If we just published average lead conversion rates, we would gloss over a lot of important detail. For example, 90 and 10 average out to 50…but what does that really tell you?
So instead, we go company by company (often with added context) and bring you the type of info you could normally get from your peers over a drink at a conference or industry mixer. But alas, these are not normal times. So until we can gather again, MarketingSherpa asked so you don’t have to.
Read on for data from the life insurance, consulting/professional services, financial, media, eyewear, food, software, local business lead gen, ecommerce, travel, real estate, and legal industries.
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
First, you need to generate the leads. And if you want to spark some ideas for improving your demand generation campaigns, get this free download from MarketingSherpa’s parent organization, MECLABS Institute – Research-based Lead Gen Swipe File: 22 valid marketing experiments to give you ideas for your next A/B test.
But leads aren’t the end goal for any company.
What should your conversion rate be from lead to customer? From marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to customer?
There is not a single all-encompassing answer to this question, of course. There are so many factors at play. If only you could get a peek behind the curtain at other marketing departments to get a sense of what your peers are experiencing.
To get that inside look, simply scroll down. More than one average lead conversion rate that every marketer then feels pressured to meet or beat, we go company by company to show you how diverse these conversion rates are – an important fact that would be overlooked by just considering one average number.
Company: Heart Life Insurance
Marketer: Jimmy McMillan, Owner
Industry: Life insurance
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Lead to customer conversion rate is 9% overall, and it's a mix of higher-converting organic traffic (27%) and lower-converting PPC ads (7%). Our organic traffic is basically a form of self-selected marketing-qualified lead, because these potential clients seek us out for our expertise.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: For the PPC ads, once we qualify them, our top priority leads out of this group close at 15.5%
Change over past year: These numbers have changed just a little bit over the year, though I don't think it had anything to do with Covid-19. We saw a higher proportion of PPC leads come in because more people were spending more time on social media where we advertise. PPC conversion year over year went down, from 9% to 7%. Organic traffic conversion stayed the same.
Advice for other marketers: My advice to marketers would be to have a variety of lead sources and to constantly test new sources. Conversion rates among lead sources are always changing, and if you don't have a steady program for testing and developing new sources your top-line sales will suffer.
Company: Funeral Funds
Marketer: Randy VanderVaate, President and Owner
Industry: We are in the life insurance industry.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our company's raw-lead-to-customer conversion rate is five to 10 percent. Raw leads are leads that come from our Facebook advertising. They are the people who show an interest in our company. Some have given their full information and some just their names.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our marketing-qualified-lead-to-customer conversion rate is ten to fifteen percent. Our marketing-qualified leads are the people who supplied their full information on the quote box.
Change over past year: We have seen a significant increase in our lead conversion rate this year, during the pandemic. Most of the people who come to us have higher buying intent. They already realized the importance of life insurance to protect them, especially during this pandemic.
Advice for other marketers: Pre-qualify leads before you work on your sales presentation. Make sure they have complete information and are most likely to convert. Working on qualified leads will save you time and make you more productive.
Company: Budgets Made Easy
Marketer: Ashley Patrick, Founder and CEO
Industry: Personal finance, specifically budgeting, saving money, and paying off debt.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: My company's lead-to-customer rate is roughly 19%.
Change over past year: My rate has increased in the past year because I have increased my on-page conversion rate by improving the lead and sale pages as well as improving my sales funnels.
Advice for other marketers: My advice for others is to know your numbers and always test things to improve your conversion rates. I was able to increase sales on my pages by 2% just by changing the button color. If I didn't test it and watch the numbers I would not know that.
Marketer: Lily Ugbaja, Founder
Industry: I am a blogger, lifestyle expert and entrepreneur. I run a profitable online blog. I am in the media industry.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: My company's lead-to-customer conversion rate is 5.2%.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: The MQL is 19%.
Change over past year: The rate dropped due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Advice for other marketers: My advice for other marketers is
1. Integrate your CRM with a marketing automation platform to send personalized messages to prospects instead of a one-size-fits-all.
2. Set up a superb landing page and optimize your Calls to Action (CTAs) for better lead conversion.
Also, don't forget to set up lead scoring (using points) to identify and qualify top leads.
Company: Colored Contacts
Marketer: Gary Zhou, Founder
Industry: Eyewear. A small business that sells a variety of colored contact lenses.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: 3.1%
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: 12.4%
Change over past year: They have gone up as we have improved our website and copywriting. Fortunately, our company has not really been meaningfully hurt by the pandemic.
Advice for other marketers: Test, test, and test some more. Without testing, and the subsequent analysis of your testing, there is no way you can improve your conversion rates.
Company: Wagyu Beef
Marketer: Hayato Yoshida, Cofounder
Industry: We are in the food industry
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our lead-to-customer conversion rate is 2.2%
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our MQL-to-customer conversion rate is 9.7% (though this will depend on precisely what counts as a MQL).
Change over past year: These numbers have increased over the past year, likely because we have made continual efforts to analyze and improve our conversion rate by optimizing various parts of our website.
Advice for other marketers: My advice for other marketers is to examine every single aspect of your website with a very critical eye. Sometimes even seemingly minor changes can have a major impact on your conversion rates.
Company: Loftera Limited
Marketer: Aiko Houghton, Marketing and Community Manager
Industry: Local business lead gen
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: For every 100 leads that we generate online we convert five of them into paying customers. Majority of them come through organic traffic and they come through keywords with a high commercial intent. Five percent is a great conversion for us, considering the average cost of a job [is approximately] $44,000 for an attic conversion.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our marketing-qualified leads convert at 7.2%. These people often submit their information with a lot of details through the contact form or call us multiple times throughout the process. We've been able to increase this figure by [using] a more personal about page as well as a visible lead gen form on our website.
Change over past year: 2020 has been a great year for our business. There was an increase of people looking to convert their attics or build house extensions to accommodate for the extra space they might need for their home office. Also, we've redesigned our website and sprinkled contact forms and “get quote” buttons all over it which has increased our average conversion rate by 23% – which is a big deal for our company.
Advice for other marketers: My number one [piece of] advice is to track your numbers and test your landing pages. Knowing your current numbers will allow you to measure any improvements once you've implemented some tweaks to your landing pages. I would also recommend tweaking one thing at a time so that you can know exactly what had an impact. Changing a lot of web elements at the same time could lead to improved results but you will struggle to attribute them to a particular change and implement them across the site. If you're on Wordpress, I personally recommend Split Hero to do your A/B testing – it's super easy to set up.
Company: Top Generator
Marketer: James Chong
Industry: Ecommerce – Machinery. A small business that sells inverter, portable, and whole house generators.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: It is 1.8%.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: It is 6.3%.
Change over past year: Both of these numbers have decreased for us this past year. Our lead-to-customer conversion rate has likely dropped because we have increased the amount of unqualified traffic we get, so even though our sales have gone up, our conversion rate has gone down. Our MQL-to-customer conversion rate has also dropped, I suspect partly because of the pandemic.
Advice for other marketers: You can't just look at a single number. Sometimes a decrease in conversion rate can be a good thing if you're getting more sales overall. It really depends on exactly where your traffic is coming from and the cost of that traffic.
Company: Costa Rican Vacations
Marketer: Richard Bexon, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Owner
Industry: We are in the online travel business, finding customers online via SEO and paid marketing. Prior to Covid we were spending over $2 million a year with Google and Facebook. We are Costa Rica's largest luxury online travel company and our profitability is 100% based on the efficiency that we can garner from this.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our lead-to-customer conversion rate prior to Covid was 10%. Post-Covid has been as low as 2% but in the past three months has been 7%.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our MQL prior to Covid was over 20%, however, we always had to balance quality and quantity. Sales wanted only highly qualified leads, however, we did not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so made sure we had a balance between qualified-enough leads getting to sales. Currently, our MQL conversion to sale is 12.5% and has been stable for the past two months, however, we are expecting this to get closer to 15% over the next few months.
Change over past year: It's been thrown upside down, down the stairs, in the washing machine and then spun around blindfolded 100 times. Basically, it's been all over the map, very much like customer sentiment. With the ever-changing political and economic climate over the past nine months, the only thing that has been stable is the instability. 12.5% [MQL conversion to sale] as explained above.
Advice for other marketers: Always look at the overall leads-to-sale conversion rate. This way nothing gets hidden. You are looking at the input – leads – and the output – sales. You can experiment with the MQL process, but ultimately if it doesn't change the output positively, then it didn't work.
Company: The House Guys
Marketer: Andrew Kolodgie, Owner
Industry: Real Estate Agent, Home Buyer
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: All of our leads are sourced through organic search and typically come in with high intent. Our leads are sales qualified quickly (typically within 48 hours). The conversion process then typically takes between two to four days with occasional outliers taking as long as two weeks. The conversion rate is roughly 11% for our primary method. For the 82% of those that did not convert, a secondary sales method is chosen by 9%. A total 19% conversion.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Interestingly, there is a large split on conversion based on the amount of information the lead has provided during the initial marketing intake. If only email and property were provided, then 24%. If a phone number was provided along with an email and property, the rate increases to 47%. Average conversion of 32%.
Change over past year: For us, the total sales volume has decreased as listing on the market has become easier and faster with the substantial inflation in house prices. Frankly, it’s difficult for us to compete during the strong upswing we’re seeing now. We’re expecting a significant increase in volume towards 2021 as the foreclosure moratorium unfolds.
Advice for other marketers: For marketers in the real estate industry, my advice is to focus on only the highest-quality leads. You can waste a lot of time with low-quality leads. I would also focus on setting yourself apart and becoming the authority within your space. Further, clients today are looking for someone who understands real estate and isn’t trying to pitch them. Cultivating rapport has never been more important.
Company: The Hive Law
Marketer: Melissa Breyer, Owner
Industry: We operate a family law firm that specializes in divorces and wills.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: We focus on SEO and Google Ads. Our conversion rates have historically been such that we close one out of every 13 leads.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: For the leads that come from our targeted campaigns, we have historically converted one out of every nine leads.
Change over past year: Our content that we created last year for SEO started ranking this year. This made our top-of-funnel traffic increase. While we got more leads this year from SEO, our conversions dropped because the traffic was less targeted than previous years. Over the past year, we have been converting one out of every 18 leads.
Advice for other marketers:
Build Marketing Assets
When most people start a business, they start with hamster wheel marketing. Hamster wheel marketing is Facebook Ads, cold calls, and direct mail. These are great for generating income in the short term. However, most new businesses never build evergreen content that will generate income in the long term. Evergreen content is things like YouTube videos and SEO. Building this content takes years to develop but, over time, it can create a steady stream of income. Plus, building a presence on these platforms develops credibility for your business as more and more people research the companies that they are considering doing business with.
Credibility with Video Content
When someone is looking for a business to work with, you have to ask yourself what makes you stand out from your competition in the market that provides the exact same services. The easiest aspect to tackle is your credibility and authority within your market. To build this out, you want to create video content for YouTube that you can embed into your website. This video content should include you attending and talking about local events, the local market, client testimonials, and how working with you helped them achieve their personal goals. This provides potential clients with all of the credibility that they need to convince them that you are the expert they are looking for.
Company: JJ Studio
Marketer: Julia Lemberskiy & Janeesa Hollingshead, Co-founders & Co-CEOs
Industry: Our company provides consulting services to startups in areas such as marketing, operations and launch/expansion.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: For H2 2020 we’re at ~40%
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: For H2 2020 we’re at ~60%
Change over past year: We launched our company earlier this year. For the first handful of leads, conversion rate was 100% as these were high-intent inbounds from our personal network. Once we started actively prospecting our conversion rate dropped significantly to ~20%. Once we started being more targeted in our approach and investing a lot of time and effort into follow-up our conversion rate climbed rapidly again.
Advice for other marketers: Personalized, regular follow-ups have been the most powerful conversion rate optimization technique for us so far. We targeted to follow up with every potential client at least once every two weeks and with each follow-up we provide value – for example an article we saw that the client would find interesting, or an idea we had for their business.
Company: Green Flag Digital
Marketer: Joe Robison, Founder, Consultant
Industry: Marketing & Advertising Services
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: 11.25%
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: 18.5%
Change over past year: Overall these numbers have declined slightly over the past year, about 20% worse than the previous period.
Advice for other marketers: Always look at paired metrics rather than metrics in a silo. So in the case of looking at the lead-to-customer conversion rate, rather than looking at that alone, I'd recommend also looking at lead volume and customer volume. This way if you generate higher lead volume, but see a lower conversion rate, you get a better context and can decide if you should invest time in increasing conversion rates or increasing lead volume. Of course, the end result of number of customers is the ultimate goal, so use that to make your decisions.
Company: 1st on the List Promotion Inc.
Marketer: Chris Genge, President
Industry: Our company is in the digital marketing industry with a specialization in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Our companies lead-to-customer conversion rate is 27%.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: I am not sure we have data to fully answer this question.
Our company wins 51% of the proposals that we write and present to our clients. Each lead undergoes several qualification checks prior to our team developing a proposal and campaign strategy. In other words, not all of our leads will pass our internal qualification process and as a result they will not receive a proposal.
Change over past year: Our sales and qualification process has tightened over the last year and as a result, our lead-to-customer rate has decreased from 33.5% in 2019 to 27% in 2020.
Advice for other marketers: A great tip for all marketers is to remember that not all customers/clients are created equal. Not all potential clients are someone you want to do business with unless they are a good fit for what you offer. Fine-tuning your marketing funnel is just as important as filtering out the leads to find the cream-of-the-crop clients and projects to work on.
Marketer: Marc Bromhall, Co-founder
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: 0.35%
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: 9%
Advice for other marketers: Read, learn, test, measure, iterate. Rinse and repeat.
Marketer: Dmitri Lisitski, CEO and co-founder
Industry: B2B marketing and advertising software
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Influ2's lead-to-customer conversion rate is 15% for sales-qualified leads and 1.7% for marketing-qualified leads.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: As mentioned above, it's 1.7%.
Change over past year: Influ2's customer conversion hasn't changed this past year, and it's been a very efficient customer conversion model. We've grown 251% this past year.
Advice for other marketers: That it is absolutely necessary to be open to exploring new technologies because early adopters are always the future industry stars. Also, it's important to invest your time into learning ways to boost both your performance and professional growth. Be open to explore new technologies. Read the Martech and Adtech trades, meet with those you admire and keep your mind open to ways you can improve and evolve.
Marketer: Devin Pickell, Growth Marketer
Industry: A cloud communication SaaS company in the U.S. with more than 100,000 customers and over $200 million in Annual Revenue.
MQL-to-Customer Conversion Rate: Marketing-Qualified Lead to Sales Proposal: Conversion Rate = 20%
Sales Proposal to New Customer: Conversion Rate = 50%
(numbers are for October 2020)
Advice for other marketers: You're probably wondering how our conversion rates are higher than your average SaaS company.
I'd say there are a few reasons:
Nextiva plays in one of the hottest and most competitive industries: Voice Over IP (VoIP) and Unified Communications (UCaaS) industry, which has seen massive growth since April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Basically, we offer a cloud phone system with superpowers – voice, video, collaboration, CRM and analytics – made for businesses of all sizes.
As remote work took off, so did our traffic and lead volume. Some keywords in our industry have grown by 300% in demand since March. An example of this would be, “remote office phone system.”
We're a fully inbound, marketing-led machine. To be explicit, we are 100% inbound. Our demand gen team touches every part of the business – design, sales, product, partnerships, everything. Not being roadblocked gives us full control to build content and run experiments as we like.
This is a highly price-sensitive industry. As such, the bulk of our leads come from our pricing page. When we run analyses on both the pricing page and our landing pages, we see tons of clicks to our pricing page in the header. This tells us people landing on our site already have an idea of what they want.
My advice to other demand gen marketers looking to increase their rates – know your customer funnel intimately. Focus on creating the highest-possible-quality content and aim to educate your buyers. Avoid doing marketing activities purely for the sake of “generating leads” and instead, become a helpful aid in assisting your buyers to learn about what they need in order to make a decision. Don’t obsess over tracking every little thing. Focus on one to two North Star metrics that matter and get sh*t done.
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