Posts filed under Lead Generation

The Critical Importance Of Lead Validation In Internet Marketing

If you bought a lottery ticket but didn't scratch it, would you start spending your jackpot? Of course, you wouldn't -- you need to know whether or not you actually won something first.

For a lot of direct marketers -- Internet marketers especially -- they're spending their winnings before they know if they won because they're not validating or grading the leads they're getting.

Lead generation websites and other direct marketing techniques can bring lots of inquiries, but many of those inquiries are not actual sales leads. They're things like customer service requests, incomplete form submissions or even wrong numbers. However, too many direct marketers lump all inquiries under the same category and think they're generating far more useful leads than they really are. Ultimately, they're putting their resources into the wrong places.

The greater the lead quality, the more likely the sales or closure rate. 

The following presentation illustrates just how crucial lead validation can be for Internet marketing campaigns -- or any other type of direct marketing effort. Without the complete picture of who your true sales leads are and where they're coming from, you won't be able to make the most of your campaign or optimize it to drive greater improvements. Follow this advice and you won't fall into the trap of spending your winnings before you know whether or not you've actually won.

The following slides from Aaron Wittersheim, Chief Operating Officer at Internet marketing agency Straight North, focuses on Internet marketing and improving sales results with an effective Internet response validation system. He also reveals some interesting statistics that will prove useful to all marketers.

 I think that the above slide review misses a critical strategy in the lead validation process. To be a true sales lead that survives the validation process, those leads should prove a predisposition to buying the product or service.

Cost per sale and not the cost per lead should drive your lead generation strategy.

Sales lead validation must go beyond the described validation process. It's not enough to know that the lead represents true interest in your offering. The cost per qualified lead is defined as a lead that will likely convert to a sale. 

For example, if a  validated lead cost $10 each in a given channel or mix of channels, then a sales conversion rate of 10% equals a cost of $100 per sale.  Simply put, if one in 10 leads turns up a sale, then the cost per sale is $100.

Don't drive your program based on the $10 cost per lead. Expand or reduce your lead generation budget based on the cost per sale to $100 – assuming that CPS achieves your ROI requirements.

One client was generating over 700 B2B leads to month while converting less than one contract per month. This was unacceptable. All it did was frustrate the sales team.

Let me know your thoughts on the lead validation process and how you would modify it.

Posted on March 27, 2017 and filed under Lead Generation, Online Marketing.

What is Direct Marketing?

For people who aren't familiar with the term, this post describes what direct marketing is. How is it advantageous for a company?

Marketers typically view the world through two lenses. And both are valid even though they do not easily merge for most clients. One is the brander and the other, the direct marketer.

The best marketers fuse these two strategies to maximize advertising budgets. Nevertheless, direct marketers demand a given return on their marketing investment to deliver the company's financial objectives.

Let's address what direct marketing is not.

It is not just direct mail or any specific channel. Direct marketers (often referred to as direct response marketers) believe that advertising should contain a clear call to action and that the program lives or dies based on results.

In direct marketing campaigns, all channels in both traditional and digital receive the same treatment and evaluation process.

Effective direct marketing strategy must consider the big picture

Direct marketers further believe that the targeting, offers, channels and integration of channels should be tested on a regular basis to deliver the lowest costs per lead or costs per sale. 

In direct marketing, one strategy combination might yield 20,000 new customers whereas the same budget through skillful tested can eventually yield two, three or even four times as many customers.

Getting back to branding, one brand advocate, Walter Lander once said "...a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service, it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality."

Anther way to look at it  -  
Branding is more about the company and direct response revolves around the product.

Direct marketers are concerned about the total selling process and not just the communications. For great results, they know that leads that are not followed up immediately decrease sales and a poorly written phone script with poorly trained telesales people cause many great programs to fail.

For direct marketers, success demands that all selling steps are planned and carefully implemented. General advertisers or branders, on the other hand, typically consider these somebody else's responsibility.

One of the key services offered by direct marketers is direct market planning

The content of the direct marketing plan depends upon the objectives of the campaign. It most often involves new customer acquisition direct response strategies to generate leads or "off-the-page" sales.

Lead generation requires several steps to close the sale and incorporates a sales team and a telesales support group. A direct sale "off-the-page", on the other hand, depends solely on single or repeated messages that sell the product without external sales support.

If this is a new and untested campaign designed to help the company enter the direct response world or an experienced direct marketing company, the plan always presents the campaign in test mode. This limits the exposure to failure and attempts to find a winning campaign quickly by testing several things simultaneously.

There is no such thing as a one-off campaign in winning direct marketing efforts

Winning in direct marketing programs requires accumulating learning through ongoing testing always attempting to beat the control (that is, the winning direct mail package or an entire omnichannel campaign).

Testing never ends. Without it, direct programs either never roll out or loose their effectiveness by wearing out the target audiences with too much of the same thing.

What wins today may not win tomorrow. 

Direct marketing plans guide clients to financial success by developing a financial proforma. This proforma works back from the acceptable cost per sale for the client to determine whether the response rates needed for a win are within reach.

Direct marketing lives or dies by its results

Direct marketing budgets never look solely at projected response rates, a media plan or some other incomplete approach. Recommended tests campaigns revolve primarily around the cost per sale allowable.

Success equals the plan's ability to acquire the desired sales volume at the allowable cost per sale. 

The client must develop or share their allowable cost per sale (or allowable cost per customer) with the direct marketer before (s)he writes the plan.

The plan includes the product description, the target audiences, the competitive environment, the creative strategy, the channel selections, tracking requirements, digital support, telesales/sales support, audience target list counts and so on focusing on the budget for the test implementation.

If the company assigns the planning task to dmcg, we can implement all phases of the plan assuring the best possible environment for success.

There are other aspects to direct marketing not discussed here. Which ones does your company ignore in your direct marketing strategy?

The 6 Barriers to Success for BtoB Marketers

After creating a number of BtoB lead generation and marketing programs for BtoB marketers, it is clear to me that we face sometimes overwhelming barriers to success. In mid 2011, Marketingsherpa performed research to uncover the barriers that exist for more than 1,700 BtoB marketers. The research graphs 13 barriers. But this post addresses 6 of the top barriers that reflect what my clients have confirmed many times.
Posted on November 7, 2012 and filed under Lead Generation, B2B.

Direct Mail Still Critical to Successful Big Company Lead Generation

There is one application where direct mail still dominates and flourishes.

The volumes are low and the lists highly qualified. And that is in the area of Business-To-Business (B2B) lead generation for large ticket services or products.

In this age of rightsizing, realignment and relentless change, executives must protect their time. They are averse to any form of change or risk taking.  They react negatively to traditional sales approaches where salespeople waste their time by trying to be friends before selling their worth.

Gatekeepers are rewarded for keeping non-essential calls and emails away from their bosses. And those gatekeepers sometimes will allow you to email them so they can forward your email. But even gatekeepers are protecting their email addresses by insisting that you send your information via the US Post Office.

And you can pretty well forget about engaging decision makers on the phone without going through a number of hoops. Companies have designed ever more powerful sales people filters.

Let's face it. Many sales people will give up at this stage.

Reaching high level executives with any medium has challenged the best marketing minds for years. And direct marketers with just a few years of experience have tried them all.

In an effort to simplify their lives or follow the latest trend, a number of companies have refused to test direct mail believing that online represents the future and that executives live there exclusively.

Ongoing testing proves that this hypothesis is incorrect.

Attempting to generate leads using online without a multichannel approach kills new product launches.

I have yet to see a sustained, quality lead generation program directed to C level executives that does not use or rely heavily on direct mail to set up qualified appointments. Give me access to direct mail and outbound telemarketing with zero online support (except for a well designed website or landing page) and I can beat online only programs for complex product sales.

Online only lead generation may seem inexpensive compared to direct mail and outbound telemarketing. And you might get a few sales in the beginning. But online only quickly looses steam.

Direct mail with outbound telemarketing, on the other hand, will give you deeper penetration and ultimately a lower cost per sale.

In fact, direct mail often represents the core medium with support from online and outbound telemarketing.

If you want to cut through the clutter in the B2B lead generation category, then direct mail will play an important role in successful, long term lead generation directed to large corporations. Why?

  1. Direct mail gets attention and cuts through the clutter of online marketing without multichannel support -- especially 3-D packages. 
  2. If well done, direct mail bypasses all but the most obsessive gatekeepers.  
  3. Direct mail now has greater credibility and brand building qualities than email for generating new B2B business. 

Unlike most business-to-consumer direct mail, businesses with high average sales for products or services continue to use direct mail unabated regardless of the postal rate increases.

I realize that that multichannel lead generation alone is no guarantee of success. Critical issues such as the messaging, value proposition and worth creation are subjects for other posts to come.

What are your thoughts about what it takes to reach high level decision makers today?

Posted on June 17, 2011 and filed under Branding, Lead Generation.