The following article is a guest contribution from Frans Van Hulle, CEO of ReviMedia.
For the past few years, a steady decline in lead quality has been observed in the online lead generation space. According to MarketingSherpa, procurement of high quality leads was the biggest challenge marketers faced in 2013, and there is little doubt this will still be top of the list in 2014.
Progressively complex interconnections, an ever growing number of players and massively non transparent practices have resulted in a situation where fraud and lead recycling are increasingly common practice. As lead quality shrinks, lead pricing declines, resulting in an overall deterioration of the general value of the lead gen space. Nevertheless, many marketers have their minds set on finding strategic and persistent methods and strategies to increase lead generation values and to re-introduce practices that benefit the lead gen industry. To achieve this, several small improvements can have a tremendous impact on lead gen quality.
1. Invest in a great lead gen form
The power of a great lead gen form is often overlooked and undervalued by many marketers in the space. Lead gen forms need to be well-optimized to retain as much user interest as possible. Forms that are too complicated or too much work, are not user-friendly and less likely to achieve user willingness and commitment to complete forms properly. In order to make forms as user friendly as possible, they need to function on all browsers across the board to guarantee all users have the same access to forms. Moreover, having a “monkey-proof” form that is simple and easy-to-use, with specific information on how to supply information, can go a long way. Automatic correction tools that ensure phone numbers and ZIP codes are entered in the correct format will also greatly decrease bad data. When devising good lead gen forms, it is also essential to include good error messages that assist users and show exact error locations, as well as how to correct them. Again, if error messages are not user-friendly, they will be less inclined to complete and submit forms. To sum up, the perception that a bad quality lead often starts with incorrect or incomplete user data, and perhaps lack of commitment, can be decreased by having a good optimized lead.
2. Always Think Mobile
Mobile traffic now makes up 20% of all US web traffic (Chitika, 2012). This trend is expected to continue, with Cisco estimating that mobile traffic will grow 13-fold by 2017. That’s why it’s of crucial importance to focus on making the switch and guaranteeing that lead gen forms and websites are mobile-enabled. Some mobile leads at the moment are “impulse driven”, meaning that many mobile users stumble upon lead gen forms. By taking mobile users into account, marketers can tap into the vast mobile market and increase sales conversions. Mobile lead gen tools that are gaining more and more importance are mobile applications such as “Click-to-call” which enable mobile users to directly call agents to obtain information or quotes. What better way to guarantee lead quality and increase lead values than having committed users calling service providers directly?
3. Lead Verification
The simple rule is: You can’t verify enough. Even if you only weed out a small percentage of bad traffic by verifying and scoring leads, this will have a massive impact on sales conversions. Improving and optimizing lead generation forms will already go a long way, but verifying and scoring leads allows an insight into the quality of leads and to predict lead conversions. There are many ways to verify leads internally, for example with the help of Google Analytics, by analyzing how much time users spend on filling in forms, how many interactive clicks there are on lead gen websites, and whether or not IPs match Zip Codes. Moreover, external lead verification systems offered by multiple companies can cross-check lead data against larger databases to make sure correct phone numbers and addresses are supplied. As a result, passing on insight and predicting high quality can increase lead values tremendously.
4. Think multi-channel
It’s easy to focus on one type of traffic channel, especially if it works, but there is great value in continuously expanding and diversifying strategies for lead generation. Instead of focusing one type of traffic source alone, it’s important to think multi-channel and to integrate lead generation horizontally. Social media is becoming one of the most efficient and successful lead generation systems, allowing to build good relationships with users and to build trust. E-mail marketing has lost a bit of its glory in the past couple of years, but should not be underestimated as an efficient channel to generate and nurture leads. By investing in premium domains and building trustworthy brands, also helps in increasing lead values by providing users with good content and useful information. In terms of web traffic, it’s vital to have clear and well-working SEO/SEM strategies to ensure that lead gen forms are more easily accessible. By diversifying lead generation channels, marketers can influence, even force their peers, to follow suit and to think outside the box. A vibrant and dynamic industry that continuously comes up with new and exciting opportunities for lead generation is less likely to get caught in a rut.
5. Lead Nurturing/Follow up
Even the best leads decrease in quality if there is no good follow up and lead nurturing. Lead gen companies should work in close cooperation with sales departments to obtain feedback on the actual quality and conversion of leads. Let’s face it, lead conversion is what actually matters and the whole point of lead generation is the eventual sale. So once a lead is passed on, there should be a guarantee that leads are followed up and nurtured as fast as possible. Many high-quality leads may simply fall through the cracks if sales departments don’t react fast or not aggressive enough. The work of lead generation companies therefore should not end once the lead is sold to buyers, but there should be constant feedback and interaction between sales departments and lead gen companies to improve practices and increase lead values.