The affiliate and lead generation industry is irrefutably growing. Between 2008 and 2012 advertising expenditure on online performance marketing as a whole, grew by 57% due to lead generation spend increasing by 136% and affiliate marketing spend increasing by 50%.

That growth has in part been driven by advertisers becoming more open to the potential data they might receive, but also an increasing number of networks and advertisers incorporating lead validation and data hygiene mechanisms into their tracking systems to better manage their data collection. Consequently, according to a recent report from the IAB, the industry is now valued at over £800 million with sales generating in excess of £9 billion.

So what does this all mean? At Teradata eCircle, we understand that whilst technology might help to control data hygiene, it doesn’t generate the sales performance that advertisers expect from the channel on its own. Generating good quality leads is all about accurate prospect targeting and lead management in equal measure.   

Advertisers increasing strive for more data-driven insights which has fuelled marketers’ interest in ‘Big Data’ and how they can grow and make use of customer data to optimise their marketing performance.  After all, the sales performance of the leads you acquire can be heavily affected by the origin and manner in which they have been sourced. The trouble is the historic view is that bad, that quality leads are often, but not exclusively, sourced through channels which are over incentivised, often from inactive third party data sources.

Stamping Out Poor Quality Sources

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in its recent guidance towards the interpretation of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, has taken steps to confirm the requirement of a clear unforced and informed opt-in policy. But whilst this will undoubtedly help to stamp out the poorest quality sources of third party sourced lead generation, this guidance is intended to protect the consumer, not the marketer or advertiser.

Advertisers need to consider the context of how leads are generated because certain affiliate models might not necessarily be appropriate for their business model. Data sourcing is undeniably one concern, but how the leads are managed, once they have been acquired, can often be overlooked and undermine your entire lead generation efforts.

Ultimately lead generation is all about building a prospect pool of users who you want to nurture into customers over the medium term, irrespective of whether you implement a newsletter programme or not. It’s as much about relationship management as data collection. So whilst you might have accurately targeted and reached your audience, and captured their initial attention, if you don’t nurture that relationship, your efforts will be in vain.

Meaningful Interactions

That’s why it’s important to create lead nurture programmes for all your lead generation campaigns. Customised communication programmes designed to reach out to specific user segments and create meaningful interactions as soon as they have registered, drive a much more valuable long-term relationship with the user.

From our research, how an advertiser manages newly registered users over the first six weeks of the relationship can have a huge impact on their likely propensity to buy in the future. Lead generation campaigns should therefore be focused towards your company objectives and ROI goals and follow-up communication should be designed with this in mind. Acquisition activity should be planned with specific customer segments and across all digital channels that those segments interact with.

For us this means dynamically modelling and adapting both traffic acquisition sources and creative delivery as a result of the lead sales propensity, to ensure we are generating the most valuable lead segments possible. It also means designing one-to-one communication that engages and inspires your new prospects across all digital channels, with content that makes them feel good about your brand and encourages them ever closer towards becoming a customer. 

Long-term Customer Engagement

Our results regularly outperform our clients’ email newsletter programmes and massively decrease the sales cycle duration from initial brand exposure to sale. The results are not only effective for email marketing, but can be used to underpin activities across all digital acquisition channels.

Lead generation can be an extremely valuable way of driving long-term customer engagement increasing an advertiser’s prospect pool. However, it must be said that it is a long-term channel investment that requires support and a strategic approach to customer nurture, if advertisers are to realise its full potential. That means taking the upmost care to nurture relationships before users are customers.