Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Online Leads Conference (http://www.leadscon.com/) in New York where I was able to connect with the best and brightest in the lead generation and conversion industry. I learned a number of different strategies of what works and more importantly what doesn’t work. For example, when I was meeting different affiliate marketers and presenting the idea of generating PPC (pay per click) CPA (cost per action) leads for niche B2B verticals such as translation or local chiropractors – they all consistently gave me a weird look…. mostly because local niche business do not offer the large scale audience that they traditionally look for. In order for a project to make sense to an affiliate or search engine marketer it needs a sizable budget that usually starts at $3,000 a month and goes up from there. For those companies with a large online marketing budget Trada (http://www.trada.com/) specializes in crowd sourced PPC and SEM. Similar to 99 Designs, the idea is to have hundreds of search engine specialists competing for business on a performance level instead of the traditional employee/contractor model. When it comes to local niche opportunities, there are limitations that they do not provide a large enough audience for daily deal sites, lead aggregators, and affiliate marketers to get excited. The importance and value of driving inbound web traffic through SEO is paramount, and can continue to drive results if done properly. With that in mind, geo-targeted PPC campaigns through Facebook and Google can be quite successful for local niche businesses. A simple way of looking at the progression of the online lead generation world can be summarized by looking at the diagram below created by Double Positive Marketing.
At first were online ads that were measured through Cost Per Thousand impressions. Then came Cost Per Clicks that would measure total clicks that took place on an ad. After that came Cost Per Action or Cost Per Lead which measures total web forms filled out, and now we have Cost Per Telephone conversation (30 seconds or longer). So why has this progression taken place? The trend in the online marketing world is moving towards accountability for results. In the past it was easy to get a company or agency excited about the amount of impressions or reach that a particular ad could draw, but if no business results materialized from these efforts then the relationship with the company or agency would quickly dissolve. Of course the dream for CPM marketers is to work with big brands who measure their marketing effectiveness using awareness, reach and the the C & R formula (Creativity & Repetition). If you’re a SME (small to medium sized enterprise) then you want real results with actual leads being delivered to your sales team. This is more compelling than impressions and also something that SME’s are going to be willing to pay much more for.
Another concept I came I across that was interesting is the idea of “Hot Transfers.” A hot transfer is a lead qualification process that takes place and then a lead is immediately transferred to an inside sales agent for closing. While at the conference I was able to meet and interact with three of the top companies in the industry: LeadsQual (http://www.leadqual.com/), Double Positive (http://www.doublepositive.com/) and Speak to Leads (http://www.speak2leads.com/). Both companies provide a lead engagement and qualification service whereby they call a lead who fills out a web form within 1-3 minutes and ask some screening questions. Then if qualified, the lead is immediately transferred to an inside sales agent who takes the call and closes the deal. Furthermore these companies will follow up with each web lead 6-7 times until they get through and report back on analytics of the lead data to determine the lead source and quality. This “hot transfer” concept could fill a pending need you have as business owner to quickly follow up with new leads, with very good business case for it as well:
- The investment is $3-5 per lead form and that includes up to 7 calls to reach that lead.
- Say you get 100 leads per month from completed web forms that would be $300 – $500.
- Using this service you could avoid having to hire an additional person to call and screen leads. They can perform a very basic initial needs assessment and then hot transfer the qualified lead over to your inside sales team, saving many hours of time and energy.
- The stats around this are fascinating. MIT did a study (http://www.leadresponsemanagement.org/lrm_study) and they showed when a lead was followed up with by phone within 1-3 minutes of filling out a web form the conversion rate went up 238%. This is due to the fact that a sales agent is 100 times more likely to connect with a lead if they are followed up with in 5 minutes or less rather than in 30 minutes or more. Each lead when searching around for a service will typically fill out 3-5 lead forms and the first to contact the consumer has the opportunity to position their offerings more prominently in the mind of the consumer before the other competitors arrive.
- Also when a lead is followed up with 5-7 times after filling out a form they are 4 x more likely to convert well.
So if you can save money on staffing costs and increase your online lead gen conversion rate by 200 – 300% wouldn’t you be happy making an investment of $300 – $500 per month? Currently LeadsQual is the most expensive option at $5 a lead form, but they own their own call centre which is located in North America with higher level (native) English agents. Double Positive works with many call centres overseas, but they seem to be the industry leader in hot transfer technology. Speak to Leads simply provides the hot transfer technology and they route calls directly to your inside sales agent for qualifying.
When it comes to generating leads, one of the most effective tools for business to business efforts is the phone. The main challenge with using the phone however is the wait time, dialling numbers, being on hold, etc – all for that 30 second shot to speak to a decision maker. Inside sales is a numbers game and with the right tools your agents can become much more effective. Consider this chart which shows the breakdown of an average inside sales agent with and without a predictive dialer technology:
There are various options available when it comes to predictive dialing, but it seems that using InsideSales (http://www.insidesales.com) or Magnalogix (http://www.magnalogix.com/) are the best tools out there. All in all this would give your inside sales reps the capacity to make over 300 dials a day and shift the talk to wait time ratio on its head (see above images). Also predictive dialer technology uses intelligent dialing to enhance results on inbound and outbound calls, not just productivity. Furthermore, this technology will take you way beyond the capabilities of a magic jack, Skype business line, or other VOIP options. For example, your entire sales team can use this technology to make calls as needed and all of this data can be integrated into an online CRM system. Inside Sales even comes with a built in CRM system. Here’s the business case for using this technology:
- $250/user per month investment.
- Triples productivity time
- Creates a remote working environment.
- Enhances call effectiveness through inbound and outbound technology.
- Insidesales.com also comes with a full marketing automation and CRM platform which would allow you to integrate all your marketing efforts under one system.
All in all, using this type of technology can be a major time investment, but can significantly enhance your sales team’s value while using industry best practices..
There are some interesting tools that instantly verify data as it’s being filled out. One in particular is Brite Verify (http://www.briteverify.com/) which instantly verifies the accuracy of an email account and prevents someone from completing a form if the email is incorrect. The cost is 1 penny per email verification with no set up fees or minimum costs. If you are paying for $3-5 for each hot transfer in addition to the CPA costs this is a good insurance practice to increase your lead quality.
This is a very wide topic, and one I find very intriguing. The premise would suggest that you leverage the social networks of your team members to expand your circle of influence. Social networks like Facebook, Google +1 and Linkedin can be used to enhance referrals and overall connectivity. More to come on this topic on the next blog post…