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Finding High Quality Leads

Finding High Quality Leads6 questions to ask your lead provider

March 2, 2007


With a reported 71% jump in year-over-year revenue, the explosive growth of lead generation means it’s one of the hottest sectors in online advertising in 2006.

As major brands continue to enter the market in 2007, it’s vital to be able to distinguish between top providers who will deliver a quality program — and lower quality players who will waste time and marketing dollars (and seem to be sprouting up faster than mushrooms after a fall rain these days).

To aid in this effort, I’ve assembled five imperative questions to ask your current or potential provider — and the answers you need to hear.

  1. What do you do to ensure you’re targeting the right consumer? If a provider tells you the company contextually places your offer on great sites in its network, that’s the wrong answer. Contextual targeting is a novice technology that is inherently flawed since there is never 100% overlap between your target and a site’s audience. With the proper targeting, a quality lead can be found on any site. The best targeting methods incorporate your conversion data into a custom “best customer” model that is continually adjusted according to the offer’s performance on the backend. Avoid providers that won’t accept or are incapable of building a targeting model off your conversion data.

  2. Do I have complete ownership of the consumer data? Most marketers should retain 100% ownership of the consumer data. Providers who practice data skimming — reselling your lead’s personally identifiable information — pose a serious risk of compromising your trusted relationship with the consumer. They’re also subsidizing their business with the premium fees you’re paying. (For some industries such as mortgage services, “shared leads” sold to four to five companies are the norm. With this model, however, you should pay a significantly lower rate.)

  3. Is clear, conspicuous consent required for consumers to opt in? Confirmed consent, whereby the consumer gives clear, conspicuous consent to opt-in to your list, is a crucial component of ensuring quality leads. The key is making certain the consumer is informed of the exact information he is sharing with your company with the express purpose of being contacted by you. Covert consent, where the consumer is automatically added to your list and permission is buried in the terms and conditions policy, will deliver high-volume but low-quality leads. Also note: Your offer should always be optional, and not a requirement for the consumer to complete participation on the host site or receive an incentive.

  4. What are your data validation practices? Leads are worthless if you can’t contact them. Validating every data field is therefore an absolute must for any campaign. At minimum, providers should offer physical address, e-mail address and phone number validation as well as a fraudulent name filter to catch profanity and bogus names. Among many other key services to look for are credit card validation and available fund pre-authorization, and offer scrubbing to automatically exclude leads who incorrectly answer key qualifying questions in your offer form.

  5. How will you ensure my creative is optimized for the highest response? Ongoing creative testing is essential to continually improve volume and quality, even if it’s a simple A/B test. Providers should have an experienced, full-service creative team to design, test and optimize your offer for the medium– and not just repurpose your standard creative.

And as a sixth and final thought, remember that old leads are bad leads. If the provider doesn’t offer real-time data delivery, keep looking.

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