Everyone can certainly agree the sheer volume of information available to the consumer today is overwhelming, making it more challenging than ever to acquire new customers. This is exactly why it makes sense to take a fresh look at online lead generation. Per industry findings, online lead generation has proven to be a very valuable customer acquisition channel for direct response marketers who apply a holistic approach from lead to the desired action or response.
A shortened Wikipedia definition of online lead generation is: the generation of prospective consumer interest or inquiry into a business’ products or services through the Internet. Generated leads fit a variety of purposes: list building, e-newsletter list acquisition, building out reward and/or loyalty programs, product service engagement and many other acquisition programs. (For more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_generation)
There are several ways to generate a response from the consumer:
- Asking for a response to a straightforward question, such as, “Would you like to save money on auto insurance?”
- Taking part in a brief survey or short application.
Responses should be equally as easy make. They could be:
- Radio button click-to-respond; yes/no check boxes, drop down boxes, toll-free 800 number; provide your first/last name, e-mail address/phone number.
- Telemarketing warm-lead transfer or phone follow up.
Keep in mind questions (and answers) are all part of the qualification process. The more defined you make the process, the more qualified the lead can be.
The lead-gen process also enables the marketer to engage and communicate with a “hand-raiser” who has expressed interest in learning more about the marketer’s product/offering.
- The marketer can immediately communicate through an auto-responder e-mail or follow-up phone call — starting the communication process right away and through a series of subsequent cascading e-mails that continually warm up the lead.
- The marketer must always be mindful of best practices and CAN SPAM rules in the e-mail communication process, as well as TCPA compliance all along the communication journey.
- While many media providers do a good job at generating leads, you must remember most new leads are most probably not ready to buy just yet. You must have a lead-nurturing program in place that will help build a relationship and, just as importantly, gain trust with the lead.
- One sure path for leads to convert is to engage through relevant content and substantive product or service information. Be absolutely sure you have the timing right.
It has been well established that the online generated leads channel is a quality one for converting respondents into buyers. The reasons are many. For instance, qualified leads can be delivered in real time for immediate follow up. But, caution! Be sure you have a process in place that can take the interested lead and provide more information about your product or service as soon as possible, if not immediately.
Online lead generation can be very cost effective: leads can be acquired at rates that are more suitable to meet cost-per-order and ROI/P&L needs. Online lead generation is viewed by many as low risk, as many lead channels can be paused in as little as 24 hours if performance targets are not being met.
If geography is a requirement for you, then keep in mind online e-mail, display and consumer registration path lead generation provides geographic targeting to ensure that the message/offer is delivered to the suitable target audience. This means that each customer is more highly qualified.
Volumes of leads can be managed with daily caps to easily allow for optimization and scaling. And finally, the online lead generation channel tends to be less cluttered with heavily promotional ad units.
One last thought: the media providers that are chosen to access traffic need to meet the audience demographics and lifestyle interests to best target the marketer’s customer, so know your sources! The goal is to test with a partner that delivers new customers within the CPO target range. Always look to the campaign’s ROI to ensure the lead cost is meeting or exceeding the P&L objective!
When executed properly, online lead generation allows the marketer to focus, analyze and optimize efforts while controlling media spend and maintaining a low level of risk.