By Frans Van Hulle
Editor’s Note: Frans Van Hulle is a featured speaker at LeadsCon Las Vegas, March 25-26 at The Mirage Hotel & Casino. This is the fourth article in a series on technical needs for lead generation.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a shift in lead generation away from focusing on just lead quantity towards a model that emphasizes quality. This is a welcome development in an industry that is often affected by fraud and mutual distrust. This is because the lead generation industry operates by the undersold model by which a lead can be sold up to seven times. However, there are so many players in the industry that it becomes more and more obscure who is selling leads to whom and how many times.
Moreover, this lack of transparency has attracted a lot of fraudsters trying to make a quick buck off of the complex interconnections within the lead gen space. Unfortunately this has prompted a downward spiral: As lead quality decreases, lead pricing goes down. As lead pricing goes down, marketing spending decreases, and in turn quality deteriorates, and so on and so forth. In other words, improving lead quality is in everybody’s best interest.
Lead verification is an essential step towards getting higher quality leads, and can help to eliminate fraud and create more contactable consumers.
1. Lead Gen Form
As we’ve previously discussed, good lead gen form is an excellent start towards integrating lead verification into your lead gen processes. Well-designed lead gen forms can help you to filter and eliminate invalid data. Making forms as user-friendly as possible not only encourages users to enter correct lead data but also makes you come across more trustworthy and customer-service oriented. Design and positioning play a key part in attracting customers to submitting their data, and this needs to be split-tested carefully in order to find the best option.
Forms need to work on all browsers, including mobile, and need to operate at maximum speed. Nothing is more annoying than a slow form. Moreover, speed is also very important for sales departments. The faster they can contact leads, the more likely they are to convert into sales.
Automatic corrections and error messages are also crucial in eliminating incorrect user data and increasing willingness to submit valid contact information. Moreover, these are a crucial step towards verifying information. Vital fields regarding contact information should be made mandatory, such as contact numbers or address fields. In order to shield yourself from an influx of bad data, you should also consider making submission impossible if vital fields aren’t entered correctly. For example, if a user submits a 9- instead of a 10-digit phone number, they cannot submit the form. Likewise if email addresses are entered without a @-sign, submission is not available.
This is also a reason why it is recommendable to use real-time messages that correct errors immediately, rather than server-based error-messages that tell users there were errors after they’ve filled in the form. Getting error-messages in real-time will make users more inclined to submit their data.
Furthermore, you can run automatic email inbox checks to determine if email addresses are actually in use.
These are simple verification methods that will make your lead gen form much better and will make you sales department more efficient by filtering out invalid data.
2. Analyzing User Behavior
Another method to verify not only validity of contact data, but also buying intent is to analyze the user behavior on your form.
Where is your lead coming from? Does the IP address match the geographic area you are looking for? By checking whether or not your lead is actually from an area that matches your product range, you can verify that your sales department is following up on the right leads.
It is also good to measure how many clicks a user has made while being on your form, or how many error messages they have received. If there have been too many error-messages it can be an indication that forms aren’t necessarily filled in with great care.
Moreover, define how much time users should spend on your form. This parameter can also give you insights into user intent. If forms are filled in way too fast, it might not be a human but a bot you’re dealing with.
These simple checks can help to get an idea how strong the buying intent of the individual user is.
3. External Lead Verification Companies
There are also multiple companies that offer external verification systems which can be integrated into lead generation processes. These types of lead verification companies usually work with external data companies, and cross-reference large address and phone book databases to check if data is consistent with other records. In short, these external lead verification systems can help to validate data and guarantee that consumers are contactable. Companies that offer lead verification are, for example, eBureau and BriteVerify. Another important service some lead verification companies offer is to “stamp” the lead with an ID when it is generated which reduces the risk of the lead being sold too many times. ReviMedia has been working for the last four years to develop a proprietary lead exchange platform, LXP, which includes sophisticated lead verification and scoring systems.
Overall, lead verification is an extremely important element in improving lead quality and making lead generation more efficient. With good lead verification, the contact rate of leads can improve from 20% to 40%. This not only translates into higher sales, but also higher efficiency. If buying intent can be determined before sales departments get on the phone to call customers, the time spent on contacting invalid contacts or uninterested users can be significantly reduced.