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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Jan 5, 2016 10 min read

How Many Leads Do You Need? Inbound Marketing Strategy Has Answers

Inbound Marketing Is The Only Marketing That’s All About Numbers

Inbound Marketing NumbersIt is January 5, 2016, and I bet you’re already behind on your revenue efforts for January. Here’s how I can tell: Do you know how many leads you needed yesterday? Today? Tomorrow? By the end of this week? Probably not. But, you do know how much revenue you need to have by the end of the month, right? Almost everyone knows that.

Don’t make the same mistake you made last year. You MUST know how many leads you need each day. You must know how many visitors you need to your website. You must know how many sales-qualified leads and how many sales opportunities. You must know all these numbers cold. If you don’t, or if the people who work for you (sales and marketing) don’t, I’m going to tell you something you won't like: On the first week of January, you have no hope of hitting your 2016 revenue goals. Just go home now.

If you don’t want to go home, there’s only one way to tie your revenue goals to lead numbers, and that’s through inbound marketing, or more specifically, the marketing strategy behind those inbound marketing tactics. You must connect those tactics directly to outcomes like leads, new customers and revenue.

Here’s how to change your thinking in 2016 so you not only hit your revenue goals, but also exceed them.

Full Funnel Analytics

Like I said, you need to know your numbers. You need a baseline or benchmark of your marketing metrics today, and you need a set of goal numbers that ensure you hit your targets. Start with the marketing funnel and work your way down into the sales funnel. Ultimately, these funnels are connected, so in essence, it’s one long funnel with a set of interconnected numbers.

Here's an example. Your website gets 1,000 visitors per month. From those 1,000 visitors, you get 10 leads per month. This is low, but the typical conversion rate is 1%. Of those 10 leads, only 10% of them are sales-qualified, meaning they wanted to speak with one of your salespeople. So, you should expect to get only ONE qualified lead per month. 

But remember, not every sales-qualified lead is actually a sales opportunity. Let’s say for the sake of argument that only 30% of the sales-qualified leads are sales opportunities. This means it’s going to take three or four months to get only ONE sales opportunity. If your close rate on opportunities is 50%, it’s going to take six to eight months to generate one new customer with this sample funnel.

Now, this might seem silly, but you’d be surprised how close the example is to many businesses, and the CEOs never see this for what it is until you do the math. This could be your company right now, and you don’t even know it. Do the math now and then redo it to illustrate the kind of website traffic, conversion rate and lead flow you need to actually achieve your revenue goals.

If you find that you must have 10,000 visitors to your site and a 3% conversion rate to drop enough sales-qualified leads and sales opportunities into your funnel in order to close more new business, you need to know that now ... which brings me to the next topic.

Proper Investment Levels

You’re probably not investing enough money into marketing. If you have 1,000 visitors today and you need 10,000 to hit your goal, that’s going to take time and money. If you have a sub-1% conversion rate and you need that to be 3% or higher, that’s going to take time and money. If you rank 100+ for your most important targeted keywords, you’re only getting a few leads from your website or you don’t have any followers on Twitter, yes, those are all challenges. The way to fix them is to invest in marketing.

Invest for the long haul. There are many articles that talk about how the level of investment in marketing should be between 5% and 10% of revenue depending on whether you’re trying to grow the company moderately or aggressively. Don’t expect to increase website traffic by a factor of 10 in three months with a $2,000 monthly marketing budget. It’s not happening. Be realistic about your budget and the expected results from your level of investment.

Aggressive growth goals go hand in hand with aggressive marketing budgets. Want faster results? You should be prepared to invest more, not less. A program that requires $10,000 a month for six months is going to get you much better results than a program that requires $5,000 a month for 12 months.

Experience With Tactical Results

Since we’re talking about money and metrics and data, you need to be sure that your team is capable of connecting the expected results from individual tactics. Inbound marketing strategy is about the collection of inbound tactics tied together with messaging. One plus one equals three with inbound. Picking one tactic and expecting it to deliver the same results as that which 10 tactics could do is also not happening.

There’s a multiplier effect with inbound that adds to the results, but it requires you to invest in all the correct tactics. Content drives rankings, blogging impacts visitors, content improves conversions (which means more leads), social media drives more visitors (which drives more leads if you have the right content) and it all comes together on the website. If your website isn’t telling the right story to the right person at the right time, you’re not going to realize any of the results you’re expecting, no matter how much you spend on other tactics.

Monthly Monitoring

You have to do your own monitoring. Once you set your goals based on your baseline, investment level and realistic expectations, you have to track your performance over time. No, you won’t get to your annual goals in 30 days or 60 days or 90 days. But, you should see up-and-to-the-right movement immediately. That’s what you’re looking for: month-over-month improvement.

Once you see how you’re doing each and every month, you’ll quickly be able to see what areas need improvements, what areas are performing and what tests you need to run to improve performance even more aggressively. This transitions you perfectly into one of the biggest secrets in the inbound community: Results require optimization.

Ongoing Optimization In Real Time

Getting results takes work, a lot of hard work. This isn’t an easy button. What you need to do is set up a system that allows the team to get access to the data it needs to make solid optimization upgrades. Using an inbound optimization tool like HubSpot makes this effort much, much easier.

You get access to data in real time, you get recommended adjustments to improve potential performance and you’re able to set up tests and experiments that provide valuable insights into what you need to do to hit your lead goals.

Start Today Tip - No fluff! Now is the time to get your strategy and plan together for 2016. Don’t wait another 30 or even 60 days and then ask your team or agency to hustle and help you catch up. If you’re late or unprepared, it’s your fault. If you can’t get it together this month for this year, at least reset your goals so they’re attainable and reasonable (note: I didn’t say "not aggressive," as you can have aggressive goals that are reasonable if you’re prepared to invest), and put the numbers, tactics, monitoring and systems in place to help you hit your goals.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.