Finding the Fastest Path to Revenue in Social Lead Generation

As we discussed over the last two posts, finding the Fastest Path to Revenue is about laying out the shortest route between a marketing activity and its impact on sales, and holding to that path until you reach your first results, or until you accept the failure of that path and try a different course. The point is to trade complicated marketing plans for something you can test quickly, learn from and iterate, and to give up soft metrics such as “likes” and “follows” and focus on metrics directly on the path to revenue, such as qualified leads or sales.

A practical example from our own social selling efforts focused on engaging new leads on LinkedIn. After spending a lot of time testing out different marketing opportunities on LinkedIn—including paid ads, sponsored updates, company pages and product showcases—we decided to spend one sprint dedicated to finding the Fastest Path to Revenue with LinkedIn articles.

What delivered results for us was tightly focused shop-talk covering the kinds of challenges our customers face in the market today.

The goal of our sprint was to see if we could generate net new inbound leads from qualified prospects by writing articles on LinkedIn. We spent several weeks writing original posts, with a lot of experimentation and variation in content. We tried long form and short form content, we tested both broad and narrow topics for our posts, we experimented with different key phrases and different methods of content promotion. We also experimented with how directly we reach out to readers and invite discussions around sales.

Figuring Out What Works

In the course of that sprint, we discovered quite a bit about what works for us on LinkedIn and what doesn’t, specifically with regard to attracting and engaging qualified prospects. Long form content worked best for us, with posts around 1200 words. Broadly focused marketing content helped us generate awareness and build a larger audience of followers, but we don’t accept followers as a strong enough metric for our Fastest Path to Revenue—we get a lot of student followers and small business owners, whom we’re happy to inform, but they’ll never buy anything from us.

What delivered results for us was tightly focused shop-talk covering the Inbound Channel Marketing and the kinds of challenges partners and channel sales organizations are facing in the market today. Those posts went beyond attracting likes and follows and sparked engagement. We got comments on posts requesting follow up from qualified prospects, we got a few inmails from highly qualified decision makers, and we got a few connections and requests for more information that were directly triggered by our posts. Those aren’t yet revenue KPIs, but they’re definitely on the path.

So now that we’ve validated we can use LinkedIn effectively to engage with prospective customers, we can focus new sprints on determining the quality of leads from LinkedIn versus other channels, fine-tuning the processes we use to drive more traffic from those articles, and we can begin determining the relative cost of those leads from the effort of generating content and driving engagement.

One important point to make about that last sentence. Too many marketing initiatives seek to lock down expected ROI as a prerequisite for even getting started, which is the opposite mindset of the Agile approach. You need some latitude to try new things and figure out how they work for you, which is why you start smaller, so the cost and risk isn’t as high for failure. The information you gain from your own results is vastly more valuable than projecting ROI from anyone else’s programs and results.

Too many marketing initiatives seek to lock down expected ROI as a prerequisite for even getting started, which is the opposite mindset of the Agile approach.

The Bottom Line Advantage

Agile methods have proven their usefulness for product development, and many marketers have embraced the same methods for marketing. It’s still an emerging process, and in fact, like Agile Development, there will be many flavors and variations of processes built on the same core principles.

The key advantages of Agile marketing are the emphasis on rapid, iterative cycles to learn what works, and to quickly improve on and scale results. This agility is crucial for companies in disrupted markets, where environmental changes require responsiveness and adaptability. Another key advantage of Agile is the emphasis on engagement with end-users, or in the case of marketing, with customers. Too much of marketing today is done behind dashboards and metrics that supposedly signify real customers, while actual engagement with customers is left to sales and customer service.

The idea of finding the Fastest Path to Revenue is a simple principle for organizing an Agile marketing approach around a clear objective that everyone in the company or department understands. It isn’t to minimize the value of other marketing objectives that are less directly tied to revenue, but to distill and crystallize those that are, and to put them on the path to rapid iteration and adaptation to find out what works.

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