Online Lead Gen: Where Do You Find Quality Scale?

I’m sitting at ad:tech in San Francisco. Everywhere I look, there seems to be an online lead generation company. One of my sales guys walked the show and counted 32 companies that claim to do some level of online lead generation. I feel bad for the soul who can’t separate posers from players. I’ve been in the space for eight years, and even I have a hard time!

One challenge people face with online lead generation is where to find quality scale. Since I’m at ad:tech, it’s the perfect opportunity to get some feedback on this question from some other industry veterans. First, an excerpt from a conversation I had with Gary Kinzel and Horace Martin from Lead Verifier.

Gary Kinzel: Our industry’s next move is to not talk about volume anymore but to talk about lead quality.

Dan Felter: That’s good info once you get the lead, where do you go get it. Very difficult question. I don’t know if the answer is out there. Now people use search, but people are looking for different distribution. When you get aggressive with distribution, you get burnt. How do you handle this?

GK: We do lead verification. Our customers get the leads from their own Web sites, search engines, third-party lead generators, and affiliate marketers.

DF: So to get scale, you need to do a lot of legwork.

GK: The way to expand is to build your own Web site where the content is interesting to your target audience, and you have to promote it just like a Web site publisher does. You can even build multiple microsites; then you’re feeding your lead machine.

DF: I think competition is good.

Horace Martin: Have you seen the ad for BarNone on TV? They’re a lead generator. One way to scale it outside of keywords is TV advertising like this. You think they’re in the loan business when you see their ad, but they’re actually selling leads.

DF: We have some clients who do TV promos. The barrier to TV driving online traffic has gotten much lower recently.

GK: Another medium to drive traffic is outdoor — billboards, et cetera.

DF: One thing you don’t think about with online lead gen is driving leads offline. The thing you don’t see a lot of these days is the offline piece. The other day, I heard an ad on 1010 WINS [an NYC news radio station] for freecomputer.com or something like that. I first thought, “Now these guys are even doing radio.” But after thinking about it a bit, it turns out it’s a really smart way to generate leads.

GK: Take the tactics that have been successful for 100 years in advertising and apply them to online lead gen.

Next, I spoke with Laure Majcherczyk from Coreg Mediaabout how she creates scale for her clients.

Laure Majcherczyk: Probably the key thing is targeting the right site for a given campaign. For example, a travel offer for a travel client with the offer placed on a travel Web site. The opt-in rate will be much higher because of this high level of targeting.

DF: This is something I was just discussing with Gary and Horace from Lead Verifier. A lot of work goes into this to find the right sites. One of the challenges you find is the only way to find scale is search.

LM: I disagree. With search, so many people are searching. But when you expose them to an offer, they say, “OK, that’s something I’m interested in.” People may not even be thinking about it until they’re given a relevant offer. I think search isn’t scalable but co-reg is.

DF: A lot of people would disagree. Google just did $4 billion in revenue on search.

LM: It’s hard to argue with those numbers.

Many thanks to Gary, Horace, and Laurie for taking a few minutes from their busy days at ad:tech to share their thoughts. Although our conversations were brief, they offered some great insights into online lead gen quality and scale that we can all learn a thing or two from. I think we all agree this scale will increasingly come from offline sources.

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