Taking the Lead: This Isn't Your Father's Lead Generation

COVER STORY

Taking the Lead: This Isn't Your Father's Lead Generation

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  January 12, 2015

Lead generation used to be about cold calling, pounding the pavement, and list procurement. Boy, have times changed.

While the old school methods of lead generation can certainly still be effective, today companies also frequently look for leads based on what people do and say online – including what products they browse and buy, what websites they visit, their connections and group affiliations on social networks, and other data that is attainable through public records or other sources.

A recent survey of 300 law firms indicated online lead generation has become a key tool for attorneys. The study, by attorney marketing platform provider Martindale, reported 43.6 percent of those surveyed said online lead generation services account for more than 25 percent of new business. And half of that group said lead generation services account for more than half of their new business.

The report goes on to say that online lead generation services are three times as effective as search engine marketing initiatives, according to opinion from those surveyed.

"Historically, larger firms with bigger budgets could buy bigger ads or send more direct mail. But the comparatively low cost of online lead generation services puts smaller firms in a much more equal position to develop their practices," said Chris Braun, general manager at Martindale. "Even better, online lead generation works for all phases of firm development: It's ideal for quickly establishing a client base for new firms, and can also help rapidly grow established firms."

As discussed in the September issue of CUSTOMER magazine, many companies are leveraging social media in an effort to promote their brands and generate leads. In fact, speaking of lawyers, the company profiled in that issue – preppy goods retailer Country Club Prep – was founded by a couple of former attorneys.

Country Club Prep spends just $200 a month for its email, social media marketing, and retargeting ad campaign platform from Atlanta-based Springbot, in which HootSuite is embedded. Springbot is great, Country Club Prep says, because it makes just about everything traceable. That enables businesses like Country Club Prep to see the source of the visitor, understand whether that visitor converted, have visibility into where visitors abandoned their shopping carts, figure out the best time to engage with individual shoppers, and get other metrics.

Facebook (News - Alert) recently started charging for some marketing-related efforts, they added, so Country Club Prep has pulled back a bit on its Facebook efforts and is dedicating more time and energy to doing giveaways and other marketing campaigns on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (News - Alert).

Social media is a great way to build awareness, Kevin Thornton, executive vice president of sales and marketing of VanillaSoft, wrote in an October blog. But the popularity of different social media platforms comes and goes, he added, so it’s more advantageous for companies to own their own social media platforms.

“Last September Facebook implemented an algorithm change to the newsfeed that left brands hurting when it came to organic reach through Facebook. Twitter is playing with new ideas that will potentially affect your ability as a brand or business to reach customers. Does that mean the end of reach through social media? No, of course not, but it does mean that social media changes all the time,” Thornton wrote.

He added that social media is merely a tool, and that you as an organization retain more control of how that tool can be used if you own it yourself. VanillaSoft offers lead generation software that allows businesses to track leads from prospect to sale, automatically route and distribute leads based on unique business logic, increase speed to lead, and capture data, qualifiers, demographics, and the entire history of the lead, among other benefits.

A study by 360 Leads indicated that lead generation is the most important sales and marketing function for 58 percent of companies. But it went on to say that only 17.3 percent of companies are meeting their sales lead generation goals despite 78.5 percent engaging in lead generation programs.

"Considering the consistent view that lead generation is fundamental to achieving topline revenue growth,” said 360 Leads President and CEO Stuart Lewis, “it's concerning to see companies either investing too little in this area or allowing internal issues to get in the way of one of the key elements of sustained business growth." 




Edited by Maurice Nagle
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