Lead generation marketing is like a fast-moving train where you constantly need to upgrade the machinery and lay new track in order to get it to go from A to B as efficiently as possible.
To learn from lead generation and be a successful performance marketer, you need to understand why campaigns fail. You may be surprised to find that many of the factors are not under your control. Regardless, when marketing campaigns do fail it is still you (or the agency!) that 'carries the can.'
Below are the main reasons why lead generation campaigns don't work, time after time:
- Poor lead sourcing - speaks for itself, as the mantra goes, rubbish in = rubbish out. Campaigns will struggle from the get-go if the leads are weak.
- Slow fulfilment/conversion - it is shocking how many advertisers overlook the conversion element of lead generation especially when the conversion occurs offline. Expecting great quality leads to convert regardless of speed of follow-up is lead generation suicide. Timing is everything, which is why leads always out-perform list data. Think of every day delayed is 10% lost.
- Poor targeting/lead criteria - buying homogeneous leads can work for a while, but when conversions dip you need to understand what type of people are converting. For example, targeting 20-40 year olds may sound on brand, but if the majority are under 30 you need to adjust targeting.
- Inefficient tracking by source - It's all too easy with lead generation to use large networks or publishers to blind buy leads. You need to know at least what channel you are buying (email, display, SMS?) and at best the name of the publisher in order to make informed marketing decisions.
- Bad use of marketing channels - i.e. cold email for charity donations is unlikely to give an attractive cost per acquisition that will win awards, but maybe generating a lead for a follow email and call, will.
- National/Global/Weather events - can happen at any time completely outside of your control, not one you can plan for, but can blow even the best marketing campaign off course!
- Weak offer/promotion - Offering a free iPad may sound cool, but when 95% of your marketing community are using the same incentive it becomes instantly in-effective. Instead, dream up unique incentives such as product discounts, unique experiences, give-aways which can't be replicated easily and capture consumers imagination
- Competitor actions - online marketing can be instantaneous which means that your smart ideas today is another marketers blue-print for tomorrow's campaign. Be aware of the competition to achieve as much differentiation as possible
- Brand - the power of the brand is something often under-played in lead generation. Great brands are instantly recognised and their meaning communicated. Whereas newer brands don't mean a sausage to the average consumer until the message has been countless relayed over many years.
- Marketing materials - these have to look right and be functional for your intended audience. If you're not sure, call up your customers and ask them what they would like to see. Trying to read your audience's mind is never a good idea.
- Randomness - sometimes you just can't put your finger on it. Could be luck (good or bad). But if there's no apparent reason for failure then test again, as over the long-term, luck evens out.
I'm sure there are a million smaller reasons why you can't get it right every time, like sending out emails with broken links is inviting disaster, but can happen to anyone.
They key thing is to learn from the more obvious pitfalls to save many a campaign from the marketing dust-bin.