Thursday, 31 October 2013

Forget Big Data, it's about Now Data

'Most data more than 48hrs old is useless'

Do you agree?

In the age of 'marketing in the moment', there is a mass exodus of marketers leaving behind the shortcomings of older list or compiled data and embracing the advantages of data marketing in the now. Some recent huge marketing trends support this, namely:

  • RTB - real-time bidding on both standard and distressed inventory is becoming the norm in CPM advertising
  • Real-time lead generation - marketers now accept without real-time delivery of leads, it will be an uphill struggle to hit cost per acquisition before the campaign has even begun
  • Twitter lead generation - the personification of 'moment marketing', twitter conversations reveal intentions that require immediate action to convert full intention into purchase
  • Last click wins marketing - in the affiliate space the winner of the conversion tends to be who engaged with the buyer at the very moment they wish to buy. For example, those at the online checkout who are prompted to enter a promo code will often do a quick Google search for a code (often they are expired!) and the site they engage with last, wins that conversion
  • Retargting advertising - is all about reminding people when they are more likely to buy (i.e. on second/third site visit)
It's never been more important to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right message. Technology has been the driver which as enabled all the above trends to flourish and help marketers optimise their approach to move the consumer along the purchase funnel and be there at the crucial decision making moment.

Some might argue that data older than 2 days has a value, but given the plethora of real-time time marketing options, it's clear given the choice, 'marketing in the moment' is where it's at right now.

Monday, 21 October 2013

How to manage international lead generation campaigns

International Lead Generation

Setting-up and managing a lead generation campaign on an international scale can appear daunting at first. However, with careful forward planning and market insight (rather than just marketing instinct!), it need not be more taxing than a national-based campaign. The most significant areas to consider which impact on the success of your campaign are discussed below:
  • Language
  • Culture
  • Maturity of lead generation markets
  • Technology
  • The Local Consumer - a.k.a. the lead

Please check out the full article on PerformanceIN.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

How much would you pay to guarantee every email reaches the inbox?

A few years back, it was rumoured that MSN could start charging businesses to deliver an email into Hotmail. At the time, it was met with shock and horror that a billion dollar company would impose what would seem like a additional tax on marketing activity.

Considering this again, paying to guarantee an email delivery into the most common email clients such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail actually sounds like a great idea now. As most digital marketers have come to realise, email is the most cost effective and powerful marketing channel available, thwarted mainly by deliverability challenges.

The delivery challenge has given rise an explosion of email service providers (ESP's) who will all swear blindly that their platform has better deliverability than the next one, when for the most part it is difficult to tell them apart without that magical delivery to inbox guarantee.

To contrast this with the offline world, direct marketing mailers in the UK, have since the year dot, had to pay the great and good at Royal Mail to guarantee delivery - delivery is a given, leaving the opening and responding to mail as the sole focus of the marketing effort.

Whereas online direct marketers are spending ridiculous amounts of time and effort thinking about deliverability to the extent that the subject lines and copy are totally compromised from a marketing perspective to ensure that the email has any chance of reaching its destination. There is nothing more frustrating as a marketer than for an opted-in person being unfairly blocked from receiving an email they've requested in the first place.

I know there is tonnes of information with best practices suggestions and excellent email domain reputation building services such as Sender Score certification which do, of course, help deliverability.

However, is it time to take a fresh look at this aspect of email marketing?

Imagine what your email opens and clicks would look like with a guaranteed 100% delivery into the inbox. You might be content with your current in-house warm lists performing at 20% open and 3-5% click thru, now imagine 80% open rates and 50% click thru's on a regular basis. You would be smashing your marketing targets out of the park!

Similarly, pure email spammers would be left out in the cold and be instantly blocked because they haven't paid for delivery. The reason, spammers love email even more than bone fide email marketers, is that it is soooo cheap and cost effective. Let's drive them out, by driving up the cost.

So in case there was any doubt, I'm all for paying for a first class stamp to put on my email if I know it will reach the recipient. How about you?

So I guess, the million dollar question is, how much would you pay to guarantee every email hitting the inbox?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Why can't Marketers Code?

If you think this is code - you need help!
As someone working in marketing, you've probably heard or at least some stage, said; 'I'm not actually technical, you'll have to speak to the techies'

In today's digital dawn of modern marketing, should we still be thinking like this?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock (which is not wifi-enabled, I might add) for the last decade, you might not have noticed that techies can now talk and do most other normal social and business functions too - so it begs the question - why can't marketers code?

While self-confessed geeks such as Zucker, Gates, Page & Brin are busy running the internet for us, is it that unreasonable to expect digital marketers to be equipped with HTML or Java programming knowledge? Or if an academic programming background is too much to expect, should marketers take the initiative and learn to code themselves using online free tutorials such as Code Academy - You gotta start somewhere!

Okay, so we may be a few years away from Marketing Directors expecting marketeers to have coding skills. However, without these, digital marketing managers today are increasingly frustrated on having to depend upon IT or tech departments to action marketing objectives.

So the next time, a simple marketing task is held up by the need to use a techie to add some code which entails facing an IT ticket queue of mammoth proportions, ask yourself, 'If I could code a little, wouldn't my life be much easier?'

Having asked myself that question about 18 months ago, I personally found using...:

  • A slice of Code Academy
  • Time with techies to find out how it all knits together
  • View source option on internet browsers to examine website code
  • Notepad to check and change email creative html 
  • Reading up with the help of an old html book
  • Google to plug any annoying gaps in my wafer thin coding knowledge

... has worked wonders to speed up my marketing effectiveness. Whilst I'll never be a No.1 coder, I can solve many simple bugs and make changes to code without the need to submit myself to ticket request IT hell.

And.... guess what... my life is now much easier! I don't sweat the small stuff and leave the big stuff to the coding experts.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Top Ten Lead Generation Insider Tips

Lead Generation & Performance Marketing Insight

Could you use a quick injection of lead gen insight without the hassle of a registering for a whitepaper download?

If so, here is a top ten tips sheet for those working in performance marketing and lead generation companies. Check out below:

  1. Co-reg leads versus traffic leads - On average, expect standard co-registration (host and post) leads to convert at c. 30% of a email/banner advert driving traffic to site lead
  2. The need for speed - when converting leads over the phone, according to an MIT study, the odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.
  3. Welcome emails - Sending an instant email to your leads (not only is the very least you can do) also yields email open rates of 30-40%+ and click thru's of 15-25%+ (from my experience)
  4. Pricing Tiers - Set monthly cost per lead tiers by source to boost volumes within target cost per acquisition (CPA)
  5. Too much copy - Don't overload lead generation advertisements (especially co-registration adverts) with too much text and multiple marketing hooks. Understand your target market and focus on the key USP. Offering something exclusive helps to clinch the consumer opt-in for the right reasons. Ask yourself, what would make ME buy it?
  6. Retain control - Don't allow your offer to be brokered out to third party sites without your consent
  7. Police your partner sites - Manually check publisher sites to ensure copy compliance and branding guidelines are being followed
  8. To incentivise or not - Don't be afraid of advertising on incentivised sites. You can tailor the offer and payout accordingly to ensure it plays a important role in the lead generation marketing mix
  9. Be a consumer - Complete your own sign-up forms - if you can't register easily, expect an above average drop-out rate.
  10. Split-test - Everything! And then test everything again!
Admittedly, there may be technical and resource challenges preventing all ten being followed, but hey, no-one said Performance Marketing was easy!

Friday, 24 May 2013

What is co-registration marketing?

Ask this simple question of any 'grown-up' digital marketer and it's likely to produce a wide variety of answers. So, lets help clarify below whilst also putting a few misconceptions to bed...

Co-registration or co-reg as it is known for short in the UK has been in evidence online for at least the past 10 years. In America, co-reg is called host and post, yet they both, essentially mean the same thing, as follows:

Co-registration - people complete a form registering for a single brand and by ticking further boxes co-register for additional third party branded offers. So this means people only need to enter their contact details once and then give their consent to further info./contact from third party brands. For example, people who register with can also opt-in to offers from advertising partners with a simple tick in the box.

Host and Post (USA term) - where opt-in adverts are hosted and leads/data from those ads are posted via real-time transfer or other delivery method. This term clearly distinguishes this type of lead generation from other performance based traffic driving efforts.

The commonly accepted metric for measurement and payment of coreg is cost per lead (CPL). In fact, this is the only advertising medium where CPL is the default metric! Again, there is a subtle, but crucial difference in America in that instead of CPL, CPA is used, meaning 'Cost Per Action'. Whereas, in the UK, CPA is normally only taken to mean cost per acquisition.

The common misconceptions of co-reg advertising are:
  • It must involve a competition entry - though this is a popular way to gain people opt-in details this is by no means a pre-requisite.
  • The same advert and criteria will work across similar coreg publishers
  • Publishers should not send invalid leads to be considered a good source
  • Asking consumers more qualifying questions automatically drives better quality
  • A good lead will still be good even if not contacted the same day. Check out this piece of research from MIT which charts the dramatic short life of a lead.
There is clearly a long way to go in both the understanding and evolvement of co-reg as part of the wider performance marketing mix. It is worthy to note that Google itself now offers co-reg from the search pages, inviting logged-in users to click submit their pre-filled email address to 'get offers' rather than click through to websites. Yahoo seem to have gone one stage further than Google by offering a full cost per lead (co-reg) ad unit on the search pages.

If you want to better understand how to get the best out of co-registration, check out these co-reg top tips, in an earlier post.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Is Affiliate marketing a dirty word?

Have you noticed of late how many in the affiliate marketing industry appear to be moving (or should I say running!) away from using the term affiliate, which at the end of the day is just another word for publisher. Affiliates4U market themselves as A4U Performance Marketing Insight and their Performance Marketing Awards consign the word affiliate to the dustbin. Whilst that massive late entry into the affiliate space, Google plumped for the name Google Affiliate Network (GAN) only to rapidly close down this April and the term 'affiliate' with it.

As marketing moves with the fashion, this season 'Performance Marketing' is that eye catching black number that everyone seems to want - with affiliate stuff being cast off into the stockroom only to be re-badged and put back out in the shop window.

However, terminology is a huge, huge, deal in direct marketing - image is everything. The problem with the term affiliate I think, it that it's cites a form of marketing that directly puts the publisher in the spotlight rather than the advertiser, channel or purpose - it indicates no why's or how's to the outsider. Whereas performance marketing is clean and focuses on the mechanism that publishers, advertisers and networks all work to. So, as the term affiliate falls from grace and I predict it will soon be consigned to history, we are left with an industry full of affiliate executives, managers and directors.

With the industry's rapid evolvement, maybe it's time we all adopted Performance Marketing sooner rather than later to avoid confusing marketers who have enough conflicting terminology to deal with as it is.

Lastly, as the new cool 'Performance Marketing' tends to get banded around everywhere these days, I believe it's worth making a distinction. I think the true essence of Performance Marketing is where all those involved (advertiser, publisher, agency, network) are working on a risk performance basis. For me, cost per sale/acquisition (CPS/CPA) marketing is not performance marketing at all, as all risk is taken by the publisher (affiliate!). Lead generation marketing is where all parties are performing to ensure it works for all which is why the term 'Performance Lead Marketing' sums it up perfectly.

Monday, 29 April 2013

The future of Social Media Lead Generation

Social Media is coming of age and is at the equivalent stage of consumer adoption as telephones were in the 1980's when a useful telephone directory contained every UK citizens contact details. A marketing goldmine no less and the crazy thing is - no-one even minded as it made talking to friends much easier! This triggering a blindingly obvious gold-rush of sales cold calls before the party was abruptly ended when millions of people went ex-directory (i.e. asking for their details to be removed). Can you imagine your phone number being printed in a public directory today?

So turning our attention back to modern social media and inparticular Facebook, what do we find but millions of private information printed in an online public directory. Imagine how crazy we're all gonna look in 10 years time when we recall how our identities were shared across social media sites. From a direct-marketing point of view, maybe, the party is already beginning to end (as happened with telephone number directories)? Record numbers are closing their facebook accounts. Over 600,000 of you raced for the exit sign last Christmas with another 2 million no longer wanting to share anymore in March. So that's over 2.5m people effectively going ex-directory.

However, what we are left with is still the largest direct marketing opportunity on earth with some 31 million direct marketing targets in the UK alone. More excitingly still, CPA (cost per action) advertising is now coming to Facebook which brings social performance marketing right to the fore. Other social marketing innovations are also emerging from companies with access to the Twitter firehose developing lead marketing platforms allowing conversations to be turned into leads at the crucial moment of intent.

Direct selling on social media platforms is notoriously difficult with a user base who are more engaged about doing stuff rather than buying stuff. Lead generation is therefore the most purposeful tool in which to turn all that attention into buyers via a lead nurturing programme. The type of nurturing is dependent on upon the product/service being promoted, social media platform and audience. For example, a competition to win a trip to Australia is great for gathering Facebook fans for an airline, whereas a whitepaper for email marketing is ideal to opt-in a Linked-in audience.

By the end of 2013, lead generation opportunities on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in are likely to be more firmly established beyond the standard CPC (cost per click) models meaning pure performance marketing on social media is only just around the next corner. As for the sleeping giant that is Google+, I haven't the foggiest idea what's going on with that. If you are into circles and hangouts, please shed some light by commenting below.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

5 reasons why you should care about 'One lead'

One Lead
  1. One lead is a human being - it could be YOU!
  2. One lead can be your best customer for life
  3. One lead can be your PR disaster (if abused)
  4. One lead is positive brand reconigition
  5. One lead could be someone you know - family, friend or acquaintance
It's easy to forget when conducting analysis of hundreds of thousands of leads on reports and spreadsheets that each and every one is a person who could make or break a marketing year. That is, of course, assuming you are collecting unique valid leads with real-life names and addresses!

This kind of focus on single lead generation used to be the preserve of b2b lead generation marketing. However, recent advances in marketing automation means you can personalise the marketing sales funnel to such an extent it's akin to the personal attention attention normally associated with b2b client enterprise wins. These days, at the most basic level, there's no excuse not to refer to prospects/customers by first name (no more Dear member!). On a more advanced marketing level, other intelligent automated possibilities include:
  • knowing what they like and don't like
  • what they think of your brand
  • how they like to be handled
  • what they might want to buy next
We seem to be moving away from reactive marketing (abandoned check-out, lapsed behaviour) toward predictive marketing. The challenge is to target people before they fail to complete a purchase or stop opening emails. Anyone who has ever received a 'win-back' email from a brand saying 'Did we do something wrong?' is normally seen as nothing other than a doomed public admission of marketing failure. 

So next year in 2014, we'll most likely see less re-targeting advertising, especially in the face of default 'do not track' settings baked in on new versions of Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. Rather, the next gold-rush will be towards pre-targeting. In the past, advertisers have classicly failed to effectively use pre-targeting in most online advertising which has resulted in this perfect storm. Dire click through's on banner advertising combined with massive increases in re-targeted advertising. Re-targeting is effective in as much that it is limited to converting previous site visitors (i.e. the warm prospect) rather than bringing in brand new customers from the cold.

So once the fog of this perfect storm clears, you will see I am not a number, my name is Peter and I am one lead.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Welcome emails - the most powerful email in the World

Welcome emails are effectively your first-date, so you HAVE to make a good first impression, otherwise you'll never get engaged. This blog is a kind of prequel (credit to George Lucas for that word) to the original article I wrote about Engagement in Don't Marry your Leads, get Engaged First.

The welcome email is the single most powerful event in which to grab your new prospect or customer by the collars and scream how great your brand is and how buying from you is going to make their life better.

It's one of those rare occasions when you are potentially speaking to 100% of your audience. Even just using standard messaging, expect opens of 40%+ and click thru's of 25%+ on email. Compare this with regular internal mailings where 20% open is the norm - and you already have 200% uplift. This is clearly a marketing moment not to be squandered, by following some simple rules. Guaranteeing high opens and clicks on welcome emails boils down to three things:
  1. Timing
  2. Message
  3. Audience
1. Timing
Email deliverability plays a key part here as you want to be sure as soon as someone opts-in to your newsletter, a follow-up email arrives in their inbox (every second counts!). Other potential real-time event based messaging include where timing is crucial to performance include site revisits, shopping cart abandonment, Birthdays, etc

2. Message
It is best to keep the initial email clear and welcoming. However make sure you don't waste the opportunity to truly engage the reader. For example, if you only use a welcome email to say 'hello, thanks, we'll be in touch again' kind of thing, then you should march yourself to the marketing court for crimes against email marketing. Instead, make an unforgettable impact by rewarding the email recipient with some news, free advice, or better still, an exclusive offer (with an expiry date).

Another point worth considering is to guard against email creepiness. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Do not stalk your customers! For example, if upon learning that a site visitor has not bought that dress, don't email with a message saying 'we saw looking at that dress, but you didn't buy. What's wrong?' Instead, to achieve a more positive ROI use 'we noticed you browsing on our site today, but maybe you couldn't find what you were looking for. Can we help?' Chat now or email us'

3. Audience
Targeting the right people is essential, getting timing and targeting right with the wrong audience will eventually spell disaster. However, the problem may not be immediately obvious to the naked marketing eye. The problem is that stats do lie, because open rates and even click through's can remain high when employing the right message at the right time. Ultimately however, targeting the wrong people means those window shoppers are unlikely to turn into a high enough buyers needed for campaign success.

If you are still keen to learn more about the power of welcome emails, check out great examples of customer welcome emails courtesy of those nice people at Smart Insights.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Love your leads

A timely reminder to always remember leads are real people requesting contact for information about your product or service. So, to that end, they deserve to be treated with respect in all marketing communications. The most appropriate way to communicate with tomorrow's customer is largely due to a number of factors:

  • How expensive your product/service is
  • How complex your product/service is
  • How your brand is perceived
  • How your market sector is perceived
For example, when selling complex pension products is is of paramount importance to give as much information as possible at the beginning of the marketing purchase funnel backed by independent research and customer testimonies. Once trust is established, you can move the the next stage of giving specific advice and recommendations about how great your products are. The sale is a long-drawn out process which could take a matter of months.

Contrast this with a free trial for a magazine subscription and you can normally skip the first stage and move straight into the recommendation phase by focusing on the value of the offer. You can expect this level of sale to complete in a matter of hours.

To summarise - the marketing funnel for consumer purchases looks something like this:
  1. Give valid product information (build trust)
  2. Recommend product USP's (why you're the best)
  3. Close the deal
But above all, if you only need to remember one thing - Love your Leads - you won't go far wrong!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Lead Generation - The Secret Recipe for Success

Photo Credit: Eddie Welker
To make the perfect lead generation campaign, you need to mix the following ingredients:
  • Generous helping of know-how - there is no substitute to direct experience, specialist skills and appetite for lead gen. knowledge
  • Layer of lead management software (in-house or outsourced) - in-house tech may be more customisable at first but can be a struggle to get internal resource without a service level agreement (SLA). Outsourcing may limit your options but you can often dictate terms much easier via an SLA.
  • Huge dollops of performance media publishers across multiple channels - the more options you have , the less reliant you are on any particular source. As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to never allow any publisher to represent more than 30% of the overall lead supply
  • Lastly, add secret sauce - YOU - Love, care and attention will get you everywhere in lead generation. All campaigns depend on tonnes of micro-decisions which continually influence potentially large campaign outcomes. This could range from updating email creative, follow-up call script, call to action, toggling validation filters to many more...

Even with all these magic ingredients added, blending the perfect lead generation campaign still requires battling with many external elements during the cooking process, including:
  • Daily changes in quality and volumes across multiple sources
  • Irregular patterns of data which could indicate fraudulent activity
  • Non-compliant formats of advertising copy being used
  • Hard-coding of variables meaning qualifying questions are not being submitted by consumer

To save your lead generation campaign from getting spoiled, employ the following tactics:
  • Pricing Tiers - Source volume capping according to quality and tiered based pricing to reward publishers who provide the best quality
  • Data checks - Automated processes can check foreign or repeat IP address submissions and invalid email address domains whilst manual eye-balling of leads from low quality data sources can reveal recurring name variations or gobbledegook which spam filters fail to pick up.
  • Policing - secret shopping sites and reviewing the adverts being used, is the only true way to enforce compliance
  • Analysis - Comparing average response of lead generation answer values against individual source stats can reveal patterns that are unlikely to be genuine volunteered responses. For example, if age of person is is a received variable and your average age split is 20-40 years old, a single source providing 100% 20-30's could be suspect and worth further investigation

Happy lead generation cooking for 2013!