Leads are everything in the world of marketing and sales. They are the rough nuggets of potential customer gold that brands, with help from their marketing and sales teams, can eventually turn into sources of revenues and profits that drive business growth. Leads are information-seeking members of your target audience who, unlike prospects, already know that you exist. And they are now at the stage of wanting to learn more about your product, whether it’s a mortgage, an insurance policy, or a martech platform.
Companies need to devote resources to identifying the true gold among the nuggets, and not waste time on leads that look shiny, but upon closer inspection, have little or no value. Lead tracking helps with this process because it sheds light on which leads have the highest value and therefore deserve more focus. That’s why it’s important for marketers to understand how the lead tracking process works, how to use tools like call tracking software to enhance that process, and how to get a greater return on investment (ROI) from the lead pipeline.
With that in mind, here’s a quick primer on lead tracking for marketers.
Lead tracking is the process of understanding the activity of potential customers, from initial touch to close, and keeping an organized record of that activity for analysis and marketing optimization. Through lead tracking, you can monitor where leads originated from, including whether they are inbound or outbound leads. An inbound lead is one that proactively contacted your company, often through channels like organic search. An outbound lead is one that your company contacted, such as through an email campaign.
Lead tracking also allows marketers to gauge how close a lead is to making a purchase, which helps you make timely decisions that transform that lead into a viable prospect and hopefully, a customer. The process also helps to prevent missed handoffs between marketing and sales and other key functions, like customer success — and avoid lost opportunities.
The data that lead tracking provides gives marketers more insight into and understanding of how the sales funnel works, so you can make pipeline projections. You can also fine-tune your marketing campaigns, and quickly abandon strategies that aren’t working to move prospects through that funnel with less friction. And you can let the sales team know exactly who they should be talking to and when, and what they should say to a lead to improve their chances of ultimately making a sale.
It’s very important to know the difference between these! It can be confusing and the differences are subtle, but relevant. A lead is an individual or organization that has expressed interest in your product or service and has submitted some sort of contact information to indicate their interest. This can happen through a form on your website, or signing up to join a webinar you’re hosting. Just because an individual or organization is interested in your service or product, doesn’t mean they would make a good customer, and that’s how a prospect is different. A prospect is a type of lead that has also been qualified by your leadership, marketing or sales teams, to become a potential customer. It’s important to decide who or what types of customers you want to do pursue and do business with.
Sales opportunities are the next step in a marketing or sales funnel after a prospect. Again based on the criteria your business demands, a lead is usually gathered by your marketing team which is then converted to a prospect and managed by your business development team. Your BDR team will then qualify prospects through your own internal filtering process and they then graduate to a sales opportunity when they’ve been identified to have a high likelihood of making a purchase and are engaged by your sales teams for further nurturing.
Speaking of sales, it’s natural to assume that lead tracking is the responsibility of the sales team. However, the marketing organization has a critical role to play in this process because they generate the lead pipeline and frequently work to move prospects through the sales funnel. In fact, in many organizations, marketing is primarily responsible for lead tracking.
For lead tracking to be effective, though, sales and marketing teams need to work closely together on both lead tracking and prospect tracking.
Seamless collaboration between marketing and sales can help uncover more qualified leads, providing an opportunity to create a more customized, personalized sales and marketing approach that makes the potential customer feel like a VIP — and thus, inclined to engage with the brand more deeply and make a purchase.
Lead tracking requires more than a commitment from sales and marketing to collaborate, of course. It involves a lot of planning and coordination, including clarifying what constitutes a “good” lead, organizing how lead information will be categorized and organized, setting goals, determining what key performance indicators (KPI) to use, and more.
You also need to have the right technology tools. For example, lead generation tracking software can help make it easier for the business to maintain an accurate accounting of leads, sales and ROI, by streamlining workflows and eliminating reliance on spreadsheets. And because call tracking is critical to understanding how marketing efforts are generating leads that convert to sales over the telephone, you’ll also want to have call tracking software that provides real-time attribution and detailed analytics about who is calling your business.
Make sure that all the key tools you use for lead tracking, from your customer relationship management (CRM) system to your marketing automation software to your call tracking and analytics solution, can work together effectively. Integration of these technologies will help ensure you can track leads across all channels, online and offline, efficiently and accurately, and get relevant and timely data so you can optimize your campaigns and tactics. (Invoca, for example, integrates with many marketing technology platforms including DMPs and search platforms, social, video, and display advertising.)
There is no shortage of ways for your business to capture leads. Contact form submissions, webinar attendee lists, in-person meetings (e.g., at an industry conference), and calls to action presented in social channels (e.g., a newsletter sign-up button) are just a few examples. However, there is one method — inbound phone calls — that can be a particularly lucrative source of extra-shiny “customer gold.”
Why? Inbound calls are coming from leads who are motivated to interact with your brand. They saw a phone number on your website, on a lead form, in an email, in a content offer, or in search results, and they decided to pick up the phone. Or, if they’re using a smartphone, maybe they dialed in from a click-to-call button in a paid search ad featuring your company’s product. Either way, this is the type of lead with high potential to become, at the very least, a hot prospect. So, you definitely don’t want to lose track of them (more on this later).
Back to the notion that leads are like gold nuggets, you need to establish a process for grading leads so you can determine which ones are most likely to deliver value to the business. That process is lead scoring, which goes hand-in-hand with lead tracking. Lead scoring is a way for marketing and sales to prioritize the prospects that they are tracking. It helps you monitor a lead’s interest in your brand and assess how close they may be to making a purchase, so you know whether it’s time to move fast or take time for more nurturing.
With lead scoring, you assign a score for each trackable interaction a potential customer has with your business. What you decide to score, and how you score (numerical value, letter grade, or term), are up to you. Maybe you decide a lead should receive a certain score for downloading a case study from your website and providing their contact information so they could access that content. Or, maybe they clicked on an ad for your product that was served up to them in online search results. Perhaps they went so far as to phone into your call center to talk to a rep to get a quote. All of these actions are worth tracking and scoring.
How close a good lead is to becoming a prospect is important to track, of course. But you also want to know where that good lead originated from. What prompted them to learn more about your brand or product? A paid search ad? A banner ad? Your website? A blog post?
Knowing what worked can help you attract more good leads using that same method. You can focus your marketing and advertising spend, refine your efforts to make campaigns even more lead-attractant, and move away from strategies that aren’t resonating with your target audiences. Lead tracking — by adding a UTM tracking code to a URL, for example — is also useful when you are testing the performance of different marketing campaigns and content.
Call tracking software is critical for lead tracking for businesses that make a significant amount of sales over the phone. Call tracking provides marketing attribution data for sales that occur on the phone so you can prove the ROI of your marketing efforts and optimize your campaigns to drive lead pipeline. You get data from phone conversations with customers, so you can determine exactly which marketing campaign or tactic prompted a lead to call your business.
Marketers who use Invoca call tracking software can tell what paid search campaign or keywords helped drive a potential customer to call. They can track the outcome of the interaction, such as whether the caller made a purchase, scheduled an appointment, or requested a quote or other information. Marketers also can use the solution to quickly analyze tens of thousands of conversations to gain actionable insights in real time that they can apply to boost conversion rates and create a more personalized experience for buyers.
This call tracking data can also be used to optimize campaigns, for example, by using Invoca to feed conversion data to Google’s Smart Bidding algorithm to optimize bidding in real time. This is how many of our customers increase lead conversion rates and reduce cost-per-acquisition (CPA). For example, eHealth used the integrations with Google Ads and Adobe Experience Cloud to optimize their paid media against events that are happening on the phone, resulting in a 20% decrease in CPA and a 20% increase in conversion rates — just by feeding Invoca data to Google’s Smart Bidding algorithm. They were also able to realize up to 60% reductions in the cost of acquisition for click-to-call campaigns.
In addition to tapping into that gold mine of call data, marketers can use Invoca’s call tracking software to keep tabs on promising leads who phoned into the call center, clearly expressed interest, but didn’t convert — so now, are prime for retargeting. And that helps to prevent those high-value leads, those nuggets of potential customer gold, from slipping through your fingers.
Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you build a stronger lead tracking process? Check out these resources: