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Not Just a 'Channel': Making Lead Generation Work Hard for You in 2017

Lead generation is much more than just a "channel", says Performatas' Simon Akers, as he tackles how to put lead gen front and centre of your marketing strategy in 2017.

Consider the facts; £1.58 billion spent on performance marketing (including lead generation) a year, and this is expected to reach $2.35 billion annually in US alone by 2019. 

Most B2B marketers even admitted in a survey by eMarketer that their top three responsibilities, ranked from most important, are brand and positioning, lead generation and brand communications. The mechanic of sourcing prospective customers for your business is clearly front and centre of your marketing strategy moving forward. Or is it? ​

It is odd to think that as default it is not treated as such; an integrated mechanic for buying within existing marketing strategies. Rather, it is treated as an arbitrary channel. Many clients and their media agencies have mastered their direct response buying through display, social and programmatic. However, they are often swayed towards the contrasting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of reach, awareness or engagement on the brand metric end, to Cost per Action (CPA) or Return on Investment on the other. This is fundamentally wrong given the middle ground missed off from lead generation and with it, the opportunity to fuel a consensual prospecting pool for ongoing nurture.

What I am saying is - it should really be an inherent part of your marketing, customer acquisition and digital strategies. Not an add-on or afterthought. 

As per my PerformanceIN article last year, in considering objective of campaign, web properties and advertisers' business resource, you can truly make lead gen - Cost per Lead (CPL) - work hard for you, and at times more beneficial and lucrative then straight CPA. Things have evolved further in the industry from then of course, making this the perfect time to integrate lead generation into existing budgets and activity. Here is why:

Absolute brand consent; Future-proofing for the GDPR

Working in the industry or any UK or European business I am sure it would have been nigh on impossible for you to be ignorant of the impending changes by May 2018 required of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). No more implied consents, third party opt-ins etc. There are still areas of uncertainty for many but the fundamental principle is the clarity of a natural person’s opt-in and engagement with a brand. By capturing an individual now, with a clear GDPR-friendly privacy policy, steady nurturing (albeit through technology, content or personal follow-up) will not only provide engaged, happy customers of the future (obviously), but you will have clear proof and timing of opt-in. Win-Win!

Maximising yield of your marketing technology investment

Customer Relationship Management tools integrated with a good Email Service Provider; a Data Management Platform investment to manage the swathes of data on individuals; marketing automation software to capture and nurture. These are sizeable investments for businesses. Why not capture this data - the warm prospects that have shown intent for your brand, as opposed to an inferred prospect audience, or managing those existing customers only, with a view to increasing their lifetime value? Lead generation provides your third option and one which you can move along your funnel to the customer.

Optimise other channels to a CPL

Coming back to its channel agnostic qualities, you can run Pay per Click, native, social or display campaigns for CPL campaigns and pages. If you know your target CPL it will inform CPC buying metrics on AdWords and native activity. With learning pixels, social and display can optimise CPM buys to effective CPLs. Why wouldn’t you? After all, the lead generation option provides more tangible results, and improved CPC/M buying with genuine outcomes.

Increasing brand loyalty and relationship building

The direct and digital marketers’ holy grail of the Single Customer View is underpinned by the fuelling of quality demand generation. eMarketer’s survey shows that the primary future challenge of B2B marketers is to learn more about their customers. Of course, it is. The more you understand what these customers are responding to the better. Whitepaper content for an enterprise B2B solution? Or Free Gym Pass for the savvy, health-conscious consumer? You will be able to bucket and segment your prospects in a better way, work smarter and offer tailored products and services accordingly.

Making budgets work harder

The last point reinforces all the above (supporting your mar tech investments and smarter optimisations on digital buys for example), but fundamentally you are paying for a prospect- someone who may want to buy from your organisation. Real value. You can either buy on a CPM or CPC and optimise to this KPI, or use trusted partners and affiliates buy on a CPL metric. Not buying on a CPM and focussing on the outcome can act as a panacea to the headaches that many media buyers suffer regarding where your pounds are being served.

With so many ways and tactics in which to tweak your existing activity - what have you got to lose?

Continue the conversation

Got a question or comment – tweet Simon @Simon83 or comment on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

Simon Akers

Simon Akers

Simon has been working with leading brands for over 12 years and helping to advise on implementation of scalable CPL & performance solutions along the way. He is the founding Director of Performatas- a performance marketing agency connecting brilliant and sustainable brands to their target customer via online lead generation and data-driven performance marketing.  

Read more from Simon

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