How do you know when your outbound marketing efforts are missing the mark? Missed sales targets, low conversion numbers, lack of solid leads?

Sure—those are all clear signs that something isn’t connecting with your target audience. But if you look a bit deeper, you will find more telling signs that may reveal problems you can troubleshoot before they get all the way down the pipeline and translate into lower-than-expected revenue.

See if you recognize any of these red flags—and take action to improve your outbound marketing and lead generation efforts before it’s too late.

 

1. Lack Of Predictability


One of the hallmarks of a solid outbound marketing program is that lead generation (and the cost of securing those leads) is predictable from month to month and quarter to quarter.

If your lead projection numbers fall consistently off target (either positively or negatively), it’s time to pinpoint why. Even if your efforts generate significantly more leads than expected for a given time period, it can be concerning. While it’s usually good to have more leads (in most cases—see a caveat to this rule later in the list), you want to ensure you understand what is driving the increase in leads.

Fine-tuning the measurement of your outbound marketing campaigns so that you understand what the levers are for each tactic and what effect it has on the outcome is key to accurately projecting lead volume. And a more accurate projection of lead volume not only demonstrates the value of marketing to the rest of the business, it shows that you are in firm command of what works, why, and what the business can expect as a result.

 

2. Misaligned Targeting


Any new customer is a good customer, right? Not necessarily. As your business grows, a sign of maturity is making the shift from simply growing your customer base to focusing on acquiring the right kind of customers.

A key question to ask yourself around targeting alignment is, “What customers will best support our company’s retention and long-term growth goals?” Thinking strategically about the type of customer you want to make contact with and move through your lead funnel allows you to tailor outbound marketing strategies to meet that customer wherever he or she lives online.

Another way to identify whether your outbound marketing suffers from target misalignment is to look at post-sales relationships from an internal perspective. For example, if your customer success team is constantly irritated with your sales teams for selling the “wrong” kinds of clients, then it’s on the marketing department’s shoulders to reassess targeting approaches to ensure your efforts are driving the right types of opportunities.

 

3. Focusing Only On Bottom Of The Funnel Conversions


While it’s easy to focus exclusively on the bottom of the funnel conversions—which is to say, contacts who are making the move from prospect to purchaser—it can be a short-sighted mistake that points to a fault in the outbound marketing strategy. Worse, it’s a mistake that will eventually result in a negative impact to the very bottom-of-the-funnel conversions you were once so focused on.

Keeping an eye on and allocating effort and resources to the top and middle of the lead funnel are just as important as making the final conversions at the bottom of the funnel. Statistics show that, on average, approximately seven to 13 touches are required to convert prospects to customers.

That means that unless you’re reaching prospects early in their purchasing journey—and maintaining contact with them as they move through the demand funnel and get closer to being ready to buy—those very leads could evaporate before they ever reach the bottom of the funnel. Maintain a steady focus on ensuring the leads in all stages of the funnel are of high quality (using well-vetted data, high-quality content, and re-targeted when necessary) and you’ll be “feeding the machine” to ensure a steady flow of leads at all stages of your pipeline.

 

4. Increasing Volume Of Leads At The Expense Of Quality


It’s a superficial mistake to think that the more leads an outbound marketing campaign generates, the better for the company’s bottom line. If you’re boosting the volume of leads at the expense of the quality of leads, it signifies a problem in your approach, research, content, or targeting.

Anyone can spend money to buy leads or churn out campaigns that capture leads through click-bait tactics. But what happens when your sales force moves in to connect with prospects and find out how your company can meet their needs?

If your marketing qualified leads to opportunity rate is dropping—or, on the other hand, if your unqualified lead rate is increasing—you may have a problem. It may be time to re-examine your research and targeting strategies to ensure that the leads you’re capturing are the right ones (as described above in “misaligned targeting.”)

 

5. Missing Key Data Points


What are the titles and job roles of your hottest leads? Where are they in their purchasing journey? What kind of information do they need next? What solutions are they most interested in?

Imagine yourself as a salesperson receiving a lead missing this kind of key information. How can you best approach the prospect without being sure of what the right next step is?

If your leads are consistently missing key data points, it’s a sign that you need to reconfigure campaigns so that they’re capturing the right kind of information at the right time. Connect with sales leads to find out what data would be most helpful to them when approaching potential customers at this stage of the lead generation funnel. Then work backward to architect ways to capture this information from outbound marketing campaigns.

After all, the best leads are not only well-qualified, but also contain enough information in the hand off to sales to lead to high-quality consultative conversations between sales reps and customers right off the bat.

A strong outbound marketing program shows the business the value that the marketing department delivers on a consistent basis—and it also makes the CMO a hero to the sales organization–because there’s nothing a salesperson craves more than a well-qualified, warm lead.

Examine your outbound marketing results for signs of these five issues. Even if you find evidence of a problem, identifying it early allows you to course-correct before it has a negative impact on your final conversion numbers—and ultimately, the bottom line.

 

Originally published at CMO.com.