Thursday, 26 April 2012 by Peter Bell

Lead Generation Marketing: Time for ROI to kill off CPA

When you think about it, CPA is possibly the most punishing metric created for lead generation marketing. The raison detre of lead generation is the unique process of collecting someones contact details, nurturing them with great content and so convert over time.

The offline direct marketing world has long favoured ROI for direct mail campaigns because of the time it takes to get back results and the associated costs that are tied up in the campaign.

Whereas in the whizz-bang world of online, some bright spark managed to make CPA the official yardstick of campaign success. This creates an atmosphere of instant gratification which lumbers a massive burden on lead generation to perform instantly or die. Ultimately instant performance is down to where the consumer actually is in the buying cycle and how engaged they are with your brand. Using CPA metrics only tends to steer you away from the long tail of lead generation where careful lead nurturing extracts ever more conversions out of the same batch of leads.

ROI based lead generation and performance marketing allows longer-term planning and more investment in smarter ways to convert customers. It has never been cheaper to automate effective marketing communications to potential customers to ever more gently coax them down the marketing funnel.

So the next time someone gives you the CPA of a lead generation campaign, try asking back what is the end ROI and see what happens... nothing well...

The more we start to adopt ROI as the key metric in the lead generation industry, the more companies will invest long term in the channel to create longer lasting benefits we all need more of.

Monday, 26 March 2012 by Peter Bell

Lead Nurturing - Be the Sheep Dog

I last blogged about lead nurturing back in March 2011. One year on and great strides have been made in automated marketing technology which means nurture should now be - second nature.

However, it is not nearly exploited as much as it could be. With an increasingly time and money poor customer, it has never been more vital to engage prospects using a lead nurture marketing process. Nurturing through engagement go hand-in-hand unlocking sales that would have otherwise been lost. Techniques essential to nurturing include:

  • Communication - must be entertaining using appropriate style and tone for your audience
  • Free stuff - offer free information, games, video, gifts or vouchers 
  • Interaction - allow consumers to interact with your brand through social media channels
  • Personalisation - skilfully use personal details to craft more relevant sticky content

Once you have this mindset you also need to consider the best communication channel to employ. For instance, SMS is great for grabbing attention when you consider 95% of texts get read, but if your message is not considered important enough you risk alienating prospective customers. There is no hard and fast rule, for it could be highly effective to use SMS further down the nurturing process if you have failed to engage the consumer by email or phone but have a great marketing proposition to deliver. Depending on the value of the sale, a direct mail piece could be sent to those who have not yet responded but fit the perfect profile of your customer base.

So rule everything in when trying to engage Mr Consumer as you nurture him down the natural ravines of the purchasing funnel. Picture how a shepherd and his dog herd sheep into the pen using guile, patience and skill to ensure all are guided safely and happily to their destination.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 by Peter Bell

Can you handle the Pressure of Performance Marketing?

It is said, You are only as good as yesterdays leads. 

Performance Marketing must be one of the most scrutinised areas of modern marketing. One day you are weeding out lead fraud and validation issues and others you are constantly tinkering with optimisation options to extract more conversions from the same budget. Every day could be good, bad or indifferent. This is a daily grind or a daily pleasure, depending how well you are doing!

For Performance Marketing Executives to manage their time effectively and be successful, it is vital to streamline and automate as many lead marketing tasks as possible:
  • Set auto volume caps and quality thresholds by publisher and channel to optimise performance
  • Loop back real-time sales information rather than chase people for spreadsheets that have to be reformatted anyway
  • Experiment with staggered trigger welcome email frequency rather than blasting manually at unplanned times
  • Use APIs to take real-time feeds into the database to save on manual uploads and internal IT resource
  • Create a repository of email/banner/co-reg creatives that be easily modified and reskined for different campaigns
  • Use tracking technology that requires as little manual intervention as possible

With these elements taking care of themselves it will free up more time where the real world experience and gut-feel of a true performance marketer can make the biggest impact i.e. the fun stuff!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012 by Peter Bell

Is your database built on quicksand?

Ive got 5m names on my email database!  Well, Ive got 10m on mine!  Weve all heard the boasts of having humongous prospect databases without being backed up by any similar boasts about performance. Whether you are an email list owner or a blue-chip brand with a enquirer file - the problem remains the same.  In times of need when you email said database to generate revenue on a penny broadcast basis, it still returns a pitiful amount of value for the effort.  You can test all the subject lines, times of day and creative treatments in the world but if your database if not highly engaged with your brand it wont make a blind bit of difference.

So honestly ask yourself the question - Is your database built on quicksand?  Are you constantly topping up whilst the bottom falls out of it every month?  This strategy of diminishing returns cant go on forever!

In the case of databases, size simply doesnt matter.  The boast should be Ive got a database that generates 10k customers for me/my clients every month!  Care about the size of the return not the number of random email addresses on file. This is something Groupon perfectly exemplifies as a marketing machine.  Their model tells them exactly how many customers they deliver for their advertisers every month. It is the role of the advertiser to package up the right incentives and margins to create long term value from the campaigns.

So try to change the mindset away from size of database towards size of return.  This focus will help build the proper foundations for a database judged on engagement and value. Then pretty soon youll be boasting about its performance but never its size.

Thursday, 26 January 2012 by Peter Bell

Wanted - Co-reg Copywriters

For the many millions of lead generation budget that is spent on co-registration (co-reg) its amazing how little time and money is spent on creating a compelling advertising creative that consumers want to engage with. Essentially marketers have a 6 word header and a further 50 words to convince a consumer to opt-in and respond to the offer.

I tend to use freelance copywriters for campaigns that is 1,000 times more effective than your average co-registration copy. Remember great copy not only increases the volume of leads generated but also raises the quality by recruiting people more relevant and in tune with the brand. Far too often, copy is left to the last minute and involves rehashing promotional blurb from a homepage - I admit Ive been guilty of this in the past.

Great advert copy neednt be expensive and when you are spending millions generating leads online it is a small price to pay when you consider better copy can uplift conversions by min. 10%.

At the very least, if you are a last minute copywriter by default rather than choice, I recommend reading Olgivy on Advertising to get the creative advertising juices flowing.

So if anyone out there describes themselves as a co-reg copywriter then be sure to drop me a line? - I think you are alone in this profession in the UK!