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 second article in a series on technical needs for lead generation. Read the first article here.)
Investing in technology and automation can make your online lead generation activities more efficient and contribute to overall higher quality leads.
There are many basic tech requirements for lead gen and as a result, generating leads is often much less efficient than it could be. This is why optimized automation is must. But in order to take on this challenge, it’s necessary to familiarize oneself with the technical tools available in lead generation.
First of all, ask yourself if you are going to generate your own leads or buy from lead generation companies or publishers. In other words, do you have the resources to automate on your own or does it make more sense to outsource? Secondly, the technology of lead generation depends on the channel you use to obtain leads: Whether it is SEM, display media, email or social media, every channel has its own technical requirements.
It’s important to keep in mind that the technology for lead gen depends very much on the channel you are using and that each marketing channel requires a different approach. If you are generating leads through social media, it is very important to have mobile-optimized forms. If you are using search marketing, you shouldn’t use the form in an i-frame, and if you use media buys, you need a very good tracking system in place.
The most important thing is to generate leads which show the highest conversion potential. In other words, if you manage to attract quality traffic, your leads are more valuable, resulting in sales. And this is where lead generation becomes very complex: Not only does it matter that you generate leads at all, the overall goal is to implement measures that help you focus on valuable leads and sales. In this sense, it is very important to invest time and resources into tools to help you reach an optimized lead gen setup.
Lead Gen Form
It all starts with a good lead gen form. Forms are often underestimated when it comes to lead generation. Many people would be surprised if they realized how many potential leads they are missing because of not having a user-friendly form.
The simple rule is: You only have one chance to make a first impression. Begin with your design, and make forms as short as possible and easy to use. They have to be accessible on all browsers, including mobile. Building a good lead generation form is very complicated and the choice of technology is greatly important. Anything you can do to encourage and support potential customers in completing lead gen forms, is a step towards higher quality.
Moreover, forms need to include user-friendly error messages and options for auto-complete which is technically complex. For example, you don’t want to have a server-based form that sends you error messages once the information was sent to the server, but you want error-messages and auto-complete to happen in real time.
Lead verification is extremely important in filtering out leads that are sub-standard, double or not usable with wrong data. There are many things you can do to verify leads without too many resources: verify telephone number, email address and other variables, check the IP address and match this with zip code and state.
There are plenty of companies that offer automated lead verification which can help to verify data and obtain leads which genuinely have potential to convert. Services include cross-referencing lead data with phone and address books, matching ZIP codes with states, doing historical data checks to confirm information given in lead gen forms, or providing leads with an ID that gives insights into when and where the lead was generated.
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Hand-in-hand with lead verification goes the necessity for lead scoring. This is a very tricky part as good lead scoring mechanisms will require you to implement sophisticated algorithms that can measure lead quality in reference to chosen parameters such as user behavior on the form.
Depending on the parameters you choose, you can obtain an overall lead score giving insight into the probability of leads converting into sales. Why do you need this? Because lead scoring is an excellent way to find leads that have higher potential to convert into sales and to avoid paying for leads which most likely will not convert. There are many people who say they do lead scoring by assessing the amount of leads conversion, but good lead scoring goes way beyond that and is much more of a prediction model. Lead scoring is also useful because it can inform your marketing strategies. Based on the behavior of high scoring leads, you can optimize your messaging, distribution and campaigns.
Real-time reporting & data analytics
Extremely important to have real time insight in what leads you are generating, how they convert and the cost to generate this leads. In the ideal situation you are able to track back any lead to the source and are able to determine the actual sales per source including acquisition cost. A big part of efficient lead gen is understanding your data and constantly looking for improvements and trends.
Apart from having systems in place that can help you to obtain those high quality, high converting leads you are looking for, there’s of course the actual technology with which you obtain leads. If you buy from other lead generators, the technical requirements include:
The publisher or lead generation company will develop a ping tree for you which pings lead data, mostly in real-time, to multiple buyers. Based on your needs, you then have the option to bid on leads that fit your requirements. The highest bids usually get the full lead contact data which you can then reject or accept.
Most lead buyers set certain filters in order to avoid being pinged for leads that are not suitable for them. These kinds of filters will include gender, age, history (depending on the service), location and others. Based on a list of filters provided by buyers, lead gen companies can establish a set price per lead for a direct post. This price is then used automatically as their bid which competes with other ping/post buyers’ real-time bids. Again, this lead can be accepted or rejected.
Remember, the faster the lead comes through from the user filling in the form to the sales person contacting the lead, the higher the chance of conversion. So, it’s vital that all the different components of lead gen happen as fast as possible and are completely optimized. Make sure your forms are fast, your lead verification and lead scoring is done in milliseconds and that you have a scalable hosting environment. The better the quality of the leads and the faster you follow up on your leads, the more likely you’ll be successful.