How is Your Sales or Lead Data Being Collected?

ID-1008705Digital marketing’s goal is to bring in leads or sales so it’s important to know how you are collecting that data. However, it’s common for trainers, consultants and professional coaches to put little thought into how their marketing data is collected let alone have a strategy behind it.

Sales and lead data can be collected in a lot of ways but they boil down to one of three categories:

Direct Data

Direct data takes information from a lead (it’s very rare to see this done with direct sales anymore) and provides it directly to the marketer. This is usually done via email through a simple form processor like formmail.

  • Pro: It’s a simple setup and can usually be modified to meet individual needs.
  • Con: It will limit what data is collected and how it’s reported. It also limits retention to a manual process because if the data is deleted, it’s not stored elsewhere. Security can also come into question if the data is sensitive.
  • Best use: Simple responses that will be used for a simple interaction and does not need any automated tools.

Third Party App

This is the most varied category as third party apps are available for almost every business process under the sun and there are more and more each day. Third party apps typically function in this way: they collect the data, offer one or several automated features to manipulate the data, and store it in the app.

  • Pro: Third party apps can be selected for a particular business need like event management, inventory and delivery management, or automated document delivery. Typically the apps are quite good at the particular thing they are designed for.
  • Con: There is almost always an ongoing cost to use a third party app. Additionally, the data is collected on the apps platform which means that data can only be manipulated with the tools they make available or needs exported (if exporting is allowed) and manipulated separately. Perhaps the biggest potential problem with third party apps is that in complex marketing processes one tool may not be suitable. A combination of several can make for a disjointed user experience.
  • Best use: If there is a single process that needs additional functions and a third party app offers solutions for that functionality at a reasonable price then it’s often simpler to use the app out of the box


A database driven solution gathers lead and sales data and stores it. While third party apps almost always function from a database, the difference is that they own the database rather than the marketer having direct access to it.

  • Pro: Personalized database solutions offer unlimited customization and functionality. Direct access to the database also makes the data available for customized data manipulation and reporting.
  • Con: A database solution is often the most complex, requiring the most time, energy, and/or money to set up.
  • Best use: If a marketing process is so complex that configuring third party apps becomes cumbersome then a personalized database with custom tools is often the only secure option.
Image courtesy of  Danilo Rizzuti /

Always Keep Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in Focus

Every marketing campaign should have clearly defined key performance indicators (KPI) that are completely within the control of that marketing campaign. For instance, a KPI could be registrations for events, requests for more information, RFPs, or sales from an online store. Those KPI’s should then be assigned target numbers that serve as a benchmark to gauge performance. Any changes or analysis of marketing campaigns should ultimately be viewed through the lens of those KPI’s to determine if they are beneficial or detrimental adjustments.

Trainers, consultants, and professional coaches can get caught up in the details of their marketing efforts and lose sight of the end goal. This commonly happens because the details are so apparent and the ease of accessing and comparing them appears to be a ready-made way of gauging success. But if results are viewed without the lens of KPI’s, some very questionable decisions might be made.

Look at the graph below. Without any context on what the numbers mean which email is the best?


#1 sure looks like the clear cut winner with the highest open and click rates. #4 looks like the loser with an average open rate and a terrible click rate. Furthermore, using the industry average gauge makes it appear as if the entire campaign is slightly underperforming.

But when viewed through the KPI lens the data tells a very different story. The KPI for this campaign is people registering for events or training programs. Email #1 is an article email with a report download. While it’s a good sign that the audience is engaged, that particular email had no direct effect on the KPI. It is a support email to keep audience engagement to support KPI driven emails.

The true KPI driver is email #3 which was an invitation to an event that garnered progress toward KPI goals and direct revenue. Even though the click rate is much lower most of the people clicking will go on to register for an event or program. What about email #4 that looks so bad? Did you notice the emails sent are far fewer? This is a reminder email for registrants to a particular training session. While the performance looks poor there was almost no clickable links in the email, but again it was a critical support to KPI’s.

What about the entire campaign looking substandard? This training firm offers live customized events where most of their competitors have short on-demand online training. The industry standard is higher because the barrier to entry is typically much lower. This training firm is actually doing a great job with their open and click rates given the depth of their offering and the need for relationship development that the rest of the industry does not experience.

In this small subset exercise this seems obvious but your data can be much less clear when an entire ongoing digital marketing campaign is analyzed. This exact data but in a larger chart led to a question, “Why don’t we do email #1 all the time and stop wasting time on poor performers?”

The answer is because then the campaign would not support the KPI’s that were set. As you make adjustments to improve performance, make sure thatr those adjustments support your end goal, the KPIs.