You might have heard that 49% of marketers are using marketing software to generate more qualified leads.
As you set and refine your strategy for the year, you might be wondering: Is lead generation software right for my business?
The right program can take your marketing process to a new level. But it's also an investment of time, training, and budget.
So is it worth it for your company? Here are the 8 important questions you need to ask before investing in an automation platform.
1. How much traffic does your website get?
Your current website traffic is a great indicator if lead generation software will be a good fit for you.
A good benchmark is 3,000 site visitors per month. If you have fewer than 3,000 website visitors, it will be difficult for you to generate enough leads to justify paying for software.
Because an automation platform is good at converting a larger percentage of your visitors into leads, and eventually customers... but if you don't have enough traffic to begin with, you won't see enough business to justify the cost.
Marketing software also relies heavily on data to suggest improvements for you — and that requires a relevant sample size.
Like a scientific study, if your sample size is too small, you won't get accurate results from such metrics... and that means you can't refine your strategy with accurate data.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider marketing automation down the road... but with < 3,000 site visitors/month, you should ramp up your efforts manually before investing in heavy-handed software.
2. How many leads are you generating currently?
A good rate for visitors who become business leads (or, legitimate visitors who submit contact information) is between 1-2% for an average website.
That means if you're generating 10,000 monthly website visitors, you should be converting at least 100 lead each month.
For companies generating tons of leads each month, software can be the holy grail to organize, segment, and nurture a chaotic database of people.
But like I mentioned earlier, if you don't hit that threshold of traffic and lead conversion, you might only be generating a handful of leads right now... and software won't be your magic bullet.
If you're only converting <1% of your traffic to leads, you'll want to focus on that conversion rate first.
Or, you can get a free marketing audit from a reputable agency to learn how to grow your online conversion rate with inbound marketing tools.
3. How long is your sales cycle?
Lead generation software is great for managing campaigns to generate leads — but its real power lies in moving a lead through your sales funnel.
That makes it a better investment for businesses with lengthy sales cycles, and a vested interest in turning qualified leads into sales qualified leads.
Generally, marketing automation software is good for small to medium businesses in the B2B space.
If you market for a B2C company with a short sales cycle, you can still get benefit out of some automation tools. For example, you can set up custom messages for shopping cart abandonment, send tailored welcome emails, and more.
These things all improve chances of a sale.
But you'll also miss out on some major advantages of software, including automated email workflows, landing pages, and other tools that lead people down the sales funnel over time.
As a general rule, if you're a B2B company with a sales cycle that is at least 1-2 months long, you can benefit from lead generation software.
If you deal in a short sales cycle but still want some automation functionalities, you can rely on free tools like Mailchimp or spend a small amount on a landing page tool like Unbounce for lead capture to build your email list.
4. What's your capacity for marketing?
Software is not a "magic" solution. It's a tool that makes lead generation easier for marketers... but it still requires your input to see results.
This includes a content strategy that guides people through your digital marketing funnel.
If you're going to invest in lead generation tools, you should be able to create marketing assets to assist lead generation.
This article tells you how much time inbound marketing really takes to succeed. (Hint: It's like a full time job.)
Over 63% of companies outsource all or part of automation strategy planning, according to Ascend2. Consider investing in a custom marketing strategy document to get you started.
5. What's your budget?
Budgets for marketing software can vary greatly, but for the best platforms, you'll need to set aside $300-800 per month or more.
That's on top of the budget you'll need for content creation, training in the software, management, etc.
This lead generation comparison chart shows you a lot of great stats, including price points, of different software options.
Just remember that you get what you pay for. Opt for a software that has a high recommendation rating. Our advice is to invest in a platform that will host your website and integrate your marketing and website strategies.
Also consider the support and training you'll get from a company — the intangibles that can really make all the difference!
HubSpot, for example, offers free inbound marketing academy courses that teach you how to use your software alongside a marketing strategy.
The HubSpot community (which we're proud to be a part of!) is incredibly helpful to grow as as marketer — and support is always available, too.
6. Is data important to your strategy?
If you find yourself guessing how effective your lead generation strategies are, or struggling to prove ROI to a boss or budget plan, you'd benefit from software.
Modern marketing isn't about "going with your gut." You need to collect and react to the data if you're going to keep up.
Marketing automation tools can easily track immense insight on your lead generation campaigns. This will tell you which strategies to tweak, keep, and retire.
With a CMS platform, you can trace the purchase of one customer back through the entire journey they took through your sales funnel... starting with a content campaign, keyword, or landing page.
This is wildly helpful for measuring the return on every marketing action you take.
If you already have a knack for data, or if you feel like you could use more insight into your marketing, a automation software will give you a needed data boost.
7. Do you have the skills, or the time, to train?
Each lead generation platform comes with a learning curve.
To get the most return on your investment in a lead generation program, you'll need to use it correctly, and stay up-to-date with all of its tools.
The term marketing "automation" is misleading, because you're not relying on robots to generate leads. It's more like putting on a superhuman suit that lets you do your own work faster, smarter, and on a grander scale.
If you can invest 2-3 months to really get up-to-speed with the lead generation software, and a few hours each week to learning more about it, you'll do well.
If you find yourself struggling for time but you still want the benefits of automation tools, partner with an agency of experts who can do the job for you.
8. Do you have a lead generation strategy to move forward with?
A lead generation tool is only part of the battle to generate more leads. Any software must revolve around an existing inbound marketing strategy.
If you already have a strategy in place for targeting the right personas, creating content to fill your sales funnel, and moving leads through the sales process, you'll get immense benefit from a marketing automation platform.
If you're not set on a strategy, though, don't put the cart before the horse. Start with a plan, then do your research to make sure the tools can get you to your goals.