At Ladder, we’ve built a business around conducting scalable, predictable, and repeatable growth marketing experiments to help our clients meet their goals.
But these experiments also help us optimize our own marketing and sales funnels.
For instance, during our annual team retreat this February, we held a company-wide hackathon and asked our strategists to create a marketing experiment that solves this problem for our sales team: how to increase the number of qualified leads who book intro calls with our sales team.
What makes a lead qualified?
When we had our old lead qualification system in place, our small sales team was inundated with both qualified and unqualified intro calls, causing them to waste time and energy that would be better spent closing deals.
Instead, we introduced intelligent automation to build a brand new lead qualification workflow.
In our automated lead qualification system, a visitor will input their business email on Ladder’s homepage, through an embedded contact form in one of our blog posts, or on the landing pages for the Ladder Planner or the Ladder Playbook.
After entering their email, the visitor will be automatically given a lead score of zero by our marketing automation platform. Then, to determine if the visitor is qualified or not, the workflow asks them these four questions:
- Which industry are they in? (0–3 points)
- What is their monthly revenue? (0–3 points)
- What is their marketing budget? (0–4 points)
- What are their growth goals? (no points)
After completing the workflow, the user is assigned a score out of a possible 10 points. If a lead gets a score of four or higher, we’ll ask them to click a link on the last page of the workflow, asking them to book a strategy call with our sales team.
If the prospect doesn’t click the link to book a call, we’ll send the first follow-up email in our automated email drip sequence through our CRM. This first email gives the prospect another chance to book a call with our sales team immediately.
If the prospect doesn’t book a call after the first email, we’ll continue to nurture them with relevant case studies and other content from our blog, all the while encouraging them to book a call.
If the lead receives a score of three or lower, we’ll redirect them to relevant content on our blog, and they’ll receive a separate email workflow that educates them about our services and fees.
The problem: how to increase the number of qualified leads who book intro calls
Although we’ve simplified our lead qualification system, our sales team still struggled with getting qualified leads to book an intro call.
During the third and fourth quarters of 2017, our sales team conducted several tests on our current email drip sequence, including personalized email copy based on their industry, showing screenshots of the planner, and realigning the sequence with our new “free audit” CTA.
However, these experiments didn’t produce the results we hoped for, and the percent of qualified leads who booked intro calls stagnated at 23%:
The solution for our lead qualification workflow
During our company-wide hackathon, our strategists offered some great test ideas on how to improve the conversion rate for booked intro calls, including email copy tests, and reducing the number of questions asked during our lead qualification system workflow.
The best experiment, however, turned out to be the simplest: instead of asking qualified leads to click a link to book a call at the very end of the workflow, we eliminated that extra step by embedding a calendar popup at the end instead. Our strategists hypothesized that if we embed a Calendly link within the workflow, then we’ll improve the user experience and increase our intro call booking rate by 10% in 8 weeks:
We began executing this test in March 2018, and saw our booked call conversion rate shot up to 65%+ for qualified leads within a week!
To get more accurate data, we kept this experiment running for another 8+ weeks, and compared our conversion rates from December 2017 – February 2018, before we embedded the Calendly link, to March – April 2018.
From December to February, our conversion rate for booked sales calls was 25%. From March to April, our conversion rate jumped to 37% — an incredible 48% increase!
Key takeaway: the scientific marketing method works
Embedding a Calendly link is not a “one size fits all” solution, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll improve your business’ intro call conversion rates.
The best way to find tactics that’ll improve your business’ sales or marketing conversion rates, without burning through your resources is to practice A/B testing while following the scientific marketing method.
The scientific marketing method is composed of six steps:
- Step 1. Collect data and information through observation. Ask yourself questions like what did you change recently? How can you segment data to show interesting or unexpected results? How is each marketing channel performing?
- Step 2. Create tentative descriptions of what is being observed. This is the time to define your OKRs: your objective (the one metric that matters), key results (measurable goals), and timeframe (how long you think it’ll take to achieve those key results).
- Step 3. Form a hypothesis that predicts different outcomes based on these observations. Write your hypotheses as an “If, Then” statement. The “If” should describe the variable you’ll add, remove, or modify in your experiment. “Then” should describe the predicted outcome of your test.
- Step 4. Test your hypotheses. Launch your test!
- Step 5. Analyze the data, drawing conclusions and insights from the results. Determine how close the results were to your hypothesis, and why you saw the results you did. Also, be on the lookout for any errors or outliers that may have affected your findings.
- Step 6. Optimize and repeat. Repeat this process until you’ve found a handful of tactics proven to show positive results for your business.
By following the scientific marketing method, you’ll be able to identify and optimize the biggest acquisition, conversion, and retention opportunities by collecting data from A/B tests that are scalable, predictable, and repeatable.
A/B tests allow you to make a small bet on a tactic you think will work without recklessly blowing through growth tactics or your marketing budget, and that you’re actively tracking and learning what works (and what doesn’t) for your business.
How long should I run these A/B tests for?
There is no right or wrong answer here, but you should be able to make a decision based on cascading significance. As Michael Taylor, Ladder’s COO, explains it:
Cascading Significance means starting with your gut decision, then building your confidence in the decision over time by actively gathering data. Done correctly, you’ll get all the benefits of being scientific and data-driven without sacrificing the speed of making gut decisions.
In other words, we could have run our intro call conversion rate test for another six months to determine statistical significance (i.e., how “trustworthy” the results of our test were), but after running this test for 8 weeks, we felt confident that embedding a calendar widget in that workflow was the right decision.
In sum, by following the scientific marketing method, you can find the most significant opportunities for growth from the tactics you prove will make the most impact on your business.
About the author
Malaika Nicholas is Ladder Digital’s Content Marketing Strategist and your new go-to source for tips and strategies about growth marketing, social media, demand generation strategies, and SEO! Got a question? Ask her on Twitter.