High-Quality Lead Generation (Pillar 4): Metrics

Success is a result of clearly knowing what is required, preparing a plan for achieving it, executing the plan, measuring results, comparing results to desired outcomes, and then making necessary adjustments towards the desired outcomes. Do more of what’s working, eliminate what’s not, and keep improving until you find a better way. Data provides reliable metrics and insights on where to spend more resources and where to spend less. Measuring results is critical to consistently producing High Quality Leads. The important questions to answer are:

  • Which metrics do we want to track?
  • What do we do with the findings?

Amazon tracks over 700 different metrics. However, for most B2Bs, the key categories to track for lead generation are email campaigns, inbound (web), and social media properties. Below are the minimal metrics that should be tracked in order to bolster HQL generation.

Email Metrics

MetricsWhat it tells us
Open ratesOpen rate metrics don’t reveal whether or not someone has read the email, only that they have opened it.

High open rates typically mean that the subject line is interesting and/or the sender (person and/or company) is familiar.

Such metrics vary from industry to industry, and comparisons should be made within rather than across industry.

Click through ratesOne clear indicator that an email has been read is if a link in the body has been clicked.This is also a strong indicator of the recipient  moving from curiosity (opening the email) to interest (clicking to find out more).
Bounce ratesThere are two kinds of bounces: hard (the email cannot be delivered) and soft (the server will not deliver the email because the sender is unknown).

Bounce rate metrics typically measure the quality of the email list used. High bounce rates indicate that the list is “stale” and has outdated information.

Opt out ratesOpt out rate metrics measure the degree to which there is a strong fit between the target audience and the message.

High opt out rates  indicate that the recipients regard the email(s) as spam. Most likely, the list is untargeted—  making the message irrelevant for a substantial number of recipients. Or, the list is targeted but the message is weak and uninteresting to the recipients. Either scenario is likely to irritate recipients and make them opt out to avoid receiving unsolicited and unhelpful emails.

Too many opt outs are early warning signs that the company may be charged with spam complaints, which can cause the company’s email domain to be blacklisted.


Inbound (web) Metrics

Inbound leads are typically of better quality than outbound leads because the prospects have already demonstrated a desire to find out more—which means they likely have a pain they want to address sooner than later. Therefore, it is very important to understand the requirements for generating inbound leads at the lowest cost possible. The metrics below are equally important for both organic and paid search activities.

Unique VisitorsThese are the number of actual visitors coming for the first time in the period measured (today, this week, this month, etc.). Generally speaking, increasing the number of unique visitors is a result of a significant amount of relevant content that has been highly search engine optimized (SEO), probably with additional help from outbound or social media marketing.
Bounce rateThis refers to visitors that came and left from the same page because they entered without looking at other pages. This is an indication that visitors landed on the site by mistake, which suggests that  focus key words may be misleading.

It is also important to track which pages have the highest bounce rates.

Gateway pagesIt is important to take note of  the most visited entry pages on a site in order to optimize the content and ensure that visitors stay on the website. The pricing page is a typical gateway page. Companies that only provide pricing information on that page are not using the page to its greatest potential. Worse, they may not even have a “Contact sales for pricing” message. This will likely result in higher bounce rates from that page.
Avg. pages per visitWe want “sticky” sites where visitors spend some time looking at several website pages. The more pages visitors view, the more engaged they become— ensuring a high degree of both name recognition and understanding of what the seller does. This is what we call a Marketing Qualified Lead: one that shows a strong need for knowing more even though the lead’s budget and decision-making capacity are unknown.

If the number of unique visitors is high but the bounce rates are also high, then the remedy is to provide links on the gateway pages to increase the stickiness of the website.

Key wordsMany visitors enter generic key words in their searches. Sites that rely on generic key words are usually ranked too low to appear high in a web search.

For example, entering “stethoscope” returns 9.2 million results; entering Littmann stethoscope returns 475,000 results; and entering “Littmann pediatric cardiology stethoscope” returns 123,000 results. In each case, “Littmann” appears at or near the top since the company spends a great deal of money on being at the top for any search on stethoscopes. Product based key words should use both the category and the specific name of the product.


Prospecting Metrics

As a general rule, companies should make telephone calls to follow up on their marketing activities. Skilled phone prospectors, or Business Development Reps (BDRs), can generate High Quality Leads on a regular basis.

From a prospecting perspective, all leads begin as Untouched and either become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) or are exited (unqualified).

Note: The Difference between a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and a High Quality Lead (HQL) is that a HQL is a SQL that has been accepted by Sales. In other words, when it meets the fifth criterion, it becomes a HQL.

The metrics for phone conversations differ greatly from industry to industry and from role to role. Some people use the telephone as an instrument for doing their work and typically pick up when it rings. Others see it as a nuisance and source of interruption, so they only take calls from customers or people they know.

For example, it is far easier to reach those in sales roles than it is to reach CIOs or technical people in general. Similarly, those in local government jobs are more likely to pick up than those in state or federal government offices. Generally speaking, older people tend to pick up the phone far more often than younger decision makers.

With that said, there are some important metrics to track when monitoring the effectiveness of a prospecting program in generating High Quality Leads.

Prospecting Metrics
Key Conversation RatioThis measures the relative ease or difficulty of reaching the target. The higher the ratio, the more accessible these decision makers are. This does not include conversations with receptionists or assistants unless assistants provide useful information.
SQL RatioFrom the BDR’s perspective, getting Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is the goal. To achieve this, the BDR asks a series of questions to gauge whether a potential lead meets a client’s specific criteria through SQL metrics.
Acceptance RatioAcceptance ratio metrics keep the prospecting team honest. Sales people look at the SQLs turned in and either accept or reject them. As a rule, the minimum acceptable acceptance ratio should be around 80%, so that no more than 20% of SQLs turned in are rejected.
Nurture ratioThis is the “Not interested now” or “Don’t have a budget now” metric. Such metrics can give a sense of the BDR’s skill and the quality of the call script, including the quality of the objection banks used to address some of the reasons given for not being interested. If the lead is in the right target and the right role, the only reason for not being interested is that the lead has already solved the problem in question.
Exit RatioThere are several reasons for exiting—all of which are determined after trying to reach someone. Metrics such as the exit ratio can help clarify these reasons:

  • Not a good fit—This means that the targeted company itself is not a good fit. It is either too small or too big or not even in the right sector. This is an indication that the list contains bad data.
  • Not the right person – The company can be the right target, but the individual contacted is not the right person for the purpose of the call. This is an indicator that the list is not well-targeted.
  • Bad data – This means that the phone number is wrong or disconnected. Therefore, the list is stale and has old information.
  • Can’t reach – There are limits to the number of times we want a BDR to call the same number before giving up and moving on. Unless the lead is on vacation, an extended period of unreachability indicates a lack of willingness to pick up the phone or return a call. In these cases, the BDR should move on.

Read about the first pillar of High Quality Lead Generation here.

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