Jan 4, 2012

12 Marketing Trends for 2012: #6


Lead generation is an established marketing tool. Its roots go back to the early years of the 20th century. This was when companies were starting to sell by mail order, so they needed to collect the addresses of potential clients. Since the 1980s, the leads business and direct marketing in general have become indispensable tools for many other industries too. The internet’s power as a channel of communication has opened up new possibilities in recent years. These are still far from exhausted. In fact it is often shocking to see the uninspiring way that marketing executives on both client and agency side deal with the issue. All too often, Excel lists of thousands of addresses end up in a drawer because nobody really knows what to do with them.

The process
Posting a form on a website and exporting to Excel is not enough. Efficient, internet-based lead generation starts with a rigorous strategy, involves ­clarifying the client’s administrative and technical capabilities, and moves on to intelligent media. Filter, comparison and ­refinement processes are then applied before the data ends up with the client. A lot of agencies seem to think they can ­disappear at this point, assuming they have got this far. But this is where the really exciting work begins. Active follow-up processes, targeting and retargeting of follow-up campaigns, variable pricing models, CRM integration, etc.: these are the things that tend to characterize good partnerships between satisfied customers and motivated agencies.

In addition to traditional filter me­chanisms, modern tools now include the social graph, ­real-time comparisons with CRM/ERP systems and previous campaigns and much more besides.

In order to offer customers high-­quality leads at competitive prices, a leads provider needs to use the appropriate modern technology. Tracking mechanisms for rev-share models for publishers and clients are just as important as the ability to create interfaces to re­finement systems, call centres and CRM applications. And ­personalized services are part of any good package.

Stumbling blocks and the right partners
Because of price pressure, ­limited media volume, inefficient advertising and landing pages, and the dangerously superficial knowledge apparent among some providers, the market for lead generation is not ­transparent. But there are some serious providers who know how to meet client needs with high quality ser­vices. It’s worth taking some time to choose partners carefully, perhaps even with the help of experts.