Many moons ago, I was an avid poker player. I like numbers and fast calculations and as such have carried this through into my working life and made a career in paid media advertising.

In poker, a common term you’ll hear amongst the pros is not to be “results orientated”. In poker, a large amount of your success is determined by skill. i.e. making the statistically correct decision in any given scenario and doing this again and again without deviation.

This is particularly true in PPC lead generation campaigns, as we cannot guide the customer throughout the checkout funnel as smoothly and quickly as we do in the ecommerce space. They leave our online properties to do research, discuss with colleagues, look at competitors and as such we lose data points and an understanding of what they are doing and how we can guide them from lead to sales.

A solid lead generation campaign requires multiple website and marketing touchpoints with your brand (higher deal value means more consideration and more touchpoints).

As marketers we’re obsessed with visibility and transparency. It’s the backbone of our industry and why spend has rapidly shifted into the digital space over the last 20 years.

But what we aren’t sometimes ready to admit is that full transparency is impossible. We can’t therefore have 100% control and need to shift our efforts to become more “input orientated”. Let’s take a trip to the card table to better understand that mindset.

Shuffle Up and Deal

Assume you are player 5 in this scenario. You put all your chips in the middle and player 6 calls.

You will win this hand almost 84% of the time, with your 3 aces and there is only 1 more card to come.

Player 6 needs a club to make a flush. Nothing else. They have approximately 16% chance of winning the hand as there are 7 clubs left in the deck that can win the hand for them. (If a Jack or 2 of clubs comes, player 5 wins with a full house).

In the less likely event that one of the clubs that player 6 needs here comes in the last card, they win the hand.

But player 5 (who made the statistically correct decision to bet all their chips in that scenario against that particular opponent) may feel aggrieved. They should have won.

But this is where the luck element of poker comes in and you cannot control it.

So as the pros say: “don’t be results orientated”.

At the time, you made the correct decision and if we run that hand 100 times, 84 times you will correctly win all the money.

Becoming “Input Orientated” For Lead Generation

Lead generation campaigns (especially high value ones) require patience. This isn't always in sync with our paid media backgrounds where we expect quick results, full tracking transparency and a heavy focus on the sale (not the after sale).

We need to shift our focus to be more “input orientated”. That’s how you win in the long term. Doing the right thing and applying the best strategy with the information we have at hand again and again, and the results will come.

Focus on the factors you can control (in the case of PPC: making your ads as appealing as possible, offering value at every touchpoint between lead and sale, advising your client where they can improve their product offering, getting to know your best customers and making your hook that much more appealing than your competitors).

Block Out The Noise

Within the industry, there is an increasing sense of anxiety fuelled by unrealistic expectations set by the ever expanding martech landscape.

Various tools and software aim to “close the loop on reporting” and offer “unified, cross channel attribution visibility” and marketing departments understandably start to panic that they aren’t doing something right. Or that their competitors have a magic tool or data set that they don’t.

I’m not advocating we abandon martech. Far from it. There are some excellent tools we use on a daily basis to automate processes and better understand our customer’s journeys, stage in the conversion funnel and repeat buying pattern.

We’ve even built a few of our own. But we are very clear that these are meant to improve our advertising efforts, not solve them.

Most martech in the leadgen space at the moment is trying to create a cookie cutter, replicative tool for all companies/industries but we know that every single business has unique technological debt and marketing stacks.

Full transparency and closed loop full visibility attribution are a myth. Especially in the B2B lead gen space. Why?

Humans buy services not robots.

Humans lose proposal PDFs, turn up 24 hours early to webinars, share the wrong links with colleagues, spill coffee on their laptops and make decisions based on emotional factors rather than what’s best of the company they are working for (consciously or unconsciously).

With high value B2B lead gen PPC (let’s use the example of enterprise cloud storage solutions), a successful deal could have a lifetime value well into 7 figures.

All the marketing tech in the world isn’t going to help if you have a suboptimal offering compared with your competitors or if you make them wait on hold to reach a call centre for an initial query.

If you do the right thing again and again in terms of messaging, constant improvement of your product, learning from your best customers and being “input orientated” with your media budgets: you can build a long term, sustainable marketing campaign and guide those leads through to high value deals.

An ‘Input Orientated’ Checklist

I run a PPC agency and over the last decade or so have been very fortunate to run lead generation campaigns for some of the leading organisations in the UK and further afield. I’ve had a peek behind the curtain of the inner workings of hundreds of very successful companies: their marketing departments and website infrastructures.

From one person companies with industry changing ideas, to publicly listed companies with marketing budgets that would make your eyes water.

All with the same goal: make my marketing budget stretch further and bring in more business than last year.

This can be condensed into the following “Input Orientated” checklist. Many of the points sound simple, but my belief is that in our noisy digital marketing space, the simplest solutions are often the most elegant ones.

Keep your product offering, market fit and customer journey front of mind at all times and focus on the levers that you control, and the results will look after themselves.

Messaging

  • Unified, Cross Channel Messaging
  • From education to final sale
  • All your creative, marketing messages and remarketing lists working together across the various channels to stay front of mind at every stage in the process.

Input

  • Be Input Orientated
  • Results down a bit day on day, week on week? Ask yourself if the data set is significant?
  • Are we still strong in terms of competitiveness, budgets, product offering? What are our competitors doing and how can we combat that?

Linking

  • Your CRM (customer relationship management) system connected to your advertising data
  • This can sometimes be a tricky integration depending on the platform you use, but it will pay massive dividends in the long term
  • Again, don’t expect complete 100% visibility. People drop off, get busy, go on holiday, research on behalf of colleagues.
  • But this is integral towards optimising towards deal value rather than leads. A surprisingly common oversight we see again and again in lead gen campaigns.

Deal

  • Deal not Lead Reporting
  • Instead of CPA, look at lifetime ROI
  • Instead of lead form submissions, look at assisted conversion from paid social, organic and email marketing.
  • Live dashboards, updated daily with data feeding in from your CRM
  • Constant analysis of your lead time (lead to deal) and comparison with previous quarters, financial years etc