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Lead Generation

Lead generation is always a hot topic for marketers, but it is even more salient in today's bleak economy. What lead generation strategies will produce a consistent stream of viable, affordable sales leads for your company? And what is the true value of emerging vehicles, like social media, in lead generation efforts? Agree on the Definition of a Lead Before Launching Lead Generation Programs

Before establishing marketing programs reach consensus, with your sales team, on the definition of a "lead". And agree on what a "sales ready" lead is. Those leads which are the right titles at the right sorts of companies-but not yet in an active buying cycle-should be nurtured and passed to sales once they meet certain interest, or activity, criteria.

Lead generation programs producing volumes of unviable "prospects" (from the sales rep's perspective) are doomed to fail. Research shows that as few as 20% of marketing leads are worked-but 80% of prospects buy within 24 months. The question is: will they buy from your company?

In order to maximize return from your lead generation efforts you need to actively manage the nurture process. It's not enough to bring them in and "toss them over the wall" at sales.

Establish Metrics-Based Lead Generation Programs

In today's corporate environment executives are demanding insight into marketing programs; they want to see a correlation between spend, lead generation and revenues. According to a recent Marketing Sherpa survey, there is a decline in brand advertising and a shift toward direct response programs providing measurable ROI. "Marketers are cutting their branding spend (49%) at a higher rate than their direct spend (37%)." The survey also noted that 60% of large firms and 29% of medium-sized firms reported that they've already cut budgets.

Are you thinking about lead generation like your most successful peers?

  • Have you done an analysis, by program and channel, to identify productive lead generation outlets-noting the percentage of raw leads passed to sales, and the percentage of passed leads that are then qualified?
  • Do you understand how lead generation correlates to revenues for your company?
  • Are you establishing a cost-per-lead ceiling based on expected and actual returns?

An analytical approach to lead generation will enable you to evaluate new opportunities based on your historic successes, and to maximize programs which are proven revenue generators.

Once you've identified your most successful lead generation programs, determine if they are scalable. If yes, how can you shift spend away from unproductive programs to these high-performing opportunities?

Marry the "Tried and True" with Emerging Lead Generation Opportunities

While marketers are focusing the majority of lead generation efforts on proven direct response programs, savvy professionals are also spending time evaluating new venues-social media sites like Twitter, for example.

It's not yet clear that social media offers a clear path to revenue for all companies, but in a recent SIIA forum "Why Twitter Matters" panelists noted that Dell has sold $1 million worth of equipment through the social media outlet. With 1.5 billion "Tweets" to date and an 1800+% year over year growth in registrations, there is clearly momentum behind this social media platform as an emerging lead generation platform.

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