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Cyber Security Benchmarks: Are You Paying Too Much For Your MQLs?

August 12, 2020

Demand for cyber security solutions keeps growing, but the number of cyber security companies is continually increasing, creating a highly competitive market. Google Trends shows that interest in ‘cyber security’ has risen fourfold since 2014:


Source: Google Trends

Part 1: The Why, What, and Why

When it comes to marketing, cyber security companies face an uphill climb to stand out. In Amit Lavi’s words, CEO of Marketing Envy, “every Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) secured is a gem.” 

It’s not surprising that we receive repeated questions from cyber security marketers who are troubled by exactly this challenge. Struggling with restricted budgets and a combative marketing arena, cyber security marketing professionals and CMOs seek guidance in order to win their battles. They need to know which KPIs to track, how much they should be spending, and the marketing benchmarks against which to assess their success and calculate when it’s necessary to adjust their campaigns.

So we made it our mission to get marketers the answers to their burning questions. In order to produce a reliable report that is both broad and deep, we gathered metrics from over 1,200 Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads campaigns that Marketing Envy ran on behalf of cyber security startups and tech companies targeting markets in North America and Europe. We hope to have hit the mark and would love your feedback. 

Check out our ultimate guide to cyber security marketing here

Part 2: Value of PPC/Paid Campaigns for Cyber Security 

PPC campaigns enable you to focus on your most valuable target audience, one with an immense potential lifetime value that makes it worthwhile to buy leads with paid campaigns.

Paid campaigns enable you to start small, and then scale up rapidly to make the most of your budget. What’s more, PPC campaigns provide immediate brand exposure, complementing your inbound marketing efforts and speeding up ABM and ROI. Paid campaigns can amplify your other PR activities, as long as you implement them as part of a broader content marketing strategy that is carefully targeted to the right audience with the right keywords.

Read: How to Choose An Agency for Your PPC Campaigns?

Part 3: Which KPIs to Track on Google Ads and LinkedIn

It can be expensive to run Google Ads campaigns, since there’s huge competition for the same keywords. For example, “cyber security providers” and “cyber security services” are keywords with a high search volume, high CPC, and high costs. But when you master the medium, you can generate high-quality leads while keeping CPC low. 

As Amit points out: “Google becomes a cheaper channel the further down the funnel you go.” This means that when you use advanced customer segmentation to focus Google Ads campaigns at bottom of funnel leads, you’ll pay less than if you use LinkedIn. 

The main KPIs to follow are:

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your CTR is likely to be relatively low. That’s because you want every click to be highly relevant, rather than attracting a large number of click-throughs that aren’t likely to convert. However, LinkedIn is sensitive to low CTR, so you’ll need to adjust your ads if it drops too low. 

Cost Per Click (CPC)

This is a crucial KPI to track. It reveals how much you’re paying for every possible lead. You’ll pay more to attract CISOs than for junior personnel, and also pay more for bottom of funnel keywords that indicate a higher intent to buy. 

Conversion Rate (CR)

The conversion rate is the percentage of leads who complete on your campaign offer, such as requesting a demo or downloading an eBook. You’ll see a lower CR on offers that indicate a higher intent to buy. 

Cost Per Lead (CPL) and Cost Per Marketing Qualified Lead (CPMQL)

CPL refers to the cost of bringing in any lead. A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is someone who takes an action that shows interest in your product. For example, downloading a whitepaper or reading a longform blog post. CPMQL is a more important metric because it shows how much it costs to get a lead who is genuinely interested in your product, rather than someone with no intention of becoming a customer. 

“CPL is considered the holy grail of all metrics,” says Amit. “But it shouldn't be. Why? Because it is really easy to bring cheap leads that are actually irrelevant and will never convert.”

Part 4: How You Know You’re on Track

It’s difficult to be sure if your cyber security marketing efforts are succeeding, which is why you need marketing benchmarks. For example, don’t be disheartened by a low CTR for Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads. A CTR of 2.2% for Google Ads campaigns is remarkably good, while for Linkedin Ads, 1% is considered a high rate. 

Additionally, the CR for Google Ads can vary hugely. Our data revealed that the average low benchmark is 0.5%, and the average high is 10%, but that still depends on the type of offer and the season. 

Amit advises, “We recommend optimizing based on conversion to MQL or SQL or Opportunity, as opposed to the primary CR to lead.”

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About the Author

Billy Cina

I've been around the B2B tech and start up marketing scene long enough to claim veteran status. Nostalgia aside, I've become pretty good at what I do, which is why in 2014 I Co-founded Israel's leading tech marketing agency, Marketing Envy.

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