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Focus on cost per lead and campaign ROI

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  • 1. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads A White Paper
  • 2. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. Introduction: In today’s age of competitive markets and shrinking budgets, marketing and sales teams are stretched extremely thin, forcing them to do more with considerably less. This in turn has stepped up the pressure to boost the quantity -- and more importantly, the quality of leads. Outsourcing lead generation is very effective at lowering the cost per lead and has become increasingly popular. Unfortunately, problems often arise when telemarketing is outsourced to one vendor, email marketing to another, and direct mail to yet another vendor. Paying an agency to coordinate all these activities ends up raising the cost per lead as does hiring contracted or additional headcount to attempt to manage this in- house. So what’s the answer? Progressive companies are adopting a new approach to lead generation. An approach that has a laser-sharp focus on optimizing campaign ROI, uses multiple marketing mediums to capture leads, and enhances the productivity of the sales team. Truly optimizing integrated lead generation requires working with a specialized partner that can: • customize a solution that meets your specific objectives • dramatically increase response rates though personalization technology • manage and report real-time on all aspects of your integrated campaigns • and most importantly…deploy proven tactics based on best practices. The following list of best practices highlights what we at LeadGenesys believe are essential building blocks for the foundation of a truly optimized lead generation program. 1. Constantly focus on lead quality and the cost per conversion. This starts with targeting – and never ends. When targeting continuously improves, so does your campaign ROI. Whether you work with an agency or multiple point-solution vendors, make sure they thoroughly understand your target audience and have a solution in place that measures the effectiveness of campaign elements like your lists, creative, offer, and timing of multiple marketing vehicles. © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 2
  • 3. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. Your lead generation solution should take the guesswork out of testing and targeting, and also help accelerate the conversion-to-customer process. Ultimately, a campaign’s success should be measured by the cost per conversion not just the cost per response. When the focus is on cost per conversion-to-customer, the quality of leads gets more emphasis that just the quantity. Traditional direct mail marketing and now email marketing, enables companies to reach target audiences at very low costs compared to other methods. But when typical response rates for direct mail average 1% and between 1 and 3% for rented email lists, you have to assume targeting can be improved. In an attempt to bring down the cost per response, marketers will often cast out a wider net. The lure of an extremely low cost per lead may tempt marketers to try affinity marketing, online banners and other less targeted efforts. But why spend any money at all on leads that miss the mark? Creative and printing costs and purchase minimums for rented direct mail lists all factor into the cost per lead. Rented email blasts are also impacted by minimums and these email lists typically have a limited amount of profile data. All of this tends to inflate campaign quantities to keep the cost per piece and cost per response down. Unfortunately, this also decreases targeting. There are only a limited number of people that will buy your product or service. Casting out a wider net, only to reach the wrong targets, is not the answer. Refined targeting and concentrated, multi-touch marketing efforts is the best way to get a response from a limited pool of decision makers. 2. Get executive level buy in and work very closely with Sales. Without executive or C-Level buy-in, getting superior results from a comprehensive lead generation program becomes very difficult. Once the CEO understands the highlights and importance of your program, you’ll have much more success collaborating with Sales, Customer Service and other groups that are key to customer conversion. Working closely with the Sales department is critical. Sales should have input into all stages of the campaign. As contributors they will assume ownership and ensure that cultivation of the leads is a priority. Nothing will kill lead cultivation efforts faster than a sales force that feels a campaign has been thrust upon them. When the CMO and head of Sales jointly agree on and present the objectives of a campaign, accountability is shared and campaign ROI is optimized. © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 3
  • 4. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. 3. Control lead flow and optimize your budget with more targeted efforts. Imagine the prospect experience of responding to a campaign only to be ignored because the inside sales force is too busy handling other responders or assumes the prospect is less qualified because the company name is not recognized. Unfortunately the allure of a low cost per response all too often results in a large influx of leads that miss the mark only to frustrate the sales force – and interested prospects. When over half of marketing-driven leads get labeled as a “poor fit”, it doesn’t take long for Sales to assume all the leads associated with that campaign are not worth following up on. A better approach is to control the flow of leads with multiple, highly targeted efforts. This has several advantages. Keeping direct mail and email drops small, with focused phone follow-ups enables you to test and refine many campaign elements throughout the year. Lead flow is controlled. And leads that on the surface may not look as appealing as others stand a better chance of being cultivated. 4. Reach elusive prospects through an integrated approach. Once you’ve tightly defined your target audience, the next challenge is getting prospects to respond. Lets face it, non-responders are the majority of your target audience, but with precise targeting, its safe to assume many non-responders may actually be your best prospects. The timing of your message may have simply been off or the marketing piece just didn’t reach the prospect. High-level decision makers each have their own preference on what they respond to, which is why it takes an integrated multi-touch effort to get their response. A multi-touch marketing campaign should identify and re-target responders that for any reason did not submit their profile on a personalized website landing page. Past responders have previously expressed interest, so they are far more likely to respond again and submit a profile in subsequent contacts. Make sure your solution can identify responders that don’t submit a profile on the first wave of your campaign. Your solution should also be able to keep track of complete contact history so you’ll know when to suspend efforts on prospects that have had over X number of contacts. Integrated, multi-touch marketing helps boost response rates in a number of ways. It significantly increases the odds that your message will reach your prospect, overcomes the timing issue, and after multiple impressions, dramatically increases recall rates to serve as a means of highly targeted branding. © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 4
  • 5. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. 5. Boost response rates with enhanced personalization and relevancy. It’s well known that response rates improve with increased personalization. Yet the vast majority of direct mail sent today is hardly personalized at all. No wonder typical response rates are so low. Although personalization of direct mail does increase the cost per piece, the increased response rates almost always justify the added expense. New printing personalization technology enables you to print small lots of direct mail tailored to each recipient. With variable images and content, you can dramatically enhance the personalization and relevancy of each individual mail piece – to drive much higher response rates. Additionally, each mail piece is printed with a personalized URL that drives your prospect back to a personalized landing page. In our experience, personalized landing pages and pre-filled forms consistently double typical lead capture rates. The same level of personalization should be applied to email. Because email is electronic, it is much easier and cost effective to dynamically assemble relevant content. Once you have a prospect’s opt-in you can cultivate far more cost effectively. Sending impersonal, irrelevant emails will most certainly result in opt-outs that shut down this very effective marketing avenue. So be sure to work with a vendor that can optimize this channel for you. 6. Optimize profile capture landing pages and score leads. As your integrated, multi-touch marketing campaign begins to drive targeted prospects to your website landing pages, be sure to score those leads. Careful attention to the design of your profile capturing landing pages will help mitigate the drop off of responders that for any number of reasons may choose not to fill out your form. There are many design details that will increase your profile capture rate, so work with a vendor that has extensive experience in this area. Just a few best practices in the design of landing pages include: • Keep introductory copy as short as possible • Add the form onto the same page as the landing page, when possible • Pre-fill form fields with prospect data that the prospect can update • Limit the qualifying attributes on initial prospecting forms to encourage form completion • Identify mandatory fields and point them out when not filled in by the prospect • Score the profile capture attributes that are important to you. © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 5
  • 6. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. Scoring captured profiles has a number of advantages that enable you to: • Prioritize cultivation efforts • Measure the effectiveness of marketing campaign components • Gain early insight to make quicker adjustments to future marketing campaigns • See the quality of leads by sales region 7. Track and measure everything. The bottom line is if you’re not tracking, you’re not learning how to increase the ROI of your next campaign. However, setting up tracking and conducting the response analysis for an integrated campaign takes some effort. You can invest in expensive software or marketing automation solutions to help you with this, but all the license and related maintenance costs factor into a much higher cost per lead. Tracking should be real-time so you can instantly see response results and make any needed campaign adjustments on the fly. Ideally, a tracking solution should require no effort to set up, make response analysis a snap and should not cost an arm and a leg. When it comes to direct marketing campaign reporting, make sure you can track: • The quality of each captured lead • The breakdown of leads attributable to each component of the campaign • The list, offer, creative and other test cell elements within each campaign component • The breakdown of lead quality by sale region • Total contact history • Productivity of sales reps cultivating the leads When all the components of your multi-touch, integrated campaign are tracked and instantly available, you can focus more on the strategy of follow-up campaigns and on the inter-department collaboration that is so vital to success. 8. Share marketing and sales data – real time. Collaborating with the sales department and getting their support is definitely important. But actually sharing real-time data is often easier said than done. Revenue is at stake and finger pointing is a common side-affect of a disjointed campaign that fails to meet its objectives. But when both sales and marketing have jointly assumed responsibility for a campaign’s success, it’s easier to share data during rather than upon completion of a campaign. © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 6
  • 7. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. When a reporting solution reports on both the quality of marketing-driven leads and the effectiveness of cultivation efforts – everybody wins. Sales management can better manage cultivation efforts, and can more accurately project sales forecasts based on early insight to campaigns. Marketing management can tweak campaigns and lead flow earlier and also see the effectiveness of cultivation efforts. Peer pressure is amazingly powerful. In our experience, making the cultivation efforts of individual reps viewable has strong effects on productivity and overall campaign results. Your reporting solution should enable you to see campaign and cultivation effectiveness whether the lead cultivation is outsourced or kept in house. 9. Convert more leads with a carefully sequenced follow-up plan. Prior to executing your integrated campaign, have a cultivation plan in place that leads prospects down the path to customer conversion. Reciprocal information sharing helps to quickly qualify prospects and foster more intuitive dialogue. Track all cultivation efforts, like the sending of information via email and direct mail and the corresponding responses. When you use an email-based prospecting tool that tracks which content is most effective, you can apply this knowledge to your follow-up process. Review the contact history of each new customer to discover contact trends that may reveal how close other prospects are to becoming new customers. When this data is instantly shared with marketing and sales departments, the cultivation cycle accelerates and produces better results. 10. Build your opt-in base. Lead cultivation via email is definitely more cost effective compared to off line methods. It’s important to diligently collect opt-ins with every point of contact possible. Unfortunately, many inside sales reps are not incented to do this or the contact management systems they use don’t support the capture of opt-ins. Whether calls are handled in-house or by an outsourced telemarketing solution, make sure that capturing opt-in is a priority action item. Your lead generation campaign should drive traffic to landing pads designed to capture profile information and opt-in at the same time. When a captured opt-in has a low lead score, the sales rep will give it lower follow-up priority, but the marketing department can still periodically touch the prospect via email – very cost effectively. © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 7
  • 8. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. Consider appending email addresses to your off line customer list. Be sure to work with a vendor that knows how to manage this process for you. Once you have opt-in, you can announce new product offerings, promotions, and send surveys to discover new needs that your products or services can solve. There are many ways to effectively cultivate leads via email. There are even more ways to make mistakes with email that drive prospects to opt out. Make sure you consistently follow best practices or work with an experienced vendor that knows how to prospect via email and mitigate opt-outs. 11. Repeat steps 1-10. Did we mention the lead generation process starts with targeting – and never ends. Managing an ongoing direct marketing lead generation program that constantly improves lead quality and the cost per customer conversion is not easy. But when you follow these best practices, it can be done. With each follow-up campaign, get renewed support from senior management. Tracking all aspects of your campaigns and reporting on the successful results should make it much easier to get renewed support. Measure the lead flow, and compare subjective sales feedback to lead scores and cultivation efforts. Adjust profile capture landing pages and the scoring of leads as necessary. Refine targeting and campaign components and once again involve Sales in the process to re-validate joint ownership. Evaluate cultivation productivity and further analyze any revealing contact history trends. As your opt-in base grows, cultivate lower scoring leads cost effectively with email campaigns. Periodically evaluate what it takes transition these leads to better qualified prospects. Ensure that either your outsourced or in-house cultivation team uses an email-based tool that tracks their productivity and identifies which content is most effective at accelerating the sales cycle. Most importantly, tap into experienced consulting. If like other companies, you spend between 10 and 20% of revenues on marketing and lead generation, you can’t afford to make mistakes. To improve the quality and cost of your B2B leads, find a solution that combines top-notch consulting with technology that improves response rates and streamlines campaign tracking. ### © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 8
  • 9. Lead Generation Best Practices: How to Improve the Quality and Cost of B2B Leads. About LeadGenesys: Founded in 2002, and led by seasoned experts, LeadGenesys Inc. provides high-quality leads and opt-ins via multi-touch direct marketing services. We consistently deliver superior lead generation results through experienced direct marketing consulting, uniquely personalized direct mail, email, telemarketing and online profile-capture pages. Our web-based LeadGenesys Platform™ reports real-time on campaign effectiveness, and scores and disseminates leads according to your specifications. This unique blend of direct marketing services and comprehensive campaign reporting offers our clients a solution that is far more cost effective than outsourcing campaign management to an agency, or attempting to manage multiple disjointed vendors with internal resources. About the Author: Jeff Kostermans is a direct marketing veteran with over 12 years of experience managing lead generation and relationship marketing programs for companies ranging from technology and service start-ups to Fortune 100 firms. Mr. Kostermans acquired his expertise in database marketing, direct mail, telemarketing, and email marketing at DM agencies and point solution vendors. Prior to founding LeadGenesys, he served as the Marketing Director for Responsys, provider of the industry’s most advanced email marketing solution, the VP of Relationship Marketing at Wells Fargo’s Business Direct Division, and the Interactive Marketing Manager at Macromedia. He is author of the Email Marketing Imperatives and has written numerous other best practices papers. A graduate from UC Berkeley, Mr. Kostermans also worked at Coopers & Lybrand, and as an Army Reserve Psychological Operations Major, consults allied governments and militaries in target audience analysis and influence methods. Integrated Direct Marketing and Lead Generation 1065 East Hillsdale Blvd., Suite 405 Foster City, CA 94404 www.leadgenesys.com 650-212-7200 © 2003 LeadGenesys Inc. All rights reserved. 9