Opinion: Lead Generation & Best Practices

Daniel Lancioni

Dan is a Senior Account Manager at affilinet and has over three years of experience in digital marketing

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Opinion: Lead Generation & Best Practices

Best practices for lead generation advertisers

Lead generation is a common practice in performance marketing for advertisers who are looking at growing their acquisition channels and stealing market share away from competitors. Commonly, lead gen is paid for on a cost-per-lead (CPL) basis where the quality of the lead is determined by both the publisher’s cleansing methods and the advertiser’s KPIs. Lead quality and CPL are positively correlated as an advertiser is willing to fork out extra budget for a user who is likely to convert and, similarly, the publisher would have had to invest extra resource into ensuring the lead was of good quality.

The lead gen space is forecasting continued growth too. A recent B2B lead gen LinkedIn survey in the US completed by Holger Schulze, vice president of marketing at EG Innovations, uncovered some interesting numbers. Of the 800 plus B2B marketers who were surveyed, a whopping 49% confirmed they’re increasing lead gen budgets this year while another 44% confirmed they are keeping budgets the same. Only 7% said they would decrease activity. One potential reason behind the 51% who weren’t looking at increasing their budgets is that a worrying 25% didn’t know their lead-to-sale conversion rates, meaning that they are investing into the channel blindly. Understanding conversion rates provides visibility on what your leads mean for your business.

So, what are the top lead generation sources?

Paid Search and SEO

Normally the best performing channel for conversion rate and return on investment (ROI), and the reason is simple. Each potential customer has undergone a search for a particular product which has landed them on a high SEO or SEM ranked site, so they’re in the market to buy and are more likely to convert. Once you have discovered these highly trafficked sites, work with them closely to ensure that they’re capturing all the relevant information for a high quality lead, without making the form completion process too overbearing for each user. But how do you find these types of sites? Well, put yourself in the shoes of your consumers. What would you search if you wanted to find a product which is being sold under your brand? Start to approach any sites that appear highly on these searches first.

Display

According to IAB/PwC ad-spend figures for display advertising for the first half of 2012 was up by 10.6% to a staggering £591million, so it’s no surprise to see that this space is becoming increasingly active with lead gen hungry advertisers. Display works especially well for FMCG brands when running competitions to capture email addresses and other pieces of crucial information for future targeting. For B2B clients we’ve found that the display space isn’t as clinical in delivering the quality required, but by purchasing inventory on the right sites, or by using targeted ads, then you can deliver better results.

Vertical Specialists

I always find the best way to talk about lead gen, via vertical specialists, is through the fashion sector. Let’s say you’re a fashion brand looking for high quality sector specific leads, you could push a new product giveaway through stylenest.co.uk for instance. Interacting with a relevant base via a relevant publisher means you are approaching a user type that is likely to continuing engaging with your brand. If you already have plenty of vertical specialists on your affiliate program then great, start with these sites first when you’re looking to turn a competition prize into highly engaged leads.

Email

Going back to Schulze’s study, email marketing is considered to be the third most effective lead gen channel with only 8% of those surveyed choosing not to use email marketing at all. Performance marketing agencies, such as Freemax, hold millions of opt-in email addresses and can target by demographic in order to drive relevant consumer types to interact with your brand. Email marketing can be taken even further with cart abandonment specialists, such as Ve Interactive and SaleCycle, who are able to capture user information at a pre-submit level and push customers further down the sales funnel with bespoke emails based on previous searches on your site.

So, to briefly cover off the above:

Around 50% of advertisers are looking to increase their lead gen budgets this year, will you follow suit?

A total of 25% of advertisers still do not know their lead-to-sale conversion rates. Do not fall into this trap and ensure you have the right tracking in place - understanding the quality of your leads is imperative.

My four key areas for successful lead gen are: display, PPC/SEO, vertical specialist and email. Ensure you’re encompassing all four into your current lead gen activity.