The Growth Marketer’s Cheat Sheet: How to Drive Sales Growth

As potential customers increasingly rely on online research to substantiate purchasing decisions, your content is becoming more crucial to sales growth than ever before—which is why you must efficiently create a high volume of high-quality B2B marketing content to reach your future buyers.

Content Types: Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen

First, let’s establish the types of content you need to fuel your marketing efforts.

Demand Gen Content

Demand generation (demand gen) content is the kind of digital marketing that increases overall brand awareness. This type of content should drive traffic to websites where prospects can learn more about a given brand. With this in mind, demand gen content should be easily accessible and shareable, which means it should not be gated. Your goal is to distribute your content as widely as possible to get more people interested in your brand.

The following are the content types necessary to drive successful demand gen campaigns:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Checklists
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

All of these types of content offer relevant information in an engaging and accessible way. They should be entertaining and enlightening at the same time, which requires in-depth research presented with a conversational tone. The most effective demand gen content strikes a careful balance—it is packed with information while still being entertaining to read.

Additionally, content like blogs, infographics, and videos should be shareable, often linking to other content on your website to keep viewers engaged. Remember, the goal at this stage of the process is to generate interest by demonstrating your value to potential customers. Your demand gen content must spark and maintain the viewer’s interest.

Lead Gen Content

After generating interest with your demand gen content, it’s time to turn that interest into action. This is where your lead gen content comes into play. This type of content is used to capture contact information for outbound nurturing, which means it is typically gated. This means that viewers must see the content as valuable enough that they are willing to share their contact information to access it.

However, many potential customers are protective of their personal information. They must be convinced that this piece of content will provide them with a comprehensive understanding of a valuable topic. 

Below, we have provided a list of the most important types of lead gen content that you must continually generate to be considered on the shortlist of your potential buyers:

  • White papers
  • Maturity models
  • Webinars
  • Solution guides

Generally, these types of content are longer and more detailed than demand gen content, requiring more in-depth research than their attention-grabbing counterparts. At the same time, these articles must be engaging and interesting to read. Additionally, remember that these types of content should be informative—and not just a product pitch. 

To summarize, demand gen content is designed to provide small chunks of teaser information in an easily digestible format to catch users’ attention. On the other hand, lead gen content builds on that positioning to bring your product closer to the front of mind—as something to really consider in the short term.

Together, both content types should position your company as a thought leader in your entire ecosystem. This process lays the groundwork for sales growth through your content.

Sales Growth Through Marketing Content

Content is a Product

Now that we’ve established the main types of content fueling your B2B marketing campaign, how can we streamline the content creation process to increase sales growth?

The key is to consistently create fresh content that sparks and maintains potential buyers’ interest. However, maintaining a content cadence that keeps up with the demand of your customers and facilitates sales growth can be both challenging and expensive. 

Thankfully, by reframing your perspective on content production, you can increase the speed with which you create and publish content—effectively increasing sales growth in the long run.

Think of it this way: content is essentially a product. Here’s why:

  1. It can be designed, made, and distributed for mass consumption.
  2. When completed, it has a significantly greater value than the sum of its parts.
  3. Although it has a limited shelf-life, it can be stored and distributed on-demand.
  4. It has a learning curve—those who do it more will learn how to produce it at a lower cost.
  5. It has an economy of scale—the more you make of it, the less the unit cost.

Knowing this, you can start streamlining content production in the same way that products are manufactured in a factory. 

Factories excel at making large quantities of a product at a high level of speed, accuracy, and quality at the lowest price possible. At the same time, factories can make many different products to order using strategies that allow them to make many things out of a small set of fundamental units that can be recombined to make many “products.”

By applying this framework to content production, you can accelerate your demand and lead gen content cadence, drawing in more potential customers in the process.

The Creative Content River 

As an example of this idea in action, consider SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River. The Creative Content River leverages modern manufacturing principles to produce high-quality content at a higher speed and lower cost that is difficult or impossible to match using internal content creation teams.

Through three key phases—designing, making, and delivering—the Creative Content River maximizes content output in a cost-effective fashion, which increases sales growth from marketing in the long term.

Download this white paper for more information about the Creative Content River and how you can drive sales growth through your content.

Sales Growth by the Numbers

Sales Pipeline Value

The value of your sales pipeline is the single most important factor impacting your sales growth rates. Therefore, increasing the value of your sales pipeline increases your company’s sales growth rates — it’s as simple as that.

Before we explain why, let’s take a step back and define what a sales pipeline is and what it does for a company. A company’s sales pipeline provides employees with a representation of their prospects’ progression through the sales process toward making a purchase. 

With that said, how can a company determine the value of its sales pipeline?

According to HubSpot, sales pipeline value can be defined as “The total value of every qualified opportunity in your pipeline.” Here, the emphasis is on qualified leads — leads that have the right budget to purchase, the authority to make purchasing decisions, and the motivation to purchase your product or service. Qualified leads are valuable because they are more likely to convert into sales than unqualified leads. 

Unqualified leads, on the other hand, lack the key characteristics we highlighted above. This means that they are less likely to work with your sales team and move through your pipeline toward making a purchase. 

All of this is to say that high-quality leads are crucial to increasing your company’s sales growth rates. To illustrate this point, let’s crunch the numbers.

Sales Growth by the Numbers

If you improve three key factors by 25% — your average deal size, average closing ratio, and average sales cycle — the result is a 73.6% increase in annual sales. The charts below provide a visual representation of this strategy.

Current Metrics Improve by Improved Metrics 
Avg Deal Size ($) 100,00025%125,000
Avg Closing Ratio 25%25%31.3%
Avg sales velocity (days) 12025%90
Impact of Improved Average Deal Size and Closing Ratios 
Current Sales Improved Sales 
Avg # of Monthly Meetings 1010
Avg Closed Deals/Month 2.503
Avg Sales/Month 250,000390,625
Increase in Sales 140,625
Increase Rate 56.3%

Impact of Sales Cycle Reduction  
Current Sales Improved Sales 
Annual Sales ($) 2,250,0003,906,250
Increase in Annual Sales ($) 1,656,250
Increase Rate 73.6%

As these charts demonstrate, these relatively small 25% increases add up to a sizable difference in sales growth over time. Ultimately, these charts illustrate that sales growth rates are impacted by a variety of factors, each contributing to the number of closed deals.

However, the keystone to increasing sales growth rates is increasing the number of high-quality leads in your sales pipeline. We’ll go into more depth regarding why this is true in the next section.

High-Quality Leads = Higher Sales Growth Rates

As we discussed above, sales growth rates depend on the number of high-quality leads in your sales pipeline, which means you need more of them to increase your sales growth rate. But how do you attract more high-quality leads without also attracting a ton of unmotivated, low-quality leads?

Never underestimate the impact of your content. Content plays a crucial role in reaching your potential customers — from catching their attention, to directing them to sites where they can learn more about your product, your content acts as the foundation of a more robust sales pipeline.

In part, this is true because buyers today expect to find all the information they need to make an informed purchase through vendors’ websites. Increasingly, buyers prefer using content and self-serve methods to make purchases, rather than speaking with sales reps. With this in mind, your content must provide useful and highly relevant information to your specific target market. This will encourage prospects to see your company as an authoritative resource and to seriously consider making a purchase.

Similarly, because high-quality leads are motivated and have the right budget and authority to make a purchase, they are more likely to close faster, at a higher rate, and at full price. All of these elements add up to a sales growth rate that is significantly higher than one that relies on low-quality leads.

To learn more about the value of high-quality leads and their impact on sales growth rates, download this paper.

Lead Generation: Quality vs. Quantity

Which would you rather pass along to your sales team: a large number of leads of varying levels of quality, or a select handful of high-quality leads?

At first glance, a large number of leads might seem more valuable than a mere handful. More leads mean more opportunities to make sales, right? 

In reality, it’s not quite that simple. Experienced marketers know that the quality of a lead is the most important thing when it comes to increasing sales growth rates—far more important than the number of leads generated by your marketing efforts. In this case, less truly is more.

In this blog, we’ll explain how the quality of your leads positively impacts your sales pipeline value, and how this knowledge can help you increase your company’s sales growth rate.

Sales Pipeline Value—Quality is More Important than Quantity

Your sales pipeline value is the single most important thing impacting sales growth. Increasing your pipeline value is guaranteed to increase your sales growth rates.

But how, exactly, can a company increase the value of its sales pipeline? The answer is to increase the quality of leads in its pipeline. 

Hubspot defines sales pipeline value as “The total value of every qualified opportunity in your pipeline.” As you can see, this definition excludes unqualified leads entirely. The focus is entirely on qualified, high-quality leads who are likely to convert into sales.

To illustrate this idea, let’s refer back to the two scenarios we introduced above. What is the value of your sales pipeline in these two instances?

Scenario 1: Your company has a large number of leads of various quality levels in its sales pipeline.

  • With such a large number of leads, chances are that your pipeline is clogged with low-quality leads that are unlikely to convert into sales.
  • This results in a low-value sales pipeline. Deals are unlikely to close as your salespeople waste time on leads that only result in dead ends.

Scenario 2: Your company has a smaller number of high-quality leads in its sales pipeline.

  • These leads are genuinely interested in purchasing your product, which means that they are more likely to speak with your sales team and eventually purchase your product.
  • The result is a high-value sales pipeline. Without low-quality leads sapping your sales team’s time, your salespeople can focus on the handful of high-quality leads that are likely to convert into sales, which will increase your sales growth rate.

As these scenarios demonstrate, the key to increasing the value of your sales pipeline is to find leads that will actually convert into sales. The rest—all of the low-quality leads that are unlikely to talk to sales—will end up wasting your sales team’s limited time. 

But how can you separate the high-quality leads from the rest? What are the signs of a high-quality lead? And how can you ensure that you generate high-quality leads through your marketing efforts?

What We Mean By “High-Quality Leads”

Let’s define what we mean when we talk about lead quality. 

The hallmark of a low-quality lead is a lack of interest in talking to sales. Your lead generation efforts might capture low-quality leads for a variety of reasons—perhaps the lead was simply researching your product or industry with no intention to buy. Maybe they simply don’t have the budget to purchase at this time. Whatever the specific reason, these leads are unlikely to make a purchase, no matter how effective your sales team is. 

So, what defines a high-quality lead, then? A high-quality lead is highly motivated and well-informed and is therefore ready to act sooner rather than later. High-quality leads have the organizational power and influence to find the budget to make a purchase. Both the motivation and the power to act must be present at the same time.

With these key characteristics, high-quality leads will be responsive to your sales team’s efforts. They are more likely to purchase faster, at a higher rate, and larger average deal size, all of which ultimately increases your sales growth rate

How can marketers reach these leads? Through well-researched and engaging content that addresses your prospects’ specific pain points, you can attract the high-quality leads your company needs to maximize its sales growth rate.

For more information on how lead quality impacts sales growth rates, and how to generate them, download this white paper.

The Importance of High-Quality Leads

High-quality leads are crucial to increasing sales growth, which means successful marketers must know how to attract this type of lead through their lead generation strategies and decision-enabling content. 

Why is lead generation so important? In today’s digital-first environment, B2B buyers prefer spending more time researching products online and less time speaking with salespeople, which means that they rely more heavily on content to make purchasing decisions. And this isn’t changing anytime soon—only 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales in the future.

Plus, buyers want to make purchasing decisions based on up-to-date information. One survey reports that 47% of executives recommend that B2B vendors use more data and research to support their decision-enabling content.

For any company to make a lasting impression on prospects in this environment, high-quality decision-enabling content is essential to capturing leads and nurturing them toward making a purchase. Next, we’ll discuss how to create decision-enabling content to accomplish these goals.

Creating Decision-Enabling Content

Decision-enabling content takes two forms: demand generation and lead generation. These two content types work together to form the basis of your digital marketing campaigns. Generally speaking, demand gen sparks a user’s interest, and lead gen makes that interest more concrete.

Both types of content require in-depth research presented in an engaging style, but each type is designed to appeal to buyers at different phases of their purchasing journey. Below, we’ll discuss the differences between each type of content, and why they’re both important to increasing your company’s sales growth rate.

Demand Gen Content

Demand generation content is the first impression your brand will make on new prospects. Its main function is to increase brand awareness, spark interest, and drive users toward sites where they can find out more. 

With these goals in mind, demand gen content is designed to grab readers’ attention as they research a topic related to your company and its products or services. So, demand gen content must be useful, fresh, and tailored to the needs of your target market at that moment.

Here are some examples of content that falls into this category:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Checklists 
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

With these relatively short forms of content, marketers can introduce a useful idea to the reader quickly and engagingly, thus proving their company’s value and piquing the reader’s interest in a short time. The goal is to engage readers enough that they are interested in reading your lead gen content, which brings us to our next section.

Lead Gen Content

After your demand gen efforts have generated interest among potential customers, your lead generation content steps in to seal the deal.

The goal of lead gen content is to capture leads’ contact information for outbound nurturing. This means that lead gen content must be seen as highly valuable, to the point that users are willing to share their contact information to access it.

This is no small feat—many users are protective of their personal information and wary of irrelevant marketing messages clogging their inboxes. With this in mind, it is crucial that lead gen content not only appears useful, but that it delivers on its promise of providing fresh, interesting, and useful information as well. 

Here are some examples of lead gen content:

  • White papers
  • Maturity models
  • Webinars
  • Solution guides

These types of content are more in-depth than your demand gen content, providing more well-researched and curated decision-enabling information to establish your value to your target market.

Together, these two types of decision-enabling content will draw in more users and generate more high-quality leads to pass along to your sales team. By creating content that is uniquely useful to your target market, you can demonstrate your value to them and encourage them to consider working with you sooner rather than later.

Next Steps

In this blog, we’ve explained why lead generation is key to increasing sales growth, why high-quality leads are crucial to that process, and how to generate high-quality leads through decision-enabling content. We clarified the difference between demand gen and lead gen content and explained why each of these types of content is essential to any marketing campaign. 

With this foundation of knowledge, you can increase the number of high-quality leads you generate, which will increase your company’s sales growth rates as well.

Any questions or comments? Click here to schedule a call

To read more about the impact of high-quality leads on sales growth rates, download this white paper

Increase Revenue Growth with Your Lead Gen Engine

What Is Lead Generation?

The old way of making a sale was to make sales calls and send out mass emails, hoping for a response, which is ineffective for many reasons. Thankfully, there is a more effective way to spark interest in your products—lead generation

The goal of lead generation (lead gen) content is to capture contact information for outbound nurturing. Lead gen content must be valuable enough that the reader is willing to share some personal information to access it. 

To accomplish this, your job is to create content that is sufficiently comprehensive in a specific subject. In the short term, your goal is to capture leads. In the long run, your goal is to establish your company as a thought leader. Your content should be the go-to resource for the entire ecosystem—this is what will ultimately increase revenue growth from your marketing efforts.

In this blog, we’ll give you the tools to build a highly effective lead gen campaign. Read on to discover the four types of content you’ll need to fuel your lead gen engine. 

The Four Key Content Types For Your Lead Gen Engine

White Papers

White papers offer an in-depth discussion of an issue and how to solve it. In marketing, white papers introduce a new big idea: what it is, why it’s important and game-changing, an example of its application, why you are a highly qualified candidate to implement this on your customer’s behalf, and how customers can begin to explore this new idea. 

Why are they called white papers, you might ask? White papers originated as government reports, which used color-coding to indicate distribution. White was designated for public access. The concept was adopted by other sectors to describe any report that teaches readers something new.

To create a white paper, start by conducting thorough research to support your big idea and the claims you’ll make in your paper. Incorporate visual elements to illustrate your ideas and clarify them to readers. 

Prioritize organization and clarity in the writing process. White papers should be less casual than blogs, but still engaging and exciting to read. You don’t want it to be dry. In terms of length, approximately 10 pages are necessary to fully cover a topic, but highly visual designs can make for much longer papers.

Maturity Models

Maturity models are another type of content that takes an established concept and applies it to a specific industry. A maturity model is a tool that was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization against objective benchmarks of growth. The goal of this content is to show the reader the maturity level of their organization and how they can advance to the next level—with your help, of course.

Maturity models are powerful because they provide users with a real description of where they are and where they want to be, growth-wise. With this type of content, you can share objective information that is directly applicable for companies at any phase of growth. At each level, you can offer valuable information about how companies can advance to the next level, which will broaden your appeal to a greater range of potential buyers.


Webinars are like video versions of a white paper. They provide viewers with a comprehensive description of a specific concept. They must discuss powerful new ideas and how they apply to the audience—and, crucially, how you can help viewers with this process. Remember that a webinar is not a product pitch. For this reason, you should keep product demos short and ensure that your content is informative beyond product descriptions.

Keep in mind that most of your audience thinks of webinars as longer video recordings that are available on demand. Most viewers register for a webinar so they can watch on their own time. With this in mind, make sure that your webinars are just as engaging when watched on-demand later. To account for late viewers, measure total engagement by combining your post-webinar recorded viewing and the real-time attendees.

Solution Guides

Solution guides are intended for prospects who are closer to the product evaluation stage, based on their marketing activity level. So, solution guides are more “salesy” than the other marketing content we’ve discussed. 

Solution guides should fall somewhere between a white paper and a product brochure. They should start with the big idea and its application, and then show how your solution stacks against competing solutions concerning achieving that big idea. While it may compare specs and features, it should still be engaging—it shouldn’t be dry. 

Be careful to speak respectfully and objectively about your competitors and their products. Remember, your audience is not yet sold on you—you shouldn’t alienate them by disparaging your competitors and their solutions.

Why Is This Important?

These four types of content are the fuel to your lead gen engine. But building your lead gen engine is just one step in the process of driving prospects toward sales to increase revenue growth. Before the lead gen process begins, you must familiarize users with your company in the first place—which starts with demand generation (demand gen).

Ideally, demand gen and lead gen should work together in a two-part process to increase revenue. The process starts with demand gen content, which generates interest among your target market. This content should put you on the long list of vendors that buyers are considering.

Then, your lead gen engine comes into play. This content should put you on the shortlist of 3-4 vendors your buyers are considering, thus increasing the chance that they will reach out to your sales team. Because the content fueling your lead gen engine is gated, it requires readers to give up something—their personal information—to access it. This is a good indicator that readers are seriously interested in what your company has to offer. With this in mind, your lead gen content must live up to their expectations if you want readers to contact sales. This is why we’ve provided you with this comprehensive overview of demand gen content to get you started.

Together, your demand and lead gen engines work together to generate and nurture leads toward sales. This is what will increase the revenue you generate from marketing.

The High Growth Lead Generation Cheat Sheet

Lead generation is a key strategy for any company seeking sales and revenue growth—but it’s easier said than done. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy cheat sheet for easy reference as you develop your lead generation campaign.

Create a Clear Path of How You Will Generate Growth

Like any project, a successful lead generation campaign starts with a plan. The first step is to calculate the funnel math that will determine your sales and marketing goals. 

For sales, you should start with your revenue goal and work backward from there. For example, if you want to make $2 million in new sales in 12 months, and your average deal size is $25,000, you must close 80 deals to reach your sales target. If your average closing ratio is 25%, then you’ll need 320 sales opportunities to reach your goal. 

The same principle goes for marketing—if you expect your marketing efforts to generate half of the sales opportunities that close, then marketing must generate at least 160 sales opportunities. Working backward again, if 15% of the leads you nurture eventually contact sales, then you’ll need to nurture 1,067 leads to reach your goal of 160 sales opportunities. If 10% of visitors to your landing page become leads, then you’ll need 10,677 landing page visitors. This means that your ads must get 666,687 viewers, assuming an average click rate of 1.6%.

Plug your own numbers in to determine your plan for reaching your sales and marketing goals. Having these concrete, numerical milestones to strive toward will make your job a lot easier as you develop your lead generation campaign. 

Set Up Your Demand Gen Engine

Before you generate any leads, you have to start generating demand. Demand generation content (demand gen, for short) is any content that increases brand awareness and drives traffic to sites where prospects can learn more. The clue is in the name—you want to generate demand for your brand and its products. This means that you must appeal to prospects who have never heard of your company before. To accomplish this goal, demand gen content must be shareable, easily accessible, and engaging. 

This type of content can include:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Checklists
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

Each of these pieces of content should fuel your demand gen engine by presenting useful information in a readable way.

Set Up Your Lead Gen Engine

Lead generation content (lead gen, for short) is content that goes one step further than its demand gen counterpart—this type of content captures contact information for outbound nurturing. With this goal in mind, lead gen content is typically gated, which means that prospects must share their contact information to access it. But prospects won’t give up their information for just any content. They need to be convinced that what they’re accessing is particularly valuable. 

Some common types of lead gen content include:

  • White Papers
  • Maturity Models
  • Webinars
  • Solution Guides

Like demand gen content, lead gen content should be useful and engaging. It’s typically longer and provides a wealth of relevant information. In the short term, the goal is to capture leads, but you also want this content to establish your company as a thought leader in the ecosystem—this is what will increase your company’s growth in the long term.

Use Data Analytics to Win

Data analytics is an important tool to help companies receive actionable insights about the success of their strategies. Data is powerful—it can show exactly what is working and what isn’t. 

The ideal metrics to track vary from one role to another. For example, the most important metric to a CEO is the company’s valuation. Heads of Sales should monitor sales growth, from new or existing customers. And Heads of Marketing should pay attention to measurable tactics that bring about growth, like sales from new customers, upsells, pipeline build rate, and more. These are just a handful of the metrics companies should track to achieve their growth objectives. 

Test Everything

Testing is like checking your work. Now that you’ve built your high-growth lead generation campaign, you must know what to test and how to test to ensure that your strategies are successful. For example, to test the efficacy of your marketing campaigns, you’ll have to analyze how well your various ads are performing. But it’s not just about the clicks your ads generate—you must consider how many of those clicks actually turned into leads. This is what will help you optimize your landing pages and reach your growth goals.

Here are the three key principles to testing:

  1. Test one thing at a time until you know you have fixed that issue before going on to the next.
  2. Your goal in testing is to maximize effectiveness, not efficiency. It is about the quality of leads, not the quantity of leads. From a marketing perspective, that means figuring out how you can get the most Conversation Ready Leads (leads that are ready to talk to sales) at the lowest total marketing spend. 
  3. Test from the outside in. Get your ads working better at sending the right visitors to your landing pages. Then, get your landing pages to work better at converting more and more of these visitors. Then, work to improve your nurture campaigns so you can generate more and more Conversation Ready Leads.

Next Steps

With this cheat sheet, you’re well on your way toward building a lead gen campaign that will increase your company’s growth. Start with a simple plan, then set up your demand and lead gen engines. Use data analytics and testing strategies to check your work and ensure that you’re on the right track. And that’s it—you’re on the path to deliver sales growth through revenue-focused marketing.
Looking for a more in-depth explanation of how to build a high-growth lead generation campaign? Download this playbook.

Reaching Key Decision Makers—B2B Email Marketing vs. Social Media Advertising

reach b2b decision makers

Despite concerns in the media over the death of email marketing, B2B email marketing continues to be the most effective strategy for reaching key decision-makers, year after year.

How Effective is B2B Email Marketing?

B2B marketing is all about reaching key decision-makers—and email marketing is the best way to do that. The goal of B2B email marketing is to provide senior executives with useful and highly relevant information, directly in their inboxes. This is a well-known and effective strategy for establishing credibility with key decision-makers.

However, each year, new media reports emerge calling for the death of email marketing. Whether the reasoning is new privacy regulations or increased use of social media, the media continues to predict the end of email marketing in the near future.

Statistically, these reports are wrong. Even with the explosion of marketing technology and tools in recent years, when it comes to reaching executives, email marketing is still the most effective strategy. In fact, according to HubSpot Research’s Global Survey, November – December 2019, 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the previous 12 months. With the ROI of email marketing increasing as well, it is clear that email marketing continues to be highly effective.

In addition, marketers themselves vouch for the effectiveness of B2B email marketing. 45% of B2B marketers agree that email marketing is the most effective digital marketing tool. Plus, in 2019, 49.5% of marketers said they planned to increase their email marketing budget. Despite what the media predicts, these statistics demonstrate that email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing tools out there.

How Effective is Social Media Advertising as an Alternative to B2B Email Marketing?

As we discussed briefly, some might consider social media advertising to be an alternative to B2B email marketing. The appeal of advertising online, in general, is understandable—it seems like a cost-effective way to reach a large number of individuals on the websites they frequently visit. However, it’s becoming clear that indiscriminately advertising on a large number of websites is an ineffective marketing strategy.

For example, in 2017, JPMorgan Chase narrowed down its advertising reach from 400,000 websites to 5,000 pre-approved websites—and saw no decrease in performance. This example demonstrates the ineffectiveness of online advertising for the sake of reaching a broad audience—this strategy doesn’t necessarily lead to increased sales. Plus, it is time-consuming to hand-select websites that are best suited for advertising.

On the other hand, many seasoned marketers emphasize the importance of social media advertising as these platforms grow in popularity—but not as an alternative to email marketing. Instead, some argue that email marketing and social media advertising should work together for the best results.

All of this is to say that social media and online advertising may be important elements of successful marketing, but they can’t replace email marketing in a business’s B2B digital marketing strategy.

Email vs. Social Media

On a number of direct comparisons, B2B email marketing comes out ahead of social media advertising in terms of effectiveness.

First, on the most basic level, more people use email than any given social media platform. Even Facebook, the most used social media platform in the world with 2.6 billion monthly active users, falls short of the world’s 3.9 billion email users. More email users mean more potential eyes on your marketing messages.

Additionally, the informality of social media is counterproductive to the relationships and credibility marketers must establish to succeed in B2B marketing. Social media platforms are simply not ideal venues for business discussions. Amongst the personal posts that dominate the most popular social media platform, Facebook, business discussions are out of place. Plus, there is a high chance that social media users will simply scroll past an unsolicited advertisement in their newsfeed—whereas email marketing targets users who have engaged with a company in the past, making them more likely to be responsive to marketing messages.

Finally, email marketing has proven its worth in terms of ROI. For every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses make $42 in return, according to the latest reports. This is a substantial ROI, especially compared to the $10.51 businesses make for every $1 spent on mobile marketing. This disparity speaks for itself—email marketing is worth the investment. 

To sum it all up, regardless of the media’s warnings about its impending doom, B2B email marketing is still the most effective strategy for reaching key decision-makers. With its high ROI, large user base, and popularity among marketers, B2B email marketing isn’t going away anytime soon.

Next Steps

SOMAmetrics designs and executes its proven 4-step high-quality lead generation programs to deliver more leads that close faster and at a higher rate for 20% of what it costs clients to produce in-house.

As a next step, download this white paper that describes the most effective way for B2B companies to generate high quality leads for their sales organization.

Then, let’s schedule a quick call to discuss how we may be able to help you build your high-quality lead generation programs.

The Cumulative Impact of High and Low Quality Leads

The B2B industry is infamously known for its time-consuming sales cycle. While B2B sales are challenged by more decision-makers than B2C, they are also impacted by varying-quality leads that make the process even more unpredictable. 

A sales person is only as good as his or her leads. When sales reps receive poor leads, the total time and effort they waste in qualifying, engaging, and selling to low-interest prospects is significantly more expensive than the time and money spent in pursuing better quality leads.

High Quality Leads vs. Low Quality Leads

Marketing and sales departments are now more intertwined than ever in the sales process. Marketers, pressured to meet individual quotas, often turn over low-cost, low-quality leads to the  sales organization. However, these leads don’t convert well and instead make the company suffer hidden costs that can damage interdepartmental trust.1

High quality leads (HQLs) are sourced from buyers who have shown more interest in finding out more, mostly by consuming quality content provided by the seller, have expressed interest in following-up, come from within the right market space and types of accounts, and have the right buying roles. Low quality leads (LQLs) are often scraped online, mass collected, are primarily collected as a result of email opens or clicks–there is no real reason to believe they have purchase intent. 

Experienced sales people are able to ask the right questions in order to identify a potential customer’s true interest in the solutions provided: Are opt-ins based on content downloads, or were they sourced from promotions that incentivize responses? Is there detailed research activity for each account? Does the data illustrate high probability for conversion?

The False Economy of Low Quality Leads

The current sales process exposes the false economy of low quality leads, or the notion that more low-cost leads lead to higher conversion rates at a fraction of the cost. Ultimately, if these leads are mostly made of false-positive LQLs, it can cost more to blindly pursue a number of leads in hopes of engaging the small percentage of companies who are genuinely interested in a product.

Below is a breakdown of lead conversion rates for low, strong, and top quality leads throughout the marketing and sales processes using data from SiriusDecisions.2

Lead quality has a progressive effect on each conversion rate throughout the sales funnel. The total closed deals per 1000 leads for average is only two, maybe three if lucky. Assuming the average lead quality is mostly composed of low-cost LQLs, the number of closed deals for every 1000 leads per year for HQLs is five times greater than deals closed form LQLs.

What the data shows is that while low-cost leads may present upfront savings, it can cost up to five times more to convert than HQLs in the same time frame; even if low-cost leads cost a third of what a quality marketing offers, representatives will still spend almost twice as much to convert them in the long run. Starting with HQLs can result in lower cost per conversion and increased number of closed deals, both factors that contribute significantly more to a company’s revenue.

Hidden Costs of LQLs

The hidden costs associated with LQLs come from wasting time, resources, and human capital. On average, bad lead prospect data costs sales departments 550 hours and $32,000 per representative.3 Assuming the average cost of $60,000 per year for a sales representative, not including additional payroll-related expenses, this means individuals are spending over 50% of their time and payroll working with low-interest customers—for SMEs, this number can often be higher at 85%. According to SiriusDecisions, each bad lead can also cost as much as $100 per record.2  For instance, the cost of 5,000 bad leads is about $500,000. These numbers can add up very quickly.

The Solution to Meeting Sales Projections

The big B2B question: How can companies consistently meet sales projections?

The solution to this problem statement is not hiring more people, even though this continues to be the traditional response. At its core, sales projections are caused by insufficient high quality lead generation. Salesforce reports that 57% of sales reps expect to miss their yearly quotas, with the actual average quota attainment rate falling slightly lower at 54%.4, 5 Employee dissatisfaction stems from potential low opportunities for commission ultimately caused by inability to close deals. These are all likely factors contributing to the 27% annual turnover rate among US salespeople—twice the rate in the overall labor force.6

Given the data, there are two potential solutions. The first is hiring only stelar sales reps experienced in differentiating between low quality and high quality leads. The problem with this approach is that stelar sales reps are at a premium–there aren’t enough of them to fill a sales organization, even if a company could afford paying top prices for all its sales reps.

The second solution lies within the data: focus efforts on lead quality and the cumulative nature of HQLs to potentially increase the number of annual leads by tenfold. In other words, build your sales organization based on the average sales competency level, but feed all your sales reps with HQLs. The difference is dramatic, as we shall see below.

Cumulative Nature of HQLs

As demonstrated, HQLs have an undeniable effect on conversion rates that trickle down to revenue, profit, and valuation.

Not only do top HQLs increase the number of closed deals, but they also often shorten the overall sales cycle. The data below has been modified to reflect this change in each respective buying cycle, assuming that strong and top quality leads take the upper and lower range bounds for the average B2B buying cycle, respectively.2

These numbers illustrate the full, cumulative effect of HQLs in the sales pipeline. Given the higher conversion rates and shorter buying cycle, top HQLs can lead to a representative closing 10 times more deals in a single year. Another way of putting it is that low quality leads can cost as much as ten times more than high quality leads.

Next Steps

Contact us to discuss how we can help you begin generating High Quality Leads to significantly improve your sales productivity and profitably hit your sales targets each quarter. Read more bout the impact of High Quality Leads on sales and profits here.

Impact of High Quality Leads on Sales and Profits

increase high quality leads to grow sales and profits

High Quality Leads close faster, at a higher rate, and at a larger average deal size than do leads of lower quality. That much is obvious.

What is not obvious is the dramatic change in sales  and profit growth that can result from relatively small improvements in each of these metrics. What makes High Quality Leads even more powerful is that they positively affect all three metrics at the same time, resulting in a “multiplier effect,” as we shall see below.

High Quality Leads are highly motivated buyers who have identified a compelling need to change and understand that the cost of not changing significantly exceeds the cost of changing. That is why they want to change (they close at a higher rate), and why they want to change now (they close faster), and why they are willing to pay more for the solution (the average deal size is higher).

The Problem with B2B Marketing

It takes significant research and analysis to deeply understand the challenges that any group of B2B buyers face and show them the compelling reason why they must make a change, as well as  the high ROI in making the change now. Unfortunately, most B2B marketing teams are not well equipped to perform this research and analysis, or produce compelling content that engages their target. It is far easier to opt for producing as many leads as possible—as measured by emails open and click rates—and deliver these to Sales. Quantity is usually easier to produce than quality. Ironically, quantity also tends to cost more than quality.

There is an assumption that more “marketing” results in more sales, without any real analysis to support this premise. It  is possible to grow sales by spending a lot on marketing efforts, hiring more sales reps, and giving deep discounts. However, in many instances, the growth in cost due to these increases is greater than the growth in sales, often eating all possible profits from the incremental increase in sales.

What we want is to grow both revenues and profits at the same time. And that is possible only with High Quality Leads. The real metrics for Marketing should be by how much closing ratios, sales cycles, and average deal sizes were positively impacted by the marketing spend. 

The Financial Impact of High Quality Leads

Let’s quickly compare the financial impact of High Quality Leads (HQLs) against Low Quality Leads (LQLs). We will assume that HQLs will impact all three metrics—closing ratios, sales cycles, and average deal sizes—equally by the same percentage point. In reality, it is possible they may impact one metric more than the other.

Also, in reality, High Quality Leads positively impact your worst sales people far more than your best performers, who are already focused on HQLs. It is your average and mediocre sales performers that need to move to HQLs, and focusing them on these will significantly improve your overall sales and profits. After all, most companies have far more average performers than star performers—changing this will change the average numbers for your company.

Assumptions used

For this exercise, we will look at three scenarios—a 10%, 15%, and 20% improvement on closing ratios, sales cycles, and average deal sizes—to see how they impact sales and profit growths.

The rest of the assumptions are kept constant across all three scenarios: Sales commission – 10%; Sales payroll – $2million/year;  Marketing payroll – $250,000 per year; Tools and systems – $150,000 per year; and Outsource Marketing – $180,000 per year.

We held all spending constant except for adding a $180,000 a year budget for outsourced marketing that would enable us to improve the quality of leads by 10%, 15%, or 20%. The results are dramatic as summarized below:

Next Steps

The above analysis is not theoretical. Our clients have reported 60-67% increase in engagement levels at the business development level and 30-40% increase in conversions from SQL to Sales Funnel. Please contact us to learn more on how we can help you fill your sales pipeline with High Quality Leads.

High-Quality Lead Generation (Pillar 1): Segmentation

Market segmentation, at its core, focuses a company’s sales and marketing efforts. Simply put, it is a decision to pursue a specific market. Once a company identifies a target market segment, the company will channel all of  its marketing and selling efforts into that specific market.

The purpose of market segmentation is to enable a seller to produce an unmatchable offer within that segment, making it the vendor of choice—and to do so profitably.

B2B market segmentation typically consists of three elements: Role, industry, and geography—in that specific order.

Making an unmatchable offer for these outliers becomes increasingly expensive until it becomes a losing proposition.

RoleIn a B2B context, products are sold to solve the problem of a specific business manager (also called a business driver). This person may or may not also be the decision maker in their respective company. Role is the single most important criterion for segmentation, as all features and capabilities of a product/service are targeted towards making that Role’s headaches go away.

An example of a Role of a business driver might be “Head of HR,” “Head of Sales,” or “Head of Compliance.”

IndustryWhile Role is the most important segmentation factor, adding industry to segmentation will make it significantly more targeted, allowing for better optimization of limited resources.

For example, while the heads of HR of the Hospitality industry have many things in common with the heads of HR of the Financial industry, the degree to which the two are regulated is different. Products for highly regulated industries need more controls built in.

Some industries are also more concentrated than others. Concentrated industries tend to be more uniform in size and type, while more fragmented industries have significant variations in size . The concentrated nature of the former makes it significantly easier to mass-market to the whole of that industry. In fragmented industries, businesses may need to seek out more niches to market their products and services to, thus highlighting the importance of market segmentation.

LocationSegmentation by the geographic location of a company is important because the farther away the customer is from the provider, the higher the cost. The most obvious cost is that of travel, but there are additional costs of  distance. These include differences in time zones, language, and local customs and laws.

Itis often important to meet face to face with customers in order to build rapport. This process is expensive when the customer and sales rep are far apart. Either the provider has to incur traveling expenses, or it has to open and maintain an office near the customer.

The issue of geography is typically not a problem in geographically concentrated industries. However, in fragmented industries, a provider will either have to pick a geographic location or find an optimal way to sell products and services on a national or international scale.

In the end, the purpose of segmentation is to make it profitable to build an unmatchable offer for a specific segment.

Read about the second pillar of high quality lead generation – “positioning” – here.

High-Quality Lead Generation (Pillar 2): Positioning

Positioning is the second pillar of High Quality Lead generation because it succinctly clarifies:

  • Exactly what a seller does
  • Why the seller is different from others
  • Why that difference should matter to the buyer

The goal is to communicate an unmatchable offer, and the positioning statement should do so in a way that is both clear and credible. The more specific the target segment is, the easier it will be to make an offer that is both compelling and credible for that segment.

As discussed in a previous section, there are three basic types of buyers, and these different types of buyers respond to three very different kinds of positioning statements.

B2C companies are generally much better at positioning than B2B companies because they understand and take full advantage of the different types of buyers.  B2B companies tend to ignore these differences and use general statements that have something for everyone, but not enough for anyone.

Visionary BuyerProduct Positioning

Visionary Buyers are interested in accomplishing something that has never been accomplished before, and as a result, ONLY interested in a product that will enable them to be among the first to do something.

Therefore, all positioning is focused on demonstrating how this product is far better and faster than any other product out there. Anything less is not compelling.

Pragmatist BuyerMarket Positioning

Pragmatists want to see data and evidence. Therefore, they want to see some market forming around any new product so that there can be sufficient data on the efficacy of that product.  What is important here is to show the growth and credibility of the market and that the seller is a leading force within that market. Anything less is not compelling.

Conservative BuyerCompany Positioning

Conservatives care about relationships, and relationships take a long time to develop. It is the company, not the product or even the market, that conservatives buy from. Conservatives will loyally accept an inferior value from a company they know and trust, rather than a superior value from one they don’t.

As the goal of all marketing is to drive a product to a leadership position within a defensible space, positioning has to first identify the intended buyer group, and then give that buyer group every reason to believe this is an unmatchable offer.

Positioning is a complex subject, and we cannot do it justice in this paper. However, there are many excellent books and articles written on this subject that we encourage B2B executives to study,as they will make a significant difference in the quality of leads their companies can expect to generate.

In order for positioning to be effective, sellers must continually think about what buyers want by developing quality content. Read about the third pillar of high quality lead generation (“content”) here.

High-Quality Lead Generation (Pillar 3): Content

Positioning is the claim a business makes, but in order for it to work, it has to be believable. Developing quality content is the most effective way to be seen as the authoritative resource on a specific subject in a specific space.

It is worth repeating that buyers don’t want products or services—they want solutions to their problems. Many sellers, on the other hand, make money by selling products and services and continue to think that is what buyers want.

Content is the link between what buyers want and what sellers want. Through content, sellers demonstrate both a deep understanding of the buyer’s challenges and their ability to solve those challenges. That is how sellers provide the confidence that buyers need to engage in a favorable purchase decision.

It is important here to define what we mean by content. For it to have any value to Buyers, the content has to have the following qualities:

  • Relevant – The focus of the content must be on buyers, not sellers. It has everything to do with the buyers’ world, problems, and challenges, as well as the world-view and culture of the buyer. As we have shown above, what is relevant for a visionary buyer is not so for a pragmatist, let alone the conservative buyer. And vice versa.
  • Useful – The content should help buyers solve their problems — at least partially, regardless of whether or not the sellers gets anything out of it. Buyers have many options, so the seller’s first hurdle is to prove to be a more valuable partner than its competitors. The best way to accomplish this is to prove it up front, before the selling even starts. Proof is again different for each type of buyer—for a visionary, it is a demo; for a pragmatist, it is a pilot; for a conservative, it is a reference from an already known entity.
  • Fresh – Buyers can conduct their own research and find what they are looking for. Therefore, simply copying or repeating what others say, though that may sound safe and expeditious, will backfire. For sellers to make their positioning statements believable, they must provide original content that is hard to find elsewhere. Ironically, while conservatives are the least likely to want new information, they are also the most skeptical and will only accept something from an already well-established seller.
  • Depth, not breadth – The mistake many sellers make is trying to “cover all their bases” and generate shallow content for a wide audience. In reality, they need to do the exact opposite. . Buyers want someone who knows everything there is to know about the problem they have. It is the depth of knowledge they care about. This is why segmentation is the first pillar. It would be financially unsustainable to have both breadth and depth. Since buyers want to work with top-tier vendors, sellers must demonstrate depth and must choose where they will show that depth. Depth is especially important to Pragmatists who demand quite a bit of evidence. Conservatives want to know that there is a lot of evidence, but they typically do not “pour” over a lot of content.

As one can imagine, content development is resource intensive. It requires creativity and subject matter expertise, as well as skilled researchers, writers, and designers, to consistently produce high quality content.  One way to measure the quality of a lead is to gauge the lead’s level of engagement and interest. The content that the lead views (in terms of page visits and downloads, for instance) can inform sellers of the lead’s degree of readiness to be further engaged by Sales.

Finally, the use of metrics in comparing results to desired outcomes is the fourth step in generating high quality leads. Read more about measuring results here.