Monday, 12 December 2011

Performance Lead Marketing: 2012 Top 6 Lead Generation Predictions

  1. Mobile Lead Generation - it's not big (yet) but it is clever. Many more performance media opportunities are popping up in a good way rather than those standard annoying in-game/in-app ads that people accidently click on.
  2. Content (non-incentive) Lead Generation - When premium isn't enough, non-incentivised will take over, it's a niche space but is the way ahead to achieve high conversion rates which attracts similarly high cost per lead rates. If you could get 90% conversion, how much would you pay?
  3. Google does Lead Generation - Not content with promoting their own comparison ads first in travel/mortgage search rankings and buying a UK comparison site, expect their appetite for lead generation revenue to increase.
  4. Client in-sourcing Lead Generation - brands are beginning to get serious, realising that buying the leads is only one part of the equation. A performance marketing strategy is required to fuse the right mix of systems, process, know-how and people to ensure long-term ROI which grows their customer base.
  5. Lead Nurturing - Wham bam, no thank-you mam! Leads must be cared for, treated with respect and gently encouraged to buy. Put that conversion sledgehammer down and instead test, learn and develop a lead nurturing strategy that suit both your audience and business model within cost per acquisition.
  6. CPM Advertising RIP - Its nearly 8 years ago that a certain Charles Morgan (former CEO of Acxiom) announced the death of CPM and that was when he had a UK CPM business doing £10m+!!! The argument for CPM is painfully weak unless you have super premium, context rich inventory and even then it will become a hard sell in the face of advertisers who put performance before brand in the harsh new financial reality of 2012. As the head of a large digital agency recently commented, 'the race over which agency can buy at the lowest CPM is nearly over, as advertisers look to pay on a performance basis.' Inside Facebook itself comments, 'Across the industry, advertisers are moving away from CPM models that do not ensure that consumers are truly seeing their ads. Cost-per-conversion, action or engagement are much more desirable because companies do not have to pay unless an ad is effective.' 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Top 5 Online Lead Generation Scams to be Avoided

It is unfortunate but in every industry there are some who choose unethical ways of doing business, the lead generation market is no better or no worse than others in that respect. I am always comforted by the amazing level of trust companies have in each other when declaring lead volumes, lead rejections. It is this bond amongst lead generation operators which has helped make online lead gen so successful in these boom years. However there are some really bad practices that should be avoided at all costs, namely:

  1. Host and Ghost - This is where affiliate campaigns designed for banner and email are mis-appropriated for host and post co-registration. The scam can be identified when landing pages show high numbers of leads/conversions but no impressions.
  2. Sub-brokering - Where an agency sub-contracts out volume to other lead generation partners without the knowledge of the client. This means many sources are cloned as coming from one source making it impossible to measure the campaigns effectiveness
  3. Batch uploading - where sudden influx's of leads appear instead of real-time. So older leads are being sold as fresh current ones. 
  4. Automated Opt-in - it may be sold as lead generation but takes the form of pre-ticked questions or a page of logo's where one tick means opting-in to 10+ brands.
  5. Downright Fraud - basically leads that are not fit for purpose, they have been manufactured by unscrupulous lead generation fraudsters rather than volunteered by consumers. Doing background checks, asking the right questions and taking references helps eradicate this
Admittedly, the incidence of these is really low and if we all work together to weed out any bad practices we do the industry a lot of good. I raise my glass to trusting each other to do the right thing.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Lead Generation Exclusive: Sole or Multi Agency?

It's the question facing most advertisers. Should I place my budget with a single marketing agency who broadly speaking cover all the bases or should I identify performance marketing specialists and get them to work together? Performance marketing covers everything from affiliate, email, display, social, search and mobile marketing.

I don't think there's an answer to cover all situations in reality. But one thing does stand out, you should NEVER pick multiple agency's to do the SAME job. I have experienced this at first hand and whilst an inconvenient truce can exist for a while it is only a matter of time before one agency blames the other and looks to the client to referee the ensuing bun fight. At the end of the day, clients are only interested in results and do not want to be dragged into inter-agency issues. However, agencies are not the most self-regulating of creatures and instead clear terms of engagement need to be set down from the beginning. This is exactly what procurement departments can be brilliant at doing - designing a framework where multiple agency can work together to achieve perfect marketing harmony. Each lead generation channel should be given to the agency most capable of getting results. After all, if one agency was so great at everything then clients would be more than happy to put all their eggs in one basket. But I doubt this approach will ever triumph despite the ambitions of large agencies such as OMD & Carat, networks such as Unanimis & Tradedoubler or uber-platforms such as Google, Facebook or Twitter.

In an increasingly fragmented and uncertain world, the way to bring certainty is to harness the power of specialist agencies to work together for the common goal of exceeding client expectations, bringing innovation and ensuring clients receive more than a pound for every pound spent.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Top 5 Tips for better Co-registration

Co-registration (or Co-reg) is an often misunderstood lead generation channel, largely due to it's affiliation with prize draw competitions and the huge variance in lead quality it can produce. Here are my top 5 tips for better lead generation results using co-registration:
  1. Know your publishers inside out - understand their business model, method of traffic generation, url's used for advert placement, role of incentives and the consumer experience. Do not allow your offer to be brokered out without your consent.
  2. Pricing - One lead price does not fit all. You should pay a range of lead prices that reflect the quality received. If you are unable to employ tiered pricing, average out what you should be paying if it means you can get more quality volume within cost per acquisition budgets.
  3. Quick follow-up - even if you can't convert leads the same day, at least ensure you make contact. Even if it's just an SMS or email acknowledgement.
  4. Respect your leads - this also means communicating with your prospects in a way that suits them. Using more effective creative design and copy-writing can uplift results by 20%+.
  5. Conversion feedback - the quicker you can loop back sales results into your campaign the faster you can optimise for conversions instead of volume. If your lead time is too long for weekly decisions due to a considered purchase, find an earlier indicator such as email click-thru as a benchmark of success.
I can guarantee if you follow these tips your conversions from co-registration will increase before the week is out!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Social Lead Generation Exclusive – Change the Channel

It is a sign of the times, that previously sacrosanct marketing channels are now coming under intense scrutiny by the bean counters. As any marketer responsible for door 2 door or face-to-face will testify. I’m seeing whole channels being sacrificed by big brands as not only does spend have to be triple justified but also how consumers are engaged with. In the increasingly open social world, corporate reputations are easily put at stake with clumsy looking marketing approaches.

The gut feel of many marketers decision-making is giving way to a pure statistical driven approach as the size of the chicken must be proved before it’s hatched! As most good marketers know it is often those unusual and innovative ways to contact and convert people which can yield the best results. It is only through experimentation and rigorous testing that untapped pockets can be grown into rich seams.

Let’s face it - Social media is where most brands prospects and customers spend their free (and often work!) time. However getting consumers to buy in this environment is notoriously difficult. Just relying on ‘fan’ and ‘like’ building in social media is unlikely to produce tomorrows customers in any significant volume. Similarly with mobile, there is huge potential but without the economies of scale and inventory selection to cost effectively turn eyeballs into leads and customers. These emerging media channels are easiest to justify against TV/Print/Radio media. However, to truly crack these channels requires innovation and appreciation for the way the audience expects to be communicated at a price which fits into your cost per acquisition model.

Social Lead Generation rather than straight customer generation is likely to show the way in which to utilise social and mobile best.  Marketers have just got to try to think up novel and engaging ways for consumers to communicate with brands so they turn themselves into leads and customers.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

What's the difference between a lead and a like?

Our ability to like (and share) information, photo's, articles and interests on the web is fast becoming an online way of life. I remember the days when you used to forward emails (usually 'borderline' jokes) to each other in the hope they would pass it on (no, oh well just me then!).

The resulting data from Facebook and all the other social likes has created an overnight demand for a new army of online data analysts whose job it is to crunch all these numbers into something resembling an accurate picture of consumer preferences and forecast of future intentions. In the US, the term CPL is increasingly taken to mean cost per like (sacrilege, indeed).

But let's not get confused with the real thing, a lead is an insanely valuable piece of information on a consumer that is rarely beaten for accuracy, preference and intention to buy. You've just got to know what to do with these drops of marketing gold-dust fast to turn them into gold-plated customers.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Future - Video killed the internet star?

Glimpses of the future of online are abound with Google looking to obliterate our channel obsessed TV culture with a preference search based youtube model amid increasing bucket-loads of 'connected' TV's being sold in the high street today.

It's clear that our traditional thinking of online will fade as we come up with better terminology to describe what these things represent. I predict three main types of marketing will be prevalent in the future:
  • 'On' - any marketing when a consumer is 'on' a device such as PC, phone, tablet, radio or TV 
  • 'Near' - any marketing medium such as bill-boards, signage which can digitally engage with us
  • 'Off' - marketing collateral such as direct mail, door-drop and print advertising
So whether it's video that takes over the internet or the internet that's taking over TV, doesn't matter as the convergence will be rapid and transform everything that's gone before. The unstoppable forces of digital nature are only slowed by our capacity to deal with this change and our willingness to accept new ways of doing old things such as business, lifestyle, family and relationships.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

99 Problems but the lead ain't one

It's amazing how a concept so basic as generating a lead in order to make a follow-up sale has become so complex.

You take the worst quality leads and get nothing but even the best quality leads can still make zero sales if you haven't got all your lead generation ducks lined up. For example, to generate an effective lead online for call centre follow-up you need to sort out:
  • How are your leads validated - off-line, real-time, third party verification? 
  • How quickly can you follow-up the lead - seconds, minutes, hours, days? 
  • Which creative execution will you use - email, phone, DM, SMS, everything? 
  • What campaign analysis/optimisation to employ - segment, tiers, caps, scoring? 
  • Method of secure data transfer - batch, ftp, xml? 
  • How are your leads tracked - manual, pixel, tagging, post?
  • What business rules are in place - lead reconciliation, brand exposure, data ownership?
  • plus 92 other problems...

The days have gone when you could simply plan and buy all the leads on the market and get a result which is going to achieve marketing targets and keep all the stakeholders happy.

The 99 problems can all be solved as long as the lead ain't one.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lead Generation Jargon, Buster

Like most people in the lead generation industry I love a good tech talk now and again. Whether it's real-time XML, de-dupe, image pixels or container tagging but sometimes I do question how many of our highly skilled direct marketers are getting this. This creeping wallowfiication (now it's my turn to make a word up!) in overplayed geekiness is surely clouding a lead marketers main objective to create leads that buy enough products within marketing budget. This endless techno-waffle would put off even the keenest budget holder.

In these pressing economic times, performance marketing is perfectly placed to wipe the decks clear of out-dated paying for awareness advertising models. We just need to make sure when tech is talked, it is done with the right people on the right level with a clear sight of the marketing objective.

Monday, 17 October 2011

State of European Lead Generation Market - Stunning new research

Like you, I rarely ever see any in-depth research on lead generation across Europe so I couldn't believe the statistics when I saw this recent report in all its technicolour glory. It contains industry changing trends plus damning figures on where the European Lead Generation market could be heading.

Here are some key findings:
  • UK - market already peaked, ripe for consolidation with decreasing margins
  • Germany - near mature, pressure on margins with little scope for further growth
  • France - market not fully developed with most potential for growth (albeit slowly)
There are also some fascinating insights on the role social and mobile media has to play. It even details how online lead generation operates in each country. 

If you would like a free copy of the full 13 page report emailed to you, please sign up to the email newsletter on the right.

Friday, 2 September 2011

2013: The End of Social Media Advertising (as we know it)

The current hype surrounding advertising on social media sites such as Facebook et al. is doomed to end soon (2013 in fact!). The simple fact is these kinds of sites do offer advertisers a massive engaged audience but social marketing it most certainly ain't. Most of it is bog-standard display advertising. A better option is the ability to create fan pages and generate lots of likes... but is this really going to be a solution to get people to buy more product? There seems to be scant evidence of any ROI associated with fan pages (unless someone can tell me different?).

In the near future, the true essence of a social media campaign will be to conceive it as a 'word of mouth' campaign. This is and will always be, the best form of marketing EVER. Up to until now, it was almost impossible to control, measure and stimulate. A new focus on word of mouth marketing using social media sites (or any member site for that matter) could answer that eternal riddle. However, marketing nirvana will never be achievable by just sticking a nice looking ad up or getting some brand likes on Facebook.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Mobile lead generation - The time is now

Much vaunted mobile opportunities are at last falling into place with advancements in lead management platforms making their integration and measurement much simpler.

And it's not all about app's either, getting precise click/conversion info back from Apple iphones/ipad is notoriously difficult so the mobile web presents the best opportunity to harness the power of mobile lead gen. Mobile start-ups now offer communities which you can tap into on a cost per lead (CPL) basis.

It's only the beginning, but like you I am already relishing the chance to push localised offers which can generate leads of a precision targeted nature and scale not seen before.

For example, imagine if you are Waterstones being able to target an opted-in consumer walking past a book store with a discounted book offer to their mobile which expires that day!

Now that is the power of mobile lead generation we could all do with more of...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Ad-Tech London: Online Lead Generation taking over?

Signing up for Ad-Tech London this September I came across a perfect illustration of how lead generation continues to influence ever more areas of modern marketing. On the Ad-Tech registration form, take the question; Which area will you invest in over next 12mths?
Euphemisms for lead generation type marketing now include; Affiliate Marketing, customer acquisition, direct marketing, direct response, email, lead / traffic generation, performance, sales generation.

This is a huge leap forward in just 12 months to see that lead generation can apply in nearly 25% of areas for marketers to invest. This definitely wasn't happening last year.

Who knows, we may be following our American cousins sooner than we think with a dedicated lead generation trade show of our own next year! Are you listening Ad-Tech?

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Big Lead Gen secret no-one wants you to know

Are you sitting comfortably? Here's the scoop...

High quality publishers subsidise poor quality ones in majority of online lead generation campaigns today.

So it's like Mr X publisher crossing the street to hand over half his hard earned cash to Mrs Y publisher.

Why does this happen? Well partly it's down to the law of averages. Most marketers will average things out to work to an overall campaign target. If these numbers are hit, everyone's happy right? - well nearly everyone as unfortunately this model favours high quality low volume publishers balanced out by higher volume, lower quality ones at each end of the spectrum. Plus, it's more convenient for the marketer to manage the campaign in this fashion, i.e. pay £1 for every lead and tinker with the volumes to try to get the desired effect but at the same time being severely hampered by the capped lead price.

So the next time you see a lead gen. campaign pop up at your local affiliate network with a headline rate you know the campaign is being run on a average meaning good publishers lose out financially to the poorer quality ones and the marketer struggles by being hamstrung to a fixed cost per lead.

Fortune favours the brave and those who are willing to deal with the complexity of using variable lead pricing will reap the huge reward this technique offers.

Either way, the secret's out now...

Friday, 20 May 2011

Consumer Privacy - Online Lead Generation Killer?

The UK appears to be buckling under the relentless strain of the heavy media coverage of consumer privacy these days. From super-injuncted kiss and tell stories and phone hacking scandals to Facebook's bizzare idea's on acceptable use of consumer data. Lawyers will continue to argue the toss, especially whilst it remains grey and therefore lucrative for them to do so. Watch this space as the Government prepares new legislation.

Taking the less newsworthy Online Lead Gen. (OLG) industry into view and you could have the equivalent of two cruise missiles hurtling towards each other. OLG is a whole advertising channel based on collecting and passing on consumer data for the purpose of marketing. Some would say this puts the industry light years ahead of most advertising sectors as we've been having to deal with privacy issues from year dot. The less confident might feel more like they're carrying around unexploded timebombs in their business models.

Either way - should judgement day come, we should all ensure we continue to treat consumers with the utmost respect and privacy in regards the law and in general get our houses in order. Otherwise, we risk this booming OLG industry blowing up in our faces.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lead Gen Exclusive: The rise of the Reg (registration) Wall

A new term is sweeping through affiliates and publisher land recently. There has been much hype surrounding the Times Pay-Wall with other major newspaper content brands already queuing up similar paid content walls.

The benefits are obvious and numerous for the publishers themselves but how is it playing out with the consumers and advertisers? No doubt a pay-wall can't hurt quality or engagement but there is an uphill fight to get anywhere near the scale of pre pay-wall unique visitor numbers.

The third way - is the reg-wall or 'content unlocking' as they call it in the States. I think the reg-wall offers the perfect balance of engaging interested users to sign-up for additional content (and advertising of course!) without putting too many users off meaning you can scale up effectively.

I haven't seen anyone get this right yet, but the ones that do first are bound to reap the biggest rewards.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Lead Generation - Nurture or Nature?

As any young parent continually questions whether their off-spring is the product of nature or more the sterling management efforts of Mum & Dad, the same debate rages in OLG (Online Lead Generation)

Exactly, how important is the source of the lead if you have state of the art validation than can craft any rough diamond into the perfect prospect?

I think the answer lies in understanding the origination of the lead. Some leads need more nurturing than others. To continue the analogy, put yourself in the place of the classroom teacher, what is the point of focusing on the already bright children to get them to that higher educational plane when half of the children need more attention just to raise them to the average? It's the same with leads, Marketers, YOU are the teacher and the leads are YOUR children. Love them, keep them happy, motivated and above all get the whole group hitting the overall targets you need to call yourself a success. Only then will you unlock the true power of the volume and quality that Online Lead Generation can unleash.

Class dismissed....

Friday, 28 January 2011

Does the Online Lead Gen. industry over promise?

We've all heard it before, a sales guy promising that the leads will work and deliver amazing results. Whilst sometimes this can be true, it is nigh on impossible that it can be done in significant volume from a single source.

Which herein lies the question, if you can get quality leads, when do you know when to stop buying?

There are only so many consumers out there who may be willing to buy your products. Which is why sometimes the harder you push for volume the worse the results get. Isn't it better to try new creatives, new angles, new incentives, new conversion methods to get the required results? And above all, accept there is a finite market for a product/service, work to identify that market and target them like crazy in the best way possible.

Online Lead Gen does promise a lot and it is unfair to expect it to deliver first time every time. Lead Marketing is a measured process that nurtures the leads from inception through to sale (however long that might be).

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Online Lead Generation Agency?

What role do Online Lead Gen (OLG) agencies have to play in the future of performance marketing? The main function of an lead gen. agency is media buying. However with online lead gen being a shared risk model between publisher and advertiser it is not as straightforward as CPM (100% advertiser risk) or CPA (100% publisher risk) marketing. An experienced lead generation marketer will know many good performing publishers but considerable time, effort and expertise is involved in the buying, optimising and conversion of these leads into sales. Without first hand knowledge of how each media and publisher performs there is likely to be an uncomfortable margin of error.

The next option would be to use a large digital agency who cite online lead gen as a specialism. but at this stage most seem to use a single network or attempt to out-source to a specialist lead gen agency. Encouraginly there are some larger agencies now developing dedicated online lead gen teams.

Well executed online lead generation is often best given to specialist lead generation agencies who have years of campaign experience of what works and what doesn't. This way, any agencies fees should be more than covered by their insight and the efficiency created by executing the best performing campaign with the winning mix of volume and quality of leads.

Friday, 7 January 2011

5 Big Online Lead Generation predictions for 2011

    1. Low cost lead management software flooding the market
    2. Affiliate Marketing and Online Lead Gen coming together
    3. Less brokers, more agencies 
    4. Major acquisitions by large company wanting to dominate the lead gen market
    5. Pubtailing (Econsultancy) - publishers wising up to OLG revenue