blog post | marketing

How to generate higher quality leads from your ads

Josh Muskin Team Photo
Josh MuskinHead of Sales & Marketing

We’ve all had points in our marketing career where we feel we’re hitting our stride. We’re pulling in a ton of leads and nailing our KPIs.

But then, the sales team or CEO bursts our bubble: “The leads we’ve been reeling in are junk.”

We’ve all been here, and it stings. But the important thing is finding a way out. In this post, we’ll teach you what to do when you encounter this classic marketing conundrum.

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We’ll discuss:

  • How to set up your lead funnel to optimize for lead quality
  • How to capitalize on the key differences between Google and Meta
  • 5 more tips to get leads your sales team and CEO will love

Lead quality basics

The most important thing is to tell Google and Facebook what’s working. You might think you’re doing that by sharing how many leads you got. But the problem is that the algorithms don’t know the quality of your leads.

Over time, you can teach Facebook and Google which leads become the best customers. According to Google, integrating the lead-to-sale journey drives 20% higher incremental value and 30% greater cost efficiency. And we’ve seen even bigger wins by:

  1. Doing the funnel math – Funnel math is shorthand for mapping out the customer journey.

Here’s an example straight from Google:

In this diagram, you see the lead progression to an MQL, to an SQL, to a closed won opportunity. Each stage has different conversion rates and time decays that help us brainstorm optimization strategies.

  1. Setting up the proper data piping – If you’re familiar with Google Ads, you know that each lead automatically gets assigned a Google Click ID (GCLID). And that ID carries through the entire lead-to-sale journey:

After someone submits a lead form, you want to pass their GCLID and information to your CRM and then back to Google. That way, Google knows which leads make it to the end of the sales cycle and find more lookalikes.

  1. Establishing IOQs – IOQ stands for Indicator of Quality. IOQs are pre- or post-click experiences that generate useful data signals.

For example, we had a client in the debt consolidation space. Their best leads had at least $10,000 in debt. So we purposely weaved that IOQ into their ad:

We only fired the conversion when users indicated they had over $10,000 in debt.

When you put these three steps together, your lead flow will look something like this:

The qualifying portion has moved to the beginning of the process, allowing us to optimize for very specific types of leads. Good leads fire the conversion. Bad leads don’t.

Need help with some of these basics? Check out our lead quality assessment.

Practical considerations for Google and Facebook

Google and Facebook are two very different platforms. Examining the nuances of each can help you refine your ad design and lead flow. Let’s start with Google.

Google has 5.6 billion searches per day. Now that’s a strong core metric — it reflects the overall volume potential of the platform. Google users execute searches, and Google ranks ads based on relevance. That means your ads must be extremely relevant to the searcher’s intent.

Meta, on the other hand, has 2.9 billion monthly active users. On that platform, you want to think about how to boost engagement. How long can you keep people on the platform? You want to stop the scroll and interrupt people with something interesting.

Another key difference between the two platforms is how their ads work. Google is bidding-based; you’re competing for a certain slot in search results. Meta is audience-based, meaning you’re trying to reach a certain segment. Google also tends to have higher CPMs and CPL than Meta. Keep these data points in mind as you launch and measure new ads’ success.

Lastly, Google has a longer attribution window — 30 days versus Meta’s 7 days. That’s a big limitation for Meta since conversions don’t tend to happen quickly.

What can we do to maximize the benefits of each platform?

  1. Use Performance Max in Google – Performance Max intelligently runs your campaigns across all channels according to criteria you set. It’s designed to drive the maximum possible volume.
  1. Use the broadest possible target with Meta – In the 2010s, it was all about being very granular with your target audiences. But if you’re looking to scale and optimize off of your conversion data, you want to use the broadest possible audience and let your creative do the work of catering to a specific audience.
  1. Establish tight integrations with your CRM – You want to ensure that IDs are passed back appropriately. Some CRMs like Salesforce have a native integration, which is ideal.
  1. Fire your Meta Pixels strategically – You want to fire your pixel when specific actions happen, both pre- and post-conversion. And you should be selective in how you’re firing that pixel (like we described above).
  1. Take advantage of Google’s 30+ events per month – As a general rule, aim for 60 events. The more conversion data you have, the better.
  1. Start with portfolio bidding on Google – Doing so helps you adjust your bid strategy across different campaign types. Eventually, you’ll hone in on what works for you.
  1. Test aggressively on Meta – Since we’re going with broad targeting, we need to ensure that the creative resonates with the right audience. Keep testing different creatives to determine what will get the click and the conversion from that qualified audience. Once you find the winner, scale it up.

5 “DIY” tips for lead quality

There are several more things you can do today to start improving the lead quality of your campaigns.

1. Do your funnel math

Map out the different stages of your funnel, and track the conversion rate for each step. Be sure to map the initial online conversion and the subsequent offline conversions.

The time lapses between each step matter for your optimization strategy too. Say you’re using Facebook ads. If the first step in your map takes two days and the second takes seven days, that’s outside the seven-day conversion window. Think about how to narrow that timeframe or adjust your measurement.

Even if you don’t go through the data-driven route, this exercise will still help you understand where your opportunities are in the funnel. For example, maybe you’re getting a lot of opportunities, but you’re not closing them. Perhaps that’s a sales issue you can address.

Need help implementing a data-driven ad strategy? Try our industry templates.

2. Add a qualified question

To get a sense of your IOQ, ask yourself two questions before creating your lead form:

  1. What is an instant disqualifier?
  2. What do our best customers have in common with each other?

Then, experiment with a multi-step experience. We find that they increase conversion rates. That sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes adding a little friction can be good. The more qualified prospects are willing to go through all the steps.

But that’s only if you make the questions super relevant to the prospect’s situation. So, if you’re selling windows, ask them, “What’s wrong with your windows?” We’ve had a lot of success with questions like that. It not only helps us identify the most common problems, it also shows some empathy toward customer needs

3. Take advantage of native integrations

Native integrations make passing IDs back and forth much easier. CRMs like Salesforce and Hubspot have native integrations built in. If your plan doesn’t come with the native integration, ask your rep about it, and they’ll upsell you. 🙂

4. Enable CAPI and enhanced conversions

Meta is getting around Apple’s opt-out tracking with conversions API (CAPI) and enhanced conversions. These features leverage your first-party conversion data to reduce CPAs while enhancing connectivity, event matching, and measurement.

The catch is that data is “hashed,” meaning you collect preferences and behavior but don’t tie it to leads’ PII. Google also has set up options for enhanced conversions, so be sure to set those up as well.

5. Track consistently

If you want to stay organized long-term, I recommend creating a “Goal Event Tracking Matrix.” In a spreadsheet, list your goals, how you’re capturing leads, actions users are taking, and corresponding post-conversion events.

Using the same terminology for events and conversions across all platforms makes monitoring your progress easier. This is especially true if you’re using a central source of truth. If you’re using Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics, you can ensure you’re passing the same information across all platforms and are comparing apples to apples.

Take your lead quality to the next level

Implementing this process is easier said than done, but telling Google and Facebook what’s important can significantly lift your performance. One of our B2B software clients saw virtually overnight improvements to their MQL rate. And you can achieve that, too.

If you like this advice and could use more digital marketing tips, sign up for our next Growth Clinic. We host them every Wednesday at noon ET. And if you can’t make them live, you can always subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the recording.

For more personalized ad optimization advice, book a call with our team. We’re eager to help!

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