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How Good Are Your Leads?

  |  July 20, 2004   |  Comments

Tried-and-true steps for validating the quality of your leads.

Many of our recent brand-building campaigns also incorporate lead-development components to further connect with our target audience and create a deeper level of meaning for the communications effort.

These primarily include opt-ins for additional information, such as brochure fulfillment, email offer response, promotion enrollment, and dealer follow-up contact. And though we incorporate lead-gathering components within our rich media ad creative with good success, it seems there's no substitute for cost-per-action (CPA) tactics, such as coregistration opportunities.

Sure, we diligently plan and target the sites and methods we use to gather these leads. We always hit, and usually exceed, our target goals. We copy-test creative to generate the best response rates. But the real question remains: How qualified are the leads we gather, and do we really get good value for the clicks we generate?

Validating Success

If you've built a sizable lead base and are ready for the next step in the customer contact process, think about conducting a few "lead quality assurance" tests before you blast away at those new-found hand-raisers. That way, you ensure you won't waste bandwidth creating and sending materials, alienate people to a brand, and possibly disappoint your client.

Here are a few tried-and-true steps for validating lead quality:

  • Properly segment the leads. Nothing's worse than dumping all your leads into one database and not being able to segment or test sources against one another. This means working diligently with your programming and media teams to make sure your data schema is structured to parse leads into the proper buckets for future learning. You certainly want to slice by source, but also consider segmenting by the creative message used to gather the lead, by content adjacency, by lead-generation method, and so forth. Planning ahead for the questions you'll be asked, such as "Would this have performed better than that?" will save you headaches at the campaign's end.

  • Conduct microruns of follow-up efforts. Rather than send a follow-up email or brochure mailing to the lead-fulfillment list, implement microruns to confirm lead viability. Even segments of 500 can give you a sense of whether your target list is really receptive to follow-up messaging.

    Also, consider a secondary, slightly larger run of 1,000 to 2,000 for additional confirmation. This is especially helpful if you've got a pool of over 100,000 leads. No sense in hitting the whole list if testing indicates poor response.

  • Implement "confirmation research" against the target. Low-cost research projects are easy to implement with Web-based research tools. Try a quick, three-question survey against a subset of your target. Customers usually don't mind if you "confirm" they really asked or ordered something, especially in today's security-minded environment.

Go the Extra Mile

Although these tactics bear a distinct resemblance to items in the direct marketing toolbox, implementing extra steps as a component of your brand-building effort will only help improve goals. We use so many tools to plan our efforts upfront. Why not affirm the results on the back end?

Let me know if you've tried any of the above or use other ways to confirm your results.

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James Hering As SVP and director of interactive marketing at t:m interactive, JamesHering's teamdevelops a full range of interactive solutions for a variety of clients.Since 1994, he's been involved in development and evolution of AmericanAirlines' AA.com. With over 10 million registered users, it's one of theworld's most successful e-commerce sites. James' experience includes contentpublishing and development; online CRM; sponsorship/partnerships; searchengine marketing; and execution and implementation of AA's award-winninginteractive campaigns. Other client experience includes Adams Golf, BellHelicopter, eiStream, Nationwide Insurance, Nortel Networks, Match.com,SABRE Travel Information Network, Subaru of America, Reno Air, Nestle Foods,Texas Instruments, Texas Tourism and Pizza Hut. His group's honors includethe Internet Marketing Association's Excellence in Interactive Marketing,WebAwards for Site Design, Communication Arts, NY Festival, iNOVA awards,CASIE Interactive awards and @d:Tech awards.

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