Thursday, 9 August 2012 by Peter Bell

Why Lead Generation is NOT a marketing channel

Performance Lead Marketing
In recent years, Lead Generation has deservedly blossomed into one of the fastest growing areas of marketing today (42% of sales coming from online leads according to Econsultancy). Its even spawned a new more popular big brother of late - Performance Marketing. Performance covers a much larger area of marketing, encompassing non-lead activity such as pure customer acquisition (Cost Per Acquisition/Cost Per Sale) campaigns or revenue share based activity.

Many good folks (including myself) within the industry have fought hard to get lead generation recognised and established as a standalone marketing channel in the UK. To their credit in 2011, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) finally apportioned 1% of all online advertising spend to online lead generation up from zero previously - meaning £51m ad spend was defined as online lead gen last year. Whilst 9 out of 10 cats would say this is a tenth of the reality, its a good start.

In 2012, with Lead Generation and Performance firmly on the marketing map and on every marketers to do list, now is the time to shift the focus away from talking about lead generation as a channel. Lead Generation touches all areas of direct marketing including email, banner (display), search engine marketing, mobile advertising, SMS, social media (virtual currency), tele-marketing, print advertising, co-registration (or host and post if you are in the US). These are the established marketing channels that are used for lead generation marketing. Lead Generation itself is not a marketing channel, it is a marketing purpose. To my mind, there are only three possible purposes for marketing and advertising in general:
  1. To generate leads/prospects
  2. To acquire customers (i.e. minus the lead process)
  3. To generate awareness/branding (hopefully, creating leads/customers later on)
Now, is the time to move the debate on to crediting lead generation more as a marketing objective rather than a channel in its own right. This will help senior marketers create much more lead focused marketing strategies which can then be distilled into tactics by the marketing teams or performance agency to pick the most appropriate channels (mentioned earlier) to meet those high level objectives.

By 2013, more and more CMOs and Marketing Directors will be discussing Lead Generation and Performance Marketing strategy at board level (if not already).

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 by Peter Bell

Don't Marry your Leads - Get Engaged First!

Its so tempting isnt it - youve generated the perfectly crafted lead and now you want immediate conversion to customer. But hold up - youve hardly met and already youre popping the question.

Asking someone to marry you on the first date not only sounds desperate but is likely to attract the wrong sort of response such as Dont speak to me ever again & Where did you get my details from Of course there will be the odd few that say yes straight away but are you really sure you want someone like this?

Yet in lead generation marketing we try to marry people on the first date all the time. Generate - Convert, Generate - Convert, doh... 

The key missing ingredient essential to all long-lasting relationships is - Engagement.

Yes it sounds boring and is a little bit fuzzy. You might even worry youll scare the lead off before you get the chance to convert. However a compelling engagement strategy neednt slow down conversion. It could be something simple, such as a welcome email sent before the prospect is telephoned. The welcome email is all about adding credibility, useful content and support to the sales pitch.

Adopting a more complete engagement strategy over a longer period can also mean offering prospects the opportunity to download something for free, watch a video or play a game, all relevant to the end goal of getting the person to buy your product. Not forgetting, that in b2c marketing you must apply engagement techniques at low cost and high scale in order to meet both volume and CPA targets.

So resist the temptation of taking things too fast and spoil what could be many more beautiful customer relationships in 2012.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 by Peter Bell

PPC Advertising is Dead and Google Knows It

Google PPC is dead

Hold on, just a cotton picking minute, you cry - youre talking about the central nervous system of all online marketing, youre way out of line. But hear me out (I am not a Google basher - note to Google bots, please spider the word Not). I dare you to dispute my top ten reasons:

  1. You are NOT what you click
  2. Under 100 keywords drive 95% of search traffic (outside of e-commerce)
  3. PPC based search agencies struggling to add value and diversifying
  4. Googles infamous long tail of niche terms/hidden keywords with ROI busting returns has been docked by Googles broader matching software.
  5. Auction based pricing model dominated by intermediary aggregators who squeeze out end user advertisers by selling on the cheaper click traffic as higher priced leads
  6. Google diversifying into display and affiliate marketing. We now see comparison site ads and email signup ads mixed in with search results
  7. Advertisers endlessly question the true ROI of search ads, but for many years have felt there has been no credible alternative
  8. Advertisers demand leads and customers rather than just anonymous click traffic
  9. Performance Marketing is becoming a by-word for all marketing. Who would choose non-performance in this brave new marketing world where low-risk and ROI are lord and master?
  10. Social media is rapidly becoming the filter through which people view the internet rather than tapping words into search engine boxes.
Ive no doubt Google knows all of this which is why our search world will change beyond all recognition over the next 24 months. It will be Google search, but just not as we know it!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 by Peter Bell

Performance Agency v's Performance Network

The Royal Couple

In the booming Online Lead Generation sector, the once distinct roles of the Performance Marketing Agency and the Affiliate Marketing Network are merging.

Wind back a few years and you could see clear daylight between the two separate disciplines. Take first the role of The Marketing Agency, being primarily focused on:

  • Campaign creation & brand proposition
  • Answering the client brief
  • Media Planning & Buying specialist 
  • Strictly client-side

Contrast this with The Affiliate Network:

  • Delivery according to the media plan
  • Management of publishers
  • Affiliate marketing platform specialist

Fast forward to today and we see marketing agencies running private affiliate networks and conversely affiliate networks doing traditional agency work such as planning and buying performance media.

Who is is treading on whose toes? And who is the most capable of giving the best service and results?

There is no single answer, but clearly as the performance marketing industry matures it is transitioning from many siloed specialist operators towards a broader, easier to understand proposition. This is why both agency and network players now seek to offer advertisers a one-stop shop for all lead generation and performance marketing services.

Networks and agencies have much to learn from one another and it can only be a good thing if working closer together and adopting good practice means more cohesion and simplicity on offer to the modern day performance marketer. However, a clear and present danger of being both agency and a network is where conflicts of interest arise in media buying between owned and bought media.

Whichever model wins out (or more likely a new combination of the two), it has never been more important to demonstrate media independence and use integratable (is this a word?) platforms with total transparency to ensure advertisers receive the perfect marriage of both agency and network.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012 by Peter Bell

Google Lead Generation

Check it out... Try Googling myvouchercodes when logged into Google and see what you get. I got this search result with an email sign-up box:

On clicking get offers you get this Google email sign-up thank you message:

So no click, no traffic just email leads. Over and above Googles recent addition of display advertising for financial product comparisons, this is now an example of pure lead generation advertising from Google.

Checking out Google Adwords, this ad extension is not currently available in the interface but its only a matter of time.

Its clear that Google no longer see themselves as a website traffic provider using cost per click (CPC) but are becoming more orientated around cost per lead (CPL) and cost per action (CPA) campaigns. The current range of performance based advertising options on Google include:

  • Display advertising- if youre a Google owned comparison site!
  • Cost per call - using Googles less than perfect telephone number tracking solution
  • Email sign-ups

No doubt a sign of things to come if they can make it work and scale it without cannibalising the search business.

A Google click or a Google lead - I know which Id prefer.

How long before Facebook begin offering similar Performance Marketing options?