The Lead Acquisition Lowdown: Tracing the Tactics of Gaining Qualified Leads through the Web

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As the marketing guru of your company, you’ve decided that its time to more proactively build a database of qualified leads that you can convert to customers. You keep hearing that the Web is a great place to tackle this kind of problem, but what are the actual benefits? To explain the benefits, I’ll use one of my pharmaceutical clients as an example. The company launched their online lead program and within 6 months, through successful planning and implementation, built a database of 350,000 qualified names for an average cost of $6 per customer, using the Internet alone.

Why use the Internet for lead acquisition?

Three simple reasons make the Web an appropriate channel for database building: Cost efficiencies, targeting opportunities and real-time testing and optimization.

1. Cost efficiencies
For our pharmaceutical client, the cost efficiencies of using the internet compared to direct mail, contributed to the decision to use this channel as opposed to more traditional efforts. They estimated that the program would cost at least twice as much using traditional mail efforts, given production and fulfillment costs. Not only are production and fulfillment costs usually less online, but many of the tactics commonly used such as search and third party registration, only require payment when a lead is actually acquired, charging on a “cost-per-lead” basis.

2. Targeting opportunities
The opportunity to effectively and efficiently target makes the web a natural medium to use when companies are building a database of qualified customer names. Demographic targeting is the most obvious and simple targeting opportunity, which can be achieved through a series of appropriate profiling questions. The web will also allow geographic targeting. By working with appropriate partners, companies can go after customers in specific zip codes. In addition, the Web provides companies an opportunity to use “behavioral targeting” by partnering with third parties who track the visit and click paths of users to identify likely interests in products and services.

3. Real time testing and optimization opportunities
Real time program optimization was one of the bonuses that our pharmaceutical client realized with their online lead generation program. Initially, they started out trying to actively acquire leads through several different third-party partners. However, through weekly monitoring of the costs and quality of leads generated, they were able to optimize the program to include only the two most cost and time efficient vendors in a matter of weeks. Similarly, because the Web allows real-time testing, companies can test different creative elements quickly to identify the most effective and then easily apply that on a larger scale, without the time and effort often required for offline production.

When is the right time to execute?

To make sure you are actually ready to plan and implement an online lead generation program, it’s important to determine that you have 2 key elements in place: an appropriate offer of value to your intended target audience as well as an intention to follow through with the names you acquire. By motivating people to provide you with their information, you are setting expectations that they will receive valuable information or services from you. Nothing is worse for a business than letting customers down by failing to meet expectations.

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