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Not All Leads Are Created Equal: Handling Leads According to their Origins

This is a story every expert marketing and campaign managers is well familiar with. Thanks to plenty of work and elbow grease, a fantastic campaign goes live. Leads start coming in and it all looks promising, when the sales staff suddenly starts complaining: “Your leads aren’t good! They’re irrelevant!” That’s when most people point the finger at advertising, beginning a long line of changes and optimizations. But are they even looking at the right place?

This is a tale of a medium-sized company that reaped the demand from Google’s search network over a number of years. Each and every inquiry that it received was amazingly exact. After all, people were looking for a solution, and they found it. The inquiry-to-closure ratio was fantastic, marketing and sales were satisfied, and all was well. The company expanded through the years and thus came the appetite for more – more leads and more sales. But as anyone who has mastered Google’s search network knows, its available demands cannot exceed its monthly search volume, limiting our ability to significantly scale activities.

In light of its ambitious growth targets, the company’s obvious next step was creating a new marketing channel, i.e. Facebook. Its campaign was meticulously planned, its infrastructure was soundly built and its sales staff readied itself to increased activity. The company’s new Facebook activity was up and running.

Not a week went by when all people involved began fidgeting in their seats. Leads came in, and plenty of them, but closures and sales were a different matter. Results were underwhelming, especially considering the numbers senior staff were used to seeing. What’s more, sales staff began repeatedly complaining about “bad” leads.

Bad? We mean horrible, terrible, irrelevant.

That’s when the company’s marketing manager asked its advertising agency to change, optimize and reevaluate their audiences, landing pages and messages. In short, he asked the agency to take a good, hard look at the entire campaign. Changes were done and redone, but results remained the same. At this point the advertising agency asked to stop and look at things from a somewhat different angle. They asked their client’s sales staff to prepare a report of the leads generated by the campaign, making it as detailed it possible (“irrelevant”, for example, was insufficient for this purpose). Once they analyzed the report, they came to realize the full picture: the company’s sales staff was handling leads generated by their Facebook campaign using the same procedures and scripts used for leads that had been previously generated by Google.

Why is that even a problem? What’s so special about Facebook leads that required sales staff to change their procedures and build new sales scripts for their new marketing channel?  

Now’s the time to talk about the essential differences between pull marketing and push marketing.


Push vs. Pull: What’s it all about?

In the world of digital marketing we distinguish between two kinds of marketing. The first, push marketing, is very similar to the world of traditional offline marketing. When we talk about push advertising, we mean marketing that is “pushed” towards the user at the time and place of the advertiser’s choosing, without any activity done by the user. It can be an ad banner on Ynet, an ad on Facebook or a video ad on Youtube: any advertising that is shown to the user by surprise is push advertising.

Conversely, the world of digital marketing, especially Adwords and Google’s search network, brought pull advertising – which is triggered by a user who is looking for information – into the world. Pull advertising is unobtrusive, since it is displayed as an answer to the user’s questions and needs.

Naturally, sales opportunities that are created by pull channels will usually be the better of the two, since potential customers seek, find and inquire just when they need us. With push advertising, on the other hand, users react to advertising for which they were unprepared. Yet, when it is attractive, interesting and relevant enough for them, push advertising motivates them to inquire about products or services they didn’t think they needed or were not necessarily planning on purchasing.

Of course, leads generated by push advertising (e.g. Facebook ads) become more relevant whenever its messages are tailored to its target audiences more exactly and its value propositions are more attractively, yet almost every analysis we’ve done on Facebook leads and other push channels in comparison to Google search ads has shown that push advertising is almost always more relevant and has a better closure ratio.

We’ll focus on the two most important digital advertising platforms, which are both used by almost any business that has a sizeable advertising budget. Even so, the principles we’ll discuss can and should be applied to each advertising channel individually according to its unique features.


The Battle of the Ad Giants: Google vs. Facebook

Google: Who comes from it and why do they reach me?

Google’s search network uses a pull model, and this is the essential and most important difference between it and Facebook. Google’s customers are active, they’re aware of their needs, and they seek out the business, service or product that will best meet their needs as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost.

If you’ve been following us for a long time, you undoubtedly know that we love using a model that simplifies customer journey, starting at the stage in which customers have never heard of us and ending at the stage in which they purchases from us:

  • Awareness: Who are we and what value do we bring into the world?
  • Consideration: Why Us?
  • Conversion: Why Now?

According to this model, customers that reach us using Google’s search network are usually at the final stage of this model, i.e. conversion, and are accordingly ready to purchase our service or product. Competition over this audience’s attention is mostly centered on the desire to appear higher in the search engine result page than our competitors do, using a highly attractive ad that will generate a higher click ratio and take users to a precise landing page which will convince them to leave their contact details or make a purchase.

Now, you must be asking yourselves: “But what about comparison shopping?” True, there are cases in which the customer is still in the consideration or even awareness stage. We will not delve into it deeply here, but simply note that search queries start broadly and generally and become more narrow and precise as the purchase process progresses. This can be illustrated using the difference between “what kind of running shoes to buy”, which is an awareness and consideration query and “Adidas Ultraboost price” or ” where to buy Nike Pegasus”, which have a very clear purchasing intent.

Additionally, Google has other marketing channels apart from its search network, the most prominent of which is its delivery network (GDN), which allows us to show ads to our target audience even they don’t search, but we’ll leave this subject to another article.

Now it’s time to go to the other arena, which, let’s face it, has become a formidable competitor over the past few years and is probably the main platform in which all businesses operate nowadays.


Facebook: Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg

Facebook entered our lives like a breath of fresh air. It was a platform for users to willingly share countless personal details, such as their age, place of residence, education level and place of employment. It also invites them to share their interests: from books and movies through soccer teams to Native American culture and Cocker Spaniels.

On the one hand, Facebook takes us back to the world of pull advertising, i.e. ads that are shown to users that do not express their interest beforehand. Yet, on the other hand, it generally enables us to be very precise in addressing our target audiences, matching them with an ad in a way that will make them react to it better.

Returning to the awareness-consideration-conversion model, Facebook makes it difficult for us to precisely identify users who are already at the conversion stage, i.e. searching out and taking an active interest in purchasing, but it enables us to build personally-tailored customer journeys starting at the conversion stage and to present content and information that are crafted to the users’ state of mind and to their level of knowledge and awareness of our business, solution and field.


Now, we did we tell you this lengthy story?

Because it is crucial to understand that leads that originate in Google arrive with a vastly different state of mind than leads that originate in Facebook. Motivation, familiarity, knowledge and willingness to make a purchase, i.e. purchase intent, are decidedly different when users are actively searching compared to when they are merely encountering an ad that piqued their curiosity enough to purchase but not much more.

Anyone who currently works with leads generated by digital campaigns and does not handle them appropriately according to their different sources and the different information they were exposed to along the process will lose excellent sales opportunities. In short, doing this is like leaving money on the table.


What’ so different about handling leads?

The correct handling of leads can make or break a business. We all know that leads must be contacted promptly nowadays, since people’s memories are short and competition is fierce, so that leads that would previously remain hot and relevant for days can now grow cold and lose interest within 24 hours.

But the point that most people are missing is that leads are usually handled by sales staff in a “flat” way, meaning that all leads are generally treated identically. Thus, many sales call centers as well as many business owners who personally handle incoming leads usually apply the same sales script and the same follow-up policy to all leads. They therefore perceive their various advertising channels as having inherently different closure ratios. Sales treatment that doesn’t take lead origin and motivation into consideration can create a false appearance of an inadequate marketing channel, cancelling its campaigns on the wrong grounds.


How Do We Fix This? 3 Suggestions that will Change the Picture

  1. Track Your Origins

Whether you use an advanced CRM, mass mailing system or just Excel spreadsheets, monitoring and controlling your leads’ origins is the basis for your success. There are numerous ways to do this, but it’s important to verify that each lead that enters your system is tagged with its origin, e.g. Google search ad, Facebook remarketing or Taboola sponsored content.


  1. Connect your Sales Staff to your Marketing Efforts

It’s surprising to discover, but in many cases sales staff is unaware of the advertising that generates their leads. But it is crucial you connect them to your advertising program for them to optimally handle each lead. They need to see your landing pages, ads, videos and articles in order to know exactly what information each lead has when it comes in, using the sales conversation as the natural progression of the messages used in advertising.


  1. Handle according to Origin

Going back to our comparison of Google and Facebook, Google leads will certainly arrive primed and hot. Generally speaking, they are ready to decide and close a deal. Their sales conversation needs to be synchronized to the landing page offer: focused, short and relevant. Remember that when a lead is generated by a Google ad, the user most likely also gave his contact details to a number of businesses at the same time, so your speed and accuracy in replying are critical to your success. Most of the conversation will usually deal with the customer’s last points of resistance.


Facebook leads, on the other hand, will be far colder and far less ready to purchase. Remember, these users didn’t ask for your solution. You made an offer and they agreed to listen. This makes a tremendous difference in the customer’s approach and state of mind.


Accordingly, you are likely to experience one of the following:

  • Customers will be unavailable to talk during the first conversation, only becoming available after a number of calls and attempts to reschedule.
  • Customers will ask numerous questions regarding your product or service and the nature of your offer, requiring you to repeat some of the information, since they do not delve into your website or landing page before leaving their contact details.
  • Customers arrive without well-defined sales resistance, developing it during the first sales conversation and gradually revealing it in subsequent follow-up conversations. Dealing with this kind of resistance requires a greater number of conversations over a number of days.

A sales representative that doesn’t understand these nuances and is ill-prepared for the conversation will be quick to categorize this pattern of behavior as lack of interest and abandon the lead. We see this often. The nature of the conversation, as outlined in the second point above, is critical, since it requires the sales representative to be even more patient and far more knowledgeable regarding the offer and its nuances in order to answer numerous questions.

Of course, there are many more nuances to handling sales, but we can confidently say that here at Ortal Digital, clients who have addressed all this using our help – i.e. implemented our suggestions, properly documented their lead origins, retrained their sales staff, connected them to their advertising campaigns and adapted their handling policies and sales scripts to their various marketing channels – have seen their closure ratios improve by dozens and hundreds of percentage points. This immediately means more money in the till and a greater ROI in advertising.

In summary, it is important for anyone who has a hand in marketing and sales processes to know the different approaches and points of origin of all active marketing channels that generate leads for the business, and to implement an appropriate handling policy in sales in order for the business to make the most of its marketing and advertising budgets.

Good luck!

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