Thursday, 30 October 2014

9 Top Tips for more effective lead generation campaigns

Jelly courtesy of Jerry Wong
The skill of perfectly managing a lead generation campaign is not unlike having the ability to pick up a jelly without wobbling it. Whilst anti-wobble jelly advice may be thin on the ground, you could do worse than to follow these 9 top tips for a more effective lead generation campaign:

1.       Use the right Lead Management Platform – Some campaigns have very basic fulfillment needs such as batched ftp delivery to contact centre. Whereas others might involve a multi-step lead process to sale (i.e. emails, brochures, calls and home visits). Pick the lead management solution that suits your lead to sale conversion funnel. i.e. you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari to pop down to the shops.

2.       Micro-manage publishers – so you may want to break down lead supply from publishers by site but how about also dissecting the traffic to that site? Publishers often work in the dark when it comes to being able to tell which traffic sources are generating the best leads for their advertisers. So help complete the feedback loop by passing traffic sub-ids and then reporting which ones perform best.

3.       Test advert copy – Lead generation starts with using smart advertising to get people to opt-in after all. So the optimum use of imagery, text and call to action is super critical to success. It’s just that you won’t know this unless you test different variations of your standard ad copy. As the most basic level, you may want to use a male and female version of your ad/landing page/welcome email to more efficiently onboard your leads.

4.       Adjust filters and criteria – This one has a sting in the tail – ask for more details and you risk deterring the consumer. So for example, full postal address is very useful to have on your database, but if you are not going to use it then you are turning off those people who won’t bother completing your form because of this.

5.       Validation – There is good validation and bad validation (or should I say over-zealous validation). Bad domain look-ups, ip address checkers, hoax name filters are all great to have, but once you start going too far and querying potential valid email addresses is where you’ve crossed the line. Over-validation could just as easily wreck your CPA as letting through bad leads.

6.       Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up – Leads cannot convert without fast follow-up. The value of a lead disintegrates every minute it is left untouched. Opt-in leads should be emailed instantly and receive call-backs within 2 hours.

7.       Incentives – Always a touchy subject as to whether you should use any kind of incentivisation for lead generation. But incentives shouldn’t be thought of as a dirty tactic because you need some incentive for people to opt-in in the first place. The main reason someone opts-in will determine how motivated that person is to buy from you. Incentives can be thought of in two ways, direct and indirect. A direct incentive is where you tell the consumer to complete this offer and you will be entered to win a prize.’ An indirect incentive could be ‘choose one from these 10 offers and you will be entered to win a prize.’ Both will motivate and incentivise the consumer in very different ways. But it’s not just prize incentives you should be thinking about, exclusive discounts (voucher codes) and offers can be used to drive the buying motivation of the consumer.

8.       Be fair and transparent to consumers– Trying to trick consumers into opting-in using unrealistic promises, whilst in the short run will drive higher clicks and visits, is unlikely in the end to net satisfied customers. Lead generation is an investment that involves moving the customer from awareness, interest through desire into action and any tactics that mislead the consumer are likely to surface very quickly along this path. Best to honestly market your proposition, tell consumers what’s gonna happen after opt-in and then deliver on this.

9.       Be the lead – Fill out your own forms, read and click on your own emails. How easy is it to do? Is it a pleasurable experience? I’ve sat in meetings in which clients have tried and failed to sign-up to their own lead generation campaigns.

If you follow these top lead generation tips, you should be able to avoid most of those jelly wobbles!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Are You Buying Spam Leads?

Photo credit:
‘Spam’ the word that strikes fear into every performance marketer's hearts. Ask yourself this question:

Am I buying spam leads?

If you answered yes, skip the following paragraph, if no then read on:

So you don’t buy spam leads, eh? Are you sure your database is 100% clean? The only sure fire way to check you are free of spam is to talk to each user to confirm they are who they say they are. Obviously, you are not going to be able to do this so the likelihood is you are buying spam leads. Now let's find out why...

So here you are, happily collecting freshly generated leads, when you discover some of these potential buyers are in fact fake, fraudulent, fiction. Call it what you like, they are useless and they will cause havoc with email deliverability and mess up your marketing KPI’s.

So what does this spam look like? Well it can be served up in many equally putrid flavours, generated from these sources:

  • Users – people deliberately entering fake details, either because they are time wasters or are incentivised to do so.
  • Suppliers – a rogue supplier in the chain (often hidden) will happily flood your lead gen. campaign with spam. Unfortunately, email ‘services’ make this possible on an industrial scale with sites like fakemailgenerator or allowing the creation of millions of temporary email addresses on the fly!
  • Robots – or Bots, these automated scripts will hammer your forms, filling-in details automatically at breakneck speed.

So you might swiftly conclude that there will always be spam prospects in my programme. The trick is to mimimise the damage caused. Here’s how you can do this:

Audit traffic sources  

No source can guarantee to be spam free however premium the feel or the cost. Take Google Adwords for example, which have only recently detected and deducted fraudulent clicks from billing on an automated basis. Looking at spam by channel, you should be able to forecast a likely percentage spam value.

On-site verification

A.k.a. in-line validation on sign-up forms helps block users from entering fake details. For example, using a domain validation and look-up service you can force users to enter email addresses with valid domain and email syntax. Better to leave fake prospects waiting on the doorstep than invite them in for a cup of tea!

Processing validation

Most lead management platforms include validation processes which sit between the point of data collection and your CRM system. You can expect to lose between 5-15% of leads via deduping by IP address, PAF validating postal address and removal of invalid emails, hoax names etc. I'm sure Mickey Mouse is someone's real name but it is not worth risking their inclusion. More advanced validation can include the use of look-up tables to invalidate previously known fakes or can spot irregular sequencing patterns (e.g. rotating first names, repeat postcodes) that indicate automated hoax submissions. Check if your lead management platforms provide this level of spam blocking.

Lead Scrubbing 

Post automated validation processes, a manual sweep of leads is a ‘belt and braces’ approach to fake free lead gen. Just make sure your scrubbing process is fair, fast and transparent for your suppliers to follow. It is standard industry practice to physically return a list of invalids to sources within 10 days of month end so they can be deducted from the lead count and billing process.

Don’t pay for spam 

It sounds simple but if you pay for spam leads you are helping the spammers get rich. Spammers can only survive by being paid for what they do. Directly or indirectly paying them only legitimises their existence.

Unfortunately, these measure still won't eliminate spam leads. On the flipside, taking this approach can also create unintended consequences such as:

  • More Expense - It costs money and potentially lot’s of it from a budget you didn’t plan for - thereby negatively impacting ROI of your lead gen campaign
  • No Sales - It won't directly boost sales growth or revenue
  • Lost Prospects - More validation can make it more difficult for genuine prospects to sign-up. I have had a few instances recently where over-aggressive in-line validation resulted in the rejection of valid email domains.
  • Hitting Target - Hitting lead volume and budget targets quicker. Perversely, this may not necessarily be a bad thing if your marketing KPI’s are flawed!

However, the one big reason we all should be trying to eradicate spam leads is because they are unethical and have no place in the performance marketing landscape, full stop

(Note: This article is adapted from the original one I wrote for PerformanceIN - you can look it up here)

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Understanding co-registration lead generation

Co-registration (a.k.a co-reg) is often mis-understood, mis-labelled and mis-judged in many digital marketers media minds and plans. At it's best, it provides the most true lead generation channel solely conducted on a cost per lead basis and the opportunity to build a massive opt-in database in a very short space of time. Indeed, the sheer scale and variety of leads the co-reg channel can provide is staggering.

So, why is this blog about understanding coregistration, if the benefits are so blindly obvious?

Well, let's dig beneath the surface to see what's really going on in the UK co-registration marketplace. Here are some headline numbers to put this channel into context. The market consists of

  • 150-200 UK coreg publishers spread globally
  • 100-250k registrations per day available to co-register to your brand
  • 75% dominated by competition/survey style opt-in sites with emerging contextual opportunities by vertical
  • 5-10 new co-reg publishers starting every month as very low barrier to entry
  • 80% cheaper than other lead generation channels, meaning a very low cost per sign-up compared to email and display banners.
  • 100 times better conversion performance from the best sources compared to the worst, giving a wild variance in quality of leads
Hopefully, what you will initially glean from this is that the size of the opportunity is somewhat skewed and tempered by the risks in getting this kind of lead generation marketing wrong. In order to get the best performance from co-reg lead generation, here are a few pointers:
  • Lead Management - Using a LMP is essential is you don't have your own internal systems
  • Track and Cap - track every source back to its origination and know as much about that source as possible & cap volumes by source to ensure there are no nasty daily surprises by surges in volume
  • Welcome email - welcoming your prospects using triggered real-time emails are your best opportunity to create a good first impression, enhance credibility and improve brand recall
  • Filtering - using real-time analytics to understand the profile of your leads compared to your customer base. Use this to segment your lead supply (volume and commercials permitting) into high performing leads and low performing.
  • Advert copy - don't overdo it by being tempted to write too much text in an offer which is likely to be looked at for no more than 3 seconds. Pick your best USP and make sure the user understands the benefit of opting in. This way all the follow-up conversion channels (be it email/phone) can focus on delivering that benefit to the interested prospect.
  • Knowledge - you can build this knowledge up yourself in terms of the marketplace, pricing, techniques, lead flow and conversion but if you don't feel confident you will waste a lot of time and budget trying to get there. So consider using an agency, training or in-sourcing some talent to get optimum results.
Like any marketing channel, you may find some quick wins without being super great at any of this, but in order to make co-reg a sustainable successful lead generation channel you need to be able to size up the opportunities and be aware of the pitfalls - 24 hours in lead generation can be spectacularly good or bad!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Lead Generation to Become Even Smarter in 2014

Courtesy of Ryan Wick
Many recent big trends in lead generation marketing have been driven by advances in technology. However, these trends only become part of the marketing day-to-day when marketers fully embrace and adopt these technologies.

For example, marketers have always desired more targeting focus on people who have shown initial interest in buying online, but it is only recently retargeting platforms made this approach easy allowing it to be fully integrated into the everyday marketing mix.

In compiling this list of 2014 lead generation trends to watch, I have focused on new technologies and techniques which are most likely to become universally accepted as essential to lead generation marketing this year:
  • B2C Lead Management Platforms (LMP)
  • Mobile lead generation
  • Inbound (click to call) marketing
  • Native advertising
  • Incentive marketing

Read the full article on