Not All Leads Are Created Equal – The Case For Integrating CRM Data In Your Search Strategy

For most B2B marketers, the primary goal of paid search efforts is to drive as many leads for as little money as possible. But what happens to those leads once they’re passed off the sales team? What is the overall lead quality? How many of these leads actually turn into sales, and what keywords are driving those sales?

The amount of B2B clients I have worked with who can’t answer this question is surprising, especially considering that the ultimate goal of lead generation is to drive sales. Search strategy is often driven by the assumption that a lead is a lead. Many advertisers come up with a CPL target (which may or may not be based on lifetime value), punch that target into a bid tool, then sit back and occasionally rotate ads and landing pages. Maybe run an SQR to add more exact match keywords and clean out the negative keywords.

For the clients I’ve worked with that have been able to trace the lifecycle of individual leads to the original keyword source, the results are fascinating. I’ve had clients whose biggest lead driver had only 1% of those leads turn into sales opportunities. I’ve seen others where the average pipeline value of leads from one keyword set was 10 times higher than the next most valuable keyword set. I’ve also seen keywords that drove 7 figure deals losing 80% of their impression share to rank because the average CPC of that highly competitive keyword was too close to the CPL target, so the bid set by the bid tool limited its visibility.

Not All Leads Are Created Equal

The lesson here is that not all leads are created equal. When some of the most competitive software keywords have CPCs as high as $80, it may not make sense to set an account-wide CPL target of $100 if you’re a SaaS company that’s aiming for six figure deals.

So What Can You Do About It?

So what can you do about it? The process of integrating your CRM data is a lot easier than you might think.

Both Kenshoo and Marin, the two primary bid tools we use at Elite SEM, have plug-and-play integrations with Salesforce, allowing you to not only pull in CRM data by keyword, but set those tools to optimize toward opportunities generated from leads or pipeline revenue. If you have another CRM solution like Netsuite, there are also options that require a little more work, but can do the same with an FTP upload of a custom report.

One caveat here is that some businesses may not have enough data from traffic, leads, or sales opportunities to effectively optimize toward these metrics on a daily or even weekly basis, especially at the individual keyword level. In those cases, I create an extra UTM parameter in the keyword or creative URL that identifies the corresponding keyword category, which then gets passed to the client’s CRM.

From there, we’ll pull a report each quarter and add up all of the raw leads, disqualified leads, opportunities, and pipeline value for each category. Compare that to each category’s spend levels and we’ll get a rough ROI number which we can then use to set CPL targets for each individual category.

If one set of keywords drives an average of $100,000 in pipeline revenue for one lead and another category only drives $10,000 per raw lead, would you still set the same CPL target across the board?

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