Archive for September, 2010

Is online lead generation right for your brand?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The following article was created for econsultancy.com to read the original click here

An increasing number of brands are starting to take Online Lead Generation (OLG) seriously and making it a central part of their online customer acquisition strategy and it’s not hard to see why.

If you sell widgets and you can capture leads where the consumers are all interested in buying widgets then you can put a process in place to turn those interested customers into sales and therefore revenue. Simple right?

For many brands it is pretty simple but before you decide to allocate thousands of pounds to a lead gen campaign it pays to take a step back and ask yourself a few questions to work out whether OLG is right for your brand.

What’s your product?

Products that are fairly generic where the consumer typically searches for the product or service rather than a specific brand are generally better for OLG campaigns.

For example, financial services products such as insurance, mortgages etc. are perfect lead generation products as the consumer is often in comparison mode and is looking for the best deal rather than the brand that provides it.

If the product can be purchased purely online then it can be much harder to generate leads as there is much less reason for a consumer to submit their information without an additional strong incentive, which in turn will have an effect on lead quality. For example, for products like TVs and other consumer electronics, consumers can research, compare and purchase online without any need for further contact from the brand.

How will you follow up the leads?

If you are looking to OLG to provide interested consumers to fuel an outbound call centre then again this will only work if the product or service you sell typically requires that the consumer has to come offline to speak to somebody before making a purchasing decision.

Again this type of execution works perfectly for financial services lead generation as there is a natural incentive for a consumer to submit their details as they will need to speak to somebody to discuss an often complex product. However, for campaigns designed to build a prospect database for further remarketing (typically via email) then there is a much broader scope to use lead generation to capture interested consumers.

Who and where are your customers?

As a lead is further down the marketing funnel than other forms of marketing (i.e. the consumer has to submit their details compared to just clicking on an ad) then the more niche your product and the smaller your customer base the harder it is to generate leads.

For every 100 consumers that hit a landing page only a small percentage will submit their information and only a percentage of these will get through a lead providers validation rules leaving potentially only a handful of leads.

This means you need a large number of potential consumers to generate quality leads in any volume. For example, car insurance leads are fairly easy to generate as every consumer with a car needs car insurance and there are millions of consumers searching online for car insurance.

Leads can be generated for more niche products but it often depends on whether these customers can be targeted easily. For example there might be a few websites that are frequented by your exact target customer so if you can run lead gen campaigns on these sites then there are still opportunities to generate leads.

What is the value of a sale?

Ultimately the measure of success for any OLG campaign is ROI and very simply, the higher the revenue potential from a converted customer the more opportunities there are for lead generation.

If you generate 10,000 leads from a campaign and you only require 100 leads to convert into a sale to make the campaign a success then you are far more likely to have a successful campaign than if you need 500 leads to convert into business.

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The future of online lead generation

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Below is a recent article published in iMedia connection. To read the original click here

What does the future hold for online lead generation in the UK? The market is growing and evolving at breakneck speed with new developments occurring on an almost monthly basis. The following are a few of the central trends.

The upcoming publication of the IAB's Online Lead Generation Buyers Guide is a watershed moment for the fledgling UK online lead generation industry and will give advertisers a handy reference guide to help get their lead generation campaigns off the ground. The guide covers everything a prospective lead buyer needs to know right now, but what does the future hold for online lead generation in the UK? The market is growing and evolving at breakneck speed with new developments occurring on an almost monthly basis. The following are a few of the central trends.
 
The Americans are coming
 

They invented it, they perfected it and they even have LeadsCon, an annual conference in Las Vegas dedicated it, but up until now American involvement in the UK online lead generation industry has been limited. In many verticals, they have been more casual observers rather than major players. But over the last year or so, there has been an increasing interest from the American lead companies in bringing their knowledge and experience over to the UK market and showing us a few tricks. From increasingly sophisticated methods that generate leads from social media sites to the use of online video to increase form conversions, expect to see more of these sorts of developments make their way across the Atlantic along with a few of the companies that perfected them.
 
The platform play
 

You buy leads, you supply leads but how do you manage multiple campaigns across multiple verticals simultaneously? Easy — you need an online lead generation platform. Whether you are a lead buyer, a lead seller or an agency, the increasing need for transparency, efficiency and tracking are making the lead generation platform an increasingly attractive proposition. From digital insertion orders, real-time reporting or just the ability to manage multiple suppliers and buyers in one place, a platform can add real value to all the stakeholders in the lead generation value chain. A platform can not only make the lead generation process more efficient it can also deliver potentially large cost savings. Imagine a life insurance company buying 1,000 leads per week for £40 per lead from 20 suppliers. With these volumes there will always be an element of duplication as consumers fill in multiple forms online. Most advertisers end up paying for everything, which means paying for the same lead more than once. Even with a duplication rate as low as 5 per cent that's still over £2,000 wasted per week, which is over £100,000 per year. Loading these 20 suppliers into a platform that can de-dupe in real-time can be very cost effective so it's no wonder that many advertisers see these types of platforms as the future of online lead generation.
 
If you thought data leads were good…
 

For high value verticals like financial services, many advertisers buy leads to put into a call centre to try to convert into a sale over the phone. Even if you work with the best suppliers in the world with the best technology, there will always be some degree of wastage — perhaps the consumer just doesn't pick up the phone or they didn't read clearly enough that somebody would call them if they submitted their details so were just looking for an online quote. Either way, it can cost a significant sum to process these types of leads. For many of these high value lead products there is an increasing demand to buy voice leads as well as or instead of data leads where you pay a premium but have a guaranteed contact. Up until now, this market has been filled by call centres cold calling old data and then hot-keying interested consumers through to the advertiser's own call centre. The downside is that often the consumers are pushed through without really having much interest in the product and the end results are more contacts but also more wastage. And finally, the next big thing in terms of voice leads is where the consumer is initiating the contact — i.e., they are responding to marketing and instead of filling in a form to be contacted, they are dialling a number and these calls are routed to the relevant advertisers and each valid call is paid for on a cost per call basis. Again, this is big business in the US — expect to see this execution making waves on this side of the pond over the coming months.

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There’s no such thing as lead quality

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The following article was written for iMedia connection to view the original article click here

Can it be true that there is no such thing as lead quality? Justin Rees from lead generation company LeadPoint surprisingly argues that there isn’t.

Companies involved in the supplying and buying of leads will often talk about lead quality as if it is the equivalent to a field on a data capture form, like a telephone number or an email address. But really there is no such thing as lead quality – leads either work or don’t. If they do then they could be described as “high quality” and if not they could be described as “low quality”. There are quality components to be aware of along the way that increase the likelihood of success for a lead generation campaign but the only real way to definitively assess lead quality is to ask the most important question: will this campaign make any money?

The outcome of a lead generation campaign is more often than not determined by what the advertiser does with the leads and frequently has nothing to do with the leads themselves. If you give two different advertisers the same leads, they will usually have very different experiences. So if advertiser A does very well from the leads and advertiser B doesn’t, could you really draw any conclusions about lead quality? Probably not. The point is that leads don’t turn themselves into business so “lead quality” is as much a function of how the leads are processed as the lead data itself.

The process, as well as the competence of the processor, is also a big factor in determining the outcome of a lead generation campaign. If an advertiser is buying leads to be fulfilled by post (for example, free mobile phone sim cards or similar), then it is important that postal addresses are as accurate as possible. If the lead supplier doesn’t validate post code fields on the data captured then the campaign will probably not work well as it’s effectively paying for leads that are never going to generate any income. But, if the same data capture form also collects telephone numbers and leads are sent into a call centre to be fulfilled where the value of a conversion is high then the exact same leads might generate a very healthy ROI. It is not hard to imagine something like the above scenario where from the same data set one advertiser would say the leads are low quality and the others would say they are high quality. In this case, you can’t even categorically say that accuracy of the data in each field has anything to do with lead quality.

What the above illustrates is lead quality is only something to be aware of in the lifecycle of a campaign rather than it being some kind of end goal as a lead buyer. There are certain quality components that will impact upon the ultimate campaign ROI to a greater or lesser extent. Some are universal and others are specific to a particular campaign. For example, “contactability” of a lead (ie. the propensity for a lead to be contacted) is fairly universal but the exact form that this takes (for example, post code vs. telephone number) is much more subjective.

So if you are an advertiser considering using lead generation, what can you do to maximise your chances of success? In addition to what has already been discussed there are a few other things to be aware of.

Ask more questions, not less

As a general rule, the more fields on a data capture form that you put in front of the consumer, the more “qualified” or engaged the consumer is and the more likely on a lead-for-lead basis that the lead will convert into business. What this means is that every extra field added to the form, causes more consumers to not submit their details. The theory is that these are the less “interested” consumers and those that go all the way through are signalling a greater purchasing intent. In addition, the more data captured, the more filters you can put in place to get closer to your ideal customer. As it is important to remember that it costs more to generate leads the more consumers “drop off” the form. This is especially the case if the leads are generated from Google where each click can be very expensive. There is always a fine line between collecting enough information to qualify the lead and collecting too much to make the lead cost prohibitively expensive.

What’s in it for me?

The incentive for the consumer to submit their details online will also play a big part into likelihood that leads will convert into business. For example, leads generated from competition sites are much less likely to generate business than leads generated from Google with no extra incentive apart from the fact that a consumer can speak to somebody about the product or service they are researching. However, this is a generalisation. There are plenty of examples of very good competitions sites where appropriately priced leads can work very well and as many examples of bad search campaigns producing expensive poorly performing leads.

Show me the money

This brings us to possibly the most important piece in the lead quality jigsaw and that’s lead price. If you work back from ROI, lead price is really the only determinant of lead quality. If every lead has value (or a value) depending on how the lead performs then if you knew the outcome in advance of every batch of 100 leads then you could work backwards to determine a price that would work irrespective of how the lead was generated. The hard part is that it can often be quite expensive to find out what works and what doesn’t work so if you have a good grasp of what effects lead performance then you should save yourself a lot of time and money.   

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