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Friday, January 26, 2007

The scenario is familiar. Over time your online lead generation campaign steadily declines in quality. Before long you’re hemorrhaging precious marketing dollars on leads who aren’t interested in your service or who haven’t provided valid contact information. You need to get your program back on track.

After nearly seven years optimizing thousands of online lead generation offers for companies in virtually every industry, I understand this situation intimately. And I can assure you: You can turn around any campaign quickly with minimal effort. Below are five simple changes that you can do right now to improve lead quality.

Before the lead is submitted:

Use targeting. Targeting a cost per acquisition-based offer may sound counterintuitive (“Why shrink my pool of potential customers if I only pay for those who submit my form anyway?”), but it can make all the difference if you define lead quality by specific demographic or geographic criteria.

For example, if consumers younger than 25 don’t qualify for your service, stop wasting time and money showing them your offer. Gender, age, income and geographic targeting should be basic functionality for any ad network. Better networks also will offer behavioral and transactional targeting to improve relevancy and quality.

Revamp creative. Even the best creative tends to get stale. When revamping your offer, basic ad principles apply: use short, hard-hitting headlines and copy that convey the offer benefits, and bold graphics that grab attention (and are under 30K to load quickly).

Moreover, take steps to ensure the consumer is truly interested in your offer and willing to be contacted by you. For example, add bold text explaining exactly what the consumer should expect, such as a telephone call within 24 hours or that she will receive a bill following the free trial period. Finally, choose graphics and text that highlight not just your offer but your brand — an important goal to create continuity and ensure prospects recognize your brand/company when you do follow up with them.

Add qualifying checkbox. A qualifying checkbox is a field that the consumer must check in order to submit the lead. The checkbox field is followed by text that is critical for the consumer to read and understand before submitting your form.

Example language: “By checking this box, you agree to opt in for e-mail from Company X,” or “By checking this box, you understand that you will be contacted by phone by Company Y.” This helps ensure that the consumer is truly interested in the offer and weeds out those who aren’t.

After the lead is submitted:

Change to real-time delivery. The adage “strike while the iron is hot” is particularly applicable to lead generation because the value of a lead increases the faster you contact it and decreases the longer you wait.

In some industries, a lead older than one day is worthless. Whatever the case, reaching out to the consumer immediately after the lead is submitted improves recall and conversion.

Send triggered e-mail. Triggered e-mail, sent automatically by you or your network partner immediately after each lead is submitted, is a highly effective tool to capitalize on consumer interest in a timely manner and increase conversion among the right consumers. A triggered email should reiterate the value of your offer, the next steps that are required of the consumer to complete the offer and/or what the consumer should expect next (i.e., she will receive her free trial in three to four weeks).

Further, triggered e-mail provides an excellent opportunity to encourage consumers to make a purchase or take any other desired action. Finally, find out your partner’s inbox deliverability to the top Internet service providers. If it can’t get e-mail delivered into the inbox, then the consumer won’t likely read it.


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