Understanding your STEM lead funnel and measuring your cost per lead

You can’t win in marketing — or in business — without accurate intel on how your campaigns perform. Measure your cost per lead to make the most of your STEM marketing budget in pursuit of top-line growth.

Capturing customers’ attention and progressing prospects is no easy feat. Whether you work for a large multinational organization or a small biotech startup with limited resources (or anything in between!), a lot of planning goes into your marketing spend and how much you expect to gain from upcoming campaigns.

Considering cost per lead (CPL) is an integral part of this forecasting: CPL is the most straightforward representation of your marketing efforts’ return on investment (ROI).

Consider lead cycle and lead definition

A key aspect to evaluate is cycle length — particularly in STEM. Due to the sector’s longer, often more-complex buying cycles, marketing a particular product or behavior change with scientists is not going to drive mass adoption within a week, or even a month. It’s not like with Amazon, where you might log-in with a specific, likely low-value, product in mind. Great marketing in STEM is more strategic than that. And, depending on how qualified the lead is, your CPL can be somewhat higher. For example, if a lead-gen form field asks qualifying questions, your lead volume might be reduced, but your lead quality will likely be higher.

Further, it’s also important to define a ‘lead.’ Fresh marketing leads should not be considered sales leads — they need qualifying, which takes time and nurturing, both of which push up the cost of your final sales-qualified ‘lead’. Marketers know that running a campaign brings in some irrelevant contacts, so calculating your final CPL means sifting through these false sign-ups to provide a final picture of how many quality leads you’ve generated and how much it has cost.

Performance analysis is the step most often sacrificed to get quick results — particularly if teams are small or working on a reduced budget. If you want to ensure your campaigns unlock business profit, however, you can’t afford not to measure how they perform. Why?

Learn from the data to optimize channels

Knowing your cost per lead helps you make better-informed decisions about your marketing strategy — and this includes evaluating different channels. By identifying which perform best, you can determine where to allocate spend. For smaller campaigns, in particular, it’s not uncommon to spread out the risk by using multiple channels to get in front of your audience wherever they are. However, consider adopting a flexible approach by constantly learning from the data. If, say, your social campaign’s CPL is too high — perhaps it’s not working out because the audience isn’t receptive in a certain channel — you’ll know to focus elsewhere.

Investing in the right channels is crucial. If AdWords aren’t yielding results, for instance, it could be worth swapping out — or dropping altogether — expensive, high-bid phrases where you aren’t competing anyway. Perhaps shift the budget to targeted email blasts, such as Sponsored Emails, to get into people’s inboxes directly, or target them via contextually relevant display advertising to catch their eye.

At ResearchGate, we know that capturing your audience’s attention at the right time is half the battle. The reason that our platform’s ad performance exceeds expectations is because our audience is in the right frame of mind to receive scientific marketing messages — they come to ResearchGate with high intent to discover scientific research.

Show off your success

Establishing the cost-effectiveness of marketing campaigns is a great opportunity to show off the work that you and your team have done. Cost per lead is a chief insight that can power this analysis. Whether you run analysis in-house or with a partner, it should be central to any STEM marketing strategy. Measuring your cost per lead will tell you instantly how much it’s costing the business to secure each lead. If your costs are too high, there is a risk that the marketing process is unsustainable. If it is somewhat lower, you’re doing something right — but you then need to delve into whether these leads are converting. In the end, a lot of poor-quality leads for a low price isn’t a win if they don’t result in long-term conversion.

Marketers understand that agility is critical to success. There will always be new responsibilities and up-and-coming channels fighting for your attention. But keep your focus on the functions that will have the biggest impact on your marketing strategy — which means continually measuring performance, including cost per lead.
Are you a digital marketer looking to connect with scientists and researchers? Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you achieve your business goals by reaching and activating your target audience online.