The Terrifying Numbers Behind a Whopping Marketing Failure

There are lots of scary things out there — killer viruses, Earth-smashing meteors, the possibility of yet another Real Housewives show. But those are easy to dismiss and push to the farthest corner of the back of your mind.

What’s really distressing? Numbers. Numbers are really scary — specifically, the numbers around things marketers know they should be doing but aren’t.

The numbers are particularly chilling around failure to implement lead scoring, a method that takes advantage of marketing automation and uses data and customer behavior to prioritize leads. The numbers show just how effective lead scoring is.

On average, organizations that use lead scoring experience a 77 percent lift in lead-generation ROI over organizations that do not use lead scoring, according to Marketing Sherpa.

In general, marketing organizations that employ effective lead scoring pass fewer leads to sales, but their sales organizations bring in higher revenues — about 18 percent greater on average — and revenue per deal is 17 percent higher. The win rates of marketing-generated leads that were accepted by sales were from 1.5 to 3.5 times better than those of organizations that had not implemented lead scoring, according to CSO Insights’ 2013 Lead Management Optimization Study.

Holy cow! It’s pretty clear that the concept works! What’s so scary about that, you ask? What’s shudder-inducing is the fact that so many organizations simply ignore lead scoring.

The Horror of Hunches

Only 21 percent of all B2B marketers have established a lead scoring system, according to Marketing Sherpa’s 2013 B2B Benchmarking Report.

That means the scary number is this: 79 percent of marketing organizations are passing leads to sales based on hunches — or based on nothing at all, instead salvoing all their leads over the wall and letting sales figure out which leads are worth pursuing.

These marketers might be meeting their goal for pure lead numbers, but they’re dragging down sales’ ability to become more productive — and they’re setting themselves up as scapegoats when sales misses its numbers.

Want another scary story? How about the story of the numbers around lead nurturing? Again, studies show that lead nurturing pays off.

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost per lead, according to Forrester Research.

Businesses that used marketing automation to nurture prospects experienced a 451 percent increase in qualified leads, the Annuitas Group discovered last year.

That seems like an open-and-shut case for lead nurturing — but again, the scary adoption numbers suggest that marketers are marching blithely to their own doom.

Sixty percent of B2B marketers had not so much as bothered to establish a lead nurturing program, according to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 study.

Those who had were not keeping it running, for the most part: Only 22 percent of B2B organizations touched leads with lead nurturing on a weekly basis, while about 15 touched leads on a monthly basis.

That same lack of enthusiasm is apparent in the way money is spent on nurturing content.

For instance, 60 percent of the respondents in TechValidate’s State of B2B Content Marketing Survey, said the chief driver for the production of new content in their organization was feeding lead generation campaigns.

How many companies cited a need for nurturing content as the primary driver? Just 2.9 percent.

What the heck is going on? Why are so many marketers leaving money on the table — and setting themselves up to receive pink slips as a result?

Fear of Success?

It may be that marketers, like most of us, are very busy people. Reacting to pressures from sales or other parts of the organization to get campaigns ready or jump on other marketing activities at the last minute can put them in a very tactical state of mind. Getting lead scoring and lead nurturing programs together requires strategic thinking — yes, you must execute against the plan once it’s established, but having the plan is the key first step.

Also, lead nurturing and lead scoring go hand-in-hand. Without a lead nurturing program, you’re missing a key factor in your lead scoring program.

Having a lead scoring program without lead nurturing puts you in a passive mode, waiting for leads to come to you. Having lead nurturing without lead scoring puts you back in the position of manually tracking prospect behavior — or going on hunches based on anecdotal evidence.

However, lead scoring and lead nurturing bring massive benefits for your marketing and sales efforts. Nurturing maximizes your investment in lead generation; scoring results in fewer leads being passed to sales — but more of them are well qualified and ultimately close, meaning that sales makes its numbers more often and does so with less effort.

These are performance increases that justify time spent to build nurturing and scoring programs — and help prevent sales from seeing marketing as the source of its problems, a common contributor to sales/marketing misalignment.

Don’t be frightened of lead scoring and lead nurturing. With a little thought, work and investment, they can make your position as a marketer a lot less tenuous — and the improvement in sales’ performance can be downright spooky.

CRM Buyer columnist Chris Bucholtz is content marketing manager for CallidusCloud and a speaker, writer and consultant on topics surrounding buyer-seller relationships. He has been a technology journalist for 17 years, focusing on CRM since 2006. When he's not wearing his business and technology geek hat, he's wearing his airplane geek hat; he's written three books on World War II aviation.

1 Comment

  • We did a recent survey of Marketing Automation Users and found that lead scoring was more prevalent in companies with greater than 5,000 employees. What’s interesting to me is that you’d think smaller companies have an easier time getting the necessary alignment between sales and marketing to create a successful scoring process. Maybe it’s just a question of resources – which larger companies usually have – to hire the right people to build a lead scoring system.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

CRM Buyer Channels