What business doesn't need some new prospects? Some need just a few, others need hundreds and some need thousands a year to fuel the sales cycle.
So how do you produce leads? Advertising is a tried-and-true lead generator, so you should be sure all your communications give prospects the information they need to reach you.
Very often in today's marketing world, advertising steers prospects to a company Web site, where that prospect will learn more about you and have a direct way to contact you.
A rapidly growing trend is the use of online lead generation, sometimes known as lead-gen or co-registration. This permission-based matching system pairs companies with targeted customers who have expressed an interest in a product or service.
According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, spending for online lead generation grew to more than $1.3 billion in 2006. That's a 73 percent jump in one year, making it the fastest-growing segment of online advertising spending.
So who should use online lead generation?
Hannah Paramore, president of Nashville's Paramore Redd Online Marketing, says almost any company selling a consumer product can benefit.
Lead-gen is especially effective for building a database of potential customers to whom you then can market through e-mail or direct mail.
"To impact sales directly, lead-gen works best if your product or service costs $1,000 or more. We have used lead-gen successfully in the travel/tourism, durable medical equipment, medical services and the publishing industry to name a few," Paramore said.
"It's important to note that while lead-gen involves an intentional response from the consumer, it actually is low involvement. Therefore, a company must respond to a lead immediately in order to get the best return on investment," Paramore said.
Because of abuses during the early days of online lead generation, the industry came under scrutiny. Not only are marketers questioning the effectiveness of leads obtained through deceptive offers, the Federal Trade Commission raised concerns about privacy violations and false advertising claims.4 things to think about
Leah Hoffman writing for Inc. magazine suggests four points to consider before conducting an online lead generation campaign:
• First, learn how leads are being gathered; make sure your provider shows you how leads are collected. Make sure the leads you received were not tricked into providing information by the promise of prizes.
• Look beyond the cost per lead; the lowest price is not always the best lead. The price might be low because the lead is also being sold to your two largest competitors. The best leads come from companies that use only opt-in offers. This means the customer is specifically checking a box that says he or she would like to hear from you.
• Analyze your results; from accuracy of information, to conversion rates to revenue analysis, make sure your investment in leads produces the appropriate results.
• Work fast; the quality of leads diminishes each day. Make sure both your lead generation provider and your organization can react quickly.
I will add this admonition to Hoffman's list: Know your lead generation partner. Check out its business practices to insure its ethical standards live up to yours.
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