The Single Most Important Lead Generation KPI (And 4 More to Help Marketers Stay on Track)

The Single Most Important Lead Generation KPI (And 4 More to Help Marketers Stay on Track)

15 April 2021

If you’re looking to figure out which metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) will give you an actionable picture of your lead generation efforts, you can find plenty of articles suggesting dozens upon dozens of them.

But here’s the thing: Tracking dozens of lead generation KPIs is a game of rapidly diminishing returns. As marketers, it’s easy to overcomplicate marketing KPIs (and lead generation in particular) — in part because digital marketing offers us access to *so many* data points and metrics today.

And while plenty of articles stand at the ready to show you 36 different lead generation KPIs, there’s only *one* important metric that really matters: qualified lead volume.

In this article, we explain why lead volume is the ultimate lead generation KPI and share the only other metrics you need to fill in the details of your lead generation and marketing efforts.

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Qualified Lead Volume Is the Ultimate Lead Generation KPI

Marketers know that the end goal of every effort, including lead generation, is to ultimately drive more revenue. But there are a lot of factors (like time, sales teams, and more) littering the path from new lead to new customer — most of which don’t have any bearing on the efficacy of your initial lead generation.

So you can’t always draw a direct line from leads generated to revenue. Because of that, some marketers and salespeople swing too far in the other direction, focusing on vanity metrics such as:

  • Impressions and clicks

  • Outreach volume (calls, emails, etc.)

  • Bounce rate and session duration.

Those metrics (and others often hailed as top lead generation KPIs) don’t say much about the very thing they’re supposed to measure — lead generation. They don’t tell you how many leads you generate or whether those leads are actually qualified. They don’t even tell you how much those leads cost. Vanity lead generation metrics tell you about output and investment, not real, revenue-driving results.

Instead, we argue that lead generation should be measured using qualified lead volume as the top-down KPI — because growing the number of qualified leads that your efforts create is the most immediate result of effective lead generation as well as marketing strategy and tactics.

Measuring qualified lead volume gets to the heart of what lead generation efforts, by themselves, can contribute to that ultimate bottom line: revenue. If you’re bringing in more companies that stand up to a minimum level of lead qualification, then your lead generation efforts have the potential to impact revenue.

Pro-tip: To make things easier, use a platform like Databox to create a marketing reporting guide.

The Lead Qualification Piece

The lead qualification piece is important here. After all, you can always grow lead volume by lowering the bar for what qualifies as a lead. That’s lead volume growth — but it isn’t a great measure of how effective your efforts are.

So what exactly do we mean by qualified lead volume? Largely, that’s up to you, your team, and the other teams that you work with to determine.

You could measure marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales qualified leads (SQLs), or any other lead classification that makes sense for you business. Lead qualification can hinge, among other things, on factors such as:

  • Demonstrated level of intent

  • Industry

  • Annual revenue

  • Technographics (which tools or software the company uses).

The important thing is that you’re holding your lead volume numbers up against a set minimum for quality — and both sales and marketing are in agreement on what that minimum qualification entails. That’s what makes qualified lead volume a KPI worth growing.

(For more on how sales and marketing can work together to develop useful MQL criteria, you can read this article.)

How to Measure Lead Qualification with Leadfeeder

Adding in the qualification piece means you need access to more contextual information about the leads your efforts bring in. For B2B marketers and salespeople, that means keeping track of the accounts (and details about their companies) that your lead generation efforts and campaigns drive to your website. That’s where website traffic and visitor identification software (such as Leadfeeder) can come in handy.

  • Leadfeeder offers account-level info on who’s visiting your website

  • It showcases deeper company and behavioral data right inside the Leadfeeder app

  • Leadfeeder can show website activity data at the campaign level.

Lead generation kpis using leadfeeder

Note: Want to better understand the accounts and leads coming to your website? Sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14-days to see which companies visit, which channels and marketing campaigns they come from, the pages they look at, and more.

4 More Lead Generation and Marketing KPIs to Measure on Your Way to Qualified Lead Volume

So qualified lead volume is the ultimate lead generation KPI, but it’s always dicey to base your measure of success on just one metric. As we mentioned above, lead volume alone can’t tell you everything about the quality of leads or how much it costs to acquire them.

For that reason, you need a few more lead generation KPIs to add color and context to your efforts and ensure you’re growing lead volume in a repeatable, sustainable way. Monitoring these other KPIs can also help diagnose and fix any issues standing in the way of lead volume growth.

Here are the other four KPIs we recommend for measuring lead generation:

  • Lead quality

  • Lead conversion rate

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

  • Lead value.

Additional Lead Quality Metrics

As we mentioned above, a lot of factors affect whether or not a lead turns into a new customer — and when you’re in the business of generating leads, you aren’t in control of all of them. However, your lead generation efforts can affect how many leads ultimately convert. And that’s why we emphasized qualified lead volume as the ultimate lead generation KPI above. It’s also why we’re covering more about how to measure the quality of your leads.

You might be generating thousands of poor quality leads who never make it past the demo stage, for example. Or you might be sending only a few dozen leads over to sales, but they convert at 90%.

You don’t want to spend your time generating hundreds of leads that will never convert. That’s why lead quality is an invaluable KPI to add context to your lead volume numbers.

Lead quality can be measured in a variety of ways, including:

  • The ratio of leads to opportunities

  • The percentage of leads who become converted customers

  • Time to conversion

When you measure leads-to-opportunities, the higher the percentage of leads that move on to become opportunities, the higher quality you can assume the original leads are. Similarly, leads-to-customers tells you how many of your original leads go on to become converted customers. This is really the ultimate measure of lead quality.

Time to conversion can also help you judge how qualified your original leads were. While many factors can affect how long it takes a lead to convert, generally speaking, high quality leads are educated and ready to buy — so they close faster.

For example, if leads from content close, on average, a month sooner than leads from PPC, you can see that those content leads are likely more qualified and ready to buy.

Lead Conversion Rate

Whether you’re looking at a lead magnet, a blog post, a landing page, or something else entirely, conversion rate can help you better understand the lead generation potential of that asset or campaign (plus how much of that potential you’re currently reaching). It augments what lead volume can tell you.

For example, let’s say a particular blog post is generating an average of 20 leads per month. Regardless of what 20 leads generated means to your business, you, as the marketer, need to understand that number in the context of how many people actually landed on that blog post.

If 4,000 people saw the blog post and only 20 converted (a conversion rate of 0.5%), you might be able to make changes to the blog post that increase the conversion rate — and therefore, lead volume. On the flipside, if 100 people saw the post and 20 of them converted (20% conversion rate), that’s a high-performing blog post, and you want to take steps to drive more people to it.

Customer Acquisition Cost (and Cost Per Lead)

At the end of the day, every lead generation tactic and channel has one thing in common: They come at a cost. Whether it’s content production for lead magnets, PPC spend, or landing page copy, marketers are typically restricted by a set budget for their lead generation efforts.

If you spend that entire budget on generating 12 leads, it’s important to know whether that low volume is a result of budgetary restrictions or ineffective tactics or channels. That’s what key metrics like cost per lead (CPL) and customer acquisition cost (CAC) can add to the story of your lead generation operation.

For example, let’s say you have $1,000 to spend on paid social media ads, and by the time the campaign ends, you’ve generated 20 leads. Your CPL is $50. That number tells you a few important things:

  • If a conversion rate of 2% means Facebook Ads are your best performing channel for lead generation, you can invest more budget into those ads to grow lead volume.

  • You can also work to refine your Facebook Ads audience targeting, ad creative, and more to bring down your cost per acquisition — so you can grow the conversion rate and generate more leads with the same budget.

  • CPL and CAC also tell you whether or not you can afford to use a particular tactic to generate leads. If the average lead worth (more on that next!) is only $40 to your business, for example, then you can’t afford to spend $50 to acquire them.

Lead Value

Now, in order to contextualize what you can actually afford your CPA and CAC numbers to look like, you need to have an understanding of how much value each of those leads holds. There are several ways you can gauge lead value, but Brian O’Sullivan, our own Head of Growth Marketing, suggests these two:

  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

  • Customer lifetime value (LTV).

Both of these metrics can help you better understand how valuable the average lead is, and they both allow you to break that value out by channel, campaign, or anything else.

For example, you may find that leads who come through a particular lead magnet add more to your MRR and are more valuable over the customer lifetime. That’s an indicator that you can afford to spend more to acquire those leads and others like them — both at the individual marketing qualified lead (MQL) level and in terms of overall spend for promoting that lead magnet or creating similar marketing assets.

The Only Lead Generation KPIs Marketers Really Need

If you look around the internet, you can quickly put together a list of dozens upon dozens of marketing and lead generation KPIs to track — but "can" doesn’t, in this case, mean you should. Tracking too many data points on your marketing campaigns and lead generation efforts can needlessly muddy the waters and quickly move from insightful to paralyzing.

Instead, pay attention to the five most important lead generation KPIs we detailed above, and you’ll have all the information you need to actually take action and boost your lead generation efforts.

Leadfeeder for marketing

Leadfeeder for Marketing

Track site visitors, measure campaign success, and find more qualified leads.


Note: Looking for a better way to generate and measure leads? Sign up and try Leadfeeder free for 14 days to see the companies that visit your website, details about the company and their web visit, and more.

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