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Getting the Most Out of Your Third-Party Lead Acquisition

May 17, 2016

DES-742-Blog-Post-Graphic_Lead-Acquisition.pngGenerating net-new names is critical to developing a revenue-producing marketing engine. Getting this right significantly increases your odds of success. The good news is that there are many options to get us there by driving people to our website and landing pages: think SEO, SEM, PPC, social media, content syndication and advertising. 

While there are innumerable channels to generate new names through internal efforts, the results can vary wildly. For example, the volume of new names can be slow, the quality is all over the place, or the alignment with optimum demographics for your solution can be weak.

To meet pipeline needs or accelerate contribution, many marketers acquire leads from a third party to add net-new names to the database. The most popular methods are to purchase a list, or syndicate content. 

Quick and relatively painless, acquiring net-new names through a third party ensures a good match with the target demographic and that your top-of-funnel quantity goal is achieved. However, there’s a wide disparity in results and cost. 

List Purchases Are Not Leads

Names purchased from a list broker are generally the fastest and the cheapest option. However, the ROI on that purchase is extremely low because names on a purchase list are not leads.

With no previous experience with your brand, these contacts have limited-to-no interest in your solution. High bounce, complaints and unsubscribe rates are generally experienced when a purchased list is emailed. At the same time, the engagement rate of opens and clicks tends to be lower.

The higher unsubscribe and complaint rates are because the names on the list are unfamiliar with the brand and think the email is SPAM. 

And to add insult to injury there’s collateral damage from the high bounce, complaint and unsubscribe rates. The deliverability of the sending IP address is negatively impacted in the near term. This is why many reputable ESPs will not allow purchased email lists to be used on their platform.

Basically a list of email addresses, these contacts are nowhere near ready for your pipeline. Instead, the first step towards the buyer’s journey is an initial communication (email, mail drop) that attempts to engage. 

Content Syndication for Branded, Targeted Engagement

Distributing content (white papers, videos, webinars, for example) through a media partner like UBM or Hanley Wood is slower than purchasing a list of names. It’s also generally more expensive. This is because the followers of the media partner’s community must go through a gated form to access the content. 

The good news is that leads generated through content syndication are just that: Leads. These prospective customers are in the driver’s seat and have expressed an interest in the topic of the content you’re distributing. 

Another benefit of growing your database through content syndication is that your new leads engaged with your brand when they received the asset. However brief this interaction, they’re now familiar with your story! 

Far more than just names on a list, content syndication leads have better engagement rates. Because they have expressed some level of interest, these leads generally move further down the pipeline faster than names acquired through a list purchase. 

Even better, custom questions on the gated form can provide additional insight. For example, questions can be included about their environment, budget, purchase timeframe, etc.

In addition, by understanding the buying cycle, need and persona the content is speaking to, these new leads can be segmented. With this segmentation, you can use targeted messages and content at the onset of your communication.

And we all know the benefits of targeted communication: improved open and click-through rates, and faster velocity across the buyer’s journey to an eventual sale.

Get the Most from Your Acquisition

Regardless of the method used to acquire names, review the list for duplicates and competitors. There’s no point adding these to your database. 

Assign a lead source to the leads for attribution of ROI and engagement results, and standardize the fields used to segment within your prospect database. For example, if segments are built on job function, industry or company size, make sure the values in those fields comply with your internal values. 

Third-party supplied leads, like those leads generated from internal processes, shouldn’t simply be added to the database or sent to sales unless they’ve asked to speak to a sales professional. Instead, following up and engaging these leads with personalized valuable content will skyrocket the ROI.  Prospects will raise their hand when they’re ready. Without this engagement approach, the leads will fall through the funnel and the money spent on acquisition will be wasted.

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By  Mary Wallace

Mary Wallace is a modern marketer with the skills and ability to increase revenue and optimize campaign performance by leveraging technical, business, management, content, and marketing expertise. With over 25 years of industry experience, Mary has a diverse background in marketing, technology, media, consulting, and leadership that enables her to help clients implement solutions that produces optimal results. A leader in marketing automation and marketing technology, Mary provides thought leadership for a variety of publications.

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