Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Marketing Analysis and the Lead Funnel

In thinking about B2B marketing analysis from the perspective of a top-down view of a balance sheet and income statement of lead metrics means that we need to look at the stages of the buying funnel a bit more objectively. A balance sheet view would give us a current (or past) point in time view of what leads are at what stage, and an income statement view would give us an indication of the transitions in stage that took place within the time period.

The first step is to define the stages of your buying process more explicitly. This can be as simple as the Sirius Decisions model of Inquiries and Marketing Qualified Leads, or it can be a unique mapping of the buying process stages of your business. The number of stages in your buying funnel will depend on your business and how your buyers buy.

With the stages defined, however, you can then begin to model them as part of your marketing analysis. Within Eloqua, this means defining the lead stages/ranks. In Campaigns, under "Inquiries & Leads", select "Lead Ranking Systems". You can define a lead ranking system to model your buyers buying process as you need.

Each leve you define has an order, a name, and a text value. The text value is what is written to the underlying contact or prospect when a lead is defined as being in this stage.

To indicate that a contact or a prospect is a lead at a certain stage of the buying process, you must build a lead ranking rule. Under Data Tools, build a lead ranking rule for each stage in your buying process.

With that in place, you can use a lead ranking rule whenever you want to define that a lead is at a particular stage. The text value for the lead rank/stage is written into the contact record, so existing processes that may be dependant on seeing data in the contact record are unimpacted.

The lead ranking rules can be run anywhere it might make sense; on groups that have been uploaded, such as lists from events or tradeshows, in form processing steps to indicate that anyone submitting a certain form is at a certain stage of the buying process, or within program builder.

Running a lead ranking rule from within program builder is done in a similar manner to how leads were ranked as being a certain stage using data update rules. Except that when done within a lead ranking system, the lead rank is stored historically, and forms a basis for all of your marketing funnel analysis.

With your lead funnel data flowing through as formal lead ranks, you will be able to easily represent it in funnel reports in the campaign analysis area. More importantly, when it is tracked in this way, a historical record of the lead rank for each person is kept. This allows you to view how each person's lead rank has changed over time, and begin to understand how your marketing campaigns have facilitated moving buyers through the lead funnel.

(*Please note that the capabilities described here are currently available only with Eloqua Team edition)