Tamara Grunebaum
VP Business Development
  linkedin      twitter

What’s wrong with Lead Generation?

It’s nice to see businesses finally becoming familiar with their CRM and the marketing automation platforms. Today they are increasingly concerned with monitoring lead generation programmes. But when it comes to planning a campaign and defining its objectives, unfortunately, we all too often still hear phrases like, “on the basis of last year’s conversion rates, we need to generate X new contacts to meet our sales objectives”.

Of course, using the results of the last campaign and working retroactively to set goals makes sense. After all, using historical data to define current objectives seems wise, doesn’t it? Sure, but it’s far from enough. Other factors also need to be considered.

Lead Generation: a saturated audience

Let’s focus on lead generation campaigns. Do you remember the first time you signed up for a Webinar, a white paper or a case study? Did you think it was a smart way to obtain prospect contact info? Of course! Now think about the last white paper that you downloaded and about the company that wrote it. No memory, right? That’s right, no memory at all.

More and more businesses are securing their content to capture new net contacts for their databases. The market is now saturated with lead generation programmes and users have become insensitive to registration forms. Also, smart browsers like Chrome or the LinkedIn widgets automatically fill in the forms and people click on ‘Send’ without even noticing the company that offers the content.

The changing lead generation offers

Just like with any new trend, publishers have quickly adapted to offer lead generation programmes and meet the growing demand in B2B. Today’s publishers are well versed in how to syndicate content to offer a guaranteed number of leads for a given rate. But they do not divulge the volume of promotion required to achieve these results, yet a comparison of lead generation programmes on the key media networks and among the independent publishers shows a number of points in common:

  • A very controlled Web environment
  • Ultra-wide dissemination of "Native advertising"
  • Very little branding for the advertiser (except for a small logo)
  • Revised content titles to appeal to a wider audience
  • Scroll-down lists that leave little choice, like company size, job position and business sector

In sum, publishers eliminate a maximum of advertiser branding, often rewrite titles to appeal to a wider portion of their audiences (despite the relevance of the content) and offer very restrictive lead qualification criteria to maximize their quotas. This way, everyone falls into the IT Decision Maker or Senior Management category when these are the only two options offered. Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating a tad, but you get the picture.

Native Advertising on lesechos.fr ... :-(

Native Advertising on lesechos.fr ... :-(

Quality vs. quantity

Lately we are seeing more and more sales teams express their frustration over the lack of engagement they observe in the leads Marketing gives them. The noted decline in conversion rates confirms what they say. Users don’t recall having downloaded a white paper and recall even less the name of the advertiser who sponsored the content. In this case, the sales team has little chance of concluding. There will always be real prospects but the proportion of contacts who in reality have never been interested in your product continues to grow. The promise of facilitating the job of the sales force is ultimately not kept.

So, how can we shake things up? How can we return to focusing on creating real prospects? Let’s get a grip on the situation…

  • Route traffic to clearly branded environments
  • Do not betray the value of your content with a tacky promo message. Brand your messages and titles according to this value
  • Naturally filter people who sign up by being very specific and transparent about the content that is offered
  • Provide a preview of one or two pages with the possibility of “signing up to read the entire report” or else decide to publish your content without securing it.

It’s actually quite simple in tactical terms. You will register fewer new contacts but, by offering users a chance to truly subscribe to your content, you will see an increase in your conversion and engagement rates. The initial cost per lead will increase but, at term, the cost per qualified lead and concluded lead will drop.

And strategically speaking...

Don’t fall into the trap of letting these figures dictate how your campaign will be rolled out. Keep monitoring the historical data on your lead generation campaigns and use it as a starting point. But be clever and also think about the user experience and the sector’s current situation.

Focus on an approach and tactics that will generate truly engaged leads without prioritizing the search for big volumes of new contacts.

Create content that provides real added value or a unique outlook on issues that your targets are trying to resolve by helping them move closer to a solution.

Stop thinking lead generation and start thinking demand generation. In other words, in terms of real engagement paths (Acquisition + Nurturing + Sales Enablement) by multiplying contact points and aligning your content with your targets’ decision making process (Buyer's journey).

Lead generation, what’s the problem?

Ultimately, what’s not working with lead generation is the fact of seeing it as the central pillar of your growth strategy. It’s just one of the disciplines in demand generation that meets a strategic need of changing the business to better address its markets, to sell better, and to make a difference in its sector.