8 Questions you need to ask yourself before starting an online lead generation campaign.

If you have the right answers, you’ll get the rights results.

When it comes to investing in inbound digital lead generation, companies both large and small ask me the same questions: “What is the best strategy? Which channels work? How do we work out a budget? What’s going to get me the most exposure and revenue?”

Unfortunately, in my experience, they’re not asking the first and most important question: “Are we READY to run a digital lead generation campaign?”

The truth is, you can’t just jump into generating inbound digital leads without having something of value to lead them to. Very often, I see entrepreneurs using online campaigns as a first step towards acquiring new business for their startups. But, because they don’t have the resources in place to convert leads, they rarely get the results they want. Even established businesses often lack the critical elements needed to nurture and transform new leads into customers.

Inbound lead generation is a cog in a much larger machine and is only successful when it works in harmony with other apparatus. Here are the questions you should be asking yourself prior to launching a digital inbound lead generation campaign…

1. Does your product or service have the right validation?

This one typically applies to startups, but is still relevant even if your company has been around for a while. Prior to spending a single dollar on inbound lead generation, make sure you have customers with recognizable brands  for whom you’ve done outstanding work or positive reviews from verified and recognized sources. Featuring testimonials and reviews from respected companies or media organizations who are impressed by your products or services is gold when trying to convert undecided buyers.

2. Do you have the right content in place?

Digital marketing is not about ads alone; these are just a small component of the entire program. For example, in many cases a great video explaining the product or service can be very persuasive. In other instances, you may need a white paper, case study and/or instructional video to effectively sell your product or service. There’s no point in bringing in large volumes of traffic to your site if you’re just going to lose them because the content to educate and convince is not in place.

3. Do you have legitimacy?

If your business, brand or products are relatively unheard of, then you need to win the user’s trust. While having customer testimonials will go a long way, it also helps to be recognized by industry bodies, have global partnerships or be able to display certifications. These stamps of approval from respected companies and organizations will make visitors more likely to trust you.

4. Is your infrastructure in place to handle inbound digital leads?

Many smaller businesses venture into e-commerce without having the ability to handle the influx of calls that an ad campaign might generate. You’ll need to ensure your telephony and chat applications, ticketing system and CRM platform are seamlessly synchronized to give your support agents the information they need to deliver an outstanding experience.

An effective email automation platform that is tightly integrated with your website and CRM should also be in place to effectively nurture inbound digital leads. Even medium to large companies often make the mistake of not integrating their email platform and CRM system and are unable to track customers properly.

5. Do you understand what you want to measure?

Implementing an inbound lead generation campaign is pointless if you’re not going to monitor its effectiveness. The ability to measure every aspect of your marketing efforts is critical to improving a digital campaign’s performance. It allows you to identify which approach is working and which ideas are just wasting your money.

It is therefore critical to come up with a digital marketing measurement framework to ensure you are tracking the right activity. There are hundreds of metrics and KPIs you can measure across your digital marketing program; however, you need to identify which metrics have the biggest impact on your business and make sure that key stakeholders understand them. This framework should be an evolving one and needs to be continuously updated.

6. Do you have the analytics you need?

Now you know what you need to track, are you actually able to measure these elements across your customer’s journey, including online and offline channels? Many companies launch campaigns without the right tools in place to assess all the necessary elements. Using a rudimentary implementation of analytical tools, they measure less than 30% of what they need to.

There are plenty of analytics applications that can help you to measure activity across the customer journey. The ability to close the loop as the customer interacts with third-party marketing channels both online (FB, Google, LinkedIn, etc.) and offline (TV, radio, etc.), as well as your digital properties (website, mobile app, etc.), email and, if relevant, physical locations and calls, will help you gain deep insights into user behavior. This will allow you to build more targeted ad campaigns as you progress, which will lead to lower CPAs.

7. Have you estimated what the ROI of your digital marketing efforts could generate?

Many companies simply look at cost-per-web-visitor or cost-per-acquisition metrics to judge the effectiveness of campaigns and channels; however, a deep dive into ROI will give far more accurate insights so you can make the right decisions.

For example, are you measuring the Life Time Value of different cohorts of customers? Which channels and campaigns are delivering the highest ROI after deducting CPA from Gross Profit? How long does it take for you to recover your ad spend? What is the time lag between a customer clicking an ad and making the payment? Answers to these questions will help you plan your cash flow, understand budgeting and set targets of how much you are willing to spend to acquire a lead.

8. Is your tech in place?

If you’re bringing in a lot of extra traffic with your digital lead generation efforts, you need to ensure your website’s server is up to the challenge, especially if you’re an e-commerce business. Your tech person should have safeguards in place to allow your site to handle large volumes of traffic with fast load times. Research shows that you only have 2 seconds for a page to load properly before your potential customer starts losing attention.

Similarly, ensure all elements are functioning properly. Mailing list registration forms should be seamless and security should be top notch if you expect visitors to hand over information or credit card details. A poorly performing website does not reflect well on your brand and visitors will lose faith in you as a reliable provider.

How many were you able to check off your list?
Before committing any serious money to digital lead generation, you should first address as many of these problems as possible – or your cost of acquisition will soar and you won’t have the insights you need to find out where the problems are. You’ll just be throwing your money away. Furthermore, good leads will go to waste because you aren’t able to fulfill orders, resulting in cancellations and dissatisfied customers.

Take the time to put the right structures in place before jumping into digital lead generation. It’s the best way to ensure your campaigns deliver the leads you need and get the conversions you want..