How to Pitch a Lead Generation Campaign to Your CFO - and Show ROI

When you are considering strategies to grow your business, a digital lead generation campaign should be at the top of your list. These campaigns provide a key component of your business growth plan by helping you attract potential customers that you may not be able to reach using other methods. Digital lead generation campaigns also complement your overall strategy by providing additional touchpoints with potential customers to help strengthen the effectiveness of your sales team.

July 18, 2023

When you are considering strategies to grow your business, a digital lead generation campaign should be at the top of your list.  These campaigns provide a key component of your business growth plan by helping you attract potential customers that you may not be able to reach using other methods.  Digital lead generation campaigns also complement your overall strategy by providing additional touchpoints with potential customers to help strengthen the effectiveness of your sales team.  

When to Implement a Lead Generation Campaign

A key thing to remember is that a digital advertising campaign should not be thought of as a standalone tactic or a magic bullet for all of your sales challenges.  While it can be a great way of generating leads, it has to compliment your overall strategy and align with the activity of your sales team.  

The first step in this is to be sure you have a clear understanding of your ideal client. General ad campaigns targeted to a broad audience will never generate the success that can be achieved when specific audiences are served with an ad that speaks directly to them. 

If you have not defined your ideal client, spend some time with your sales team and your client support team and begin creating a profile that describes the client.  Gaining outside perspective is useful to help sort out this information and specifically define who your client is and what they are looking for. Describe your client’s:

Taking the time to ensure that this is firmly established will provide significantly better results.

Once you have defined who you are targeting, you need to map out how the lead generation campaign fits into your sales and follow-up process.  Remember: an ad campaign is a piece of the puzzle, not the entire puzzle.  As you think about creating ad campaigns, your first step needs to be to ensure that you have a clear process of how to handle the leads that are generated.  How will they be tracked?  Who will follow up with them?  How quickly can they follow up?  Is there a clear feedback loop established to ensure the quality of the leads continues to rise throughout the campaign?

When you have your campaign planned out, you can start thinking about how you’ll sell it.

Understand Your C-suite’s Perspective and Build the Narrative

You have an ad campaign ready to pitch; now it’s time to gain approval.

While every leader is different, most are going to be looking for some key answers to questions that center around cost, strategy, measurement, and expected returns to justify the expense that you are asking for.  So, before you go ask for money, be sure you understand and acknowledge your CFO’s perspective by having a good understanding of their goals and priorities and how this campaign helps the company achieve these.

Once you have a good understanding of how your CFO will measure success, you need to clearly define the goals and metrics for the campaign. Part of this includes doing some research or asking your agency partner to provide you with statistics that show the potential reach and expected conversion rates for the campaign. When these are defined, it is going to be much easier to align the goals of your lead generation campaign with the company's overall business objectives.

Note that a metric you think is important might not mean anything to your decision-maker. It’s not at all uncommon for a CFO’s eyes to glaze over when they hear about clicks, page views, and other metrics that are important for the overall campaign, but not for them. Less detail is often better than more.

The next step is to calculate the cost of the campaign. Your advertising budget is not the only component of a campaign. You’ll have to spend resources researching, creating strategy, and then writing and designing the ads that will be served to your potential clients. Determine what parts of this can be done with your in-house team, and what parts you will rely on your agency partner to provide.

Once you have established the cost and budget for the campaign, the next step is to define what success looks like.  A foundational metric for this is to determine the lifetime value of your client.  The lifetime value provides the benchmark of what a lead can cost.  For example, if the lifetime value of a client is $50, it wouldn’t make any sense to spend $150 attracting that client to do business with you.  

Finally, you’ll have to establish how you’ll track progress and determine the success of the campaign. Start with the basics of what you can track today. If you cannot track a lead’s progress, then establish that process as an overall part of your strategy so you are truly able to measure success and define exactly how this campaign impacts the company’s revenue.  

Having a system in place to monitor the campaign and report progress will allow you to provide clear feedback to your agency partner as well as your internal team.  This feedback loop will help continue to refine the campaign so it can provide the maximum benefit for your business. 

Offer a Pilot or Test Phase To Your C-Suite

You can put forth a compelling narrative and your decision-maker can still be unconvinced, especially if they’re risk-averse. 

If your C-suite still hasn’t bought into the idea of an ongoing lead-generation ad campaign, offering a test or pilot phase/project might help give you the data to reinforce your argument, and show them the potential ROI. 

To make your pilot project a success, you will need to get your ads at optimal performance as quickly as possible, to understand potential future results. In order to do so in digital advertising platforms such as Google and Meta (formerly Facebook), your ads will need to exit the learning phase: the period of time that it takes for a digital advertising platform’s delivery system to learn how to deliver the best cost-per-result (in this case, cost-per-lead) using the creatives and audiences provided. 

During this period, the ads are not running at their optimal level, and cost-per-lead will tend to be higher than it would after your ads exit the learning phase.

For Meta, the learning phase ends after 50 actions (in this case, leads). It will end whenever it has hit that number, if no major changes to the campaign have been made. 

For Google, bid-strategy learning ends after five days, but Google is vague about the number of conversions it takes for its delivery system to learn, though Google does say it depends on the number of conversions.

On any channel, 50 leads is a good benchmark for when the learning phase is officially complete, and after the learning phase is complete, you’ll want the ad campaign to run at least another month to see the likely cost-per-lead you’ll receive on an ongoing basis.

Typically this means that a pilot phase will last 3-6 months, depending on how much your business is willing to spend on the pilot phase. 

More ad spend invested will mean a quicker learning phase, and a shorter path to the answers you need to reinforce your argument for a lead generation campaign.

Monitoring and Reporting Progress to Your C-Suite

Your C-Suite approved of what they saw in the pilot phase and want to continue the campaign. Now what?

Ongoing reporting will be the key to continuing to show your C-Suite how your ad campaign is impacting your business’s bottom-line. Specifically for lead generation campaigns, you’ll need to carefully outline how your ad campaign’s results are directing leads to your salespeople and bringing in new clients. These key metrics will help you tell the story of how your lead generation ad campaign is impacting your business:

Consider presenting the following:

Knowing these metrics will require consistent analysis of your lead flow and cooperation with your sales team, but these metrics are vital to communicating the ROI on your ad campaigns. Track them at least monthly, and seek to understand what ad creatives, platforms, audiences, and demographics are generating the best results in these metrics, so you can use that data to better know your audience and optimize other aspects of your marketing. You’ll want to be prepared to share each metric and share the “why,” behind the results with your C-Suite in any relevant meetings. 

In summary, a lead generation campaign can provide a serious boost to a company’s bottom-line revenue. It’s hard to be competitive without one - but it’s also hard to convince a budget-conscious CFO to pay for it.

Follow the above steps to plan out and put together your pitch, and you’ll give your decision-maker an offer they shouldn’t refuse.

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