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,Hand moving pawn on a conceptual maze.Your marketing team is laser-focused on conversions but are your digital ad conversions the right ones? Do they drive sales opportunities and revenue? Many business leaders don’t know and many marketing professionals have yet to successfully integrate a lead generation–to–sales program.

In business-to-business (B2B) search engine marketing and paid social advertising, a buyer action called a conversion may result in a lead or mark a sale—but often it means something else. Although a conversion is often a form fill or a lead, it could just as well be a visit to a web page or a PDF view, which do not generate contact details. Not all conversions are equal—you need to know how conversion tracking is set up, because a web page visit has much less effect on future sales than the acquisition of a qualified lead. ​

Know who you are marketing to—B2B buyers versus students or the curious public

By preventing clicks from people unlikely to make a purchase, you leave more money available to spend on higher value prospects. Audiences and targeting enable the fine-tuning of your ad spend in Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok.

In Google Ads, search keywords indicate a buyer’s intent to find a commercial solution, transact business, or only acquire knowledge. Careful examination of actual search terms enables a digital marketer to eliminate certain audiences, such as college students doing their homework. In the absence of lead-generation data, time on site, pages per sessions and bounce rate metrics help search engine marketers optimize spend.

Track from ad source to sales opportunities and revenue

The holy grail of digital ads optimization is traceability at each step: from lead acquisition and marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales accepted leads (SALs), opportunities and revenue. With proper data integration, you can even trace a sales opportunity back to a specific ad group or a keyword in Google Ads. Without end-to-end integration and visibility, your marketing team only knows how many leads or conversions they generated, not whether any of those leads result in sales.

The first step to understand conversion quality is to sort the marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) from the rest. It’s a quick task to check boxes such as these: Is the lead from a person with a valid email address at a real company? Is the lead in a target industry? Does the lead have a job title that indicates an ability to buy or influence buying decisions? These marketing-qualified leads are passed to the sales team.

Once in the hands of a business development or sales rep, an MQL may become an SAL that has a reasonable chance to become a sales opportunity, if the prospect has the ability, authority, intent and timeframe for purchasing.

The goal: completed sales with an increase in revenue that more than pays for the search engine marketing and paid social marketing program. If your marketing team can track from lead acquisition to sales opportunities and revenues, they have greater power to optimize spend.

Marketing automation platforms such as Pardot, HubSpot and Eloqua are integration engines that provide visibility from ad to revenue. Integration between an ad platform, marketing automation platform and customer relationship management (CRM) platform, such as Salesforce, provides invaluable insight into the website journey experienced by a visitor. Together, these platforms unify digital marketing data across channels.


Ensure cost per conversion fits the value of a sale

Is a lead at any price worthwhile? Probably not. It doesn’t make sense to spend $2,000 on a conversion if your revenue per sale is only $2,500. In fact, spending more than 10 to 25 percent of sales revenue on leads may not be worth it. There is a tradeoff between spend and the productivity of leads from various sources at different price points.


Don’t get discouraged—it takes time and consistency

In any digital advertising program, audiences typically need to see your ads multiple times before they take action so developing a conversion engine takes time. And, turning leads into sales revenue takes time—the buyer’s journey in B2B tech often spans 6 to 18 months. As a result, it may take a while before you know whether your marketing program increases revenue in a cost-effective manner.

Hang in there, maintain a consistently funded digital ads program across channels, and put data integration in place so you can sort the winning programs from those that aren’t worth the spend.

Ready to take the next step? Contact HCI to explore how we help companies like yours develop a marketing-to-sales pipeline.