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)

Already the preserve of the B2B world, consumer marketers are waking up to the need for dedicated lead management software.  An increasing number of outsourced platforms integrate lead management, lead tracking and an email service provider bringing more marketing automation, lower cost and higher conversion potential than ever before.

Off the shelf LMP’s include Lead IntelligenceLola GroveCakeFLG360LeadByte plus more to follow this year! Of course, many companies use in-house software instead, but be aware of the need for it to communicate with other media platforms to provide the flexibility and reporting required by all stakeholders.

Mobile lead generation

Mobile has until now been viewed as a separate discipline with specialist networks, metrics and terminology. The lines are becoming blurred and perversely, email (a classic desktop channel) is now more of a mobile channel with 60%+ of email viewed on mobile devices (according to popular ESP research).

This year, the mobile community will embrace email as a mobile channel whilst other display advertising will merge into online as responsive websites become ‘de rigueur’ over separate desktop and mobile specific versions.

Inbound (click to call) marketing

Already widely adopted in the US for marketers with products that require a higher degree of personal service and/or have a big ticket price attached such as insurance. Mobile’s growth has seen an increasing amount of adverts displayed with ‘call now’ options meaning just one tap creates the inbound lead.

Issues around measurement and analytics are also solved now by call tracking platforms (i.e. ResponseTapIovox) offering turnkey solutions which integrate with existing contact centre software.

Native advertising

The migration of consumers to mobile has speeded up the proliferation of native advertising. There is just not enough space for all that banner inventory on a mobile device!  Premium news sites use the likes of Outbrain and Taboola to serve paid content in the form of native looking links in place of traditional banner ads.

Freebie and co-registration (a.k.a. host and post) sites have long used native advertising to provide added value to the user in the form of offers, discounts, competitions and free stuff.  As more publisher content types integrate native advertising in the form of news, offers and rewards it offers even more scope to perform large scale contextual lead generation campaigns.

Incentive marketing

In the UK, the majority of affiliate marketing revenue, especially in retail, is driven by reward and cashback marketing. So far, incentive means the use of points or pounds or virtual currency to reward consumers, however this is beginning to evolve into other incentive models.  A neat example is Kidstart, where cashback rewards are paid into your child’s savings account rather than received directly.

Expect more publishers from other niches begin to tailor cashback marketing to particular interest groups and therefore become less generic in the approach. This is likely to provide a rich new stream of inventory for lead generation campaigns.

Taken together, you may notice that these trends all meet the demand (from both consumers and marketers) for lead generation to become more relevant and efficient in connecting the right offer with the right consumer at the right time. 2014 could well be the year of ‘smart lead generation’.