By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO, Hawthorne Advertising
Lead generation is the lifeblood of any business and marketing strategy. To create a pipeline of prospects and convert them into paying customers, you need a solid lead generation strategy. It’s especially important to build and maintain an effective lead generation plan in times of economic uncertainty.
With the right lead generation approach, you can build resilience and ensure your business can navigate unexpected changes and meet revenue targets. Here’s a closer look at four ways you can uplevel your lead generation game to serve your big picture marketing efforts.
- Diversify your roster of lead affiliates or aggregators: The past few years have been a wake-up call for marketers and business leaders, who now know to expect the unexpected. The pandemic, natural disasters, geopolitical events and other crises disrupted the flow of goods and services around the world, created shortages and interrupted established business models. Brands that were able to respond quickly were best positioned to survive and thrive.
That’s why it’s important to diversify your lead affiliate networks or aggregator sources so you always have a steady flow of incoming leads. With a diverse array of lead sources, you’ll be able to manage and retain the volume of leads necessary to support your sales pipeline when the unexpected occurs.
- Monitor lead quality in the sales funnel: The quality of leads you receive from your affiliates upstream will vary greatly, and it is critical to understand lead performance in the funnel, i.e., the churn and conversion metrics. For example, if an affiliate or aggregator charges a higher cost per lead (CPL) but provides leads that convert at a high rate in a dependable volume you can count on to support a known percentage of the business, it’s a good idea to maintain a positive relationship with that supplier.
Marketers should keep in mind not all lead suppliers are reliable; salespeople report half the prospects they speak to aren’t a good fit. If an affiliate or aggregator with a lower CPL delivers a high volume of leads that don’t convert, it’s critical to understand all the costs involved to determine if the low CPL is really a bargain. Lead review methods like call centers or other pre-qualification tactics add expenses downstream. So, monitor costs closely to minimize your exposure when using lower quality lead sources.Also keep an eye on outliers, i.e., leads that have average conversion, lower volume and disparities in terms of demographic or psychographic traits. Outlier leads that convert can provide clues on incremental audiences that you may not be reaching. Communicate findings back to your affiliates to see if they can explore options or deliver more leads in this new incremental audience set.
- Build trust with lead partners: Trust is a critical component of a successful lead generation strategy. It’s important for marketers to be able to trust lead partners enough to exchange data on how sets of leads are converting, what some of the objections are during the process, whether average order volume for lead sets tends to skew higher or lower, etc. These are all factors that your affiliates or aggregators need to know to optimize results.
By the same token, should an affiliate or aggregator deliver leads or specific cohorts that convert at a much higher rate, you should be able to rely on them to share the tactics and methods they used to acquire the leads so that you can work together to optimize performance on both sides.
- Create a plan to generate your own leads: Lastly, given the growing concern with privacy and more stringent consumer protections, now is the time to create an internal lead generation strategy with strategically placed paid media as a key component of your marketing strategy if you’re not already doing so. While it may not be as efficient at the start, by working with the right agency partner and applying continuous optimization, you will eventually exceed current CPLs.
More importantly, you’ll be gathering data and insights on how to target your audiences, accelerate growth and become more self-reliant as a business.
To put these ideas into practice, start by auditing your lead generation strategy. Take a close look at your current lead affiliates or aggregators and consider whether you have a diverse array of sources. Evaluate your full funnel, and analyze where your leads are coming from and how they are converting. Build trust with your lead partners by sharing data and working together to optimize performance, and as a hedge against emerging consumer privacy regulations, build your own internal lead generation plan into your marketing initiatives
By taking these steps, marketers can create a lead generation strategy that is both effective and sustainable. It’s important to remember that lead generation is an ongoing process that requires constant optimization and adaptation. By staying on top of these key components and continually refining your strategy, you can uplevel your lead generation game and be ready for any challenge that comes your way.