead generation.  I’m convinced that B2B marketers are overemphasizing search engine optimization and pay per click tactics at the expense of ROI measurement. 

I find that most B2B marketers (except those in large companies) are focused on search engines and generating more web traffic – based on the belief; that more traffic equals, more inquiries, equals more leads and more sales.  This may true for B2C/B2B marketers with a transactional sale however, if you’re a B2B marketer, with a complex sale, this is just part of your battle.

If you are serious about tracking your website’s return on marketing investment, it is imperative, that you go beyond the data collected in your web sites log files.  Basic metrics such as; number of clicks, unique visitors, number of opt in e-mails gathered, and number of inquiries (forms) filled out are simply not enough.   

Search marketing is important but not at the expense of ROI measurement.  The top mandate from CEOs to marketing is to provide measurable ROI metrics.  The bottom line is that marketers must prove their return on marketing investment (ROMI). 

Mal Watlington, Contributing Writer for webpronews, wrote an article, “Getting the “R” in ROI from Web Generated Leads.”  He writes, "In the B2B world, customer behavior and the length of the buying cycle make the connection between on-the-web activity and the decision to purchase much more difficult to trace." 

I realize that tracking ROI may seem like a daunting task but it can be done.  I’ll show you how to track your website ROI…

Starting to track your web sites returned on investment

In a complex B2B sale, most of the selling actually occurs off-line.  The sales process is a long series of micro conversions resulting from ongoing dialog – a conversation.  The key is to tie both off-line and on-line activities together.

I view lead generation as an ongoing conversation that’s both multimodal and iterative.  To do this, you must begin with a holistic approach to lead generation and manage all of your touchpoints in your your CRM. 

Common metrics for website ROI tracking:
# Of lead from inquiries
# Of visits to contact us pages (Visitor to inquiry conversion ratio?)
# Of white paper requests
# Of news letter registrations
# Of opt-in email addresses
# Of webinars registrations & # of attendees
# Of immediate sales ready leads
# Of inbound phone calls (click to call or chat)

Basic lead generation metrics:
# Of inquiries (Weakest)
# Of qualified leads (Weak)
# Of leads in sales process (Okay)
# Of opportunities in sales funnel (Better)
# Of closed deals (Best)

A few more analytics to consider if you use pay per click (PPC):

  • Are you able to track which keywords are clicked on most frequently?
  • Do you know which keywords produce the best inquiries? 
  • Which search engines and sites produce best inquiries?  The most revenue and are the most profitable? 
  • Could you be paying for keywords that completely waste your sales team’s valuable selling time?  If so, do you know which ones?
  • How much did your web site contribute your overall revenue?  Can you prove it?

Conclusion

When you began thinking holistically, about your lead generation, you’ll find many of these questions will come naturally.  Put your focus on tracking metrics and microconversions that go beyond the lead (both on-line and off-line).  You’ll have no problem proving your worth to your CEO because you’ve documented return on marketing investment (ROMI) at every step. 

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Lead Generation, Marketing Strategy, ROI Measurement, Web/Tech



  1. December 15th, 2004 at 00:37 | #1

    The key to calculating an overall ROI is tracking all marketing and sales activities for each individual.
    Then, it becomes clear which advertising, direct marketing, or other activities actually generated leads that became prospects and, eventually, customers placing orders.

    This level of detail can be achieved when a company has a unified marketing and sales system that handles Web and e-mail marketing, offline marketing, and all sales activities.

    One of the benefits of a unified system is that salespeople can see all marketing activities for a each prospect. In addition, marketers can track the revenue that results from their lead generation efforts.

  2. December 15th, 2004 at 09:19 | #2

    Cliff,

    Thank you for your comments and you bring up a really good point. Technology does matter but only when you have alignment between your team members.

    I’ve discovered that the success of the unified system you describe is completely dependent on people and their team work which stems from their corporate culture.

    In order to be successful companies need alignment. A new report by the CMO Council and Business Performance Management Forum found that companies could boost their bottom line if marketing and sales could just work together.

    “800 senior marketing and C-level executives, 38% of respondents said they could boost incremental revenue by more than 20% if their company’s new business development practices were more effective…only 7% of respondents said their sales and marketing departments work together effectively.”

    I see that successful companies have figured out how to get – what I’ll call the Bermuda Triangle of ROI – Sales, Marketing and IT aligned. I wrote a post a while back called, “Why IT Must Help Marketing and Sales Collaborate with Lead Generation.”

  3. June 2nd, 2005 at 00:39 | #3

    Continuation from previous post… I agree with you that general metrics are not enough. In addition to getting new leads from your online/whatever marketing, qualifying them is critical. Even with a solid lead management program in place, often leads are passed through the pipe to quickly and primary sales people are working leads that are not really qualified. If you have a small organization of sales people, how do you qualify or rank leads before they get to the sales people.

  4. February 2nd, 2006 at 16:38 | #4

    One of the advantages of Search Engine Marketing is the ability to actually measure the effects of the marketing. The web analytics solution I use allows me to create goals associated with desired actions like, downloads, opt-ins, etc. Just recently I had to strenuously encourage one of my clients to set up such measurements which required the use of a form. He didn’t want forms on his site as he felt they were ‘unfriendly’. I think the ability to measure the results outweighs any perceived disadvantage associated with the use of forms. This situation speaks the posts by Cliff and Brian regarding team alignment with the stated goals.

  5. June 18th, 2007 at 06:56 | #5

    We are cataloging a group of relevant articles on the issue of calculating Return on Marketing Investment for Blogging, forums and other Web2.0 PR tools. Feel free to visit http://del.icio.us/HowardPR/ROMI.

  6. March 5th, 2010 at 16:11 | #6

    Personally, l would get away from those metrics completely. They are old B2C telemarketing ratios ( They should have been banned in the B2B world in the 90′s but unfortunately they still are around )

    I would rather a marketing, sales development, or sales team focus on quality engagements/qualified opportunies and demand generation rather than # of dials/appointments # leads

    This is why the lead gen business is in such a inefficient state. (why are sasles and marketing teams happy with 90% failure rates anyway)

    Companies think 100 leads will get me 10 demos = 1 sale.
    Therefore 200 leads will get me 20 demos = 2 sales.

    This makes as much sense as saying Christmas trees cause Christmas. IT sales and marketing departments are mistaking cause and effect.

    Just for the record, (and save you a few million bucks in wasted time ) I asked over 1 million IT professionals what is one the worst things an IT company can do to get your business.
    Top of the list IT Vendors cold calling me 100′s of times to get there menaingless sales metrics up.

    Not my opinion. My opinion is irrelevant – just a FYI if you marketing/selling to IT buyers.

    Little article i just sent out adapting some of Brian’s earlier work. Yop may be interestd,

    The changing landscape of “Traditional lead generation” as it pertains to the IT market.
    A lot of our clients are under pressure to help drive revenue and what seems to be happening is marketing teams are tempted to throw as many “leads” as they can to the sales team. IT vendors generally think more leads is better because it lowers the CPL they have to pay and gives the sales team more activity. But this is approach endows the IT vendor with a false sense of security. In fact in the long run it costs a lot more.
    On average a software company will spend between $50 – $75K in additional “qualification” costs for every 1000 “leads”. (Read: Trade show leads, Whitepaper downloads etc)
    Alternatively, my recommendation for my clients is go where their buyers are and develop a demand generation program where you engage potential prospects throughout the whole decision making process. The clients who work from the outside in, tend to see much better results when focused on demand generation/opportunity creation as opposed to traditional leads.
    Spiceworks users are open to hear from Vendors but on their terms not the vendors. Because the Spiceworks community is an opt-in experience vendors can talk/engage with customers or potential customers. Spiceworks clients become part of the internal system buyers have to deal with in order to make purchasing decisions that disrupt the status quo. The traditional lead generation and sales/marketing model today is not equipped to do that.
    Spiceworks is a marketplace where sales “lead generation” is already done simply by the fact that the customers/prospects are present.( and opted – in) They have already given the vendor their ear. It is up to the vendor to get involved and help, talk with, engage and nurture within the IT Business Decision makers daily workflow.
    “the disruptive business model Spiceworks has created will profoundly change the way technology products are marketed, sold and managed”. Steve Harrick – Institutional Venture Partners.

  1. June 24th, 2008 at 12:27 | #1