MarketoMarketing ROI - Lead to Opportunity Conversion Rate by Channel published some interesting data recently about marketing ROI and the lead acquisition tactics that are most likely to result in a sales opportunity.

Notice something about the top channels?

They involve outside people referring business to the company. Referrals are almost 4x the average “lead-to-opportunity” conversion rate. Email, prospecting, and social media marketing are well down the list in terms of bottom line return.

How do we spend our time?

Out in LogisticsMarketingLand (not a real place), people are busy. We have more stuff to do than time to do it. So we make choices about where to spend our time on lead generation activities in order to generate the best ROI.

Let’s be honest, most of that time is spent telling our own company’s story.

You telling people how special your company is. But if marketing ROI is the goal, the research suggests we should spend more time getting other people to tell our story for us.

That means cultivating referral sources, like consultants and customers, and aligning with partners like carriers, forwarders, software companies and other non-competing providers.

Where is your lead-gen time invested? Would you benefit from a greater emphasis on cultivating referral sources, or simply asking for referrals?

Take a look at the lead sources for your best opportunities. Of the ones that were referred, ask yourself:

  • Can this source be cultivated for additional opportunities?
  • Are there other people/companies like them that we could network with?

Why isn’t more time spent trying to maximize referrals?

  • It’s hard.
    Building closer relationships with influential consultants takes more time and effort than sending an email to a prospect.
  • It can be uncomfortable.
    For instance, existing customers are your best referral sources, but many companies are squeamish about asking for that referral.
  • It’s not our thing.
    Marketers, as with other types of professionals, tend to stick with what we know. If what we know is how to write a blog post, or develop a newsletter, or organize a webinar or email campaign, then that is where our focus tends to be, as opposed to identifying, contacting and meeting with new referral sources.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Broadly speaking, what we’re talking about here is word-of-mouth marketing (WOM).

Buying high-ticket logistics services involves risk, so it stands to reason that buyers value referrals from colleagues and other trusted sources – and act on those referrals far more often than they would act on a marketing come-on directly from a provider.

Here are a few stats from our friends at GetAmbassador.com to reinforce the value of referrals.

  • 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decision.
  • 61% of IT buyers report that colleague recommendations are the most important factor when making a purchase decision.
  • 56% of B2B purchasers look to offline word-of-mouth as a source of information and advice, and this number jumps to 88% when online word-of-mouth sources are included.

What’s your marketing ROI, by channel (lead source)?

If you have a CRM, compare the original lead source for all your leads and then just for your sales opportunities for the last year. How do your lead-to-opportunity ratios compare to the Marketo data for each lead source?

If your results are typical, it may raise the unsettling possibility that, for prospects, you’re not the best person to tell your company’s story.

It could be that the best marketing ROI comes from investing your time to get other people to tell your story for you.


Learn more about Logistics Marketing Advisors Magnet Marketing approach to selling logistics services (Download PDF).