Sourcing to Success in 9 Easy Steps

A lead generation campaign consists of a fairly linear path which starts with sourcing leads and ends, hopefully, with a successful sale. Along this path there are many opportunities to enhance the quality of good leads, weed out tyre-kickers, minimise wastage and reduce costs.  The key is to make small gains at each stage of a lead’s life cycle to significantly increase the overall campaign’s ROI. These are nine stages of the life cycle of a lead.

Step 1: Identify your Audience

The audience you target is your first decision. Age, gender and location are the cornerstones of audience targeting. Some sources offer additional targeting options but these should only be introduced once a baseline has been achieved, so as not to limit lead volume unnecessarily. The other consideration is the environment where the offer or ad will be displayed, common environment types include; email, promotional sites, vertical content sites and comparison sites. Each environment has its own specific characteristics and will generate different types of leads at different costs per lead.

Step 2: Set your Offer – Quantity vs Quality

The offer or Ad is an area where there is often a balance to strike between volume and lead conversion rate. At extremes this would range from running a competition to deliver a high volume of leads but a low conversion rate to sale, to running a mini survey to qualify leads delivering a high conversion rate to sale but a low number of leads. Generally the higher the opt-in rate the less you will need to pay per lead. However, the conversion rate will drop if the incentive is too great or unrelated to the product being promoted. A good middle ground is to offer a discount, bonus gift or sales promotion which is only awarded once a purchase has taken place.

Step 3: Capture

Leads are captured using various methods including: Co-registration, Branded Forms or Generic Quote Request Form. Forms can be pre-filled to aid people or blank to ensure fresh details are entered. Form validation will ensure people are prompted to complete all the fields correctly. Other common features may include a postal address lookup function, and a security CAPTCHA system that verify a human and not BOT is filling in the form.

Step 4: Process – Validation

Once a lead has been captured the first task is to ensure it meets any campaign constraints, for example [Age is between 18 and 50], and that all the data provided is correctly formatted (e.g. dates, phone numbers, postal addresses and email addresses). It is also normal to filter out invalid names and swear words, it does happen! Typically leads are de-duped at this point so only new leads are accepted to be paid for.

Step 5: Process – Verification

Verification is where lead data is actively checked against a 3rd party service or database. The most common verification checks include checking if an email box exists, if a mobile number is registered as active and if a postal address is recognised by the Royal Mails PAF database. There are a wealth of other verification and scoring options that can be utilised depending on the requirements of the campaign. For example, fraud detections system can be added into the mix and are recommended if networks are to be used to generate traffic and leads on a Cost Per Lead (CPL) basis.

Step 6: Process – Lead Enrichment

Lead Enrichment is achieved by appending data to leads from 3rd party sources. Consider especially for B2B and high value sales. Typical enrichments can include Geo-demographic and credit worthiness scoring or appending data from matching social media profiles!

Step 7: Automation

Automation via a CRM triggering a series of direct communications, is strongly recommended for most Lead Generation campaigns. As a minimum an email auto responder sent to someone thanking them for their interest and explaining what will happen next. As well as immediate engagement, it also allows for additional information and calls to action at this early stage. Automation can be expanded into a full lead nurturing journey utilising multiple channels.

Step 8: Qualification and Routing

In some circumstances post capture qualification and routing may be appropriate where leads are reconfirmed via marketing automation or by an initial outbound telemarketing function before being directed to the appropriate internal resource for follow-up and conversion. The importance of qualifying out low value leads should not be underestimated because as it allows resource and communications to be focused on the most qualified and engaged consumers.

Step 9: Conversion

The ultimate goal of any lead generation program is to convert a lead into a sale and a new customer. However in reality the majority of leads will not convert into a short term sale and should be flagged for an agreed follow-up – normally a call back or passed in to a lead nurturing program such as a newsletter database. If a lead has been qualified out or has opted-out then the lead should be retired and removed, added to a suppression file or archived depending on the business rules of the organisation.

Final Thoughts

The life of a lead is often short but by actively refining and improving each stage of its life dramatic improvements can be made to a programs return on investment and can be the difference between success and failure.