Key Ingredients for Failing Lead Generation

If ignorance is bliss, there are a lot of happy people in the coregistration space. Call it funny or pathetic, it’s truly amazing how so many people don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to lead-generation campaigns, including Web sites running coregistration offers.

At the risk of being overly harsh, here’s what I’m talking about. We’re hearing more and more about how advertisers discover their offers end up in sketchy registration processes (e.g., “I didn’t know my offer was in a free iPod registration flow and that the user hadto sign up for my offer. I would have never approved that!”).

That’s garbage. You can’t blame anyone but yourself.

How in the world does an offer end up in a process to generate leads, and the advertiser pays for those leads then claims it didn’t realize the offer was in there? Well, if you weren’t so lazy and checked all the processes you’re in — in addition to checking all the sites a network has, regardless of how many — you’d know exactly where your offer is running and would have had the opportunity to approve all the sites.

This leads to another point. If you’re working with a network that won’t tell you exactly what Web sites and processes your offer is running in, don’t work with it. Transparency is king. If a company isn’t willing to share names with you, there’s something shady going on. Also, if multiple “networks” provide you with site lists with some of the same Web sites on multiple lists, contact the site and find out who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. (If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “You can’t have XYZ site, they’re in ABC’s network.” Yeah, right.).

Now, some companies and coregistration providers are probably saying, “How the heck can I manage my campaign so closely?” You don’t have to. It takes 30 seconds to go through a process. Just do it.

A great example of taking the proper time is the folks at Career Education Corporation (CEC). There probably are no offers out there running on as many affiliate networks and the like than these folks’ offers. There are also probably no offers that can match the metrics they have to hit and the big numbers at stake if they err. Yet the CEC folks have taken the time to carefully review what types of sites they want to work with, gone through all the processes, and removed any sites they don’t want their offer running on. I have to give them kudos. We’re very careful in respect to what types of sites we work with, yet they even removed some of our sites from their list.

There’s another genre of ignorant folks out there, ones who are very aware of where their offer is running but deliberately turn a blind eye because they have to hit a number. Most likely, they realize conversions on the back end will stink, but for the time being they won’t pay attention to that. (This could also be a byproduct of “conversion metrics isn’t my job, only front-end lead volume.” How stupid does that sound?).

The worst group is folks who claim they didn’t know what was going on. They bring in a third party to run their coregistration then claim they didn’t realize that party was running opt-outs or forced opt-ins. We see this all the time. One site told us it hadn’t chosen a firm other than ours. We went through its process and there they were, using another firm. (I’m still not sure if the site was straight-up lying or hadn’t actually gone through its own process.) How does someone work for a Web site and not regularly go through its registration process?

In a related vein, this same site was extremely conscious of its user experience. We warned against opt-outs and multiple pages that could catch users in a maze. The client ignored us and ran with a company that uses such tactics. Its users created such a big backlash that it pulled coregistration altogether. It won’t let anyone handle the process, not even itself. No wonder it’s having problems.

Next column, I’ll share my letter to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer regarding coregistration, lead generation, and the like.

Related reading