What's the real return on investment of digital lead generation efforts? That's a heavy question. Obtaining, analyzing, and reporting on ROI can be a timely undertaking. So before we delve into results and figure out how to talk about the impact of digital activities, let's start by defining digital.
Digital, in its simplest form, is a virtual environment where business and communication become instantaneous. Lead generation, in its simplest form, is an activity or set of activities that garner interest and inquiry from targeted groups of individuals. Combine the two, and you have digital lead generation. Digital lead generation is the act of using digital tools and tactics to generate awareness, grow interest, and build a network of potential prospects.
Having a solid understanding of digital lead generation is a good first step. And once you have a digital lead generation program up and running (more on that later), how do you know if it's working? How do you know if your efforts yield any return? In other words, what's the real return on investment of digital lead generation?
To help clarify our point, let's turn our attention to real examples that show different lead generation strategies. We profiled the economic development organizations in the two case studies listed below, but for purposes of anonymity and illustration, we've re-named the EDOs Traditional Tom and Digital Debbie. Which strategy is better? Read on for case study conclusions...
Obtaining Opportunities: The Traditional Way
An economic development organization - we'll call them Traditional Tom EDO - takes a mission trip to meet businesses interested in their location. That mission trip costs $20,000. Traditional Tom EDO meets with 20 companies, and of those 20, they receive, at most, one or two leads. Those one or two leads are ready to make business relocation or expansion decisions, but not for two or three years. The immediate gratification for Traditional Tom? Nothing, really. The capital yield of the campaign (trip)? Negative, as thousands were spent to get in front of, speak with, and pitch to, aforementioned companies.
Obtaining Opportunities: The Digital Way
Another economic development organization - we'll call these guys Digital Debbie EDO - crafts a strategy to generate leads digitally. They produce a best-in-class website that showcases and highlights their community's best assets. Most importantly, their website gets people excited about living, working, and playing in that particular place. Digital Debbie EDO also engages in a search engine marketing campaign that targets online users in various ways - through digital ads, retargeting, and more. The immediate gratification for Digital Debbie? Beautifully designed digital assets that serve and cater to specific industry audiences. The capital yield of the campaign? 65,000 impressions (visits to their website), 456 clicks (or virtual "meetings"), and 20 conversions (leads). The total cost: $2,000 for one month.
The moral of the story is simple. Digital, and digital lead generation, is the easiest, smartest, most cost effective way to reach and touch the highest number of potential prospects. Can the traditional way work? Absolutely. But we're all trying to do more with less. We're all trying to streamline process and be efficient in our endeavors. And we're all trying to find better ways to impact our bottom lines. How we get there is by way of digital.
Embracing digital isn't complicated, but it is an ongoing investment that must be resourced properly.